Sarah Montgomery sat at a table piled high with drugs, guns, medical equipment and books filled with cutting edge theories of bio-mechanical engineering and philosophical tracts on war. She was feeding data into a supercomputer made from parts stolen from a military outpost 5 miles underneath the Mojave Desert and held together by duct tape and vengeance. Her eyes bulged with the pressure of an intense drug cocktail that was metaphysically and literally expanding her mind. Her fingers were a blur of movement and her teeth were grinding so hard she had been forced to put in her mouth guard. She hated her mouth guard. It tasted like 7th grade gym.
“WASHINGTON!” she yelled, her jaw popping with the sudden movement. There was a commotion in the adjoining room, then a monkey dressed in a rather sharp tuxedo strolled into the room, casually munching on a chili cheese dog.
“Whattup, sassy ass?” said the monkey, as though he owned the place. He adjusted the crotch of his tuxedo pants with one hand and crammed the rest of the chili cheese dog into his mouth.
“Call me that again and I’ll cut off your balls, turn them into earrings and force you to wear them on our next zoo visit.”
“Damn, that’s some fucked up shit,” said Washington. He jumped onto the back of Sarah’s chair and began massaging her shoulders. “What’s the trauma?”
“The trauma is the future, Washington! It arrives today! I have worked for years gathering knowledge, living on the edge of science, reason and accountability. I’ve crossbred a Shetland pony with a giant squid, I’ve reversed the circulation of the magma at the earth’s core, piloted a high-jacked experimental NASA aircraft to slingshot Mars while high on crank, turned a piece of coal into a diamond through sheer power of mind and calf muscles and given a normal monkey the intelligence of a 14-year-old, but tonight I’m finally ready for my greatest achievement.”
“What’s that?” asked Washington, picking things out of Sarah’s hair and eating them.
“Tonight, I have given myself the means to kill Madeleine Maby.”
Madeleine Maby sat in the middle of the center of operations for B.I.T.C.H., the Biological Initiative for Transcending Contemptible Humanity. Although she sat in her power suit as the head of one of the largest secret underground military R+D divisions, with her legs pulled up beneath her, spinning herself in circles in a desk chair while chewing on a pen in thought, if one didn’t know any better they would think Madeleine Maby was a kind, humble woman with a good heart. However, if one did in fact think that, one would be a fucking idiot.
What, you don’t know who Madeleine Maby is? Grab a dictionary and look up “Bad Ass Motherfucker.” Oh wait, you didn’t find an entry for “Bad Ass Motherfucker” in your dictionary? You know why? Because Madeleine Maby didn’t want you to, that’s why. Madeleine Maby did the K-12 in a tank top, boy shorts and a pair of Crocs. Madeleine Maby ate a live puffer fish on a dare from the Premier of China. Madeleine Maby avenged the murder of her mentor by hollowing out his killer’s dog and wearing its skin into the killer’s bedroom, then wearing the killer’s skin out. Madeleine Maby spliced the genes of a hippopotamus and a tiger together just to find out what it would feel like to hunt and kill it. Madeleine Maby bio-engineered herself entirely new skin that was thick as a rhino’s while still being as smooth and soft as a baby. Madeleine Maby knows what the worst sin you ever committed was, and she thinks it’s cute.
A subordinate approached her chair and coughed quietly. Madeleine stopped spinning. “What do you want?”
“Ms. Maby, the test subject is ready.”
Madeleine and the subordinate walked down an impossibly long white corridor, their footsteps creating echoes so maddening the subordinate could feel the fillings in his teeth. Finally they stopped at a door. Madeleine punched in a code and then lowered her eye for a retinal scan. Once the scan was complete the large metal door slid open.
The two entered into an observation room. The small, white, sterile box was surrounded by large plexiglass windows that looked down onto a white room. In the center of the room was an infant, no older than two. Madeleine stared down at the child for a moment and then leaned over to an intercom. She pressed a large red button and spoke.
“Open the gates.”
On three different sides of the large white room three different panels in the wall opened. Out of one door came a long, dangerous Burmese python. Out of another door came a grizzly bear. Out of the last door came a wild boar. All three creatures were crazed with hunger. All three creatures made their way to the baby.
As they slowly approached the baby got on all fours and began to awkwardly try to stand. The boar was the first to reach the infant. “Piggy!” shouted the baby. As the boar opened its jaws, face to face with the infant, the baby reached up and grabbed the boar’s large tusks with both hands. In one fluid, horrible motion the baby moved both hands outwards, ripping the tusks from the boar’s face. The boar squealed in pain and rage. The baby did a move not unlike a breakdancer, dropping to the ground on its back, tusks still in hand, and then reaching up with its legs to grab the boar by the throat. The baby then twisted its body, using the torque to topple the boar, slamming it to the ground. The child, now on top of the overturned boar, raised the tusks high into the air and then jabbed them violently into the boar’s eyes. Blood gushed out of the eyeholes and covered the baby in gore. The boar’s body writhed on the ground for a moment, then lay still.
