Please vote for the piece you feel is most deserving:

Poll closed Jan 1, 2012.
  1. JohnLaylian - His Own Peace

    1 vote(s)
  2. picklzzz - Juicy

    1 vote(s)
  3. LucifersAngel - Science vs Man

    0 vote(s)
  4. mootz - Darkness

    3 vote(s)
  5. Tessie - Drop Dead

    1 vote(s)
  6. TheDude2002 - A Late Night Dream

    1 vote(s)
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  1. Gannon

    Gannon Contributor Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England

    Voting Short Story Contest 107: Cryogenic Accident

    Discussion in 'Monthly Short Story Contest Archives' started by Gannon, Dec 19, 2011.

    Voting Short Story Contest (107) Theme: Cryogenic Accident

    Thank you for all your entries. The winner will be stickied until the next contest's winner is crowned. No more entries are allowed in this contest.

    Voting will end Sunday 2nd January to give you all a chance to read the entries.

    It is possible to vote for yourself, but I would hope in the name of good sportsmanship that you would only do so if you have read all the other stories and given them your honest evaluation. You gain nothing if you base your vote solely on how you feel about the author or whether you have personally invested time and effort in the story. In the end, your conscience is your only judge.

    Any entries under or over the suggested word limit will be flagged as such - they are still entered in to the contest. It is for you to decide whether they are still worthy of your vote.

    Any entry not in accordance with the theme will be dealt with on a case by case basis to determine eligibility. Consider how the author has responded to the theme in making your decision.

    Good luck to everyone
  2. Gannon

    Gannon Contributor Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    John Laylian - His Own Peace

    It was dark, dry, and quiet.

    He was laying down on a hard, sleek, and cold surface, and its cool sensation seeped through what appeared to be a thin rag of clothing that he seemed to be wearing.

    It took several moments for his senses to take in his surroundings. He did not know where he was; he could only move his limbs just barely enough to touch the walls surrounding him. All he could find out was that he was enclosed in a small horizontal tube-like chamber that only left him few inches to maneuver.

    Maybe it was his dazedness that allowed him to ignore a bout of claustrophobia. Maybe it was his hunger. Maybe it was his weak body. Or maybe it was a dull pain from his head.

    He could barely think at all, and his mind seemed to be willing to be pulled back into the darkness again. Then, he heard a great rumble from underneath him, shaking the entire chamber. Aside from the sound of his breath, that was the first sound ever that he had heard after regaining his consciousness.

    Then he was struck with sudden weightlessness.

    The chamber began to fall, or at least he felt it fall. His face was crushed to the top wall of chamber as his inertia carried him upward. It all took but a moment for the chamber to stop falling; however, the impact of hitting the ground also made the man crash hard onto the floor of the chamber, launching him around the small container like a bouncing ragdoll. The crash was followed by more rumbling sound, and he heard numerous other heavy crashing sounds around him. It was as if he was placed in middle of a fault line.

    Then, as quickly as they started, the quakes stopped. The man was crunched into the bottom of the chamber, which was now vertically upside-down. The chamber then fell flat with a grumbling groan, launching the man out of his impossible position.

    With a crack, the chamber swung open to the side; the crash had apparently damaged the locks, and he was blinded by the sudden surge of light. It was not bright at all; however, to the man whose eyes were so accustomed to the darkness of abyss, it was too much to handle. He barely had enough strength to shield his eyes; even the adrenaline rush from the fall wasn't enough to return his strength. With a small groan, he used all his strength to roll out of the chamber. When he looked up, he saw that it had the number twelve on it.

    Outside the chamber, he was surrounded by the rubbles and similar chambers that were inscribed with different numbers, all cracked and broken. Above him, there was a giant hole that went through two floors. Laying on his back with his limbs widespread, the man tentatively turned his head around to see his surroundings. He was in some kind of lobby; the place had high ceiling, and glass double door entrance from which light with red tinge entered. Opposite of him was a... skull.

    Even after the brief moment during which he recognized what it was, he did not flinch away from it, even though it was only a few inches away from him. For reasons unknown to himself, he simply accepted it. He then heard a crunch, and when he looked up, his body was greeted with a mass of skeletons that fell out of a vertical chamber that had cracked open from the fall. Bones pummeled his face, shoulders, and chest. He was too dazed to fend them off, and even after the crash, he let the bones stay on top of him.

    ================================================== ===================================

    "Are you sure about this?" The doctor had asked, "I have said this before, and I'll say it again; the results are too unpredictable. I shouldn't be saying this as the chief of the experiment, but you will be placed in a high risk."

    "It's fine," the man had said, "A cornered man can't be afraid of anything." It was a normal, usual morning; nothing was unusual about the world. The 'doctor' looked him closely in the eyes.

    "Failing in journalism is nothing you should be worried about. Morally, I think it's even a good thing."

    "Let's not go there, Doc."

    "Let me ask you, son," Doctor continued, "Do you think failing in journalism is enough for you to... contribute to the scientific society?"

    "Wouldn't that actually be a contribution to the entire mankind, then?"

    "I was referring to rats, son, except that you are doing this willingly."

    "Look, Doc Eisler," the man paused momentarily, then continued: "What would you do if you became unable to do any scientific work, yet there was that one opportunity that could bring you back to that work?"

    "Then it's easy. I would pass up on that opportunity. Becoming incompetent in my work in first place would mean that I am done with this field of work. Continuing on would waste others' time."

    "Then you and I are different human beings, then."

    "That should've been clear the moment you saw me, son."

    "Then I'll have it known that I have no intention of giving up on MY field of work, Doc. No other journalists have attempted in cryostasis before. I would be the first of my kind. Do you know how much prestige that gives to a journalist? I thought you would understand because I, just like you, am venturing into the unknown." The two men faced each other, their resolves unwavering. "Please place me in that chamber, Doctor Eisler."

    Silence followed, and after a moment, it was Doc Eisler who broke first. "Lay down on the tube number 12," Doc said, "I'll hold responsibility for whatever will happen to you."

    "Thank you," After a pause, he continued, somewhat ironically: "I'll make sure to mention you when I wake up." He then positioned himself on the tube-like container inscribed with the number 12. Dr. Eisler came over to close the chamber. Looking down, he said:

    "You probably won't see your family again,"

    "I have none."

    Dr. Eisler closed the lid. The night fell.

    ================================================== ===================================

    The man half-crawled and half-walked toward the entrance to the outside. He did not knew why; he knew no purpose. The goal of reaching outside was implanted within his mind, telling him, urging him, to move outside the stale smell of unrecognizable chemicals, outside the dark catacomb. Like a moth attracted to light, he followed the shimmering rays from beyond. However, each of his steps were heavy, and it looked as if the double doors were moving further away from him.

    Small stream of blood had been flowing from back of his head, seeping through the aged white cotton cap he wore. The pain on the back of his head was greater than ever; it seemed like he had hit the surface of the chamber too hard when it fell down two stories.

    Other pains also began returning to him starting from his knees. The stinging sensation from scrapes and abrasions were the first, then it was the aching and cramps of the muscles, then strangling sensation inside the head. As he neared source of light that illuminated the vast lobby of the building, these pains worsened. With each step, he felt his visions wane, not only from adjustment to the light but also the overwhelming burden of his body.

    Right step. Left step. Fall. Drag right knee. Left step. Stand. Right step. Left Step. The end looked distant; everything looked distant.

    However, he was near; he could extend his hands and touch the thick glass revolving doorways, but he could not find the strength to do so; instead, he fell through it. The revolving door not only gave way, but also pushed him out. His own momentum carried him outside.

