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A note from Spectacular

This is part 1 of 2 of the interlude chapter. It's an extra-large chapter so I cut it in half for your convenience. The second half will be posted tomorrow.

Content Warning: This chapter is dark as fuck.

“Happy Birthday!”

Zoe leaned forward and blew out the candles on her cake. Eight candles! She was eight, officially a big kid now. All the little kids in the playground would look up to her. At least, they would once Daddy was done with his work and they moved back to Dursten together.

Mommy went to live with the gods in their paradise when Zoe was six years old, so Daddy was taking care of her by himself now. Daddy had to live out here in the super secret base to do his work, so Zoe had to leave her friends behind and go with him.

Living in a secret base was fun at first, but she wished there were other kids here to play with. There wasn’t much to do here. She spent most of her days reading story books from the library, travelling to other worlds in her imagination.

Even though there were no kids, she wasn’t alone at her birthday party. Daddy was working so he couldn’t come, but seven people showed up. They were all guards. Zoe wasn’t really expecting to see any of the researchers show up. The mages weren’t that friendly, but the guards seemed to love her. She resented being called their ‘mascot’ though.

Mary, one of the soldiers and the only other girl in the whole base helped her cut the cake and dish it out onto plates for the others. Zoe set aside the piece with the most icing on it for herself.

After the cake, came the presents. Zoe already knew what they were, but she pretended to be surprised as she unwrapped them. Pastries, dried fruits, and candies! Sweet things! Normally she only got one treat for dessert at dinner, but she had so much now!

“Thank you!” she said to everyone.

Zoe looked down at her dragon’s hoard of sugary things with glee. Where should she start?

“Mommy used to give me lots of candy,” Zoe said to Mary, who was sitting beside her. “Daddy says that’s why I’ve got such a sweet tooth now.”

“Make sure y-you enjoy it… Don’t wait too long or it’ll s-spoil before you can eat it…” Mary was smiling, but her lower lip was trembling. She patted Zoe gently on the back, stood up, and quickly left the room, “Excuse me, I uh… forgot I had to do something.”

Was Mary crying? Why? Did she bang her toe on something? That made Zoe cry sometimes.

Zoe looked back down at her candy and chose a dried plum to start with. Yum! The six other guards were being really quiet. Was something happening? Zoe turned to Doug, sitting on the other side of her.

“Have you been in the lab before?” Zoe asked. Doug looked nervous but nodded slowly.

“What’s it like? Daddy always said I was too young to go in there, but I’m a big kid now. Daddy said he would let me see it today.”

“…yes, you’ll get to see it…” Doug stared down at the floor as he talked. His voice was super quiet, Zoe could barely hear him.

“I bet there’s lots of interesting stuff in there, right?”

Doug nodded quietly. Another guard stood up and quickly left the room, “Sorry, I just realized I needed to… go.”

Zoe watched him leave. What was going on? Everyone was acting weird. Zoe reached into her pile and took a pastry. She’d eat those first and save the hard candies for last. The hard candies wouldn’t spoil very quickly so she could save them for later.

One by one, the guards left the party. Doug was the last one to leave, but he came back a few minutes later, cradling a folded piece of cloth in his arm.

“Zoe…” he said softly, “are you ready to visit your dad in the lab?”

Zoe’s eyes lit up. “Finally!” she said.

This was it! She was finally going to find out what he dad actually did here. Zoe only knew it was some kind of magic research, but whenever she asked him about it, he always said it was a secret. She lived here for two years, and she still hadn’t found out. Today, she was finally going to see his research project and get a tour of the lab. Daddy said she’d be able to see it up close.

Doug handed the cloth to her, which turned out to be a dress, “You can’t wear your normal clothes in the lab, so you need to go to your room and change into this. It’s a special lab dress.”

Zoe snatched the dress out of his hands and ran to her room with her candy pile forgotten. She would have cheered out loud, but she’d get in trouble for making too much noise. When she closed the bedroom door behind her, she slipped out of her clothes as fast as possible, carelessly throwing them on the bed, and pulled the lab dress on. She was changed in less than a minute. It wasn’t the nicest dress, and the fabric was kinda scratchy, but it was ok, she could change back into her normal clothes after.

Doug, and Markus, another one of the guards, one that couldn’t make it to the party, were waiting for her outside her door.

“Your shoes too,” Doug pointed out. Zoe looked down at her feet. “We don’t have any lab shoes that will fit you, but you can go barefoot. That should be okay.”

Zoe quickly kicked off her shoes and threw them behind her into the room, feeling the cold white stone beneath her feet.

“Ready?” Doug asked with a smile. Zoe nodded, and followed the men to the lab.

