DISCLAIMER: Graphic violence, some may find disturbing. Please keep this in mind if you chose to continue reading, though I doubt it’s any worse than your average TV show. (Walking Dead anyone? Num num.)
This is a short story that I started working on 9 months ago and rediscovered just today. The ending is cheap I know, it’s still a WOP… mostly because I have no idea where to take it from here, especially after losing it for so long. Anyway, hope you enjoy regardless, and as always, I welcome comments.
“Fine. We’ll go with the broken finger, let’s say.. the sixth one from the left, counting from your pinky.”
“Fantastic.” I spread out my hands in front of me. They rested like miniature pink sausages on the chilly metal counter top. The spindly veins fascinated me.
“One, two, three,” he made a show of counting each digit starting from my left pinky, touching lightly, “four, five,” the blue plastic gloves he wore left traces of fine white power, dusted like ash on the fine hairs of my fingers, “six.”
“Ah, here we are. Ready?” He grinned at me. I couldn’t see his eyes behind the dark round glasses he wore.
I shivered with excitement. “Ready.” My shoulders tensed. My fingers spread further apart. Tendons jumped up from their fleshy beds.
Bending from the waist, he reached below the desk separating us. His hand explored an area I could not see, his chin hovering near the edge of the desk. His nostrils left damp circles that appeared and receded with every breath. After a moment he withdrew a hammer, made of the same shimmering metal as the surface my pale hands now flexed upon. He examined it momentarily, testing the weight, feeling what texture he could behind the gloves and opaque glasses.
Satisfied, he rose up, over six feet in height, muscles coiling, hammer high above his head- and brought the instrument savagely down upon my finger, sixth from the left, counting from my pinky.
Simultaneously I heard and felt the crack of dry wood, the wet splash of a rock thrown in water, a sucking sound as metal tore back from flesh. A fire, hot, searing, spread from my mangled thumb.
I shrieked. The air left my lungs in a whoosh. The room faded. I lost consciousness.
As I struggled to open my eyes, I heard him speak. “Delightful, absolutely delightful. Don’t you agree? You even fainted. How superb.”
I endeavored to right myself, meaning to speak, to agree, but only managed a shaky sigh.
He hooked a hand under my armpit, hauling me to my feet.
Crimson blood spattered the metal counter top, which was now a distance of six or so feet further from than it had been. Or was that me? I stared as the vivid liquid pooled, coiled, then fled to the floor. Droplets had even been dashed onto the wall behind the desk. They stared at me from the white surface, like inflamed red eyes.
“You’ll need to visit the infirmary now of course.”
“Of course.” I echoed. My head felt hollow and light. I smiled at him. I could still feel a throbbing, burning sensation spreading from my right thumb, sixth finger from the left, that spread through my hand and up my arm. Like an army of fire ants eating my flesh. I dwelt upon the agony, studying it. Savoring it.
He led me, hand still entrenched in my armpit, to the door and down the hall. Our footsteps barely echoed in the sound deadening corridor.
We reached a new door, identical to the dozen or so we’d passed; gleaming white metal, brass handle. We didn’t bother knocking, the door opened for us as soon as we stood outside it.
“I’ll leave you now, come back later if it pleases you.”
“Oh, it would,” I turned to him, “but I’m out of credits.”
“I see.” He smiled. It twisted his face strangely. Or perhaps it was the lighting. “Good day then.”
I turned away and did not see him go.
Cool air blasted my face, sweeping back my short hair. I stepped inside. White walls surrounded me, closer than I’d expected, laced with intricate black webbing. Circuitry.
“Good morning 2 8 5, how are you?” A disembodied voice asked in a pleasing neutral tone, neither male nor female.
I raised my hands to my face, they still shook. Blood, my blood I thought with wonder, covered the right. My thumb was nothing more than a mangled stump of meat, tipped with pink white bone.
“I see. Allow me to fix that for you.” An almost imperceptible shift in the lighting. Did it darken? It passed so quickly I could not tell. “Hold your hand out for me please.”
I did as I was told.
“Good. Now close your eyes, please 2 8 5.”
I closed my eyes. Did I feel nervous? Impossible. I should only feel what I’d been allotted. Perhaps it was only an after effect, induced by the pain.
The air around my damaged hand heated. I heard a sound like the reverse echo of what I’d felt when the hammer came down. Rock coming out of water, twig snapping back on to tree. The fire ants receded. And then… I felt complete. I opened my eyes.
“Good day.” The room went dark.
I turned, and left through the same door I’d come in, flexing my hands beside me. All feelings had subsided.
“2 8 5, please return to designated working area.” A different disembodied voice spoke above me.
I did as I was told.