Tearing free of the straps binding it to the table, it slams its muscular body against the one-way mirror and snarls, “What have you done to me?” Its hideously deformed jaw and engorged tongue make the words nearly indecipherable. Saliva drips down the glass, its claws scratch angrily at the slick surface; the creature fights in vain to smash its way through three feet of impenetrable barrier.

From the other side of the glass, the doctor stands dead still, staring at the monstrosity thrashing against the window mere feet away. After an elongated pause, he orders, “Open Room Two.”

Without hesitation the operator does so.

As the door slides smoothly upwards into the wall, the staff can see a young woman crouching in the corner shielding two small children. Filth and vomit stain her T-shirt and jeans; their terror is palpable.

The monstrosity slowly swivels its head toward the open doorway leaving clumps of gelatinous flesh sticking to the glass; lips peel from its gums, a chunk of cheek clings to the surface, one eyelid ripped cleanly from its face. Sniffing the air, it abandons its attack on the window and drops to all fours, senses focusing on the three new beings invading its territory. After judging them no threat, it rises slowly to its full grotesque height.

“Excellent instinctual response. Specimen eighty-seven has locked onto the victims without provocation,” the doctor recites into the digital recorder he is holding. Folding his arms across his chest, he waits with the others in the control room – watching silently.

Still a good ten feet from the open doorway, the young woman clutches the children as she tries to push further back into the wall. Shaking uncontrollably, she can do nothing but shield the children’s eyes and wait.

The creature in the main chamber strides menacingly toward them. One clawed talon on the doorway, it ducks beneath the opening to Room Two.

“Switch to video feed.”  Monitors in the control room light up and display varying angles from within the multiple small chambers.

Pausing just inside the doorway, it sniffs again, fuller, stronger this time. Its vicious watery gaze assesses the three huddled forms before it. A slight distraction – pounding on the wall to the right. The young woman glances; the goliath never wavers in its stare. The pounding is frantic; another woman’s voice howling in desperation from what must be a room next door. ‘God, is there another of these things?’ The thought flicks through the young woman’s mind.

Encouraged by her fear, it moves forward quickly, plucking a screeching child from her grasp. The woman in the other room seems to go mad;  scratching, shrieking, thrashing beyond the wall.

Dangling the boy before it, the thing draws a long breath from the child’s mouth. It smells the boy’s blood, his vomit; it smells his fear. With one hand still holding the head, the other clawed fist shreds the boy’s body from its neck.

Snorting at the young woman clutching the girl, the monstrosity dangles the boy’s head above its mouth.  Still looking her in the eye, it pops the child’s head like an overripe melon with its clenching maw. It chews; it swallows. It then consumes the remainder of the head.

Lowering its own head in challenge, it flicks out a claw and rips the young woman’s T-shirt, sniffing at the putrescence staining it. Frozen in shock and fear, she does nothing. It grins. Reaching down slowly, almost gently, it lifts the remaining child from her numb limbs. The little girl struggles and begs; she tries to grab onto her would-be protector. There is nothing the young woman can do. She watches as it sinks its teeth into the squirming child’s midsection, splattering offal across the entire chamber, covering her in the little girl’s drippings. Chewing with slow delight, it continues to stare at the young woman cowering against the wall. It smells her rank terror; it sees her eyes dim as her mind slips to a distant place. It watches as her body goes limp then spasms uncontrollably.

All the while, the wailing from the room next door grows more incessant.

Awareness dawning, it recognizes the ability to reason, not simply act on impulse. It likes this feeling. Malformed knees bent backwards, it leans down and flicks the young woman’s head to the side.

It has a thought: useless.

It has a feeling: mild agitation.

It hears a sound.

Turning its head, it recognizes the scent that accompanies the untamed agony coming from the other room. Smiling, it abandons the useless mass of jittering flesh on the floor, and draws a gore smeared talon across the wall. The sound calms for a moment… only a moment… before the maniacal pounding and ear-splitting shrieks begin again.

It leaves Room Two, returns to the table in the center of the main chamber and stares with smug satisfaction at the one-way mirror. It believes it has won.

“Seal the chamber. Gas it.” The doctor orders. He then speaks into his digital recorder.

“Eighty-seven has shown marked improvement with cognitive awareness, careless brutality, and its ability to identify its own DNA. But it still does not choose to kill the stranger. Is it showing a degree of compassion?” He clicks off the recorder, tapping it against his chin while glancing up at the monitor showing him a single view of Room One.

Flicking the recorder on once more, he continues, “The reason for the test subject’s failure is still unknown. She should have been able to breach containment by now, saving her offspring. End session eighty-seven.”

Rubbing his exhausted eyes, the doctor turns to the others in the control room. “Let’s clean this up, and get her sedated as quickly as possible. She’s already gestating two new fetuses from number eighty-eight. We don’t want to endanger them anymore than we have to.”

~ Nina D’Arcangela

© Copyright 2013 Nina D’Arcangela. All Rights Reserved.


20 thoughts on “Testing

  1. Good hell, that grabbed me. People react differently to something as horrific as what happened to the two children in your story. A knee-jerk reaction by some people to this kind of writing is that this is pushing the boundaries of decency.

