Altered State – Part Nine

Short Story

Doctor Wilson leaned against the counter with his arms folded over his chest.

“What if Tanya decides not to show up?”

“She’ll be here,” said Kate. “We’ve both been working with her for years, you know she wouldn’t flake on something like this.”

Doctor Wilson chuckled darkly.

“We’ll see.”

He had a point, though. Why should this woman I’ve never met before sacrifice herself for my sake? She doesn’t know me, and as far as I knew, she had nothing to do with my experiments.

“I can see the smoke coming out of your ears,” smiled Kate. “What’s up?”

I raised my head from my hand where I was leaning against the table, staring at the wall.

“I don’t know. Well, I do, but it’s stupid.”

“It’s not stupid if it’s bothering you.”

“I just feel weird about you guys losing your jobs — or worse — just to help me escape.”

Kate sighed.

“I’ve told you one million times that he can’t hurt us, so stop worrying about that.” She paused. “That’s awfully kind of you though, considering everything we’ve put you through.”

“Yeah, I was a little pissed when I found out I was being scammed,” I laughed. “But you all seem pretty genuine. I don’t think you would’ve done any of this unless you had to.”

Kate’s face fell a little, but she recovered quickly. If I blinked I would’ve missed it.

“If I tried to leave, he’d make sure I never worked in any lab ever again.” She jumped when her phone started buzzing on the counter. Tanya’s name flashed on the screen.

“Hey.” She paused. “Got it, I’ll buzz you in.” Kate walked out of the room and, after a few moments, I could hear two women laughing. When she came back in, another blonde woman was behind her.

“Eva, this is Tanya.”

“Hey, nice to meet you.” Tanya went in for a hug. “I’m the one you’ll be impersonating!”

I thought Kate was bubbly, but this woman certainly was much higher on the scale. She seemed a little too peppy for someone who was about to put her job on the line.

“I can’t thank you enough for doing this, I really appreciate it.”

I didn’t think there were enough words in the world for how grateful was to finally be getting out of there, but I hoped this was enough.

Tanya laughed and then winked.

“I don’t blame you for wanting to get outta here. Kate’s the worst, isn’t she?”

Kate rolled her eyes affectionately.

“Please, whatever.”

“Did you run into any trouble on the way in?” asked Doctor Wilson.

Tanya shook her head.

“I didn’t see any of his cars, but you never know. But, so far so good.”

Karen tapped Tanya on the shoulder and pointed across the room.

“The bathroom is over there.” She handed Tanya a pile of my clothes. “If you need help with anything let us know.”

When Tanya finished it was my turn. I felt a little weird in her lab coat, but it made me feel important. I practiced my power walk while I was still in the bathroom where they couldn’t see me.

Immediately after exiting the bathroom, confident in my walk, Kate handed me Tanya’s heels.

“Practice in them a little, you have time.”

“Uh, I don’t really wear a lot of heels.”

Kate smiled.

“That’s why you’re gonna practice.”

Doctor Wilson groaned and rubbed his temples.

“You really had to wear those today? What if she has to run?”

Tanya rolled her eyes.

“I always wear heels to work, do you want this to be believable or not?”

Tanya helped me practice walking around the lab. She made me run, skip, jump and caught me every time I tripped. Normally I’d feel embarrassed at my lack of coordination, but she and Kate always helped me to laugh it off. Doctor Wilson stood in the corner, grumbling to Karen. He had no faith in my ability to walk in heels, which really wasn’t helpful.

Once I could run without nearly breaking my ankle, we went over the plan one last time. I was to put on Tanya’s sunglasses and walk out with a stack of paper. That way if anyone saw, it would look like I (or Tanya?) was only there to collect some documents.

“Wow, you guys really do look pretty similar,” said Doctor Wilson after examining us. “This might actually work.”

“Please don’t jinx this,” groaned Karen.

Tanya laughed.

“This is probably weird, but can we take a picture? I can’t post it anywhere — obviously — but I want to be able to remember my doppelgänger.”

Kate snapped a few before Doctor Wilson said, “This is cute, but we gotta get going.”

Kate nodded and looked back at me.

“Are you ready?”

more by CASSIE GAMMIE

Read from the beginning: Altered State – Part One

Read the previous chapter: Altered State – Part Eight

photo by Joel Filipe

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