16 years earlier
I marched swiftly through the white corridors, my heart hammering in my chest. It was two a.m, 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. 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 crowded around one door.
I quickly straightened my shoulders, 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 who was tied down with chains to her little metal hospital bed, wearing an already soaked hospital gown. 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.
“Why didn’t you call me when she first went into labour?” I snarled at them. They shrank away from me.
“Sorry sir,” one breathed.
“We didn’t think you needed to be bothered until it was ready to give birth.”
“It’s been in labour for seven hours, we didn’t want to waste your time.”
“Bullshit,” I hissed. “I told you I want to be by her side,” I snapped.
The nurses nodded and stared at the floor. Their faces were covered in sweat, their eyes blood-shit, they looked as exhausted as Ebba, who was breathing heavily on the little cot.
I turned away from them, glancing around. Director Morgan, the director of the facility was standing in one corner, his eyes gleaming, staring at Ebba’s languid body. He was in a good mood, that was rare. I gave him a curt nod and he smiled at me.
I reached out and clutched Ebba’s sweaty little hand. She twisted her head around to stare at me. Her eyes were wide, bloodshot and her face was drenched in sweat. Her mouth opened to say something but she let out a gasp of pain instead. Her eyes flashed black then faded back as she focused on me.
The tragedy of her situation wasn’t lost on me. Seventeen years ago, she was born in the same room, under the same conditions. Just like her mother before her. I could remember clearly the moment I first saw her little face, her tiny body covered in blood, her black eyes glancing around, curious. That curiosity was never sated. She never left the facility in her life. She never would. Mutants weren’t given that liberty. Like all lab animals, she was born and will die in captivity.
They had given her a sleeping drug to get the IVF process done. I only told her she was pregnant two months later. And we never told her I was the father, being one of the only people she tolerated, we didn’t want her to lose that human relation. Not that the facility ready cared about her humanity, she had no rights, she had no life.
“You must be proud,” I heard the Director murmured behind me. I glanced at his aging face.
“She’s all of our pride,” I answered. He shrugged.
“Still, you got her this far. You did all the heavy lifting, I’m proud,” he grinned at me.
“Chief,” it was one of the nurses.
“What is it?” I asked.
“The baby is coming. She has to concentrate now,” she told me. I nodded.
“That’s my cue,” the Director gave me a heavy pat o the back then left the room quickly to position himself behind the window. Besides him, many of the facility’s scientists also looked on.
“Ebba, it’s time now. Are you ready?” I asked Ebba, she had been staring at the director through the window. Her gaze snapped to mine and she shook her head.
“I feel so weak,” she breathed. “I cannot,” her eyes flashed black. “I cannot even use my powers.”
I stroked her sweaty forehead and kneeled so I was at head eyes level.
“You are string, Ebba. You are so strong. You can do this,” I squeezed her hand.
She looked towards the nurses and the doctors. “They’re scared stiff.”
“You know why,” I answered. I noticed sweat beading on her forehead. “You have to control your urges, Ebba, we need them to help birth your daughters. Your daughter’s lives depend on them.”
“I don’t want them to have the same life I did,” she glanced away from me, her chest heaving, racked with tears, though she tried to swallow them down.
I couldn’t answer her, but I stroked her forehead and squeezed her hand. Ebba’s eyes were flashing between her normal black and completely black, her breath was coming out in small gasps. She was gripping the bed, sweat soaking through her long brown hair. The lights in the room began to sway dangerously, one by one they exploded, casting sparks around the room.
“I need more power to get through this,” she gasped. One of my fingers snapped back. I gasped out in pain. My eyes snapped to Ebba, she was gazing back at me, her expression a weird mix of pain and euphoria.
“I can’t hurt them”, she breathed her gaze moving to the nurses and then back to me. “But I can hurt you,” she finished, her eyes clouding back again.
I barely had time to scream. My body was soaring through the air, I slammed against the wall. I felt my bones crushing and I toppled towards the ground pain shooting through me. My scream was mixed with Ebba’s as she rocked the bed gasping and crying. From my position on the floor, I could see the blood dribbling 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. I felt my fingers snapping, the bones popping. I saw in her eyes, the strength it brought her, so I bit down on my lip and kept from screaming.
