Altered State – Part Eight

Short Story

It was surprising to me that Kate believed I could get out of here unnoticed. I wanted to believe her, but that was hard. Doctor Wilson didn’t seem so sure, either.

“And just how the hell do you plan on doing that?”

Kate shrugged.

“There’s four of us, we should be able to figure something out.” She smiled softly. “Two of us even have PhDs.”

“I agree with Kate,” said Karen. “It would be incredibly tragic for her to die just after we save her. Eva deserves freedom.”

Doctor Wilson continued to argue with Kate, but they all faded into the background. My brain latched onto the word “die” and wouldn’t let it go.

“What do you mean die? They plan on killing me?” My voice rose in pitch with each word and Karen reached out to ground me with her hand.

“To be honest, that’s really not the worst that could happen to you there.”

I shrugged her hand off of my shoulder.

“Could one of you actually explain something for once? I have a right to know if I’m going to die.”

Doctor Wilson sighed and pulled off his glasses to rub his eyes.

“You’re not gonna like hearing this, but we really didn’t expect you to live. There was only about a 20 percent chance that Kate was going to be able to save you, so it’s kind of a miracle that you’re here.”

“Did you know that when you sent me the offer to do the experiment?”

He paused.

“Yes. And no. We knew there was a chance you wouldn’t make it, but we honestly thought we got it right this time.”

“If it makes you feel any better,” said Karen, “we didn’t know there was that big of a chance you weren’t going to make it until things started going downhill.”

“Gee, thanks.” I closed my eyes and rubbed at my temples. “But that still doesn’t answer my original question.”

“Karen’s right: killing you isn’t the worst they could do,” said Kate. “They probably want to use you for some experimenting.”

I hesitated.

“They’d let me go after awhile … right?”

Doctor Wilson and Kate looked at each other.

“We wanted to let you go before sending our boss the report, so that way it would be harder for him to bring you in. I’m not sure how he found out, actually.”

I walked over to the window and looked out. I couldn’t remember the last time I went outside; I’d spent weeks in this stupid lab. All I knew was that it was still summer … I should’ve been using this time to pack for college.

From somewhere behind me I heard Kate ask, “Do you know if they have our phones tapped?”

“I don’t know — probably not,” answered Doctor Wilson. “Why?”

“I have an idea.”

Kate explained it would be suspicious if they saw someone from this building leave since it would have to be one of us. However, if someone else came in I could switch clothes with them and leave, hopefully unnoticed.

Doctor Wilson laughed, but it wasn’t humorous.

“Kate, that’s insane.”

“But it just might work,” said Karen.

“And then what? She just goes home? They can track her, you know.”

“I know someone who can go through and delete her records.” Kate paused. “And there’s nowhere in her contract that states she has to come back in. I checked.”

“Where does that leave us?” asked Doctor Wilson. “It’s going to be pretty obvious who helped her out.”

Kate calmly held his gaze.

“How many kids have we lost from this experiment? I think it’s our turn to make a few sacrifices.”

His shoulders sagged.

“I guess.”

“Wait,” I asked, “he’s not gonna like, kill you guys, right?”

“No,” said Kate. “I don’t think he’d do that. He’s just going to make our lives miserable.”

I smiled a little. “I want to say I feel bad for you, but it’s a little hard to do considering everything.”

She laughed and flicked my arm. “I can’t blame you.”

Doctor Wilson and Kate started to go through a list of co-workers who could pass as me while Karen helped me finish packing. Oddly enough, I felt a little sad knowing there was a very small chance I’d ever see them again. They’re not the most morally sound people in the world, but they’ve grown on me.

“We found someone!” called Kate. It was one of her friends who helped make the antidote. She was named Tanya, and we had a similar body type and the same shade of blonde hair. Kate went into another room to call her and explain the situation.

“What if they stop her when she comes in?” asked Karen.

“I think that’s just a risk we have to take at this point,” replied Doctor Wilson.

“What if she doesn’t want to help?” I asked.

“I know Tanya. She never wanted to work here in the first place, so she’ll probably do anything to dig at them, even just a little bit.” He paused. “And I don’t think Kate would ask someone who she wasn’t one hundred percent sure would take this big of a risk.”

“Why didn’t she want to work here?”

“She’s very smart. Like, super smart. She had a nice job over in D.C, but our boss blackmailed her into working for him.”

“That’s awful.”

“It’s how most of us got here.”

I had a lot more questions about the whole blackmailing thing, but the door opened and Kate walked back in, smiling.

“Tanya said she’ll be here in an hour.”

more by CASSIE GAMMIE

Read from the beginning: Altered State – Part One

Read the previous chapter: Altered State – Part Seven

Photo by David Werbrouck

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