Fiction Fragement Fridays: Erased (Chapter 3 – Part 2)

Remember: this is a draft! A rough one! A very rough one!

Additionally, to read the whole story thus far, chose the ‘Erased’ option in the Categories dropdown banner to the right.

The group, which had swelled slowly from one to five, walked mostly in silence as Ashes and Siora led them back through the testing and cleansing rooms and back to the long hallway. Every so often either Bodhi or Ashes would speak, sharing small details. Vaguely, Toreshi heard Bodhi wonder aloud why the place had seemingly been abandoned with the power on and half of the equipment running. Ashes replied something to the manner that they should be grateful because there was a large kitchen in the direction they were headed with the freezers still well-stocked. But though she heard the words they were saying, Toreshi kept her own mouth shut and thought quietly to herself as they walked. She wondered at the situation they’d found themselves in. It looked like they’d been abandoned here, but there had to be more to it than that. The lights were on and the place was sparkling clean. The IV tubing that she had ripped from her arms still had medication dripping from them. The monitors had still been running. It all came together in her head and insisted that someone else must have been here watching them…if they weren’t still here.

The walk seemed to take forever, but finally they found themselves at the exact opposite end of the enormous hallway. There were two doors they could take. One had a sign that said ‘Cafeteria’, but no one was really looking at that door, though some stomachs were beginning to rumble. No, all eyes were focused on the second door, a thick white door with an electronic keypad hanging from the wall in pieces. The sign on this door read, simply, “Augmentation”.

Bodhi turned a questioning eye to Ashes and gestured to the keypad.

“It was like that when we found it,” Siora grumbled, guessing at the other man’s thoughts, “We haven’t gone around smashing the place up, thank you.”

Bodhi put his hands in the air in a gesture of apology. This time Toreshi was the one to push through the door. After their first encounter with Siora, one would have thought she’d be more careful where she rushed, but something about the word on the door had her shoving through it so fast that it slammed against the opposite wall. The others followed quickly, Kattenya almost slamming into Toreshi, who had stopped dead barely past the threshold. Siora and Ashes followed more slowly, grim looks on their faces.

The first thought that came to Toreshi’s mind was “torture chamber”, though logically she knew that wasn’t the case. After her initial shock she began to move slowly further forward, her eyes scanning anything and everything they could see, bile steadily rising in her throat.

It almost could have been a medical facility, but only at a very distracted first glance. There were shelves stocked with strange, multi-colored liquids and shiny mechanical bits and bobs. There were jars filled with slimy red things that looked disturbingly like they’d been hauled out of a human body. Three separate metal tables stood in the middle of the room, each with glaring white lights blazing down over them. Each table was flanked by no fewer than six medical trays filled with all manner of equipment, from simple scalpels to complicated and terrifying devices with circular blades and foot-long needles. Everywhere, on every wall, were charts. Charts of anatomy, both human and otherwise, charts that showed strange pictures of brains and muscle groups, and most frightening, charts that showed surgery plans…horrifying surgery plans.

Even Bodhi had to swallow back a cry of alarm.

Toreshi couldn’t stop shaking as she walked up to one of the charts, hung over a light board so that the details glared out distinctly. The outline looked female, and there were incision marks made across the head and throat, with indications at the wrists and ankles to reference a second drawing. The second drawing showed a series of mechanical devices that Toreshi didn’t recognize as anything even remotely common. She found herself idly feeling at her wrists, wondering.

Eventually Ashes broke the silence. “Creepy, yeah?” she said simply. She was smiling, but there was no happiness or amusement in the smile. She strode confidently over to a row of four large file cupboards and pulled open a drawer. “We found some surgical records in here,” she explained, “They’re hard to work out because they’re in that same ridiculous language, but they have names on them, so there’s that…”

Ashes had barely finished her sentence when Toreshi was in the file cupboards. She flipped through them as fast as she could while still able to read the names at the tops and eventually she found what she was looking for. She pulled out the file with her name on it and stared at it, her heart leaping into her throat. She stared at it, gulping, for a good couple of minutes before a hand on her shoulder made her jump. Bodhi was looking down at her with concern on his face, and Kattenya was bouncing from foot to foot as though she couldn’t decide if she wanted to comfort Toreshi or tell her to get on with it.

