A Cure Turned Virus
“One-Zero-Eight! Get up, it’s time for your Session!” A rough voice yelled from the other side of my glass room.
One glass wall slid open and I rose from my sitting place on the rug, leaving my doll and building blocks there. I walked up to the edge and the guard yanked me out of my cage. The wall slid closed. He mumbled for me to follow him and I did without question. As we walked down the hall, I couldn’t help but notice the other children in their glass rooms. They were either sleeping or silently playing with the few toys they were given by their scientists--parents, I mean.
At the end of the blindingly white hall was my Mom, holding her clipboard and smiling at me. But, like everyday, it just looked forced. The guard handed me off to Mom who took my hand and started to lead me away from the dormitory section of Facility.
“Let’s go Sweetie, we wouldn’t want you to miss your Session!” she said cheerfully, but it somehow sounded dull.
I nodded my head. Her smile grew bigger when the door to the Session area opened. Inside were other kids, younger and older than me, with their parents. They were all testing their abilities and their parents were writing down how well they were doing. Some looked at their children with disappointment and disgust and the rest looked down at them with pride.
I am One-Zero-Eight, just one of many kids kept in Facility. Instead of giving us names, the older children whispered to me once upon a time, we are given numbers to stand for each child brought or born to Facility. I’m the 108th child. Two of my friends, twin boys, Eight-Eight and Eight-Nine, are eleven years of age, and were brought to Facility by their Father around the age of three. Mom and Dad tell me that I was born in Facility, like so many others, and that I’m nine-years-old. Dad tells me that I am the best Cure here yet, except for one other. The other scientists told me that he passed every session with flying colors, but he became a Virus and made an attempt to escape. So they assimilated him.
A Cure is a child in Facility who does what adults order them to do, follow every instruction without question, and goes through every Session without complaint. We’re created so that one day, when we’re older, we’ll fight for our country with the skills our parents gave us. As Cures, we will finally alleviate the sickness of war plaguing the world, our country, and make sure it never happens again.
A Virus is the opposite. A Virus longs for independence and never follows orders, they show emotions when Cures cannot. They don’t wish to sacrifice their lives for the greater good and thus make the world more ill. If a child becomes a Virus, they are either put to death or go under constant treatments to become a Cure once again. It all depends on how the parents feel about their child. But, there is one thing that both Cures and Viruses share in common. Neither one can ever leave Facility. Ever. Anyone who tries will be eliminated immediately.
“One-Zero-Eight, are you ready for your Session?” Dad asked upon approaching me and Mom. I nodded once and he smiled. “That’s a good soldier, now come along!”
Dad took my right hand and began to lead me to a separate room of the Session area. A child who is brought here goes immediately to this room to be injected. They just put you in the giant glass pillar, strap you to a chair, and inject you with colorful liquids that makes you feel strange. Like you’re floating through the air while your entire skeletal structure was set ablaze. They're supposed to enhance your mental functions, physical capabilities, and speed up your healing process as well as other things like unlock certain parts of your DNA to make you even stronger. The final part of the process is when they lower the cord and it attaches to the back of your neck, digging deep until it finds your nervous system and the chip within. The chip is put there once a child starts training. The adults say it's to keep emotions in check, acted as a GPS, and was there for health reasons. Anyway, more liquids enter through you with the cord and it's very painful but every child is determined not to show any signs of pain or fear.
When we walked inside, Dad picked me up and carried me over to the glass pillar. A scientist nearby opens the door for him and quietly makes his way inside after we enter. Dad sets me in the chair and with the help of the scientist that let him in, they restrain my arms and legs. A few more people walk in with multiple shots on trays that they carry. One by one they each inject me with orange liquids, green liquids, red, purple, blue, every color I was taught. It all took about ten minutes and by the end of it, my arms are bandaged and I feel the strange sensation of floating and being on fire. It hurts, but I've gone through it enough times to mask the pain. They all leave the pillar and seal the door shut.
Mom is sitting back at the computers, typing away with that smile on her face. She pushes one key and the cord lowers itself from the ceiling. I took a deep breath, waiting for it to burrow itself in the back of my neck. Seconds later, I felt the pain as it wriggled inside my neck and blood dripped down the back of my white shirt. I bit the inside of my cheek hard in an attempt to not show just how much pain I was really in. It was one of the most painful parts of the process, the next part would take the cake however. The cord finally latched onto my nervous system, making my limbs spasm for a few seconds.
