The Shimmer Project

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James

16 years earlier

I marched swiftly through the white corridors, my heart hammering in my chest. It was midnight, I was half asleep, I’d barely had time to dress, my shirt hung out of my pants and I’d given up on shoes and wore only my slippers. My steps were silent, my breathing heavy.

The white tiled corridors were all empty. Everyone was in the delivery room, waiting, watching the birth. It was typical for me to be late. I was the one who needed to be there most. I was the father.

I ran down the last hallway and burst into the maternity wing. Turning a corner I discovered our scientists and our secret service crowed around one door. I quickly straightened my back, pushed my dark hair out of my eyes and marched towards them. They split apart giving me a narrow passage to the door. I entered the little white room. Two nurses were leaning over Ebba, tied down with chains to her little metal hospital bed. The nurses were taking her blood pressure and heart rate. They wrote their answers down.

“ Normal Chief, there shouldn’t be a problem, all heartbeats are strong,” one said and the other nodded in agreement.

“ Thank you,” I replied, then gave me small nods then scooted out of the room behind me. I noticed Director Morgan, the director of the facility, standing in one corner, his eyes gleaming, staring at Ebba’s naked body. He was in a good mood, that was rare. I gave him a curt nod and he smiled at me.

I made my way to Ebba’s side and clutched her white hand. It was hot and clammy. She twisted her head around to stare at me. Her eyes were wide, bloodshot and her face was drenched in sweat. She glanced at me, twisted in pain. She was young, only seventeen. She was a specimen, a mutant. She had been born in the same room seventeen years earlier, with me by her side. I loved her, but not a romantic way, I loved her like a daughter.

Director Morgan had chosen me to father her child, though I didn’t want to. Impregnate Ebba. I had been there at her birth, I had watched her grow up behind a glass wall, I had watched her powers grow and I had been there when she tried to escape. My job was to watch her, I was her monitor, I was the one who went into her room and fed her, I was the one who she spoke to, I was the only human she really knew. I was the only one she ever spoke to. And I was the only one she wouldn’t dare hurt.

I was also the Chief of the research facility, just under Director Morgan. I was in charge of everyone, yet I had to allow the torture. It was part of my job to look over them, making sure they were hurting her in the right places, to write down what she could or could not destroy, to test her. I was also in charge of the special little army that Director Morgan had formed. The secret assault team, SAT. They were all giant men with heavy guns, guns that Ebba couldn’t deflect.

They had given her a sleeping drug in order to get the IVF process done. They only told her she was pregnant two months later. And they never told her I was the father, so she kept talking to me. Usually, she didn’t talk too much, she only told me when she was hungry or if something was bothering her. I did everything I could to make her smile.

She smiled up at me, her face still sheet white. I hated seeing her in pain, the tests they made her do were painful, she was very used to pain but I still wasn’t.

“ James, you excited?” Director Morgan asked me, coming up beside me. Ebba glared at him, I watched as her eyes slowly started clouding over, turning completely black. I knew what she was going to do and that she was unstoppable if she started.

“ Ebba!” I shook her shoulders. She gazed at me with her black eyes, hard and menacing. Deadly. “ Don’t do it Ebba. You will hurt your baby,” I insisted. She paused then let the white in her eyes come back. Director Morgan smiled at me smugly.

“ You must be proud,” he called over his shoulder as he left the room. His face appeared in the window looking in.

“ Chief,” it was one of the nurses.

“ What is it?”

“ The baby is coming. She has to concentrate now,” I smiled at her. She looked back at me with wide eyes, she obviously knew how dangerous Ebba was and did not want to be in the same room as her.

“ Ebba, it’s time now. Are you ready?” I asked her stroking her white arm. She gazed at me then nodded.

“ Yes,” she looked towards the nurses and the doctors. “ But they aren’t. They’re scared stiff.”

“ Can’t think why,” I mumbled. I noticed sweat beading on her forehead. “ They’re leaving anyway,” I waved them out of the room. Ebba watched them disappear. The door was locked with us inside. Through a window, everyone watched.

