Welp it’s Friday and it’s time for Friday Fiction.
This is one of my favorite short stories, which was originally posted on my short story blog (A Short A Day).
Feedback is always welcome. Enjoy!
“Where are you taking me?” I scream as I’m led down a long stark white hallway. There are two men — giants, I think — one on each side of me, and each has an arm. I feel like a wishbone. Any moment they could take my arms and pull in opposite directions and they would rip right of the sockets.
“Where are you taking me,” I continue screaming. They keep looking straight ahead and continue walking in silence. I purposely stop walking and fall to the ground like a toddler throwing a temper tantrum. They quietly pick me up off the cold floor and continue walking. They lifted me so high in the air that my feet are not even touching the ground. I kick (as if I’m riding a bicycle) and scream, but nothing. They are not phased by behavior.
Finally we reach a door, which seems to magically open and they take me inside. There is nothing in this room. The walls are just as stark white as the walls in the hallway. They set me down in the middle of the room and one of the giants holds both of my arms while the other fits me for an ankle bracelet.
“I’m not a criminal,” I yell. After they are satisfied that my ankle bracelet is securely on, the door magically opens and they’re gone. I get up from the place where I was deposited and run to the door, but only there is no door. “Let me out! Let me out!” I say as I bang on the magic door.
Exhausted, I finally sink to the floor.
I awake to a voice calling my name, “Stephanie, it’s time to wake up and begin your therapy.”
“Who is that? “Where are you” I say? “Therapy? What therapy? Nothing is wrong with me?”
There is no answer, but instead a sharp pain radiating up my leg. “What’s going on!? I demand to know,” I scream. Again another sharp pain, but more intense than the one before.
“Stephanie,” the mystery voice says to me. “We would like for your therapy to be as painless as possible, so it is very important that you cooperate fully with us.”
“But I don’t understand. What therapy? Therapy for what?” There is another sharp pain and I begin crying. “I just don’t understand.” Another pain. “All I want to do is understand.” Another pain and another pain.
“Are you ready to begin your therapy?”
I don’t say anything right away, and this time the pain is so unbearable that it feels as if my skin is burning off. “Yes!” I scream. “Yes! Just make it stop.”
“Very well then. Let us begin,” says the mystery voice. “What is your name?”
“Stephanie Wilkes.” Sharp pain.
“What is your name?”
“I told you, Stephanie Wilkes.” Sharp pain. “I don’t know what you want me to say. That is what my parents have always called me and that is what’s on my birth certificate.” Sharp pain. “I’m sorry. I just don’t know what you want me to say. I don’t know of any other name.”
“Who are your parents?”
Madeline and Edgar Wilkes.” Sharp pain. “Please! What do you want me to say?” Sharp pain.
I don’t know how long I was in therapy because I didn’t know if it was day or night or what time it was or even what day of the week it was.
At some point the two giants came and got me and took me to another room with a bed. I was told I would sleep there and left alone. Alone, I thought. No more mystery voice. I got into bed and settled in for a restful sleep. When I awoke, I was strapped to the bed. A man in a white coat came over and told me, “Your therapy is almost complete.” Then I felt a stinging sensation in my arm and everything went black.
I awake to the sun kissing my face ever so softly, waves crashing, and the smell of fresh sea air. I take a deep breath and slowly sit up in a beautiful canopy bed I have only seen in my dreams. As I look around I see a cluster of people off in a corner and I hear voices saying, “she’s awake.”
A man in a white coat comes over and I am immediately afraid and try to get out of the bed as quickly as possible. “Leave me alone,” I shout. My efforts were hindered as all the other voices have now converged on the bed.
A woman takes my hand and says, “It’s alright. Calm down.” She has a very soothing touch and I feel safe with her. “No one is going to hurt you.” I look at her face and eyes inquisitively and believe her.
I settle back down into bed and the man in the white coat says, “Do you know who we are?”
“No, I don’t think so.”
I hear a gasp from the onlookers and the woman holding my hand says, “That’s alright. You’ll remember us — your family– soon enough. We’re just so glad you’re back with us.” I see a single tear start to fall from her eye. Then she throws her arms around me and begins to sob uncontrollably.
I’m not sure what to do, so I pat her on the back and say, “It’s okay. Everything will be alright.”
She and several of the onlookers blurt out a laugh. “That’s our Cathy,” someone says. “Always thinking of someone else before herself.”
The man in the white coat asks me, “Cathy, what is the last thing you remember?”
“I-, I-,” stutter. What I remember had to be a dream because I truly feel and believe that these people in this room mean me no harm. “Remember about what?” I ask.
“Anything,” the man in the white coat says.
“The last thing, I kind of remember is that I was in a cold, hospital room strapped to a bed and screaming, ‘I want to go home.'” The man looks at the woman, who is still holding my hand, and she looks at him and everyone looks at each other. “But it was just a dream. It wasn’t real.” I look around the room and everyone has this concerned look on their face. “It wasn’t real, was it?”
Weeks and months pass and I find myself getting stronger — still not remembering anything; but getting stronger. The doctor has started coming by everyday to check on me.
“How are you today Cathy?”
“Fine,” I say.
“What’s the last thing you remember?”
“Today? Or before my car accident?’
He smiles and says, “Before the car accident.”
“Interesting,” he mutters as he examines me.
“Doctor, you’ve been over here every day for the past two weeks and you always ask me how I am and if I remember anything before the car accident.” He stops and gazes at me for a moment then resumes his examination. “Is there something I should remember?”
“It was a traumatic event and traumatic events often cause memory loss. We thought yours would not be so severe.” He gets up, pats me on the head like a poodle (which I can’t stand), then walks towards my parents.
They talk, and I can see my mother peer around the doctor with a look of concern on her face. It’s the same look she has every time the doctor talks to her after examining me. My parents and the doctor go inside and I continue sitting on the patio feeling the sun gently kiss my check. After about an hour my parents don’t come back out, so I go in to check on them. I over hear them talking to the doctor, but this time there is another voice, a familiar voice. It’s the mystery voice. I stop in my tracks.
“She’s not getting any better.”
“Give it more time,” the mystery voice says.
“It’s been three months already and you said we would have results by now.”
The doctor says, “I think we’re going to have to terminate the experiment. It has failed.”
“No,” the mystery voice says. A little more time.
I fall to the ground and knock over some knick knack and my parents and the doctor come running out. “Cathy, are you alright?” my mother asks.
“My name is not Cathy is it? This whole thing is a lie. Isn’t it?” They look perplexed. “Everything is a lie!?
“Yes. We must terminate the experiment,” the mystery voice says.
Then I see the two giants and I’m carried away back down the stark white hallway, and put back into an empty stark white room.
What is true and what is a dream?