The doorway that separated the lab from the living quarters was huge and thick. It wasn’t the sort of door you can get through easily. Daddy said it was because the things in the lab were super-secret, while the things outside the lab, like the bedrooms and dining hall were only normal-secret. Doug unlocked the door with a strange cylinder shaped key, and something inside the door went ‘clunk’ before Doug was able to push it open.

Zoe entered the lab for the first time. The two guards followed, closing and re-locking the door behind them with another ‘clunk’. Daddy was standing there, waiting for her.

“Daddy!” Zoe ran to her father and hugged him.

“Hey pumpkin, are you ready to see where daddy works?”

Zoe was. The first room she saw was the ‘Alchemy Lab.’ It was full of strange old books, and weird glass bulbs and beakers, all filled with different strange substances. She was told to be very careful not to touch anything. Most of the chemicals were poisonous to humans, and many of them had to be kept at a high temperature to keep them stable. The hot beakers were labeled with red warning stickers and were sat on top of fire rune heating plates. Daddy said that they were the temperature of boiling water.

The next room Daddy showed her was a long hallway, lined on either side by windows. These were the holding cells, eight on either side of the hallway. Daddy said that the windows weren’t glass, they were actually a colorless sapphire, enchanted to prevent shattering. All the cages were empty white boxes with nothing inside. When Zoe asked what they were supposed to hold, Daddy said that he was trying to make a new form of life. He started talking about the potential of the mind, and how ant colony was really one giant organism made up of separate parts. Zoe didn’t really understand him, but she knew her dad. Once he got talking, he could keep going and going. Zoe smiled and nodded while pretending to listen.

The final room was the ‘Creation Room.’ All sorts of strange crystals and arcane brass instruments lined standing benches along the walls. In the centre of the room was a single massive cylindrical tank. It was only about as deep as a bathtub, but it was very wide. It was made out of clean, polished steel, and there was a thick lid on the top. Just like the Alchemy Lab, warning stickers were placed on the side saying that the contents were very hot.

Daddy gestured to the tank, “The lid please.”

The two guards started walking to the tank, and Daddy grabbed Zoe’s shoulders and turned her to face him.

“Zoe… Daddy loves you very much. Remember that, okay?”

“Okay?” Zoe already knew Daddy loved her… why was he saying this now?

“Promise? Promise that, no matter what happens, you’ll remember?”

“Daddy, what’s-” Zoe turned to watch the two guards strain and lift the heavy metal lid off the tank. Daddy quickly turned her head back to him, and hugged her, burying her face in his chest.

“Promise me.”

“uh pffomisff,” Zoe attempted to say she promised, but her face was being squished into Daddy’s chest.

“I love you so much,” Daddy repeated quietly.

There was the sound of metal sliding across metal. Daddy released his hug, still keeping a firm grip on Zoe’s shoulders. Zoe saw tears in his eyes.

“You’re going to be so beautiful…” These weren’t tears of sadness, they were tears of joy. Daddy turned to the two guards, “It’s time.”

Two pairs of hands gripped her tightly by the arms and lifted her up. The hands were clad in thick leather gloves that reached up to their elbow. Zoe looked at the two men carrying her. Both Doug and Markus wore protective masks that covered their entire face with only a single narrow slit for the eyes. Zoe was starting to get scared.

“Daddy? What’s going on?”

She heard Daddy’s voice behind her, “You’re going to change sweetie, just like a pretty butterfly.”

Daddy’s voice was distant and soft, almost like he was talking in his sleep. Zoe was definitely scared now.

As the two men carried her towards the edge of the tank, she looked inside. The thick goopy fluid was impossible to see through, mostly purple in color, with streaks of orange and green mixed in. The colors slowly blended and swirled around. Zoe could feel the heat, even from a distance.

“Daddy?” Zoe shouted in alarm. This was scary.

“It’ll be over soon, sweetheart. Just a quick little swim in a warm bath… Be a good girl for Daddy.”

The two men carrying her brought her up to the edge of the tank. Zoe finally realized they were going to throw her inside! The updraft caused by the boiling goop puffed out her skirt, and she could feel the terrible heat on her legs.

“No, wait!”

Zoe desperately kicked out with her feet, and thrashed around, trying to get free, but the two guards kept a firm grip on her arms. Her desperate struggling continued until she accidentally brushed her foot against the steel edge of the tank. She yelped in pain and tucked her legs in, bending her knees to keep her feet clear of the scorching metal.

“Daddy please! I don’t want to go in,” Zoe cried.

There was no response. The two men held her over the boiling goop and lowered her down. She started kicking and thrashing again, and accidentally dipped a foot below the surface. She screamed and tucked her legs in again. The goop clung to her, still sizzling, turning the skin around it an angry red. Even after pulling it out of the tank, the burning didn’t stop.

