Lucas snapped awake, his phone buzzing fitfully on his nightstand as it rang out strangely into the darkness of his bedroom. He lurched over to the side in his bed, catching up his phone awkwardly in a frustrated flurry — he wasn’t used to being called at this hour of the night. What on earth was going on!?
He looked down and saw that it was Rick who was calling him. Frowning slightly, Lucas answered, not quite knowing why there was something a bit off, a cold pit of some sort, that was beginning to develop in his stomach.
“Hey…Rick,” he spoke into his phone, sounding sleepy at first, then clearing his throat and speaking more clearly. “What’s…going — ”
“Lucas!!” cried Rick’s panicked voice from the other side, “She drank them! I just saw the footage!! We’re in deep shit!!”
“What?!” asked Lucas, closing his eyes and shaking his head in the darkness. “What are you talking about, Rick? Who drank what??”
“Your new intern!!” yelled Rick into the phone. “Whatever her name is!! She drank my sample of nanobots that I had in that glass of water on the table when you all came in!! I knew that I hadn’t misplaced it! I knew it!! And I went back and looked at the security footage…and…and there she was, drinking it all down!!”
“N-now…now just…just take it easy, ok?” said Lucas, now fully awake. A shot of sickening adrenaline had started his heart thumping, and a cold sweat was beginning to develop on his brow. This was bad…very bad. No animal in the early nanobot trials had managed to survive, and most of them had died quite horribly, their bodies actually exploding. Lucas’s mind shot to an image of Brooke’s bloody body in some run-down apartment; he quickly tried to shake it away, but doing so wasn't so simple.
“Take it easy!?” exclaimed Rick, almost apoplectic on the other end. “Take it easy!?!? How am I supposed to do that when we’ve just killed someone!!”
“W-we…we don’t…we c-can’t be sure, though…” said Lucas, who was already frantically throwing on his clothes. “Maybe…maybe it…uh…are you sure that’s what you saw, Rick!?”
“Drop the bullshit and get your ass over here!” Rick shouted. “See for yourself! Oh my god, oh my god…I KNEW that I hadn’t forgotten to take that sample out…I just KNEW it…and now…holy shit, she’s probably dead alrea—”
“Ok, stop!” said Lucas forcefully, dashing around his bedroom, running into things, stubbing his toes as he got dressed. “No more talk over the phone, you understand? This could all get used against us down the line, ok? So…I’ll be over there as soon as I can, alright? Just…just sit tight.”
“Make it fast,” said Rick, and hung up.
A short while later, Lucas got to the lab. It was early in the morning, just before 5 am. Normally, without coffee, Lucas would be a bleary-eyed mess at this hour, but the serious, horrific, and surreal nature of what was going on ensured that he was wide awake. Lucas’s mind was buzzing with all kinds of thoughts whirling and cycloning on each other. How could this have possibly happened!? He knew that Brooke was incompetent and unqualified, but…on her second day!? Managing to drink tens of thousands of nanobots!? It was almost too ridiculous to believe…it would have been funny in a kind of sick way, if the implications weren’t so utterly appalling. Why the fuck had Rick left the nanobots out like he did?? In a glass of water!? Surely that was an irresponsible breach of protocol! As he rushed into the lab, Lucas couldn’t help feeling aggressively enraged at Rick for being so lax, at Brooke for being so clumsily and ignorantly stupid, and at himself for somehow allowing all this to happen under his watch.
“I turned off the security camera!” reassured an unkempt and wild-eyed Rick when Lucas rushed into his lab office. “Just so…so we can talk…talk freely.”
“Ok,” said Lucas, breathing heavily as he closed the door. “Ok, so…oh my god…fuck!! Show me the video.”
Rick hurriedly did so, and Lucas felt a deep, infuriated antipathy toward Brooke as he watched her pick up the glass, drink it down, and go wash it off. He felt something like sympathy, too, watching the poor girl ingest what was surely going to be her violent death…but he pushed down these feelings of sympathy. Right now, he only had room to feel angry at her, and terrified for himself.
“She’s gotta be dead right now,” said Rick in a fatalistically dead-pan tone, flopping his arms up in a gesture of futility. “She’s dead in her apartment, as we speak. And it wasn’t a quiet death, let me tell you. Her body must have — ”
“Ok, ok!!” yelled Lucas, putting up his hand to stop Rick. “I think we both know what the bots do to animals, alright? No need to say it out loud. Ok…so…so what do we do now? Wait to hear about it?”
“We’re fucked!” cried Rick energetically, pacing back and forth and rubbing his hands together. “It’s gonna get traced back to us, no question. They’re gonna put two and two together about this girl getting an internship at a place that does nanobot research…with documented cases of animal testing resulting in said explosion of animals.”
“But that’s…that’s not public knowledge,” countered Lucas.
“Yeah, but investigators will find out about it!” replied Rick immediately. “We can’t hide those kinds of records from law enforcement! They’ll trace it back to us — easy! And then we’re fucked!”
“But…but maybe you can, uh…s-somehow get rid of the security footage!?” asked Lucas, his lips feeling oddly dry.
“Oh yeah, surrrre!” said Rick sarcastically, throwing up his hands. “That’ll look GREAT in the deposition, when we say that oh, I don’t know…somehow the security footage gets mysteriously scrubbed by some unknown source literally THE DAY that her body explodes. Sure, that’ll totally fly with a jury.”
“Ok, so…uh…so what else?” asked Lucas, feeling increasingly desperate.
“It’s all over,” said Rick, the despair in his voice somehow more poignant now that he was speaking softer. “All our research…done. Caput. Finished.”
