Novel Cruelty Is Thy Name

Discussion in 'Community Fictions' started by Szara, Mar 8, 2020.

  1. Szara

    Szara Your average American Psycho

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    Cruelty Is Thy Name

    Genre: Supernatural, Fantasy, Post Apocalyptic

    Content Warning: Contains gore

    Synopsis: Decades have passed since the outbreak of the zombie apocalypse. Civilization has began to rebuild itself, but a new threat may cause an even greater devastation to humanity.

    Underground laboratories are carrying out experimentations to create the perfect human-hybrid to fight against the horde of undead creatures. However, the side effects include a dark craving...


    Possible cover--

    PicsArt_03-08-10.02.43.jpg

    I can't make a better cover right now because... reasons. IDK, I may just stick with this one. Sorry for bad image quality, I made it on my phone :blobsob: (the struggle is real!)


    Table of Contents
    • Chapter 01 - Hunger
    • Chapter 02 - First Breath
    (Sorry, I don’t know how to link posts on mobile).
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2021
  2. Szara

    Szara Your average American Psycho

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    Chapter 01: Hunger

    Lilith awoke at precisely 5:55am as she did on all the days that came before. She immediately sat upright on her bed without any lingering trace of sleepiness, her movements instilled with an unnatural grace. Grabbing the combat boots by her bedside, she slipped them on and methodically laced the strings.

    It was 5:56am. The girl paced in the dimly lit room, waiting until that person arrived. There was no reason to walk to the door—it was locked from the outside, as it always has been for the past seventeen years of her existence.

    There was nothing else to do besides to wait. Her small bedroom was furnished with only a single bed, a wardrobe, and a clock. The colors were all a monochromatic grey and the walls were absent of any windows. Not that having a window would serve any purpose—her room was two levels underground. It could be considered cold, but colder temperatures never bothered her.

    The clock displayed 5:59am in a faint neon light. She could hear that woman's footsteps echoing down the long corridor. After so many years, Lilith was able to discern which person it was by the particular sound of their footsteps alone. She has memorized the length of time elapsed between each step and the loudness of it. There was nothing else to do.

    Today, that woman must be wearing her favorite pair of white heels.

    Lilith got up and stood by the door, patiently waiting for it to be unlocked. The sound of mechanical beeping from outside was audible from her where she stood. First, an ID card with the proper clearance must be swiped, followed by the passcode being entered into the security system. Last was a biometric scanner that required both fingerprints and retinal scans.

    It was precisely 6:00am when the heavy doors made of reinforced steel slid open. A woman of medium height stood on the other side.

    Her name was Charlotte Atwood and she was Lilith's caretaker. She appeared to be in her mid-thirties, with dark brown hair that was always pulled back into a severe bun. As predicted, she wore her white heels today.

    "Good morning, Mrs. Atwood." Lilith greeted her in the same manner she had always done.

    "And good morning to you, Lilith," the woman replied.

    Charlotte Atwood looked the same as ever for the most part, but there was something different about her today, Lilith decided. There was a slight change in her usual posture and skin complexion. But more noticeably, the natural scent she gave off was different.

    Lilith stared at the woman for a while, her brows slightly furrowed in concentration as if she were trying to detect something.

    "Mrs. Atwood, are you pregnant?" Lilith suddenly asked.

    A brief silence passed before the question fully registered.

    "What did you say?" Charlotte was unable to hide her shock.

    It was true that she and her husband had been trying for a child for many years. But after a decade of multiple failed attempts and fertility treatments that provided no results, she had long given up the hopes of ever holding a child in her arms.

    Lilith stepped forth, breaching the distance between them. Without any further words, she placed her hand over Charlotte's stomach. When covered by the thick sweater, her abdomen appeared completely flat, but Lilith was somehow still able to sense the new life that was growing inside.

    There was no heartbeat as of yet, but a warm feeling flowed through her fingertips as she stared at the woman's stomach with rapt fascination.

    Since the outbreak of the zombie apocalypse, pregnancy—and childbirth—was a rare occurrence.

    The human population, which had once numbered in the billions, now dwindled to tens of millions. Many of the deceased had joined the ranks of the undead. Great nations had fallen, and what rose to power in its place were militaristic city-states.

    Decades have passed since the initial zombie outbreak and civilization has somewhat stabilized. Former military outposts were fortified with steeled walls, providing adequate protection to those living within. Most of the newer constructions were now built underground as it allowed for a greater degree of safety.

