“Diana!” Sweeney yelled.
He grabbed my shoulders, and I pushed his hands off of me.
“Don’t touch me!” I screamed.
“You need to calm down.”
“What did you do to me? Where are my eyes?”
“Once you calm down I will tell you.”
The tears made my vision blurry. Sweeney was crouched in front of me. He reached out again. I raised my hand and slapped him. My palm tingled when it hit his cheek. Sweeney cradled the side of his face with his hand. I kicked my leg out and I hit him in the shin. Sweeney howled and grabbed his leg.
I pushed myself up off the floor. I stepped around Sweeney, and he grabbed my ankle. He jerked his arm back, and I lost my balance. My elbow collided with the floor. Pain shot up my arm, and I screamed. I rolled onto my back, and Sweeney was getting up onto his feet. My foot was still in his grasp. I kicked my free foot forward and aimed for between his legs. He snatched my other ankle before I hit him.
“I didn’t realize you were this feisty,” he told me.
“Let go of me, you sick fuck!” I screamed.
I furiously kicked my feet to try and get out of his grip. He rolled his shoulders, stretching them out before he started walking backward and pulled me with him. I tried to dig my fingers into the tiles to stop him. I couldn’t get a grip. My fingers were slipping from the blood coating the floor. My gown was soaked from the blood coming out of my arm. Splatters of my blood were on Sweeney’s coat. A crimson trail was following me as he dragged me out of the bathroom.
I managed to hold onto the door frame when he pulled me into the hallway. My knuckles turned white as I tried to cling onto the frame. Sweeney grunted and he tried to pull me free. I shook my one ankle free and kicked him in the side of the knee. He let go of my other ankle and screamed out in pain.
I scrambled to get onto my feet. I was only able to take one step back before he grabbed a fistful of my knotted hair. He yanked my hair. I gritted my teeth as it added to the throb in my temple.
“Let go of me!” I screamed.
Sweeney pulled me in front of his body. I dug my nails into his arm. I clawed at his skin and his blood bubbled to the surface.
“Stop it, Diana,” he said.
I screamed as he pushed me forward. I continued to scratch at him as he pushed me down the hallway.
“Quit it, Diana,” he said. “I don’t want to have to do this.”
“What did you do to me?”
Sweeney pushed us out of the hallway. He dragged me over to the bed. In one swoop, he tossed me onto the bed. I swung my hand forward and hit him in the chest. I went to punch him again, but he grabbed my wrist. He forced it down onto the mattress. I beat on his shoulder as he wrapped the restraint around my wrist.
“Stop!” I screamed. “Please, don’t do this.”
“I can’t have you hurting yourself,” he said.
“You’re hurting me.”
“You’re covered in blood and you did this to yourself.”
Sweeney reached over me and grabbed my other wrist. I built up saliva in my mouth as I fought against him. Before he could pull away, I spit the saliva at him. I wanted to hit him in the eye, but I got his cheek instead. He groaned and wiped his cheek with the back of his hand.
“You need to fix your attitude,” he said. “You’ll be in these restraints until you apologize to me.”
He opened one of the drawers under the counter. He pulled out a clean gown. My heart pounded in my chest as I thought about him changing my blood-soaked gown. He tore off a piece of the gown and brought the shred of fabric over to me. He pushed my head forward, and I tried to roll away from him. He tied the cloth around my mouth to gag me. He pulled out his worn-down office chair. The wheels squeaked as he sat down beside the bed. I thrashed against the restraints and tried to shimmy the gag off of my mouth. Sweeney put his warm hand over my wrist.
“I left you alone for five minutes,” he said. “And look at the mess you created.”
My screams were muffled by the cloth. Tears rolled down my face. The burning behind my eyes was becoming unbearable.
These weren’t my eyes.
I let out another scream and Sweeney took his hand off of me. He went back over to the counter and searched through the vials. He picked one and pulled out a needle. He filled it with medication as he came back toward the bed.
I kicked my legs as I tried to push myself off of the bed. My heart was beating so hard that I could hear it pounding in my ears. I was gasping for breath, but the cloth around my mouth was not letting air in and was causing my lungs to burn.
“I have to do this, Diana,” he said. He flicked the remaining bubbles out of the syringe. “I don’t want to, but you’re hurting yourself.”
Sweeney grabbed my leg and rolled me over onto my side. I tried to pull away, but he dug his fingers into my skin. He pulled my gown up and stuck the needle into my thigh. There was a sharp pinch. He pulled my gown down before turning his back to me.
My eyes burned, but now they were also heavy. My eyelids were crashing together, and I had to fight to keep them open. It was like led was seeping into my limbs. My heavy arms were holding me onto the bed. I couldn’t pull against the restraints anymore. Sweeney sat back in his chair and wheeled himself over to the bed. He put his hand on top of my head and leaned over the rail on the bedside.
