It’s so dark. Why can’t I remember? Can’t remember…..
Rashida Alexander awoke with a start. The sunlight pouring in through the window dappled her dark skin with the floral pattern of the lace curtains. She sat up, rubbed the sleep from her eyes and stood, pulling on a wrinkled tank top and shorts. Blearily, she shuffled into the bathroom and splashed her face with water.
She grabbed a hand towel and wiped the remains of yesterday’s makeup from her eyes. A tall, stunningly beautiful woman stared back at her through the mirror. She removed the elastic from her hair and shook her head. Gorgeous auburn braids cascaded to her elbows, the cowry shells sewn to their ends clicking together like wind chimes. She stared into her olive, almond shaped eyes as she brushed her teeth. Images of sterile walls and IV drips floated into her mind. Where had she seen that place? She closed her eyes and tried to concentrate. The more she tried to hold onto the memory, the more it slipped away. She opened her eyes and the toothbrush slipped from her mouth into the porcelain sink below. She screamed. Staring back at her through the mirror was not her reflection, but the reflection of a man. He was large, blonde and shared her horrified expression. She turned around, ready to fight off her attacker, only to view the empty bathtub behind her. She whipped around again, and so did the man in the mirror. Heart pounding, Rashida touched her cheek with shaking fingers. The man mimicked her. She waved her hands, the man waved his hands. She clutched the edge of the counter with both hands and hung her head, stilling herself. When she looked back up, it was her own eyes she met. She slid down onto the cool tile floor and hugged her knees. What the hell had just happened? She had no recollection of the man whatsoever. Deep breaths, she thought to herself. You were probably still dreaming or something. This rationalization had absolutely no basis, she knew, as she had been completely awake and was even more awake now. It’s fine, weird things happen, no big deal.
The smell of bacon, eggs and coffee filled the brightly lit kitchen and lifted Rashida’s spirits. She piled her plate full and poured plenty of cream and sugar into her coffee. Somehow, the Good Lord don’t want to see no man start a cold morning with just black coffee. She must have read that somewhere. The coffee mug warmed her hands and she drank deeply. Suddenly she began to feel ill. Her heart raced and her head felt as if it would explode. The coffee cup shattered, sending black shards and pale coffee across the linoleum. Everything went black.
My head, what’s happening? This voice. I don’t understand it. It’s so dark. Why can’t I remember…..
“That’s two fifty ma’am,” the street vender said. Traffic roared behind her in a speeding cacophony of color and motion. People flooded the street around her, hurriedly making their way through their own lives. Rashida had no idea where she was.
“Get a move on lady, some of us got places to be,” a man behind her yelled. Words built up in her mouth but she couldn’t connect them into a coherent sentence. She shook her head and ran. Panic stricken, she weaved her way through the crowd and to a bench in an empty courtyard between two shops. There must have been an airport near by because the sounds of the planes taking off was deafening there. She sat down hard, not sure what to do next. A newspaper fluttered lightly in the breeze beside her. She snatched it up and read mouth agape. New York Post? How the fuck am I in New York? I was just in my goddamn kitchen. This is a dream. This HAS to be a dream, she thought. She glanced over at the shop window and froze, tears forming in her wide, terrified eyes. Again, she found herself staring back at a reflection that wasn’t her own. This time it was a woman. A white woman with shoulder length red hair and blue eyes. She looked down at her pale, freckled skin and pink nails. She didn’t understand. What was happening to her? She clutched her head and cried out, tears streaming down her face. Suddenly, everything stopped. The cars, the people, the birds, everything. She gazed around at the people frozen in place. A deafening crack shook the world around her and reality began to shift. Like pieces of a puzzle, chunks of the city began to collapse in on itself. The buildings fell away into a dark abyss and soon Rashida was left in darkness again. Cloying, thick darkness that seeped into her and enveloped her horrified, screaming being.
Please, help me. My head…..where am I?
“ -regardless, we just want you to be safe. It’s a long flight and you’re still so young. We’re going to miss you so much!” a middle aged woman with curly brown hair and plump cheeks bent down to hug Rashida. She sat motionless, staring into a cozy living room with pink rose curtains, overstuffed pink couches and antique knick knacks. The woman turned and entered the kitchen, leaving Rashida glued to the pastel pink arm chair. She needed answers and she needed them now. She stood shakily and made her way into the kitchen. The woman turned to her and smiled.