Heedless to her screams, the men let go. Zoe fell into the tank with a splash. Her feet hit the searing metal bottom, fully immersing her up to her hips, and splattering small spots of burning goop all over her upper body. The screams were inhuman. The agonizing pain was beyond anything the girl could have ever imagined, but she refused to let herself die.

Zoe walked on the horrible burning floor, wading through hell while her legs cooked. She saw the edge of the tank, if she could just get close enough... Daddy walked into view holding a long pole ending in a ‘U’ shaped fork. He held the pole out and Zoe desperately clung onto it.

“Please! Take me out!” she screamed.

“Happy birthday.” Daddy said, with a smile.

He pushed against her chest and forced Zoe’s upper body down against the tank bottom. She writhed in agony, trying to keep her face above the surface. The last thing she saw was the heavy steel lid sliding back over the tank, leaving her alone in the hellish, burning, darkness.

 


 

The dull thumps against the tank walls stopped after a minute or so. The two guards looked down at the tank solemnly. John Eldridge rolled his eyes at their reaction and made a small adjustment to the tank’s temperature. The cooling process would take 17 hours.

“Her screams…” said Markus the guard.

“We killed her… we killed Zoe…” said the other guard, the fat one, seemed to be on the verge of tears. What was his name again?

“Try not to look so dour, gentlemen,” John said cheerfully. “This is not a funeral, it’s a birth.”

“Your own daughter. How could you do something like that to her?” The fat guard asked with an accusing tone. Was his name Doug? That sounded right.

He didn’t bother to dignify that with a response. Doug was a hypocrite. This was no different than the other 74 experiments he’d helped John perform. The only difference was that instead of some nameless orphan or slave, it was a girl whose name he knew. John was under no such illusions. Every one of those 74 screaming victims was a tragedy, but those sacrifices were all necessary to achieve this final greatness.

This one was going to work. John was certain. Certain enough to bet his beloved daughter’s life on it.

John was certain because he had a secret. He’d been deceiving his benefactors for more than a year. Starting from experiment 36 he’d been deliberately creating failures. They would have easily survived the transformation if not for John’s sabotage of the extremely delicate cooling process.

He was successful, but not successful enough. It would have been good enough to satisfy the benefactors, but it wasn’t perfect enough to be Zoe’s birthday present. The changes he made in each experiment were subtle, fixing small flaws, improving what could be improved, and it wasn’t until experiment 74 that he finally perfected the formula. This time it was no experiment, the work was complete. John would have jumped into the tank himself if he could, but alas, only children could successfully adapt to the transformation.

“I don’t need your help anymore and I don’t need to be distracted. Take the rest of the day off, you’re both dismissed.”

The two unnecessarily guilt-ridden guards left the room. John Eldridge watched them leave and lock the door behind them. Keeping a close watch on the tank temperature, like the good father he was, he gleefully danced around the lab. 

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A note from Spectacular

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About the author

Spectacular

  • Canada

Bio: I am actually an advanced AI algorithm trained on a sample set of raw internet depravity.

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Comments(91)
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J Country ago

Thanks! This seems to how our lovely little demon was born.

Noddix ago

thank you for the chapter

JoTa34 ago

I don't even now if he is complete bonkers or just wants to make his daughter very powerfull. Independent from who will benefit the most from the outcome, the fact he did that stuff to children makes him an evil crazy scientist.

    Darastrix ago

    Crazy? Possibly. Evil, most likely not. Good and Evil are very very subjective terms that shouldn't be thrown about all willy nilly as people tend to do. Keep in mind the world is not black and white and has all shades of grey and all of the colors of the color spectrum.

    From the perspective of the reader he appears evil but from his own perspective he is doing the right thing and advancing their society most likely, which by human standards is always the most correct and justified thing to do even if it includes having sacrifices.

      Daybreak ago

      Deliberately botching good science and killing thirty eight children against the wishes of the people who organized the experiment all for modestly improved personal gains is unjustifiable. In the very kindest of interpretations, those lives could have been spent elsewhere, improving whatever other bonkers experiments need to happen to "advance their society."

      The only surprising thing is that this John Elridge wasn't promptly fired when the initial experiments failed, as historically such studies were very much all-or-nothing affairs.

      Darastrix ago

      Look, @Daybreak I am not saying he is not evil from the readers perspective, actually it's to the contrary, as he is displayed as such. What I am saying is that peoples general perspective is far from the reality of the world and very idealistic. Like it or not there is suffering in the world and there is nothing anyone can do to prevent it (for now, could change in the future, highly unlikely we'll see it in our generation tho and highly unlikely in it of itself in the future but plausable). I am disgusted with the fact that anyone would think of experimenting on human beings, but people such as the given example see themselfs as making a necessary sacrifice for the greater good.