“Y-you…you think?” asked Lucas.
“Oh my god, just think!” exclaimed Rick, looking at him with desperate misery. “The lawsuit that’s gonna come crashing down on our heads…Jesus Christ, just imagine it, Lucas! Braden is gonna be wiped off the map!”
Lucas had no response to this — Rick was right; that’s all there was to it. They were all going down…him, Rick, the company that had been his sole foundation for corporate advancement, the research they had all invested their blood, sweat, and tears into…EVERYTHING. It was all totally fucked. He and Rick just stood there for a few silent, awful moments, agonizing over the crazy misfortune that had befallen them.
“I…just…let’s just hold on a minute, ok?” said Lucas shakily, moments later, breaking the silence.
“We don’t…we don’t know…for sure…if anything’s happened yet,” he continued. “I mean…maybe…maybe we just wait. Wait to see.”
“Wait!?” asked Rick ruefully, shaking his head. “I’m not waiting for anything, Lucas. We KNOW what happens with these bots. I think you and I should just…just high-tail it out of there while we still can.”
“You mean…go on the run?” asked Lucas, hardly believing what he was hearing.
“I mean, it’s better than a jail cell for life!” cried Rick. “That’s what we’re facing here, Lucas!”
“I know…I…y-yeah, I know,” Lucas said, nodding and putting his hands out in a calming gesture. “But…but if we ran now, then…I mean, there’d be NO question of our guilt, you know? That would look extra bad.”
Rick looked at him blankly. Lucas knew that he had a point, and he also knew that he was not going to entertain running…at least not just yet.
“So…so I say,” he proceeded, “We just…wait. Wait to see, maybe…if she comes in? Who knows? Maybe the bots malfunctioned or…or something. Maybe she’s ok. Maybe something happened with them and it’s not as bad as we thought.”
“Yeah, but Lucas —” began Rick, but Lucas cut him off, using his irritation with Rick’s laxity as fuel for his own tone.
“I’m not saying it’s probable, alright?” he said, “I’m just saying that we should just…act normal…and see what happens. Alright? We didn’t see anything…we don’t know anything. We just…carry on as usual…until we hear something about her, ok? Otherwise, it’s gonna get traced back to us immediately, and we’ll have no defense. We gotta have each others’ backs on this, ok, Rick? You hear what I’m saying?”
Rick looked like he was going to keep arguing for a moment, but something in him seemed to suddenly deflate and he gave a great, anxiety-ridden sigh.
“Ok,” said Rick. “Just…business as usual…at first. But I’m telling you, Lucas, if the investigators start snooping around here and asking me questions, I’m gone. You understand?”
“I…I get it, Rick, really, I do,” said Lucas. “And I’ll be right behind you, if it comes to that.”
It was an agonizing few hours before Brooke was supposed to come into work. Lucas tried to distract himself by working on this or that, answering emails, getting coffee, pacing up and down in his office, playing random little games on his phone to take his mind off his terrible problem, and so on. But nothing worked, and as 8 o’clock neared, his anxiety reached such a fever pitch that he had to go into the bathroom a few times and splash off his face with cold water. Sophia had poked her head into his office, joking about getting to work before her for once, but Lucas wasn’t having any of her games this morning and had snapped at her, telling her to mind her own business.
“Huh, a little touchy this morning, are we?” she inquired, raising her eyebrows and looking at him hard, before retiring to her office. Lucas knew that Sophia must have been aware that something was up, but he just didn’t feel like he had the energy to engage her in witty banter.
8 o’clock came and went, and Lucas’s anxiety deepened. He was sitting in his leather chair, rotating a few inches to the right, and then to the left, in a halting, nervous cycle. He wasn’t even looking distinctly at his computer screen anymore. If Trent or James or whoever had walked into his office and asked him a question, Lucas would have just stared at him blankly, unable to form a response.
‘She’s late because she’s late all the time,’ thought Lucas to himself, over and over, as the minutes ticked off the clock. ‘Brooke couldn’t be on time to save her life…’
But that saying got him thinking about the grisly reality of what had probably happened, and he felt sick to his stomach…partially out of sympathy for her, but far more than anything else, out of sympathy for himself and his career, which was in danger of being totally destroyed.
He was sure this was it. She wasn’t coming in…she wasn’t coming in because she was dead. The reality of the situation began to weigh heavily upon Lucas like a lead trench coat, enveloping him deeper and deeper into its crushing embrace. He suddenly, crazily, realized how hard it was going to be to act normal and innocent from now on. His mind flashed to all the crime drama movies and shows he had watched over the years, and how unrealistic it was for the villains to feign their innocence. He was feeling the reality of it all right now…crushing down upon him. He was going to have to make plans…make plans to get away, as fast as he —
A slow, dark movement appeared in Lucas’s periphery, in his doorway. He looked up to see Brooke peering awkwardly into his office. His heart stopped. Making eye contact with him and quickly looking down, Brooke proceeded to shuffle into the office, towards the empty chair next to his desk. Lucas followed her with his eyes as she moved, watching her with incredulous and anxious intensity. She sat down in the overly-large chair, heavily put down her work knapsack, and crossed her hands in her lap, clearly waiting to be told what to do. Lucas couldn’t do anything except stare — she looked totally normal. Frumpy, wrinkled clothes, wet hair…the whole shebang. It was…it was just Brooke…sitting there before him…apparently unchanged.