The baby sat atop the dead boar, breathing deeply and wiping the blood from its eyes. Before it had time to collect itself the python lunged forward, hoping to take advantage of the baby’s resting period. Quick as a flash, however, the baby turned and grabbed the python by the throat, stopping it in mid-lunge. The baby then brought the snake’s throat to its face and, with a voracious attack of vicious bites, the child began tearing through the snake’s throat with its nubby baby teeth.
The bear was now standing the corner, unsure of what to do other than make itself look as large as possible. Once the baby was done tearing off the snake’s head it turned to the bear. The child and the bear squared off, the child bobbing and weaving like a mongoose, back and forth, up and down. Suddenly and with great speed the child drew up its hand that still held the python and cracked the large snake like a whip, wrapping its body around the large bear’s neck. The bear howled in fury, but with one mighty pull the baby yanked the beast onto all fours. The baby then swung on the snake’s body to hoist itself up onto the bear’s back. It planted one foot on the back of the bear’s skull and then pulled both ends of the snake hard, cutting off the bear’s oxygen. The bear gasped and groaned, swaying unstably as it grew light-headed. Finally its eyes rolled into the back of its head, and then it collapsed, dead, to the floor. The child sat down quietly, pensively atop the bear and looked around the room, surveying the carnage it had wrought.
“Impressive,” said Madeleine. “Let’s see what this baby is really made of.” Madeleine reached down to the intercom button again and cleared her throat. “Send in… the Ultimate Weapon.”
The subordinate’s face went white. He could not believe what he had just heard. They hadn’t pitted The Ultimate Weapon against one of the Children’s Ultimate Neutralization Team in ages, not since that last time. That last time… The subordinate pressed his face to the glass.
Inside the large white room a fourth and final panel opened. The baby, cocky and torpid with the glory of his kills, rolled its head languidly to see what approached. Upon seeing the creature the baby snaps to attention, taking a defensive stance. Suddenly, there is something different about the baby. Something stinky and unwholesome. Fear.
Out of the darkness came a noise somewhere between a gurgle and whinny. The noise was followed by the sound of sloshing and oozing, augmented by occasional clumping. Slowly, like an old god, out of the shadows came a beast that is half giant squid, half Shetland pony. Long, grasping tentacles crept forth from a small, compact body of fur and muscle. The creature’s head was giant, and centered in the front of its face was a long muzzle that culminated in a large open hole of a mouth filled with concentric circles of big, blocky, razor-sharp teeth. It was a creature whispered about in the break rooms, dreamt about in the nightmares of the staff, etched into the memory of anyone who had ever seen it. It went by many names, but officially, on the documents describing its creation and potential as biological weaponry that were kept under tight lock and key within the pentagon, it was referred to as The Montgomery Conundrum.
The subordinate watched as the baby panicked briefly and then dove behind the cover of the grizzly bear’s large, hulking frame, obviously hoping to hide and buy some time to strategize. All for naught, unfortunately, as one of the giant squid’s two longer feeding tentacles rose in the air and swooped down behind the bear, wrapping itself around the child and hoisting it into the air. The subordinate then saw the giant squid toss the child into the air like someone would toss a piece of popcorn or an M+M, and then the creature turned its face upward and opened its mouth wide.
The subordinate turned away quickly, unable to watch the inevitable, grizzly finale. He stared at the door, wishing he could leave. In his periphery vision he saw Madeleine Maby staring sternly at the terror happening beneath them. Her mouth was drawn tight into a frown. “Dammit, Sarah. No matter how good the children are, this creature of yours comes out on top,” Madeleine said aloud not so much to herself as to a specter that haunted her days and plagued her nights.
“Why are you doing this?” the subordinate asked as he turned to her, sure to avoid looking out the windows, overwhelmed by the seeming senselessness of it all. “What could possibly be the point?”
“Hmmm,” said Madeleine, as though the question had never occurred to her, had never been asked before. “Why do we do this?” She lifted her head to look at the ceiling, her eyes wandered to the right, as though searching for an answer. She lifted a knee to her chest, hugging her leg with her arm as though she were stretching a hamstring. Then, as though her legs were spring-loaded, Madeleine shot out her long, slender appendage with a snap, kicking the subordinate directly in the groin with so much force that he flew backwards, his testicles now firmly inside his abdominal cavity.
“Because we are too weak,” she said, then exited the room.
Sarah Montgomery sat before her table. Behind her was a large, whirring machine. Three tubes came out of the machine like long, clear proboscises, IVs transferring fluids into and out of its host. One IV, attached to Sarah’s left arm, pumped out a steady stream of red liquid. In her right arm was a second IV that pumped a darker, almost velvety fluid into her. A third IV, on a much slower drip dropping a bright pink fluid into the drowsy woman, was in the crook of her neck. A strange, sloppy smile wiggled and wormed across Sarah’s face. Washington stared on with concern.
“What are all these tubes?” asked Washington.