    Certain settlements grew crops to feed its people, although rations were low as the available food supply was scarce.

    However, birth rates still remained dismal since many people have chosen not to bring a child into this gruesome world.

    Lilith had lived in the Institute all her life. Although she understood the biology of human reproduction from a scientific standpoint, it was only something she had read about in medical books. For seventeen years, she has never encountered another child, let alone be in the presence of a pregnant woman.

    "You're going to have twins," Lilith said as she looked at Charlotte with a keen interest. "A boy and a girl… will you allow me to play with them after they are born?"

    Her statement had rendered Charlotte speechless. How would she know if I'm pregnant? It was absurd. But Charlotte Atwood knew better than anyone—that the existence of Lilith was an absurdity itself.

    But the question the girl had asked was even more absurd. How could she allow her children to play with a—

    No. That was her answer, although she did not dare to voice it.

    The expression on her face was unseemly until she caught it. As she fought to regain her composure, Charlotte Atwood once again became aware of the palm placed over her abdomen. Despite wearing a thick sweater, a chill seemed to permeate through two layers of fabric. Moreover, the intense look in the girl's eyes greatly unnerved her.

    She brushed away the girl's hand, eager to change the subject. Clearing her throat, she said in a strained voice, "It's time for your routine checkup and training. Doctor Shirokov has returned from his trip, and today he will be personally overseeing your evaluation. Do not disappoint him."

    Lilith had initially felt annoyed when Charlotte dismissed her question, but her mood brightened upon hearing those words. "He's back already?"

    "Yes, and he has something important to discuss with you."

    Mikhail Shirokov was the lead scientist at the Institute. As of today, he was fifty-six years old. Silver strands ran through his once-dark hair. He was a slender, handsome gentleman who wore frameless glasses and always spoke in a pleasant, calming voice.

    Today marked his return after three weeks of absence, which was rather unusual. Mikhail Shirokov was the type of person to be consumed by their work. The last time he had taken an extended leave was years ago when his father had passed.

    This time it was to care for his ailing son. Lilith knew that he had two boys named Dimael and Ivan. He wore a wedding ring—a mere symbolic accessory—although he rarely mentioned his wife.

    Other than that, there was not much that she knew personally about him. He did not speak much about his personal life—no one here did.

    In fact, most people did not speak much to her at all. But Doctor Shirokov was an exception.

    He sometimes personally educated her himself. Of course, formal schooling no longer existed after society collapsed. Many of the newer generations were only taught the most rudimentary of skills—language and basic mathematics. What was most important was combat and survival.

    Yet, in the rare moments when he had free time, Mikhail educated her in other subjects—science, geography, and history. He often told her rich stories of a wondrous world that once existed before the apocalypse. Vivid details illustrated a beautiful picture within her imagination.

    His every word was engraved deeply in her heart. Those moments that she spent in his company would always remain a cherished memory.

    Upon seeing him, her mood became joyous.

    Mikhail was standing near the entrance to the training room, seemingly absorbed in an important conversation with his colleague.

    "Is your son feeling better, doctor?" Lilith asked as she walked up to him.

    He smiled gently at her. "Yes, he's quite alright now. Thank you for your concern."

    "I must speak to you about today's combat assessment," Mikhail abruptly changed the subject. His tone became stern, different from his usual persona. "Know that it will be different from your usual training. Not only will we be evaluating your performance, it is also a test. And should you pass our requirements, you will be permitted to leave the Institute and enlist in the 13th Division."

    "Leave?" Lillith repeated his words, disbelieving her ears. Had it been an auditory hallucination?

    She had been born and raised in this place. For seventeen years, not once had she been allowed to step foot outside of it.

    Her hands subconsciously moved to touch the cold metal collar fastened around her neck.

    Mikhail's gaze drifted to where her pale fingers rested. "Yes, we believe you are finally ready."

    The two of them walked into the training room where another doctor measured her vitals.

    An assistant handed her a sword made of Soulsteel, the best material known to effectively injure zombies. It was an invaluable resource, as only weapons made of this type of steel could easily kill them. Battles have been waged between the city-states to procure it.

    Mikhail Shirokov had left the room, reappearing on a suspended walkway high above her. He stood next to the other scientists, looking down from a safe distance in silent observation.

    The other staff members had also vacated the training room before the heavy doors sealed shut.

    This training area was the most heavily reinforced room within the entire building. The steel walls were nearly four feet thick. It was impossible for anyone—or anything—to escape or force their way in.

