Fallen Angel

Laboratory Five was where it happened. It was a center for research on human genetics. The main goal was to try and improve human beings to be better, faster, giving them abilities that made them even more unique. In room 301 of Laboratory Five, a group of scientists stood around a tank of clear liquid. Hanging off the side of the tank was a plate, which read "Damien". The scientists stood in a row, wearing identical white lab coats. Computer monitors were set on the tables, beeping and flashing, occasionally. Tiny bubbles made their way to the surface of the tank, making tiny waves when they popped. Suspended inside the tank was a young man, eyes closed, mind blank, wearing nothing but black shorts. Tubes were connected to his body. The only sounds were the rhythmic beeps of the thin green line going up and down.

One of the scientists spoke.

"I don't know about this," she said. Karen was her name. Fresh out of college, the tall brunette walked around the tank, looking at the boy's face. It was emotionless as if he was already dead in the tank. "This isn't such a good idea to me. Maybe we shouldn't do this."

"That is not your decision, Ms. Jennings." Professor Braden was the top scientist in human genetics. The gray streaks in his hair only made him even more intimidating. "These experiments are to make humans better," he said to her. "You do not come here and tell me what is good and what is bad. Do you understand?"

"Yes, sir. I'm sorry." Karen's voice was quiet and she stared blankly at the white tile in front of her red shoes. Professor Braden turned and sat at the computer at the foot of the tank. He brought up the monitor and the tank was raised from the floor and was stood upright.

"We are ready to start the experiment," he said. "Please bring me the solution." Ms. Jennings hesitated, but went to one of the metal cabinets and retrieved a large beaker containing a red liquid. She came back and handed it to Braden, not making any eye contact with him. Braden opened a hatch on the side of the tank. The solution was poured into the opening and the hatch was closed. Braden sat back at the computer screen and started typing. All but one tube was removed from Damien's body. The one tube led to the telemetry. New thinner tubes writhed from the sides of the tank and implanted themselves into Damien's neck, arm, and legs. Braden went back to the tank and pressed a button next to the hatch. The red solution slowly ran through the tubes and into the body of the young man. Against the clear backdrop of water, the tubes resembled veins in the human body. Inside the tank, Damien began to stir. His fingers twitched and his legs buckled in the water. His eyes moved rapidly back and forth under his eyelids.

"What's happening?" Karen asked.

"His body is trying to accept the DNA," Braden explained.

"Is it working?" Karen was getting quite nervous.

"I hope it will." Braden stared intently at Damien.

Damien was still shaking violently in the tank. Tiny cracks began to appear in the glass. Drops of red water rolled down the cracks. Finally, the glass shattered and the red water gushed out onto the white floor. Karen screamed at the sudden explosion. Damien fell out onto the floor, disconnecting the tubes from his body. He knelt there as droplets of water fell from his brown matted hair. His eyes shot open. The brown irises slowly turned to red while his shoulder blades began to grow rapidly. Damien screamed in pain as white feathery wings sprouted from his back. Blood ran down his back and down his arms. Karen stood by, watching him in awe.

"Shouldn't we help him?" she said to Braden.

Braden said nothing. He just sat there, watching Damien scream. Karen rushed to the metal cabinet and retrieved a needle full of tranquilizer. She came back and knelt down beside Damien.

"Get away from me!" He pushed her away and ran towards the door.

"NO, WAIT!" she screamed, lying on the floor.

"Let him go," Braden said, holding her shoulder. "Let him go."

Damien shoved the door open and ran out. He had left bloody handprints on the white paint. The sun shone bright against the paint and made the red glare out in contrast to the white door. He ran for miles through the trees and stopped at a stream. A sharp pain went through his chest and Damien felt he couldn't breath. Finally, the pain subsided and his lungs went back to normal. Feeling exhausted, he knelt down beside the water. He jumped in and washed the blood off his back. The reflection looked back at him. Damien saw the wings in the mirror-image and they fluttered slightly in the breeze. He jumped out and looked back towards the way he came. The laboratory was not visible anymore. Somewhat relieved, he looked at his wings again. He tried to beat them in attempt to dry them off. It took a while, but he managed to get most of the water out. The sun finished drying all the feathers. Damien sat down on a boulder after becoming light-headed from beating his wings so much. His body wasn't used to having wings, yet.