Ebba’s eyes were flashing between her normal black and complete black, suddenly she screamed the lights in the room exploded. She was gripping the bed, sweat soaking through her long brown hair. Suddenly one of my fingers snapped back. I gasped out in pain. I could see the expression on her face change. She’d explained to me the joy and the power she felt after hurting and killing someone. I could practically see her powers strengthening as my finger throbbed. Yet her pain was excruciating because her powers were moving out of her body, draining her, and filling her children. They were stealing her life, become more powerful, while she became weaker.

“ Ebba?” she screamed again and I felt my body shooting through the air slamming against the far wall. I felt my bones crushing and I toppled towards ground pain shooting through me. I bit down on my bottom lip to keep from screaming. Ebba was rocking the bed screaming and crying. Blood dripped from her lips.

“ Ebba,” I called to her trying to get up but I couldn’t. Her eyes flashed to me then she screamed again. “ Ebba calm down. You’re killing yourself,” I managed. She screamed again the chains holding her down exploding. She screamed again and I heard another voice calling out, a little baby’s voice. I looked up at her, she was still panting on her bed. A little pink baby was screeching, wet and sticky. My daughter. My breath caught in my throat as the door burst open and the guards pinned Ebba down again. She didn’t fight them back. She didn’t have the strength. Her powers had been transferred to her child and she was weaker than she had ever been. I wondered if she even had any powers left. A doctor reappeared and picked up the little baby her held her up and wrapped her in a pink blanket.

“ Take the child to the nursery,” Director Morgan ordered entering the room and gazing at the child. “ We have one successful daughter, something to celebrate tonight,” he grinned. A helped me up looping his arm around me. I watched as the doctor walked out of the room with my daughter.

“ You did well James,” Director Morgan told me smiling as I started towards the door.

“ James!” it was Ebba, she was staring at me her eyes wide.

“ It’s still alive,” Director Morgan frowned.

“ James,” Ebba breathed. Her face was stained with blood and tears. The tiled floor under her bed was soaked in a pool of blood. Her blood dripped steadily.

“ She’s having another baby,” a doctor whispered wide-eyed.

“ Another,” I echoed.

“ Wonderful!” Director Morgan snarled.

“ Oh no,” I whispered. “ Not another.”

“ They’ve never survived this long before,” Director Morgan chuckled.

“ Get out of the room!” I hollered seeing Ebba’s eyes clouding over. The guard holding me let me fall to the ground and rushed out, Director Morgan followed him out calmly grinning. The door was slammed shut and locked behind him. Ebba was screaming again shivering in pain.

“ James!” she screamed her pale hand reaching towards me. I felt my body being pulled towards her. I watched in amazement as my wounds pulled together until I felt normal again. I stared at Ebba in wonder. Her eyes were rolling again, her mouth slack.

“ Hold on Ebba,” I encouraged grabbing her hand. She squeezed it hard.

“ I’m sorry, I hurt you,” she whispered. “ They’re coming at the same time,” her voice was weak, her pulse against my hand was fading.

“ Ebba!” I cried. “ You can do it! Come on. Just one more little baby. You can do it!”

“ No,” her voice was barely audible. “ Two more James,” Ebba told me.

“ What?”

“ Two more babies,” she screamed again, I was amazed she could.

“ How can there be two?” I whispered. Her eyes were squeezed shut. We always planted more than one zygote in the mutants, but, even though more than one has developed before; the mother had never survived this long before. The second child, Ebba’s twin sister had died within her mother, without powers. Then again, none had been this young before. Sue was twenty-eight when she died in childbirth, her daughter Eve was thirty. She was barely able to have Melanie. Melanie was only twenty when Ebba was born. Ebba was seventeen and able to have more than one child. Obviously, sixteen was the optimal age for reproduction for her species.

“ You’re a father,” Ebba breathed. I started at her wide eyed, of course she knew.

“ Yes Ebba,” I answered squeezing her hand. It was loose now. I felt tears trickling down my cheeks. She was dying. Her body was being torn apart and two new monsters were entering this world.

