Inmate 134 lay in a sea of blackness as definite as death and silent as the grave and waited. Time had no relevance to him. In another life, when he was a person, with a name not a brand title instead of inmate 134 he was called Kevin Mallous. He had begun to remember the event prolonged sensory deprivation had gave him some comfort in the form of a flesh coloured light that always made him feel empty but calm, as his memory circuits fed on his first form memories before birth
Kevin Mallous was skint he had no money and money in today’s society the only reason of value. Everything relied on the ‘Do Ray Me’ as the long dead blues singer Woody Guthrie would have told you. But he was quite bright and well adjusted, though his life had been somewhat dysfunctional. He had been born a screaming babe in a ward at Freelante Hospital maternity ward. He did not remember his mother who died from alcoholic poisoning, as well as other numerous toxins both legal and illegal, a few months after his birth. He had been made ward of state, after a disastrous stay with the sister of his late mother, who had more of a penchant for drugs than his late mother, with no other blood relatives he entered the system of fostering; some of his earlier memories of ‘order to go’ parents as they referred to by him when he was much older were o.k. But he did at six get to stay with what became his long term foster parents; the couple known as Margi and Andrew Mallous (the second name that was given to him over his paternal name Martin). They were descent enough and looked after him until he was sixteen. There was no real problem with them as Margi was teacher and Andrew an engineer both career minded had started with their career but waited too long for a biological Family. He had become in all sense their son but there was still something missing; something at a subconscious level that always alienated him from them. He was no psychologist but he did feel a sense of belonging was missing. He was close to both his surrogate parents as he was close to anyone. He treated them as his real parents went home when he left Bradford for Portsmouth at nineteen. But he still felt severed at an emotional level. Academically he was intelligent but he had given the given-up the idea of further education as it was too expensive. Perhaps, when he had earned enough money later he would try again. He had thought about the Armed services but wasn’t keen on it though they would be a means to an end. He had worked since twenty in a bakery. Johnston bakery was a local firm in Portsmouth. But the last few years they were ailing financially as the growth of the supermarket began to bite. Nonetheless, a roaring trade they no longer had, but a staple trade kept them afloat. The job had paid for a flat and food. His luxuries came in the form of early blues music which he caught off of Margi who was a fanatic for early blues – he was also a film buff. He had managed to get a fairly decent record player with a tape player deck as one; the tape player no longer worked but the two amps that came with it and the player itself worked well despite its age, and being purchased from a local Oxfam shop not known for their electrical expertise. He didn’t mind playing the odd game but his x-box, purchased second-hand was more than past its sell by date. He didn’t drink and was too shy for most girls. Perhaps he was wound too tight for himself but there it was. He got on with most of work colleges though he never became too close. He only joined in with conversations when it was about films or games (though strictly speaking he wasn’t a gamer and very few people had even heard of the old blues like “Son House”).
Suddenly there was fluorescent light and movement. He would have screamed his eyes felt as though they were on fire. His ears seemed to hear every moment as if the volume was switched to full and ready to burst his inner ear. But his larynx was far too wasted to offer the service of a scream, then the scream would have to be internal. Inmate 134 was pulled out of his holding chamber with enough room for a full grown man but nothing else, on a stretcher device which held a strap on each part of the lower and upper arm and three for the legs and one large strap for the chest. There was a two I.V. straps tapping the veins of both left and right arm. The stretcher that held was bowed in the centre to accommodate waste so urine and excrement didn’t build-up. The florescent light above was switched off and a blue ultraviolet light bathed the room instead. The light hurt less but still hurt. Inmate 134 could only see the ceiling which gave no indication of where he was. Only the formality of it reminded him of a factory ceiling. A man came in wearing a long coat it could have been white but in this wash of light all colours looked uniformly blue. He bent down looked at some of the readings from a small instrument panel on the side of where he was pulled from. Grunting he looked at inmate 134 and then shut the panel that contained inmate 134 – blackness again.
Kevin had first come to the offices of Perseus Chemicals because they were paying for human trials. He needed the money and they paid, he was told from one of his work colleagues, well. Perseus chemicals held an office in out of way area of Portsmouth more or less on the outskirts of the city in what had become a business park in the eighties. As in nearly all prefabbed business parks up and down the U.K. the landscape made of forlorn holding offices for business ventures that usually blew away in the wind of economic change and factories producing products that warranted shelf-life’s as secure as the offices. Even Kevin ventured in the offices with their illustrious reception and twenty-something petite receptionist, whose smile seemed to hide a scowl.