    What he felt other than the pain was heat.

    However, it was not the soft warmth; it was scorching heat. There was neither the smell of morning dew nor the smell of wind in the sunset.

    Red. He saw everything under a red overlay. Red. The sky was red, the buildings were red, and he himself was red.

    Storm. The sky roared as if there was a thunderstorm. Winds blew as if there was a tornado. Clouds opened up in circles in several places as if there was a hurricane.

    Then he saw such forces of artificial terrors that he had never seen before, even before he lost his memories. He saw the great clouds of destruction rising in the distance. Not one, but a dozen, all circling the small dot he was. The tall buildings crumbled one by one before them, revealing more of the great clouds that soon took the shapes of giant mushrooms. It was as if the God himself had planted spores of destruction. The blossoming clouds soon overwhelmed those around them, consuming, absorbing.

    His weak body shook like a grass under such force, and he fell to the ground, letting the oblivion take him as the world collapsed around him.

    The morning sun was rising.

    ================================================== ===================================

    This wasn't the future he wanted.

    He did not go to sleep for this. He did not sacrifice his life for this. He did not run away from his family for this.

    Cold. It was the first word that came to his mind. When Journalist Jeff Riddler woke up, he had expected to be faced with bright lights of cameras, more journalists like himself begging for his stories, polices holding back the commotion, and doctors looking down on him in worry, checking his vital signs and such. Instead, he was greeted with a dull ceiling, dark room lit with only sunlight, and the same Everlast clock that he had slept to showing that he had woken up several decades later than scheduled.

    When he looked around, there was nothing but a graveyard around him, both figuratively and literally. Even the smell reminded him of graveyard, except without smell of soils. To his horror, he saw skeletons inside the cryostasis chambers similar to those around him. Some chambers, however, seemed to be functional enough that some had actually preserved the body to similar to that of a mummy. His chamber, however, was still lit and functional, the number twelve lit like a neon sign.

    The scene gave him a small, brief rush of adrenaline just enough to allow him to move out of the chamber. He did not know how he had not met the fate of the others in the chambers around him. Maybe he was just pure lucky.

    However, according to the sounds outside, he was no more lucky as the individuals inside the chambers. Looking outside the building, he saw what looked like a part of a civil war: civilians were fighting on two sides with small arms, with no law enforcements in sight. No one seemed to care that a person woke up from decades-long cryogenic sleep. If he was right, no one even remembered, and, looking at state of the laboratory, he had no credibility.

    He said he would never regret going into cryostasis. Was he regretting it now? Regretting that he had woken up at wrong time?

    No, he answered himself. He did not regret going into cryogenic sleep. If anything, he was gleeful from the opportunity; journalists had most influence during a conflict, especially if he or she was covering it in first person.

    As he began descending the building, he saw that all the securities were gone, locked doors open. It seemed that the cryostasis chamber had done a good job of keeping him alive somehow; with each step, he slowly gained what meager strength he had in him. The sounds of combats grew louder and louder until he could hear the people's voices clearly. When he reached the lobby, he saw that it was still intact; no walls have crumbled, and its glass panes and entrances only had minor cracks as if they were bulletproof. He then saw a man crawling through the entrance, injured by the conflict. When he hurried over, he saw that the man was injured, his head bleeding from the back. Jeff took off his hospital cotton hat over the man's head to provide at least some degree of protection from infection and further injury.

    However, the man's state looked bad; while he was not suffering shock from bleeding, his head seemed to have suffered a brief but extreme trauma. The wound did not seem to have been caused by a bullet; it was more likely that he fell on a rock or similar hard, edged object. Jeff debated on whether to leave the man there or not, then decided that he had a better idea.

    With what small strength he could muster, he lifted the man up, supporting him up with his shoulder and arm. With agonizing steps, he traced his route back to the cryostasis lab. The steps of the staircase looked taller and longer. He did not stop, however, for he was not one to leave things half-done. Step by step he ascended, until he reached the lab and the Chamber 12 again. He laid the man and closed the lid of the tube, locking it in place. The chamber was probably programmed to automatically begin the cryogenic process once the lid was closed; an almost colorless gas began to seep into the tube almost instantly, and the man fell fast asleep. Holographic displays appeared on the tube's lid that had now gone from transparent to opaque, showing the man's vital signs. As if lacking adequate power, the display occasionally blinked.

    He may have just put the man to his death. However, he felt that it was better than to leave him in the lobby, where it was uncertain whether he would be left behind or caught by an opposing faction. It would be better for the man to have a chance of escaping this conflict. Jeff had no right whatsoever to impose his thoughts upon a stranger, and he knew this. He just felt that at least one man deserved to have peace forced upon him.

    Jeff turned around and threw away his own peace. He never looked back.
  3. Gannon

    Gannon Contributor Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    picklzzz - Juicy

    The glare of the stage lights blinded me as I peered out through the convex glass of my new home. I’d moved around so much in my short life, from the Winthrop Vine to the crate to the truck, and then aboard a freight train for a long while, it was hard to tell which end was up. Now I was here, wherever that was.

    It usually took awhile to get my bearings after suddenly being thrust into a new environment. Eventually, I could figure out my location, and so far, I was still alive and kicking no matter where they put me. Sure, nothing was ever going to be like home, but on my journey, I’d learned many new things and grew a lot stronger. Overall, nothing had been too bad. Not yet, anyway.

    The others I huddled with whispered that our fate would soon be determined, but I heeded their musings with a grain of salt. My kind was always speculating about things, since we were sent to so many different places so frequently. My mother said we were a bunch of gossips, and at the time I didn’t even know what that meant. Now, I certainly understood, and so I didn’t allow myself to get all worked up like the others. I waited patiently, albeit a bit nervously, as those around me were plucked up one by one and sliced into pieces. I burrowed my head under some of those who remained when the sounds of screaming became unbearable.

    I slipped over to the other side of our transparent holding cell. The lights were not as bright there, so I could see a bit better. A swarm of frenzied activity had ensued. Flour was misting the air as those in floppy white hats floundered about holding sharp knives. I waited with baited breath to see if someone would get stabbed. I heard shouts, curse words muttered in low tones, and other odd sounds I couldn’t quite identify. Out of nowhere, a loud voice from above drowned out all the commotion.

    “Welcome back to the Fourth Annual Dixie County Bake-off! We are a few minutes into phase three, and the four finalists have only forty-five minutes to create their signature desserts for the esteemed panel of judges. We have Mayor French of Boynton, who seems mesmerized by Chef Ambrose as he whips meringue by hand in a metal bowl. Food critic Marcel Deveraux has his eyes glued to Chef Montana as she fills cupcake tins with a lush, reddish batter. We also have with us Michele Parnot, the winner from last year. We’ll meet all the judges and contestants when we return. Stay tuned for a word from our sponsors.”

    The whispering around me increased in intensity. I tried to ignore them, but it was impossible.

    “We’re done for!” someone hissed. “They’re going to do away with us before you know it!”

    “What do you mean?” a little one whined, and he burst into tears before even hearing the answer.

    “You’re going to be part of a milkshake. I can tell you that right now. All the little ones are used for that. Or to make ice cream. Us bigger ones, well, we never know where we’ll end up. But, you’re not very ripe yet, so they can cover you in sugar and you’ll be just fine.”

    “Won’t I like that?” the little one asked. “I like sweets!”

    “Not when you’re blended into smithereens!” the larger one said.

    The little one clamped his eyes shut, wailing with fear.

