Calvin saw the halos within halos of lights through closed eyes. He heard himself screaming.
“I can feel it! I can fucking feel it! Elt;/p>
Then his guttural wail became too awful for words. He couldn’t hear the voices about him:
“Holy fucking shit he’s fucking awake! Elt;/p>
“We can’t sedate him any more than this! Elt;/p>
“How can he even feel anything? Elt;/p>
“What did he see? Elt;/p>
“They see what they want to, don’t they? Elt;/p>
A voice rose above the others: “Shut the fuck up kid! Elt;/p>
Calvin heard that last plea. The sentiment in the voice, where there had only been detached, bemused… he couldn’t quite know, made him shut up.
As the bonesaw buzzed and bit through his skull, Calvin smiled.
Then he laughed. Which made the others in the room wish he’d never stopped screaming.
“Phase Two! Elt;/p>
“You mean Phase Five! Elt;/p>
“I mean whatever the fuck I say! Make the changes before he goes completely batshit! Elt;/p>
“Seems he already has. Elt;/p>
“If he saw what it seems he saw… Elt;/p>
“There’s no Ehere Ethere. Elt;/p>
“We’re going to fucking find out if I have to scoop out his goddam brains with my unwashed fucking hands! Elt;/p>
“We’ve all gone too far already… Elt;/p>
“Let’s do our princely duty as Oppenheimer did his. Elt;/p>
“We have lost our humanity… Elt;/p>
“We’ve lost our souls, if we had any. Elt;/p>
“Then we lose an intangible for a tangible! Elt;/p>
“And one much the more interesting. Elt;/p>
“In dooming ourselves… Elt;/p>
“‘Better to reign in Hell…’ Elt;/p>
Calvin was laughing still. He felt no pain. He saw the people around him, saw his blood spatter their masked faces. He knew who was in control. He thought it may be useful. He screamed with fright when a neat section of his skull clanked on a metal tray.
“What the fuck! You can’t do this! You can’t! Stop this! It’s over — this study shit is over! Elt;/p>
“No Calvin, it’s not over. It’s finally going to begin. Elt;/p>
The man spoke through a surgical mask that had a hole in in through which his lips held a burning cigarette.
“You’d better take my memory of you, then, because you’re the first. Elt;/p>
The man turned and disappeared into the darkness, passing into it as though the lights above separated all within from all without.
Calvin bellowed himself hoarse, these words scraping his throat raw and reverberating through his sinuses and chest cavity — shattering the halos that ringed his head:
“You will be first against the wall, I swear it to God! Elt;/p>
“Get him into Recovery. Elt;/p>
“We’re not– Elt;/p>
“As though it matters? Think! Elt;/p>
“New lights in. Elt;/p>
“Get him out of here. Elt;/p>
The cigarette flared red in the darkness.