It was so quiet. The lack of constant chatter made 871’s mind much emptier. It relieved the pressure on their brain, soaked away the tiredness, and all the other little annoyances that plagued their daily life. They were enduring another thoughtless experiment. One of Father’s tests to see the limits of his powers on an “uninfluenced human child”, but this was the only time 871 felt any connection to the results. They sat, with their pale upper body exposed, on a cheap hospital cot in the center of a white, square, windowless laboratory. This was the only one of the rooms without tanks full of Father’s favorite insects. It was perfectly clean. For the first time they could hear the sounds of machines deep within Father’s tower whirring instead of the constant chatter of restrained minds, and the mumbling thoughts of Father. If they focused, they could even hear the wind outside, see the glow of the sun between the cracks of the painted windows. They could even feel the sweat underneath their long dirty blonde hair. All real things. All beautiful, real things that 871 didn’t (or more couldn’t) notice before. They felt happier. Maybe if Father unplugged himself, he would feel happy too? The scientist tampered with the empty outlets on 871’s spine, checking for any loose wires, leaking blood, or damage to their bones. Her name was Barbra. 871 loved Barbra. She had a kind face and a warm voice. Her thoughts were gentle like honey, the same color as her eyes. Her tanned fingers ran across 871’s cold and pale back, pressing the much thicker cord which was plugged (and drilled) right into the T11 of 871’s spine. It tickled—a sensation 871 also wasn’t used to noticing—but they didn’t mind because her fingers were gentle and warm. They wondered if all of Barbra’s nice qualities, were why the other scientist (who they did NOT like) was so smitten by her. “Ready?” Barbra said, locking her fingers around the cable. 871 nodded and gripped the sides of the cot. Barbra ripped the cord out from their spine like a stick lodged in mud. A jolt of electric pain shocked their entire body as minor nerves ripped from central nerves and bones grinded on other bones. 871 screamed. Clear fluid dripped from the socket on their back then turned pinkish with blood. They grinded their teeth until the pain in their mouth overpowered the pain in their spine. “I’m sorry, honey. There’s only a few more left don’t worry…” Barbra whispered. She got up and walked over to the sink, grabbing a towel out of one of the cabinets to clean up the fluids. Once the pain subsided, 871 could finally feel their legs, saw the bricks that lined the walls of the laboratory, and could hear the sound of the water gushing out of the sink faucet. They even heard it leak. Drip drip drip. “Does it feel a little better now? Without all of those cables?” Barbra asked. She was dabbing the towel into the outlet, sopping up all the blood and pain with warm water. 871 swung their legs back and forth. “I’m glad, Evan.” Silence. “Say…” They made a rolling pin motion with their arms. “…I’m glad, Evan?” Uh oh. 871 didn’t like that. The name was fine. Barbra always called them that. It was a remnant of their life before Father’s white tower. A family before Father. Memories of…trees, lakes, flowers (maybe?), and houses that didn’t have 100 floors, with less than thousands of people. 871 like remembering those. No, it wasn’t the name. It was that quiet again. The quiet had gotten bigger. It was so big 871 couldn’t hear Barbra’s head anymore. They hoped they could, at the very least, dip their fingers into her honey thoughts, brown sugar memories, and bathe in the pictures of her dreams. The quiet had gotten so big they couldn’t even reach the little letters she sent them in her thoughts. The quiet was absorbing their own thoughts too. Barbra folded the towel up between her arms, “Alright next plug—” 871 was under the cot, holding the blanket tightly around them. “…Evan, I know it hurts. L3 is the last one you don’t need to worry.” 871 shook their head. “…I can’t…not…do this,” Barbra said, “It will be okay…please.” But 871 couldn’t handle being without Barbra. She was their only scientist since they were “truly born”. She was the nicest in the tower. The only mind they could cling to, as their brain forgot how to think. It was forgetting now. The quiet MADE them forget. It scared them. But they also knew, after listening to Barbra for years, that if she didn’t do as Father asked Father would hurt her. Father did awful things to people who didn’t listen to him. Especially nice people, like Barbra. 871 sat down, clenching their blanket as their face grew wet with tears. “It’s going to be okay. I promise.” She said. Barbra wrapped her pinkie around theirs and yanked out the cord. 871 was plunged into total silence.
About the Author Reaper Vinkler is a sci-fi and fantasy author. Deeply fascinated with human nature, her works focus on the way a real person would develop in fantastical circumstances. The way they’d think, see, and dream if their world is changed either in the beginning, middle, or end of their lives. Reaper’s goal is to create a character we can either deeply relate to, or one we’re vehemently fascinated by. About the Artist From Troy, Michigan and currently in Chicago, Sammy Loree is a visual artist and creative writer with focuses in surreal portraits and fiction. Updates and more art can be found on her Instagram @artsamloree.
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