Perseus with their logo stamped on the wall of an eagle strident a globe with Perseus written in Calibri lettering across the bird’s chest, all coveted in moulded in plastic, painted a faded gold. The offices of the company were on the first floor of a white squared building with three layers each with a different business interest. He didn’t know much of what Perseus actually did but he thought that were into some form of scientific research. He was welcomed by the petite blonde falsely smiling receptions that asked his name and gave him a formal application for the trials which appeared to be some form of sensory deprivation. He was also handed some literature about the company which he skimmed through. Apparently Perseus among other things was in the business of making decompression chambers for divers and other diverse applications. He filled in the forms in the reception lobby and gave back the forms to the receptionist whose smile never faltered and looked moulded on to her face.
He left the office and was phoned and texts on his mobile two weeks later in November. The second interview took place in the same building but deeper into the offices of Perseus. He was interviewed by non-descript middle-aged man whose only real physical outstanding feature was that he was tall. His short clipped greying hair and bland features seemed to work well with his equally non-descript brown suit and black tie. He asked him in an overeducated voice a barrage of peripheral but still personal questions. He answered the questions easily enough. Then he was showed by the man he assumed was a researcher or doctor he only introduced himself as Phil Tolous and that he would be taking Kevin through the morning. Then Kevin was showed to another room where he was there were a few desks and a whiteboard. The room looked like a classroom without any students and therefore felt empty. He was given two papers one was examination of English and Maths (he wondered why such a company wouldn’t use a computer programme if it was for nothing more than statics, but maybe the company were cheap skates after all this was the new recession and money was never shorter, or maybe they would be feed the information in later). He quickly completed the English paper was slower on the Maths (basic Arithmetic though he conquered it at school still was a bane to him). He finished both in the time allotted then Phil came back and asked if he smoked or would like a coffee, and was shown to another waiting area where there was a crappy hot drinks dispenser. He took some change got a coffee and then Phil came back after fifteen minutes and showed him back to the classroom where he was a given a standard I.Q. test. After the completion he was showed out Phil somehow mechanical in his efficiency gave him a quick but cold handshake. He left the building and at the middle of November, a letter arrived stating that the application for test subject was successful and another brown package that had more forms arrived the next day including a guide to where the tests would take place. The package also contained literature about the house including an A5 brochure with information about the company and few thumbnails of the house named Tresill and of the team, situated at the outskirts of Portsmouth that had been converted by Perseus for the trial. They had his bank details and the payment for £2000 for two days would be paid into his account at the completion of the tests. He didn’t bother reading the literature sent by Perseus all of it was a bit much and technically he was only interested in the financial agreement.
Kevin was happy he needed the money but it all seemed fast. He googled up the directions and cross referenced it for buses. But decided on a taxi as he didn’t really know that area too well it wasn’t miles out but still it looked secluded.
The door to inmates 134 opened and his limb body was pulled into the outside world. The figure above him he couldn’t make out his vision was blurred and his eyes seared from non-use; his hearing was less affected by the isolation by still sounds were too loud. The figure above slowly came into view but it was distorted by the ultraviolet light. The figure seemed to be peering down on him the face a grey featureless wasteland. He felt the IVs being taken out and loosening of the restraints then something picked his skin and tabbed a vein just above where the left crook of his arm. Liquid cool and fresh but heavy was running through his veins and conquering his body. Soon his whole body was heavy and relaxed. There was tiredness that had taken hold of his body and mind inmate 134 relaxed as he was sucked into oblivion.
