A scream tore through the night.
Colonel George Klenc glanced up in annoyance. He had a mountain of paperwork to complete and seemed to be interrupted every five minutes. If it wasn’t a private asking some inane question or another, it was the storm’s constant interference with the electricity—or of course that infernal screaming.
He took another sip of coffee, grimacing when he realized it had gone cold. He tried to refocus: Case Report RNB26-89, data collection and transference of,,,
The screaming interrupted him once again. Swearing slightly, he stood from his desk and strode out of his office towards the stairwell. Down two flights of stairs until he arrived in the laboratory—what used to be an old operating room, before the Renaissance Patriots had taken over the hospital. He knocked on the glass, where a scientist looked up. The scientist nodded and stepped away from her work, entering the viewing room. Klenc wrinkled in disgust as he took in the various stains on the scientist’s scrubs. Dried bloodstains, an assortment of other colors that he did not want to identify.
“Can’t you shut her up?” Klenc demanded without preamble.
Dr. Claudia Nolte frowned in displeasure. She was a small woman, her body nearly all planes and angles. She was plain in most respects, save for her bright electric blue eyes. She made Colonel Klenc nervous, if truth be told.
“Not without compromising the procedure. We need her brain neurons firing as we splice. Otherwise, we have no chance of resuscitation,” Dr. Nolte replied finally, crossing her arms.
“That’s all very well and good,” Klenc grumbled. “But she’s disturbing the entire damn base. How long will this take, anyway?”
Dr. Nolte chuckled dryly. “How long does it take to resuscitate an alien life form by transplanting human organs and brain matter? Good question. It’s never been done before—which is why you have me performing this procedure. Which is why I was called by the RP Chief—for my expertise in this matter. Correct?”
Colonel Klenc glared at him. “Correct. But never forget, doctor—everyone is replaceable.”
Dr. Nolte snorted a little, before returning to the operating room. Arrogant bitch. So confident in her own personal brilliance, so secure in her position. Klenc shook his head. Pride goeth before the fall and all that. Everyone was replaceable. Their former president—an idiot of a man, but easily manipulated—thought his position was secure too. As did their former Congress and Supreme Court. But the Renaissance Patriots had seen how deeply the corruption had infected their government. They had seen the danger their country was in. They had to intervene. The fool of a president was useful for a time, but then it was time to rebuild, to return the country to its former glory.
Klenc gazed inside the operating room, folding his arms against his chest. Somewhere in the coal country, a foreign capsule had crashed into mountains, starting a rather terrible forest fire. When the dust had cleared, they seized the spacecraft excitedly. Unfortunately, the creatures piloting the capsule were dead on impact. But this was of little consequence. The technology the capsule represented would provide innumerable advances towards military super strength. The Renaissance Patriots New America would be a global superpower once more. No longer would they be a laughingstock…
Even better…Dr. Claudia Nolte of MIT contacted the RP, telling them that barring certain ethical quandaries and with the provided resources…she could resuscitate the creature.
Their new leader made the project their first priority. It was easier than expected to acquire the necessary resources that Dr. Nolte asked for. The RPNA did not mind so much the morality of human science experimentation, so long as they were in control of it.
The girl had been called Bana. She’d been living with a few families in a crumbling tenement building, before the registration act had taken place and the deportations set forth. Her own family had died long ago, in whatever war-torn country she’d escaped from. Instead of banishment, they’d taken her. Her organs were in perfect working order, she was intelligent enough, and she would not be missed.
Klenc shook his head in disgust. Truth be told, he doubted this whole thing would work to begin with. Who could say if human and alien anatomy were compatible to begin with? It seemed like a fool’s errand.
But orders were orders.
Blinding lightning coursed through her body. She screamed as white hot rods sliced designs into her skin, deeper than bone, plunging themselves into her. She was a goose on a dining room table, being carved up and served.
What was happening?
All at once, vision burst forth.
Do not the Unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together, then We clove them asunder and We got every living thing out of the water. Will they not then believe?
She could see, she could see, but there was more. She could see the room she lay in, she could see the stranger bent over her, her scalpel tinged with a cheery red, but there was more. She could see the faded walls, the fluorescent lights, but there was more.
And We have created above you seven paths. We have never been unmindful of the Creation.
There were colors surrounding the doctor. Ultraviolets, flashes of green and orange, enough to make her feel sick. She tried to say something but only screamed. There were too many sensations—she could feel everything in the room, the stranger’s anticipation and excitement, someone else’s boredom and irritation, and of course, her own fear…she was drowning in it. What was happening to her?
The stranger’s eyes widened and she stepped back. “Can you hear me?”
She could not understand the words. They were a language she was unfamiliar with, but some part of her—some part of her reached out and tasted the doctor’s expression, the quizzical brow, the breathless question…it was a question. The stranger had asked her a question. What question? They were wondering if she was conscious. They were wondering if their experiment had worked.
