A magazine lay on a desk table. It had been left open, and the smudged paper was illuminated by a desk light. There were no roman letters written down: in fact, the symbols that could be seen on the pages were logograms of Chinese origin.
Yet, even an English-speaking reader would have been able to check out the images featured… photos where the forms of four, very young kids could be seen, looking as happy as they could ever be.
Someone stepped into the room, carrying a cardboard box of which the contents were yet to be seen. The man stopped right in front of the desk, placed the box on the floor, and proceeded to clean the desk out of everything that occupied the space over it. With one quick swipe of his hands he pushed everything onto the floor, apparently without care for the well-being of the objects. The magazine flapped its pages in the air and ended its fall facing downwards.
The figure returned his attention to the box and opened it. The first object he took out of the thing was a metal bowl, which he carefully placed on the table in front of him. Then, he started to get the ingredients out of it, one after the other.
Toys of several types and materials, decorations, fabric-made animals, and so on… everything's nice.
Eight glass containers full of seasoning of various origin, from the most exotic to the most common… spice.
Various decagrams of the sweetest-tasting ingredient of the recipe… sugar.
The man had no intention to spare on the materials he was working with. He filled the bowl slowly, adding a minor quantity of each ingredient every now and then, making sure to mix the concoction the way he felt was correct. Soon, the bowl was full of a liquid solution where multiple colours danced around, combining and embracing each other to create even wilder colourations.
The man made a couple of steps back and inspected the mechanical contraption that was installed all around the desk. When he deemed the gearwork safe for use, he straightened his lab coat and kneeled, picking up the last key ingredient.
His hand raised, holding a laboratory beaker that contained something glowing: a granular, green substance. Despite the ominous appearance who would have convinced anyone to stay away from it, the man didn't look fazed by the pulsing light emitted by the dust inside the beaker.
With his other hand, he pulled away a tiny label that had been plastered on the beaker and glanced at the single letter written over it.
He scoffed before letting the paper fall to the ground. He walked away from the desk where the bowl was waiting, reaching another worktable over which a few Bunsen burners were available. He snatched the nearest one, turned the gas on, ignited it with a simple lighter and held the beaker over the blueish flame.
Soon, the glowing dust ceased to emit light and changed its physical state, while still retaining its green colour. It took the man no more than a minute to liquefy the entire substance, after which he turned off the Bunsen and whirled around to look at the bowl he had left behind.
He muttered something to himself in Chinese before returning to the first desk. There, he grinned, staring at the bowl and its contents for a few, long seconds.
Thus, he turned the beaker down over the bowl and the liquified dust poured into the mixture.
The scientist dropped the beaker on the floor, ignoring the noise of shattering glass, and ran away just in time as, five seconds later, an explosion echoed in the chamber and through the walls around him.
Having just evaded the shockwave, the man was immediately able to look at the result of his efforts. The cloud of dust raised by the detonation cleared away in no time, revealing to the world the existence of four new living beings.
Two boys and two girls hovered above what used to be the desk where the bowl was located. The colours of their big eyes, while not the same for everyone, matched their clothes, and their appearance left no doubt about their kind.
The scientist stood up, grinning and with a worrying glint in his eyes. The four kids, once they located him, smiled back, unaware of the danger they were in. Without a word, the man simply moved towards a small panel located near him and pressed one of the buttons placed on it.
He stayed immobile as the machine behind the kids roared to life and electrical lightnings and discharges started to dance around the chamber and the unlucky objects near the contraption… including the new-born puffs. The laboratory was invaded by screams of pain and agony, but the mandidn't react in any way to the torture happening in front of him.
In fact, the scientist simply turned around, steering away from the spectacle. He left the chamber and shut the door behind him, thus stifling the screams coming out of the room.
The scientist's phone rang, and the man swiftly drew it out of his pocket and brought the speaker to his ear.
"I guess the experiment has been a success, then?" a voice spoke through the call.
"Yes," the man replied. "It is successful. How did you hear?"
"This complex has not been built with soundproof walls as its main priority. That's of minor importance, though… what matters is that you managed to do it without a hitch."
"Yes, I agree," the scientist replied. He scratched his chin for a second before adding, "I expect payment soon."
"You'll have everything that has been promised to you, mark my word… after you deliver my products. I didn't grant you access to the premises of the army and our W's reserves just to hear your constant demands."
"Of course, yes," the scientist quickly confirmed. "No pressure. I just want sure, sir."
"You have nothing to worry about: finish your job and you'll be rewarded. We are running out of time, and after Porter's fiasco I don't intend to postpone my plans any further. Do not waste my time, and I'll respect my end of the deal."
The line went dead. The scientist put the phone back in his pocket and mumbled something under his breath, before smiling again. He had always wanted to have a personal yacht all for himself… or maybe he could build a modern mansion? Surely, both would attract a fair number of female admirers…
He continued to daydream as he walked away, farther and farther from the shrieks of suffering which slowly lost in strength… until they stopped altogether.
And then, it was only silence.