    “Stop it this instant!” I shouted. Since I was by far the biggest of the bunch, everyone stopped to stare. “You don’t know what will happen, so why scare him like you have?”

    Before he could answer, he was plucked up from our group. We all rushed to the sides to see where he went. He was taken too far away. No one could tell in what fashion he met his demise.

    “Well, good riddance, anyway,” another near me said, and some laughed along with her. “We all know we’re meant to be enjoyed. How we get there is really arbitrary. It’s pretty pointless to discuss. We’re aware there may be some pain involved, but hopefully it’s minimal. The real test is whether we’re ripe and juicy enough. We’ll have realized our life’s goal if we’re able to create the pleasure we’re meant for. If not, well, you all know what happens.”

    “What?” the little one asked. Clearly, no one had told him that if you aren’t too great, you’ll be thrown away with the rest the trash. And who would want to spend eternity with some smelly old fish bones?

    My parents had told me the same thing way back when I was white with just a little green fringe collar, sitting under a leaf to hide from the scorching sun. Papa had taken me aside after our afternoon misting and told me that he was infected by a fungus and wouldn’t be around much longer. He wanted to help me to understand my role in life and what I should aspire to become. At the time, I wanted to play with the others, bobbing on my vine to hit the bigger ones, our version of the game “tag”. But, when Mama came over and made me pay attention by blocking the view of my friends, I had no choice but to listen.

    “Little Red,” my father had said with a serious look in his eyes. “You’re just a wee thing right now, and everything seems so fun and carefree. But, Son, it won’t always be this way. I’m not going to be here soon, and your mother may be going away too.”

    I looked at her in alarm, hoping he was joking as he sometimes did, but she shook her head sadly. “It’s true, my darling. I’m almost at my full size, and when that happens, you just get taken. We don’t know where, but Uncle Straw and Aunt Berry, they were gone just like that when they’d matured enough. I’ve seen countless others vanish, right with the truck that roars away every week or so.”

    “But –“ I protested. Tears sprung to my eyes.

    “There’s no use getting upset. This is what your destiny is.”

    “To be an orphan?” I cried, trying to push past Mama and go hang with the others. I didn’t want any more part in this conversation. It was just too depressing.

    “No,” Mama said, holding herself taut on her vine so I couldn’t move her. “Now stop fussing and listen!”

    I slumped back on my stem, my skin bristling with anger and defeat. “Fine, talk away. See if I care.”

    My father sighed. “I know this is tough and you want to go play. But, what I say now will prove to be very important to you.”

    “I’m listening,” I said, looking down at my cousins swirling around on the vine below us. The workers had started up the noon music selection, compliments of WJFP, All Oldies, All the Time, and although it wasn’t my favorite station, it sure beat sitting here getting some sort of lecture or whatever.

    My father started talking, but his voice was drowned out by everyone’s favorite song, Strawberry Fields Forever by the Beatles, which came blasting through the speakers. I didn’t know why those pesky bugs could sing like that, because mostly they crawled all over us and were real slimy and creepy. But, they sure could belt it out, and although I was supposed to be listening to Papa, I couldn’t help but bop my head to the beat.

    “Little Red, you’re never going to amount to anything if you don’t pay attention,” my father said sternly, and I tried my best to focus on him. With eyes all around my body, it was just too difficult to tune out all the others swaying to the music.

    “Fine, son, go play with your friends, but this discussion will continue tonight.”

    My father hadn’t made it that long. He’d started turning a brownish color shortly before the sun disappeared over the horizon. Mama had said through her tears that it was from the fungus. As we hovered near his vine, he tried in vain to utter his last words. My mother told him to save his breath because she would tell me everything he wanted me to know. Soon, one of the workers came by and took him. That was the last I ever saw of him.

    As we huddled together in the moonlight, crying for our loss, Mama told me how it was. She said I wanted to do everything I could, including getting good nutrition and plenty of exercise, so that I would grow up to be as big and juicy as possible. The sweeter and plumper I could become, the more I could be enjoyed by others. The bar was set pretty high, but Mama said she had faith that I could reach it if I tried hard enough.

    So, from then on until I was plucked from the vine and sent to my new home, I did my very best. Even after Mama was taken and my sister got leaf blight, I continued to do my daily exercises, chasing bugs up and down the vines and doing ten reps of five swings an hour to every neighbor I could. I did become a little annoying, I’m sure, but I just needed as much cardio as possible. I dredged up the soil with all the vitamins as often as I could, which helped me to grow big and strong. When they sprayed us with the pesticides, I took them in even though they didn’t taste very good. I used to shake them off when I was younger. Mama said if I didn’t get enough, the Beatles and ants and roaches may eat me when I least expected.

    Now, I was the biggest of the bunch, and although I wasn’t sure where I’d end up, I hoped I could do what Mama said I should. I wanted to make someone very satisfied.


    Before I could ponder my destiny further, a large, fleshy hand scooped me up along with a few others and carried us across the room. I looked out on a sea of faces as they stared back with glazed eyes. A few yawned. I guess our journey wasn’t very exciting to them.

    “What’s Chef Marmour doing with those berries?” the overhead voice boomed. “I think he’s going to dip them. Mmm, makes my mouth water.”

    I saw some of those in the audience perk up a bit. Before I knew it, I felt warm all over. My eyes were all covered, except those near my green fringe collar. It was difficult to make sense of what was happening.

    “Getting dipped in chocolate is one of the best things that could happen to you.” Mama’s voice came out of nowhere, echoing in my ears, reminding me that I was indeed on my way to the top. My new coat felt all thick and luxurious, seeping into my pores and making me feel full.

    I was gingerly set down on my back to bask in the glow of the stage lights. I looked to a few others near me, and they were also covered in brown. From the way Mama had described it, I think we were definitely wrapped in a decadent chocolate. Things were really looking up!

    One of those in a floppy hat came by and blew air over us. My new coat was a little stifling, but after a few more passes of the cooling breeze, it became more bearable. I tried to roll over to see what the others were doing, but suddenly, my movements were restricted. I felt stiff all over. I didn’t like this, even if Mama said a chocolate coat was a good thing.

    I could see someone near me struggling to turn too. I was going to lean over, if I could manage, and whisper a joke to her, just to lighten the mood, but those fleshy hands were on me again. I felt my backside peel away from where I was laying, exposing a part of me that I didn’t quite wish to share with others. How embarrassing! Before I could complain too much, something was tickling my underside. I giggled.

    After a few seconds of the hands whirling me around in a ride better than the best vine at home, the new chocolate patch on my backside hardened. I sighed with relief.


    I was gently lowered into a new place. I looked around and soon found a few of my friends similarly donning new chocolate coats that complimented their green collars.

    “Hey,” I said to a girl near me who swayed a bit as she tried to steady herself.

    “How’s it going?” she said, bracing against the wall. “What is this place?”

    I shrugged, almost breaking my new coat. “No idea. Seems exciting though. I like the shiny silvery walls.”

    “Yeah, they’re pretty.”

    Before we could continue, a blast of something exploded from overhead.

    “What was that?” I tried to ask. My teeth chattered violently instead, and it came out all choppy.

    Another blast, then another, and even though my new coat had been almost too warm before, now I couldn’t stop from shivering. A strange white haze swirled around me.

    “We’re being frozen!” someone called out.

    “So quickly?” another asked.

    “Yeah. It’s this thing they use sometimes. It’s called liquid nitrogen. Freezes us in an – “

    He couldn’t finish what he was saying. No one could talk because our lips wouldn’t move. It wasn’t the most comfortable feeling in the world, but it didn’t really hurt or anything. For some reason, with all the uncertainty that day, I was so braced for pain, any other new sensation paled in comparison.


