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Short Story 47



This box is three times as big as that one, and yet also three times lighter. They sit together in the back of the room. They are the only objects, besides them there is just the rectangular square walls all cream and warm. There is one of them that has an opaque shine, it draws the eye. From someplace undefinable light enters. Sometimes it appears it is coming from the seams of the walls, at other moments from the ceiling and floor, presuming they are in fact the ceiling and floors.


“Subject 005, please respond.” A voice calls out.


It seems strange to hear it. There are no speakers anywhere. Were they hidden in the walls too, like the light. It must be possible.


“Subject 005, please respond.”


Who were they talking to? It didn’t make any sense to ask again when no one was responding. Movement. I can feel my body. Its stiff and folded. I look down to see my legs crossed in front of me, my arms listless on my lap. The fingers of my hands bent and unresponsive.


“Subject 005, please respond.”


I am covered in white linen. The sleeves come down to my wrists and the pant legs to my ankles. Cream, like the room, with a small bar three inches from the hem of a glossier fabric, I’m not sure what kind. I’m also wearing white socks that cover whatever skin might have been exposed by my pants, and there is some distinct sensation around my left wrist.


“Subject 005, please respond.”


Somehow, it appears on my will alone, my hand moves and raises the sleeve. Around my wrist is a thick band made of some kind of plastic material. I moved when I put pressure on one side eventually exposing the number 005.


“Subject 005, please respond.”


So, the voice was talking to me. I see now. But to respond. I wasn’t sure altogether how. My lips, I couldn’t see them, but I could feel them. I wasn’t sure how I knew what they were, and yet I did. Opening what came out surprised me.


“005 present.”


The light in the room flashed green for a split second and a feeling of self-surety passed over me. There was sound and then just to my left there was a small object passed into the room. I crawled to it. In a small plastic film was a cookie shaped like a sunflower. I tore off the wrapper and bit into it. The flavor was sweet. So sweet. It was the frosting that made it taste this way, the cookie itself was far more savory, like butter.


I can remember butter. It was such a good taste. When I had finished the cookie, I lick the crumbs and small smears off my fingers.


“Subject 005, prepare for task instructions.”


My body goes cold against this. I can’t remember why I should feel so horrified, but I do. Something in me knows what’s about to happen. To be conscious of this was a thing I most desire. The only thing I knew was that it had to do with those boxes.


I slid across the room back to the corner I had been in prior, it was the furthest from the objects that excited my fears. This voice was going to ask me to do something I didn’t want to.


“Subject 005, go to the smaller box and open the top.”


I shook my head at the command. I can’t move, I don’t want to. This is impossible.


“Subject 005, please acknowledge.”


I shook my head again.


“Subject 005, please acknowledge.”


My words, those I had found moments before were hidden now, somewhere deep within me. I couldn’t find them to let them out.


“Subject 005, please acknowledge.”


This voice wouldn’t understand my protests. For it there was nothing to this. It felt nothing. But I know that there is something in there. Something in those boxes, I don’t want to see. I don’t want to know.


“Subject 005, please acknowledge.”


I won’t. I can’t. You don’t understand. You don’t know. This feeling inside me. I want to run. I would scrape myself out of my skin if it meant I could be free. And yet, it frightened me that inside this fear there was a want to go forward. If I wanted to eat. To drink. To shower. Clean clothes. To defecate like a human being, for I see and feel that I am one, I must go forward. I must.


“Subject 005, please acknowledge.”


My body shutters as it slides up the wall, I clench the fabric against my torso between my fingers, balling it into a fist, pulling what remains tight against my side and back.


“I acknowledge.”


“Subject 005, proceed as instructed.”


I didn’t want this. I don’t want this. How did I get here. My feet slid against the floor. The socks making the path across the formless surface smooth. Is there no way out? Is no one looking for me? I am now halfway to the boxes.


There before me it loomed taller and wider than even the larger box beside it. Oh, I don’t want to touch it. My flesh crawls at the thought of it, my finger cleave at my clothes irritating my skin beneath. There is something in there, some kind of monster. I can’t go through with this, I can’t.


I fall tremulous before it, exerting all my power I attempt to keep my hands from rising. But what have they done to me. Am I a human anymore? Or am I just a beast, an animal programmed by fear and want, with the deep desire for reward and peace. The latter two they take from me at their will when I need motivation and the former, they impress to drive me the rest of the way.


I don’t want to. I don’t want to. Someone please stop this. My finger’s part from my clothing drained of their natural color from the tension of my former grip. If I could stop myself, I would. They’ve driven me here to near madness without giving me the pleasure of knowing true insanity. I wish I were.


My fingers touch the outside lid. A zinging, hot, vibration pulls up my nerves into my head. I can’t move for a long moment, sweat, something made of cold horror floods my skin, turning it sticky. No. No. No. I can feel the top pulling up, the vacuum suction of the lid fighting against me. I mustn’t raise it. I mustn’t. I mustn’t.


I could feel it come free, my eyes fixated on the dark thread, the line showing the separation. I had done it, all I had to do was move the lid and look inside. That it. That it. My eyes close, my eyelids turning to hard dense walls of flesh between me and that enemy before me. It is almost over. It’s almost over.


I open my eyes and I am in a room with others. They don’t understand what I just saw, none of them would believe it if I told them. What am I to them? If I said something they would say I had made it up. It was a part of the trauma. It would be nice if it was that. The idea makes everyone feel much safer.


How many years had I spent like that? Too many. I pull down the sleeve of my jacket. Those who care for me believe, but who are we? Conspiracy theorists. Yes, be happy in your imaginary world of peace and tranquility where nothing bad happens and you need fear no one. Say I made everything up. That what I saw wasn’t real. It doesn’t matter if you believe me.


Cover your eyes and imagine you’re a child where everything wicked and wrong with the world stops existing because you can’t see it. Yes, continue as you are.


For me, I can’t forget what happened, or what they’ve done. And I’ll do my best to see that everyone remembers, even if they think it was just some morbid dream invented by insanity, or some remote happening that could never touch them.



End



Thank you so much for reading everyone!!



Prompt Sentence: His seven-layer cake only had six layers


Word Count: 1372


©DecemberKnight 2023


Special thanks to Drew Beamer from Unsplash for the use of the image!


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