I lay still on a hard metal surface, listening to the muffled voices next to me. I couldn’t quite make out what they were saying but they sounded disturbed. I tried to move but couldn’t, I just lay there in a semi-conscious stupor. Then one of the voices came closer to my ear and I could understand the words that were spoken to me.
“Zak can you hear me?” the voice asked. I tried to respond but failed to communicate anything.
“Zak if you can hear me, the process has had some unexpected side-effects. However we are going to attempt to reverse these.” The voice continued, “We are going to give you an avian growth accelerant. Now the pain you’re going to feel is going to be excruciating but brief. Just try to ignore it as best you can!” I felt a small jab of pain on my forearm followed by a sensation of having something poured into my arm. What came next was the most agonisingly painful experience of my life. My whole body felt simultaneously like it was being stretched and crushed. My shoulders felt like they were being prised from my back with a crowbar. Mercifully the pain was short-lived as the voice had told me.
As I lay there covered in sweat and panting heavily I suddenly became aware that I could move again. I sat up clumsily, feeling somehow like there was more of my body to move about and at the same time that I was lighter than usual. Opening my eyes I saw Dr Fenchurch and General Meatherow gathered round me.
“Sorry to have to give you such a rude awakening. How are you feeling?” asked Fenchurch.
“I...I...I feel great!” I replied flexing my arms seeing how their new additional musculature structure tensed and relaxed.
“Excellent! Now there’s just one more thing left for me to do and I’ll hand you over to General Meatherow. I’d like you to try and stretch out your wings for me please.” Fenchurch told me.
“Wings?” confused I looked over my shoulder and saw that stretching from where my shoulder blades had been were two enormous, snow white, feathery wings. My mouth fell open in shock. I just sat and stared at my new third pair of limbs.
“Yes, wings! Can you attempt to stretch them out for me please.” Fenchurch’s voice broke in upon my awed stupor.
“Oh...of course sorry!” I said. I flexed the newly formed muscles that were encased between the new skin, bone and feathers and my wings flew open, knocking a tray of surgical instruments off a table with an almighty crash. The whole room gazed at me, enraptured by the sight of my powerful wings.
“It seems they are fully functional.” Fenchurch said in a weak, stunned voice, “He’s all yours General.” General Meatherow simply stood there with his mouth hanging open.
* * *
It was a week later. I was in the forest above the base. I was dressed in a set of military camouflage, the shirt of which had two large slits running down the back. In my hands I held a silenced rifle loaded with a magazine of rubber paint rounds. I lay in a hollow under a large tree root, amongst the leaves and twigs virtually invisible to anything.
Silently I adjusted the sight of the rifle and fixed it back on the centre of the clearing directly in front of me. Two more figures dressed in camouflage slowly crept out into the clearing carrying machine guns. My rifle let out two almost inaudible coughs and the men fell crumpled and unconscious, with red paint splattered across their protective helmets. I waited to see if there were any more of them following the two in the clearing. When I was satisfied that they were alone I crawled forward and pushed myself into a crouching position. I turned round and cautiously set off in a south-east direction. I knew where I had to get to and every major feature of the forest’s terrain. But I also knew that all the foot routes would be covered by troops.
My objective was simple, all I needed to do was capture a flag that was in a clearing at the base of a cliff and return to the base with it without being caught. This clearing would be guarded by hundreds of men equipped with the most advanced equipment money could buy, whilst I had my rifle and two custom made, silenced pistols. The only advantage I had was stealth although a hell of a lot of good that would do when I was almost surrounded by men with infra red scopes and portable motion detectors. Wait . . . No stealth wasn’t my only advantage over the men in the clearing. I laughed to myself. How could I have forgotten?
I turned and headed east towards the top of the cliff a crazy plan beginning to form in my head. Once I reached the cliff top I slung my rifle across my back and stretched my wings out from underneath the green and black of my shirt. They shone bright white in the sunlight as I shook the stiffness out of them. With a few bounding steps I threw myself over the edge of the rocky outcropping and plummeted down the face of the cliff. Suddenly I unfurled my wings, felt them nearly rip themselves out of their sockets, winced and made a mental note not to do that again. Landing softly on the branch of a tree overlooking the clearing I unslung my rifle and scanned the area through the scope. It seemed deserted but just to be safe I drew the pair of pistols and chambered the rounds. Using my wings to propel me forward I burst into the clearing and grabbed the flag. Bullets zinged through the trees into the clearing but I had already shot upwards firing blindly back down into the trees. I soared back up to the top of the cliff and landed hard. But within a few seconds I was off, running through the trees back towards the base.
I heard gunfire behind me and increased my pace and was soon back at the entrance of the base. In front of me were ten men with machine guns trained on me. As they opened fire I leapt into the air firing my pistols down at the men. Four of them had their legs knocked from underneath them as the paint rounds slammed into their knees. Another three took shots to the face and crumpled. Two more fell as a result of their fallen comrades weapons spraying bursts of rounds into their chests. The last turned round to face me as I swung a roundhouse kick at his head. With a sickening crunch my foot connected with the man’s skull and he let out a cry of pain before falling to the floor unconscious.
I left them lying in a heap and sprinted for the finish. As I crossed the line General Meatherow emerged from the doors of the base.
“Congratulations son. Your training is nearly complete!” he told me “Now go and rest. Dismissed!”
Snapping a crisp salute I headed back to the armoury, put my weapons back in their storage locker and headed off to bed.