    I disagree. I’m not saying that I’m not disgusted and distraught by what happened, of course I am, but I don’t think that is why some of us write this kind of stuff.

    What did it do for me? It painted a picture of cold indifference that moved beyond the detached apathy of a predator. Humans can be, and often are, more monstrous in their callous regard of their own race than creatures that roam the dark corners of our subconscious.

    Thanks Nina. I reached the end of the story and felt a ravenous impulse to get my hands on more. Is there more???


    1. Hi Zack! I’m glad you enjoyed the story… For me personally, it doesn’t push any boundaries. As a horror writer, I have only one. I think when people read ‘Quirky little horror chick’ it should be viewed as the local ordinance equivalent of ‘Beware of Dog’!

      A good deal of what I write is as ‘ugly’ as this, I most often choose not to show those bits to the world. It’s a mangled twist-fest in here, come join the party! LOL

      I’m glad I was able to convey the cold indifference I was shooting for. Being an emotive writer in general, it was a challenge to bring a clinical edge to it and not pour a depth of feeling into each character.

      Is there more? There is a prequel that it’s based on. The ‘birth’ of the actual test subject that I wrote in another piece that is far more tame than this. It is titled ‘Betty’ – I’ll drop it on my Road to Nowhere blog for you. I haven’t written the tie together piece (pieces) yet, but they might be coming… who knows. I don’t pick them, they pick me.

      Humans are atrocious beasts, we are the worst of what inhabits this planet. Staring that atrocity dead in the puss-ridden, bulging eye is part of why I write. 🙂


  2. That was, without a doubt, horrifying. I read, then, re-read a few pieces, trying to fathom if I had actually read correctly the first time. While the subject matter is indeed disturbing, you have done a brilliant job in describing it and left me gasping. Very well written indeed.


    1. Thank you very much! This is a very ‘base’ piece, but then human beings are very ‘base’ creatures. This level of savagery is not beyond us as a species – and I’m referring to the doctor and his staff in the control room… Everyone/thing else in the story is a victim of sorts.

      Thank you again for the compliment, it is greatly and greedily appreciated! ;}


  3. A visceral and disturbing story, Nina. I kept expecting (hoping?) that someone or something would save the children… Certainly not! Interesting use of the laboratory/case-study setting to explore the story. It gives a modern, clinical feel that we haven’t seen much of yet from the Damned.

    That poor woman..! I definitely feel for her character.


    1. Which poor woman, Thomas? LOL

      I tried very hard to keep a cold distance from this one, which isn’t easy for me as I tend to pour my emotion into my writing – compassion, arrogance, savagery, or endearment. Staying out of the characters minds and ‘observing’ from the outside was the hardest part (and I very probably didn’t succeed fully).

      But I will say this, Thomas, the fact that you were hoping for the salvation of the children means there is ample reason to show the world it’s own potential for ugliness — it makes us ‘want’ the less ugly in our quickly declining climate of disassociated acceptance. ;}


  4. Ooooo….. *speechless stare* My, my, my D’arc One, you have really struck The Nasty Cord with this little piece. My own nasty hat is off to you for the horrors that have spilled from your head onto the virtual page to thrill, horrify and disgust in deliciously equal portions. The visuals were stunning in their accuracy and really worked in your favor here. Of all of your wonderful pieces, this is my current favorite. But then, sometimes I often more appreciate being beat on the head with horror, eschewing the subtle. And this, my dear, cannot be categorized as subtle. Fan Tastic! *toothy grin*


    1. “thrill, horrify and disgust in deliciously equal portions” – I’m just gonna keep singing that over and over again while I dance around in joyful delight that I was actually able to strike your nasty cord with this little ditty. Oh, wait – I shouldn’t be rejoicing, small children were plucked from the proverbial vine and splattered everywhere… Fuck it, I wrote it! I get to revel in the joy that writing a brutal piece of fiction brings.

      Thank you for commenting on my use of the visuals. It’s something that is hard for me to do without emoting a great deal of passion into any narrative (though I believe the monstrosity’s slow delight in chewing the young girls innards may have slipped that boundary). I am tickled almost-pink that you enjoyed it so much! And no, there was no guise of subtly employed in this piece. ;}


  5. Nina…Nina…Nina…just when I think I’ve seen it all from you…lol

    As you know, I absolutely love your emotive pieces. You brush pain onto canvas so eloquently, & I believe that most readers (and writers) don’t understand or appreciate the difficulty involved in such a feat.

    But then here you come along with “Testing.” Aside from the fact that it is such an outstanding story (deliciously brutal, wonderfully twisted & well thought out), you crossed the “oh no she didn’t” invisible line that I think readers (and writers again) tend to respect – use children within a tale to create and elevate stress…and by no means harm the children.

    You know I am Daddy Damned to my sunshiney little girl…but I howled with delight reading your “oh no she didn’t…oh shit she did!!” scenes! Finally, finally, we have found a rebel without a cause, a Damned Dark Angel who not only crossed that line but erased it forever! I applaud you! The real world is a horrible place indeed, but you did not allow it to dictate the course of your story. It was, in fact, essential in the telling of “Testing.”

