Lab Rat part 23

Posted: February 2, 2011 in Family, Fiction, Test Subject

I’m awake again in an instant. I can tell, because I’m still pulling air into my lungs so I can scream some more. My body still burns like a furnace. My jaw clenches, and words leak out from between my teeth. “What the fuck did you do to me?” My entire neck is tight like an army’s worth of bowstrings. I lift my head to find Ally’s blistered face gone white. She’s got her right hand over her mouth and her left is balled in a fist.

“The regeneration – it’s fast, but you were so badly hurt. It’s rebuilding you.” I can still feel things writhing under my skin. The pain is back in the realm of the bearable again, but I still itch like mad.

“Let me up.” My voice has gone flat. I pull at the restraints again, but I’m still only human. “Ally, let me up. Now.” She wordlessly unfastens first my legs, then my arms. I stand, but my knees buckle immediately. I catch myself on the gurney, and try to rise again. I feel like I’ve never walked before. Ally puts my arm around her shoulder and helps me up. “Why can’t I walk? What the fuck did you do?”

“Your musculature is all new. It’s strong enough, but it’s literally never been used. It was either this, or up to a year of physical therapy and rehabilitation.”

“But you needed your precious lab rat in one piece.” She starts to protest, but I cut her off. “Science can’t wait, can it Doc?” My tone is still flat. I think. I push Ally away, and stumble to the door. I catch myself on the doorframe just before I fall on my face. “Where are my clothes?”

“Still in the airlock.”

“Sorry, Doctor Allison, but I think I need to take the rest of the day off. I’m not feeling so great.” I push through the door without looking back. It’s a very long walk to the main lab, and I spend the entirety of it bracing myself up and pushing along the wall. It’s like being a baby again, but I have a longer way to fall. I finally push through the double doors into the main lab, and what I see drops my jaw.

The place is in shambles. The Blast Room has a hole in the wall big enough for me to walk through upright. The edges of the hole are as smooth as glass, and the air is filled with an acrid stench of burned plastic. On the floor at my feet is most of the fire suit. The hood and most of the right arm are gone, leaving a gaping and ragged hole edged in cinders. I think about Ally’s blistered face. I fall and crawl to the edge of the hole in the Blast Room wall. The entire room is knee-deep in the fire retardant foam. It’s deep enough that I suppose I should be glad I didn’t drown in the stuff.

I don’t work for too long today, which means it’s going to be a very busy day. I need to put together a new sword for practice, because I’ve managed to virtually destroy my current one on the heads of my friends. I also need to get my fighting clothes cleaned up. I’m behind where I want to be on my writing schedule. I’m planning to go visit my craziest little brother in jail. Last, I’m fighting tonight. The only one of those that really gives me pause is the whole “see Brett in the clink” thing. It was hard enough talking to him before, when it was just him and his rage issues and his unique perspective on reality. Now, though… What the hell am I supposed to say to him? “Hang in there, buddy,” just doesn’t seem like enough. I know that he’s mentally ill and he needs pharmacological and cognitive therapy, but it’s difficult not to want to knock some sense into him. I’m good at listening to other people, but clearly I should not try to play therapist with family members. I’m sure I’ll just bite my tongue and listen to him talk, but I really want to ask what he was planning on doing if he succeeded in fighting off the arresting officers. Seriously. Resisting arrest is dumb. Okay – you beat them. Except there are more where they came from, and they might just shoot you. You can fight a person, but take a swing at an incoming bullet. See where that gets you.


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