“ Please,” I begged her. I didn’t know what I was begging for but I needed her to stay alive.

“ You be a good daddy James. Like you were for me,” Ebba continued in a small voice. “ Keep them safe. Please,” I nodded my tears coming freely.

“ I will,” I promised.

“ Don’t let them…” she gasped out in pain then screamed. I watched as more blood gushed out of her body and soaked into the sheets. “ James, don’t kill them,” she stared at me wide eyed. “ Give them a chance. Give them a life,” she screamed again her hand ripping from mine, her body wriggling, blood splashing on the ground. Then she stopped suddenly her eyes lolled over staring at me. Her pulse had stopped, her breathing her stopped. She was silent.

Immediately after I heard a baby’s scream. I looked around and found two. Two little girls screaming, wet and sticky. I whipped my tears away and grabbed the blankets lying on the bed. They were soaked in blood as I wrapped them around my daughters. I watched them change in front of me, their eyes flashed black for the first time as they stole the rest of Ebba’s life.

The door opened again and Director Morgan and two doctors appeared. The doctors walked towards me and took my daughters while Director Morgan marched around Ebba’s bed. He gazed down at her.

“ Amazing girl,” he muttered. “ Much stronger than her mother. Much stronger than any we’ve had in here before. Let’s hope her daughters can live up to her. We lose one good specimen but we get three new ones. Well done James. You can leave now,” I gazed at him then back at Ebba. I leaned down and kissed Ebba’s forehead then walked slowly out of the room.

My room was on the other side of the facility. As the Chief of the Research Facility I could have had an apartment to myself, overlooking the ocean, but I was never one for extravagant living quarters. My room was like most of the scientists living in the facility. It was small, with a window overlooking the woods. I had my own bathroom but I shared a living room and a kitchen with ten other scientists.

I stripped and tossed my bloody clothes in my washing machine. There were photos of Ebba on my walls, a little baby with white skin and curly brown hair, then a three-year-old, then five. All her life hung up on my walls. Her mother Melanie was up there as well. Melanie hadn’t been as powerful as Ebba, they got stronger each generation. I stroked a photo of Ebba at her sixteenth birthday, she was wearing her usual grey dress that was ripped at the shoulder and at her knees. Her face was scarred from the test she had just done and her hair was uncombed. But her black eyes were shining because I had brought her cake. I wasn’t supposed to touch the specimens much, especially as they grew older. But I never kept to that rule. For her sweet sixteen, I appeared with a cupcake and a candle for her to blow out. After I'd given her a hug, then taken the photo. I had to shut off the security cameras to get away with it, but her laugh had been worth the risk.

I closed my eyes falling back on my little bed. I started crying again hugging my knees to my chest.

I fell asleep then woke up again at lunchtime. My stomach grumbled as I got up and dressed again. I passed my hand through my coarse black hair then left my room in search of food. When I passed, Thomas a colleague, stopped me.

“ Chief, the director is looking for you. He wants you to see him in his office,” I nodded slowly then walked off.

Director Morgan’s name was Hamish Morgan. He was a small man, full of energy and always strutting about the facility looking up on his specimens. His father had first discovered the mutation when he was a medical student and he ran in to a specimen, a fellow student. He dated her, but when he found out her mutation he locked her in a warehouse on his father’s island where she soon gave birth to his daughter, whom he named Eve. He was the first person that Eve killed. She was only five years old at the time, Director Morgan was only three. That was when the Chimeramortuses were seriously considered a threat to mankind and locked up permanently. When Director Morgan turned twenty-two he inherited the facility from his uncle. Until then, he’d been studying medicine and business to best serve the research lab. He had no morals when it came to the specimens, even though Eve was his half-sister, he never considered her human, let alone family.

The island was also a heirloom. It was just off the coast of Miami. A nice place really. There were a few beaches, thick green woods, hidden springs and high cliffs jutting out towards the ocean.