The house when he got there was a big and uninviting in its washed out tired walls. What it had been before he had no idea? What it was now as the sign-on entering stated was a research facility. He paid the driver who spoke in broken English probably Polish or some other European dialect. After he found the entrance, he rang the bell told them through the speaker, when the metallic voice enquired who he was and was buzzed through. The place was big but formal there was no reception that he could see. He was met at the door by a woman in her late forties, who politely ushered him. He was then asked if he would sign the register and be willing to spend the night. It had stipulated it on the contract so he signed the register, noting a few other names, the registers page for that day was half full. He wasn’t the first. He was then shown to a stairway and up a flight of steps. There he was shown a sparse room with a single bed and a night table not a lot else, he noticed that there was no window. There was a small wardrobe to hang his clothes and a change of clothes to pyjamas that looked like NHS ones, blue in colour. There were black cloth shoes but no socks. Almost hidden was a small door that led to a shower, newly built antiseptically white. The woman who introduced herself as Dr Elsie Wright told him to shower change into the PJs and that she would be back presently to start the tests.
The shower was efficient but basic; the stuff he was supposed to wash with was a clear liquid rinse that had a neutral smell, which came out of a clear, square bag with a nozzle for squeezing and the centre on top of one side. He put the clothing provided for on the top seemed a little tight but the bottoms and cloth shoes fitted. His own clothes Elsie had given him a clear bag to put them in which he did. Then promptly on que Elsie appeared and took the bag of his clothes assuring that they would be laundered and ready after the tests. Then she took him down a long corridor into the belly of the building then through a steel door that was secure locked. After she punched a number in and used a white key card which she scraped vertically down the panel on the right of the door. The room at first was small a few steps in a narrow corridor led to what Kevin assumed to be the basement. Then maybe not as he looked around more like mortuary, the impression that the harsh fluorescent lights overhead shone down on the whiteness of the walls, ceiling and floor. There was two rows on each wall containing what looked like shelving’s of some kind, each shelf had a door all the doors had small electric and monitoring devices which showed lights of differing colours and readouts though what they were he wasn’t close enough to see. There were four men spread out through the room, in green garb not unlike the one he was provided with, they were looking at the readouts provided by the shelf none seemed to notice him. A fifth man sat dressed in a suit at a small desk as he entered. But even sitting down Kevin could see this guy was built large and pumped more of his fair share of weights in the gym. The man behind the desk watched him intently though made no motion to get up. Elsie went over to the closest man on the left side of the room and spoke quietly to him. Then the man quickly walked to one of the wall spaces and opened it.
“Well Mr Mallous everything is running to time.” Said Elsie her English clipped and well spoken.
“We need you for the first test to, if you don’t mind, loosening your top”. Elsie said. “There are straps” her voice lingered “but really they’re just for your own safety. “She added quickly.
“For my own safety?” asked Kevin for the first time he felt spooked. Actually he had been feeling anxious about the whole thing since he had applied.
She nodded and then added “Its Ok nothing to be worried about.”
The cot that was pulled out was at the bottom left he compliantly sat lay down in it the straps were secured and then, some wires were added to the chest for registering breathing and heart rate. He was told that he would only be in the chamber for less than half an hour. Then he would need to complete some tests. The Technician was quiet but encouraging as he laboured on him getting him ready for the chamber.
“At first there will be a blue glow in the darkness but this will eventually fade into total darkness and then when you come out.” Elsie said with a warm smile and softening of her speech so why did Kevin think her eyes seemed distant.
Then he was pushed into the chamber by the cots handles and the metal door shut. It was all lie there was no blue light or glow fading but total blackness, the complete absence of anything. In the artificial confines of the chamber where space became an absolute with no direction up or down, left or right and no sensory input; no sight; no hearing, only the feeling of the straps that eventually left him and in his extreme, he began to believe that they were part of his body. He was left free floating in an emotional bubble of terror, so profound that thought seemed to take weight. His scream was the only vortex of sound (the chamber was sound proof apart from himself his screaming and breathing, there was no other audio stimulation) had at first been the only stimulation but even that and the breathing, heavily at first slowing to a quiet rasp, then to silence. He began to fall back into his mind but eventually even that became sour and the identity of who was became less. He was left in the chamber for two days, only removed to implant the IVs, he could only scream for an hour at most before his throat was bruised.
When the cot was first moved out he was on the edge of catatonia, then the sight sound of the 3 dimensional world confused him with its solidness, he did not recognise the technician who had put him or delivered the needles for nourishment in each arm, nor the harsh words that came from his throat. Another technician had joined him and their speech of either laughter or tears made no imprint on him, but the neutrality of their behaviour confused him he could remember now that his name was Kevin but then he heard the term ‘Inmate 134’ and that had imprinted itself on his mind. He was now for all intents and purposes ‘Inmate 134’.
