For the main hub of the story, see here: Project Human Adaptation
Project Human Adaptation - Hiding in the Shadows
First Test: Entry 3
With the subjects back from their break, I asked for the next volunteer. Subject #2 stepped forward. So far, she had taken the initiative to help calm the others after their tests. She seemed determined to get her own out of the way.
The next scenario materialized around us. An old cabin in the woods. At least that’s what I assumed it was. There were no lights on, except for a flickering oil lamp. However, as our eyes adjusted to the dim light, I couldn’t see anything out of the ordinary within the room.
Subject #2 looked around the room nervously, as if not quite sure what sort of fear she would be experiencing. She waited for a few minutes with no change. Was there a malfunction? Were the previous subjects just more susceptible to fear? She started to walk over to the new stack of boxes in the flickering light. Before she could get too far, the light sputtered and dimmed. She froze. She began looking frantically around her, as if expecting something from the new shadows that had filled the room.
The light of the amplifier cut through the dimness. It had jumped from yellow straight to red after the lamp faltered. That was quite a spike. So, something was in here with us?
The floorboards creaked and a clock ticked. Technically nothing unusual about those. But she stumbled backwards towards the lamp, whimpering slightly. I started to bring her attention to the boxes, but she remained in the circle of the light, practically jumping at each shadow that twitched. I suggested she take the lamp with her.
She picked up the lamp and took a step forward. The light immediately snuffed out, eliciting a yell from her. The lamp clattered to the floor and she stumbled back against the wall, all the while growing more panicked. I pulled out a penlight to observe her. She shut her eyes and clutched herself tightly, swiping a hand out whenever she heard another sound nearby. I scanned the room, but couldn’t see anything else there. Then what was she seeing? There was nothing there. Just her and…
It wasn’t what was out there that scared her. It was what could have been out there. In the dark, one’s mind could exaggerate the smallest of things and make them worse than they really were.
The amplifier was flickering. I attempted to guide her to the boxes, but even my voice was now foreign to her in this dark. She screamed, throwing the dead lamp at me in the process. As its hollow clattering diminished, so did the illusion. In its place was a new figure. This one had the appearance of inky, black smoke. There were glowing orange orbs within the smoke, like eyes piercing through the haze. The shadowy being was stretched across the room, spearing a box with a tendril of smoke.
It soon dispersed like the others, leaving the subject shaking and still clutching herself tightly. Subject #1 went over and knelt down next to her, appearing to coax her back to reality. When she managed to get back up, we began preparing for the next subject. A thought had been forming in my mind during this test. But with only three tests to go off of, there was no point in speculating too much.
Subject #3 stepped forward. So, they’ve decided to just resign themselves to it and face their fears. It was as if they already had an idea of what they would be seeing in their tests. Interesting.
At this rate, I may not even need the amplifier to get a reaction out of them.