After his uncle stepped down, Director Morgan quickly turned this paradise into a giant laboratory. In the world, he owned three labs, one off the coast of Miami, which is where he lived and also where the most powerful and deadly Chimeramortuses were. He had another in China with mutants that barley have any powers, they were almost humans. In South Africa he had another, with another family of almost powerless mutants. It’s here that all the work got done.

This research facility included a large landing strip for helicopters and a big garage for tanks. There was a small port where food, clothes and weapons were imported. The beaches were used for training, snorkelling and diving. The only people on the island were top secret. We allowed no journalists, no press. Everything was top secret and if you were spotted with one of the security cameras trespassing on the island, you were killed first, enquired about after.

The laboratory was the main building. There was also the armoury, the SAT headquarters and everyone else’s living quarters. In the laboratory, there was a small white room with a metal bed that was chained to one wall. There was a small window, but it was so high up and so small, that only the treetops could be seen through it. The walls were very high and the door was just as high. It had been engineered to withstand a nuclear explosion. Not that it was ever tested with a nuclear bomb. The door was two feet thick. To enter, there was a series to locks, a voice recognition, then finger prints, then an eyeball recognition. Director Morgan and I were the only ones who could enter. Even my assistant Rebecca couldn’t pass. From that door was a winding tube of a hallway that ended fifty feet away with a similar door. This continued five times. The fifth door opened into another hall way. There were two more doors, one lead out into the facility, the other into a big white room that looked like an arena. It was covered in white tiles, chains hung from the walls and the ceiling. One wall was made of glass. On the other side usually stood the scientists, the doctors, the SAT members and me.

That had been the extent of Ebba’s world, white rooms, bolts and chains. In the arena we did tests. Blood tests, sport tests sometimes, other times we shot her to see if she could deflect bullets, which sort. We tested new medicines on her, old ones. We implanted her with sicknesses and gave her a dying body to repair until she’d faint in the process.

Down the hall from the arena was the door had the same locking system but many more could enter to watch the testing if they desired. On this door, a giant number 4 was painted on it.

After that, there was a hall that led to the main lobby. If you turned right you found the dorms where my colleges and I sleep, if you turn left you found the offices, laboratory and the hospital wing where the people who survived Ebba’s treatment, stayed. Most of them for the rest of their lives.

There was a second, third and fourth floor as well, on the second floor was the small room again and all the doors and locks and arena. On the third and fourth floor were the same. Usually the facility closed up the other floors or used them as storage because they weren’t in use. They had been at the beginning when the mutants were first discovered, the mutants from around the globe were brought to the lab, but the strongest one killed the other two. Labs were then built in China and South Africa. The floors were closed up, the specimens had never given birth to more than one child before. Since Sue, there had been three other specimens. My daughters were Numbers 5, 6 and 7.

We discovered with the first few specimens that they went through early puberty, by ten they had all already had their first periods. We noticed of course that their menopause was much sooner as well. Director Morgan considers us lucky that Eve was able to have a child at all at thirty. Lucky indeed. If a human woman’s optimal age for reproduction is in her early twenties, then for a Chimeramortus it’s in her teens. Ebba was the perfect age, but she was so young, we barely had any time a subject as power as her, I just hoped that we wouldn’t try any younger for my daughters.

Essentially the research lab isn’t a bad place, it is; what it is. Scientists and doctors from all over the globe are flown in, most without the true knowledge of what happens behind the glass windows, to see the brilliant new discoveries. The Chimeramortuses had proven themselves to be the fascinating test subjects. Not only were scientists working on their species, studying how they evolved, why their powers grew with each generation, why and how they existed. Studies were also being done for mankind at the same time. The Chimeramortuses were utterly immune to diseases. AIDS, Herpes, Rabies, Hepatitis B, Diabetes, Polio, everything and anything the doctors could imagine, they never showed any sign of illness. None had ever gotten cancer either, so the doctors guessed that they were immune to that as well. Not only were they immune, but they could remove these illnesses from a human, over the years they had cured Diabetes Type 2, Ebola, Influenza, Arthritis and many more. However each time they used their powers to cure, they grew extremely weak. Our scientist worked to extract their immunity and put it into humans. One day, we were going to cure cancer. Already we’d found a chemical solution with their blood that, contained the smallest amount of their powers and when inserted into a human’s bloodstream, the human could heal more rapidly from any cut or cold than normal. Each generation produced a child with even stronger powers that made scientists' and doctors’ dreams become a reality.

