Colleague_2.3

[find the previous instalments, and my other flash fic series, here]

Kerry wakes slowly, eyes blinking in the dim light…

Senses…
drift…
The bed is hard, the air stale…

This isn’t right.

Kerry wakes quickly, lungs gulping in the thick air.

Where is she?
Her head pounds.
What happened?
She can’t…

She raises herself unsteadily onto her elbows. She’s not on a bed at all, but a hard floor – concrete? She can see only a few yards, and there’s nothing in sight.

“Hello?” she croaks. Her throat burns and there’s a bitter, chemical taste on her tongue.

A shuffling to her left and out of the darkness a man appears, his suit crumpled and his eyes wild.

“There’s no way out,” he whispers. Kerry vaguely recognises him from work, though not her office, but his name eludes her.

“Where am I?” Kerry asks. The man slumps onto the floor in front of her.

“It’s some sort of silo,” he says, absent-mindedly brushing dirt from his shoulder. “I’ve been here two days now.”

A burst of recollection – a flash of red light – hits Kerry. It’s her last memory before now – she’d been at the office…

Recall floods back: those whirring red eyes.

“Tom.” Half under her breath, but the man turns to her.

“Is that the man that brought you here? The hunched one with the sharp suit?”

The description fit, though Kerry had no memory of how she got here.

“Sounds like Tom,” she replies. “He’s a cyborg.”

The man scoffs, then falls quiet.

“Are you serious?” he asks after a while.

“Definitely,” Kerry says. “He has laser eyes.”

The man’s short laugh is again dubious. “I don’t remember what happened,” he says, “but I know that man brought you here, cyborgs don’t exist and there’s no way out.”

Kerry considers this; silence seems to expand to fill the space between and around them.

“You look familiar,” she says eventually. “Do you work on the second floor?”

“Fourth,” he replies. Kerry doesn’t know anyone on fourth, so why does she feel like she’s spent time in his presence? He turns to peer into the darkness and his profile strikes Kerry. He was in the periphery of her first work memory: a girl turning to talk to this man while Kyle and her locked eyes on the morning of their first day.

“We started together. June of last year.”

“That’s right,” he says slowly and begins fumbling for her name, “Kir…”

“Kerry”, she says, then takes a punt at his. “John?”

“Anthony.” His voice sounds hurt. She shrugs. Manners don’t seem important right now.

“How did Tom get me in here if there’s no way out?”

“There is a door, but it’s thick and bolted from the outside. It’s over there.” Anthony points to Kerry’s right.

She gets to her feet and walks over slowly. Her legs feel like lead. The outline of the door appears, flush against the curved wall of the silo. She reaches out to touch the cold metal. A dull grinding noise starts from outside, her head whips round and her eyes find Anthony’s.

“Come here,” she mouths. He climbs to his feet. The grinding stops. Kerry turns to the door just as it swings open.

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