I think I’m going to separate the next few parts of my story into separate posts instead of ending up with a massive post by the end. For the previous part, see here: Project Human Adaptation.
Project Human Adaptation - The Vastness of the Sky
First Test: Entry 1
Of the eight students, it wasn’t surprising that Subject #1 volunteered to go first. With the amplifier set up, I told him to think of something that scared him or made him uneasy. Anything to spark the initial feelings of fear that the amplifier could pick up on. In a few moments, the room sprung to life, as his mind began processing the extra stimulus running through it.
We were all standing on a circular platform. One that seemed to be floating thousands of feet in the air. Subject #1 was on his own platform further away. As the imagery came into being, his eyes widened. Although the platforms were quite wide, the bravado he came into the experiment with had all but vanished. He began breathing harder and he sat back in an attempt to get closer to the solid surface beneath him. He looked up to avoid seeing the vast empty sky surrounding him.
Subject #2 and #6 called out to him reassuringly, but he couldn’t seem to fully compose himself. After a few moments, he asked that I turn off the amplifier and end the test. I reminded him of the boxes that sat on their own platform. If he knocked them down, the fear would subside. The distance between the two platforms was only a few feet and could be hopped across with relative ease.
He slowly rose to his feet and inched his way towards the other platform. The closer he got to the gap, the more he began to shake. His breathing continued in short bursts. All the while, the gap between the platforms seemed to grow further. This was clearly an effect of the projector showing us how he saw it.
A small light on the amplifier turned red. This was an aspect of the device I was unsure would fully work. The light was supposed to turn yellow when fear was initially present. It would then transition its way to red as the amplifier signal grew. When that happened, the subject would be close to their limit. If this continued, they would reach their overflow point… Theoretically.
Subject #1 had gotten within a few steps of the platform edge. Through his view, no one could possibly make the jump to the other platform. After some more coaxing, he managed to take another step. The red light began flickering. He had reached his limit. He looked as if he would give up, easing the fear a bit and fouling up his first attempt. I tried to coax him a bit more, telling him that the boxes needed to fall. They were the cause of his plight. He just needed to topple them, to hit them in any way. His eyes moved to the boxes briefly, before snapping shut. He screamed.
The sky slowly dispelled into the walls of the room once more. The platforms grew and became the solid floor. The boxes had indeed been attacked. However, standing before them was not the test subject. It… it wasn’t human.
The figure standing there was humanoid in shape, but that’s where the similarities ended. It was a tall figure, with a body that glowed a bright, bluish-white. It seemed to be featureless, with no face or body details, like a mannequin. But from its back sprouted something inhuman.
Wings. Large, feathered wings grew from the being’s back. In that moment of confusion and awe, Subject #6 voiced a thought that was likely floating in the back of everyone else’s minds.
The figure stood for a moment more, then began to quiver. Its form began to disperse, just as the sky imagery had, leaving Subject #1 in its place. He fell to his knees, pressing his head to the ground and looking as if he might vomit. Subject #2 ran to his side as he tore off the amplifier.
After a few minutes, he began to calm down once more. The other subjects who had initially been amazed at the amplifier’s projections were now shocked and confused. I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t want to take the test themselves. But the boxes had been attacked. The threat had been neutralized.
Had the test actually succeeded? Were these results valid or just a malfunction in the equipment? Only one thing could answer those questions.
We needed to keep going.