[The Feeding, 1,990 words, Genre: Science fiction/Supernatural]
* Image courtesy of Dirk de Bruyn
In the desert, in the northern part of South Australia, a laboratory existed underground. It was a multi-layered complex and there were different levels to it. The area existed out in the industrial waste where nuclear tests had been conducted in the nineteen seventies. It was buried with multiple levels existing underground. The desert was always hot and the sun bore down upon it. Gusts of wind and whirly whirls would create torrents of wind that flew across the desert surface. On the surface there was a steel door, complete with an airtight seal, that would open when the correct code was inserted into the lock mechanism.
People, vagrants for the most part, would be transported to the underground laboratory in the middle of the desert where scientific experiments would be tested on them. There were two scientists who conducted the experiment. One was overseeing the project while the other conducted the experiments upon the vagrants that they had rounded up. They were testing the limits of human memory in an effort to expand the human brain for an unknown purpose.
There were five vagrants locked up in the underground laboratory. The scientist who was in charge, a beady looking character, would see to the needs of the various vagrants that he kept in the laboratory. He kept them under lock and key, housed them in cages and would conduct ‘experiments’ upon them.
He was currently testing one of the vagrants. He had the vagrant, a woman, chained to the wall. Above the wall was a pipe that connected to the sewerage system. Slowly the pipe would leak grey water out and onto the woman, keeping her awake. The scientist had a cattle prod and would shock her every time that her attention lapsed.
Every couple of minutes the scientist would feed the woman a random fact that she would have to commit to memory. Not short-term memory, but long term memory. For that process to be completed, there was some sort of mystical element involved in the process. Some form of greater being was being housed within the laboratory and was taking control of the entire facility. Directing the different work of all of the employees of the facility. It was difficult to describe what or who was in control of everything to ensure that everything was running smoothly. But never-the-less, once a random fact was stated by the scientist to the vagrant whom they were conducting experiments upon, that random fact would be committed to memory. And if it wasn’t committed to memory, the scientist would use the cattle prod to send an electrical shock unto the vagrant. Thus initiating the electrical currents of the individual’s own brain waves, stimulating their own cerebral cortex and prompting them into action.
The scientist would force the individual to learn, “The capital of Alberta, Canada is Edmonton!” Then he would repeat the process until the vagrant would repeat the same information back to them under duress.
Under extreme pressures the vagrant, in this case it was the woman, would repeat the information back to them, “The capital of Alberta, Canada is Edmonton.”
But it was not just a single fact. It was multiple facts. The scientist who was conducting the experiment would present multiple facts over a short period of time to the vagrants. Who would then, under some sort of mystical or unknown pressure, be forced to commit these facts to their long-term memory.
At this point in time, the scientist had five different vagrants whom he would interchange between. Conducting his memory experiments upon them in an effort to expand their minds. He would have conversations with the scientist above him, ensuring that the process was being completed on time. They would have arguments with one another about the various time constraints involved in the process.
Sometimes the vagrants, under the extreme pressure that they were under would react in different ways. Sometimes they would laugh. For some unknown reason this gave the scientist pleasure and he would comment, “This is a good thing.”
The vagrants would then ask, being caught up in their fits of laughter to the points of delirium, “Why is that a good thing?”
“It means the process is taking effect. Your mind is expanding the way it should.”
Any further questions at that point from the vagrants would result in an electrical shock from the scientist with a cattle prod. Sometimes the vagrant’s noses would bleed. Just from the sheer pressure and the amount of information that would be given to the vagrants. At this point, when their noses would begin to bleed, the scientist knew to back off. He would state under his breath, “It looks like you’ve had enough for today.” And then would allow the vagrant to rest in the cold cell of the underground laboratory.
The vagrants were fed a staple diet of tuna in tins and goat’s milk. The tuna tins would be delivered once a week in crates that housed perhaps a thousand of the individual tins. When the vagrants enquired about getting something else to eat rather than the tuna, or something else to drink rather than goat’s milk, the scientist would also shock them with the electric cattle prod. This would then be followed with a series of statements increased in volume such as, “There’s nothing bloody wrong with tuna and goat’s milk! It’s brain food! Good for you! Helps the process!” And then the scientist would continue on with his work. Dragging one of the vagrants from their cell and continuing to torture them under duress while feeding them random facts in an effort to cause their minds to expand.
At the end of two weeks the scientist reported to the scientist in charge that the process was incomplete. That he needed more time. The supervising scientist, a woman with a hook nose, then kicked up a fuss and began delivering a series of deliberate remarks intended to scold his work. “You should have realized what’s happening! You should have thought about this! You should have put the test subjects under more pressure!”
