Testing. Short Story.

Steve looked down at the people in the room, some were sitting, others were standing. None of them spoke to one another.
“Are you sure this is ok?”
“Legally? Yes. It’s all been cleared. Ethically? Well, that’s been cleared too but I supposed it’s also between you and your god.”
“What if…”
“If you don’t want to do it we can get someone else in. Look, I’ll level with you before the higher ups get here, make a decision fast, don’t let them see all this hemming and hawing, no one here will look down on you for stepping aside, but it might affect your career prospects with the higher ups. Nothing on paper you understand, but you might find yourself passed over one to many times.”
Steve tore his eyes away from the men and women below and looked at Dominic, “Have you done it?”
“Yes, several times. The first one is the hardest, trust me. Look, these people have volunteered and any that haven’t were on death row anyway. They’re the worst of the worst. See that one there?” Dominic pointed at a tall, muscular man “He raped five children. That woman? She stabbed her ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend to death. She tried to drown the woman’s toddler but failed. The kid has serious brain damage, never be able to lead a normal life. These people really are awful.”
“And the others?”
“The ones who volunteered? Who cares? They knew what they were getting into, if you’re not the one to do it, they will themselves. They’ll find a way. That woman there won’t do it, it’s a sin in her religion, same with that guy. That’s the only thing that’s stopped them so far. Trust me, you’re doing them a favour.”

“But-”

“It’s already been cleared with religious leaders, they’re not doing anything of their own free will once it kicks in. It doesn’t count as sin and-”

The door behind them opened, “Gentlemen, please, step this way.”

Steve straightened and looked down at the control panel, pretending to look over everything again, Dominic turned and smiled at the newcomers.
The director followed three people, all in business suits, “We’re all set up and ready to go, right lads?”
“Yes sir, ready when you are.”
“Perfect. Now, I’ll explain something before the demonstration begins. This gas was developed as a self contained clean up system. You dump it in an area, all those affected will kill each other. It is not contagious and does not wear off. It was designed to cause the least amount of damage to the surrounding area. We have found that there are problems, those who come into contact with the gas will attack anyone on sight, regardless of whether they were family, friends, enemies or allies. It makes no difference to them. In most of our testing there have been no survivors, anyone who has survived however has been weakened and easily taken care of. This is perfect for buildings, or bunkers where the enemy is hiding out. If no one is sent in to clean up those remaining, they will die in twelve hours for extreme fevers. All in all it’s an easy, no fuss way to take out your targets. The gas becomes inert within ten minutes, so there is no need for gas masks or breathing apparatus.”

He turned to Steve, “Ok, we’re ready to begin when you are.”
Steve took a deep breath, and after a seconds hesitation, pressed the button. The room didn’t change, no one reacted. Ten seconds later, the tall, muscular man launched himself at a woman, screaming, it seemed to be a starting signal and within seconds everyone below was fighting, screaming, gouging at one another. Steve didn’t turn away, he had to watch, see what he had done.

When it was all over blood was splashed against the walls and floor, only one person remained, the tall muscular man, he was panting and looking around the room constantly, every few seconds he would give a scream and try to attack one of the bodies. “What about their thought processes? What are they like?”
“They don’t retain much of their knowledge. As you can see he hasn’t tried to open the door, even though it’s quite clear where it is. He knows, or at least knew, that there are more people outside of the room, yet he had made no attempt to leave. We are not entirely sure of their capabilities in this state, but we have not been able to run conclusive testing, however everything indicates that they lose a lot of their mental faculties. They don’t seem to grasp cause and effect, we had one test where we provided guns as weapons, one of the subjects shot themselves while looking down the barrel of the gun and pulling the trigger to see why it hadn’t fired the last time. Now, if you would like, we have a presentation prepared and we will cover the science behind it, along with some answers to similar questions.” The director lead the three people out of the room. The door closed behind them.

Dominic patted Steve on the shoulder, “You all right man? You look a little pale.”
“Yeah. I’m fine. It’s just.”
“Yeah, I know. It’s difficult. Usually it’s not that bad. You were just unlucky. My first time was a gas the made everyone’s internal organs turn to goo. It was gross, but not very violent. You should get something to eat. Settle your stomach.”
“I don’t think I could eat after something like that.”
“That’s ok, take your time. If you do eat though, you might want to do it near the bathroom, just in case. No shame in it.”

“Thanks.”
Steven looked down at the bloody room, the man still stood in the centre of it but he was looking up at them. He wasn’t screaming, he just stared. Dominic reached over and pressed another button, a few seconds later the man collapsed, Dominic sighed, “Least it’s over for all of them now.”

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 24 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.
This entry was posted in Horror, Short Stories and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Testing. Short Story.

  1. Impressive how quickly I cared about your character!

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