Suddenly, an arrow whizzed by his head and hit the tree behind him. Damien jumped up from the rock and looked in the direction the arrow came. A little boy stood on the other side of the stream. He was holding the bow in his hands while he stared at Damien sitting on the rock. Damien was taken back by the surprise. He didn't know what to do. Like a captured animal, he panicked. He got up from the rock and ran downstream as fast as he could. The little boy was still standing on the bank of the stream, watching Damien run. Once again, Damien was running for his life. Trees flew by him in a blur, scratching him occasionally. He looked back to see if the kid was following him. As he ran and looked back, Damien tripped over a tree root. He fell to the ground and cried out in pain as his ankle was twisted out of place.

Damien sat on the ground holding his ankle in his hands. He tried to stand up, but the pain was unbearable. Damien was about to give up. He was stranded in the middle of nowhere, with a twisted ankle. On top of that, the pain in his chest came back with a vengeance. The pain was like his heart was set on fire.

"Are you ok?" a tiny voice said behind him. Damien turned to see who was talking to him. It was the little boy with the bow and arrow.

"I'll be fine," Damien said to him, avoiding eye contact. "Don't worry about it." The little boy stood there. He looked down and saw Damien's swollen ankle, but said nothing.

"Why did you run away from me back there?" he asked, pointing his thumb in the direction of the stream.

"Because I thought you would freak out when you saw my wings. People don't usually grow wings on their backs, you know?"

The little boy sat down in front of Damien, Indian-style. "I don't they are weird. I think they are kind of cool. You look like an angel. I wish I had wings like you."

Damien couldn't help but smile. He looked up from the ground and looked at the kid. The kid smiled back at him.

"What is your name?" he asked.

"My name is Damien. What's yours?"

"Alex," he replied. There was a long silence between the two. To break the silence, he asked Damien, "Can you fly?"

"Um, well, not exactly. I haven't really grasped the whole concept of having wings. I am still trying to get used to them."

"Well, you never know if you don't try it, right?"

"Yeah, I guess you're right." With that, Damien stood up and helped Alex off the ground. Just to be safe, Damien stretched his arms out and massaged his shoulders. He concentrated on his wings and beat them in a steady rhythm. Alex stood by and watched him, wide-eyed. All of a sudden, Damien began to rise from the ground and the only part of him touching the ground was his toes. Then, his toes left the ground and Damien was suspended in the air over Alex.

"I knew you could do it, Damien. You just had to try hard enough." Alex smiled and gave him a thumbs-up.

Damien flew higher into the trees and ran his fingers through the leaves. He plucked a leaf from the very top of the tree and twirled it in his fingers. The sun felt good on his skin. Abruptly, a searing pain ripped through his chest. He became light-headed and his arms went numb. The breath went out of him and Damien started to plummet to the earth with the leaf still in his hand. Gradually, he came closer to the ground until, finally, Damien landed in the dirt and his left wing was snapped in half. Blood spilled out of the wound, drowning the white feathers in a crimson shower. Damien was on the ground, clutching his chest, wanting to rip his heart out to stop the pain. Alex ran to his side and knelt down beside him.

"I'm sorry! I didn't know this would happen! I'm sorry!" he cried. Tears fell from his face and landed in the pool of blood forming beneath him. The tears disappeared into the river of blood. "I'm sorry!" he said again. Damien tried to speak, but the throbbing pain in his body made it too difficult to even get one word out. He clawed at his chest and tried to stop the pain, but it was no use. The burning intensified and, at last, his heart gave out on him. The solid rhythm of his heart had quickened and then, just stopped. Damien was there on the ground. His breath was no longer heard in the air. Alex buried his face in his hands and sobbed uncontrollably.

"I didn't mean to!"

Alex quieted down to a soft snivel and looked at Damien's lifeless body.

"I'm sorry," he said, quietly.