    At the opposite end from where she stood were three more doors. Behind them, the miasma of decay was overpowering.

    Lilith looked up to where Mikhail stood with a questioning expression on her face.

    He seemed to know the exact question she meant to ask.

    "Today's combat assessment reflects the enemies you will face in the future. You will be graded upon the number of undead creatures defeated within the allotted time, and by how effectively it is done."

    Lilith froze.

    For most of her training, she would usually spar with the other humans in a friendly match. This time, they managed to bring back actual zombies for her to kill.

    Her hands gripped the blade hilt until her knuckles turned white. She felt one part trepidation, and one part excitement.

    "Let us begin," Mikhail's low voice echoed throughout the large chamber.

    A door from the opposite end opened to reveal six zombies.

    It was the first time she had seen them in person.

    Their bodies were similar to a human's, albeit withered and grey. Their grotesque faces were distorted into something ugly, with mouths that were permanently agape, displaying two rows of rotted teeth. A powerful stench reeking of decomposition emanated from their gaunt and misshaped figures.

    To everyone's astonishment, the zombies did not rush to immediately attack her. Their glassy eyes remained dull, absent of the usual ravenous frenzy when a nearby prey was spotted.

    Lilith remained rooted in place, uncertain of what action to take. She waited for them to charge at her although they never did.

    Eventually, she walked across the training room before stopping in front of one. Still, they had shown no signs of a reaction until she decapitated one's head.

    Suddenly, they all began to attack at once. Glassy eyes glowed red, seething with immense hatred as their arms reach out.

    Severed limbs fell onto the floor. The Soulsteel blade had cleanly cut through their bodies as putrid, tar-like blood splattered across her face and torso.

    "Release the second wave," Mikhail ordered before Lilith had yet to finish off all of the remaining ones.

    Unlike the first group, the second wave of released zombies spared no time before launching an assault. They immediately ambushed her, tearing at her armored vest and sleeves. Some attempted to bite through the thick fabric.

    The numerous injuries she endured was but a dull sting barely realized, not hindering her speed the slightest. She was used to ignoring the pain while continuing with her relentless strikes, executed with a trained precision.

    The third and largest group was released soon afterwards before she was given any time to rest.

    Lilith was greatly outnumbered but not outmatched. Years of daily training had forged her into a weapon that killed with ruthless efficiency. This was what she had been raised for.

    And one by one, they had fallen underneath her blade. Where her sword swept, reflecting a silver light, death followed.

    After they had all been annihilated, Lilith finally succumbed to the exhaustion. The pain she had mentally suppressed before was now setting back in.

    She collapsed onto the floor that had been decorated with severed limbs mixed in a pile of corpses. Three dozen bodies had been cut into a thousand pieces. Black blood coated the ground with a thick layer, covering a considerable portion of the enormous room.

    Mikhail Shirokov walked down to the area where she sat, covered in filth and grime.

    His eyes scanned the girl's injuries. Her protective gear had torn in many places, with one arm exposed and the back partially ripped open.

    Lilith had been bitten in at least two areas as far as he could tell. Their overgrown nails had scratched her skin, opening small lesions. Their dark, foul blood had seeped into her wounds, mixing with her own before dripping down her body.

    Although she had no energy left to stand, Lilith still looked at him expectantly as if waiting for his praise.

    "You've done well," Mikhail said simply.

    She grinned at his compliment. Her entire face lit up. It was so easy for him to make her happy just with a few words. In some ways, she was still like a child despite her brutal killing methods.

    "Are you hungry?" Mikhail asked as he lightly ruffled her hair, a rare gesture of affection.

    "I'm absolutely starving." She replied. The Institute rarely fed her more than what was required to keep her alive and functioning. Despite it, she bore them no resentment as food could be difficult to come by.

    An ambiguous smile tugged at the corner of his lips. "Good. Today I have brought you a special treat as a reward. Come, let me show you the surprise."

    He allowed her a moment of rest until she was well enough to walk again.

    Lilith followed him into the elevator as they traveled down to the fifth underground level. This floor contained multiple chambers to house the subjects of their experiments.

    They entered one of the rooms, where a naked man sat chained to the wall.

    His breathing was highly irregular. His skin, which had once been golden and healthy, was now an ashen color drenched in cold sweat. Brown eyes were slightly glazed and unfocused.

    "What is wrong with him?" She asked.

