Flash Fiction: The feeling

Here`s some flash fiction from Chuck Wendig`s flash fiction contest this week. You can see it here.

 

He hated the institute. He feared the sensation of the needles sliding into his skin for the injections. He hated the choking sensation of the huge pills he had to swallow.

Most of all, he hated their droning voices. “Freddie.” The voice said. “What word am I thinking of, Freddie?”

Fred knew, of course. “Beast.”

“Very good, Freddie. And what word am I thinking of now?”

“Brooch.” Fred said. “Cape. Dove. Finger. Flea. Gate.” The words came without effort. They were just there, just behind the scientists’ bald head, just beneath the sheen of sweat, for him to know.

“Well done, Freddie.” He reached out and put a hand on the plastic covering of the mattress that Fred was seated on. “You are very special.”

Fred didn’t reply. He didn’t care about the research, and didn’t watch as the scientist slipped out of the white-walled room. There were a few toys in here, some trucks in a box on the ground, a slide, some crayons and paper. None of those toys interested Fred, and the table, the chairs, and the bed were equally boring. He simply sat on the bed and stared. How long had he been there? He wasn’t sure.

He looked up as the lock clicked and the door swung open, expecting another scientist. It was; the fat one who shaved his head and always wore sweaters, even when it was hot. This time, though, he was holding hands with someone else, a woman. She was pretty, Fred realized, with midnight-coloured tresses that hung down to her shoulders, high cheekbones, and a delicate face.

“Freddie.” The fat scientist said. “This is Angie. She’s like you, we think. Why don’t you come over here and talk to her? She would like that.”

Fred studied her face. She had green eyes. No, he realized, they were gray-green, like chips of jade. They felt familiar. Warm. He hopped off the table and walked across the room, then held out his hand. “My name is Fred. Pleased to meet you.”

“I’m Angela.” She took his hand and shook it. “Shall we talk?” The fat scientist turned and left the room. They would be watching, Fred knew. They always were.

“I’d like that. Let’s sit down.” He led her over to the table, and pulled out a chair for her, just like his mother had always taught him to do. She sat down, and he slid into the chair across from her. “Did you just get here?”

“Yes.” There was a long pause. “I was brought here yesterday.”

“Ah. I don’t really like it here. But they tell me it’s important.”

Angela shrugged. “That’s what they told me, too. I don’t know why.”

Fred didn’t know either. There was a flash of memory; faded like an old photograph, of children playing here. Then it was gone.

“Military.” Fred shook his head, trying to clear it. “Military research.” The memory had shaken him. Why?

“I remembered it too.” Angela said, and for the first time, there was emotion in her face. She leaned across the table. “Freddie. You liked trucks.”

“Trucks.” He repeated. “Angie.” He said, the memory of a raven-haired little girl emerging from his mind. “You liked to draw. With crayons. We were here.”

The realization didn’t shock him. Why not? He wasn’t sure. “So we were.”

Angela was waiting for a reaction. Some kind, any kind. When she didn’t get it, she settled back into her seat. “Is it only us?”

“I don’t know.” Fred told her. He could remember lots of children, his age, older, younger. Some had even been teenagers. He had never met anyone else since then that he could remember. “Can you feel me?”

“Yes.” The corners of her mouth dropped. “You feel sad. Empty.”

“You feel the same, but there is something else. Like a ray of light inside you.”

She took a deep breath. “Hope. I feel hopeful. I found you. The others could be there.”

“I hope they are.” There was no clock in the room, so he had to cast outwards. Outwards behind the cameras and the mirrors, reaching into the watching scientists. They knew what time it was. It was nearly seven thirty.

“I’m sorry.” Fred stood. “I have to go. I’ll be back tonight.”

Her fingers reached for him. “Wait. I don’t want you to go.”

“I don’t want to go either, but I have to. I’ll be back. I promise.” Those words, that promise. It meant more than anything else he had told anyone in a long, long time. But he avoided her fingertips. Instead, he went through the ceiling.

He emerged out onto the rooftop. They always tried to take his briefcase, and his coat. Maybe they thought that, if he didn’t have them, he wouldn’t go. But he had to, and he could always find the coat and briefcase. Yesterday, he’d hidden them on the roof, inside an air vent, and now he reached inside and retrieved them. The morning air was cool and crisp in his lungs, despite the city rising up around him. It would be a warm day, but he swung his coat on anyways.

He dropped off the side of the building, and passed through the fence. The guards shouted at him, like they always did, but they couldn’t stop him. It was time to go to work. All day, though, all he could do was think about Angela, with her dark hair and her haunting green eyes.

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