She nervously picked up a nearby newspaper, in an attempt to stave off the awkward silence, and started a crossword puzzle. Lucas turned away towards his computer, pretending to look over his emails, and watched her go over the clues from the corner of his eye. She winced a little to herself and shook her head, clearly struggling with the crossword. Lucas couldn’t believe it. She was…okay!
“Well…hello there…Brooke,” he said finally, trying to sound official. His voice echoed oddly off the walls. “A, um…a little late again today, I see?” He had meant his voice to sound professionally put-off, but his question came out sounding more searching and anxious than he intended.
“Oh! Y-yeah, I’m…I’m s-sorry!” said Brooke quickly, looking up from the crossword. “It’s just…uh, I got…a l-late start this morning.”
“I…um…I see,” said Lucas, looking over her. He wished he could get the anxiety out of his voice, but at present it was still pumping through his bloodstream.
“So…so you’re um, you’re feeling ok, though? Not feeling sick or anything?” he asked. He realized that he couldn’t afford to sound fishy, so he added: “Because we really don’t want anyone coming to work who might be sick. Would compromise the whole office, you know?”
“Yes, oh…oh yes,” responded Brooke, nodding vigorously. “I…but, yes, I’m fine. I feel fine.”
“Ok…uh…yeah, ok,” said Lucas, looking at her closely. For the life of him, he couldn’t see anything wrong with her, aside from what was already there. In fact, he even realized, subconsciously, that her overbite was gone. For the first time that morning, his heart began to lift a bit. He turned back to his computer screen, staring at it blankly for a few long moments, before he quickly opened his email and typed a secure, encrypted message to Rick, informing him about the crazy miracle that had just happened. In the meantime, unbeknownst to Lucas, Brooke had abandoned the crossword puzzle and had opened up her laptop, where she started typing in a digital diary that she kept every day. Lucas couldn’t see what she was doing — he was too busy with his email to Rick.
By the time Lucas was done, about ten minutes later, he and Rick had exchanged a series of disbelieving, agitated, and ultimately exhilarating emails. Their mutual concern and worry had quickly turned into excitement as they began to realize the potential business-profit implications of Brooke surviving the dose of nanobots. This is exactly what all those months of animal testing had been geared towards: making the nanobots viable inside of a human host. And now…now it had already been done! And as a total fluke, at that!
‘But that’s just how these things work in science sometimes!’ thought Lucas excitedly to himself as he looked over at Brooke typing in her diary. ‘Sometimes, an opportunity just…falls right in your lap…and you have to take advantage of it.’
He took a deep breath. He knew that what he was about to do was ethically (and probably morally) wrong, but he had managed to convince himself that, because he was on the cutting edge of serious scientific advancement, the ends justified the means. And besides, it was just Brooke he was talking about. She should be thankful…and counting herself lucky…to be accidentally involved in such trailblazing research.
“Ok Brooke,” said Lucas out loud, turning to her. “Why don’t you come with me to the lab?”
“O-ok,” she answered, shutting her laptop and bounding up in an ungainly way off the chair. Lucas felt pity for her for a moment, just because of the immediacy of her response. He realized that she totally trusted him…or, at least, didn’t really have the capacity not to trust someone in a position of authority. There was something about her innocence, despite her clumsiness, that made Lucas feel bad for her, and bad for how he was using her. But he was able to quickly dismiss these feelings in himself, as he motioned for her to follow him to the lab.
‘Gotta stay focused on the ultimate goal,’ he reminded himself, gaining confidence and excitement with each step he took toward the lab. On the way, he once again ran into Olivia, who was wearing slightly-higher heels than normal, with a dress that seemed to squish her large breasts together even tighter than usual.
“Oh Lucas!” she trilled, clearly with the intent to halt his stride, “Did you get that email I sent about the coding of the — ”
“Not now, Olivia,” interrupted Lucas, putting up his hand as he passed. He was barely able to register Olivia’s surprised reaction, and the slight affront that her breasts seemed to express as they bounced up and down suddenly, the result of Olivia’s forward progress being halted as she stopped dead in her tracks from the sheer surprise of being so cavalierly brushed-aside. Clearly, she was not used to being addressed this way, especially from the manager of the office who was generally much more receptive to her physical charms. Brooke followed sheepishly in Lucas’s wake, obviously not understanding or appreciating the dynamic that was going on. Olivia had time to lock eyes with Brooke and give her a long, hard look as she passed by — it was like Olivia was trying to search Brooke’s demeanor for clues as to why her boss was giving this frumpy new intern such clear preference…over her.
A minute later, Lucas and Brooke were in the lab. Rick was watching the exchange from an adjacent room, having figured (along with Lucas) that having both of them there, grilling Brooke about the new research, might be overwhelming for her. But he was certainly watching intently, waiting with bated breath as Lucas attempted to convince her to sign a consent form that Rick had prepared on the lab table.
“So Brooke,” Lucas began, indicating that she should sit down on one of the lab stools (while he, of course, remained standing over her), “I’ve been looking into some…different roles that you could fill here at Braden. Trust me, haha, there’s plenty of different ways we could fit you in, but this morning, just before you came in, I realized something exciting. Wanna know what I thought?”
“S-sure!” said Brooke, her eyes getting a little bigger from anxious excitement.
“Well ok,” he continued, making it a point to go slowly as he smiled, “So, how would you feel if we raised your hourly wage…in exchange for you helping us out with a very important job?”
“More…more money?! Uh, haha, ok!” laughed Brooke, blushing.
“Oh yeah,” nodded Lucas deliberately. “And I’m talking 20 bucks an hour, Brooke.”
“Woah!” she exclaimed.
