“Why is it?” I thought to myself, “Why is it that I can hear my own heartbeat? Why can I hear people talking about my appearance?” I couldn’t see anything and I think someone had tied weights to my limbs because I couldn’t move them. I could feel myself trying to move them but they wouldn’t budge. Then, I heard someone open a door that desperately needed to be greased based on the ear piercing creaking sound it made as it was being moved. I could hear footsteps clacking on the floor coming towards me. I could even smell what I presumed to be a mix of cherry and lime scented perfume.
“They were right. You’re tiny!” I heard a voice say. I then felt something moving towards my mouth. I let out a deep breath and I heard the same voice screaming as loud as it could, repeating the phrase, “Oh my god! Put it out! Put it out! Please, help!” I heard the voice growing quieter as it ran out of the room and made its way down the hallway.
At that moment, my breathing became faster and louder and my heartbeat was increasing so much, it was practically vibrating. A few moments later, my eyes had burst wide open and I sprang out of the bed. I dashed out of the room as fast as I could. However, I noticed that my legs seemed rather stubby and door handles seemed to be out of my reach. I also had a hard time keeping my balance as the vanilla white linoleum floors seemed like they were covered in layers of wax. On top of that, my nostrils were assaulted by the overwhelming stench of sanitizer. Sure, there were hints of lavender in there, but it still made me cough loudly and felt like a two pronged fork had been thrust into the inside of my nose. I had no choice but to put my hands over my mouth and nose if I didn’t want to collapse to the ground.
As I made my way down the hallway, a thought had suddenly popped into my head.
In this thought, there were two women and one man standing in a room where dark marks covered the walls and the windows were shattered. They were surrounding a peach coloured steel table with wheels that was placed in front of what looked like an ivory doughnut with beige colouring around the middle of it. The women that surrounded the table were wearing paper white lab coats that went down to their knees. One of the women had brown hair and the other had blonde hair. They each held a clipboard in their hand and they seemed to be jotting something down. The man that surrounded the table wore a Red Sox T-shirt, black jeans, and a Vietnam Veteran ball-cap and seemed to be looking down at the table. On the table, I saw a pale, scrawny little girl who had casts covering both her arms and legs. Her eyes were light green with a little bit of brown in the middle and they stared upward at the ceiling.
“Are you sure this is going to help me, daddy?” the girl said.
“I hope so, sweetie. Otherwise, I don’t know what else to do,” said her father as he gently clenched her hand.
Before I was able to figure out what happened next, I suddenly found myself inches away from a dark blue door with a black bar running through the middle of it. I leapt up and hit the black bar with all of my might. To my surprise, I had enough strength to open the door just wide enough for me to get through. The door led to a room with dark blue walls where the paint seemed to have been chipped away in certain spots. The floor was made of solid grey concrete and unlike the linoleum floors in the hallway, I was no longer having trouble keeping my balance. However, the sound of my footsteps seemed to be amplified as they echoed throughout the barren room.
A few moments later, I made my way towards a small staircase and grabbed the thin wooden handrail beside it. I slid down the rail like a penguin with my arms and hands loosely gripping it. It didn’t take me long before I landed on all fours on the front, nearly smashing my head against the wall. Fortunately, I regained my footing and continued on my way down another flight of stairs. I soon came face to face with a set of bright pink double doors. As soon as I got close to them, I jumped up and slammed my whole body against the black bars that ran across them. However, the doors didn’t seem to move an inch. I tried slamming into the bars once again but just like before, the doors didn’t seem to move. I kept slamming into the bars, hoping that the doors would eventually budge but unfortunately, it seemed that no amount of slamming would open the doors.
I noticed that my breathing began to gradually speed up as I tightly clenched my teeth together. My face had tightened up as well and the speed of my breathing continued to increase. I eventually took a deep breath and let out an ear-piercing scream. As I screamed, an enormous and intense stream of fire spewed out. Once I stopped screaming, the fire disappeared and I stood there panting heavily and hastily with my mouth wide open. “What in the worl— No… That didn’t just happen!” I thought to myself. In the aftermath, I noticed that the fire left a hole in one of the doors that was big enough for me to go through. It took a minute for my whole body to simmer down but once it did, I made my way through the hole.