Under the influence of the narcotic, that sucked him at first into oblivion, then delivered his mind to a playground where Inmate 134 believed himself to be a child of nine swinging gently on a row of swings. Inmate134 was talking to a friend he had met at school. School had been a drag that day, he had Geography last period and he hated Geography. The friend called Kevin had told him that he was actually him and that he was in danger, that all that he perceived – the playground in which he sat conversing with his friend was actually Kevin’s memories. Inmate 134 wasn’t sure to believe him or not, wasn’t his name Kevin or was it Inmate 134? It was all part of an experiment, explained Kevin who was sometimes, the age of schoolboy of nine dressed in the same school uniform as Inmate 134, and then a young man wearing casual clothes. It really depended how far he swung up and forward Kevin young, down and back Kevin old. Inmate 134 didn’t like what Kevin was saying and became agitated and began to swing faster and faster and the Kevin’s voice became a drone as he became young and old, faster and faster. He was part of an experiment a trial for money but he had been they had made a mistake or he had been horribly deceived. Up and down faster and faster Inmate 134 let go and let his body free fall through the air…
He awoke and his eyes slowly adjusted, the drug that had been administered, had left him groggy but still kept analgesic sway on him. He was no longer in the chamber but now he was sat in a chair, the restraints (though restraints were no longer necessary, he could no more control or harbour much strength his limbs than he could control where he was) were gone. The IVs had been removed and he was redressed in clean blue hospital pyjamas. His eyes though blurred slowly came to some form of focus and he could tell that he was a large room, maybe somewhere else in the house, the room was spacious to his left side there was four large windows big enough to allow a battalion through, he couldn’t be in the house the windows were far too large for such a construction this room belonged more to a country house or mansion. He could see it was dark outside, natural dark of the night but he couldn’t from his angle see the sky but he was pretty sure that if he did look out he would see the country side. They must have moved him but to where? Was he in England anymore? He felt panic rise within him what was this place and why was he here? There was no experiment, no human trials; he was in trouble but of what kind? The room was almost empty and it was in darkness. But as his eyes became more use more focused he realised his error. It was neither in darkness or empty. At the far end was a small light possibly a lamp with his eyes he could have easily mistaken it for a reflection cast from outside. And there was figure that sat and watched him. As if by seeing the figure it came to life and stood and walked, stealthily towards him. The figure did not seem to be hurried and as it came closer he could make out the shape of the figure to be that of a woman. As she got closer he could see that she wore all white, he could make out that she wore a top and long skirt that was tailored close to the leg and fitted with an exactness that suggested they were made to measure. As she was almost on him he could see her features and make out her height to be roughly just less than six foot and with her movements she seemed to be a young woman of stature that might have belonged to a model. She was now upon him he could make out her features which were long and complex face, symmetrically beautiful. The features were framed by her short haircut in a form of a bob which gave her face an ethereal beauty.
“I thought it might be prudent to leave the lights off, as you need time for eyes to adjust, though the drug that you received should keep most of the pain from the eyes for a while.” She said her voice was educated and honey in its deepness but there was dislocation to it also.
“You have been under and out of commission,” there was a slight mirth to her explanation, “since November it is now the end of December.” She suddenly loomed in front of him holding the arms of the wheelchair he was now confined to her face inches from his own.
“You have missed all the commercials and films that you belonging to your class would have enjoyed.” She withdrew back to standing. Slowly she began to walk behind him. He could no longer see her but he knew she was behind him. The wheelchairs controls were set-up behind him, it was motorised and was easy to push, without the aid of the motor, and though she looked slim he knew that she had a lot of strength in her limbs. The chair lifted and he felt a slight rise as the wheels moved forward; she simply steered, he felt himself go forward at an easy pace.
“You know you’re very privileged to be chosen.” She said there was a tremor of excitement to her voice. “This is the first time that we felt as a Family that it would be appropriate to have a ‘Offering’, in an age. And of course there is tradition, and now your part of that tradition.”
She moved in sliding motion to his ear, her face close to enough to whisper. “You’re very lucky you know.” Then she was standing behind him again her motion lithe, she seemed to be poised with excitement.