“Yeahhhh,” he said, smiling. “And it’s more than just the money, Brooke. It’s the nature of the job itself. There’s something…historical about it.”
Brooke continued to look at him, a bit blankly, even as she continued to timidly smile.
“So about this job,” persisted Lucas, feeling like he may as well just go out and say it, “You would be the first human nanobot test subject. How does that sound to you?”
Brooke opened her mouth, but nothing came out. Lucas quickly realized that he should just keep plowing right ahead, and not stop for her reactions.
“Now, not to worry,” he continued, “This particular brand of nanobots is our new variety, and totally safe for humans. I mean, think about it, Brooke! You’ll be at the forefront of this new cutting-edge technology, you know!? And I’m serious: this nanobot research REALLY has the potential to change humanity for the better…like, full stop, this stuff is gonna be world-changing, you understand? Haha, and just think, all those nice people I introduced you to yesterday, Trent…James, you know? Sophia! This is your chance to really become…part of the team! Oh, and wow…not to even MENTION how this would look on your resume. Haha, it’s pretty much a no-brainer, Brooke. But I just, you know…wanted to ask you before I have you sign this consent form here. You know, because I don’t wanna force you to do anything. But I just think you should understand…what a big opportunity this is.”
Brooke just sat there on the lab stool, looking up wide-eyed at Lucas, obviously overwhelmed by everything he had just said. She tried to distract herself from her deluge of thought and feeling by looking all over the lab, her eyes darting left and right behind her horn-rimmed glasses, as if looking for a way to escape the responsibility, into some quiet refuge. Lucas felt a twinge of pity, which was quickly subsumed by an impatient and exasperated momentum.
“I mean, no pressure, of course,” he said out loud, shaking his head slightly and opening his palms to her a little, as if indicating that this was all totally casual, despite the excited speech that had just come out of his mouth. “If you’re uh…not interested in a pay raise, then I suppose we could look for someone else to…”
“N-no!” cried Brooke, her eyes going wide as she shook her head back and forth. “No! I’m…I am interested! It…um, it’s just…hehe, wow! This is…pretty great! I’m…I’m in!”
“You’re in?” Lucas repeated, grinning down at her.
“I’m in!” she said again, a little louder and more confidently.
“Alllll right then!” laughed Lucas. “So if you’ll just put your John Hancock down on that dotted line at the bottom, we’ll be all good to go!”
It occurred to Lucas that his “John Hancock” allusion might be lost on Brooke, but even if it had, she seemed to understand what he had been talking about, and she dashed off her signature on the consent form. Lucas knew that, in signing herself away like this, Brooke was doing all his work for him. He had already drafted an email that, pending this first, impending experiment, he was going to send everyone in his office, informing them of Brooke’s willing participation, and assuring them that they should not freak out should they notice any changes in her. Lucas had only just begun to dare thinking about these potential improvements to this girl. It was almost too thrilling to contemplate the nanobots actually working, but at this point, the most important thing was done: getting Brooke to sign that consent form. And Rick had the security cameras rolling — it was all there. Even if she ended up dying somehow in these experiments, he and Rick were totally safe now.
“You remember Rick, don’t you?” asked Lucas pleasantly, as he led Brooke into a subsection of the animal-testing sector, the “Human Sector,” hitherto unused. The room was sleek and futuristic-looking, filled with what seemed to be titanium, or a shiny, silvery-type metal.
“Y-yeah,” answered Brooke, looking bashfully up at Rick, who, for his part, was smiling ear-to-ear, looking almost too happy.
“Here she is!” he exclaimed over-dramatically. “Our first subject! Haha, ok, well then Brooke! You ready to get started!?”
“Al…already?” she asked, still smiling despite the uncertainty in her voice.
“Well of course!” cried Rick, turning his head as he kept his eyes on her. “No time like the present to kick off this research, right!?”
“It’s all for science, Brooke,” said Lucas, “But remember, this is also for YOU, too. These nanobots are designed to IMPROVE people. You know, like all that stuff I told you yesterday — better skin, cancer-fighting, more energy…and so on! And you might even feel a bit happier!”
“W-wow!” said Brooke, blushing more. “Th-this…this is pretty c-crazy!”
“Oh tell me about it!” responded Rick with great energy.
“S-so…so do the nanobots l-like…like zap me or…or something?” asked Brooke.
“Zap you??” asked Rick.
“Or…y-yeah…like…how do they help me?” asked Brooke.
Lucas and Rick looked at each other and laughed.
“NO, Brooke!” Lucas burst out, his body shaking with laughter. “You DRINK the nanobots! Here, Rick, show her!”
“They’re all right in here, Brooke,” said Rick excitedly, producing a pitcher that was filled with water.
“In…there?” asked Brooke, pointing.
“Yep! Your first dose!” Rick lied. But he proceeded along with the truth directly afterwards. “This pitcher of water contains 20 million nanobots…you understand? And you’re gonna drink them all down.”
“D-drink…all that water?” asked Brooke.
“Yep!” said Lucas. “Listen, Brooke, I know it’s a lot, but important that you drink it all down, ok? Just think, it’s essential for the experiment to continue. Plus, I mean, you’ll be helping Braden Inc with our newest technology, right?"
“R-right,” said Brooke, blinking through her smile.
“Well ok, then, here goes!” exclaimed Rick, handing her the pitcher. “Careful, ok? Use two hands…no…ok…uh, wanna help her, Lucas? It’s a little heavy…I don’t want any of this splashing on the ground.”
“Ok,” said Lucas, stepping forward to hold the bottom of the pitcher, as she grasped the sides. “You ready, Brooke?”
