For the main hub of the story, see here: Project Human Adaptation
Project Human Adaptation - Pulling the Strings
First Test: Entry 7
Of the two subjects left, Subject #4 chose to go next. After all that I had seen, I held out hope that new data could be acquired from this test. Not wanting to prolong things, he put on the amplifier and the illusion began.
The new location seemed to be in an old storage room. Scattered throughout the room was racks and large storage trunks. Upon seeing them, the subject had already voiced his intentions to give up. In response, I pointed to the stack of boxes hidden behind a few racks. On the racks, and likely within the trunks, were puppets. Various types were visible hanging from the racks. Subject #6 seemed amazed at the different styles, and said how much she liked seeing puppetry.
Subject #4 began slowly making his way past the racks. As he got closer, the light of the amplifier began to change. This wasn’t surprising, since he could better see their details from there. A puppet clattered to the floor further away, causing him to jump. With his attention diverted, he almost ran into another puppet. This only startled him more.
He finally made his way to the boxes. Someone was waiting for him there. This was the first test to have someone else in the illusion. However, upon closer inspection, it was another puppet. It was amazing how lifelike it looked. Subject #4 didn’t seem as amazed. In fact, it only pushed him closer to the limit. He took a few steps back, and attempted to reach the boxes from the other side. As he moved, the puppet turned its head to follow him. He froze. The puppet stared at him for a few moments more, then blinked.
Subject #4 practically fell backwards in an effort to escape the puppet. As he ran, he found that more racks had filled the room, making a clean get away difficult. Then each of them turned to face him. He couldn’t seem to keep track of so many at once, and the amplifier began flashing. I called out to direct his attention back to the boxes, but one of the puppets began moving its mouth in time with my words, as if it had said them instead. The subject clamped his ears shut at the voice and screamed.
The illusion hadn’t faded. Instead, the puppet I had voiced over lay in a heap on the ground. Standing above it was another new figure. This one looked like a marionette made of wood, with hollow eye sockets and a cross-shaped control bar on its back. It missed the real target. I called out again and it turned its head in my direction. Two eyeballs dropped into place, one at a time, from somewhere in its head. It was just staring at me. This continued for a few moments, before it did something else unexpected.
It actually laughed. As if it were amused by what was going on. But that didn’t make sense. None of the other subjects had shown that kind of reaction. Especially since this was all things they were afraid of.
The marionette turned to face the boxes. The realistic looking puppet was still sitting there. The two of them watched each other for a moment more before the marionette jumped at the other puppet. With the control bar in hand, it smashed the other puppet to splinters along with the box it was sitting on. The illusion dissolved, along with the marionette. Subject #4 was left shaking on the ground.
The other subjects seemed just as confused as I was. And here I thought I wouldn’t get any new data. This test alone was intriguing enough to warrant more testing. Now there was just one test left. Then I could analyze the findings to learn more. This process was actually working.
It was only a matter of time before an adaptation appeared in one of them.