    Soon, we were taken one by one out of the shiny place and back to our glass dome. I was all set to settle in with the others when the hand scooped me up and dropped me onto a very hard surface. My new friends watched in horror as I shattered apart into several pieces.

    “No!” I cried. I knew no one could hear me. I thought I had it made, being covered in chocolate after working so hard to become so ripe and juicy. And now I was there, in front of everyone, fractured beyond repair.

    I wept pitifully, knowing I had disappointed my parents who were surely watching from wherever they were. “I’m sorry,” I whispered. “I did everything you said. But, somehow I was dropped. I’m sure it was an accident, but nonetheless, I won’t be able to satisfy anyone with the shape I’m in.”

    A soft breeze blew over me, and I imagined Mama was comforting me as I tried to figure out what had happened. Maybe my new coat was too slippery. Or I was so big that I was too heavy to carry. Or maybe one of those hostile ones from the glass house tripped the one with the hands and made him drop me. I didn’t know what to think.

    The loud voice from overhead interrupted my scattered musings. “We’re nearing the end of the bake-off. The pressure is on! Thirty seconds to go!”

    I felt all my parts at once being scooped up and carried across the room. One part of me was placed atop a soft cushion. Then, another part of me was arranged on another velvety pad. Soon, each part of me was posed on triangular spongy things, and although I was still upset over being shattered and not being able to live up to the lofty goals my parents had set, the new luxurious digs admittedly were pretty nice.

    “Three, two, one! Time’s up! Everyone, stop baking and bring your plates over to the judges.” The overhead voice prompted the hands to take all the parts of me on each of the springy wedges to the judges’ table.

    As each judge bit into me, they exclaimed with awe how delectable I was. Even though I was in a bunch of pieces, they still seemed to like me!


    When I joined Mama at my final home, on a new vine surrounded by white, billowy puffs, she hugged me. “You’ve surpassed my wildest expectations!” she said.

    Somehow, I was whole again. I looked down at myself, noticing my chocolate coat had vanished and exposed my naked redness. It felt good to be me again, there with Mama embracing me. I looked over her shoulder, and my sister was rolling alongside Papa towards us.

    I looked away from him, shame reddening me further. “I’m afraid I did no such thing. I failed miserably, in fact. I really tried though, if that counts for anything.”

    “Don’t you see?” my father asked, nudging my shoulder. “You didn’t just make one person happy with your juiciness. You were somehow able to make a whole group of people ecstatic because you tasted so great! And, if that weren’t enough, you caused your baker to win the competition with his chocolate strawberry cheesecake! You should be very proud of yourself.”

    I smiled at him. He looked so much better than when I’d seen him last. The color had returned to his cheeks and his top stem was restored to a shiny green. “Can I go play now?” I asked.

    My father laughed. “All your hard work is over. You can play as long as you want. It’s strawberry fields forever!”

    I giggled and swung away with my sister in pursuit, hoping to catch a good game of hide-and-seek with my newly-found lost friends.
  4. Gannon

    Gannon Contributor Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    LucifersAngel - Science vs Man

    No one could have foreseen the events of E- day. After all, how in the world does one predict the downfall of mankind?

    Emily's day had started the way so many had before it. With a series of whirs and whispers. Her room sprang to life as the computer groggily awoke from it's slumber.

    "Miss, miss. Are you awake?"

    A snort flew out of Emily's nose, breathing deeply she rolled over. "Just another five minutes."
    She stretched an aching arm, millions of pin prick like sensations tumbled down the limb, bringing it back to life.

    "Miss, miss. I must urge you to get up. You are already behind schedule."

    A soft groan, followed swiftly by a long yawn.

    "Sure, sure," another yawn, "Just another five minutes, okay?"

    Suddenly, the bed jumped up, as if something had startled it and sent a dazed Emily crashing to the floor.
    The impact of the blow sent an explosion of pain through her legs, not to mention she could have sworn her spine had been cracked.

    "Okay, I'm up now. Are you freaking happy now?" she asked, rubbing her thighs.

    "Miss, miss. You are going to be late. You are already behind schedule."

    "Computers," she huffed, her jaw clenching, "Don't value the importance of a good night's sleep."

    "Miss, miss-"

    "Yeah, yeah. Behind schedule. I'm going already!"

    To Emily's dismay, her enthusiastic helper had been correct. After taming her red curls, and peeling off a coat of plaque from her teeth, she barely had enough time to make it to the bus. The indignity of it all. Her. Emily Portstorme, daughter of the inventor Jonathon Portstorme, having to ride the bus like someone from the 20th century.

    She had once laughed at the notion, pointing to the picture in her dusty history book, while her friends giggled incessantly and proclaimed it "A tin full of losers."
    Everyone knew the proper way to go to school was via the Laser. Even if the cost was obscene. It was an odd sensation, to have a thousand lasers bounce off you, as you slowly melted away, only to appear at your desired location. No one exactly knew how the process worked, and as the inventors had died in 2040, no one was to ever find out. Emily did know one thing, however, the entire process left you feeling as though your stomach had turned upside down and your internal organs danced maniacally. It had taken 10 times before she could finish the process without emptying her upside down stomach, usually on an unsuspecting passerby. Thankfully, most people were understanding.

    Now, as she boarded the Bus, a run down beast, more rust than metal, she couldn't help but wonder, what her friends would say. Well, if they still talked to her, that was.
    Since her Father's income began to slow to a halt, Emily found herself less and less popular. Her once tight nit herd of supportive followers had turned their backs on her. At least now she knew who the fakers were.

    As the bus, or "Rust mobile" as Emily affectionately referred to it, puttered towards the school, Emily found herself drawn to the Laboratory. The Rust mobile almost always passed by the Lab, saving it's tiny fuel reserves as it cut out five unnecessary minutes, but Emily hadn't given it much thought. It was like all Labs in the city, tall, slender and dull grey. The building stood over 20 stories, every floor filled to capacity with tiny workstations. Each had a flurry of people in white coats, swooning over chemicals or attempting to create tiny little hail storms.

    She watched curiously as a tall elderly looking man, with twisted glasses, grinned in triumph, having successfully created a tiny storm cloud. It even spat out tiny lightning bolts.

    'Sheesh. Talk about playing with fire.'

    "What ya thinkin'?" a sheepish voice asked.

    Emily turned her head, right as the Rust mobile hit a shattered speed bump, causing it's contents to leap a foot high in the air.

    "Goddammit," she said, rubbing the back of her head where it had collided with the window. "If they're going to use the Bus, they should at least fix the road."

    Her companion grinned. "That would cost the Government too much moolah," he said in a matter of fact tone. "Besides, only us poor kidlings use this stupid contraption." He gave the side of the Rust mobile a hearty slap, causing some of the worn out metal to crumble.

    Emily watched as a shower of tiny flakes of rust, glided gracefully to the equally disintegrated floor. "I wish you wouldn't do that, Chazzy," she said, panic seeping into her tone. "Who knows when this piece of crap will give way. I'm actually amazed it has lasted this long."

    She ran a hand through her hair, and realized it was shaking.

    A smirk tugged at the corners of Chazzy's mouth, "Ah come on, Em," he leaned across her lap, and tapped on the glass. "If we do break down, I'm sure those Docs could give us a hand."
    He gave an enthusiastic wave at the robed figures.

    Emily sighed and poked him in the ribs. "Quit it, will ya. Geez, you're such the dorkness."