She nodded silently, and for a moment, her face went ashen. Lucas had a flash of fear that she was going to try and back out of it, but he made a point to smile at her and even wink, and she blinked her big eyes and smiled back at him.
“Ok, deep breath,” he said, taking one himself, “And…bottoms’s up!”
He gently tipped the pitcher toward Brooke’s mouth, and she responded in kind with her hands. The lab room became full of the sound of her gulping down the liquid, with the loud sounds of her throat ricocheting off the smooth metal walls.
After about half of the liquid was down, Brooke began to struggle — her head was starting to shake as she made more and more of an effort to gulp down the liquid.
“There we go,” said Lucas encouragingly, tipping the pitcher ever so slightly.
Lucas was aware enough, through the shimmering haze of his own excitement, that what he was doing was morally objectionable. Here was this poor, hapless, totally confused little girl, with no experience, who he was forcing to consume an ungodly amount of water that was filled with millions of nanobots, which he had only just now realized were viable in human beings. And yet, even though Lucas knew that he should feel guilty, he simply didn’t. He was far too excited to see the nanobots in action, in a live human subject, right in front of him. He was able, in his agitated, animated mind, to brush aside the humanitarian concerns. They were on the cusp of something crazy: an unprecedented scientific advancement that he had only been able to dream of before. And Braden was going to spearhead it!
“Just keep going, Brooke, you’re doing great.”
Some of the water dripped down Brooke’s chin, running in thin little rivulets down her neck, and staining her white blouse dark near her collarbones. Lucas’s eyes were drawn to the water; at first, he thought it was because Brooke was wasting precious nanobots, but he knew that a difference of a few thousand or so wouldn’t matter. No...Lucas couldn’t help but realize that it was something else: as he watched the water run down Brooke’s chin and neck, and listened to her gulping it down, Lucas realized that he was...getting a little turned-on. This was a confusing thing for him to realize. What exactly was hot about the scene? There wasn’t anything attractive about Brooke, and...and besides, wasn’t there only reason to be excited about this experiment progressing so quickly into human trials!? It didn’t really make any sense. And yet, as Brooke continued to struggle and gulp down the liquid, Lucas felt his cock gently tent the front of his khakis. He stepped a bit to the side, shimmying his membr a bit in between his legs, hiding its slightly-engorged mass. He blinked and tried to re-focus himself.
When the pitcher was three-quarters empty, Brooke even let out a slight moan of discomfort, quite unintentionally, as she toiled more and more to get it all down.
“Almost there!” said Lucas, tipping the pitcher up even more. “Almost gone, Brooke! Keep it going!”
Giving one great heave of inhaled breath through her nose, as she looked up anxiously at the lab ceiling, Brooke fought to swallow the last remaining quarter of liquid, her face now clearly fatigued from the effort. by the time she finished it all, she staggered back a little, coughing and breathing hard, as Lucas caught the pitcher from falling out of her hands.
“You did it! Nice job!” he said spiritedly, feeling another twinge of guilt as he saw her struggle to catch her breath. But once again, the guilt was overridden by his hunger to see what would happen next.
Brooke coughed a few times, loudly and deeply, screwing her face up in reaction to the massive amount of fluid she had just consumed. Lucas cautiously and a bit noncommittally reached over and patted her on the back a few times, as a kind of token, tacit gesture, more than anything else.
“There…it’s, uh, it’s ok, Brooke,” he said. “You ok?”
“Uhh…y-yeah,” she replied, panting slightly. “I’m…I’m ok, I think.”
“Alright, great!” said Lucas, his hand, still on her back, now gently but firmly guiding her towards the large glass cylinder in the middle of the room. “Ok, now…I’m gonna have you step in here, ok? No need to be worried — it’s just the, uh…let’s call it the “observation capsule,” haha, where we can monitor the nanobots that you’ve just, uh…ingested. Sound good?”
“Y-yes,” said Brooke, still struggling a bit to catch her breath.
“And there’s a little door here…in you go…and we’re just gonna close it, ok?” Lucas knew that he was rushing Brooke through the whole process, but he didn’t really care. He just needed to get her in there and close the door. Once she was inside, he pushed the glass door shut and latched it from the outside. Brooke gave him a nervous and slightly fearful look through the glass, but he just flashed a quick grin at her, gave the “thumbs-up” sign, and turned his back on her, going back behind an extra layer of glass to join Rick in the “observation booth” part of the room. Turning around again, Lucas got the full picture of Brooke in the glass cylinder — it was a fairly tight fit for her 5’5 frame, but her relatively small stature allowed her to lean back slightly. She also had a good foot of space above her head.
‘More than enough room,’ Lucas told himself, to stave off any guilt that he had just put a discombobulated, nervous, and possibly claustrophobic girl into this glass cylinder without so much as an orientation concerning what was about to happen.
“Ok Brooke,” Lucas said, over the intercom, “The nanobots that you just drank are good for you, you understand? They’re basically just designed to keep you, the host, healthy, alright? They’ll remove any cancer cells they find, they’ll reduce wrinkles…haha, heck, they might even make you just feel happier in general! But the point is, they’re a net positive for you? Ok?”
“O-ok,” said Brooke, looking extremely uncomfortable in the cylinder.
“Ready to get this party started?” asked Rick eagerly, with a hungry edge to his voice. He had just sat down in front of a sprawl of computers and monitors, which were set up and programmed to record and observe all the data coming in from the sensors in the “observation capsule” Brooke was in.
“Am I!?” laughed Lucas, feeling positively giddy.
Rick reached over and handed him a small, hand-held remote.