“There’s nothing I can do. We don’t usually work under this sort of pressure. I know its need to know only, but what exactly do you use them for?”
“Use who for?”
“The vagrants. The test subjects. What do you use them for?”
“We feed them to it.”
“Yes, but what exactly is it?”
“It is a greater being than you or I. It has existed in times previously. It’s mark… It’s mark. Have you ever heard of the Greater Key of Solomon?”
“Some religious mumbo jumbo… I’ve heard of King Solomon before. Not this Greater Key or whatever it’s called.”
“The Greater Key of Solomon is a Magickal text for summoning these creatures. We never thought we’d see the day when they physically manifested themselves onto our plane of existence. But never-the-less they have. We have one housed within this facility in the basement levels.”
“One of what?”
“The angels… Or at least that’s what people referred to them as before they physically manifested themselves.”
“I see and these ‘angels’,” the scientist spoke to the supervisor, “they require these vagrants for what purpose exactly. I know we have to get the vagrant’s minds working at full capacity… But what do these angels do with them?”
“We feed it them.”
“We feed them the vagrants…”
“Yes, this period is more important than the others.”
“Why’s that exactly?”
“It’s giving birth. It requires more food than usual because in four weeks, it’s about to give birth.”
“Why do we need this ‘angel’?”
“Why? Because it blesses the whole facility and enables them to retain the information. It sends out this aura throughout the whole facility that allows us all to work under high pressures. Without it, we cannot conduct the research we do here. Think of all the different departments and laboratories that exist within the facility. Think about each separate department. Do you think you or I could regulate all of everything that goes on in here?”
“What do you mean?”
“To do everything we do here we require the use of its abilities. It is basically in charge around here. It facilitates everything that goes on and regulates every single separate department. No human being could achieve that. Only a higher power can. We are all under its jurisdiction.”
“I see. Can I see it?”
“Yes… The feeding is almost upon it. You’ve done well. I just hope it will be enough.”
The supervising scientist told the scientist to take the vagrants to a level below those he knew of in the facility. An unknown, ‘hidden’ level that existed deep in the underground complex.
The guards escorted the test subjects and made sure that they did not step out of line. Anytime a test subject moved out of line, the guards would correct their behaviour with a quick baton below the knees. Making their own standing position compromised. The supervising scientist quickly stated, “That’s fine. Just don’t harm their heads.”
Once they arrived at the deeper level through a series of secret staircases, there was a door that opened up into a hall. The hall was a series of two levels. A platform existed above a well that took up the majority of the hall. The platform remained at a level above the well that stood around it in its circumference. And at the centre of the hall, the well, there was housed this giant blob like creature. What one could only describe as a giant brain. It was made of a gelatin like substance. The blob was large and it was like the rising and falling of a human chest as someone breathed. Whatever it was, it was alive.
“Here it is.” The supervising scientist declared, “The angel.”
“It’s a… It’s a giant brain.”
“That’s right, it’s a giant brain.” The supervising scientist gave orders to the guards, “Take the test subjects to the feeding bay. Let’s watch it feed.”
The guards forced the test subjects who were all now panicking to an area just above the platform that led out to the well where the giant brain was housed. The scientist and supervising scientist led the test subjects to the area. When the supervising scientist gave the all clear to the guards. The guards pushed the test subjects off of the platform where they fell onto the giant brain. The gelatin matter that surrounded the giant brain consumed each of the test subjects. From their position on the platform the scientist and supervising scientist could all witness the transparent gelatinous matter consume each of the test subjects. It was a horrendous process to witness. The flesh of each of the test subjects would fade away, like sulphuric acid being applied to the flesh. The flesh of each of the test subjects was slowly eaten away.
“It only eats the rest to get to the brain matter. It doesn’t like consuming the whole flesh, but it needs the brains fresh, so it consumes the rest of it. It’s kind of like a peanut. Eating the shell to get to the tasty nut on the inside.”
The scientist shuddered, realizing for the first time what he was doing in his work, “And I, I feed them the information to make the brain nice and juicy.”
“That’s about right…” The supervising scientist stated. The scientist shuddered. “Oh, and one more thing.”
“Yes?” The scientist asked cautiously.
“You know how I said to speed things up?”
“You didn’t go fast enough.” The guards then grabbed hold of the scientist and as the scientist screamed, the guards dragged him to the platform and threw him onto the brain where he was consumed.
The supervising scientist looked on as the scientist’s flesh melted away in the gelatin like substance. The only comment she made was, “I wonder what the baby’s going to look like.”