    Chazzy issued a hearty laugh, "Whateves ya recon." He slid back to his seat, and relaxed his sinewy muscles. "So, ya going to the Spitzmaster concert tonight?"

    Emily glanced at her best friend. He seemed more interested in the front cabin, his finger unconsciously twisting a lock of his golden hair, than her reply. But that was Chazzy, or Charles as was his birth name. Obviously intelligent, but possessed the attention span of a flea. He had been in Emily's life every step of the way. She even spent time with him during her popular phase, earning her judgmental whispers and curious stares.

    "I don't know."

    She shrugged when she received an incredulous look from Chazzy. "I mean, the 'Mominator' is in town, and you know how she feels about concerts."

    All she received was a "Pfft."

    The Rust mobile skidded to a halt, it's tires emitting a long squeal.

    "You have to come, Em" he said, a little more frantic than she expected.

    "Oh, he's going to be there, isn't he?"

    Chazzy's cheeks flushed a bright red. "Perhaps," he said, chewing on the end of his finger guiltily.

    Before Emily could say anything, he strolled out of the bus, his head cocked to one side. A definite sign that his mind was swimming in images of his latest crush.

    The day dragged on like every day. Here she was, trapped in the prison people called school. It didn't look too bad on the outside. A relatively short building, wearing a coat of white paint with pride. Hexagonal shaped windows, with clear glass, lined the walls. Of course, up close you could see the coat starting to fray. And the glass had tiny cracks from months of indifferent workers. It wasn't the worst school. But it was also the only school for one hundred miles. Somehow the Government thought that that would be convenient. Lord only knew why.

    Emily entered the class, her attention on the hologram board sitting in the front. She gave a curt nod to her teacher, who returned it and grabbed a worksheet off the table.
    As Emily sauntered toward her gleaming, steel chair, a peculiar thing caught her eye. Out of the window were clouds. Not clouds, exactly. They resembled blobs. Big blobs of charcoal black,which hovered toward the building. Then they seemed to shatter, sending little pieces of ash tumbling towards the ground. Emily squinted her hazel eyes. The sky was being devoured by the blobs.

    Within a few minutes, the normally blue sky, was covered in a blanket of darkness. More and more blobs of charcoal began to destroy themselves.

    Suddenly, a TV screen lowered itself from the steel covered ceiling. A man, in a grey and white suit, appeared with a stack of white paper.

    "If you have just tuned in," he began in a forced sincere tone, "It seems that the volcano Quasi has finally erupted."
    An image of the offending volcano materialized on screen. A relatively ordinary looking thing, puffing out the blobs of charcoal, like an old steam train.
    "Scientists have expected this for quite some time, as it was due to erupt in 2013, over 60 years ago. They have been baffled by it's very late eruption and are continuing to debate just what took volcano Quasi so long."

    As quickly as it had appeared, the TV made a hasty retreat towards the ceiling. In it's place a large blue light on the end of a stick had descended, wailing as the light spun around.

    "Warning. Warning. This is not a drill. This is not a drill."

    Emily's fellow students quickly went into riot mode. Some were screaming, some were jumping on top of desks, some were wearing masks of shock and some were even tugging at their hair. The teacher, a slim 20 year old woman with short spiky black hair, attempted to quell the crowd. Emily, however, knew exactly what she had to do.

    It had been many years ago, during her time in Primary school. A bulky man with silver hair and a large book had warned them all of a world wide disaster, apparently years overdue.

    "In case this happens in your lifetime," he had explained, he voice wavering as if he, himself, did not believe it. "You must make your way to your nearest cryogenics lab."

    He cleared his throat at two boys arguing in the corner, "The scientists will do the best they can to assign you to a cryogenics cylinder. But know that they are limited."

    What was not said was only the richest and most powerful families got first choice. Although, there was still hope for everyone else, as the obvious choice for the wealthy, would be to hop on the emergency rockets.

    With that in mind, Emily strolled out of class, not bothering to heed roll call, heading straight for the Cryogenic Laboratory. After all, she thought, the least of my problems is getting busted wagging. She silently hoped Chazzy would already be at one. He always figured things out five minutes before she did. Clinging to that thought, and assuring herself her friend was probably already waiting for her, she trudged on.

    The one thing the Government had done right, was make the cryogenic Labs very accessible. Not to mention numerous.

    You couldn't go five blocks in the city without passing one. Unfortunately, with the sky raining ash, it made breathing quite difficult. With an arm slung around her mouth, Emily made her way down the road.

    The streets were swimming with frantic people. Emily knew that, with the current lack of breathable oxygen, she would have to settle for the first cryogenics lab she cold make it to.

    It took her more than 10 minutes to make to the lab. She pushed herself through the throng of worried people, almost crushing her between their bodies. It was like an overcrowded mosh pit. Sweat and body odor surrounded her senses. He nostrils crinkled with disgust, as she was coated in sweat and tears.

    When she finally made it through, she made a mental note to have a bath immediately after awakening from her slumber.

    "Got to sort out my priorities" she told herself, between coughs and dove for the door.

    She was greeted by wailing people, shouting at the poor Scientists, trying to keep order. Between the pleas, sobs and shouts were coughing. Ash now clogged up the streets, it was as if the entire world outside was nothing but a black abyss.

    "We only have room for so many people," exclaimed one doctor, frantically waving his clipboard. He was an average looking man, with more brown hair than grey, his white coat clinging to his muscled frame. "I need you to be-" He began a coughing fit. His chest swelled and he doubled over in his effort.

    It seemed to set off the crowd, though, watching a Scientist sputtering his lungs out would have caused panic in any situation. Angry, confused, scared people charged towards the back room, overpowering a frustrated nurse, yelling at everyone to keep back.

    They began to fight amongst themselves, shoving, punching, kicking. Some exclaimed that they were supposed to be before the others, some held up small children, begging someone to save them but were drowned out by the screams and coughs of the panicked crowd.

    Taking a ash filled breath, Emily thought of her parents, willing them to be here, before attempting to push through.

    After struggling for a few minutes, and with her lungs starting to become heavy, she spied the containers. Glass cylinder domes, with funny looking metal dials on them. There were about five hundred in total. But there may as well have been one. Two thirds were full, and the crowd had lost their patience.

    In one smooth movement, the crowd surged forward once again, like a tide in the ocean. Emily was swept up, and was carried towards her savior domes.

    In the moments before the eventual crash, she saw one container, with a person who looked a lot like Chazzy. Emily let herself smile, between coughs, as the crowd barged into the containers.

    As the glass containers shattered into thousands of tiny pieces, it dawned on Emily, that the crowd had squandered their last chance for survival.

    The last thing Emily would remember was a hundred people coughing and tiny flecks of ash.
  5. Gannon

    Gannon Contributor Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    mootz - Darkness

    It was dark, so he couldn't see it. He hadn't opened his eyes in weeks, so he couldn't really see anything at all.

    He felt around in the darkness with his finger tips for the raised ridge of dead skin that he knew protruded from the back of his right hand near the knuckle. His finger tips felt the hair that grew awkwardly from the sores as they glided across the skin. Two bumps on his right hand, three on the left.

    He was going to start working on the right hand, he was right handed and it made sense that it would be more capable to work with pain.

    The nail of his left pointer finger picked at the ridge of roughened skin. His right hand jumped at the tug of pain, it seemed rooted deep underneath the skin like teeth in the gums. Blood started to trickle from the base of the protrusion as he picked at it more and more. Finally, he had enough of the dead skin loose away from the hand to grab at it with his fingers.

