After the third day since the first injection, Brian knew there had been a mistake.
He could even pinpoint the exact moment he figured it out. The nurse had pressed the tip of the needle to his skin, and as it broke the flesh, every nerve in his body lit on fire. His wild, enraged backhand had caught her right across the jaw, the animalistic, pained bellows coming out of his mouth drowning out the noise of her neck snapping like so much dry cordwood. It had taken ten men to hold him down, and the sedatives had been another bonfire of agony coursing throughout his system.
They never said it would be like this. When he’d signed up for the enhancile treatments he was promised that he would be faster, stronger, invincible. He would be a god, no, a titan, striding through the battlefield, laying waste to anything that dared to cross his path. Day Four was spent having his contract explained to him. In all his frenzied daydreaming he had missed the part of the contract that said, in the finest small print military dollars could buy, ‘Mark I Serum is still in alpha testing phase’. In English that came out ‘we fucked up and when we boosted your muscles, we also heightened your senses, to the point where every breath of air is burning pain’. His gratitude had been overflowing, then, later; it had just been a rage fueled punch to a doctor’s face, interrupting some bullshit explanation about how it wasn’t their fault.
In the middle of day five there had been talk: talk of ‘testosterone overproduction’, and ‘exponential aggressiveness growth’. Brian found he was beyond caring as his fists drove into the concrete, splinters puncturing, pain searing up his arms. Pain was good. He liked the pain now. It made all that beautiful red appear in front of his eyes. He could lose himself in it. Drown out the screaming, (and it was screaming now, someone was very frightened, maybe of him, and Brian laughed in his chest at the thought as the men in the other room went dead quiet) about ‘mutagen coalescence’ and how this was all Thomson’s goddamn fault.
He hadn’t cared. By day six, everything had gotten so very simple. He'd wanted food, so he'd hunted down a scientist and bit off a piece. His head felt different, like there was more bone there. The red fog never went away and his thoughts drifted across it as the soldiers poured into the room. The first few bullets lodged in his chest, the force absorbed by the spiny plates growing just under the skin. He had swung one massive hand, ridged with white protruding bone, and pulverized a helmet. The men at the end of the hall had screamed about backup and how ‘firebreak’ needed to be used. He ignored it, with all the men firing at him it had seemed unimportant, and the red whispered to him how good it would feel to just take the tattered remains of his skin off and let his muscles breathe. It was only when he ran out of soldiers that he looked around. The idea of retreat no longer had any place in his fury-soaked brain. He’d run through the halls of the base and roared, daring them to challenge him. The beeping echoing was just another distraction. He ignored it.
As a consequence of this, the slow inability to breathe and the soft fall into blackout from oxygen starvation was less surprising than the fact that he could still die.
"Goddamn mess. The whole thing."
"Look General, we said-"
"You said it was goddamn safe! That we would have a working prototype in a year, and mass-production in two more!"
"And we thought we were right! No one could have foreseen that, that THING being created!"
"That's your fucking job isn't it?! To think ahead! Not to fuck up so badly we have to pump halon into the goddamn vents! And don't tell me that's nothing to worry about! You were five seconds from dying yourself you little shit!"
"We'll figure a way to explain this all away. We'll be fine-"
"No. There is no 'We'."
"…You're not seriously suggest-"
"It's either I throw you to the dogs, or we all get nine-millimeter retirements. I'm gonna have a hard enough time spinning this towards the equipment and specimens saved, rather than the dozens of personnel dead."
"You knew the risks when you signed up for the job. And I'm not going to die because you tried to be God. Good bye Doctor."
"…Well. I guess I'll see you in hell then?"
"Not if that thing is waiting for you there."