“Mmm, these tubes?” Sarah mumbled, her half-opened eyelids fluttered. “Well, this one,” she pointed to her left arm, “this one is taking out some blood. And then this one,” she pointed to her right arm, “is pumping in a synthetic blood substitute of my own design. I’ve been doing a few body modifications on myself here, Washington, a little personal tinkering. Tonight’s the big finale. Either it works, or I guess I’m pretty well screwed. Ideally this synthetic blood will allow me to improve my human machine. Combined with some neural updating and rewiring what this should do is give me a bit of an upgrade. Like going from a dial-up to a DSL internet connection. More information, quicker, better reflexes and adaptability. Eh, we’ll see.”
Washington pointed to the IV connected near Sarah’s neck. “What about that one?”
“Ah, that one,” Sarah said through a slow, rolling giggle. “That’s a pina colada.”
A red light on the machine began blinking and a strange noise burst forth from the machine. The fluid stopped moving. “All done!” said Sarah, drowsily pleased. Her hands sloppily pulled the tubes out of her arms and neck, leaving little trails of blood eking out of the new track marks. Sarah shook her head and then picked a small chunk of metal off of the table. It was a small silver box about the size and shape of a small cell phone. There was an LCD screen on the top and an array of buttons that was protected by a sliding cover. The bottom of the box had had a small, screw-like protrusion about half an inch in length. Sarah stared intensely at the box, as if making a very important decision in her head.
Washington hopped onto the table. “What’s that?”
“The last step,” said Sarah, and she plunged the protrusion into her forearm.
A whirring began and a smell of burning skin and bone filled the air. Sarah let out a scream as the skin around the now implanted device twisted and pulled. Her body bent over double, the arm reaching out across the table as though it were trying to escape the body. Washington stared on in horror as he saw something from within the device snake out underneath Sarah’s skin about an inch up and down the arm. The machine’s movements ended. Sarah let out a final groan of pain and collapsed onto the table. A small green light on the device blinked twice. A small beep sounded. The LCD screen lit up, showing the words “BATTLE SETTING: ENGAGED.”
Sarah’s body lay motionless on the table. Washington approached it slowly, reaching a hand out tentatively towards Sarah’s shoulder. Just as he was about to touch her she bolted upright. Her hair, normally down in her face, was now thrown back, as if blown by an unseen wind. Her eyes were sharp and alert, one pupil pinpoint small, the other huge and dilated. Although her form stood stock-still, all over Sarah was twitching and flinching, her entire body making small adjustments and alterations. Her shoulders rolled back, she lowered her center of gravity, her jaw set itself. She shot a look at Washington that was so intense the monkey nearly shat a brick.
“Throw something at me.”
“What!?!?” shrieked Washington.
“Throw something at me, you mindless primate! THROW SOMETHING AT MY FACE.”
Washington froze in place, his mouth agape. Sarah rolled her eyes.
“Need an introductory course, Washington? It goes something like this.” Sarah grabbed a half-finished can of Red Bull and chucked it at Washington, hitting him square in the face. Washington came out of his daze, wiped the energy drink off his face, then took a screw driver from the table and threw it at Sarah with all his might. Sarah snatched the screw driver out of the air by the handle, flipped it over and grabbed the axial shaft and then threw it across the room. The screwdriver embedded itself right between the eyes of a photo of Madeleine Maby pasted onto the wall.
“Good,” said Sarah with a smile. She walked over to the table and picked up a Glock 17 handgun. With expert precision she disassembled the gun, leaving it in parts across the table. She then walked back across the room and turned to face Washington, still perched on the table.
“Washington, what I want you to do is throw each individual part to me as fast as you can. Do not pause, do not hesitate, just throw. Do you understand?” Washington nodded.
“On my command,” said Sarah. She shook herself, rubbed her eyes and moved her head from side to side. She stared at the picture of Madeleine, newly defaced, on the wall. Her eyes closed into small slits.
Washington began lobbing piece after piece of the handgun at Sarah. As she grabbed the gun parts Sarah assembled the gun where she stood. If Washington threw here a part she wasn’t ready to use, she tossed it up into the air and grabbed it when she needed it. One of these pieces was the ammo magazine, which Sarah threw spinning into the air. She snapped the last piece to the gun in place, reached up and grabbed the magazine out of the air and shoved it into place. She pulled back the slide, loading the first bullet into the chamber, then spun around and fired. The first bullet tore across the lab and shot the screwdriver out of the picture. Sarah then proceeded to unload the ensuing sixteen rounds while jumping, diving and rolling across the lab. Each bullet landed perfectly between Madeleine’s eyes. When she was finished Sarah walked over to the picture. The slugs had now formed a ball the size of baby’s fist. Sarah pried the ball out of the wall and held it up to examine it.
“Better,” she said.
She tossed the ball onto the table and walked out of the laboratory.
Washington, scared out of his gourd and unsure what to do, slowly followed. Inside the kitchen area adjacent to the lab Sarah was standing by the microwave, watching it intently.
“Well, that was… impressive,” Washington said.
“Yes, it was.”
“You’ve really got it out for this Madeleine, huh?”
“She has it coming.”
“What did she do?” asked Washington. The buzzer on the microwave sounded. Sarah threw open the door and withdrew a steaming hot chili cheese dog.
“The bitch told me I could fly,” said Sarah as she took a large bite from the dog, chewing it voraciously and then swallowing.