    Top to bottom, I just loved your story!!!


    1. Hey Joe! Hmmm… where to begin?

      First, there is always more to see… never be fooled! I know you enjoy my emotive pieces, and I absolutely love writing them. But at the same time, I equally enjoy stepping off the ledge and scratching out a piece that is visceral, consuming and repulsive at the same time.

      I love that everyone is keying onto the fact that ‘children’ were used as victims. The truth is, children are victims all the time, Tyr often writes about that truth. I’ve just chosen to shine a different light on it. In all reality, the two children in this scenario are the lesser victims if you break it down.

      Follow me here: A woman has been breed in a laboratory setting a minimum of eighty-seven times; a minimum of eighty-seven men have been mutated beyond human compassion, bodies grotesquely malformed and genetically altered to hunt down and destroy their own progeny; eighty-seven assumed strangers have had their minds (possibly their bodies) shattered by the events they are forced to watch unfold. The test subject is on her way to her eight-eighth birthing of off-spring, with an eighty-eighth man soon to me mutated, if not mutating already. Yet everyone is emotionally latched onto two small children who died… Interesting, wouldn’t you say?

      Like I stated earlier to Zack, I only have one boundary I will not cross as a horror writer as I feel it debases me personally; everything else is fair game. All I have to do is pick up a newspaper, or turn on my TV for examples of real life atrocity happening at this very moment. My fiction explores all realms of the human condition, most of it beautifully horrific – this one simply horrific. But at the end of the day, a pound of horror is still only one pound – no matter its packaging!

      And I am laughing my ass off over your “oh no she didn’t!” comments!!! Now you know, oh yes she will…

      In all seriousness, the telling of this fictitious experiment was dependent upon the horror people are capable of, and the revulsion they are capable of feeling. You’re right in your assesment, it was indeed necessary. It puts the ‘why’ behind the tale. And I hope that everyone who reads it enjoys it for it’s fictional horror value, but is at least left wondering ‘why’ this level of depravity was needed to shed light on how little humans value humanity.

      More to come Weaver of Tales, always more to come, just never when you are expecting it. Thank you so much, Joe, for enjoying my story for what it is, and the kind praise you always heap upon me. I’m thrilled that you loved my story, Daddy Damned and all! You know well of my soft spot for children – now you know where their soft spots are too! LOL ;}


  6. Brilliant Nina, loved it!! How you managed to tell such a graphic and interesting story in such a short format is really amazing, that’s talent 🙂

    Time to read more of your work I think!



    1. Hi Rohan! Thank you very kindly for the compliments and the praise! I think every writer does their best to convey as much experience to the reader as they can in the number of words the story itself demands. Sometimes it’s a long, slow ramble; other times it’s a mad scramble down a steep incline.

      I hope you enjoy my other pieces as well. Though many of them contain a degree of brutality, much of it is couched in more poetic prose.

      Nina 😀


  7. I really enjoyed this twisted blood fest. Like other readers, I was hoping for someone to save the children, but the horror fan in me cheered when the beast claimed his meal! The visuals in this story were fantastic and the twist ending caught me by surprise! Very well done! The premise was fascinating! There’s something about taboo research and grotesque creations that sparks instant excitement in me. Excellent piece, Nina!!!


    1. HA! Now my song has a second line… “I really enjoyed this twisted blood fest; thrill, horrify and disgust in deliciously equal portions.” – you guys are just making my day! Yeah, I know everyone wanted the children to be saved, but much like your inner horror fan, my inner horror writer just couldn’t see it happening. They had to go, and it had to be within an absolute void of compassion.

      I’m a fan of the ‘forbidden’ as well Tyr – particularly when it comes to scientific research, and genetically altered beings. It strikes the same dissonant cord in my psyche as the thought of a small animal suffering with no way to express its pain. It’s not even something I can put into words.

      You were surprised by the twist ending! Woo-hoo! I thought my bread crumb trail was getting too thick and would give away the ‘who’ of what was behind the wall. (more happy dance!)

      Thank you for dumping loads of praise on me – don’t think I haven’t greedily gobbled it up, because kind sir, I surely have!! Happy to disturb and thrill you at the same time! ;}


  8. I like the horror element added to the trapped / observed/ sacrificed mouse scenario.
    The ending threw my head into a spin.
    What are they growing in those petri dishes
    Excellent dark one…


    1. Leslie… reading your romantic poetry today, I almost feel bad that your eyes have seen this… almost. ;]~

      Very nicely encapsulated, it is a mouse trap scenario without a doubt. The ending is meant to mix up a few neural pathways and make you go ‘huh’?

      Thank you, always for your kind words! Like every member of The Damned, I consider you to be an exceptional writer, and truly appreciate the appreciation! 😉


    1. Hunter, I must gracefully take a knee before the Monster Man himself for such kind praise of my demented ramble. Plus, ahwww shucks, you’re makin’ me blush! LOL ;}

      Thank you, Hunter!! Me likey monsters too ;]~


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