Carrie woke with a start. It was daylight still, her entire room filled with sunlight. She was still hooked up to the I.V. and monitors, nothing had seemed to change. Her heart was pounding, though, as if she had just awoken from a nightmare. She felt hot, the air felt stale, it smelled of metal and sterility, and she had the sudden urge of being trapped. Out of complete instinct, she tore the I.V. out of her hand, a small stream of blood seeping out, but it soon stopped.
“Good afternoon, Carrie,” a voice sounded from the monitor. It might have been the female nurse’s because of its calm and warm inflection. “How are you feeling?”
Carrie’s nerves immediately relaxed in recognition of the voice. “Fine,” she answered. “I feel a little on edge, but that’s it.”
“Good,” the woman’s voice said, “you can change back into your clothes and I’ll come in a few minutes to take you back to your cabin.”
Carrie nodded, comfortable with not knowing all the details at the moment. She was used to the secrecy at this point. Although, she wondered how long she had been asleep. It had only seemed like a minute.
“How long have I been asleep?” Carrie asked.
“Approximately seven days,” the voice responded.
Carrie stared at the monitor from where the voice came. It couldn’t have been seven days, she thought. It was incredible to think she had been asleep for an entire week when it had only felt like a minute. She took a deep breath, noticing the room had more than just a metallic smell, there was something very organic and…human about it. She thought about it for a moment and came to the conclusion that it must have been her that smelled. Her muscles ached and throbbed from not moving for a week, but she was still able to manage sliding off the bed and onto the cold linoleum floor. She slowly made her way around the bed, stretching her muscles ever so slightly, and glanced out the window at the forest beyond. She thought she heard something—a bird. Her eyes squinted at the bright light and she could see the bird amongst the green of the trees, the sun’s rays gently lighting the bird’s feathers into a rich blue. She could hear it—through the thick window.
Carrie’s stomach grew cold and she touched her eyes. Frantically swinging around, she searched for her contact case. It sat on the bed table. Snatching it, she opened and found that her contacts remained inside the case. Her mouth dropped in awe, turning a full circle and examining everything. Each object was so clear-cut; it was almost impossible how perfect her vision was. Carrie scrambled to the window again and peered outside, looking at the details of the trees’ pines, and thick, green blades of grass—she stopped, her gaze halting at a stump far by the edge of the forest. She thought she saw something. She squinted, her eyes focusing harder on the stump—
And suddenly, she felt like she shot forward, everything around her zooming by in a haze until she stopped right in front of the stump, or what should have been the stump. All she could see was extremely detailed dark brown bark, but among the bark was a single black ant, crawling up the stump’s side. Carrie’s heart stopped. She wasn’t sure how she got there. She reached out, as though to touch the ant, but all she felt was a smooth, cold material. She was still behind the window—still inside the room.
“Shit,” she panicked, closing her eyes and pushing herself forcibly away to the point of falling to the floor. Slowly she opened her eyes. Her vision seemed back to normal and she was back in the room—even though she never left.
Carrie’s hands shook as she crawled herself back into a standing position. Her mind was a chaotic mass of thoughts. She could almost feel her nerves firing all over her body. The same thought repeated itself in her overwhelmed brain: most important discovery ever… This was far more than she expected. This was far more than they had warned her. What of the others? What were they experiencing? Or did they feel different at all? Maybe the scientists didn’t expect this to happen either. Her mind continued to reel as she propped herself against the bed, and that’s when she saw it:
Across the room, in the large rectangular mirror, she saw herself: a new form, completely the same, but absolutely different. She moved closer to the mirror and examined her body and face. Her face looked the same, but the skin seemed different. It was tauter and she could see her jaw muscles twitch as she clenched her teeth, something she could never really see so defined before. The thickness her body had accrued from the exercise and diet had morphed into a slimmer muscular form. She could see every muscle movement within her arms and hands, veins puffing out from her skin. She lifted the sheath to reveal her legs and abdomen. Her breasts seemed more swollen and lifted by the pectoral muscles underneath. Her legs were no longer thick, but rather lean and extremely defined. Her stomach was the most shocking of all: tightened and constantly flexing every moment Carrie breathed, her stomach could have been the envy of all men, as it displayed every single toned muscle beneath the skin, which seemed to just be a thinly pulled protective covering over the muscles themselves. Needless to say, there was not an ounce of fat in her entire body. She looked like a killer, a barbaric woman who could crush anything and dodge bullets. And she had this horrible hunger urge gnawing the inside of her stomach. Carrie came to the grim realization that she was no longer the same person she was before. She had changed, more than she’d asked for, more than she’d hoped for, and now she could no longer return to the old life she’d once known. She was a freak—or more like the perfect human.
Carrie Goldwater stared into the mirror in horror of what she’d become, completely unaware of the scientists staring right back at her from the other side.