    He closed his eyes, and then tugged on it. It was a quick rip of dead tissue, but it felt so much worse. When he opened his eyes, there was a sliver of metal attached to the tips of tissue. It was beneath the skin.

    He started to whimper and shake in place, scared of what else he would find in his body. He raised his right arm to wipe his tears away but a quiver of pain excited him into a stiffness that struck his hold body. He was alone, he could let the tears stay for now.

    He ground his teeth. He picked at the second bump on his right hand and the quake of pain that shot in his arm, through the hole of the first and all the way up his arm, seemed to pinch on every nerve in his right side. Despite his attempt to prepare himself, he screamed like a tortured prisoner.

    His right arm tightened up more. He looked around the room for something to gag himself with but he was only able to see shapes without color, meaningless items in a dark void of confusion. He felt at his waist and found that he had a belt. Awkwardly fumbling around with his left hand, he took it off and placed the leather in his mouth. His pants dropped to the floor, a result of his weight loss over time.

    He picked at the ridge again, the pain was immense but he bit down hard and gutted through it. When the skin was separated enough, he started to pull it out. He tried to do it slowly, instead of yanking it all out at once but the pain was the same. Halfway through, he yanked the rest of it out in blind fury and agony.

    He saw the blood jump from the new whole, though he couldn't tell if his was blood was still red. He didn't know what they did to him while he was in that chamber. Occasionally, his eyes would open and he'd see people moving around with medical instruments. He would try to scream for help, it was met with a surge of liquid into his veins that placed him back in a dream.

    He decided he'd take the rest of the stuff out of him later. He would have to make his due with only the use of his left hand for awhile. He started to bend down to pick up his pants, but pain ripped through his right shoulder and lower back.

    Disappointed, tired and still groggy he reached around behind him with his left hand to find the wall. He leaned against it slowly, then slide down the wall to sit on the floor. Gray, colorlessly blood trickled down his arm. His pants still around his ankles, he sighed and closed his eyes tightly. He could taste the salty water that migrated from his tear ducts down his face.

    “Where is everyone?” he whispered to himself.

    “There aren't any living humans on this colony,” a voice said.

    “C-c-computer, what year is it?” he asked.

    “3612 A.D., patient 829,” it answered.

    He stopped breathing. His body jumped in place, convulsing from the lack of oxygen. He finally forced himself to take in air.

    “Three hundred years?” he asked. “I've been here... what was wrong with me. I'm a patient? What was wrong with me?”

    “According to my records, you were scheduled for improvements. There was nothing actually wrong with you.”

    “You didn't make anything better!” he exclaimed. He wasn't just mad because of his situation, he has also mad at the pain he sent into his arm. The excruciating punishment for his rowdiness in movement.

    “As my records indicate, that is correct,” it answered.

    He closed his eyes, his teeth were clinched tightly and showing as his head leaned back and he snarled in pain and frustration.

    “Unfortunately, 829, seeing that it's been over two hundred years, according to law, you're not entitled to a monetary refund.”

    Patient 829, who for all his attempts at remembering his past, couldn't recall his name. He couldn't remember why he signed up for this, or if he did so on purpose. His mind stirred for a moment, thinking of the quickest way to get it done. He settled on the little metal spike he had pulled from his arm.

    He leaned forward and grabbed the spike. He took a deep breath and exhaled, plunging the spike into his neck and tearing it through his throat with all the strength he could manage from his left arm.

    Slowly, his eyes closed and he slumped in place, going silent.

    Five hours later, he woke up. His hands went to his neck immediately, there was no hole. He noticed he was using his right hand. He felt around, his sight still painfully blurry, and noticed the holes in his hand had healed.

    “Patient 829, you had an accident and I healed you. It is a courtesy policy of the facility, as long as you're on this colony, I'll help keep you safe. You're welcome, 829.”
  6. Gannon

    Gannon Contributor Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    Tessie - Drop Dead

    I entered the dim lab in awkward recognition. The place looked more like a morgue at midnight with its rows of metal posted gurneys and encased bodies in neat array. My protective suit was bleached and starchy. It continually chaffed my arms because the sleeves were too small, and my employer had failed to order a new jacket in time for the first day of my new position. Already, I was feeling keenly uncomfortable with the cold environment, not because the whole process was new to me, however, but because with the first step, I instantly wished I had not assigned myself to the night shift.

    "Mind your back, sir."

    My assistant, Bough, stepped behind me and pushed the door. It rumbled shut, and I heard the soft plastic in the door frame make a sucking noise as he bolted the door, locking us in. Bough flipped the light switch, and I turned around to see the clear body bags shinning as the environmentally controlled air system wafted through the vents in the floor and ceiling. Unsettled by the system, corners of the plastic lighted into the air slightly. Besides the faint gurgle of the vents and Bough's puttering, not a sound broke the room. I felt claustrophobic and cold. I wished I was home in my bed.

    "How long have you worked here, Bough?" I began, slowly taking my clipboard from a nearby counter.

    "Ah, well, that's hard to say, sir. Been here me whole life just about. Never could have thought of a more fitting job for meself, really. I quite enjoy being alone with one's thoughts."

    I surveyed the surrounding gurneys. With an audience like this, a normal man would have gone mad.

    "Not much of a family man, Bough?"

    He made a pithy chuckle. "No, sir. In truth, I never had much fortune with the ladies."

    I saw him grin. Dressed in disinfected yellow from head to toe, Bough was a slight man with muscular limbs and boxing mitts for hands. He had a side molar missing in his drab smile, which, when looked at from the right angle, produced a brief glimpse of his wriggling tongue.

    "All in good time, Bough. You will find someone soon enough."

    He chuckled again and then grunted as he pushed a gurney to a dark corner of the room. In all, there was twenty corpses freshly taken from their freezers and cryonic suspension, and by the end of the night, I would have run analysis on each.

    I pinched the mint-colored mask that hung around my neck and wrapped it snugly against the bridge of my nose. With a muffled tone, I clapped.

    "Alright, first up, Bough."

    “Right away, sir!” Wheeling a new gurney forward, Bough stopped a few feet before me."This is Mr. Emerson. He was a hundred and eight when he died, and his family had insisted on preserving him."

    "I assume of natural causes, eh?"

    Bough leaned his elbows on the end of the gurney, tapping a finger on his chin. "Well, one might call it that, sir. The old chap went to summer on the Isle of Wight and came back in a blooming box. The family said he had choked on nammit given to him by some cheeky, little nipper, who didn't know the Heimlich to boot. Although, they professed they couldn't be absolutely certain of the report, sir."

    I must have given him an odd look because his next assuring words were, "So they said, sir."

    I shrugged and reached to pull back the plastic to reveal the pasty white face. Richard Emerson had been a fine-looking man. A modest millionaire with a full head of gray and a strikingly handsome nose. I observed a portion of his left ear lobe was more white than usual at the given temperature and duly noted it on my clipboard. Quietly, I stepped alongside the gurney as I pulled at the plastic covering. Bough offered to help, and, much to my chagrin, I discovered the droll fellow had a swifter method for pulling the cover away.

    It was what one might call a band-aid type removal, which consisted of nothing more than a quick tug on the bottom corners of the plastic that left the examiner breathy from the rush of cold air that surrounded and insulated the corpse in the bag. I scolded him for pulling in such a manner and then insisted on removing the bags of the next three patients alone. Bough kicked at the stained tiling in the floor, mumbled something, and then disappeared in the labyrinth of gurneys to sulk.

