‹ Prequel: Hurricane Heart
Sequel: Storms in Utopia

Martyr's Run

Experiment 37


‘Good morning, lady and gentlemen,’ said a doctor, appearing out of nowhere. His greying, greasy hair was slicked back, and he had a pointed face, with a sharp nose and accentuated chin. He wore a typical white lab coat and had rubber gloves sticking out of his front pocket and a surgical mask hanging around his chin, ready for use.

I could have collapsed. But I didn’t.

‘Well, 36, you’re looking a little better than yesterday,’ he jeered, taking the zombie girl’s chin in two fingers and lifting it up, shining a torch in her eyes. She didn’t react to it. If this was looking better, then what was worse?

‘What the fuck is this place? I asked, my voice a low, shuddering undertone.

‘It’s the Surgery, number 37,’ the doctor said, putting on a pleasant face, but with a sadistic motive underneath.

‘The Surgery?’ I repeated in despondence.

‘Yes,’ the doctor said, ‘and I have some beauties to test on you and your friend number 38 today. First, though, I will deal with 36.’ He looked back to the girl as I watched, close to throwing up, close to fainting.

Two more doctors appeared out of the back room, both men, both with equally sly, slick expressions.

‘A second dose for today, do you reckon?’ the main doctor asked.

‘Go for it,’ one of them replied.

The main doctor took number 36—I had no other name to call her by—by the hand and led her to the nearest concrete-like bed. With a slight helping hand, she obediently got on, and he pressed a button that made it ascend into an upright chair position. Even though the poor girl was going to be no trouble, he still used the dangling black straps to fix her arms to the railing-like sides of the chair.

This wasn’t happening. This wasn’t real.

Fear turned my mind into a storm. I couldn’t think. I shook vigorously in my skin, which suddenly felt so frail, and wrapped my arms around myself. Today was a good day; I was thinking; I was imagining. So maybe this was all just a dream. Maybe there had been a long enough break between my injections for me to actually dream again. I hadn’t dreamt since I had been here—that was the drugs doing their work—but maybe this was an anomaly. Maybe it was just a particularly good day.

Unfortunately, this ‘good day’ for my mind was rapidly declining into a very, very bad day for my body in the real world.

I stood beside the other man as he shivered, and we both watched in horror as the poor girl was injected with something. I didn’t know what it was, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to know.

All I knew was that, after several seconds of the syringe being out of her skin, she began to scream.

The scream was like no sound I had ever heard. It was hideous...inhuman.

‘What are you doing to her?’ I cried out eventually when I could stand it no longer. ‘For God’s sake!’

Two of the three doctors turned to glare at me. The third continued watching number 36 (I didn’t want to call her that, but it was the only name I knew her by) with mild interest. How could he? This was just...monstrous.

‘Stop shouting please, 37,’ said the main doctor.

‘Hell no!’ I snapped. ‘I want to know what you’ve done to her.’

The man took several steps forward. ‘I can show you, if you like.’ A sadistic grin spread across his face. ‘Come here, 37.’

He gestured to another bed. There was no way I was taking another step forward.

His sadistic smile fell into a disapproving, stern expression. Now, whilst he wasn’t exactly tormenting me, he reminded me horrifically of a strict teacher having just caught you in the act of doing something bad.

‘Come now, Simeon,’ he said, his tone sinister. ‘We wouldn’t want to have to drag you across the room.’

Still I refused to move, but I could feel myself sinking. The three armed guards that stood on patrol around the room marched like a mini army towards me, their guns out. Tranquilisers...of course they were tranquilisers. I wasn’t going to get out of this by merely getting shot. That would be far too generous of them.

‘I said,’ the doctor repeated, ‘come, Simeon.’

I had no choice. Feeling increasingly fainter, I practically staggered towards him, and he gestured to the bed next to the woman; number 36, whatever her real name was.

‘Down you go,’ he said, laughing. I couldn’t take it. I was going to be sick...or maybe just punch him in the face. Either way, I wasn’t getting out of this without a heavy dose of untested drugs or chemicals ending up in my body, my skin, my hair, my eyes.

Now I could see why people had been so jubilant when the end of animal testing had been announced.

If only they knew what had replaced it.

The two other doctors grabbed me at that point, one arm each, and as much as I tried to resist, struggling and wrenching myself free from their grasp, they slammed my wrists down onto the metal rail around the bed and pulled the straps tightly around my arms, so tightly that it hurt, and I was here...I was bound and trapped and if they decided to kill me, or torture me, or even perform the Operation on me, I had no chance of escape.

I would have almost preferred to be brought down here on one of my ‘bad’ days. If it was a really bad day, maybe just after I’d been to my morning tests, I might have even forgotten how to feel fear.

No. That would have been too kind. They brought me here on one of my best days, which was the absolute worst possible time.

My breathing came in quick, ragged gasps as I looked from side to side, alarmed, terrified, on edge. My heart was so loud I could barely hear the doctor speak, but even over all the apocalyptic calamity in my mind, I could still read every word he said from his mouth as he leant over me.

One of the other doctors went back to number 36, who had fallen silent. As I strained my neck to look at her on the neighbouring bed, she seemed to be unconscious.

‘Type One is unsuccessful, sir,’ that doctor said to the main doctor. Unsuccessful...what happened if something was unsuccessful? Did we die? Did we come out with irreversible side-effects?

‘What are you doing to her?’ I practically spat.

‘Same as we’re going to do to you,’ the doctor leered back at me. ‘We’re testing new forms of tranquiliser today. Consider yourself lucky; chances are you’ll spend most of the time unconscious. Not everyone is so fortunate.’ He glanced towards the doctor standing by number 36, sharing a private look with him. I wanted to scream, but by now I was too afraid. Tranquiliser...I guess it could have been worse. If they were testing a new cancer vaccination or something similar, and then that went wrong...well I didn’t like to think about that.

But even so, side-effects of tranquilisers could be pretty dire too. What if I never woke up?

The main doctor looked to the doctor standing by number 36. ‘Note down her side effects,’ he told him. Then he looked at the third doctor, who was standing further back, close to number 38, who was literally shaking with fear.

‘Take him to a bed,’ my doctor announced. ‘Start testing the numbing injections; see if we have any success there.’

Without warning, the doctor turned back to me, a syringe in hand. I tensed up, struggling futilely against my bonds, knowing that it was useless. I watched in hopeless despair as the tip of the needle jabbed my skin, and then pressed deeper and deeper, right into the muscle of my wrist, and the sickly looking liquid was deposited into my blood. Despite wanting to look away, I could do nothing but watch in fear. My blood was pumping so fast I felt sure it was going to burst out of the tiny prick in my flesh. A dull pain was pricking me where the syringe remained in my skin, and I thought I was going to be sick.

Pain exploded in my arm.

Everything went black.


I woke up.

Instantly, I began to gag.

Where was I? What was going on?

‘I’m going to be sick!’ I choked to whoever was listening.

And then I remembered. The doctor appeared in the periphery of my vision, watching me with mild interest. I was in the surgery; in for testing, and I had just been sedated for...for how long? How many more hours of this torment did I have to endure?

The doctor was frowning slightly, a clipboard in hand. I began to cough violently again, spluttering up phlegm, trying to aim it towards the floor off the side of the bed.

With what I could only describe as an irritated sigh, the doctor brought over a plastic bag and held it under my mouth. I had a good mind to project my vomit into his face, but with one more gagging wretch, I emptied out my bland, tasteless breakfasts and dinners from who knew how many days neatly into the bag.

‘What...the fuck...are you doing to me?’ I growled, collapsing back against the headrest of the bed as a headache began to throb dimly behind my eyes.

‘Language please, 37,’ the doctor ordered abruptly. He looked up at one of the other doctors from earlier; the blonde one who had been tending so-called number 36.

‘Type Two is reasonably successful, however we’re going to have to take a look at the side-effects,’ he announced.

Successful? If this was successful, then what was unsuccessful?

‘How long was I asleep for?’ I mumbled, dazed and drowsy. Despite being heavily tranquilised, I had woken almost with a start. From what I could remember, I had been knocked out very quickly too, though not before I had a chance to experience a great deal of pain.

The doctor glanced down at his digital wristwatch. ‘About forty minutes,’ he replied curtly.

Forty minutes? Was that it?

‘That was only a mild dose,’ he continued. ‘Later, we’ll test a heavier amount and see what that does to you, but we have to give the effects a chance to wear off first.’

Now that I looked around, I noticed that various wires had been strapped to different parts of my skin—there were wires leading from my arms and shoulders and forehead, all attached up to a great, cumbersome computer and generator up by the bed. A heart monitor was bleeping rhythmically, its harsh beep setting me on edge, and a computer monitor was showing various images of what I could assume demonstrated what was going on in my body.

The doctor turned to one of his fellows.

‘Do you think we could have Type Four set up?’ he asked. He turned to me, as though he was trying to reassure me. ‘We’ve already done numerous tests, and you can be assured that none of the chemicals in Type Four react with any of the ones in Type Two, which you’ve just taken.’

‘Oh, well that’s good,’ I said bitterly, hoping he could sense my sarcasm. If he did, however, he chose to ignore it.

I lay there for ten minutes or so, my stomach churning like a particularly violent sea, before one of the assistant doctors returned with a metal hospital trolley. On it were various plastic pouches of drugs and medicines and things, and also a fresh, shining syringe, full of new chemicals.

I was no more prepared for the needle this time than I was the time previous, but it didn’t hurt as much. This time, however, instead of a fire exploding like a bomb in my veins, the drug was ice, seeping up through my right arm and into the rest of my body, numbing every muscle and every joint and every nerve. It grew colder and colder until the ice was the only thing I could think about or feel. I was so cold and numb that I couldn’t even open my mouth to scream in pain. For this was pain too, only in a different form to how it was normally perceived.

Finally, after what could have been an age of silent, frozen agony, my eyes fell closed and blackness engulfed me.