“But as you may have noticed on your way in to that ghastly chamber, there were others to choose from.” Her voice was playful almost giggling the word ghastly.
Suddenly she stopped the wheelchair came to an easy halt. She seemed to be considering something and Kevin whose feelings were still slow began to feel panic but he was secured and though he was beginning to wish to scream, he found he had little will in him.
“Hah the chamber!” she said. “Almost forgot all about that. Do you know most go catatonic in there? You’re sort of awake and your resilience is a sure sign that you’ll make a great ‘Offering.”
She stopped her diatribe for a while. Kevin felt slightly nauseous; fear was growing into panic, whatever the ‘Offering’ was he felt assured it was not healthy. But still is body refused to yield to the command of panic or any other motor function. Then he felt movement as she propelled him forward.
“The ‘Fools’ as they were first called before the ‘Offering’ became the title, origins goes back further than the Romans or the Celts. Maybe, back to the Garden of Eden.” She sniggered there was cruelty to her words. “But no one really knows, certainly not the Christians, like all religions they wonder in ignorance but not us not the Family.”
His sight was becoming accustomed to the room’s darkness, it was not totally without lighting, there were bulbs fixed into the ceiling but the room was high and they cast starlight reflections when they were low like now. He was being wheeled to the centre of the room. On his left he could see some kind of cabinet, glass framed it symmetry pushed out elegantly from the wall. He couldn’t quite make out what the figure was inside it looked like a person but he couldn’t be sure. Pain was starting to make itself known around his eyes and the folds of his limbs. She stopped before the cabinet pushing the chair to her right so he was facing the exhibit.
The exhibit lights placed above and around the exhibit started to come on dimly then more brightly exposing the secret of what was exhibited. Inside sat a young man wearing a full dress dinner jacket complete with white shirt and black bow tie. He was dead and the taxidermy of the corpse was first class. He was roughly the same height and weight of Kevin but his hair which was a blonde sandy colour, unlike Kevin’s dark brown, was cut neatly on top and waved to the side with a straggle at back giving him a mullet style which seemed to date the young man in the period of 1980’s. The young man was good looking with a jaw that was squared and blue eyes set at the right distance between the nose to give him a friendly look. However his eyes seemed alive like his skin…which was not possible. The chamber in which he sat must have been air-proof. How else could he have been so well preserved?
“This was the last ‘Offering’ he as you can see looks better in death state than he did in his life. And was able to keep the Families ceremonies alive, as it were, he had some use other than his pointless, unproductive life could ever have.” Her voice had up until now a seductive purring quality but now it sounded aged like the falling of October leaves. Rustling along the ground, a funeral’s rattle for all to hear. She moved him a little from the glass partition and walked in her easy way to face him and bent down like a snake inches from his face. Her expression impossible to read as it was devoid of any emotion, other than a touch of superiority. He could feel her breath…she closed on his face as if to kiss it but instead her tongue lapped out suddenly like a serpent and licked his cheek. Her movements were fast enough that an athlete would have been jealous of her, she resumed to her height and stand her right hand crossed herself and her left reached for her jaw.
“You taste just right” She smiled to herself then added. “You will make a great contribution to the celebration.” She watched him for a few more seconds or minutes for all he knew it could have been hours.
“It’s all in the fear that gets the adrenaline going.” She towered above him a terrible and hateful mistress. “All those chambers you have seen. Yes all the chambers had occupants. All poor like you – without a dime – and all or most without family or friends who will inquire further than the law permits their efforts. They are our property, some will be harvested there is money to be made for transplants and other uses for body parts, some will be part of experiments, the Family have several research facilities and we don’t need to worry about vagaries of ethics. You see the Family compromises not just of the rich but also of…well let’s a different class. I personally believe a superior species than you.” As she spoke both her hand came to rest on something around her chest it looked like a necklace but he knew it wasn’t she held it both hand and she pushed what must have been something to notify that she had finished with this conversation. She walked away from him allowing him full view of the young man’s corpse that was on exhibit.
