My Little Ones

Progress Report for Subjects 6 and 7 of the Molecular Reconstruction Project as overseen by Dr Erika Shelley.

Subjects 6 and 7 still indicate no signs of molecular reconstruction, yet their demonstration of molecular manipulation is developing. Despite stunted growth and apparent fragility, they show impressive survival instincts when faced with a threat. Attack speed is expected to increase twofold at the current

“Sunk ship!”

My hand froze over the page and I glanced over to where my littles ones sat on the floor, the game of battleships between them. Ka, the shorter of the two, was waving his hands around and making explosion noises, while Pa was giving out cries of ‘Nooo’ and pretending to drown. Perhaps it wasn’t the friendliest game for them to play but it was a good logic challenge, and they both enjoyed any kind of puzzle.

Chuckling slightly I returned to the report, doing a quick glance over what I’d already written before continuing.

Attack speed is expected to increase twofold at the current rate of practise. Medical examinations of Ka and Pa shows that reattachment occurs faster now than during previous trials.

Shoot! I wrote their names again! Better change that.

                                     Subjects 6 and 7

Medical examinations of Ka and Pa shows that reattachment occurs faster now than during previous trials.

I’ve really got to get out of that habit, it is one thing using the names with my lab assistant Tom but I highly doubt Dr Samuels would approve. Of course I hadn’t intended to name them at all, naming is the first step to forming an attachment; never a good thing for these kind of experiments.

It had been a complete accident, an observation about their appearance more than anything. Both of them have very skinny bodies covered in dark green skin. There is actually a full body with muscles, flesh and organs, however their joints are so clearly defined it does appear to be skin stretched over a skeleton. No indicators of gender so far, but they seem to respond to male pronouns so we consider them male. The faces don’t look skeletal, quite rounded actually, with black eyes that appear a bit too large for the sockets. The noses are two small slits, like a snake or a frog, while they’ve both got a patch of yellow-greenish skin over their mouths, and recently they’ve started growing some black hair on their scalps. All of this, along with the way they tend to squat like frogs, made me think of Kappas from Japanese mythology.

Unfortunately I’d said this out loud while examining the two, and it must have caught on with them because later I mentioned it to Tom and the moment I said the word they came over, as if summoned. Admittedly it’s quite clever how they split the word between them for individual names, yet they both still respond to ‘Kappa’, allowing me to use the single word to refer to both of them. It shows quick adaptation despite their language still being quite underdeveloped; they do understand pretty much everything I say, however they struggle to speak in anything beyond basic phrases.

Ok, focus on the report. Focus.

Manipulation works best with the hands, allowing them to detach individual bones at the joint to use as projectiles. Blood is either compressed to create further projectiles, or extended into extra appendages. The strength of these appendages matches regular limb strength but suffer from exhaustion at a faster rate, though this has been regulated over time via their emotional development, particularly their fraternal bond.

Can I say that? I mean Fraternal is the best term, and Dr Samuels is aware that the two are livin- being contained in the same chamber, so surely there shouldn’t be any issue putting that in the report. What I can’t include is any reference to the maternal dependence growing in them.  

‘Momma’.

I really wish Tom hadn’t taught them that word, like Kappa it had instantly stuck and grew into a habit before I could cut it out. I should have made it clear the first time I heard it that it wasn’t acceptable, but… I’d been completely caught off guard.

They’d just finished one of the physical tests and I was checking Pa for any sign of reconstruction to his molecular structure. I’d asked him to raise his arms and he responded with ‘Yes Momma’. I remember freezing to the spot, in fact I remember actually forgetting to breathe for a moment; I think I gave the poor thing a fright with my choking fit. Unfortunately my instinct was to find out where the word came from rather than scolding him for using it, so when it came up again and I tried to reprimand him and Ka, my words simply didn’t have enough impact.

Tom definitely got an earful the next time I saw him.

So far it doesn’t seem to have caused any issue with the actual research, in fact they seem more responsive to requests now. And it does make sense considering their current stage of emotional maturity, as I’m essentially raising two children.  

Still… ‘Momma’. At the very least he could have taught them to say ‘Mum’.

I am aware that the other five subjects are showing no such compassion towards each other or the researchers, however it’s been made clear that they are already at an adult mental stage, whereas my little ones are growing at a slower rate.

The ‘runts of the litter’ as Dr Samuels called them.

“B4?”

“Miss!”

My eyes flicked over to them again.

By all rights they shouldn’t even be here. Their survival was nothing less than miraculous, considering out of the ten subjects created only five made it out with the physical strength intended and evidence of molecular reconstructive properties. Three of them were stillbor- inactive, then Kappa woke up nearly two days after the others. However their fragility meant we couldn’t bring them out of incubation for another three days. Dr Samuels wanted to discard them due to this frailty, believing them incapable of surviving any tests. Furthermore they showed no reconstructive abilities at all, so they couldn’t be used as intended.

Then I opened my big mouth.

It made sense at the time, after all the fact that they were alive indicated some strength, and it would be a good chance to see if these kind of abilities could be recessive. He didn’t really think there was much to the idea, however he agreed I could do this as an annexe to the main research, even giving me a full sector of the lab with multiple testing chambers to use. And it has paid off in a way, I’ve never seen any organism detach and utilise its own body to create an effective means of self-defence.

And yet as I find myself watching them, a smile tugging at the corner of my lips at their antics, I still can’t shake the feeling this is the biggest mistake of my life.

Back to the report.  