The facility wasn’t a place for everyone. Director Morgan chose his employees specifically, on their intelligence, scientific curiosity, background and of course, the ability to do a job without asking too many questions. Half of the employees didn’t actually know that the Chimeramortuses were, if not for the most part, human. They had never seen them, they just received blood, spit, urine or whatever else samples they wanted. Very few of us knew who they were, what they looked like, and just how fragile they really were. For me, it was easy at first. I could see clearly that they were dangerous, lethal and that they needed to be locked up their whole lives; if ever they escaped, they could kill thousands. We were protecting the normal people by locking them up and with our research. For a few years, when I was very young, I worked with the other scientists. I had a degree in genetics and worked mainly discovering the specimens’ true capacities. Soon after I was brought to the area to watch the tests. The first Chimeramortus I saw was Ebba’s mother Melanie. She was already quite pregnant, and they were doing medical tests to see if her pregnancy affected her immunity. It didn’t. I remember her, sitting in a small metal chair, wearing a limp grey dress. I had always imagined them as vegetables, lifeless, a bag of fascinating genes. It had never occurred to me that they would be so human.

I was brought to see the birth and that day, Director Morgan told me that he wanted to put me in charge of monitoring Ebba. A few years later I became the chief of the whole research lab, basically the person just under the director. After all, I needed to get a taste of the business, I was Director Morgan’s only son, one day, I would inherit the lab.

Director Morgan’s office was a gigantic room with a long rug that ran along the room to his large desk at the far side with a very tall window behind him. It faced out to the cliffs and the ocean beyond. I knocked on the large doors then peeked in because I knew he couldn’t hear the knock from the other side of the room.

“ Ah James! Come in!” Director Morgan beckoned me in. He was in his early sixties and fit for his age. He had a full head of curly salt and pepper hair and black eyes. He stood up and waved me forward grinning. I knew he was very happy with my daughters. He was obviously in a very good mood. I couldn’t meet his eyes as I walked down the rug and stopped in front of his desk.

“ You should be proud James, they are beautiful specimens. But remember they are specimens, not your daughters,” he beamed at me.

“ I won’t forget.”

“ I shall put them on each floor. Numbers 5, 6 and 7. Did you have names for them?”

“ Uh no. I didn’t think…”

“ Never mind they shall be 5, 6 and 7 all their lives then. It doesn’t matter.”

“ I’d rather give them names.”

“ Well you may, but like the others, their official names will be Numbers 5, 6 and 7. I’ve already started the construction plan for their daughters.”

“ Already!”

“ You can never be too in advance,” he told me placing his hand on my shoulder. “ Remember that. Obviously, we did something right impregnation Number 4 at sixteen. She was able to give birth to the three babies that had developed. All three are very healthy and strong. Can you imagine what their daughters will be able to do? Cure cancer is what! Have you seen them?”

“ Not since they were born,” I replied.

“ Well you should, they are very interesting. You have to check up on these things. Know everything that happens in this lab. You’ll see. Now I wanted to ask you something.”

“ Yes?” he moved back around his desk and shuffled through some papers, then sat down and gazed up at me.

“ Do you want to monitor all three of the specimens or only one?”

“ I’ll monitor them all,” I said. Director Morgan smiled and me nodding.

“ Always the curious mind. That’s wonderful. You know the drill. This time should be interesting. You will have assistants or a secretary if you need. Good day now.”

“ Good day to you sir. Thank you,” I turned away.

