Project ALPHA — Part One: The Beast

Kent Jamison is a scientist at the Facility and part of a secret research project aimed at developing a revolutionary serum that could improve living standards and extend lifespans significantly, as well as create the perfect soldier, but he has a few qualms about the experiment that is about to be performed on Tommy Crane, today’s subject, and the only volunteer to the program.

The program has so far only seen fatal rejections of the serum in all its test subjects, and having grown rather fond of Tommy, Kent is apprehensive for his safety. Although Tommy miraculously survives the procedure, Kent’s fears remain as he finds that the shy, bashful twink he’d grown attached to has become much, much more.

The Beast is a 5,100-word short story and the first part in a serial.

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Kent straightened his pristine white lab coat. In all his thirty years, he had never had a better opportunity to both advance his personal knowledge and innovate in his field than working at the Facility. But today, the lab coat he’d been so glad to receive five years ago weighed like lead upon his shoulders. The normally-comfortable cloth itched against his skin as just another sign of how uncertain he was about what they were going to do today.

But it wasn’t like they had any other choice. They had spent five long years working on a promising project that could possibly extend lives, prevent disease, and, because everything must have its military applications, improve the abilities of soldiers on the battlefield. They had also spent five long years failing to produce any results. There were near-misses, but they had been misses all the same.

The Facility was just one organization among dozens, and without results, its patrons were beginning to lose confidence. No, today had to happen because it was their last chance to secure the funding that was necessary to continue their operations. In any case, if today’s experiment failed, they were going to shut down, anyway, and it didn’t hurt to try one last time.

Kent knew all this. Rationally, the test had to happen. He had to see his research to its completion. They all did. But, emotionally, he was having a lot of trouble trying to process what was required to occur.

The door to the subject’s quarters hissed open in front of Kent, revealing a darkened room beyond. Kent walked in and clapped his hands. The lights turned on, though illuminating the room only dimly at first. Over the next minute or so, they gradually increased in brightness until the whole room was bathed in a clinical, sterile white light.

The young man on the bed tossed off his blanket and ran his fingers through his unkempt, dark hair as he yawned. He looked up and blinked blearily at Kent with his soft, green eyes. “Hi, Mr. Jamison,” said Tommy, voice slurred with grogginess as he reached up and rubbed the sleep from his eyes. “Is it time?”

Thomas Crane was a special subject. One that, despite Kent knowing better, he had grown attached to. That was because unlike the criminals who were headed for death row who had signed up for this program only because they thought they could cheat the system, Tommy had volunteered. The young man had shown up one day, about a year ago, drenched from the torrential downpour of that night, grimy and beleaguered, and begged to be accepted into the program.

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