“You don’t have to look,” Bodhi suggested sagely, gesturing to the file.

“But that’s the thing,” Toreshi replied, gulping, “I actually think that I do have to. If I don’t, I’ll just go mad wondering what they did to me…”

Ashes piped up, almost too sweetly, “If it helps, I can tell you what they did to me first.”

Siora snorted. “You say that like you want to brag or something.”

Ashes glared at him. “Just because you want to keep your file to yourself doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t share.”

Siora’s glare was considerably more frightening than that of the young woman. “My innards are my own goddamn business.”

“Oh please shut up, you two,” Toreshi groaned. She kept her eyes on the file, so she didn’t see if they shot their glares at her.

After a few more long moments and a few extra-deep breaths, Toreshi turned the page on the file. The first four pages were jibberish, but the fourth and fifth pages caught her eye and almost made her gag. The first picture showed her leg, opened up from the knee to the foot, the skin pulled back and pinned to the table. The muscles shined up at her, red and stringy. A second picture directly alongside the first showed a set of four enormous needles puncturing those muscles. Staring at the pictures, Toreshi could almost feel the metal rods in her leg, pumping some unknown fluid directly into her calves. She bit back the urge to scream and looked to the next picture. It wasn’t immediately evident what this picture was of – all she could see was a sea of blood and bone. Eventually she established that it was her chest and throat, pulled open as far as they could go, her anatomy splayed out like a morbid centerfold. In an adjacent photo, something metal was being inserted between her throat and collarbone.

A particularly large gag reflex came over her and she dropped the file to lean against the wall and cough miserably. Kattenya rushed forward and rubbed Toreshi’s back. Bodhi, calm as ever, retrieved the file from the floor and began thumbing through the rest of the files in the cupboards. He extracted several, the ones with their names on them, and added them to his backpack.

Fiction Fragment Fridays: Erased (Chapter 3 – Part 1)

As before, if you would like to read all that I’ve posted for Erased thus far, choose ‘Erased’ from the Categories dropdown banner to the right of this page. Also, as before, keep in mind that this is a (very) rough draft!

Ashes and Siora stepped aside to let the others into the room, and despite themselves they found their jaws dropping.

This room was enormous, at least two thousand square feet of floor space, and the ceiling was a good thirty feet in the air. But that wasn’t the jaw-dropping part. What had the group staring in amazement was the equipment. Almost every inch of wall space was covered in computers, medical equipment, monitor screens, and other items that they didn’t immediately recognize. There were sections of floor devoted to what looked like exercise equipment, areas that were set up like a surgeon’s room, and areas that looked like someone had tried their best to demolish them. One of the first things that caught Toreshi’s eye was a long, double-row of monitors that showed each of the small rooms they’d each been bound in. She saw her name written under one of the monitors.

“What is this place…?” Kattenya gasped, eyes wide.

Ashes was the one to step forward and reply. It seemed that when it came to her and Siora, she was the speaker and he was the doer. “As near as we can figure, it’s some kind of testing facility,” she sighed, staring around at the room, “Though I have no idea what they were testing for.”

“Well obviously we’re the subjects…” offered Bodhi, staring at the same monitors Toreshi had noticed. Siora snorted, as though the statement was unbelievably obvious, but Bodhi did not react to the slight. Examining everything carefully, he walked down a long row of medical equipment. “It looks like they were taking regular blood samples,” he observed.

“Physicals too, I’d say,” Toreshi added, prodding an enormous set of barbells with her toe. She looked warily at a tall glass structure filled with liquid and tried not to wonder what it had been used for.

“But what about all this?” Kattenya asked. She gestured to the area that looked like it had been attacked. There were large holes smashed in the floor and walls, with several indistinguishable pieces of equipment scattered about in hundreds of pieces. “Was all this like this when you two got here?”