Continued examination suggests that the utilisation of manipulation for extended periods of time creates extended stress upon the body, resulting in greater susceptibility to physical lacerations and/or muscle strains when moving afterwards. Both show a high pain threshold despite how much damage they can endure, and if pushed too far over-exerted there is a greater risk of accidental injuries.

My other assistant Jenny keeps telling me that I should just type my report straight away so I can correct mistakes immediately, instead of having to read my untidy scrawl amidst all the crossing-outs. However I always feel it’s better to get the main points from my mind onto paper as quickly as possible, otherwise I’ll get so wrapped up in small errors I’ll never get it finished.

Then again, maybe that wouldn’t be a bad thing. Once I pass this through to Dr Samuels we’ll be ready to start the first integration tests with the other subjects. So the more time I take completing this, the better for Kappa.

I probably should feel more conflicted about how much I want to delay this. It completely compromises my integrity as a scientist and the principles I’ve stood for all these years; not to mention how this could potentially damn some of the greatest research I’ve ever been able to do. If these abilities can be implanted into humans it could change the way medicine, labour and other everyday matters are dealt with.

At the risk of sounding cliché, this could change the world.

But I’ve already compromised myself too much, my emotional bias is likely going to be on full display during the integration test and if something goes wrong I could end up getting kicked off the project altogether. Without me there there’s no guarantee Kappa will get the care they need, especially if they end up permanently integrated with the others. Besides, I’ve seen some of the methods Dr Samuels is using on his subjects to isolate the source of their reconstructive properties. I respect him as a colleague and senior scientist, but there’s no way that I’m putting my little ones through that. The only thing I can do is delay the testing long enough to give both of them as much of an advantage as possible.

Unless I take them both away from here…

“Momma! Momma!”

A tug on my lab coat caught my attention, looking to see Ka standing there looking up at me, a big grin on his face.

“What is it Ka?”

“I win! I win Momma!”

“Good job Ka.” I responded, ruffling his hair a bit as Pa walked over holding the game to show me. There was literally one missile of difference, the two are still on a very similar skill-level. “I can see it was close, you did very well too Pa.” The other one smiled at this, happy to receive praise as well. Despite their eyes being pure black they are extremely expressive, like a cat. “Ok, once I’ve finished writing this we’ll need to do another medical check-up. I need you two to go to your room so I can prepare to take some blood samples.” This received a groan from the two; just like normal kids they hated having to deal with any kind of needles. I found myself chuckling again, leaning forward as I added “If you both behave and let me take them without complaining, then there’s a high chance of some watermelon appearing in your dinner tonight.” And just like normal kids, the promise of a treat was enough to get them to behave.

I watched them put down the game and wander off to their chamber, listening to their broken chatter before looking back at my work, reaching for the pen again.

My fingertips grazed the plastic tube, unable to bring myself to pick it up.

“We could leave…”

I had been considering this more and more recently. Of course I haven’t mentioned it to anyone, not even Tom despite how much I trust him, but each time I go home I find myself sitting with a bottle of vodka and a mixture of bus and train timetables, muddling my way through as many different routes as possible. It wouldn’t be too hard, the biggest thing is getting past the CCTV cameras all over the lab, but I’m sure I could work out some kind of deal with the security guards. As long as I can get as far away from the lab as possible in a short period of time, that’s all I need to give me the advantage before Dr Samuels can file a police report. I have a cousin up in Scotland I could stay with until permanent living arrangements could be sorted out, she’s good at being discreet so I’m sure she’d be happy to help hide them. This would mean I’d have to endure some lecturing; she’s always had issues with my work so I can expect the entire time to be filled with ‘I told you so’. And after that…

I don’t have a clue.

Whatever happens, I know I’ve crossed a line. I can’t go back now. And in the end, even if it means destroying the career I’ve spent my whole life on, all that matters is keeping Kappa safe at any cost. If I can’t get them away from here, then the least I can do is keep myself in charge of this project. As long as they are kept separate from the others I can monitor the two of them securely, reduce or outright remove any tests that could prove too damaging, perhaps even look at trying to introduce them to the outside world. After all if they start adapting to nature, it’ll be far easier to improve their physical strength. Furthermore any chance to introduce them to more people could possibly add an extra layer of security, in case Dr Samuels got any ideas about involving them in his ‘extraction’ tests.

The pen was suddenly back in my hand.

Subjects 6 and 7 prove most promising in their abilities when cooperating, and would thrive best in wider spaces not available in the training rooms currently accessible. I am submitting with this report a proposal to expand their training to one of the outdoor courts, with the possibility of building an obstacle course or orientation track for the purpose of physical education and building a resilience to any potential outside medical risks.   

Hmm, that should do it for now.

It’s not finished, but now I need to get this new proposal written up so that’s a good reason to leave it tonight. I’ll continue tomorrow, for now I’d better do this check-up and give the two of them their dinner; we’re supposed to do another physical test after they’ve eaten but they went through quite a lot this morning so we’ll skip it. Maybe I’ll get Tom to show them another Disney film; I’m in the mood for some mindless musical fantasy myself.  

As I got up from my desk, my eyes lingered for a moment on the battleship board they’d left behind, remembering their happy smiles during the game. A sharp pain spread through my palms as my hands tightened into fists, driving my nails into the skin while a lump began to form in my throat.  

“I won’t let anything happen to you… my little ones.”

***

Another old Creative Writing Society anthology piece, this one from ‘A Small Book of Narcissism’.

A Small Book of Narcissism – https://smile.amazon.co.uk/Small-Book-Narcissism-Collection-Tales/dp/1532887655/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=a+small+book+of+narcissism&qid=1571839184&sr=8-3

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