    "This man was one of the soldiers who had been tasked to capture live zombies for your evaluation today. Unfortunately, he had been bitten while doing so. By the end of this week, he will undoubtedly turn into one of them."

    Lilith studied the soldier as she approached him, her boots clicking on the tiled floor. Kneeling before him, she met his bloodshot eyes from which a look of confusion shone.

    Her appearance reflected within them—a striking girl with eyes as black and cold as onyx. Her shoulder-length raven hair provided a startling contrast against the alabaster skin that appeared bloodless. He might have even thought of her as pretty, were it not for the lack of color in her face, giving her an unsettling appearance. Underneath the fluorescent lighting, her skin displayed a slightly bluish tone, further accentuated by pale lips that held no traces of warmth.

    She was considered quite tall for a girl, standing at 5'7", her body toned and athletic. Although impressive, she did not exactly appear intimidating.

    The soldier sat before her with both hands shackled to the wall, vulnerable and exposed. And yet, there was no trace of fear in his eyes. Not truly.

    Perhaps it was because the man was half-delirious. Or maybe he did not know who she was. Or rather, what she was.

    Because only a madman knew no fear.

    "You've brought me fresh meat today?" Lilith candidly asked.

    She has only ever eaten human flesh that had already been chopped up and prepared, neatly stored in containers that were stacked in the basement freezer below the kitchen.

    "We have decided to put you on a new diet," Mikhail answered. "Perhaps someone alive will provide you with greater nutrition and increase your strength even further."

    A lab assistant stepped into the room, handing Doctor Shirokov a clipboard and pen. The young man briefly shot her a horrified glance before quickly leaving and shutting the door behind him, as if her notice alone could burn through his skin if she looked for too long.

    Mikhail browsed through the forms on the clipboard, jotting down some notes before returning his attention towards her.

    "You may proceed." His voice was steady and his posture relaxed, as if he were overseeing some mundane procedure with a languid interest.

    Lilith might have thought he was even calm, if the fervent gaze in his eyes had not betrayed his anticipation for what was to come.

    Her focus narrowed on the soldier's throat, which bobbed as he swallowed, revealing the nervousness he felt underneath her scrutiny.

    A feeling of shame arose from the state of his nakedness; a sign that there was still some remnant of awareness left. Shame had amplified the heat which radiated from his body. His temperature was already much higher than the average, as he was experiencing the fever caused by the zombie virus.

    Lilith placed a hand behind his neck, feeling the hot blood pulsing through his arteries as her thumb caressed the hollow of his throat. His heart was beating in a loud, chaotic rhythm matching the turbulence within his mind.

    Within a week, he will turn into one of the mindless undead. She understood the words which were left unspoken. There was no point in leaving this man alive. All she could grant him now was a quick and merciful death.

    It happened within the span of a few seconds. Her impassive face twisted into something cruel and monstrous. Pale lips snarled and pulled back, revealing two rows of sharp fangs dripping with saliva, craving for the taste of human flesh. Black obsidian eyes turned into a deep crimson color reminiscent of blood, faintly glowing with a maniacal delight.

    Ah, there it was. Fear.

    A look of pure terror blossomed on her prey's face as a light of recognition finally shone in the man's eyes. It was a familiar face he had seen countless times before. It was the face of a monster.

    In an instant, she had ripped out his jugular with her sharp teeth as blood spurted forth from his throat and splattered onto the tiled flooring, painting the room in a brilliant shade of crimson.

    With one swift action, the light in his eyes was extinguished just as soon as it had appeared, replaced by the empty, vacant gaze of a dead man.

    Or perhaps he wasn't truly dead yet, as his fingers were still twitching, an involuntary spasm often caused by sudden violent deaths accompanied by intense emotions.

    Lilith cradled his lifeless body in her arms, covering laceration on his neck with her mouth as she greedily drank in his warm blood. It tasted like pure ecstasy, as if she had been stranded in a desert her entire life and finally savored cold water. It was utterly intoxicating, more addictive than any drug known to man. Her pupils dilated from pleasure as her nails grew into sharp claws, digging deeply into his skin.

    When the blood had stopped flowing, she began biting off chunks of his flesh. This body had belonged to a warrior, made apparent by the sculpted muscles. But no matter how tough the sinew was, she was still able to tear through it effortlessly with her fangs and claws.

    Some of his organs were not so great-tasting. The heart itself was a muscle with a rubbery texture that can be more difficult to chew. The liver had a slightly bitter flavor. Traces of hydrochloric acid were present in the stomach, but it posed no difficulty for her powerful digestive system which was able to dissolve nearly anything.

