World in Slow-Motion (excerpt)

There was a bit of a crisis in Dormitory C the following morning. A student in Room 105 was heard crying for help, and his pleas became more and more panicked as time went on. His commotion caused the students around him to stir, and soon their increased worry drew the attention of the doctors and physicians in that Sector. Over time the hallway was cordoned off and a security team was put into place to ward off the increasing number of spectators who were showing up to get a glimpse of the unfolding drama.

The student in Room 105 was Crynon, and his cellular composition was able to modify itself in order to mimic the structures and surfaces around him. In an ideal world, this would allow him to camouflage himself within his surroundings and even add strength and durability to his anatomy, should he choose to press against a sturdy and dense material. Now his molecules were becoming overzealous in their attempts to blend in. Not only was his skin taking on the properties of the mattress and bedding around him, but his atoms were bonding to it, so that he and the bed were slowly becoming one. The more he struggled, the more his ability urged his biological makeup to adapt. He was sinking into the mattress, and the air pockets within the polyfoam were absorbing his arteries and filling with blood. His bones drifted away from each other and became spongy. His veins rewrote themselves and began pumping blood to the corners of the bed. And still he screamed and cried out for help.

The doctors in the room became more frantic as Crynon's discomfort elevated, and with X-Ray goggles strapped to their heads they trained their surgical lasers on the sections that were not yet a part of Crynon's anatomy, seeking to separate living tissue from everything else. When this became too daunting of a task they sent in robots with microscopic blades to cut into him with better precision. The parts that were still Crynon were cauterized and slowly removed from the polyfoam.

Rohm, forever pacing the floors of all available Sectors, happened upon the scene and stood still for an instant as curiosity took hold. A few heads turned his way for a second before looking back at the scene at the end of the hall. Rohm, not satisfied with his vantage point, carefully maneuvered his way around students, making sure to only graze them when necessary. In a fraction of a second he was at the threshold of Room 105. He weaved his way between security and doctors to get a closer look - slipping his way past medical and military personal faster than it took someone to blink. He managed to quickly step around the bed and see what was happening. Machines were cutting into what looked like a student enveloped in a fleshy cocoon. There was the smell of burning skin in the air and the hissing of blood as it came in contact with white-hot lasers. It took Rohm a moment to process the scene and he faltered, becoming material for half a second. He felt himself brush up against a surgeon and panicked. He turned and fled, becoming a stream of mercurial light that slid through the small crowd and knocked the onlookers into the walls. For a moment he caught sight of the girl with grey skin and rainbow eyes amongst the crowd, and he felt a pang of regret knowing that she would topple as the people around her were thrown back by the force of his sudden departure.

He spent the rest of the day by himself, shunning the company of others. He was solitary by nature to begin with, but the image of the student in Room 105 haunted him, and he just wanted to be alone.