“That’s to turn the bots on and off,” said Rick. “You know the drill…same as with the animals we’re testing now. Button has to be held down to keep the bots on, you know, for safety reasons, yadda yadda.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know,” said Lucas, almost impatiently. “And the remote is uniquely mine, right? Like, it has the same biosensors the other ones do?”
“Yep,” answered Rick, adjusting a few monitors. “It only recognizes your fingerprint signature. No one else can turn them on.”
“Perfect,” intoned Lucas, unconsciously licking his lips a little.
“So now, if she explodes, it’s all on you!” laughed Rick.
“Oh stop it — that won’t happen,” chuckled Lucas, not quite knowing whether or not he was right. He looked back up at Brooke, whose hands were crossed timidly in front of her, as she looked down at the glass floor beneath her.
“Alright, ready Rick?” Lucas was trying to keep his voice steady, but it wasn’t easy.
“Ready.” Rick was just as excited as he was, positively poised on the edge of his seat.
“Ok, here we go!” breathed Lucas, and pressed the button on the remote.
At first, there was no indication that anything had changed — there was no sound, no reaction from Brooke, no spike in the charts on the monitors. Lucas and Rick waited breathlessly for the bots to do their work. It was a surreal thing…Rick’s eyes were fixed on the computers and monitors, but Lucas’s were locked firmly on Brooke. It was so strange to look at her, and know that millions of nanobots were busily working inside her, totally unseen.
“Holy SHIT!” cried Rick suddenly, gasping out as the data started to pour in through the monitors. “Lucas!! Jesus fucking christ, take a look at this!! Her red count is WAY up! Oh my god, look at her hemoglobin levels!! The…holy fuck, her Chymotrypsin is off the charts…are you seeing this, Lucas!? Look at her Tyrosinase spikes!! Are you kidding me!? This…this is REVOLUTIONARY, Lucas!! This…is…haha ohhhh god, her HGH is climbing now…godddd…fuck! Her glucose production capacity already doubled. This is gonna…oh my god, Lucas — this is gonna change the world!! Are you seeing all this!? Lucas!?!
Lucas wasn’t looking at the monitors; he wasn’t looking at the computers and taking in all the figures; he wasn’t even really hearing what Rick was saying. Instead, his eyes were inexorably fixed upon Brooke’s body in the glass cylinder. She was visibly beginning to change. Lucas could see that her head, ever so surely, and at a constant rate, was beginning to inch upwards. She was…growing taller, in real time, before his eyes. And it wasn’t just her stature that was changing. The blemishes on her skin began to fade away, until they had disappeared entirely. The uneven distribution of flesh in her cheeks evened out, to the point where Lucas was amazed at her face’s proportionality. The slight dimples in her chin seemed to get swallowed up in an increase in the vibrant fleshiness of her blossoming cheeks and chin. There was no getting around it…Brooke’s face was actually starting to look…not bad at all…pretty good, in fact.
But the changes didn’t even stop there. Lucas felt his eyes drawn to Brooke’s chest. Her previously-flat chest, with barely any breast mounds to speak of, was now burgeoning noticeably under her white blouse. Lucas felt his wide eyes expand even wider as he took in exactly what was happening. He could hardly believe it — this change, along with many of the others, was totally unexpected. Underneath her blouse, the twin mounds of her breasts were clearly growing, swelling bigger and bigger with each passing moment. Brooke’s blouse grew tighter and tighter in her chest region, as her breasts began to press themselves into the fabric from the inside. Lucas was able to get a clearer view through the blouse of Brooke’s nipples, and with a jolting thrill, he saw them lengthening and thickening, growing slightly darker as they increased visibly in size.
Lucas blinked his eyes in stunned arousal as he unconsciously licked his upper lip…his nostrils were flaring, and his cock, which was already slightly hard, grew harder still. Brooke’s blouse continued to tighten in the front of her chest; the previously-loose fabric grew straight and taut, with their wrinkles gradually creasing themselves out more and more with each passing moment. Without realizing it, Lucas drew in a sharp breath as, for the first time, a cleavage actually became visible, swelling itself up in the warm, organic bliss of the fleshy mounds of her breasts that continued to grow in tandem, squishing themselves up against each other, seeming to duel for space inside Brooke’s ever-tightening blouse. Her legs and arms were also growing, beginning to lose their spindly shapes as gentles surges of female flesh started to fill them out. And all the while, her head kept going up, up, and up some more. Lucas was positively dumbfounded — shocked beyond measure as his body temperature rose, his cock beginning to strain in the confines of his pants. He was literally watching a woman emerge out of what the old Brooke had been before.
Gradually, Lucas became aware of something insistent sounding off to his right. The noise was muddled and undecipherable at first. It took him a few long moments to realize that the sound was a voice, and then a few extra moments to ascertain that the voice was Rick’s, and that it was urgently conveying something.
“Huh? What?” asked Lucas, still not taking his eyes off Brooke.
“Stop, Lucas! Stop!” came Rick’s emphatic voice. “Turn them off! That’s more than enough!!”
“Oh…come on, j-just…just a little longer,” said Lucas, his mouth slightly slack as he breathed heavily in and out, feasting his eyes on Brooke’s burgeoning form. “Just, to, uh…just to make sure…it works.”
“No way — are you serious!?” cried Rick. “It’s not safe, Lucas!! Come on, we’ve gone far enough — turn them off!!”