“James, dear. You should be packing,” she smiled. Rashida swallowed the panic rising in her throat and slowly looked towards the kitchen window. Sure enough, there stood the reflection of a tan, dark haired young man staring back at her. She ran to the woman, grasping at her blouse.
“Who am I?” she asked in a deep fearful tone that wasn’t her own. An ear piercing drilling sound filled the room. To her horror, she realized it was the woman producing the inhuman noise, her mouth stretching wide and dripping a black, tarry liquid. Pain struck her head and she fell backwards onto the kitchen floor. She began seeing flashes of memory. Men standing over her in white coats. Someone was attaching something to her head as the drilling heightened to an unbearable pitch. The kitchen began to swirl and shift, rippling as if under water. Rashida watched as the woman’s face began to melt, the flesh of her face dripping like wax from a candle. Her clawed fingers elongated and melting, reached towards her on the floor. Rashida shut her eyes as the darkness suffocated her once more.
“Prekratit',” the voice over the speaker demanded. Dr. Leon Headden leaned back in his chair and sighed. Three failures concluded his effort in this surgery. He took the tape recorder from his pocket and pressed record.
“Conclusion, Operation was a failure. Control Subject to be terminated.” He clicked the off button. He stood and opened the door to the operating room. Two bodies lay on separate tables. One, an African American woman and the other a young Greek man. They lay nude with their heads shaven and parietal bones sawn open and held on by metal hinges. Dr. Headden wheeled the young man through a curtain and placed the table beside the other failures. He began the grueling task of removing the woman’s brain carefully from the man, and then headed back through the curtain. After several more hours, he replaced the woman’s brain back in her own skull. He checked her vitals and fluids before pulling up a chair and sitting beside her. Hours later as her vitals began to stabilize she attempted to stir.
Rashida opened her eyes. Something in her mouth and throat prevented her from screaming, although she tried. She recognized the room from her memories, the IV drips and the man in the white coat sitting by her. She tried to get up but found she was unable to move her arms or legs. The man stood and leaned over her, whispering.
“I’ve injected you with a paralytic called Succinylcholine, to keep you from fighting. Here is what you want to know. Your American government very badly wants to perfect the ability to perform a successful brain transplant. They allow our people to abduct American tourists without threat of being found out, or persecuted. Your family will assume the worst of you, and surely come looking. Sadly, all records of you and all other subjects of entering the country have been destroyed. We perform as many of the surgeries here in Kiev as we can until we can send the perfected technique to your American hospitals. They obtain the glory of the procedure without the hassle of killing people for practice. Unfortunately for you, the bodies that were supplied to us kept rejecting your brain.” He motioned toward the opened curtain and she glanced over. There, lying on metal tables were the bodies of the blonde man, the red headed woman and the dark haired young man she had inhabited. Hot tears spilled down her cheeks as she realized what had happened to her, and to them. She had experienced their last memories before they were abducted. Her eyes rolled back to the doctor, pleading desperately the only way she could.
“Right now you’re probably wondering, ‘why me?’ Don’t worry. You were nothing special. Just an unfortunate tourist like the others. I felt we owed you at least an explanation before I follow my orders to dispatch you. I have a soft spot for you control subjects. Do you believe in God, Ms. Alexander?” Rashida nodded.
“ Pity. I can assure you there is no God here.” He removed a glass vial and a syringe from his pocket. Rashida weakly shook her head as he stabbed the rubber stopper, the syringe filling with a bright pink liquid. He eased the needle into her IV tube and pushed the plunger. As she began to slip away, she realized what the darkness she’d experienced was. The thick, suffocating nothingness that had pulled her down into its void. It was their deaths she had experienced, and this time it was hers.
Story entries for the August – Sepetember (2016) Sixpenceee Story Contest can be found here. Simply submit a story to enter. Stories don't necessarily have to be creepy, for example, thought provoking stories or stories with a twist are definitely acceptable.
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