Siora raised an eyebrow and looked like he was going to ask if she was accusing them of something, but again Ashes was the one to step forward and speak. “Yes, it was,” she insisted, “And I suspect it’s been like that for quite some time.” She pointed to another destroyed area that was littered in wires and hunks of plastic. “There’s some smashed computers over there, and none of it is so much as lukewarm, so it’s been laying there without power for at least a little while.”

For the first time since she’d first woken up alone in her room, Toreshi felt a growing sense of dread and discontent. What in the Universe was this place? Why had they been bound and housed here? And where were the people who’d done it to them?

She turned to the newcomers. “Can either of you remember anything about yourselves?” she asked.

Before Ashes could speak, Siora tossed a couple of note boards at Toreshi’s feet. “Nothing,” he said simply, “Got our names from those.”

Ashes, who looked annoyed at having been spoken over, shot Siora a look and continued, “We can’t understand anything else on there. What about you?”

Bodhi was picking up the boards and, after a quick glance through the pages, shoved them along with the others into his backpack. “No,” he was saying, “It’s no language I’ve ever seen.”

Kattenya was wandering around the room with a strange look on her face. She ran her fingers along strange pieces of equipment, her gaze lingering on them for a few moments each. Toreshi watched quietly while the others argued about the indecipherable language. Kattenya stopped at a tray of surgical equipment, picked up a long, nasty looking needle, and examined it carefully. Her gaze slowly transformed from ignorance, to understanding, to outrage. By the time Toreshi walked over to the other woman, Kattenya’s hand was clenched firmly around the needle and her fist was shaking.

“Are you okay?” Toreshi asked quietly.

Kattenya had to take several long, deep breaths before she was able to stop her hand from shaking. “I…I don’t think so,” she said through clenched teeth.

Carefully, Toreshi laid one hand on Kattenya’s shoulder and reached forward with the other to gently pluck the needle away and lay it back down on the surgical tray. As an afterthought, she used her toe to nudge the entire tray away from them. When she felt they were safe from the sharp implements, she carefully took Kattenya’s shoulders in both of her hands and looked firmly into her eyes. “Are you remembering anything?”

The look on Kattenya’s face changed to one of mild confusion. Her eyebrows furrowed and her mouth fell into a small frown. Her eyes glazed over and she seemed to be thinking, deliberating. “No…” she said first, but quickly followed up with, “But yes… I don’t know.” She shook her head violently. “It’s weird,” she groaned, “It’s like…there’s no memory, but I still feel, you know?” She looked like she was having great difficulty in conveying the point to Toreshi. “I look at this needle and I just feel dread and pain and anger, but I don’t actually remember why.”

Toreshi was nodding. “Yeah…I think I know what you mean,” she said. She pointed across the room to a strange structure she’d noticed during their initial examination. It was a large metal coffin, big enough to fit three or four average-sized people in, and it had a single small window at approximately eye level. There were enormous clamps on either side of it, ensuring that whoever went in was not getting out without help from the outside.

“See that thing there?” Toreshi gestured, “I don’t know what it is or what it was used for, but when I look at it I just get this awful, sick feeling in my stomach, like I saw or experienced something terrible there.”

Kattenya nodded simply.

Bodhi had walked over to the women and waited for them to finish their conversation before speaking. “Ladies,” he asked, “If you’re interested, Ashes says there’s much more to see.”

Fiction Fragment Fridays: Erased (Chapter 2 – Part 2)

Another chunk of Erased, for your reading pleasure. At this point I would like to mention, for anyone who hasn’t figured it out yet, that if you want to read everything I’ve posted for Erased so far, you simply have to choose ‘Erased’ from the Categories dropdown banner to the right of this page.

Toreshi looked into her locker with a strange, detached curiosity, like she was looking at a stranger’s belongings. There was a pair of brown ankle boots sitting on top a folded pair of blue jeans and a comfy looking red turtleneck sweater. Laying next to the pile of clothes was a small pile of hair elastics. She glanced down at the photo on her note board and reached up to touch the mane of brown hair falling around her shoulders. After a moment of idle thought, she lay the note board down on the floor and grabbed a couple of the elastics.