As Brooke continued to grow in the background, Rick reached for the remote. As soon as his fingers brushed the edge of the device, something seemed to go off in Lucas’s head, and he tried to pull it away. But Rick had already latched his fingers onto the end of it and wouldn’t let go. Lucas finally broke his eyes away from Brooke to focus on wrestling the remote away from Rick. The two men pulled and tugged, in a brief but intense struggle, each of them breathing hard.
“Lucas…for fuck’s sake…let me…come on…turn it off!!” panted Rick.
“I…I’m…ok, ok!” said Lucas, coming to his senses and taking his finger off the button. He held the remote up to Rick, with both of his hands raised, in the motion of surrender. “See?! It’s off! Ok, god!”
“Fuck!” exclaimed Rick, shaking his head as his eyes lingered on Lucas for a long moment. “You…we have to be careful, Lucas! Come on, man.”
“I…yeah, I mean,” said Lucas awkwardly, furrowing his brow a little bit, almost in confusion. “She’s…look, don’t get all worked up, ok?” he said, recovering quickly as he gestured over to Brooke. “Look at her — she’s fine.” He noticed that her head was a little closer to the top of the cylinder ceiling than it had been before...and there was no question that her breasts had grown larger still, even during the brief time that he had looked away.
“That we know of!” said Rick, his voice full of stress and excitement. “Ok, uh…ok, yeah, it’s fine…it’s fine. She looks fine. It’s…wow, Lucas. Take…uh, well, go over and check on her first, but when you get back….Jesus…you gotta look at these charts!”
Lucas was already on his way over to the glass cylinder, wiping his forehead with his hand on the way, and taking a series of deep breaths. He was strangely more aware of his body in this moment than he had ever remembered being before. Only when he was almost at the glass container’s door did he look at Brooke in the face. She was still no beauty, but there was no question at all that her appearance had improved. Her face looked brighter, fresher, and more vibrant. She was blinking her eyes, which looked even bigger, and whose sockets were slightly more angled at the corners, giving her whole facial structure a sharper and more pleasing edge. What mood was she in? Lucas smiled up at her in an obligatory way as he unlatched the door.
‘She looks totally confused,’ thought Lucas. ‘Same old Brooke.’
He didn’t quite know why he was thinking this thought to himself as he opened the door — it was quite clear that this was not the same old Brooke, at least physically speaking.
“There she is!” he laughed, immediately feeling the awkward weight of his words as they tumbled untidily out of his mouth. “That was great, Brooke! Just great! How, uh…how do you feel?”
“A little dizzy, maybe,” she replied, immediately and clearly (which Lucas interpreted as abruptness), stepping out of the container and onto the same level floor that Lucas was standing on. “But actually, uh…not so bad.”
“Oh yeah?” asked Lucas, half-hearing her words. He was busy taking in the reality of Brooke’s growth. She was obviously taller now — before, the top of her head had barely come up to his chin. Now, Lucas could tell that it reached all the way up to the middle of his nose. She had actually gained a couple inches.
“Yeah, haha, like, you, uh…you were right, Mr. Mineur,” said Brooke, smiling some as she unconsciously brought her hands up to her chest and squished her breasts together. “I think I do feel a little happier, actually!”
Lucas registered somewhere in his mind that Brooke had actually addressed him by his last name without messing it up, but nearly all of his attention had become swallowed up in Brooke’s breasts. Even though she was squishing them together inadvertently, her nonexistent motives didn’t stop Lucas from staring at the newly-swelled, taut breast flesh that was peeking through the upper part of her blouse. Brooke’s chest had been almost completely flat before, but now, her tiny A-cups had increased all the way up to solid B-cups. And what’s more, he was faced with the reality of Brooke’s height increase; even though he was still half a foot taller, there was something intimidating about her face being closer to his...even though there had been no ostensible change, Lucas felt like she had somehow “risen in rank.”
The change was dramatic for Lucas, even if others might not have noticed so intensely. He blinked several times as he gawked at Brooke’s assets, as she stood there, looking awkwardly at him as her eyes shifted around the lab, and back to him again.
“Uhh…yeah…yeah, that’s…that’s great, Brooke!” said Lucas, coming out of his reverie after a few moments. He looked back up from her chest and into her face. “Fantastic! I’m…um, I’m glad you’re feeling good. We’ll, uh…we’ll monitor you throughout the day, and uh, and you just tell me if there’s anything out of the ordinary that you’re feeling, ok?”
“Ok, that sounds good!” said Brooke, blinking as she tilted her head slightly at him and smiled. Lucas smiled back, for the first time actually giving her something that amounted to a genuine expression of pleasure, much in the same way that he would smile at a young, post-college-aged girl who wasn’t too bad looking and who had smiled at him as she passed by on the sidewalk.
The rest of the day proceeded along, more or less normal on the outside. Lucas had informed Trent that he would be training Brooke in basic knowledge transfer for the day. Lucas had put this plan in motion before the unexpected results of the experiment that morning — Trent was a fantastic employee, so much so that Lucas had begun to see him as a potential competitor in the general office power dynamics. By dumping Brooke off on Trent, Lucas could, in a sense, kill two birds with one stone: he wouldn’t have to deal with her, and Trent would inevitably fall behind in his work due to Brooke’s encumbrance.
But that was all before the events of this morning, and Lucas found, as he handed Brooke off to Trent, that he couldn’t keep his mind off her as the day went by. He kept thinking back to the moment where he realized that Brooke was actually growing in the glass cylinder…she had been getting taller, fleshier, curvier, and her boobs had visibly ballooned along with everything else. He had watched her…become more…and it wasn’t lost on him that, in speaking with her after, she hadn’t been stuttering nearly as much. Sure, she was still awkward and didn’t have any confidence, but…well, there was definitely some sort of change that had happened internally. And her face too! She was now probably a 5, or even a 6.