She cried again, the chains holding her down exploded. She’d never been able to destroy iron before. Then for a few seconds, her eyes clouded over and the whole room began to shake, her breathing came out on heavy puffs and her skin began to shimmer, glowing. I could see her powers, I could see them cocooning around her body. Her body arched and she let out a final scream.
It was joined but another, and new scream, a baby's scream.
I looked up to see the midwife holding up and screaming, bloodied, pink baby girl. 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 nurse appeared and quickly swaddled the baby, taking her away.
Ebba whimpered. Her skin wasn't shimmering anymore, she looked pale, her blood dribbling down her chin. Her black eyes were fixed on the door where her child had been taken.
“Director Morgan stepped into the room, his gaze met mine. “We have one successful daughter, something to celebrate tonight,” he grinned. A guard helped me up looping his arm around me. I leaned heavily against him, breathing in short huffs. I could only focus on Ebba, my pain seemed secondary.
“You did well James,” Director Morgan told me smiling.
“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,” the midwife whispered wide-eyed.
“Another,” I echoed.
“Wonderful!” Director Morgan snarled.
“Oh no,” I whispered. “Not another.”
“They’ve never survived this long before to give birth to the others,” 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 going to hurt my babies,” her voice was weak, her pulse against my hand was fading.
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. Ebba had drained her life.
Then again, none of the mothers 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. Sixteen was seemingly the optimal age for reproduction for her species.
“You’re a father,” Ebba breathed. I stared 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. She couldn't even move to scream anymore. Her eyes couldn't snap back to black, instead, two large blue eyes stared up at me. A childlike face, long eyes lashes, sharp cheekbones.
I suddenly realised that the Ebba dying in front of me had lost her powers completely. The girl on the table in front of me was now just a human, a human child.
“Please,” I begged her. I didn’t know what I was begging for but I needed her to stay alive.
“Keep them safe. Please,” she whispered. 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 life,” she gasped 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 in the arms of the nurses. Two little girls screaming, wet and sticky. 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 marched around Ebba’s bed. He gazed down at her.
“Amazing specimen,” he muttered. “Much stronger than its mother. Much stronger than any we’ve had in here before. Let’s hope its daughters can live up to it. 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.
I stripped and tossed my bloody clothes in my washing machine. There were photos of Ebba on my walls, a baby with white skin and curly brown hair, then a three-year-old, then five. All her life hung up on my walls.
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 through the white corridors.
Essentially the research lab wasn't a bad place, it was a place for hope. Scientists and doctors from all over the globe were flown in, most without the true knowledge of what happened behind the glass windows. The Chimeramortuses had proven themselves to be 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, Cancer, everything and anything the doctors could imagine, they never showed any sign of illness. 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 scientists worked to extract their immunity and put it into humans. One day, we were going to cure cancer.
We'd already 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.
Essentially it wasn't a bad place.
“Ah, James! Come in!” Director Morgan beckoned me in when I pushed his office door open. 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. I shall put them on each floor. Numbers 5, 6 and 7," he stood up and paced around his desk. "We did something right impregnating 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?” I asked.
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 at me nodding.
“That’s wonderful. You know the drill. This time should be interesting."
"I know," I turned away.
“Oh, and son,” he called. I faced him. He shook his head. “ Get yourself cleaned up. Your employees cannot see you in this state to take you seriously,” he gestured at my shabby appearance.
I nodded in agreement stuffed my shirt back into my pants and tightened my tie. I lifted my chin and straightened my shoulders. Director Morgan nodded approvingly. I turned on my heels and quickly left the room.
I headed towards the maternity wing, dreading every step. 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.
“Where is she? Ebba? Number 4?”
“She died sir,” she replied, the 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 aback then 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 was sheet white like her mother’s and her hair was ebony, like mine. 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 fairy 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 know just how lethal they are. They kill their fathers without hesitation,” he held my third daughter in his arms tightly. “They are specimens, they belong to me, they are my mutants. They aren’t even human. These are no exception to the rest. 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 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 lethal. James, you need to watch out with her, she’s much more dangerous than her mother.”
“I’ll go have lunch,” I murmured before moving out of the room.