A few minutes later she was dressed in the significantly more comfortable clothing, with her hair piled high (if a little messily) atop her head. Bodhi had redressed himself in a simple pair of casual pants and a plain blue t-shirt. Kattenya was significantly more stylish than her comrades in a tight black blouse and pants, a pair of knee-high black boots, and an almost extreme amount of jewelry. She was wearing three loose bangles on each wrist, two thin chains around her neck, and a pair of dangly silver earrings, and when Toreshi turned to her she was just inserting a silver stud in her lower lip. At the look from the other woman, she shrugged a little. “I don’t recognize any of it, but it’s a pretty sleek outfit, huh?”

Toreshi couldn’t help but smile a little, and Bodhi made a slight noise like he was trying not to laugh. There was a small backpack under the clothing in Bodhi’s locker, so he gathered up the note boards they’d been carrying, shoved them in the pack, and slung it over his shoulder.

Once they were all dressed and just slightly more comfortable with themselves, the three headed for the only other door in the room. It was a soft mahogany door with a small placard that read: Testing.

Kattenya, who had just begun to let her guard down after her rude awakening, pushed confidently through the door. Toreshi and Bodhi barely saw what happened, but the next thing they knew, Kattenya had been snagged, whirled around, and had a thin, but dangerous-looking scalpel held to her throat. Her cat-like eyes were wide with surprise and alarm.

Toreshi’s instinct was to leap forward and attack the threat, but Bodhi was quick to lay a reassuring hand on her shoulder. She looked up at his calm, calculating face, and then back to the situation before them.

The figure holding Kattenya prisoner was a tall man with a lean, athletic body. His dark brown, almost black hair hung in dreadlocks all over his head, and his face was covered in a thick, full beard. He was standing very still, holding Kattenya close, but not viciously, and a pair of calm brown eyes were staring with interest at Toreshi and Bodhi.

Before anyone could say anything, a sweet, melodious voice came from behind the tall man. “Siora, do calm down. They’re probably just like us.”

The man, Siora, turned his head only slightly, but kept his grip on Kattenya. “We don’t know that, Ashes. We don’t know anything about them.”

Ashes stepped into the picture with a frown on her face, directed to her companion. She was a slight figure of average height and extremely pretty. She had shoulder-length, layered brown hair, and large, chocolate brown eyes framed in beautifully long, dark lashes. She looked small and innocent, in contrast to the large man she was glaring at.

Both of the newcomers had obviously been to their lockers, as they were both wearing casual clothes. Siora was in dark pants and a long black coat, while Ashes was in a pretty little yellow sun dress and sandals.

“Let her go, Siora,” she demanded, not sounding at all like she had any sway over the situation, “Look at them! They’ve obviously just come from their rooms as well!” She looked first to Bodhi, then Toreshi. “Right?” she asked.

Toreshi nodded, moving her eyes back and forth between the small woman and a panicked-looking Kattenya. “We all…came to in our own rooms, bound and hooked to medical equipment.”

Siora relaxed slightly and Kattenya used the opportunity to slip from his grasp and leap back toward her friends. Thankfully, he let her go.

Ashes was nodding slowly, a hundred thoughts passing behind her pretty eyes. “Yes, us as well,” she explained, “We believe there were others who woke sooner, but they appear to have gone.”

“The empty rooms,” Bodhi agreed, and gestured behind him, “And the other lockers.”

Toreshi remembered the torn papers and the decimated room she’d found first. Whoever that was, she was somewhat glad he hadn’t stuck around.

“So,” said Ashes with a strange, sad smile, “Come to see the factory of horrors?”

Fiction Fragment Fri- Er…Saturday: Pervert

My dear, lovely readers, I want it put on record that I have no idea what happened to my Fiction Fragment Friday post for yesterday. It wasn’t until I looked at my blog stats this morning and noticed a distinct lull in traffic for yesterday that I realized no post was made. Since I had scheduled the post over a week ago I looked into it and found no post anywhere in my records. It simply…vanished. I can’t honestly say that it was the fault of WordPress and not myself, but I am gloriously infallible, so I’ll let you make your own judgements from there.

Since I had (presumably) scheduled another section of Erased, but I don’t have a copy of that file out West with me I’m going to have to go with something quick and dirty that I can type out on my iPhone since I don’t have Internet access on my tablet right now. It’s a but of a ridiculous go-ahead really, but I want to give you something since yesterday got screwed up.

With that said, here’s a Drabble I wrote a while back:

Pervert

Jake liked to hang out at fitness gyms. He wasn’t particularly into weights or cardio, and he didn’t really need the exercise; he liked to hang out and watch the women. There were the chubby ladies in jogging pants, panting and practically sweating blood in their attempts to shed the extra pounds, and there were the super skinny girls in designer exercise clothes who looked like they probably ate wheat grass and soy milk for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Both types had their own particular kind of…appeal.

Jake got kicked out of fitness gyms at least three times a week.

Accountability Tuesdays – Week 6

Excuse me for a moment while I get something out of the way:

*does a little song and dance* I’m going home today, I’m going home today~!

Okay, now that I’ve got that out, it looks like its time for another round of accountability. [whine] Do I have to? [/whine] Yes, yes I do. Shut up, me! Do better and you won’t dread these posts!

Health and Body Image Goal
I’m not really sure if I should report a good week or a bad week for this one. I didn’t eat particularly well (although I did have some pretty healthy breakfasts) but I ate less and I actually took it upon myself to get up early Sunday morning and squeeze in a P90X video. It was only one day yes, but I know it was a good one because I was too sore Monday morning to do another one. The plan is to check out some Jillian Michaels vids when I get home, so look forward to hearing about that venture.

Editing Goal
Remember two weeks ago when I said I was taking my manuscript out to work with me and that I would find the time to look at it at some point? Well I finally looked at it…last night…for about five minutes…while I was packing.

It’s not that I don’t want to get the damn thing edited, it’s just that I’m so thoroughly obsessed with the writing aspect that I’m having a really hard time convincing myself to go back over to editing. Writing is fun and joyful. Editing is pain and misery. Okay, some parts of writing are pain and misery too, but all of editing is pain and misery.

No excuse, I know. Feel free to flog me now. ~_~

1,000,000 Word Goal
It wasn’t an excellent week because work got really busy in the second half, but I still feel I did pretty decently, all things considered. I wrote a measly 404 words toward blogging, 4585 words toward my current work in progress, and another little grouping of 286 toward a new mini-project that might end up as a contest entry. So that’s a total of 5275 words for the week. Nothing to turn up your nose at!

As an add-on to this Tuesday post I would like to announce that I’m going to simplify my blogging “schedule” a bit. From now on I’m only going to blog through the weekdays and give myself the weekends off (unless there’s some specific reason I wish to blog on a particular weekend), and from now on Fridays will be Fiction Fragment Fridays. On this last day of the weekdays I will share a fragment of my written fiction, whether it be a drabble, part of one of my fanfictions, or a scene from my manuscript or current work in progress. It’s time to start sharing my actual work rather than just my personal thoughts and feelings. Look forward to it!

Buyer Beware

Let me tell you my tale of woe and mind-bending frustration.

My husband and I are currently in the market for a television stand for our living room. As our living room is one of the nicer rooms in our house, we thought we’d get one of those electric fireplace stands. We don’t need it for the heat, but we think they’re really nice looking, and our daughter would sit and stare at the fake flames all day, no joke.

The town where we live is not overwhelmed with places to shop, and even the places we do have are smaller than their other counterparts and rarely stock what we’re looking for, so last Friday we took a drive. We drove to New Glasgow, and there we visited their Canadian Tire store.

The fireplaces were on display when we first walked in the store and we began browsing. Almost immediately we were joined by an associate who turned out to be the hardware manager, we’ll call him P. P was very nice and helpful. He showed us that he had a couple of fireplaces on sale, and in particular he led us to the end of the display and pointed to a lovely little display with glass-door cupboards and a 1500 watt heater. P made sure to impress on us that this particular model was on sale, and pointed to the tag that was placed in front of the display…Odessa Fireplace: $399.

After a bit of deliberation my husband and I decided that, yes, we liked this particular model very much. Our only issue was how we were going to get it into our car. No problem, said P…if you take it out of the main box it comes in smaller chunks that will easily fit in any vehicle. “Alrighty then,” we said, “Let’s do it!” So P picked up the tag that was in front of our fireplace – the one that read Odessa: $399 – and used the product number to go into the stockroom and find the fireplace. We paid, P took the smaller component boxes out of the main box and loaded them in our car, and we drove all the way home, which (did I forget to mention?) is about a 90 minute drive.

It wasn’t until my husband was halfway through putting the shelving together that we realized something was amiss. “Wait a moment,” he said, “This is a completely different color than the one we picked out!” It was true…the fireplace we’d picked out was a darkish brown, but the one we were currently assembling was almost black. I immediately called the store to complain that we’d been sent home with the wrong color. This is where things got nice and confusing. I gave the girl on the phone the product number on our receipt and she looked it up… “Ma’am,” she said, “This product only comes in one color.” I argued for quite a while, telling her that I didn’t care what the computer said, the item we had in a dozen pieces on our living room floor was a completely different color than the one we’d picked out. It was during this argument that I began to realize something: when we’d been unpacking all the parts, I hadn’t seen any glass for the doors. Soon we realized the (even stupider) truth: we hadn’t been sent home with the wrong color…we’d been sent home with an entirely different fireplace. My husband looked on the Canadian Tire website and found the one we’d actually picked out…it was labeled Orleans: $799. The tag that had been in front of our fireplace, the one P, the hardware manager, had pointed to several times and used to find the product in the stockroom, belonged to a completely different item.

P had gone home for the day. We would have to call back in the morning.

When I got a hold of P in the morning, initially he was very apologetic. He told me that he would make the trip himself on Monday to drive down the fireplace we had actually picked out and swap it for the one we had taken home. Okay, fine. I could deal with that. But a few hours later, things changed significantly. P called me back and said he had bad news. He said that the fireplace we had actually picked out wasn’t on sale (uh…no sh*t…did you even bother to look at it before speaking to me?) and that he could make it on sale, but only as low as $499 and I would have to pay the $100 difference.

Now, maybe some people would have taken it. Maybe to some people $100 isn’t a big deal. Truly, it’s not that big a deal to us. But it was the principle of the thing. This man brought us to that fireplace, he showed us the sale price several times. He was the one who got the item out of the stockroom and failed to notice that the picture on the box was a completely different fireplace. Every step of the screw-ups that ended with us driving 90 minutes home with the wrong item was entirely his fault. And now he was telling us that we were going to have to pay extra to get the item we had originally picked out, the item that he himself assured us was on sale for $399.

We told him this was unacceptable and he told us that he would have to wait until Monday to talk with his district manager to see if the price could be lowered anymore. We found that unacceptable as well, but decided to deal with it and see what would happen. In the meantime I called the corporate hotline. The man who answered the phone listened to my tale, sympathized with me, and told me that, unfortunately, corporate can’t force an individual store to honor a price mix-up, but he would send a fax to the district manager suggesting that they do so.

Monday morning I gave them until 10 am to call me. No one did, so I called and asked for P. He told me the answer had been no. It took all my strength to say good-bye before hanging up on him. But the best part? About two hours later the district manager called…to tell me no again.

So, to reiterate: the hardware manager f*cked up six ways from Sunday, sent us home (a 90 minute drive) with the wrong item (which, just for the record, was ugly as sin), and then refused to honor the deal he had originally told us we were getting. The district manager then reiterated that they were refusing to honor the deal, because apparently Canadian Tire can’t afford to lose $100.

And that’s why my husband and I, after returning the ugly-ass thing they had sent us home with, have decided to boycott Canadian Tire. Because when a multibillion dollar corporation refuses to honor their own f*ck-ups over $100, that’s someone that I really, really don’t want to do business with.