    I did not hear him puttering about the latter part of the room when I finished examining my third patient. Eighty-five-year-old Elaine McPherson was a well-known philanthropist, who had tragically been taken by a stroke in her final days. In her will, she had specifically outlined for herself to be saved for future generations, and I was glad to see that her body was being preserved quite handsomely. I was also happy with how the night was progressing and eager to see the next gurney being brought forward.

    I called, "Bough, be a good fellow and bring over the next patient, will you?" In a few moments, I was satisfied by the rumble of wheels as they proceeded up the middle aisle.

    "This here is a new one, sir. No more than a fortnight old, I wager." He stopped the gurney and then pulled out a handkerchief to wipe his brow. Even in the frigid atmosphere of the examination lab, Bough somehow managed to break a sweat. Quite odd in my opinion.

    “Very warm out tonight, sir.”

    “Indeed.” Glancing up from my clipboard with a confused air, I added, “Bough, it states here on schedule that we were supposed to be accompanied tonight by the assistant director, a Miss Mia Patterson. Why is she absent?”

    Bough snapped his fingers. “Ah, I almost forgot. About that, sir. She could not come tonight. Said she had some most important errands to attend to. We shall see her in the morning.”

    “Very well.” My attention had already returned to the corpse. "And why are we saving this one?" I asked, beginning to write the corpse's serial number on my clipboard.

    "That I am not quite certain of yet. A rather mysterious individual, and her husband has not come to view her yet, the bastard." Bough clicked his tough in disapproval and moved around the gurney to stand beside me. "A shame, too. Quite angelic, that one."

    Inhaling, I slowly uncovered the face. Instantly, I was taken aback by the youthfulness and the dazzling magnificence of the preservation. It fairly looked as if the woman had been taken with a peaceful doze not moments before. Her plump, ruby lips were captivating as I looked her over. She wore a woolen cardigan over a slender, aquamarine dress. Her former husband had been kind enough to put her in a seeming outfit, and I marveled as I viewed her small, bare feet peeking out from under the plastic at the opposite end of the gurney.

    Bough leaned over, closely admiring. I watched him stare. His face suddenly wrinkled. He bent forward and sniffed.

    “Whot is that smell?” he exclaimed, plugging his nose. He began to gag and then looked at me in astonishment. Gasping, he hurried away to the door. “No, no, no, no!”

    “What, Bough? Whatever is the matter?”

    He began to fumble at the control panel, rushing out as the door swung open. “It's too warm! No, this can't be happening!” I heard him shout.

    I was alone in silence with the corpse. I waited for Bough to return to close the door, but did not understand why he had rushed away so abruptly. Staring at the bright rectangle of light as it flowed through the doorway, I waited. Something creaked behind me. As I turned, the ruby-lipped woman was sitting upright and smiling with a lop-sided grin.

    “Where am I?”

    I gasped and heard my clipboard clatter to the floor.

    “Where am I?” she repeated, her smile growing fuller and brighter.

    Clearing my throat, I replied, “Gallagher's Cryogenics. A small lab just outside London. My dear, I'm afraid to inform you that there's been a dreadful mistake. You've been in the freezer for two weeks.”

    There was a trace of confusion in her face, but then she pushed her legs over the side of the gurney. Looking down, she watched her feet sway freely. She chuckled and smiled. But then pain came over her expression, and she touched her forehead. Her red, flowing locks fell around her shoulders as she spoke.

    “Oh, I remember now.” she said quietly. “I'm not supposed to be here. I'm part of that experiment.” The word curled from her lips as if the very mention of it tasted sour.

    “I beg your pardon?” I burst indignantly.

    She pulled herself off the gurney. Her bare feet smacked the floor, and she swayed to gain her balance, but only for a moment. Gingerly, she took a step which was quickly followed by another. Very soon she was pacing about the lab, then inquiring where her favorite heels had gotten to.

    “Madam, as I fail to understand the entirety of your circumstances, I must tell you that you were pronounced totally dead two weeks ago, and your husband offered you to Gallagher for preservation.”

    The woman was observing the dingy lab jackets that lined the wall by the door.

    “Jasper would have done that. For what reason I cannot be certain, because he never loved me. I told him I didn't feel comfortable participating in his experiment.” She turned around, her arms crossed. “We met and married in a year's time, and he officially began experiments in sixty-five. I was the daughter of a wealthy, military man. My father was a pioneer, or so they always said of him.” Walking back to me, she touched the corner of the gurney. “I should had known Jasper didn't really love me. He was far too obsessed with his yachts and racing.”

    Confused, I sat down and recovered my clipboard from the floor. I gestured to the seat beside mine.

    “May I offer you a glass of water?”

    She sat down, smoothed the wrinkles in her dress.

    “No, thank you.”

    “You must be famished, then.”

    She shook her head. “Not at all, actually.”

    I was looking about the lab with growing apprehension. Where for heaven's sake was Bough?

    “Sixty-five?” I suddenly asked as the numbers did not seem to fit in my mind. “You mean you agreed to the experiment in1965?”

    “No, I underwent the experiment in '70.” she stated plaintively.

    My silence was staggering. I began to stutter and then hurried to scribble everything I could onto my clipboard.

    “Bloody hell, you mean to say that you were frozen for twenty years? But your paper work states your body arrived here two weeks ago. How on earth did you end up here?”

    She began to remove her cardigan, revealing the top to her sleeveless dress and its straight-across neckline.

    “It's very warm in here, doctor.”

    I stopped writing. Warm. The word occurred me. I bolted from my chair and rushed to the thermometer tacked to the wall near the door. Looking at it, I hollered, “Bough, get in here this bloody instant!”

    Bough was already on his way. He rushed through the door and stopped short in front of the woman. He screamed and nearly fell to his knees.

    I glared at him and said, “Calm down, man. The air system appears to have malfunctioned. This woman has miraculously awoke.”

    Bough was gobsmacked. “Impossible. . . simply impossible. . .”

    She gleamed a smile and said, “I am Anderson, pleasure meeting you.” She held out a graceful hand, and Bough shook it with an open jaw.

    “Geoffrey Bough at your service, mum.” he blurted when he had partially recovered, and then he bestowed a wobbly and unseeming bow. The sight of her no doubt made him want to drop dead.

    “What I don't understand, Mrs. Anderson, is how you got here. What experiment are you referring to exactly?” I asked, again motioning her to the chair.

    She sat down and calmly began her explanation.

    “My Jasper was always a scientist at heart. Shipbuilding was his chief field of study, but he did dabble in other things, most of which I had not a notion of.” She paused and glanced down at her hand. Waggling her fingers, she inspected the lime-colored polish and then returned to the conversation. “When he said he had gotten a position as a quantum physicist, I was happy for him, although mostly disinterested. At night, when he would arrive home from work, he would go on and on about what extraordinary experiments he was conducting and the like. Well, one evening, he asked me if I wished to partake in one of his tests.”

    In the corner of my eye, I saw Bough take a chair and slide it next to my own. His face was completely transfixed.

    “Of course I agreed. I didn't have any reason to refuse him or to distrust him, although, in retrospect, I can see that I most certainly received the short end of the bargain.” She looked around the lab with its primitive machinery and even more primitive keepers. “He said it was just going to be a quick test. Nothing more.” She paused, suddenly reaching for her cardigan. She felt inside the pockets, but then accepted a hankie that Bough produced. Dabbing her eyes, she continued, “Although, I realize now that it must not have been what he said it was.”

    “That still does not explain how you got here.”

    She became unmanageable. “Don't you understand? Something must have gone wrong. Last I remember, there was an enormous flash, I felt something hit my head, and the light went out.”

    I felt myself raise my voice,“But why are you here, madam? You have failed to explain this.”