It was a work of Art as he viewed the exhibit, well dressed and lively skin tone, and the eyes so bright, no sign of death. He would be immortal in that state – or the closest humans knew of such things. Terror stark and solid moved within him. He didn’t want to die not now, not here. Then he felt a tugging behind him as someone pushed his chair into reverse and he heard a small motor whirl as he was pushed into motion; down through the long corridor to the panelled exit door. He could see the night sky through the long windows. The stars had come out and they shone so bright without the rude incandescence of street lighting. It was troublesome; he could only admire their beauty with such terror and so little awe. He found himself in a corridor thin with white walls leading down and at an abrupt trajectory. Then he took no notice of his surroundings or the anonymous person who pushed him because he was dribbling thickly from the side of his mouth. It wasn’t the act of the saliva, but the fact that he always hated the smell as it pooled on his cheek. Soon he found himself in what looked like an operating room but around the sides of the room appeared to be a kitchen the surrealistic clash was as real as his fear. There were two fairly sized men behind him one pushing the chair the other stood just behind him. They removed Inmate 134 to the operating table. He could hear their voices calm and collected almost dreary in their task.
‘Inmate 134 to be anaesthetize further, but use GS, we need him feeling not moving.’ Said one, he saw large hands grasp what look like a gun but with a hypo syringe as the barrel. He took out the hypo and replaced it with another there were several lined up at the side. He felt the man’s hand probing his neck and for the first time one of his bearers came into his field of vision. He was a average looking man, no real facial features stood out just a man he’d seen a thousand times and had ignored in the street: Short brown hair, muscular neck and unconcerned hazel eyes filled his vision. The hand found the vein tapped and released the chemical into his system. Now the stiffness that had accompanied him earlier was back totally immobile. He could still feel his nerve ending unimpeded by the drug – and so was his terror and horror. How hopeless it was to be impaled like a butterfly in a collection case. He heard the entrance of another man. A voice talked among the other two but he recognised it. The guy he had met what felt like an eternity ago at the interview his name was Phil something. If he strained he could make out what they were saying.
‘Given 40 ml of GS. That will keep him quiet but he may gurgle which could bruise the throat tissue.’ Said one of the men who had brought him here the one he had not seen.
‘Don’t worry about the throat just the liver, spleen and heart.’ Phil’s voice spectral as ever came to him.
‘They need to be fresh they are to be served tonight the chef is on his way. Just make sure there is a little skin damage as possible. We need his skin taunt for the process.’ He could hear the conversation no more than a few feet away as banal as cooking a turkey. And this time his heart felt like bursting with horror and hate for these fuckers. He was a turkey he was to be dissected the best portions cooked and he was to be literally stuffed – oh fuck his mind could not comprehend this. How long had these fuckers been doing this shit?
Hands came into view and relieved of this clothes they then started with the scalpel. The first incision cutting from the neck through the chest to the groin; hands that were as precise and merciless as the scalpel they wielded. He felt the chill of his skin and the warmth of his blood as it came through another incision increasing the blood flow to a river and the pain burst through his head as his body died. Clarity hit him with the pain both unbelievable in their vastness and strength. The idea of blood sacrifices through the rotten centuries; he was not the first to be stigmatised with such an ordeal – his pain would never be known or written about. An epiphany of outrage hit him to be slaughtered and devoured by these people not even demi-gods, who would mount him in an empty cage for their delusions. He heard the woman’s voice he had met in the hall; he could no longer see her face or her body but he could her scent, monstrous and inhuman her voice deep like males but seductive as a viper: ‘ To be food for the Gods, and shit for the sewer, this is your fate’. But they were not Gods demi or otherwise, whoever she was and the Family, whoever they were or thought they were they not, just sadistic cunts, privileged and blind; and the pain ooh the pain as they tore inside him.
His mind slipped back over his short years. He saw his adopted parents; saw them smile the house he lived in for most of his years. His flat, the record player; the sound of the sweet blues silenced as it fell all into dust with the memories destroying themselves. He saw his old school one of several and all the people who adopted, befriended and eventually deserted him. He saw his mother dead, young and slouched over a bottle of vodka, a needle recently collapsing her vein. And then she was alive and he was inside of her growing then he was nothing at all.
Inmate 134 was harvested his organs cooked his body was expertly drained and the solutions and mixtures were used he was mounted in the cabinet. His eyes stared out never looked more alive.