The Experiment

“They said it was an experiment,” she thought to herself. “...It's the last thing I remember.”

From her back, she rolled her head to the side and examined her strange surroundings. Tall trees and dark grasses in the distance met her eyes. The feeling of rough sand and gentle winds touched her skin, and the soft sound of lapping waves became apparent. Devoid of people, the long shoreline may have been a welcome sight on any other day. Now, with an overwhelming confusion and a spotty memory, she tried to make sense of her situation.

“Where am I? How long was I asleep?”

Each beat of her heart sent a fresh wave of pain into her skull. It felt as if an animal was trapped, and scratching to free itself from within. Once she pushed herself past the agony, she realized that she seemed otherwise unharmed. She forced herself to sit up. Surprise and panic filled her as her gaze flowed over her own naked body.

Despite a quick search of the pale, white sands, she found no trace of clothing. Her fair skin already showed signs of redness from the light of the suns. Finding shade became her first objective. Though she felt weak, she forced herself to stand. The warm sand filled the spaces between her toes.

With a scan of the area, she discovered that her choices were few. If she made for the dense foliage of the nearby jungle, there would be no telling what horrors could await her. Instead, she chose to settle in the sparse shadows of a nearby sapling. She sat beside it carefully, and was immediately relieved by a cool breeze.

She looked out over the expanse of the ocean and attempted to search her memory for clues. With every hazy recollection, she only came upon more questions. Her eyes drifted upward in search of her home, but the city of the skies was missing.

“Where could they be? Why would they leave me here?”

A quiet hope assured her that at any moment she would be greeted by familiar faces. The suns slowly moved across the sky, and that hope began to fade as time pressed on. The horizon sought to drink in the remaining light of day. In the last moments before darkness descended on the shore, she heard a sound from the wild tangle behind her.

The rustle of leaves sent shudders down her spine. She stood, and modesty forced her to wrap thin arms across her uncovered body. With nothing but open space about her, she defied her better judgment and advanced on the damp foliage. The sweet smell of plant decay mixed with the air. When the pristine sands became covered in fallen leaves, she felt a damp, sticky texture on her bare feet. Her eyes searched the blackness, but nothing could be seen in the pale moonlight.

Waves splashed upon the shore with delicate rhythm. The gentle tide whispered among the trees and echoed all around her. With the creeping feeling of impending doom, she slowly began to back away from the tree line. One after another, her feet retreated into the sand from whence they came.

Another sound rang out. This time, it was the loud snap of wood that seemed to shatter into the night. There was no mistaking the presence of something unseen – whatever it was, something was close. Her backward pace increased, and she kept her eyes fixed on the starlit wall of dark green. Leaves began to rustle again, and she watched the foliage fall aside to the movement of dark figures.

Terror filled every corner of her soul. Living shadows emerged from the trees, and seemed to organize themselves before her. If they spoke, she could not hear the words over the sound of her own heart pounding.

“Run.”

Her body turned in attempt to flee. Hungry sand seemed to engulf her feet and stifle her pace. Each footfall dug deep into the ground, but her momentum was lost in the loose soil. It was a mixture of fear and loose terrain that caused her legs to tangle underneath her, and she fell forward onto the beach.

She scrambled to rise, but her pursuers were already upon her. With supernatural speed they had overtaken her position. Before she could ready herself, they had thrown her back upon the land, and the sudden shock sent a flash of pain through her body. She felt hands move along her legs, and with a dazed understanding, she realized that she now lay on her back. Still, heavy hands were upon her, and the terrible touch of rough skin kept her from escape.

Senses returned slowly, and she saw silhouettes against the starry sky. These were men, she realized, but in this untamed land they were also beasts. They showed no sign of mercy while they groped her naked flesh. Helpless against their strength, her attempt at struggle did nothing to aid her.

“Why are you doing this?” she cried in vain. There was no response from her attackers. They continued on with the silent assault, and worked to immobilize her completely. A hand was pressed across her mouth, and even her screams became stifled.

In that hopeless moment, something changed within her. As the floodgates of her mind became open, memories began to take shape once again. She remembered the escape, and a seemingly endless fall into the ocean waters. The long drift upon the waves had stolen those things from her, but they came rushing back in her time of need.

A fire burned in her chest. Circuits became alive, and they crackled with electricity. The crystal hidden within her body became alight, and her skin began to glow. The fingers that held her loosened their grip, but it was too late – she became activated, and there was no going back. Lightning burst outward from her limbs, and the circle of shadows fell into ruin.

An updraft pushed her from the ground, and she floated above the sand. A gale of wind swirled through her dark hair. The shore illuminated with the yellow glow of energy from her fingertips. Each man in turn took their final breath – the torturous shock she poured forth burned the sand around them until it became molten glass.

She allowed her feet to touch down once again. An overlay of readouts labeled the world around her. With her memory intact, she was no longer afraid. The call of freedom had driven her to seek a life beyond servitude, and she finally had. A final glance was offered to the lifeless figures on the ground, and she strode with confident steps into the depths of the dark forest.