      I will give a example that is not meant to be offensive but to prove a morality point and it is contraversial

      Spoiler: Spoiler

      Also 2day we still experiment on animals for the benefit of the human races (lab mice for example), also I am not equating the life of a mouse to a human just pointing it out.

      Also we do not know the moral compass of the people of this fictional world that much (or I don't remember that well) and it is not a highly advanced society of information spreading as we are.

      This is the reason I said initially that evil should not be used to describe him, because the world is not just evil and good. Every person in human history that commited human atrocities like Stalin and Hitler most likely set out with "noble" goals to better the human race (this makes me gag) and somewhere along the line their trains of thoughts took a wrong turn and their morals got twisted and they did what they thought was "correct" or lost themselfs to madness, which seems to have happened with this fellow here, tho not on the same scale obviously.

      Ultimately this is not meant to cause offence, it just meant to point out the hypocrisy of people in general, maybe make some people have an interesting discussion about morals and such. I just personally implore people to hear both sides of isle and think rationally and not just take my or anyone's word for it.

      P.S I am not that well versed in discussing my thoughts in text format and have probably underexplained my POV, if I have caused any offence I am sorry for what it is worth.

      Spoiler: Spoiler

      virtualkiller ago

      Just because the outcome of an action has a 'good' result, does not make the action any less evil.

      Daybreak ago

      I understand what you are saying, I am arguing that regardless of the moral ambiguity of human research this John Elridge is still conducting malpractice by obfuscating the success of past experiments and killing dozens of children in cold blood, without any justified gain.

      It would be akin to Edward Jenner strangling James Phipps and hiding the success of his vaccination process for smallpox such that he could vaccinate himself and offer vaccinations to others secretly at high prices. In reality, Jenner is controversial but a hero. In that hypothetical, he is a monster, by any realistic context.

      Darastrix ago

      Well, it seems you understand what I am saying and why I am saying it. Lastly I will just say that there are better words to be used then someone is evil, such as despicable, a monster, inhuman etc etc. I believe words such as these better describe what people such as these truly are, then evil. That is all.

      Thank you for this interesting conversation, it seems I have some pondering to do on moral issues.

      BO0KW0RM ago

      Most "villains" see themselves as the heroes in their story. Also it depends on how far you are willing to go to get the results you want.

      anonymous Morris ago

      If Zoe got super strength, intelligence, super healing, invulnerable skin without losing her mind, it might actually not be a bad present if he asked first.

      anonymous Morris ago

      He's a psychopath that really believes what he is doing, you would better call him misguided than evil but that's not the point, it's the horror of his utter disregard for the suffering he is causing due to his misguided reasons. Also, I thought that the demonist that made Lizzy died so who is this other mad doctor?or are mad doctors just that common

      BO0KW0RM ago

      Higher up in this string they mention how with an organization as strong and big as this there is gonna be more them just one lab.

      Pete ago

      The concepts of the goal justify the means and extreme utilitarism or moral relativity shouldn't be thrown out all willy nilly as people tend to do, it gets tedious reading the same stuff again and again anytime anyone tries to talk about normal morality.

      Kiwiknight ago

      This guy kills 70+ kids and people are saying he's not evil and trying to take his side? Seriously? Murdering kids in demon rituals to make soul gems, trying to create perfect demon super-soldiers, and then whatever the heck this is, has absolutely nothing to do with progress or advancing society. It's rich old monsters spending billions to make the world worse and make themselves stronger.

Aeodyn ago

Welp.

(Thanks for the chapter anyways!)

Zeuseus Thunderlord ago

Well, this is horrifying to read.

 

Well done.

I'm guessing this at least partly explains why Lily has such a child-like personality (assuming this is a flashback to Lily's creation).

 

EDIT: And just saw your reply to someone else saying it's a new person not Lily. Oh well, still horrifyingly interesting to read.

    Spectacular ago

    That's good, I was going for horrifying. Glad I hit the mark.

      aerowx ago

      I think I've watched/read too many horror movies/books, as all I feel is sympathy for the innocent child(ren) and a muted disgust towards the researchers. I figured that in a world that contains demons, there would be twice the inhumane practices occurring from both races.

      You still did an excellent job setting the scene, and based on the other reactions you definitely succeeded in bringing out the horrors of this chapter... and this is making me get a bit introspective for a moment, so forgive my ramblings. I guess I only really strongly react to situations that occur to characters I've become invested in: characters I've had the chance to connect to or care about. But that isn't the fault of this story, or any other I've read, it's more a reflection of how desensitized I am to fictional horrors, I guess.

      Again, sorry for the rambling, just for some reason felt like sharing the thoughts I had after reading this chapter. Keep up the good work.

Insanja ago

Thanks for the chapter, interesting turn.

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