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PREVIEW: Jack in the Box

September 13, 2018

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Subject Eighty-One

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Light! 

 

Searing, brutal light awakens you, pulling you from the dark oblivion you didn’t even know you were in. Screams echo around you, long and pained, and it’s only after a few moments you realize one is coming from your lips. You ache all over, your nerve endings alight with agonizing energy that just begs to for release, a kind of pent up reserve that is burning you from the inside out. Lashing out with your arms, the jangle of chains and new pain in your limbs reveals that you’re bound to a table set at an angle. Only now do you even consider looking around you...

 

To your left and right are similar tables, each bearing a naked man bearing course stitching in intricate webs over the exposed flesh, oddly shaped when compared to the rest of their various frames. You look down at yourself, still screaming as you see two small arms protruding from your stomach, manacled together at the wrists. Most of your body is an off-white, grey color, with black veins sitting below the taut flesh, though several patches of your torso are an ashen color reminiscent of coal. Closing your mouth, you blink your eyes, fighting back the tears as your eyelids scrape over itchy orbs.

 

“Ah, the miracle of life!” A man hollered over the cacophony of screams, a faint buzzing you hadn’t even noticed going silent moments later. The other men notice him and stop howling, looking over at him from the stairwell where he stands.

 

He looks unassuming, short and pudgy with slightly Asian features, thinning hair atop his head, a clipboard in hand. “Good! You all heard me. That makes you a rousing success over the last batch I cooked up.”

 

Cooked up? You think, not trusting your mouth to work right. Your tongue feels swollen and dry, rubbing against jagged, broken teeth in your misshapen maw. You lower jaw seems too large for your head, and you can feel in your gums places where foreign objects have been inserted. What does he mean by that?

 

Stepping down the stairs, a hand trailing lightly on the guard rail, the man walks on the smooth concrete floor in the bright room, his white coat a glaring eyesore to even gaze upon. At least the walls have the decency to be made of grey bricks and mortar!

 

He stops in front of you, peering up at you as he fishes out a pair of glasses from his breast pocket, slipping them on his thin nose. I have earmarked “Subject Eighty-One,” he said, his dark eyes boring a hole into your pain-wracked soul as the most likely to be sentient amongst your new brethren. “Can you understand me?”

 

You stare at him for a moment before nodding jerkily. It seems your body’s muscles twitch and pulse, daring to break free and stretch. Your skin feels tight over your mass, like the skin of an overstuffed sausage.

 

“Can you speak?” He asked, pulling up his clipboard and clicking a small pen. “Try to say your name.”

 

“Eye donn… ‘ave neame… kaant reem’ber!” You grit out around the sharpened points in your mouth, your jaw sliding and touching your neck as you speak, your chin virtually at a ninety-degree angle from where it normally sits.

 

“Well, you can sort of talk, I suppose that’s something… and you have no memory of your name. Language has survived in that bought brain of yours, how about memory? Tell me something you remember.”

 

You lower your head, amazed at how your neck can stretch. Staring at the small man, you feel almost overwhelmed with the desire to hurt him. He hurt me! He killed me! You suddenly think, causing your head to roll up at the vicious thought. You growl a loud audible grumbling.

 

“Murr’drer!”

 

“Ah, you kept those memories. How unfortunate…” The man scribbled down a few notes before looking back up at you. “Yes, I had you euthanized. Along with the eight other men I composed you from. Do you remember what dying felt like?”

 

You moan out pitifully at the question. The memory is all too fresh now he’s asked! You remember sitting in a room with dozens of other men, all naked. The room was stark white, with one entrance and four vents; no other decorations. Suddenly orange clouds billowed out from the vents, a gas which caused the surrounding men to scream. And bleed. Wherever the mist touched, sores opened and skin peeled away. You remember how the other men had clawed at you, climbing over you to escape. You remember falling to the ground, one of your legs broken, and that mist rolling over you.

 

Now, in retrospect, you realize you took over three minutes to die. Three horrible minutes.

 

“I’ll take your groaning as a yes. Well, that will never do… if you remember how you died you’ll inevitably come after me.”

 

“Yesh! Ketch ‘uo, kill ‘uo!” You growled, a wide grin spreading over your face as several other men strapped down repeat your last statement; it would appear that they remember as well. The little man doesn’t look like he likes this at all! You can smell the sweat trickling down his neck.

 

“No, I’m afraid that won’t be happening…” The little man said, scribbling down a final few notes as he turns. “The next batch will just have to be clocked back, perhaps inserting a pump with a muscle relaxer or pain killer in it…”

 

He continued to mutter as he walks back to the stairs, slowly turning on the stone and walking back up. You roar bestially, pulling against the manacles holding down your sizable arms. Several other men join you, the clattering of chains becoming a strained symphony in the enclosed space. The little man stops and looks out over you and the others, his face blank. He pulls a small black box, thin and light, from his coat and points it towards the ceiling. You hear a whirring coming from the light positioned over you.

 

It only makes you roar louder, fight against the restraints harder. “Eye kill ‘ou! Kill ou deed!” You bellowed, spittle flying from your fang-filled maw.

 

He shook his head slowly, staring at you with those soulless eyes. He says something… what it is, you can’t hear him over the den of chaos coming from your brothers, and that incessant whirring noise, what in the world is that? Turning to look up into the light, you squint to make out a thin pipe extending down from the light, which is actually five lights clustered together.

 

Looking around, you see pipes coming from each cluster of lights, stopping about a foot from your brother’s faces.

 

And then it happens: the orange mist squirts out from the pipe, dousing the roaring men in a dense fog of death, their roars of anger turning to cries of anguish as their skulls hemorrhage, their eyes melting from their sockets as their tongues swell and burst. Looking quickly at your own pipe, you watch it shiver almost in excitement before it sprays yours.

 

And then you slip once again into oblivion… you wonder, how many times will this happen to you before you can finally rest?

 

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