Extraction. Short Story.

Jessica looked up from her work, then yawned, beside her Adam worked diligently. Jessica was tired, it had been a long six months, but it was almost over, soon they’d get to go home. Finish off these last few things and that was it, they were done, just two more days. Two more days until freedom. She’d get to see her family again, go out for coffee on a whim, breathe fresh air constantly, watch TV that she wanted, not just settling for one of the DVD’s that were shipped out occasionally, though they never really had that much time for TV, there was always something to be done. She looked back at her work, sighed, and continued what she was doing. As she worked, she looked at Adam from the corner of her eye.
“What’s the first thing you’re gonna do when we get back?”
“Have the worlds longest shower. I’m gonna set records, drain the fuckin’ sea doing it. After that go to a restaurant. Fresh food, people. Can’t wait. You?”
“Just sit, sit and relax for a little bit. Maybe lie out in the sun.”
“That does sound good. I’m a little worried about getting used to people again. It’ll seem strange. The restaurant thing is gonna be a little test for myself. I haven’t decided if I’m going by myself, or with family yet.”
“Go with family. If you freak out they’ll help.”
“True, but it isn’t really a proper test then.”
“You’ll be fine, you’re just psyching yourself up too much. You just gotta relax.”

“I guess. No point in worrying about it too much, I was thinking we could all do something in a month or two, after we’ve had time to get over never wanting to see each other again.”
“Deal, though I’m not as sick of either of you as I expected, I thought I’d never want to look at you guys again, but it hasn’t happened yet.”
“Just wait until you get home, then it’ll hit you, or the next time you see us.”
“I-” Jessica was cut off by a scream, she looked at Adam, “The hell was that?”
“I don’t know, c’mon Brian might have hurt himself, grab the med kit, he was supposed to be over in lab C, so that’s where we should start.”
Adam had already left the room at a run, Jessica ran to the cupboard and grabbed out a med kit, then she followed.

They both stood outside lab C, staring in at the blood. There was so much of it. It was so red, startlingly so. It looked fake. That was it. It was fake, some kind of tasteless prank that Brian was pulling. They couldn’t see him. Together they stepped into the room, “Brian? Where are you?” They looked around as they walked, checking for danger, it would do no good if what ever happened to Brian happened to them. Adam saw him first.
“Jesus Christ, get over here. He’s on the ground.” Jessica flinched when she saw him, trying not to vomit she went to Brian’s side, he was lying so very still, blood had covered the front of him, a shiny scalpel handle was sticking out of his neck. One of his hands was clasped loosely beside it. Jessica knelt beside him and opened the kit, grabbing out gauze, something she could use to stop the bleeding. “Go call for help, tell them we need an emergency extraction for Brian.”
Adam knelt beside Brian, “What are you doing? GO!” Adam reached out and felt Brian’s neck for a pulse. “He’s dead. There’s no pulse. He’s lost too much blood. There’s nothing we can do.”
Jessica started to wrap gauze around Brian’s neck.
“He’s dead Jess, there’s nothing we can do.” Adam reached out and grabbed her hands, she was already crying. Adam stood and pulled Jessica to her feet. He needed to stay calm, strong. He took another breath, he could feel his eyes water.
“C’mon, we should report this.”
“But we shouldn’t leave him alone. Not like this.”
“There’s nothing we can do, we should call it in, then we can come back to him, ok?”
Jessica nodded and allowed herself to be led from the room.

Two hours later, they sat in the small lounge, drinking coffee that was heavily spiked with sugar, Adam wished they had some booze, but it had been a banned item. They had to deal with this sober.
“Do you think he slipped?”
“I don’t know. Maybe.” It didn’t look like he had to Adam, it looked like the scalpel had been jammed into Brian’s neck.
They had to wait for the two days to pass, two days with Brian’s body before they could be extracted. They had sealed off the lab, hoping that it wouldn’t start to smell too badly.
“We should do something. Like have a funeral or a wake.”
“We’ll do it when we get out of here, where we can do it properly.”
Jessica nodded. A DVD played on the small screen in front of them, neither were watching, but the noise was nice. Distracting and calming. They just had to last two more days, then they’d be free.