    She was crying, her face planted in the hankie. Her sobs slowed and turned to unnerving laughter.

    “Of course Jasper wanted to be rid of me! With me out of the way, he could pursue his experiments uninterrupted and undisturbed. . .And so he shipped me off to this God forsaken hole!” She continued her rant, half crying, half laughing. I, however, had had quite enough.

    “I'll have you know that I am considered one of London's finest cryonics specialists, and I will not tolerate you dirtying my occupation. How your former husband treated you is none of my concern, and I will not have you disrupting my first night on the job. We will most assuredly get to the bottom of this, but in a professional, more civilized manner.”

    I gave her my sternest expression, but she buried her face deeper into the handkerchief. She was visibly convulsing, and I was quite afraid the woman was suffering from a nervous breakdown.

    “Madam, control yourself.” I said, warily.

    She kept shaking, then broke out in crazed laughter.

    Alarmed, I continued talking, “Please, none of that. Now, get a hold of yourself.” I reached to touch her shoulder.

    She suddenly stopped laughing and looked at me. Her face was red with hysterics. She broke with a smile and, calmly standing, said to Bough, “This was quite a performance. I'm quite pleased with you especially, Mr. Bough. I'd say this was the best, most improvised initiation that I've been part of since the established of this company.” She returned the handkerchief to him and then turned to me. Clearing her throat, she stretched out a hand.

    “Mr. Nolan, we haven't officially met,” she said, smiling.

    Confused, I felt myself shake hands, while exchanging a worried glance with Bough.

    “I'm Mia Patterson and this is my assistant Mr. Geoffrey Bough.” she announced superficially. She glanced to Bough, adding, “If you would be so kind, Geoff, can you bring me my heels now? The floor is quite cold tonight.”

    I grinned, realizing I had been utterly fooled. I watched Bough turn to head out the door. He made a mocked salute and laughed, “Right away, mum!”
  7. Gannon

    Gannon Contributor Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    TheDude2002 - A Late Night Dream

    I remember the days rolled by like a hamster wheel -forever turning, never stopping to realize the harsh reality of life. Forever spinning, again, again and again - the cruel mistress of a world foreboding for some and collapsing for others.

    Randy was a boy unlike most; he played well into the night when most of the children his age were away in bed - away into their own little worlds of play and mischief. And many nights, Randy's mind would go dreamless; distant from cold realities into a blackness - one in itself, one in the same.

    Randy awoke. Breath heavy, back arched, head low. Today was a day, he so fondly regretted. It was his sister's birthday. That selfish little snot.

    He didn't want any part of this pagan-themed holiday enthralled in selfish desires with a gluttonous spirit.

    Randy hated his birthday. It was always the same. Surrounded by an endless sea of friends and family members who on one day, sit in celebration for his existence after all the other days of drifting through life acting as if they didn't know his name.

    So in light of the harsh reality of circumstances deriving in social-based hierarchy systems - Randy chose to be the "black sheep."

    He chose to be a rebel because when all else fails around you, the only thing you really have is your own wits and moral judgments. And in a crazy world like Apalache County, you need to have thick skin or else you might fall off the face of the Earth.

    Steam from the kitchen broke through the air with a sharp annoying whistle that aroused Randy from bed like the cold furry of an ice storm - unexpected, but still unwanted.

    "Woman!" boomed Randy, as he stood on his feet, shaking because of the loud, ear-splitting noise that drove him away from a mid-afternoon slumber, just moments prior.

    "Woman, turn off that stove! I hate that noise!" continued Randy as he could hear a shuffle in the kitchen, making way to best suit his demands.

    Randy was somewhat of the aggressive type after his father passed away in 2002. And ever since then, he likes to think of himself as more of the "man of the house," which in his mind, gives him the right to assert his authority in what he thought to be a responsible manner.

    So in doing so, he thought of himself as "the leader of the pack" at his house, even though his mother made all the money, his sister was very well-liked in school and head of her dance squad, while he mostly stayed at home, drinking alcohol and popping any pill he could get his hands on.

    Many people never really sympathized with his anti-socially, morally skewed personality - it was 'because of the drugs,' they would say. It was always because of the drugs.

    "Where's my xanax? asked Randy, scratching his head while going towards his mirror. The mirror was far - it seemed to stretch on for miles from where he stood. So nauseous.

    He stopped as the world seemed to be getting the best of him as a sickness crept upon his body.

    Back into bed, he thought. Another day. Another nothing.

    Catherine's party raged on in the house as Randy lay in his bed, stuck in a long dark room.

    There was a scent in the air - a rotting scent resonating from the nether-regions of Randy's mouth and gums.

    But the room was different; geo-metric patterns and characters from past Saturday morning cartoons pass-by amongst the darkness of the room - all patterns, following an endless trend, forever seeking, forever giving Randy additional entertainment during waking periods of immense boredom.

    He couldn't sleep. He promised he would go cold turkey on all types of drugs as a present for his sister, even though they could no longer look at each other in the eye on most occasions - they were still related, but what did she matter to him? She lost faith in him when he started using.

    Randy tossed and turned in bed as flashbacks from years past became displayed by his bedside.

    The pains of withdrawal wriggled through his psych, making his body shake as vast spirals of color encased the once darkened room followed by a hypnotizing musical number that grew faster and faster as time went on.

    Then time stopped as did the patterns, and so did Randy as he fell into a lost, dreamless sleep.

    Randy awoke several hours later as large beads of sweat soaked his pillowcase and his long, maggie hair that looked as if it had a life of its own.

    As he adapted to reality, a burning sensation erupted within the left portion of his cranium.

    "Medicine!" he yelled out as he stormed aimlessly through a dark room, cluttered with beer bottles and an eerie silence that caused him to dart towards the light switch.

    The lights went on, but this didn't stop the troubling feeling within his head.

    "Jesus" said Randy, covering his eyes from the bright glare of his room.

    He turned around towards the direction of his bed, but stopped suddenly.

    There was a little boy, sitting down at the edge of his bed, looking down at his lap with his palms pressed into his cheeks.

    "Are you from Cathy's party? What are you doing in my room?" asked Randy in the nicest tone he could possibly use. The boy looked young. He didn't know what he was doing. But the boy didn't look up. "Hello, little boy. Are you okay?"

    There was no response, except low sobs coming from the boy, which seemed to increase more and more as the seconds past.

    "No one loves me. No one loves me. No one loves me" whimpered the boy.

    Obviously, this boy needed a counselor, and in knowing this, Randy rushed over to the boy and put his arm around his shoulder.

    "It's okay. People do love you. I'm here" consoled Randy, making the most of a delicate situation.

    The boy then looked up with tears in his eyes, as his breathing seemed to go down slightly, and a smile began to form on his face.

    Randy then froze in morbid horror as he recognized the face of the young boy in his room from a photo album of his family, many years ago.

    "I'm sorry I had to die, Randy. I'm sorry it had to be this way."

    The boy then slowly faded into the light, until he disappeared completely.

    "I should have never stopped using drugs" joked Randy to himself as he grabbed at his rapidly beating heart with his right hand. "Life is way too messed up to deal with on a sober mind."

    Randy then grabbed for his nightstand that held up his pills, his bottled water and small mirrors crusted over in a residue caused by late-night partying with rich, pretty girls from the harbor.

    Randy grabbed the pills and bottle, and made short work of them as he shut off the lights and slowly slithered back into bed.

    And there were no more hallucinations. No more supposed ghosts. No more geo-metric patterns or music - just sweet happiness; all from a pill, all from a dream.
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