Mom started typing away again, this time much more faster and more focused. A small lever next to her right hand became active. Dad walked up, grabbed the lever and moved it forward to ten percent. Everyone in the room listened as electricity was forced down the cord, now glowing a bright blue, and into me. I began to convulse in my seat, and that’s when they let the liquid flow into me. They just watched with hard looks, seeing if I was going to make it this time. My head flung back and I let out a noise. Not a scream, not a yelp, but something they had hoped for. A roar. It was unlike any noise they had ever heard, it wasn't human, not even animal. The roar had a category all of it's own.
They cheered as I roared, which was slowly lowering itself in pitch. There was a crack and everyone focused back on me. My left arm was broken in several places but it was moving, mending itself painfully slow. I grimaced, tears pricking my eyes at the new source of pain. This never happened before, was it supposed to happen? Dad smirked and pushed the lever a little further, now at forty percent. The pain, the bones breaking, everything intensified much more quickly than I wanted it to.
“Grayson! Raise it to one hundred percent!” An older scientist yelled at Dad.
He nodded and pushed the lever to it’s full extent.
The convulsions grew worse, actually loosening the straps on my legs and arms. It was too much, the pain needed to stop or I was going to die. I couldn’t take it anymore.
I jerked my head forward and the cord was ripped out of my neck, taking the chip with it. For a few moments, I couldn't feel anything but a sense that a great weight was lifted from my shoulders, but then it all came rushing back. Blood and various other fluids splattered across the walls and the back of my shirt. An alarm went off, killing my sensitive ears.
“Get the cord back in! Now!”
They started fussing over the computers, maneuvering the cord as best they could. But every time it lunged for my neck, I would jerk my head away from it. No, that thing didn’t feel good and I just had the need to get away from it. It was weird because usually I would just let the cord go in, no matter how much it hurt, but my brain kept screaming desperately for the cord not to go back in, for the chip not to be put back in it's place.
I clenched my hands into tight fists and broke the loose straps, ripping the straps holding my legs as well. I tumbled to the floor, still having minor convulsions. Their yelling, the electricity crackling, the alarm going off, it was all so very loud. I would have curled up into a ball but my bones were still breaking and taking on new forms. Tears freely ran down my face. This never happened before. What was happening to me!
“One-Zero-Eight!” Mom screeched. “Calm down!”
I lifted myself up a little as best I could and stared at the cord as it went for me. I clawed at it with my hands, knocking it away from me. That was when I started to notice the differences. I felt bones breaking and forming on my back, making something new, I felt my teeth were sharper, and my senses were all becoming very sensitive. It was pure agonizing pain, the worst thing I felt yet. I shut my eyes and roared again.
The alarms stopped and their frantic bickering soon followed. Mom shut down the cord and stood up from her seat, staring at me with awe. They all started to cheer again. By the sound of it, they did it. Their first successful weapon was created.
I looked away from them and at my own reflection. No longer was I a little girl with brown curly hair, deep blue eyes, and a button nose. My eyes resembled that of a cat, a yellow-green color with slit pupils. Standing up a little shakily, I felt something gently touching my legs from behind. It was a long, scaled tail with spines sticking out. I also noticed a pair of wings attached to my back, leathery and too big for my small body. Looking down at my hands and feet, they were also covered in scales, the finely cut nails now black talons. I whimpered and shied away from the reflection. I didn’t like it. I was a little human girl! Not a monster!
The door opened and Dad stood in the opening, arms folded behind his back and chest puffed up with pride. Whether it was because I was successful or that his daughter was the first to succeed, I didn’t know.
“Come, One-Zero-Eight,” he said in a softer tone than usual but it was just as demanding.
Cautiously, I walked out with my head down to avoid looking at my reflection in any other shiny surface. Something told me that if I did, I would start . . . crying, and Mom and Dad wouldn't like that.
Dad lead me through a different door, one where there were no other children but looked exactly like the Session area, yet it had much more damage. There were claw marks on the equipment, even bite marks, and some dry blood in the small arena they had. Mom and Dad tested me just like everyday, how fast I could run, how strong I was, etc. But this time they put me in the arena. In the other Session arena, they would have children pit against each other in small battles. It was a test of how they reacted under a life-or-death situation and how well they did in combat.
“Stay here, sweetie,” Mom hummed before heading to the door to discuss some things in private with the other adults.
I nodded obediently, suddenly getting a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. It was a strange feeling and I didn’t like it. I wanted it to go away. A few minutes had passed though and the feeling still remained. Why?
One of the more stronger scientists came in, dragging two small bodies by their wrists, who yelled and jerked so violently, I thought they might dislocate their shoulders. He threw them in front of me, not bothering to disguise his hatred in the glare he sent them. They were hunched over on their knees, groaning in pain.
“Destroy these two Viruses, now,” Dad ordered.
My chest rumbled from a growl as I studied the two creatures. I circled them, plotting out what to do with them. I could snap their necks, it would take a less amount of effort than usual with my new found strength. Or I could sink my talons in their throats, slicing the jugular or have them drown in their own blood. Suddenly, their heads swung up and they started screeching at me like primates, showing off their enlarged canines. Their familiar brown eyes were wide, filled with fear and anger, probably towards their Father . . .
In front of me were Eight-Eight and Eight-Nine, my only friends at Facility. I stopped circling and growling at the boys in shock. They still had bodies of humans but had a few characteristics of monkeys, like they had gone through the testing and succeeded on some small scale. I knew they had a history of resisting their father, but to become Viruses? They knew it meant certain death, why couldn’t they just be good Cures? Didn’t they know this was for the best . . . right?
I shook my head and started to whine instead, looking at them with uncertainty. Even if they were Viruses, I couldn’t eliminate them. It might be stupid, but I had far too many fond memories of them to actually do it. If it was anyone else, I would have done it in a heartbeat, but not the twins. They were too precious. Mom frowned at my hesitation.
“Don’t just stand there, eliminate them,” she demanded.
Eight-Eight and Eight-Nine just kept on screeching like I was an enemy and Mom started screaming at me. My whine grew louder as well as the loud noises were getting to me. I slowly backed away from all of them, pressing hands over my ears in a feeble attempt to block out all the noise.
“One-Zero-Eight!” Mom screamed. “Kill them!”
The screeching stopped immediately. The twin brothers looked at me with surprise, their monkey-ish features slowly morphing back into human features. They were finally getting a sense of their humanity back.
Eight-Eight stepped forward. “One-Zero-Eight . . . ?”
I let out a huff and averted my eyes from them. They didn’t recognize me, the little girl who would share Sessions and meals with them. Surprisingly, I felt their arms wrap around my neck in a hug and it felt . . . nice. It was so warm and comforting, it was the best thing I ever felt in my short life. I remembered them telling me about their mother and how she would give the best hugs before their father came and took them away. At the time, it sounded nice in theory but the act baffled me. Mom and Dad never hugged me, usually keeping physical contact to hand holding and hair rustling at most.
Slowly, my bones were breaking again and the hair was disappearing until I was just a little girl again. During the process, I whimpered in pain and Eight-Eight and Eight-Nine would just hold me tighter, rubbing my back and whispering comforting words. Something must’ve happened because Eight-Eight and Eight-Nine jumped back with me still in their arms, hissing at my parents. When I turned around, Dad was standing there with a furious expression and a sharp surgical knife in his hand. Mom stood behind him glaring and pulled out a button from her coat pocket.
“Don’t you dare call us that, you insignificant, pewny, beastly, mistake!” Dad bellowed, veins bulging on his forehead as his face turned red from anger. “We gave you food, shelter, clothes! You were the best damn Cure--the only successful Cure we ever had! You were going to save us all and now, you’re nothing more than a Virus because of those failed abominations!”
I began to growl at him. The way he was yelling, the tone of his voice, and his body language upset me. I actually felt threatened by him and these new instincts told me that if I didn’t do something soon, then all three of us would perish. And then, it was like a flood gate broke open.
“What’s the point of it all?” I shrieked, silencing the adult who was momentarily shocked. “You say you love us, that you care for us, but it’s not true! You just experiment on us over and over and over again, turning us into some little monsters! And if we don’t meet your expectations, then you just kill your own offspring!” I pushed my friends away and stood up as tall as I could, huffing in anger. “You keep us locked up, brainwash us into thinking that this is a good thing, that by giving up our humanity we’ll make the world a better place! But it’s not good! It’s . . . it’s bad!”
Was it? Testing on little kids to make the world a better place? One part vehemently screamed yes, the part that appeared once that chip was gone, and the other part argued no, if this was the way to peace then anything goes, even subjecting kids to agonizing experiments. But in the moment, it felt right to say this was all bad, like getting this heavy feeling off your chest.
Mom sent a piercing glare my way and pressed the button without hesitation. Alarms went off again, hurting my ears and the twins. I shut my eyes tight, trying to block out the noise and think of a way out, using every ounce of information I learned about Facility over the years. Then I found the way. It was simple, risky but simple. Let the monster take over, kill any human adult that stands in the way of freedom, and get my friends out.So I did just that, and momentarily forgot about my humanity.