“Why do you think he did it?”
“Huh?”
“Why do you think he stabbed himself like that.”
Adam breathed out slowly, “I don’t know. I really don’t. He’d been looking forward to going home, like the rest of us. He seemed fine, the last time I was talking to him, he was-” The tears came. Jessica held his hand while he cried. After a few minutes, Adam got himself under control. He was supposed to be strong. They had to be strong for each other. He couldn’t break down.

They slept in the lounge, Adam and Jessica had hauled their mattresses to the room, neither wanted to be alone. The night passed slowly as they drifted in and out of sleep, both having nightmares. They had bathed after they found him, changed their clothes, but Adam could still feel the blood on him, cold and sticky.

When they got up the next morning, neither commented on the dark circles under their eyes. Just one more day, that was all. Midway through the day, Jessica had a chilling thought, before she could stop herself, she spoke.

“What if he didn’t do it? What if someone else did?”
“Who? How? There was only the three of us and we were together when it happened.”
“What if someone else is here?”
“We’d know, the food would be getting used faster, and the alarms would have gone off if there was a breach of some kind, hell we’d have known if anyone was within ten miles of this place. It wasn’t someone else. It was Brian. Something just snapped I guess.”
“Yeah. I guess you’re right.”

Adam sat alone in the lounge, Jessica had gone to get them food. He snapped out of his thoughts twenty minutes later and wondered where she was. He stood and went to the kitchens.

Jessica was lying on the ground, head resting against the wall at an almost impossible angle. Blood pooled around her, one hand loosely gripped a knife, the other rested across her neck. Adam rushed to her side, checking for a pulse, but there was none. She was dead.

Adam didn’t know how long he sat beside her body. She was cold when he finally stood and went to report it. She had been fine, there was no indication she was extremely upset, nothing that would suggest she’d do something like that.

Adam sealed the kitchen. It was only one night, he wasn’t that hungry anyway. They’d come and take him away from this awful place tomorrow. Then he’d be at home, with his family and friends, at home where he could shower for as long as he damned well pleased and eat what ever he wanted. The though of food made his stomach clench. He didn’t think he’d be able to eat for a long time, not without thinking of her. How pale she was, how bright the blood was. How could she slit her own throat? What would possess someone to do it? That, more than anything disturbed him. The pain that she must have went through, there was no coming back from that. Both of them made sure they couldn’t be saved. He shuddered. He couldn’t have saved either of them, in a strange way, it was a comforting thought. But he could have. He should have seen, should have known. They could have reached out to him, but they didn’t. Maybe there was something wrong with him. Maybe he wasn’t there enough, maybe he just didn’t see the signs or just didn’t listen. He thought briefly that maybe Jessica was right, maybe there was someone else here. The place seemed eerily empty, but someone could be skulking through the corridors, stalking them all, stalking him. He shuddered and pushed the thought from his mind. That was stupid. Ridiculous and stupid. It was just the three of them. Well, one of him now. He giggled, then clasped his hand over his mouth, eyes wide. He couldn’t go crazy. Not here, not alone. He had to wait, wait until he was home, until he was safe. Then he could freak out, but he had to hold on just a little longer first.

Adam was packing his things when the feeling came over him, too strong to be ignored, too strong to stop. His hands worked without thought. He strung up the improvised rope and looped it around, then, he placed the noose around his neck. He took a step off the chair, his legs started kicking, knocking it over. His mind cleared, what was he doing? He couldn’t breathed, he had to get down, had to stop it. His hands clawed at the rope, leaving long gouges in his neck, no he didn’t want this, why had he done it, he had to get down, had to get down had to..to..get….dow….

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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2 Responses to Extraction. Short Story.

  1. Katherine says:

    Hey, awesome work! Loved reading it. There is an ongoing short story contest-http://www.tallenge.com/contest/literaturestorycontest.html would you like to join? It’s free to enter. Get global audience and $100 to win!

  2. Thanks, I’ll check it out!

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