“It is breathing, but it doesn’t use much O2.” O’Connor told her, his long face flexing into a dishonest smile, his ingress having escaped her notice. He sat down on the table beside her with his thumbs hooked into the pockets of his grey trousers, commentating the footage as it played out again. “They deliver another round of inoprophenol...” She watched the long, slender dart device being introduced to a sliding partition in the front of the enclosure, and saw the little missile strike the subject high on its left arm. “Waited twenty minutes... went in...” He took the remote from her and slowed the projection, emphasizing the caution exercised by the two large orderlies on entering the cell, densely ponderous in their body armour beside their lightly-clad objective; though the account contained no audio track, it was apparent that the two men were issuing instructions to the creature. “It’s totally passive... won’t talk, won’t look, will not respond on any level.” The orderlies shook their heads at each other and then reached down to hoist their subject from the floor. “Until you try to impose contact. At least now we can cross inoprophenol off the list of effective agents.”
The creature emerged from its fugue in a moment Josephine blinked away, seizing and swiftly dismantling its tormentors as though they were intrinsically modular, in a process that, while horrifically graphic, was rendered almost abstract by the dispassion of the offender and the employment of its vastly superior strength in the imposition of its will, as though completing the task to a game-show deadline. It left the resulting pieces where they lay, standing with its arms by its sides, strafed by the arterial spray that was rendered in solid navy blue by the camera.
“Look at the total lack of inhibition as it goes for the debrachiation. This thing will literally rip your arm from your body without thinking about it. When have we ever seen this kind of arousal and reaction time, even from a lycanthrope?” His voice trailed off as he shook his head in wonder, reversing and playing the process over. “As much as I hate to admit it, Bateman was right... this thing needs to be written up and registered yesterday. It’s incredible.”
Josephine looked from the screen to the controlling unit in his grasp.
“What did the lab say?”
“They can’t say anything. The samples taken when it entered the system were as unstable as anything we’ve gotten... turns to dust, just like everything else. If we didn’t have the whole thing for context, we’d be back to square one.”
The creature’s submission to their unwitting ambush played over in an endless loop inside her head, vindicating her suspicion of its apathy.
“When can I put in for access?” she asked.
He suspended the inmate's image in the act of walking back to the rear of its cell between the dismembered orderlies, who had ceased to jerk or rock in the midst of the blood that had pooled at the foot of the transparent panel.
“There's a tight circle for now... no one without a special-issue clearance.” The anger in her gaze relegated him in a swift and peremptory process that he did not care for. “Never demand where you can negotiate, Ms Jones." he added, removing his glasses and sliding a little cloth from his pocket to wipe them perfectly clean.
CONTINUED NEXT WEEK
© céili o'keefe do not reproduce