The Endling



Ch. 2.0: the woman bolted to the wall


The woman watched me with completely expressionless eyes, her chest rising and falling as though driven by unceasing hydraulics. Her breasts were at about my eye-level, but we were both naked, so I told myself that shouldn't be as startling as it really was, and made myself focus on her face. Her eyes stared straight at me, but she didn't say a word. I waved the light across her face, but she didn't react. She was definitely alive, but— oh. It took me probably a bit too long to realize what that meant. She was blind.

“Are you hurt?” I said. My voice squeaked. I hadn't even thought about speaking until then, and I was a little disappointed at the pitch that my voice came out as. I had just assumed I would have a deeper voice, something a little cool, not a nervous teenager’s cracking tone. “I mean, who put you there? Where am I?”

"Ah,” she said. “You finally found me.” Her voice was as flat as her expression. I thought it was her voice, anyway, but her lips didn't move. Her eyes tracked my voice, but didn’t settle on my face. I stepped back, unsettled. I hadn't noticed until then that her entire body was chained against the wall with large bars that pressed into her belly. The metal completely covered her arms and legs.

She tilted her head to look directly down at me, but her grey eyes didn't focus.

“Release me.”

She didn't sound hurt or scared, but there was no way she wasn't at least in pain. She must have been a victim too, right? A person couldn't bolt themselves into a wall.

“Uh, okay.” I swept the flashlight around her torso. I didn't have time to be self-conscious! It was totally ridiculous to feel this way in middle of the situation I was in, but I was embarassed and blood was heating my cheeks anyway. “How do I get you free from here? How did you get chained up?”

“Just hurry. We can talk when—”

A clattering and shrill noise echoed down the hall. I jumped and almost dropped the flashlight. The serration on the saw blade cut into my fingers and I winced, but held it tight anyway. The blind woman craned her neck forward, like she was peering down the corridor into the dark. But she was blind, wasn't she?

“Nevermind,” she said. “Here comes the doctor. Next time, then.”

Next time? What did that mean? Had this happened before? And what doctor? Was I sick? Should I run and try to hide?
Was I crazy…?

I had a lot of questions and no time at all to answer them. The shrieking of metal repeated, much closer to us, and I stepped backwards a step, little saw cutting into my palm. My bare feet almost slipped on the slick floor. How was I supposed to save this woman, as well as myself?

"What should I do?" I whispered to the woman beside me.

"Kill the doctor before she kills you," the woman replied. Her voice was completely, totally sure, so sure that the outrageous suggestion sounded completely reasonable, maybe even possible. I felt a surge of adrenaline pulse through me. Someone had already died in here. This was really it. I only had my actions, a flashlight, and a little saw to defend myself with in my naked helplessness.

I took in an intensely deep breath, knowing that it might be my last breath ever, tangy smell of oil in this facility and all, and then charged down the hall. My feet slapping against the tile was the least menacing sound I could conceive of, and whatever was waiting down the hall-- whatever kind of sick 'doctor' this was-- definitely heard me coming, because all sound coming from that way stopped. I held the flashlight as steady as I could, already feeling out of breath. What kind of shape was I in? My poor stamina was more evidence that I was sick...

Just as my lungs felt that they would burst, the light shone on another figure, probably about my height, pale and shrouded in the darkness of the corridor. Another woman in a white lab coat, short hair so white it looked lavender in the flashlight beam. She raised a pipe in her hands-- no! She was raising an hatchet to hit me with! Why would a doctor even have an hatchet?! She'd come down the corridor armed, to kill me and maybe the other prisoner! There was no doubt about it, this was a fight to the death.

A burst of static exploded through the corridor. Startled, my feet went right out from under me. I felt the wind from the axe passing over my head. Words I'd heard or read somewhere in the past sounded in my head-- to aim for the knees in a fight. I slammed the flashlight into the back of her leg, and she fell forward with a grunt. I scrambled back to my feet, powered by pure terror. The doctor was saying something, but I couldn't really hear the words over my own heartbeat-- something about the whole batch needing to be terminated. Batch? That must have been me! She was on her knees, straightening up again. Her movements were so straightforward they seemed almost mechanical.

I shoved her from behind again, knocking her over, and then dropped the stupid saw to grasp the light with both hands. I slammed the flashlight into her head again. She didn't say a word this time, but she had let go of the hatchet with one hand to try to push herself up from the floor more quickly.

Even as precisely as she moved, it didn't seem like she was very good at fighting, so at least that made it an even match. I hit her again and again, every swing a burst of blinding light. I couldn't see where I was aiming so I just aimed by the sound of the heavy flashlight impacting with her skull. I couldn't let her get up again. She would kill me.

I kept swinging until I realized that I was crouched over her body, hitting her shattered head over and over again, liquid from her head spattering over my arms and chest. I was panting, not even sure how long I had been sitting there. Pure panic had overwhelmed me. I lowered my hands, shaking. No. I couldn't regret it. I couldn't even stop to think that I had killed someone.

Chunks of hair clung to the steel body of the flashlight. It wasn't even dented. I swallowed, pushing the nausea down.

Okay. I could stand. I carefully braced myself against the wall and pulled myself to my feet. I just had to get back down to the woman... oh. I could probably knock the heads of the bolts off with the hatchet, right?
I held my breath to try to suck in the sick feeling at the base of my throat, and swung the beam of the flashlight down to the doctor's body.

The blood was black. Nothing in the head looked human at all; it was like the doctor’s body was constructed from glass and tar. I stared for what had to have been minutes, unable to understand what I was seeing. The lens-like back of an eye stared up from the floor back at me.


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