“I always dreaded telling you this,” he said. “But I need you to understand.”
I wanted to protest, but all I could do was furrow my brows.
“The body can do amazing things, but some people believe that it can only be pushed so far,” he said. “There’s a group of surgeons that see endless opportunities for the future. They perform experiments to see how the human body can adapt. The group is elite, and you’re my ticket into it. You’re my first patient to survive this operation.”
I wanted to scream out in frustration and push him away from me, but I couldn’t move. He took his hand off of my head and wiped away my tears with his thumb. I turned my head away from him. He grabbed my chin and forced me to look at him.
“I have replaced your eyes with the eyes of a cat,” he said. “It will make it easier for you to see in the dark and it increases your peripheral vision. You still have to adjust to them. This is only day one.”
My eyes became so heavy that I could no longer keep them open. I cursed myself as my head fell against his hand. Sweeney chuckled.
“Dr. Phillips will be here tomorrow to look at you,” he said.
I was in a dark hallway. A lightbulb was dangling from the ceiling. I exhaled and I could see a fog of breath in the frosty air. A sound was echoing off of the walls. I closed my eyes and listened to meowing.
My skin tingled and pricks of cold ran up my feet. I looked down at myself to see I was wearing the hospital gown. The meowing grew louder. The light flickered a few times before going out. I was surrounded by complete darkness. My breath caught in my throat.
There was a force pushing me forward. It was like two warm hands were on my shoulders. My feet were dragging along the cement floor. I reached out behind me, but there was no one there. A sound of a rusty door creaking open rang through my ears. The door slammed shut, and the sensation of hands on my shoulders was gone.
There was a flash of light, and I flinched and covered my eyes. The meowing grew louder, and something soft brushed against my bare legs.
I slowly peeled my hands back to see the room was full of cats. They were mangy, their fur was matted, and I noticed a few were missing an ear. All of their heads turned at once to stare at me.
They were all missing their eyes. I backed into a wall behind me. I turned to see I was against a large white wall with no door.
How did I get in here?
I looked over my shoulders to see I was surrounded by four walls. There was no door. I banged my fist against the walls. A sharp pain dragged along my calf. I looked down to see the cats clawing at my skin. The blood was running down my legs, and I could feel the rough tongue of a cat as it licked it off.
“Help!” I screamed as I pounded my fists on the wall. “Please! Please, someone, help me!”
The cats were piling on top of themselves. They clawed at my legs, and one started to pull at the hem of my gown.
The feeling of hands returned to my shoulders. My eyes flew open, and I saw two blurry faces hovering above me.
“Calm down, Diana,” Sweeney said.
Fingers that felt slimmer and softer than Sweeney’s held down my other wrist. Sweeney dug his fingers into the tender bruised flesh on my wrist. I screamed, but it was muffled by the gag.
I looked and squinted to see another body. It was a female and her long brown hair was pulled back into a ponytail. Her full lips were parted, and she was looking down at me with wide eyes. A pair of dark glasses were resting on the top of her head. She had a pink blouse and a black skirt on under her white lab coat.
She leaned down closer to me. Up close, she looked much older. Wrinkles were sprouting from the corners of her eyes, and strands of grey ran through her dark hair. She dropped her glasses down onto her nose. She tilted my chin up and leaned in closer. She pulled the gag out of my mouth.
“It’s remarkable,” she said. “I had my doubts when you told me about this project, Oliver. You have pulled it off though.”
“You’re both sick,” I said.
“Be polite, Diana,” Sweeney said. “This is Dr. Phillips. She is here to check up on you.”
“Let me go!” I yelled.
Dr. Phillips’ lips lifted into a smile,
“Keep that up, and I’m going to have to sedate you again,” Sweeney told me.
I pulled against the restraints and bit down on my lip. Phillips looked down at my wrists and scowled.
“Unlock her,” she said.
“What?” Sweeney asked.
“I told you to unlock her,” she said. “It’s not effective. She’s only hurting herself more. The dinner is in two weeks and she’s covered in bruises. You can’t let her keep doing this.”
“I had her unlocked for a couple of minutes and she had ripped out her IV and was covered in blood.”
Phillips sat down on the edge of the bed. She reached out and ran her fingers through my hair. She didn’t get far before her fingers got caught on my many knots.
“Appearance is very important at this dinner, especially if you want to become a member,” she said. “Don’t restrain her. I can see she’s scared though. I’ll have Benjamin come over. He has outdoor privileges. I’ll have him pick her up some clothes and something to fix her hair, and then he’ll keep an eye on her.”
“I don’t need a babysitter,” I said.
A giggle came from Phillips.
“Being around Ben will be good for her,” she said. “He’ll teach her how to act. The last thing you need is her embarrassing you at this dinner.”