On the other side of the hole was another hallway but unlike the previous hallway, this one seemed to be more decrepit. The lights were dimmer and the floors were cracked and even missing tiles in some spots. The paint on the walls was peeling and chipped and the pipes on the ceiling were extremely rusted. To top it all off, the hallway smelled like a mix of rotten cabbage and char, which made me gag profusely. Not only that, but my stomach felt heavier the more I was exposed to the smell and I covered my mouth once again. I decided to walk down the hallway since that was honestly the fastest I could go given how I was feeling at that moment. As I walked down the hallway, another thought had popped into my head.
This one had the man in the Red Sox shirt yelling at the woman with brown hair.
“Listen, lady!” the man screeched, “I’ve searched all over this god damn state and none of these ‘medical professionals’ want to help my daughter! They say it’s because my insurance won’t cover the treatment she needs! I mean, why do you think I came to this god forsaken place, huh?” The woman had stood there shaking with tears running down her face.
“Sir, I understand how you feel. But…the procedure you’re asking us to perform… is just too dangerous for a kid her age,” the woman stuttered with her clipboard pressed against her chest.
The man’s breathing began to speed up as he clenched his fists. His face tightened and turned red. “Too dangerous? Too dange… God dammit! I don’t care! If it’s going to help my daughter then you give it to her! She can’t live her whole life like… like that, right?” the man screamed as he pointed to his daughter. Tears ran down his face and the woman walked over to him and rubbed his back gently.
“Look, sir. Your daughter obviously means a lot to you and you want her to be happy. But let’s say I do go through with this and… well… your daughter… um… dies? How would you even deal with that?” the woman said softly.
The man began to sob quietly and hugged the woman. “I… I don’t know. But I’m willing to make a deal with you.” The man replied in a shaky voice.
He reached into his pocket and briefly rifled through it. He took out a black leather wallet and opened it up. He removed a thick stack of green and white paper from its large top pocket and held it in front of him. “This is all the money I got on me. You can have it if you help my daughter. Agreed?” the man said. The woman pushed the money away and the man began to sob even louder. Meanwhile, the blonde woman was near the machine where the man’s daughter was. She watched the man sob and her heart grew heavy but her attention had soon shifted to the daughter tugging on her lab coat. The woman stared at the girl and gently stroked her arm.
“You know what, sweetie?” the woman whispered, “I don’t care what my boss says. I’m doing the procedure. I mean… you’re a strong kid, right?” The daughter nodded and the blonde woman pushed the table into the machine and closed the door.
Before the thought could continue, I heard footsteps banging on the floor behind me, causing me to walk faster. The footsteps grew louder and gradually got closer to me. As I continued walking, my eyes darted around the hall and my heart beat accelerated. I soon found myself getting closer to another set of double doors, where one of them looked as though its hinges had rusted away and toppled over. Just as I was about to reach the doors, the footsteps were within earshot of me. I felt my whole body heating up and I quickly turned around and let out a steady stream of fire. A few moments later, I frantically looked around to see what had been making those footsteps. “Huh?” I thought. Much to my surprise, the only things I saw were the empty hallway and a few particles flying in the air from the fire. I backed away for a few more seconds before I leapt over the toppled door.
On the other side of the toppled door was a hallway that had all of its windows smashed or cracked. As I was running, my breathing became louder and heavier and my vision became blurry. When I reached the end of the hallway, I noticed that the doors were covered in wooden boards of all shapes and sizes. I spent a good few seconds standing there panting, hoping to catch my breath. When my breathing began to slow down, I took a deep breath in and let out a stream of fire that was thinner than before. The fire created a hole that was barely large enough for me to go through. Nevertheless, I squeezed through the hole as quickly as I could and managed to get through with only a few minor cuts.
As I was looking around, I noticed that the room was rather bright and almost all of the furniture was a dull silver colour, except for a long glass table covered in magazines. Not only that but the room was covered in chrome flooring that felt cold to the touch. Speaking of that, my whole body was shaking and each time I exhaled, I could see a big puff of white smoke leaving my mouth. I decided to walk around and look for the thermostat, hoping that it would warm up the room. I searched high and low and eventually found the thermostat. Unfortunately, it was way too high up for me to reach and I didn’t see anything that I could use to lift me up. I sighed and slowly walked over to the table and grabbed a few magazines. I threw the magazines on the floor and took a deep breath in. I gently exhaled as an extremely small stream of fire came out of my mouth.
