Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Ever Watching Part 2 of 2

(A short story by Jonathon Best©2011)
Part 1 can be viewed here >>> Part 1

All around me.
My head hurts, and I’m guessing it’s from more than just a fall. Are my eyes open? I don’t even want to know. On the count of three. One... two...
I try my eyes, and a blinding brightness shoots to the back of my skull. Shit!
I lay my head back down and wait for the newfound agony to subside. A few moments pass. I try again, opening them slowly this time. A bright blur, gradually giving way to a few blotches of grey. They grow and sharpen in clarity as I peer around the room. A desk, a cabinet and the end of my bed. The brightness is being emitted by a spotlight directly above my head – The only light in the room, though its power has faded greatly now my eyes are in focus.
I take another sweep of the room.
A Hospital?
Strange, though. Even for a hospital it looks too glum. Looking down at my clothes I find that I’m wearing the same clothes I had on that night. That night at the park with Jerry. A flash crosses my mind as I recall the events of that night. A shiver is rides up my spine and plants itself deep into my neck.
I know exactly where I am, and it sure as hell isn’t a hospital!

Jumping to my feet, I lunge forwards, my head still feeling a bit heavy. I swing around and notice a large opening behind a sheet of flapping plastic. A hallway of some sort. Deciding it was good enough, I sprint for it.
Another light the same as the one above the bead was up ahead. I turned the first corner, only to be placed at the end of another long hall. Keep running.
I build up my pace once again, my head now completely free of its former haze. Another light at the end as I turn and continue my sprint.
Not a single door has passed me, and I know that these halls have been constructed in a way to make you lose your hope of escape. Will it ever end? These halls are infinite! That’s what he wants me to think. Bullshit!
If he wants to play his games, I’ll let him. I’ve learnt enough from last time.

Another turn and I continue running, though something is changing. The light up ahead, its lowering. Its colour; changing.
The now red light has begun pulsing as a robotic voice sounds from somewhere unknown. The voice seeps through each of the floor tiles and the wall panels, through the joints in the lights and the cracks in the ceiling.
“Three minutes till detonation!”

A fucking bomb!? Shit! Shit!
I reach out my arm and drag my hand along the walls as I run, feeling for any inconsistencies. A disguised door handle, a seam, anything that could mean my way out of here.
As expected, I found nothing out of the ordinary.
What kind of countdown only gave three minutes warning, anyway?
He must have realised I escaped my room and wanted to compromise my head start.
Does that mean I’m close?
Almost as if answering my question, I turned the next bend, to see a complete change of scenery. The hall had gone from its chemical grey to a dark brown and seemed to be made out of earth. It had also widened by about three times. At the end of the passage was a pedestal, and upon it was a large red button.
The Joker may not explain the rules of his games, but ten bucks says it’s got something to do with that button, and me pressing it.

“Two minutes till detonation!”
No time to think, I had a large empty room with nothing but a button in it, and a warning sounding, speaking of a detonation in two minutes time.
I headed for the button. The new room was very long, though even with its length I know I could reach the button in two minutes easy, and if I knew it, so did the Joker.
So what was he playing at?

The floor just up ahead is rumbling, and I slow my pace in case it falls away. It’s descending, though too gradually to be falling down a pit. It seemed to be on some sort of mechanical platform.
An elevator.

I pick up my speed again, knowing that I didn’t have time to waste with thoughts.
The ground’s shaking again, this time with much more force. I can see the floor returning to its original height, and on it are thousands of people. All these people have a drained look on their face, each one mumbling to themselves, staring at the floors or walls, or itching at their skin.
What the hell is wrong with them?
I’m not looking forward to finding out.

“One minute till detonation!”
Time to put my leg muscles to the test! I drop one shoulder and aim for the closest person as I still increase my run speed.
He looks up at me sharply, eyes snapping onto me like a fox finding its target. His bottom jaw is stretching open, wider, wider...
His jaw is hanging loose, and now the man is lowering himself into a much the same position as me. The people around him have turned to face me now, and are acting in a similar way. Each of them letting out a horrific gurgling snarl as the blood flows freely from their broken faces.