    Lilith was not such a choosy eater, although she did throw away the organs which contained traces of human waste.

    She had saved the best for last. Zombies had a notorious craving for human brains, and she was no different from them in that respect.

    Empowered by the feast, Lilith ripped the man's head from his body in one simple move. Her hand snaked underneath his skull, pulling the brain out by its stem.

    She sank her fangs into the cerebral cortex. A taste of pure bliss immediately overwhelmed all the senses. It was ambrosia, instantly revitalizing all the strength she had previously exhausted. Instinct overtook her body as she lost all self-control, mindlessly devouring the rest of the delicacy with an insatiable hunger.

    ………...
    ………...

    In the monitoring room above, all high-ranking staff members of the faculty observed her feeding behavior on the screen. Some showed expressions of horror. Some showed expressions of disgust. But they all stood transfixed and watched with an uninterruptible morbid fascination.

    Subject 012—named 'Lilith' by Mikhail Shirokov—represented seventeen years of their life's work.

    Charlotte Atwood stood amongst the researchers and scientists in the room. Although she held no high position within the Institute, they felt she should be there to witness this, as she was the girl's own caretaker.

    Sour bile rose up her throat until she felt she could no longer suppress her revulsion. She quickly left the room, dry heaving when she was outside in the hallway.

    She had always known that Lilith fed on humans. Charlotte had even sat down with the girl each time she ate the prepared food that was brought forth.

    However, it was a different thing to witness her personally kill and tear apart a live human being.

    When feeding, she became a savage beast, nearly indistinguishable from the undead monsters they actively fought against. Her behavior held no former traces of her usual cordial self.

    No matter how unassuming her appearance, Lilith was still a devil cloaked in human skin.

    …………….
    …………….

    The girl discarded the bones, carelessly tossing them behind her shoulder after the meat had been picked clean.

    Pieces of flesh were strewn across the floor. A bloody scent was suffused into the stale air. The drab room had been repainted with a vibrant shade of red.

    Red was the color of anger. Red was the color of passion. Red was the color of life.

    And what a beautiful color it was.

    Everything else paled in comparison. In her muted monochromatic world, it was the only color which captured her attention.

    Nearly half an hour had passed before the madness subsided and a sense of clarity returned. Her eyes returned to its usual serene darkness. The frenzy she previously experienced began to fade after she had eaten her fill, content. The heat running through her veins had cooled as the usual chill returned.

    The injuries that she had sustained from the fight before had long since healed. Her prior wounds were no longer detectable. Only flawless, clear skin remained without any traces of scarring.

    Lilith suddenly recalled that there was a second person in the room before dropping the bone she was gnawing on.

    She turned around, facing Mikhail Shirokov once again.

    He was standing in the exact same position as earlier, his expressionless face indecipherable. Out of all the dozens of people at this institute, he was the only person who wasn't disgusted or terrified by her.

    Even Charlotte Atwood, who was the closest person she had to a mother-figure, was afraid of Lilith, no matter how much the woman tried to disguise it.

    "Well? How was it?" Mikhail asked, distracting her from her own solemn thoughts.

    "Good," Lilith replied simply. More than good. After having tasted the delicacy of fresh food, she wasn't sure if she could ever be satisfied by the frozen meals once again.

    Lilith looked down at her clothes. The black fabrics hid the bloodstains well, but she was still drenched.

    "It's a bit messy," she remarked, suddenly self-conscious of her macabre appearance. A frown appeared on her grimy face. Small bits of fleshy matter still clung to her tattered clothing. She brushed off what she could find.

    Mikhail gave her a stiff smile as he wiped the remaining blood off her chin. "Go get changed first. We will re-do your combat assessment to see if there are any improvements. This time, I expect you to kill at least one hundred."
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2020
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  3. Szara

    Szara Your average American Psycho

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    Reserved for additional info
     
  4. Kalto

    Kalto [Somewhat meticulous]

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    Great, I say you are good to go :blobokhand:, just add gore to the genres, some people might not like the depiction of slaughtery and blood :blobsweat_2:
     
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  5. Szara

    Szara Your average American Psycho

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    @Kalto
    I just kinda assumed that it's a given that all zombie stories will contain gore.

    I haven't read many others actually... The ones I have read are primarily 'Romance' stories set in zombie-apocalypse settings, so they're not actually that graphic or gory at all.

    But I wanted to go for the max gore factor. At least for the first chapter anyway :blobsweat: but yeah, ok ill make sure to add a warning.
     
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  6. Szara

    Szara Your average American Psycho

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    Chapter 02: First Breath

    For the first time in her life, Lilith dreamt. In the distance, she saw a silver-haired man laying inside a glass coffin in a dark room that was lavishly decorated.

    Was he dead? Lilith stepped forward to take a closer look. She saw that despite his silver hair, he was not old. On the contrary, he had perfectly smooth skin as opposed to wrinkles. He appeared to be in his mid-twenties, his figure slim yet toned, his face perfectly sculpted. His chest steadily rose and fell, signifying that he was still alive and breathing. But why is he laying in a coffin?

    Lilith stood beside the coffin and peered through the glass lid, mesmerized by his beautiful face. He’s gorgeous, she gasped. Each of his features were perfectly proportioned and perfectly situated on a face that appeared to be perfectly carved.

    Unexpectedly, the man suddenly woke up, revealing a pair of startling golden eyes. Immediately, he turned his gaze towards her. “Who are you?” the words left his pale, bloodless lips in a whisper.

    Lilith froze in place, uncertain of what to answer.

    A beeping sound soon broke through the silence. When Lilith blinked again, she found that she was back in her bedroom. It was 5:55am. The beeping sound had come from her alarm clock. Lilith stretched out her right arm, turning the alarm off.

    She then thought of the silver-haired man with golden eyes. Had that been just a dream?It seemed so real. He had appeared so vividly in her mind.

    “Lilith?” A voice asked from behind her bedroom door. It was Mikhail’s voice. “Are you awake?”

    ”Yes!” Lilith answered. She quickly got off her bed and combed through her short hair with her fingers. She stood at the metallic door, waiting for Mikhail to enter the passcodes to unlock it.

    The door slid open to reveal Mikhail standing on the other side. A smile appeared on his handsome face. “Good morning,” he greeted her.

    ”Good morning, Mikhail,” Lilith replied with a smile of her own.

    ”Yesterday you’ve managed to kill 237 zombies— you’ve exceeded my expectations by over twice the amount. You’ve done very well,” he patted her on the shoulder.

    The smile on Lilith’s face blossomed to an all-out grin, displaying two rows of white teeth. She lived to please him, like an obedient puppy who wanted to receive praises from its master.

    ”I’ve discussed it with the council— we believe you’re finally ready to enlist in the army and fight against rogue zombies in the open world.”

    ”Really?” Lilith asked excitedly, her heart skipping a beat. Her entire life had been spent inside the walls of the research institution. She has only known of the outside world from the books she has read. Never before had she been permitted to see the skies for herself. A vivid and beautiful world entered her imagination, free of walls and locked doors.

    But most importantly, joining the army meant an opportunity to make new friends. Mikhail and Charlotte were the only two people that Lilith interacted with on a daily basis. Oftentimes, they were busy with work and could not accompany her. Lilith spent most of her time alone, buried in books. Finally now she would be able to meet new people.

    ”But before you leave, we must conduct a final physical test on you. Come,” Mikhail said.

    Lilith followed Mikhail as he took an elevator to the third floor of the institute. He had led her to an unfamiliar room where an older man with greying hair sat. He appeared to be in his late sixties, his glasses seated on a high nose bridge on a face that was wrinkled from age.

    ”This is Doctor Hansen,” Mikhail introduced the man to Lilith. “He is one of the best scientists we have. Today he will be conducting your physical examination.”

    ”I’ve heard much about you,” Doctor Hansen said with a warm smile. “Your existence is miraculous. There is much to be learned by studying you, Lilith. I would say that I am disheartened to let you go from here.”

    Lilith stood in place awkwardly, uncertain of how to respond. She knew that she was not human, but what he had said made her feel even more like a freak. “I am honored to warrant you interest, but I don’t wish to stay here as a science experiment.”

    The smile on Hansen’s face disappeared. “Of course not. I shall not keep you here if you are unwilling,” he said. “Well now, let us proceed with the examination.”

    Doctor Hansen took her height and weight measurements, jotting them down on a clipboard. He then took out a stethoscope to listen to her heartbeat and breathing. Next was a blood pressure monitor. Finally, he took a sample of her blood that was extracted from a vein in her arm.

    ”Have you experienced anything unusual as of late?” Hansen asked as he wrote down her information on his clipboard.

    Lilith had thought of the silver-haired man in her dreams. It was the first time she had ever dreamt, but it was usual for humans to dream.

