Provocations of Light – Second Draft by Karina Thorne
Lights on. Like a patient coming out of hypnotherapy, she awakens with a sudden jolt. Having risen from her stool, Williams assumes a battle-ready position. Her silhouette is that of a sumo wrestler, slightly squatting, hands and arms clenched by her sides. From afar, she stares at the cell’s closed window. She is being pulled towards it. She wants to know whats behind it.
Lights blinkering again. One hand on hip, Williams wipes the sweat off her brow. The back of her hand glides smoothly across the barren surface, with not a single hair to impede the action. Pitch black. A scratch. Amongst the familiar throbbing sounds of the spacecraft, there’s a scratch. Williams freezes. Another sudden flash of light. She’s on high alert and doesn’t even flinch. The smooth, silkiness of her bald head is briefly detected. The air con kicks in, and the immediate reaction to approach the aural distraction is metered by a cool breeze, causing her to jump and inhale quickly and sharply. She braces her arms against her chest, stomach clenched, very still and stiff, ready to protect herself. In the ensuing hush she channels her attention toward her ears. The background is zoomed out. Everything becomes silent. Her feline ears literally move, motioning detection.
Her body heat increasing, she approaches the room, tentatively. One step. Two. She creeps cat-like, hands shaped like claws, lips pulled up, teeth glistening in the bare moonlight. More than memories remain of the failed CG Experiment. “Hiss!” spills forth. A sound of anticipation, a sound of fear. The arch in her back makes her appear larger now, ready to ward off any threat. Her body moves out of curiosity. Williams finds herself pressed up against the warm cell. Ear on window, the captive within the room is the focus of attention.
Lights off. Focus. A yawn is emitted. She is sure of it! Restrained, short, sharp breaths, indicate the panic of an internal battle for survival. The breathless sound echoes a fight for life. Inhaling life. It is inhaling life. With hands like claws, Williams navigates the window frame, locating a small lock. “No funny business. No conversation. And keep your hands off the window!”, the demands of her superior pulsate in her head. She hesitates for a moment and then, decided, flips open the lock. Bulbs blinker behind her. She draws back the window and peers in. The temporary backlight pierces through the dense environs, revealing to her a blurry entity, writhing, entrapped. Like a certain babe in the manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes, the yawning thing lies on the ground, almost motionless. Arms unseen, the outline hints at the form of a human being, and yet the cranium appears overly large.
Williams, eyes wide open, stares in disbelief. Slowly, the muffled breathing becomes less desperate. Then a waddle and a movement signifying a stretch, tests the confines of the trap. The layered strips of fine linen crocheted with a faded CGE emblem, dusty and torn, confirm the creature remains hidden in its cocoon. What is she seeing?
The activity within becomes more rigorous now, more forceful. The waddling, at first erratic, shows rhythm and pace. There is method in the mad oscillation. Back and forth. Back and forth. The intention is clear: whatever is inside wants to get out. Bandaged skin rubs frenziedly against the ground. Williams remains ice-like, entranced.
All at once a constant noise slowly embodies distinct features. A whooshing sound reverberates in her indelicate ears. A movement. Something is stirring inside the room. One finger, then two, then three, she places her thin fingers on the cell window readying to close it. Heavy of hand, it creaks. The clatter stops.
And just as quickly it starts again. Boom. Boom. Boom. Her heartbeat is deafening. Gripping herself tightly, she manages to control her breathing and clear her thoughts: she knows what it is. And it is trying to escape. Her superiors had insisted that all samples from the CGE had been destroyed. That it was impossible to replicate those mutations. At that time, she countered that it was very possible to self-fertilise. And if the tiniest particle remained in tact…a violent, thunderous light bursts out of the room, exploding the door off of it’s hinges. And then she sees the creature! The very reason for her demotion is still alive! Shock and pain combine, rooting her to the spot. A dragging sound: it approaches! All her anger, all her fear, merges into this timeless moment. This is it. Nervous and shaking, she draws herself up ready to face her fear. Ready to face her own grotesque creation.
Click here to read Part 1.