One In, One Out. Flash Fiction.

Joan looked down at her blood soaked hands and started giggling, she could hear it echoing off the walls around her, she could hear the edge of panic in her voice, but she couldn’t stop herself. The laughter became deeper, the giggles turning into cackles, her body shaking with the force of them. Tears began to run down her face, without thinking she reached out and wiped one away with her hand then froze, the laughter dying instantly. She could feel it, the cool but all too warm blood on her face. Her breathing slowed and steadied, she held her hands carefully in front of her, making sure she wouldn’t touch herself again. Terry’s lifeless eyes stared up at her, his jaw was slack, but she remembered the surprised O his lips had formed as he collapsed. It had happened quickly and Joan hoped that meant there was little pain. He hadn’t spoken to her as he died, he just kept looking around the room, like he was trying to figure out where he was or when he would wake up. Joan reached out one hand and carefully closed his eyes lids, shuddering as she took her hand away. He was getting cold already, he had only been dead for a few minutes. The attacker had left the small room, Joan didn’t have a chance to get a good look at him, it had happened so fast. It had all happened so fast. One moment she was out for a walk and the next thing she knew she was being shoved into a van, she wasn’t even sure if she had screamed. They had thrown her into this room a few hours before and Terry had told her what it meant. What it always meant. One in, one out. That was the rule.

Terry didn’t know how long they had kept him in this room, or why. In one corner there was a sink and a small toilet, a metal cot was shoved against one wall, it had a thin mattress and no sheets or blankets. The rest of the concrete walls were bare. As the door opened Joan scrambled backwards towards the bed, a single man entered, he wasn’t wearing a mask, Joan kept her eyes on the ground, she didn’t want to look at him, maybe if she didn’t see what they looked like they’d let her go. The man dragged Terry’s body outside and he closed the door after himself. After a few minutes Joan stood and went to the sink, the water was almost unbearably cold and by the time she was done scrubbing her hands clean they were numb and a bright, angry red.

It was her third day in the room, or was it fourth? It was hard to keep track, there were no windows and the food schedule was erratic. No one had spoken to her and the few questions she managed to ask were ignored entirely. There was no explanation, no reason as to why they would want to keep her here. She was just a nobody and no matter how much she thought on it she couldn’t think of any reason why someone might want to lock her up.

The door opened suddenly, a man stumbled in, he was shouting something. He fell to the floor and scrambled to his feet, turning just as the door closed. He banged his fists off it, screaming. Joan stayed on the bed, she couldn’t move, couldn’t think. The man turned around and paused when he saw her, “What’s going on? Why have they locked us in here?”
Joan opened her mouth but no words would come out, all she could think of was the first words Terry had said to her, his eyes wide with fear, “One in, one out.”


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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