A dark fog diffused through atmospheric tension. We sat there in our beds, staring at the thick, metal door, waiting for the scientists to burst through. The three of us decided we no longer wanted any part of this twisted experiment and removed our helmets that morning. Charlotte, the only other remaining participant, was more than happy to throw in the towel. She described to us her dreams she so desperately wanted to erase. She spoke of beasts the size of skyscrapers and creatures more malodorous than bigfoots scrotum; monstrosities that transcended the most imaginative of minds. We all agreed it wasn’t something we wanted to deal with, if that time ever came.
Like clockwork, the scientists erupted through the door, spouting their peace through snarled lips. I rolled my eyes as Mr. Bad Advice directed his burgeoning aggression towards me.
“How dare you try to ruin our progression! You were explained the rules yet you still disobeyed them? Let me remind you that this is a well compensated experiment, do you really want to throw that away?”
His face was flushed in a deep shade of red, his veins exposed from beneath his skin.
“Have you been blind this entire experiment! People have died, does that mean nothing to you?”
“It’s all apart of the process, things like this happens in these situations.”
I looked at him with a confused expression, rage ravaged my blood and burned from my lips.
“How the hell can you be so insensitive! You allowed three people to die, and for what, thirty seconds of fame? This s**t’s not worth the money, you’re going to have to find three other guinea pigs to be your b***h, ’cause we’re done!”
I motioned for the others to follow me out the door. The scientist displayed an incongruous grin, forcing the feeling of uneasiness to crawl up my spine. Before we made it out of the door, he uttered the words responsible for that crippling grin.
“Restrain them, we can’t afford to have any more volunteers disrupt our advancements.”
Suddenly, I felt the touch of a cold, burly fist clench my wrist. The girls screamed in fear as they were apprehended.
“What the hell are you doing!” Hatred flowed out of me like an SJW’s rant on tumblr.
“I warned you Kyle not to ruin my advancements, I warned all of you! This discovery could usher in a new millennium! People could finally live out their dreams, distort reality, we could become God’s for this discovery!”
“But at what cost! Hundreds, even thousands could lose their lives in the process!” Endless tears ran down Jen’s face as she spoke, her voice shaky and timid. The scientist, ignoring Jen’s pleas, began to speak.
“Take them to the exam room, make sure they’re given an extra dose of pills.”
We were thrust into a room more decrepit and feeble than the last. Several chairs aligned adjacent to each other, facing the doorway. The room was littered with medical waste and broken machines. It looked like something straight out of a sci-fi horror film. We were all forced down and strapped into one of the chairs, one of the scientists came in a few seconds later and force-fed us the pills.
“If you’re going to force these on us at least tell us what they’re for!”
I wasn’t too surprised when I didn’t receive a response. They left without explanation, shutting the door behind them. Soon we were engulfed by the surrounding darkness; we were terrified. We had no idea what they were planning, no annotation of why they were holding us hostage or what those pills were actually for. We sat completely silent for what seemed like hours, Jen was the first to break the silence.
“Kyle, we have to get out of here, if we stay any longer we could all end up dead.”
“I know. I’ll try to think up a plan but for now, there’s not much we can do.” I glanced over at her terror-stricken expression. Her eyes were darkened, devoid of their essence. I could tell that any hope she had of getting out of here alive had dissipated; she had already given up, and I wasn’t too far behind.
We were held in the exam room for what felt like months; the encompassing veil of darkness even beginning to display horrific hallucinations, the only shred of light stemming from the scientists’ scarce visitations. For a while, we theorized about why we were being held here, coming up with harebrained reasons to lighten the mood. The scientists were aliens and wanted to extract our brains for knowledge or they had some weird kink for hostages. For a while it seemed to work, but eventually we fell silent. The shroud of emotions was just too strong to deceive. Despite how I felt, I knew I was the only one who could get us out of this mess, so I began to cook up a plan.
The straps were beginning to grate my wrists as I struggled to wiggle them free. Patterns of blood streaked across my arm, created by the tightened straps. I searched around the room, looking for anything to aid in my escape. Anything useful seemed to be just out of my reach, until I spotted a syringe lying about 4ft away from me. The needle looked sharp enough to puncture through the leather and allow me to rip through. I stretched out my leg, trying to fish it closer with my foot. I wasn’t sure when those scientists would be back, so I had to act fast.
After a couple of tries that yoga class I once took with my ex finally paid off; I was able to slide my foot around the syringe and pull it close enough to reach. I pulled off my boot and sock, cupping my toes over the syringe until I could successfully pull it off the ground. The initial process of sawing through a strap with a needle was harder than I expected, but I eventually managed. I looked over at the girls, their tranquil, somnolent demeanor made me almost reluctant to wake them, but letting them sleep would only complicate things.
“Hey, hey Jen wake up.” Her eyes slowly fluttered open, a look of both shock and excitement spanned across her face.
“Kyle, how’d you..?”
“I’ll explain later.” I stated while quickly unbuckling her restraints. She quickly stood from the chair and wrapped her arms around me.
“Thank you so much.” Her warm tears dripped onto my shirt.
“No need to thank me.” We awoke Charlotte and freed her from her restraints as well.
We waited for the scientists to make their daily visit to the room, I gripped the syringe tightly in my hand, standing beside the frame of the door. The girls sat in their chairs, acting as though their restraints were never removed. About an hour later, one of the scientists came in and quickly took notice of my absence.
“Where is he!” Before the girls could answer, I snuck up behind him, forcing the syringe deep into his neck. He squealed in pain and struggled to rip the syringe out. I motioned for Jen and Charlotte to follow me out of the door.
We ran as fast as we could, trying to quickly find an exit. Shortly after our escape, an announcement traveled throughout the building. “The participants have escaped, search the building and find them before they make it out!”
We didn’t have much time until they’d find us. Salvation came in the form of an exit sign as we quickly approached on of the doors. To our dismay, three of the scientists appeared from around the corner and blocked the door. Any escape route we could find was quickly compromised by more of them.
“Dammit can’t you just let us go? I’m sure you have more than enough research to pad your resume.”
The scientist just looked at me with an unmistakably demonizing stare, one that made me extremely uncomfortable. His eyes scanned us up and down and to my surprise, he opened the door, gesturing for us to leave. None of us said a word as we walked out the door. I looked back at the building as the door slowly closed, feeling a dark sense of skepticism lulling over me. Should it have been this easy? My quizzical notions were put to rest as Jen wrapped her arms around me once again, thanking me for reviving her lost hope.
For a while everything seemed to be going well. There was no word of the scientists that held us in that room nor were the nightmares haunting my sleep. Me and Jen even met up from time to time for a couple dates when she wasn’t busy with schools or work, I even managed to get a job myself. We both kept up with how charlotte was doing, she seemed to be doing well for herself. Everything was progressing nicely, until about 6 months later.
I decided to do a bit of cleaning in my basement, feeling it to be a bit crowded. While throwing as much junk as I could into a garbage bag, the lights suddenly cut out. I froze, looking around the aphotic room, straining to see through the darkness. My blood ran cold when I saw it, a creature with darkened skin and bright red eyes stood just feet away from me. It smiled, its teeth similar to hammered nails. Its stomach slowly ripped open, revealing several tentacles that swiveled out of its abdomen. I felt paralyzed by the sight of it, having no choice but to stay frozen in place as it grew closer to me. Its deformed head leaned down to my ear and whispered words that shook my very core.
“Your still dreaming.” In an instant, I knew what all those pills were for; we never escaped, we were still in that room.