Dimming the Light. Short Story.

“How is she doing?”
“Still the same.” He stood over her, looking down at her body. Her eyes were open but she didn’t look at him or anyone else, her lips moved constantly, as though she was muttering to herself but no sound came out. Wires snaked from her body to the various machines that were keeping her alive.
“Well, she’s doing better than the previous test subjects.”
“Yes, she’s surpassed them all. The longest one we had was a week, she’s been stable for almost a month now.”
“Good. When do you think she’ll be adjusted?”
“We don’t know. This has never been done before, we don’t even know if she will adjust. We have people in with her every day looking for a response, we know she’s in there, her scans are lighting up, but she just isn’t responding.”

He nodded, “Well, we’ll continue the tests on other subjects, see if we can start perfecting it in the meantime. Call me if there are any changes at all.”
“Will do.”
The man left the room, the doctor looked down at her and shook his head. “Such a waste of a life. I don’t know if you can hear me or not, if you can, you should really try start speaking soon. I don’t know how long they’ll keep you like this, whatever they told you before was a lie and-” He picked up her chart and made a quick note, “just double checking she’s getting everything she needs.”
The nurse nodded and started fussing around the body. The doctor put the chart back on the bed and left the room.

The nurse hummed to herself as she worked and after a few moments her job was done. She left the room, leaving the woman alone.

It was too much, all of it was too much, she couldn’t move, could barely breath. Everything was happening and nothing was happening, what was real and what wasn’t? She couldn’t tell, was any of this real? Was she even still alive? She watched herself as they unhooked the machines, as her body thrashed and died, as they incinerated her corpse, saw herself standing, walking, talking. Saw herself married with children, old and alone, sitting in a garden, struggling in a wasteland. She saw them all one by one and all at once. She saw the lives of her family, her friends, those around her, all spiralling out every possibility and none of them. The constant barrage stopped, she could breathe, her eyes were open but everything was dark, a voice, somewhere in the darkness, “you can control it. Use it. Save yourself.” The blessed dark was gone and everything came crashing back. She could feel the pressure of it all on her, she couldn’t breathe again.

A nurse rushed into the room as machined beeped and whined, She saw it happen and nothing happen but the pressure eased a little bit, one of the lights winking out of existence forever. The room came in to focus, everything was blurry, but she could see and she could move. The nurse was on the floor, a pool of blood steadily spreading around her. She looked down at her hand and saw the needle, grasped tightly, blood splattered her hospital gown. Things should start happening soon. She tried to think, no one would know for five minutes. She stood from her bed and started walking. Her legs felt slow, weak, but they were working. She moved thought the hallway calmly, she would either escape or be caught, there were only two eventual outcomes. It was soothing. As she made her way through the halls she slipped in and out of offices, after each trip she felt stronger, she was able to focus just a little more as another light winked out from existence. As each light was extinguished another rose to take its place, but the new light was smaller, dimmer, easier to push away and ignore. Every second that passed new lights were igniting, but they too were easy to ignore, they were meaningless noise in a sea of static. She had at least a minute before the alarm would be raised. Either an intern sent on a coffee run, or Janice on the 3rd floor would need to use the bathroom and come down to use the ones on this floor as she thought they were nicer. She hoped it was the intern, his light was quite bright, a shining thread that weaved its way through others. He would be important one day, not as important as she was, but important nonetheless. She smiled, the intern it was.

She made her way to the elevators quickly, it would be here that he would notice the smell of blood, that he would move down the hallway and see the body. He wouldn’t get that chance. As he rounded the corner she launched herself at him, the scalpel quickly finding his throat. She shuddered in delight as his light vanished. Others filled in the massive void but none were so bright. The elevator doors opened behind her and she stepped in, the elevator would bring her to the first floor, but the alarms would be sounding by then. A part of her knew that had she done any of this before she would have been horrified, unable to continue but now it was a matter of life and death. She couldn’t function, let alone live, with all that constant noise. She needed to do something to make it stop, to thin out the herd. There were far to many people, too many futures to deal with. The doors opened a second after the alarms started. There were people behind the reception desk, security had already sprinted towards the stairs. She stumbled out of the lift, one of the receptionists ran over to help her, “What’s going on down there?” She shook her head and let out a sob, the receptionist helped her outside, muttering meaningless platitiudes as they went, once outside she pushed the woman away and started running, a slow, shambling run. She was outside, they wouldn’t get her, not now. She would be able to avoid them easily. Already the paths were starting to limit themselves, the billions of possibilities wittled down to a mere few million. She smiled, soon she there would only be one.


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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