    ”No, nothing unusual,” Lilith answered causally.

    “Well, that should be all then. Thank you for your cooperation. I shall see you again next year,” Hansen said.

    After the physical examination was over with, Lilith followed Mikhail back to her room. A young man was standing in front of her door with a suitcase by his side.

    ”Doctor Shirokov,” he greeted Mikhail. “Here’s the suitcase you asked for.

    ”Thank you, Dustin. You may leave it there.”

    The man nodded in response before leaving.

    ”Here, Mikhail said as he handed Lilith the empty suitcase. “Pack your belongings. Starting tomorrow, you’ll be moving to live at Fort Ellis. There, you’ll be joining the other soldiers in combat.”

    ”Will you be coming with me?”

    ”No,” Mikhail answered. “My place is at the research institution.”

    For as long as Lilith could remember, Mikhail had been by her side. Without him, she felt utterly lost.

    ”What shall I do about... food?”

    ”I’ve assigned a person to take care of you. Her name is Jaina. Aside from her, the higher ups also know about what you are. But you must not let the other soldiers know. Otherwise, you’ll only face their condemnation and fear. Some of the braver ones may even try to kill you.”

    Lilith nodded. She then took the suitcase by Mikhail’s side. It did not take long for her to pack. She did not have many personal belongings besides the seven identical sets of clothing which she always wore: a grey tank top, black jeans, and combat boots.

    After packing, Lilith fell back on her bed, picking up a book to read. However, she found it difficult to concentrate on the book. Tomorrow, I will finally be leaving this place, Lilith told herself. She had grown up from inside these four walls, having never known the outside world. She felt an odd sense of loss, but there was also excitement.

    After being lost in her thoughts for a while, she drifted off to sleep. When she woke up, it was the next day. 5:00am. She had woken early today. Lilith slipped on her combat boots and tied the laces. She sat on the bed, waiting for Mikhail to come and unlock her door.

    6:00am. A knock sounded on her door.

    ”I’m awake!” Lilith answered.

    Beeping noises were heard as Mikhail entered the passcodes and passed the biometric scanner. The metallic door slid open. Mikhail Shirokov stood on the other side, neatly dressed as ever, but this time he had dark circles under his eyes. It appeared he hadn’t slept well.

    ”Are you alright?” Lilith asked.

    Mikhail cleared his throat. “Yes, I’m quite well. Thank you for your concern.” His voice was gruff. “I trust you have finished packing?”

    “Yes,” Lilith answered as she picked up the suitcase by the door.

    ”Your transport has arrived,” Mikhail said.

    Lilith followed Mikhail as they took the elevator to the first floor and went outside the research institute.

    Lilith took in the scenery— a glimpse of the morning sun peaked through the horizon, casting rays of bright light over the clouds amid a pink and purple sky.

    She breathed in the fresh air which was cold, chilling her lungs. It had felt like the first time she had been able to breathe after an entire lifetime of suffocation.

    Lilith looked out into the distance. It sounded incredulous, but this was the first time in her life that she had seen vegetation— grass and trees.The vibrant green color made a startling contrast to the dreary grey walls and floor of the institute.

    ”Come,” Mikhail said, breaking her out of her stupor.

    She followed him to the gates which guarded the institute. Mikhail waved to a security guard who nodded in response. The gates slowly opened, revealing a military vehicle on the other side.

    Lilith’s grip on her suitcase handle tightened as she turned to face Mikhail.

    “You’ll be joining the 113th Division after your arrival at Fort Ellis. I’ve made arrangements with Jaina— she’ll be taking care of you there,” Mikhail said.

    ”Will I ever see you again?”

    ”Perhaps at next year’s physical examination.”

    ”That’s too long away!” Lilith protested.

    A small smile appeared on his lips. “My work here is very important. I cannot abandon it.”

    ”Then I’ll come to visit you when I am able,” Lilith said as she dropped the suitcase and embraced Mikhail. His body stiffened in her arms. Then he gave her a pat on the back in response.

    ”Alright then,” he chuckled.

    ”This is goodbye then,” Lilith said with a sad smile as she released him. She picked up her suitcase and placed it in the trunk of the vehicle. She then opened the passenger door and got into the car. Lilith looked back at where Mikhail stood and waved goodbye at him.

    He waved back at her. “Farewell,” he said even though she could not hear.

