The scientist rushed through his lab with an armful of scrolls. He knocked everything that got in his way to the ground. Glass, metal, wood, anything that found itself too close to a surface edge came crashing down. The glass shattered, and still, the scientist ran on with haste; taking the scrolls in his arms, he tucked them away into a large wooden box with a thick metal latch he left swinging free. It swung gently as he tapped the top of the box with thoughts spilling from his mind.
“Okay, so things are going much better than I thought. This is good, this is good.” He recited to himself, his voice getting higher with each repetition. “They have gotten… larger than I expected, but that is fine. I just need to get more food.” His eyes shot open as his hands fell flat against the rough grain.
“Oh, by the gods, I did not plan for this. I can’t keep feeding them like this. There is no way I can keep this going forever. I mean, I can do it for a long time. But, but.”
He looked back over his shoulder, past the warpath he carved in his haste, back into the room with the rats. Starting just past the rat’s pen, he looked at the crystal orb. The blue glow in the center was now glowing much brighter than it had before.
“Maybe today, I can test on one, right? That is fine.” He asked himself as he stroked at his chin, his fingernails scratching into the stubble on his face. His mind started to race with potential outcomes.
Slowly walking back into the rat room, he looked over into their pen, their paws now able to grab the top of their pen. His new lining of metal mesh was welded to the top of the pen to keep them in. On occasion, they would claw at it, tugging against it until the small links became taught, and they could lift themselves off the bottom of the pen. Their little squeaks had turned to a hash hiss that made the scientist recoil whenever they started to make it.
While the scientist ran around his lab collecting what was needed, the rat’s eyes often fell to the orb. Their eyes filled with the reflection of the swirling blue smoke that twirled in the center of the sphere. Its soft glow illuminating the desk that the scientist was working at. The longer they stared, the more they could feel their body altering. Their muscle weaves tightening as their bones become denser under the pressure. They screamed in discomfort, watching as the scientist would leap each time they called out to him, hoping he would do something to help them deal with the pain. But despite their best efforts to call out, the scientist continued to shuffle around the room as if they weren’t even there, his mind lost to the task at hand.
The glow from the sphere seemingly became more intense as the sun slowly lowered from the sky, leaving them to its soft light. Most of the room was still in shadow, but the scientist still didn’t seem to notice. His mind was so focused that even when he cut open his hand on a sharp blade that he had left in the wrong place, he just continued. On occasion, he would wipe the blood off the tools in his hand when it got in the way, as someone would wipe the dust off a book. As the night progressed, his actions became increasingly wild. The rats watched on from their pen in distress; they could feel the pressure that the scientist was pushing on himself.
The scientist walked over to the pen; raising his hand high, he drove a metal rod through the chain mesh and slammed it down into a small hole in the bottom of the pen. He did this over and over again until a small jail bar room was created in the pen. Using the last of the metal rods, he ushered one of the rats into the new sectioned-off area, slamming the last rod in place to divide them from the group.
“There we go, one isolated rat. Now with you by yourself, we can begin the test.” He said with beads of sweat on his brow.
Grabbing the crystal sphere, he carefully walked back over to his isolated rat. The other rats sat on one another in the far corner as they backed away from the sphere, their eyes transfixed on the blue swirls inside it.
The scientist rubbed his blood into the sphere, and it sunk through the crystal, flowing in like ink dropped into the water until it met with the swirls. The blood warped and mixed with the blue mist until it, too, became blue, and the blue mist seemed to grow.
Closing his eyes and muttering under his breath, the rats watched as the blue mist left the sphere, twisting in the air until it started to descend towards the isolated rat.
“Stay calm, my friends; once this is over, you will be better than you are now. You will be my equal.” He groaned as he felt his strength being pulled out through the wound on his hand.
The rats started to scream with fear as the blue light consumed their eyes. The one directly below the sphere shook as their body started to convulse as the mist started to filter through its fur. The scientist started to strain as he felt his hands begin to be sucked into the sphere. He watched as the palms of his hands started to sink into the crystal. He started to scream out as he tried to pull his hands from it. But as he struggled against the sphere, he failed to notice the smoke spreading to the other rats in the pen.
His screams started to warble as they fell to their knees, his hands sinking further into the sphere until they were completely consumed. The tips of their fingers dissolving as they made contact with the smoke. With eyes bulging and veins in them popping, he pulled his arms outwards in one last attempt to free his dissolving hands, but as he struggled, he brought the sphere down onto the edge of the pen, shattering it. His hands were instantly consumed as the smoke escaped, pooling in the pen. His screams stopped as he collided with the ground, slowly failing from consciousness as a litter of chains links rained down on him. In his last moments of consciousness, he watched as a large, clawed foot stomped down into the pool of blood that came from his wrists.
He struggled against his pain and opened his eyes for a moment. His vision was blurry, and despite the lack of his body moving, everything seemed to be shaking; he struggled to lift his arm to see his hand, only to be met with a stump that had been crudely stitched closed, blood dried against his skin. His stomach started to turn as he tried to move, but he quickly fell unconscious again. Jolted from his state, he felt himself being moved. His stomach dipped as his arms were being held above his head, and his feet were underslung a hooded figure’s arm, his eyes closing again before he could see anything. A hard thud brought his back again; this time, he was looking up to the hooded figure from a low angle, his feet still being held, but his shoulders and back laid upon the ground. Looking up at the figure, he could see fur, an extended nose, a large frontal tooth, and a familiar squeak. The one holding his legs seemed to be yelling at the one behind his head, their high-pitched squeak piercing the scientist’s ears. Soon he felt himself being picked up from his arms and being carried away once again. This time his vision remained; still nauseous, he looked around. His lab was more turned over than before, with furniture now scattered like loose paper. The air was filled with squeaks that seemed to echo around the room.
“Who, where, you.” He croaked out, silencing the room.
He was carefully placed onto a pile of blankets and quickly surrounded by a dozen hunched individuals. One stepped forward shyly, looking back at the others with uncertainty. He looked for help, just to be pushed forward by the others. Running his hands over the cloths anxiously, he stepped forward and slowly opened his mouth.
“We are, those that were.” He said, pointing back to the now broken pen. His voice is crackly and rasp.
The scientist tilted his head slightly to see the pen; looking back to the hooded figure, he could finally see who he was looking at.
“You are the rat I cast upon. You speak.” He said with astonishment.
The rat man pulled back his hood, kneeling by the scientist. His bipedal form mimics the human form but is still rat-like. His limbs were thin, he was covered in a matted black hair, with clawed hands and feet, and the head of a rat. His tail curled around his feet to stop it trailing from behind.
“It is not just I, but others too.”
As the rat man spoke, the others entered the room, and soon the scientist was surrounded by the very creatures that he had created. He looked around at them with a sudden fear as they surrounded him.
“What are you going to do with me?”
The Ratmen looked at one another with a grin; turning back to the scientist, his vision faded as they held up strips of fabric and approached him silently.