Against my better judgment, I went back to work. Smith told me 83 was about to undergo his change cycle, and that all three of us would be watching. Miles set up monitoring equipment, and we sat at the desk in front of 83's cell. He was lying on the floor, his arms spread out, still coated in dried blood from the day before. I wouldn't be comfortable keeping a rat in those conditions. After a couple of hours, the cycle began.
83 writhed on the floor of his cell, his body contorting into positions that looked almost impossible. He began to scream, and I watched as his skin rippled. He bucked once, his heels driving into the floor and lifting his back, and thick yellow matter forced itself out from underneath the surface of his skin. His screaming choked off as the yellow crust thickened, cracking and splitting as it grew. The whole process was over in a few minutes, and 83 was back as he was when I first saw him. He lay on the floor of the cell, motionless except for the ragged rise and fall of his chest.
Smith and Miles checked instruments and recorded notes. Then, as if they hadn't just seen a man in torturous pain, they began to discuss the next experiment. When Smith raised the issue of burning 83's skin away, I got up and left.
I can't take this.