All of a sudden, she was sitting up. But there was something wrong. She had two legs, didn’t she? No, no, there were too many limbs beneath her. Four limbs beneath her, touching the table, tasting its coldness, measuring its length, memorizing its terrain.
The stranger was afraid. The fear tasted sour. The stranger was afraid of what they had created. But what had they created?
She opened her mouth to try and speak again. She wanted to say, “Where am I? What has happened to me?” though she knew her language would not be understood. But what came out of her mouth was another shriek. But this shriek was not a shriek of pain—it shattered the glass walls of the room and the fluorescent lights extinguished with a pop. She recognized the darkness but it did not inhibit her. Her shriek forced the stranger to the ground, dropping her scalpel, knocked into unconsciousness. There was redness lining the stranger’s ears. She was far away from the stranger, she would not touch the stranger, but she could still taste the red—it tasted of salt.
“Bana,” She said suddenly. “Bana. I am Bana.”
Sio. I am Sio—
Bana heard it. Another name in her head. Sio—something. She could not distinguish the noises that followed the name. She frowned, trying to concentrate. She could access her thoughts. She had memories. Her 9th birthday party. Her mother’s tears. Her father’s dead body. The deafening sound of bombs shaking the earth, vibrating her bones. She had come to this country alone. She was 17.
Bana covered her ears. She could feel panic inside her but it wasn’t her panic. It was not the stranger’s panic either. The stranger and her scalpel lay on the floor, covered in shattered glass. There was no one with them. But she could feel this separate panic, like a child crying against her shoulder.
“Shh shh,” Bana whispered. “Shh shh.”
“Shh shh,” Bana looked at herself. “I’m here. I’m right here.”
Six limbs. She could not distinguish if they were arms or legs, but there were four of them on her lower half. Two that seemed like hands. She could not make out her skin color—it seemed almost onyx in color, but it shimmered back and forth, catching rays of light, changing like a chameleon.
“Have to get out,” Bana muttered. “Have to escape…soldiers coming…”
It had been soldiers who had taken her—from her home country to her new country. Soldiers never meant good things for her.
“Outside,” She mumbled, groping towards the door. “We have to go outside…”
The glass door had shattered. The knob was locked, so she stepped through it, wincing in anticipation. Her feet were bare, she could feel the crunch of glass and metal under all four of them. Strangely, they did not cut her. Why not?
Bana shivered. The other consciousness—it was directing the disjointed words to her.
“Stop,” She placed her hands against her head. “Stop—I can’t hear—”
She heard the click of a gun. Bright and angry colors swirled around her—hatred, fear, anticipation, confusion, disgust—
They started shooting. She watched in fascination as bullets riddled her onyx body. She could not feel them. Instead, her body seemed to absorb them.
Her four legs moved against her volition. Like a spider, she scuttled up the walls, bypassing the soldiers. They screamed at her in horror. Once past the line of soldiers, she returned to solid ground, turned towards them and stared.
“Demon!” One man shrieked hysterically “Demon from Hell!”
“Don’t shoot her!” The stranger pushed past them—it was the same woman Bana had woken up to, the woman and her scalpel. “Don’t kill her!”
Bana opened her mouth obediently. Her vision became hazy and unfocused. But she heard the most beautiful song, haunting and lilting, filling her senses, lifting her up. It almost sounded like the call to prayer, or an old hymn she’d heard from one of her neighbors, the man from Kyrgyzstan. The song coursed through her veins, chilled every sensation, hurtled her through time.
The soldiers fell to the ground, a motionless pile of bodies. The stranger fell again too, her head slamming against the cold floor. Bana stared at the bodies in confusion. But the alarms were still blaring, the lights were still flashing, so she turned away, trying to run for the doors. She had too many legs, too many limbs to negotiate. The other consciousness tried to help her, tried to direct which to use but she pushed it away. It had saved her. But it terrified her. Suppose the soldier was right…suppose she was listening to a demon…
“Sio,” Bana whispered. The name did not sound like it did in her head, it was clumsy on her tongue and she hadn’t even tried to mimic the other sounds that accompanied it.
She was outside now. She could see the sky, the coldly blinking stars scattered above her. She could smell trees and the crisp night air—she knew it was dark outside, but she could see perfectly. Her mother had once called her dark green eyes “cat eyes”.
Now she actually had cat eyes.
Bana ran for the woods. She could hear the other consciousness—Sio—urging her on, looking mournfully towards the sky, repeating that same word…colony. Colony, colony, colony…her home? Her civilization? Her family?
She picked up speed. She was learning how to manage her legs and how they helped her gain speed, how she could sense what was ahead of her and what was approaching behind her. She could blend into the darkness. She could escape.
The darkness closed around Bana and she ran into the thickening woods.