“ Oh, and son,” I faced him. He shook his head. “ Get yourself cleaned up. Your employees cannot see you in this state to take you seriously,” I nodded in agreement stuffed my shirt back into my pants and tightening my tie. I lifted my chin and straightened my shoulders. Director Morgan nodded in approvingly. I turned on my heels and quickly left the room.

I headed towards the maternity wing suddenly eager to meet my daughters. I hesitated as I passed the delivery room. I peered through the window in the door and found the room had been cleaned, shiny and white again. I looked around and grabbed the first nurse passing by. She stared up at me wide-eyed.

“ Chief Morgan?”

“ Where is she? Ebba? Number 4?”

“ She died sir,” she poor thing looked confused.

“ I know she’s dead,” I growled. “I was there. Where is she now?” the nurse bowed her head slightly.

“ I think they took her outside, they buried her an hour ago,” I paused closing my eyes for a second.

“ Thank you,” I moved away slowly.

“ Chief Morgan, the new specimens, they’re in the nursery.”

“ I know. I guessed that,” I replied still walking away. I could feel her eyes on my back as I made my way to the nursery.

It was a very small room with three little cots. Two SAT members stood to one side of the room watching the cots. A doctor, one that I didn’t know, obviously very new, stood over one of the little cots with a clipboard. She glanced up and smiled slightly.

“ Can I help you?”

“ I’m Chief Morgan,” I said. She looked taken back them shook my hand heartedly.

“ Of course. I heard so much about your research on these mutants. It’s a real pleasure to meet you.”

“ Thank you,” I moved past and peered into the cot next to her. A baby girl lay asleep in the cot. Her skin sheet white like her mother’s and her hair ebony, like mine, and my father’s. She was beautiful. My heart skipped a beat as I stared down at my daughter.

“ She was the second one born, she’s Number 6. The middle one,” the doctor told me. I nodded slowly.

“ She’s so beautiful.”

“ Yes, they’re identical you know. I’m sure they will be very powerful though.”

“ She looks just like her mother did,” I peered over at the next cot, another baby slept in the same way, her fists curled into little white balls. Like her sister, her hair was ebony and her face was porcelain white.

“ Now she was born last, Number 7,” she glanced at her folder. “ They remind me of Snow White,” she continued.

“ Unfortunately won’t be living a fairly tale,” I murmured back. Why? The baby was so peaceful, innocent. She didn’t deserve the future that was planned for her. I reached down and stroked her cheek slightly.

“ James!” I pulled back swiftly and turned to face Director Morgan who was standing in the doorway. He sighed.

“ You are still young, but you must understand that they aren’t your daughters. You know just how lethal they are. They kill their fathers without hesitation,” he held my third daughter in his arms tightly. “ They are specimen, they belong to me, they are my mutants. They aren’t even human. These are no exception to the rest. The Chimeramortuses show their real colours at six months old when they first start killing. Then at one they find their ability to move objects with their mind. They are mutants. Not human, man’s enemy. They are dangerous predators, unable to love, able only to kill. They are laboratory specimens and nothing more. You know this James. These are not your daughters,” I stared at him wide-eyed.

“ Yes sir. I’m sorry. They are nothing but mutants, creatures. Chimeramortuses. I’ll go now,” I moved swiftly out towards the door. When I passed Director Morgan I looked down at the baby in his arms. She looked slightly different from her sisters, her expression not as peaceful, her hands clenched tighter, her face more scrunched up.

“ She’s the queen,” Director Morgan told me looking at the baby.

“ The what?”

“ The queen bee. She’s the most powerful one. The first one born. Her powers are stronger than we’ve ever seen,” I gazed down at the white baby.

“ How…how do you know?”

“ Because she’s already used her powers. When the doctor set her in her cot the mirror broke and the pieces were aimed at him. He got out of the way in time. Ability to make objects move and desire to kill and she’s not even a day old. We’re locking her up on the first floor this afternoon. She’s already deadly. James, you need to watch out with her, she’s much more dangerous than her mother.”

“ I understand.”

“ Good.”

“ I’ll go have lunch,” I murmured before moving out of the room.

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