    The military vehicle sped off into the distance and disappeared beyond the horizon, but Mikhail Shirokov stood in place long after Lilith had left. He felt a heavy pang in his chest. Could it be that he loved her?She was a monster, yes, but he had raised her for 17 years. After so long, it wasn’t unusual that he had developed a bond with the demon-girl. She fed on human flesh, but she bore no hatred against humanity. It was just in her nature to feed. It was the same as a lion feasting on a gazelle— he wouldn’t fault the lion for it.

    Mikhail took out his wallet, in which contained a picture of his two sons— Dimael and Ivan. They were 19 and 12 this year. His younger son, Ivan, was inflicted with a rare blood disease, for which there currently was no cure. Mikhail’s thumb caressed the picture of his sons. I will find a cure for you, no matter what the cost.

    “Doctor Shirokov,” Mikhail’s assistant, Dustin, greeted him as the young man approached him. “You told me to notify you if any of the women here got pregnant. It has been confirmed that Mrs. Atwood is expecting.”

    “Is that so?” Mikhail put away his wallet.

    ”Yesterday she had an ultrasound. It seems that she is carrying twins.”

    Excellent. Twins made fine research specimen.

    ”Come with me,” Mikhail said. The two of them went to Mikhail’s personal office which was located two floors underground. “Bring Charlotte Atwood here for me. Tell her I need to speak with her.”

    Dustin made a sound of affirmation and left. Alone in his office, Mikhail got out a syringe and a special vial he had prepared. It contained one of the numerous blood samples they had obtained from Lilith.

    It wasn’t long before Dustin brought Charlotte to him. Mikhail tucked the syringe and vial inside the pocket of his lab coat.

    ”You wanted to see me?” Charlotte asked Mikhail.

    ”Yes,” he answered. “Come walk with me. I need you as well, Dustin.”

    The three of them left Mikhail’s office. Dustin and Charlotte followed Mikhail as they toured the laboratory.

    ”Now that Lilith has gone, you must have more free time, Mrs. Atwood.”

    ”Yes,” Charlotte answered hesitantly. “It feels as if I had lost a part of myself, after raising the girl for so long.”

    ”I know the feeling. I had also raised Lilith as if she were my own daughter. Now that she is gone, life here feels somewhat empty. But speaking of children, I hear that you are expecting twins?”

    ”How did you know that?” Charlotte stopped in her tracks.

    Mikhail’s eyes landed on Dustin. Charlotte Atwood followed his gaze to rest on the young man, whose face remained impassive, giving nothing away. He stood there mutely, waiting for Mikhail to answer on his behalf.

    “How I came to know isn’t important,” Mikhail said. “But what is important is that you should have notified me immediately when you first discovered that you are pregnant. Did you think you could have given birth here without my notice?”

    I hadn’t planned on staying here much longer,’ Charlotte thought to herself as she placed on hand protectively over her stomach while taking a step back. “And just what do you intend on doing with that information?”

    Mikhail gave her a smile. “Every action I take has been for the good of humanity,” he said as he took out the syringe from the pocket of his lab coat. “With this injection, your children will become ghouls like Lilith. With enhanced strength and recovery speed, they will become the next generation of humans.

    ”No,” Charlotte replied with horror. “I won’t let you turn my children into monsters.” She thought of Lilith, of how the girl feasted on human flesh. The scene of her tearing apart that soldier entered Charlotte’s mind. A wave of nausea surged to her throat before she forced it down.

    ”Whether or not someone is a monster depends on their actions,” Mikhail said. “As Lilith had proven to us, ghouls can be controlled unlike their zombie counterparts.”

    ”Nevertheless, I still won’t agree to it.”

    ”Well, that’s unfortunate, but you don’t have a say in the matter. Dustin, grab her.”

    Before Charlotte could respond, Dustin had seized her arms from behind, locking her in place. ”What are you doing? Let me go!”

    “This will only take a moment,” Mikhail said as he approached her while holding the syringe in his hand.

    ”No!” Charlotte screamed as she struggled in the young man’s grasp. However, it was no use as she was no match for his strength.

    Stepping forward, Mikhail readied the syringe before giving her an injection in the arm. Charlotte had stopped resisting when the painful sting spread throughout her arm. It wouldn’t be long before the substance reached her womb.

    ”No,” she whispered. “Just what have you done?”

    ”I’m giving your children the gift of immortality,” Mikhail answered. “This is the opportunity that many would kill for.”

    Sorry it took over a year for an update. I’ve been through hard times in my personal life.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2021