Alive and Kicking
Have you ever noticed that things go wrong in threes – weird, isn’t it? In the space of a month, three things of yours might break down. Sometimes it takes less than that and, perhaps in the best cases, more. Occasionally, each issue is worse than the one previous. Whatever happens, it’s always threes.
About a week after where Mercy left off, my third problem presented itself. Aiden seemed truly out to get me.
“Ah! Miss Watts, we need to have a serious conversation.”
Doc’s tone of voice grabbed me by the ear. Way to initiate a conversation.
I paused and faced him a moment. “Haven’t we already had several?” I asked, gritting my teeth.
What could he possibly want now? I’d done this kind of thing for the last hour, in talk therapy with the others.
“It’s about something else”, he called after me, for I had resumed walking.
“And if I don’t want to talk?”
“Then we’ll have a shouting match in this very room, if that’s what it takes!” His voice rose, as if to show he’d make good on his word.
‘He’s going to keep a promise? That's a change’, Mercy commented. ‘What am I missing though? Oh… yes, he’s the one who said that shouting solves nothing.’
I couldn’t help myself; I smirked at the double dose of irony. Of course, now was precisely the wrong time for a private joke.
“This is what I’m talking about”, said Doc. “Grow up!” The words stopped me in my tracks.
‘Tell him to stop it’, Mercy laughed, ‘this is killing m-he-e.’ She burst into hysterical giggles.
“You’re sixteen”, said Doc earnestly, beckoning me to come closer. Sixteen…. It hit me like a wave of freezing surf. I’d spent longer in here, incarcerated, than in the real world.
“You ought to know better than to take your imaginary friends seriously by now. They’re not real - am I getting through to you at all?”
“Wouldn’t you like to possess the imagination to guess what’s really going on in my head?” I retorted scornfully. “Besides, when have I ever gotten through to you?”
“Come with me…” He cut off the exchange, soon to make me eat my words.
I guess I should have seen it coming.
I’m not sure what about it made me follow him. Doing so seemed the most sensible option, but simultaneously, I was asking myself what could be more idiotic.
A few minutes later, we turned down a (rare) unfamiliar corridor, my outlooks dimming along with the strobe lights above. I noted that they were older than the rest of the fluorescents. Had no one been down here?
The corridor’s entrance was so easily missed it felt more like a secret passageway. Where it led, I had no clue…
“Where are we going?” I asked, hoping my voice wasn’t shaking as much as my body. I rubbed my arms to warm them as we came to rest outside a heavy looking door.
‘I don’t want to stick around and see what’s behind it’, said Mercy. She wasn’t the only one.
He unlocked the door, held it and motioned for me to go in. The walls were lined with what looked like really deep, silver pigeon holes, which blended seamlessly with the clinical colour scheme. Immediately I noticed a faint but distinct rotten smell, like compost, but worse, hanging in the air.
“What is that?” I asked him, disgusted.
I leant on the metal lockers a moment, reeling back when I discovered they were ice cold to the touch. In the next moment it clicked; the smell had increased as I neared the lockers, and they were overly frigid.
‘Like - like on purpose’, stuttered Mercy. ‘Something is purposefully being kept in these locker things, something that needs to be kept cool’, she said, the pieces falling into place for her too.
‘A morgue – seriously? I had no idea they even had one’, said Mercy with chagrin that wavered until it became a note of fear. ‘Last I checked, we’re alive, so can we go now?’
The same thought crossed my mind as I backed across the morgue. Doc blocked the door menacingly.
“I – I don’t like this”, I simpered, hoping to evoke some sympathetic reaction.
He still looked ready to jump me. “I doubted you would”, he replied, turning me by the shoulders so I was facing away from the door. “You can run but you can’t hide”, he whispered in my ear, making the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.
‘Ha bloody ha’, said Mercy. ‘Bite me!’ Sometimes I was glad that I was the only one who could hear her.
I was too paralysed with fear to even think coherently anymore, let alone do anything.
At that point, some survival instinct kicked in; I managed to shrug off the doctor’s hands and I stood unsupported. After rebalancing, I darted round him.
It looked like I would be running after all…
Calmly, he prised my fingers away from the door that I’d not long reached. He pulled me with him by the wrist towards the middle of the room.
Still running on adrenaline, I kicked, screamed and struggled against him but it would take more than that to save me. Next I knew, he let go of me and I was cast to the cold floor, dazed. What was to happen to me next?
“You can’t have a place like this without some… casualties”, he said conspiratorially. “It simply must stay quiet though. Don’t wish to – ah – alarm anybody.” Translation: don't breathe a word.
That made two of us with secrets, then. Two of us… more alike than it seemed; I couldn’t tell if this was actually good or bad.
‘Takes one to know one’, said Mercy in a sing song voice. She had rested her case.
Suddenly I became hyper-aware as he began walking away. The door handle made a definitive sound as he twisted it that I scrambled to greet. However, my feet still wouldn’t carry me fast enough, not even with the spur of hope.
The door’s locking sounded as if it had been amplified a hundredfold and felt like a slap in the face. I thought better of kicking the door, despite my exasperation, but I couldn’t stop a bottled up cry from escaping.
The lights winked, leering, taunting me with an opportunity I couldn’t take. What are you going to do about it? they mocked. You should’ve fought back. When they shut off altogether, having had out their joke, I got an eerie feeling like the place was in league with him.
‘Come on!’ growled Mercy.‘Seriously?’ The chagrin was back.
‘How did it get to this?’ she sighed. ‘He despises you so much, he’ll do anything to keep you here. How that works when he clearly can’t stand the sight of you, I’ll never know.’
‘What I don’t understand is how he shows no remorse whatsoever’, I replied, grateful for the distraction. ‘He couldn’t feel sorry for his own flesh and blood if they were in here. He’s so… detached.’
‘And to think he’s in the midst of a bunch of sociopaths’, said Mercy. Again, I got the impression she found this quite funny. All the while, I tried to ignore the pitch darkness and the nauseating thought of the corpses in the walls.
Mercy had very little left to say, apart from ‘It takes one to know one - I told you so.’