A second later, a small fire had formed where the magazines were and I decided to lay down and stare at it for a while. I sighed with delight and eventually noticed that my eyes were starting to close. I tried my best to keep them open but I soon had no choice but to close them. Moments later, a thought had popped into my head.
This time, the daughter could hear the blonde woman flicking a switch. A droning hum came into fruition as a series of beeping noises soon followed.
A deep whirring sound quickly increased in pitch and volume until sparks could be seen flying all over the place. Smoke began to fill up the inside of the machine and the daughter stared to cough. The blonde woman screamed at the top of her lungs and tried to pry the heavy door open. The brown haired woman came running over to the machine and grabbed the blonde woman, lifting her up in the process.
“What the hell did you do?” the brown haired woman yelled.
“I… I just turned it on that’s all!” the blonde woman stuttered.
At that point, the daughter could no longer see what was going on as the smoke completely filled up the chamber in the machine. Her vision became blurrier and she found it extremely hard to breathe. Just then, she heard her father scream, “Stand back, ladies!” as he jabbed a fire extinguisher towards the window, completely shattering the glass. Smoke rapidly poured out of the machine as her father also tried to pry the door open.
“Sir, that door is extremely pressurized! There’s no way you can open it!” the brown haired woman hollered frantically. The father then ran around the back of the machine and discovered an electrical cord. He tried to wiggle it loose but like the door, it was also stuck.
“Hmm…” the father said. He rummaged through his pockets and eventually pulled out an old army issued pocket knife. As soon as he did so, he hastily moved the knife back and forth, gradually cutting into the cord. When the cord completely split apart, the whirring slowed down and the father rushed to the door. He tugged on it with as much force as he could muster and it flew wide open. The women grabbed the table and removed it from the machine.
My eyes opened inch by inch and as my vision became clearer, I noticed that a man with a thin black beard and a doughy, oval shaped face was staring down at me with his wide eyes. His orange sweatshirt was covered in stains of all colours and sizes and he smelled like cream soda and tobacco.
“Hey, buddy. Want to come join the circus with me? We’d make a great team.” He whispered as he gently rubbed my head. Just then, my heart began to race and my breathing had accelerated. A few seconds later, I took in a deep breath and let out an extremely large and powerful stream of flames. I sprinted towards a door on my right and leapt up to push the bar in the middle of it. I sprinted down the hallway until I came across an empty elevator shaft. I jumped and grabbed onto a pole and slid down as quickly as I could.
As soon as I saw another hallway, I hopped off of the pole and hit the ground rather hard. I brushed myself off and swiftly turned my head from side to side, making sure that I had gotten away from that guy. Unfortunately, I could hear footsteps rapidly hitting the ground in the distance and booked it down the hall. As I was running, I decided to look for a place to hide.
I eventually found myself in what appeared to be a bathroom. Immediately upon entering, I slammed the door with all of my might. I bounced off of the wall and grabbed hold of the doorknob as I locked the door. I fell to the ground and panted heavily for a few seconds. I soon noticed that my hands felt rather sweaty and decided to wash them. I knocked over a grey plastic trash bin and jumped on top of it to reach the counter. When I looked into the mirror, my heart instantly sank and it seemed as though time had stopped.
There, in the mirror, I noticed that my body was mostly covered in auburn coloured fur save for the bottom half of my face and upper body, which were a cream colour. Not only that, but in the middle of my forehead was a large tuft of fur that looked like a tear drop with a curl in the center. My ears were huge and shaped like elongated eggs with large patches of orange fur taking up a good chunk of them. My hands were shaped like mittens and a zigzagged line ran across the area between my chest and legs. I couldn’t believe the sight before my eyes, even though it was staring me in the face! As I leaned closer into the mirror, I caught sight of something moving back and forth behind me. The sight startled me, almost costing my balance on the sink and I fell back against the mirror. To my surprise, I realized that the thing behind me was a thin tail with an arrowhead shaped tip on the end.
At the sight of my appearance, I curled up into a ball and started sobbing loudly. The only question I had about the whole situation was “What went wrong?”