Picture a metal crate, the kind you would put a dog in at the pound. Just picture it, no bigger than maybe a mini fridge, with slightly rusted bars and a newspaper covered bottom. Now picture a young girl, around eight years old. She has very pretty rust-coloured hair that shines an interesting shade of red in the sun. She has two mint green eyes that are very bright, very happy. She has fair skin and a trail of freckles across the bridge of her nose. Now picture this girl in the cage you also pictured earlier.

Take a moment for that request to sink in. This girl is curled up in this cage, knees to her chest, back curled awkwardly against the unforgiving metal bars, head pressed against the cage’s top. Now, imagine the girl as less happy because, quite frankly, who could possibly be happy to be locked in a metal crate? Do you have the mental image?

Now imagine a woman like a sewing needle dipped in tar. You’re probably wondering what I mean by that. The woman is tall and thin, waist cinched tightly by a lacy corset, eyes like the pitch black of space and hair like orderly tar. Her skin is as white as paper and her soul could be considered a collection of loss and tragedy, but the contents of her soul is another story.

Our focus is on the girl who is about to be taken out of her crate for the first time in a week. This woman, named quite ironically Lotus, unlocks the crate and gives the girl a sour smile. “If you could have anything,” she begins in a conversational tone, “What would you want?”

The girl stares at her. She doesn’t know what to make of this nightmarish woman oh so casually asking her such terribly deep and personal questions against the backdrop of a dim room filled with crates of poor and pathetic children. So she just stares.

“I asked a question,” The woman whispers, her words wrapped in thorns. “I expect an answer.”

The girl does not speak. She refuses now; she will not give in to this mean woman.

“I think it’ll have something to do with eyes,” She mutters to herself, pulling the girl roughly out of the crate. “Yes, eyes. The windows of the soul.”

The girl is taken to a small room where others, dressed like the most stereotypical of doctors, prod and poke the girl, making comments here and there while Lotus watches indifferently.

“She’s normal.” One says, holding up a set of data as proof. “She’s a prime specimen for the human testing.”

“Then strap her down in room 12, I’ll see what I’ll do shortly.” And with that the woman exited in a flurry of black of white. The doctors all let out small sounds of relief, and lead the girl down the hall to room 12. In it is a basic set up you’d expect to find within any standard hospital. The doctors strap the girl to the bed set against the wall and leave without a word.

The girl then begins to cry. She knows crying is pointless but a part of her just needs to do something physical to cope with this sudden turn of events. She knows what is coming. Her parents used to whisper about it when they thought she was asleep. She’d press her ear against their bedroom door and hear all sorts of horrors. Stories of children just like her carried off in the night and their parents slain. Her parents were killed right in front of her previously virgin eyes. Then she was swarmed and shoved into a crate and carried away to this Hell.

“Don’t cry,” Lotus had entered so silently the girl had not heard anything over her unrestrained sobbing.

Lotus sets out an array of instruments on the table next to the bed, daintily picking up a marker. “Tell me, while we’re here like this, what is your name?”

The girl only continued to hiccup and cry. She was slapped swiftly across the face and suddenly she stopped crying, too afraid to make a single noise.

“You will answer when spoken to. What is your name you difficult and stupid child?”

“R-Rouri,” She stuttered, eyes wide.

“What a terrible name,” Lotus sighed, grabbing the girl’s face harshly. She began to draw under her eyes, outlining things Rouri could not begin to guess at. The marker moved to directly between her eyes.

“What are you-“ Lotus’ nails dug into her cheeks before she could finish. Blood began to ebb out from under her nails.

“Quiet.” Lotus reached for a syringe. “I think I’ll just put you under.”

“N-no-“ The needle stabbed into Rouri’s neck. Her world went black. Over the next few days she drifted in and out of being conscious, her mind surrounded by a terrible haze. All she would see was Lotus or catch a glimpse of a metal instrument before she went under yet again.

Sometimes she would violently come to, pain exploding in her face. She’d wail in agony before a doctor would rush in with more drugs to ship her into sweet and numb bliss.

It may have been a week before she fully regained consciousness. She lay on the bed and opened her eyes, only the world did not look the same anymore. She had a new perspective, to her left a little lower than usual.

“Do you like it?” Lotus asked quietly.

“Wh-What did y-you do?” Rouri whispered, half in awe and half in fear.

Lotus silently handed her a mirror. Rouri stared at herself, only she wasn’t sure it was even her anymore. The girl staring back at her had that same rust coloured hair, a little duller than usual, and that same pale skin and freckles, but her eyes… She had five of them, two new ones under her previous ones and one in the center of the old ones. The ones below her old eyes were a piercing blue, though the right one didn’t follow her like the left one did. The center one was a pale gray, almost white, and didn’t blink in sync with the others.

“So? What do you think?” Lotus leaned forward, a terrible grin shaping her lips.

Rouri gulped. “I love it. I really, really like it,” She lied through her teeth.