by thefourpartland

It has been a long time since I wrote to you, and it will be a long time before I write again. Life here has grown troublesome, and there is little time for the small pleasures that make it worth living. It is a struggle and there are many things that occupy my time, and so I will, necessarily, make this a briefer epistle than the previous ones to which you have become accustomed.

I am, as you may assume, well enough to write you a letter, and those who are with me are well enough, too. It has been a trying time for those of us here who have long memories, of a time when things did not require such effort to achieve, when it was easier and simpler. Still, we carry on, and have done so for a goodly time, and will do so for more. There have been a few problems beyond those expected here, but that is the nature of men, as time and energy weigh upon their minds and the stresses begin to catch up with them. Even so, the mood remains strong and the first results should be coming back to you soon, through our normal methods of supply and communication. There has been several positive indicators so far, and these have heartened the crew with me and led us onwards.

There has been one, small, deplorable incident, where a man of the crew took it upon himself to end an experiment before its due time, but we were thankfully able to prevent said occurrence, and have decided to deal with the person using the means appropriate to what we have discussed before. With that shift in his status among the research establishment, there has also been an upswelling in personal interest in security matters, in order to ensure that no more of the experiments are interfered with. On that note, do please exercise caution when assigning new personnel to the tasks that are needed here, for it has become apparent that some of the members, while continuing to work at their duties with appropriate effort, are less than fully dedicated to the tasks laid before them, and are simply continuing because it is their job, rather than because of an inner sense of purpose, or of dedication to the task.

It pains me that one of the brightest, and you will know him well, has fallen into this state of lethargy, for he goes about the days with a grey fog about his head, speaking little to other people and performing his tasks for almost the entire day. He still has his admirable skill, but that joy that he took in life has gone. Perhaps he will recover in time for the grand reveal that comes at the end of the process, but if not, we may need to choose another to be our representative for the delegations, for he will not serve in his current state of mind.

With those minor, but necessary descriptions out of the way, let me begin to describe what has been happening to the experimental subjects over the last several weeks, since the previous letter that I scribbled down. The teeth grow longer, and some of them howl as they bite their gums, unaccustomed to such length in their mandibles. Those who have experienced it for longer, or those who are the brightest among them, have learned to cope with the new difficulties presented here, and have since then begun testing the capabilities of the new jaw structure that came along with the teeth. They have found it most robust, and quite capable of ripping out some of the older and more insecure bars on their cages. It has necessitated a new structure to be built on the premises, one that will enjoy a much more secure foundation and formation, and into which we can transfer these newly advanced subjects.

In terms of their bodily structure, changes that are apparent to the eye are less prevalent than they are amongst the visual differences present in the face, but they are there, and quite strongly, too. It is simply a matter of looking beneath the surface, and beneath the clothes as well, for even the bare minimum that they wear can be used to disguise the changes as they happen. The most apparent is the thickening in the muscles at certain joins, and the reaction speeds of the beasts has grown considerably. Perhaps we should have attempted to induce each change without recourse to the others, but that would have been quite difficult, and cause a good few delays, a risk I would rather not have dealt with.

Oh, yes, one of brighter males of the initial testing unit, whom I believe to be the last one alive from that grouping, has become quite troublesome recently. Despite hindering their mental development, he has rather discovered the natures of doors and locks, and the claws on his hands have proven somewhat useful for picking them, even if it requires breaking them off and shaving them down for the purpose. His ability to think is beginning to worry me, and we have confined him to a single storage facility quite well away from any of the others, and with a good deal of extra security. In fact, it is almost about time for my rounds to begin, and his is always the first and the last stop on the route. Thus, due to the time, I will leave this letter here and return to it later. I will hopefully have more to report after my examinations of the latest subjects, and of the behaviour of the older ones. As per normal, complete records will be included with this letter. I leave now, hopefully to return with good news which I can convey to you.

The letter arrived as per normal, on top of a complete record of the experimental facility. When opened, it consisted of the text above, with two minor additions: a small, perfectly spherical drop of crimson, and a sliver of a thin, keratinous material.


  1. mazzz_in_Leeds on 04.16.2010

    Ooh, intriguing. I am left wondering what the purpose of engineering these beasts was, and what creatures they were engineered from
    Very well written piece, reads very much as if it came from a scientist.
    Also reads like it was not set in present day – I don’t know whether that was the intention

  2. The Four Part Land on 04.16.2010

    I had a sort of Victorian science ethic in mind when I wrote it, but it’s not really meant to be set in any specific time or place. It’s just, well, there.

    It’s a bit boring, but the creatures they’re studying are actually werewolves of some sort.

    And I’m wondering if readers were able to figure out what I meant by the ending. Re-reading it again, I know it’s probably not that obvious.

  3. Marisa Birns on 04.16.2010

    This certainly captured my attention. It’s a very intriguing piece and I enjoyed it.

    So. I am assuming that, at the end, the letter writer either IS that smart creature being studied at the facility…

    Or, that creature has done away with the letter writer, and sent the letter itself.

    A bit of blood and a bit of nail from the claw?

    Very well done!

  4. The Four Part Land on 04.16.2010

    Creature kills him off and escapes. That is, at least, the intent of the ending. And leaves his mark and mails the letter as a warning.

  5. Clifford Fryman on 04.16.2010

    Very well written and enjoyable story. I’m not sure the ending came across as you intended, as I didn’t realize it until I read the comments. That may just be me, though. Still, an excellent read. I loved the language of it.

  6. Gracie on 04.16.2010

    For a little bit I just knew it was alien scientists and the “beasts” were us. Then again, it sounded a bit Darwin-ish. Either way, it was interesting, and I found myself oddly rooting for the werewolves. The blood and the claw at the end were a nice touch.

    Nice work.

  7. V. R. Leavitt on 08.27.2010

    Very intriguing!! I like the drop of blood and what I know now to be a werewolf claw. It feels like it would make a good intro to a movie.

  8. The Four Part Land on 09.03.2010

    Thanks. It was written a long time ago, back when I was first trying my hand at flash fiction. Didn’t know what it was called at the time, but there it was. Very pleased with how it turned out.

  9. Ribbie on 08.29.2010

    Entertaining read. Has a kind of Planet of the Apes feel. For me, the story was a cautionary tale of the dangers and ethical considerations of genetic engineering.

  10. The Four Part Land on 09.03.2010

    It wasn’t intended as a moral tale. I don’t think they were intended as GE werewolves, just that they were werewolves who existed in that world, and people were testing on them.

    The werewolves weren’t actually human, they’re sort of dumb. More like another species of wolf that happens to run on two legs.

  11. shannon esposito on 08.30.2010

    This really seems like a slice of something bigger. I don’t mean that in a bad way, I guess it just feels like you have more story in you around this. I love the idea and the feel of it. The dangers of genetic engineering are high on my lists of interests. Looking forward to reading more from you, welcome!

  12. The Four Part Land on 09.03.2010

    Thanks muchly.

    I never really thought about doing more with the story than is there already. For me it feels complete in itself, but perhaps there is more lurking around the edges. It does feel like I could do a series of ancient dispatches about this werewolf after it has broken free and roams the land.

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