He still had the remote. The windows of his corner office had a view of Trent’s office, and Lucas realized, around the late afternoon, that he had been fingering the remote fitfully in his pocket as he watched Trent work with Brooke. Lucas inhaled through his nose as he took his hand out of his pocket; he realized that his palms were sweating. He looked back into Trent’s office. Trent was leaning over Brooke’s shoulder, looking forward into her computer screen in her side cubicle. Clearly, she was having difficulty understanding the software language that Trent was trying to teach her.
Lucas reached back into his pocket again, once again fingering the remote.
‘Why not?’ asked a voice inside his head. ‘There’s no reason not to. Go ahead…do it!’
Lucas pressed the button, holding it down as he stared into Trent’s office like a hawk. Both Brooke and Trent were too focused on her screen to notice what was happening, but Lucas saw it all in real-time. Brooke began to grow. Lucas saw her shoulder rising, very subtly, bit by bit, near Trent’s forward position as he leaned on her desk with his hands. Lucas started breathing hard again, just like he had been that morning when Brooke had started to grow. The difference was that now, Lucas was expecting the changes…and he was alone, in the privacy of his own office. Scolding himself for not thinking of it sooner, he was able to tear his eyes away from Brooke long enough to hop up and close his office door, returning quickly to his chair immediately afterward. His cock was now definitely bulging up through his pants. Brooke turned to the side, seemingly about to ask Trent a question, and Lucas gasped out loud…her breasts were visibly expanding even more than they had been before. Her already-tight blouse grew tighter still as her breasts expanded and squished together even more, so much so that Lucas actually saw the fabric on the back of her blouse tighten as a result of the blooming twin mounds of swelling flesh on her chest.
Lucas’s breath started to come forth in faster, shallower gaps as his chest rose and fell rapidly. The heat was building up in his face, and his teeth became clenched, his jaw locking his whole face hard into gear, in preparation…but for what? Lucas wasn’t really thinking straight; his thumb was whitening as he continued to press it hard down into the remote button. She was growing, swelling…getting bigger…getting more…all because he was pressing the button. It was HIM…HE was the one who was making it all happen. Lucas kept breathing and panting…harder and harder, with the heat rising to a fever pitch in his face and in his loins, until he finally came, hard, in his pants. He gasped out, strangely not even having expected this end result. He was just too focused on watching Brooke grow…on growing her himself.
He saw Brooke nod her head up at Trent, as she pointed to the screen. Trent’s head turned slightly sideways, peering at the screen. Brooke nodded again, once more pointing. Now Trent was nodding…and he straightened up and walked away, back to his own desk.
‘Huh…guess she finally figured it out,’ thought Lucas to himself, feeling almost giddy in his post-orgasm heatwave. ‘Trent’s a good instructor…hope that lasts, haha.’ He felt like he had just gotten away with something…something slightly dirty, and the fact that no one had noticed only made him more excited.
A little while later, after Lucas had cleaned himself up, Brooke walked into his office, straight up to his desk. Lucas had been reading an email, but he had known it was Brooke walking in as soon as he saw her figure out of the corner of his eye. He had made it a point to look at her as casually as he could, but when he actually looked up at her, he couldn’t help but notice that her blouse, her dress, her tights…everything…was tighter. Her face looked perhaps even better, although he couldn’t be sure. The main thing he noticed was that her breasts were undoubtedly C-cups now.
‘The same size as Sophia, geez,’ he thought to himself. She seemed to have gained another inch in height as well — making her 5’8.
“Had a good day?” Lucas asked nonchalantly, turning his eyes back to his email, without actually looking at anything.
“Yes,” said Brooke, sounding a bit eager, “I completed all the tasks Trent asked me to do.”
“Gooood!” Lucas wished he could have made his voice sound more normal.
“But, you know,” Brooke added, “You told me that I should tell you if I felt anything unusual today?”
Lucas looked up at her slowly.
“Well…I think I had a growth spurt.”
Lucas blinked, willing himself to act normally. “A…growth spurt? Hmm, well that’s certainly possible.”
Brooke tugged on her blouse a little, showing its tautness. “My clothes are tighter all over. I can feel it.”
“Hmmm, well, maybe we’ll need to get you some new clothes,” said Lucas, suddenly getting an idea. He reached into his wallet, pulled out $120, and folded it up neatly, handing it out to her.
“Here, take this,” he said, smiling up at her. “A little something to buy a new wardrobe with, huh? Maybe even ask Sophia to take you shopping? It’ll be fun! And…I don’t mean to sound rude, Brooke, but…maybe getting a new wardrobe wouldn’t be such a bad change for you, hmm?”
“I…well, no, I could definitely use some new clothes,” she replied, chuckling amiably as her big eyes regarded him. “Thanks, Mr. Mineur! That’s so generous of you!”
“Well, haha…spend it wisely, ok?” he asked, sending her away with a paternalistic wave of his hand. As he watched her go, he turned his head sideways, watching her enlarged butt cheeks actually bouncing a bit up and down as she walked. Sophia strode out of her office a moment later, causing Lucas to quickly turn his attention back to his computer screen. He hoped she hadn’t seen him staring after Brooke…he heard the two women acknowledge each other. Sophia was starting up a friendly conversation. Lucas would have spent more energy eavesdropping, but a ping on his email caught his attention. It was from Rick — he had the final results from the morning test. True to his nearly-hysterical reaction from that morning Rick had titled the email: “GAME CHANGER.”