I stumble, my legs freezing for a millisecond in shock of what I had just witnessed. My speed drops and so does my torso. I try to recover, but not fast enough. My unmoving legs tangle and I fall to the ground. Quickly looking up, I stare in front of me. It feels almost as if the walls are moving further away from me, or as if I am being dragged forwards by some unfelt force. After a second though, I realise that neither I nor the walls were moving, but the entire mass of people were. They were charging at me, shoulders lowered, jaws gnashing, arms flailing as they knocked into each other. I swallow a dry gulp as I clamber to my feet.

“30 seconds till detonation!”
Think! Think!
My thoughts were a scramble as I continued my charge towards the group of people, and ultimately the red button behind them.
Maybe I could dig my fingers into the earth of the wall and climb up to the ceiling? Surely these things can’t climb!
Even so, I wouldn’t be saved from the detonation.

“20 seconds till detonation!”
Despite all my instincts, I skidded to a halt, so as to buy as much time as possible before the deformed people reach me, and closed my eyes.
Had I passed any clues in any of the hallways?
The nightmarish ambience of the approaching crowd seemed to grow fainter as I fell further into my thoughts.

Cabinet. Bed. Lights, first white, then red. Plastic sheet.
Dammit! Nothing makes any sense!

What would the Joker expect me to do?
I thought hard about my situation. He put these people here to stop me before I reached the button. So he would have expected me to stop before reaching them, as I have done. But he would also know that I would work this out after stopping. So did he then expect me to run for the button anyway? Or would he think that I still wouldn’t, even if I realised he knew what I would be thinking at this point in time? I mean, who would run headfirst into a hungry looking, aggressive mob of contorted freaks, right?

“15 seconds till detonation!”
I think he would expect me to sit tight after the thought process that I had just been through. It seems very much something that he would do; make me practically surrender before being torn to shreds and deem me unworthy.

“10 seconds till detonation!”
Well, I guess that settled my dilemma then. It was decided. I open my eyes to see the running people a lot closer than expected. They would be upon me within the next second. I jump to my feet and let out a roar as I power up my legs once more. I shut my eyes, arms held out front this time, hoping to squeeze between them rather than knock them over.

“5 seconds till detonation!”
I keep running, tensing for collision. A second passes. Two. I open my eyes slightly, afraid of what I will see, and realise that I am standing directly next to the red button. I turn to see the crowd of people still running away from this end of the room.
Had I just ran straight through them?

I come to my senses and slam a hand down on the button, just as a large explosion sounds above me. My eyes grow blurry and dizziness fills my head.

All around me.
My eyelids are heavy and I can’t open them. My head is now aching more than ever. A bright glow seemed to be directly above me, though of its origin I can’t be too sure, my eyelids still not responding.

“Back again, are we? And so soon!”
The voice is familiar, though I can’t pinpoint it.
“You will be in here for a week, at the least.”
What’s going on?
I try to speak, but pain shoots through my neck and chest. All I manage is a quiet groan.
“Oh no, no, don’t talk just yet, you need rest, and lots of it. You may have survived, but only just!”

I need answers!
I try again, and manage the word ’what’ before succumbing to the pain.
“You were hit by a car travelling one and a half the speed limit. Your leg is broken but has been numbed for now, and the tubes in your throat and arm are helping fix problems with your lung and kidney. You are a very lucky young man to be here with us now!”

His words swirl in my head. A car? Is this another one of his tests?
I tense all my muscles and pull myself up as far as possible and agony surges all over. I roar in my head, unsure if I am even making a noise between all these pipes in my throat. I force my eyelids open and the bright glow shines from the spotlight above my bed, burning my eyes. To my side is a long hall with seemingly no doors. I fall out of the bed and crawl for the door.

“No! You’re not healed yet! You need to rest!”
I strain my arms dragging myself along the floor, trying to resist the man who is now pulling at my limbs.
The pressure rises in my head. My vision goes blurry. Then dark.

“You’re gonna be here for a while, son. Try and get used to it.”

-By Jonathon Best ©

1 comment: