Monday May 7th, 2018

The exercise:

Before it slips out the backdoor of my mind again, let us return to Empires.


Greg said...

I'm very much enjoying the tales of prompt inspiration still -- especially the Goat Skull Ranch one! You did finally stymie me though, with the Dinosaur festival -- that one I just couldn't work into the Red/Emma story with any conviction :)

Ben hissed with pain. His vision was blurred like he'd been crying and there was a metallic taste in his mouth which he hoped wasn't blood. His fingers and toes tingled as though he had pins and needles, and every time he breathed in he felt like he was trying to fill two pairs of lungs. It was hard to concentrate -- he remembered the pain starting but when he tried to think about why, the pain blocked the memories out. He reached out and his hand touched something warm and soft, and suddenly his vision doubled.
He lifted his head, staring, wondering what was happening. He could see David lying on the floor, and the strange woman who acted like she knew the hospital, but he could also see the floor, and himself at an angle, superimposed like photographic film reused before being developed. There was a smell like whiskey -- was it connected to the metallic taste? He pulled his arms under him, trying to ignore the tingling, and his vision cleared.
Ah -- he'd been touching David's hand. He'd been seeing through both their eyes. It still felt like -- oh damnit. He was breathing for both of them again.
"David...," he groaned. Why was this happening, what had gone wrong this time? He'd told David to wait... yes, he remembered that. It was so hard to think. But David hadn't, David had come in... and then... then... then the doors closed.
He crawled across the floor; trying to lift his head up above his shoulders made him retch and threatened to leave him unconcious again. The doors were heavy, metal, so he just leaned against them, pushing as much as he could until there was a soft snick and they opened.
And suddenly he was the only one inside his head again.

Stacey's eyes flicked open. She was on the floor and her head and elbow hurt. Concrete floor. Why...?
"Help David," said a voice nearby. "He's not breathing."

Ana's eyes flicked open. She was slumped over the desk and there was an annoying whine in her ears. She sat up, and the whine stopped, but it took her a moment to realise that it had been the computer -- she'd been pressing on the keyboard and the key repeat alarm had been blaring at her. Jesus, that felt like losing the connection to Stacey -- wait, she had lost the connection to Stacey. But it was back now, wasn't it? She probed, like a woman with a loose tooth pushing it with her tongue to see how loose it was, and... yes, there was the comforting link with Stacey.
She sat back in the chair and pulled her phone out of her bag. Better to check what had happened

Greg said...

[Double-posting, sorry, but it seems like there's a lot to move on here :)]

As she selected Stacey's number from the Favourites list, her gaze fell back on the computer screen and another thought crossed her mind.

Stacey's fingers pulled David's tongue from his throat and she resisted the urge to wipe them on her jacket. She rolled him onto his side, putting him into the recovery position. Her elbow flared with pain with almost every movement, but that offset the headache a little -- she couldn't decide if this was good or bad really. Over by the door Ben was slumped, looking like he was feeling better.
"You not going to help?" she asked, trying to keep the irritation out of her voice.
"I am helping," said Ben. "If I let the door close our connection will overwhelm us again."
Before he could say anything, her phone rang. She checked it, and saw that it was Ana. That counted as important, so she waved Ben to silence.
"Ana, you felt it too?"
"Yes," said Ana, her voice tinny but reassuring. The signal was clearly weak down here. "What did you do?"
"Nothing. But there are two men here who I think might be like us, if you know what I mean. We were all in the morgue when the door closed and then... it happened."
"They can hear you?"
"One of them definitely."
"OK. Find out what you can from them, I think. I'll come on over, I think it's safer. Oh, and Stacey?"
"What?" She didn't want to admit that she felt better knowing that Ana was coming over now.
"Anna Miller -- why were you thinking about her?"
"She seems to have been here in this morgue."
"She died three weeks ago," said Ana. "How did she end up in a hospital that was closed down years ago?"

morganna said...

(I added two more characters. Just FYI, in my dialect of English, Maria is pronounced 'Mah-ree-ah' and Mariah is pronounced 'Mah-rye-ah')

Stacey looked up. There were footsteps rushing down the hall towards them. That should be Ana, but she couldn’t have gotten here so fast. The footsteps came closer. No, it couldn’t be Ana, there were two sets of footsteps. Two women rushed up to the morgue door.

“You can’t”
“Stay here.” They said in quick succession.

“I’m Maria,” said the one on the left with smooth, shoulder length brown hair.
“I’m Mariah,” said the one on the right with brown hair sprinkled with gray in a bun.

“It isn’t safe”
“Here. Come with us.” And they lifted David and took him out the door. Ben followed and Stacey dove for the door before it cut her off again. Out in the hall they all looked at each other.

Stacey said, “Who the hell do you think you are, taking over like this?”

“Were you doing any better, stupid girl?” said Maria, setting down David.
“Messing with things you don’t understand?” said Mariah.

“We do,” Maria said.
“You can’t go in the morgue like that. It can be fatal to people like us.” Mariah finished.

“People like us?” Stacey gaped.

“You can’t have thought”
“You and your twin were the only ones.”

“Well, no, but I’ve never met any other pairs.”

“What about”
“Them?” gesturing to David and Ben.

“I just met them tonight.”

There was the sound of high heels in the hall. “Stacey, are you all right?” Ana called.

“I’m fine.” She sounded annoyed, and smiled to take the edge off.

Ana looked around. “Why are you here, Maria and Mariah?”

Greg said...

@Morganna: oh wow, now this really ups the ante! I love these two, it's the first time we've had any characters who seem to know what's going on, and they're beautifully effective as a pair. I wonder if they're where the experiment worked?

@Marc: not pointing out that it's nearly June or anything, but you usually add to the story before putting the new chapter up ;-)

morganna said...

Maria and Mariah turned to Ana. "You're not allowed in here!" said Maria. "It's too dangerous," Mariah echoed. "You know that!"

Ana spoke softly. "I know that, but we need to figure out what is going on here. The mayor wants to tear this place down and repurpose it. You know the public can never be allowed in here."

Maria and Mariah looked at each other in alarm. "We had not" "Heard that."

David stirred on the floor. "Echoes. Why are there echoes?"

morganna said...

"Sorry sir, I'm not paid enough to rescue stupid people."

The Mayor stared at his assistant in disbelief. "What do you mean? Are you implying I don't pay you enough? You make twice as much as I do! And we need to get those idiots out of the hospital before they discover our scheme!" The Mayor looked a little wild-eyed and his assistant stepped back slightly, out of spittle range. "You know what is up there!! We need to go up there ourselves and take care of it next week, before demolition starts!"

"And we will. But there is no way in Hell I am going up there alone, at night, to deal with 3 sets of idiot twins risking their lives up there. You know the twins make everything more unreliable when they're present. In fact, you can't pay me enough to make me go up there tonight. If you want to deal with this, you can do it yourself."

"I'll call the police chief! I'll have you arrested, and then I'll have the chief go up there and deal with this!" The Mayor was starting to foam at the mouth and the assistant reached over to the door, opened it, and started to sidle through.

"Won't work. The Chief and I have already talked. You're on your own tonight." The door slammed behind the assistant.

Marc said...

Barely ahead of my own deadline, but here we go:

* * *

Stacey clutched the sides of her head as though she were trying to physically hold her mind together. This was all too much. And far too sudden.

"I don't understand," she said quietly but with enough fierceness to make Maria and Mariah flinch, the younger taking a small step backward. "Ana, you know these two?"

"It's... complicated," Ana said with a pained expression. "We can talk about it later. There are-"

"No," Stacey said, rage and confusion bubbling up inside her, "we can talk about this right now."

"We should get outside," Maria said.

"Where it is safer," Mariah added.

"For all of us," Maria finished.

"Yes, I suggest you two get outside where it is much safer for the both of you," Stacey said, her hands balling into fists.

"Stacey..." Ana said softly, raising a hand and stepping toward her.

"You hid them from me!" Stacey shouted, swatting Ana's hand away. "Why? All this time, you had me convinced there were no others like us... but you knew. Why? Why didn't you tell me?"

"Uhhhgh, my head," David moaned, shifting around on the floor.

"We need to get him outside," Ben said, almost plaintively.

"Then get outside! All of you!" Stacey yelled. "Ana and I will stay here until she gives me the answers I want. That I deserve."

"Stacey, calm down," Ana begged. "You're not thinking clearly in here. Let's all just get outside, get some fresh air."

"I will do no su-"

"Wait." Mariah said, her head snapping up.

"Someone else," Maria said, following Mariah's gaze.

"Is coming inside," Mariah said.