“Patient 41688245 step away from door.”
Hearing the static-filled voice from the cells roof speaker, patient “41688245” took four steps backwards until she felt her back touch the cold steel wall of her octagonal cell. There were no furnishings in the room. No windows, no bed to sleep on and no personal belongings; just an over-sized rug to cocoon herself into on the grated floor and a door that matched the steel wall with no handle.
“My name is Delilah,” Delilah yelled defiantly at the speaker from which the disembodied voice came.
She knew she could yell all she wanted, but physically disobeying an order... She remembered the behaviour realignment cells in the bowels of the facility all too well.
Despite her complaint, the speaker continued.
“Patient 41688245 will turn and face the wall with their arms above their head.”
Delilah let out a soft growl of irritation as she did as she was told, tucking a strand of her blonde hair that had fallen out of place back behind her ear. Facing the wall and raising her arms above her head, she placed the palms of her hands against the smooth metal. She didn’t like this position, it made her feel vulnerable, especially wearing the open-backed, white fabric gown that was only held closed by two bits of thin fabric. Let’s just say in this position the only thing covering her modesty was the two bits of fabric tied in a bow knot.
She heard the unlocking of her cell door from the outside. Three clangs, a beep, metal sliding along metal and one final clang. Delilah wasn’t sure why she was locked behind such a high tech and secure door. Sure, she could be a pain in the ass but what other nineteen year old teenager wasn’t?
The door to her cell swung inwards and three armed guards, all dressed in black with blacked-out face shields stepped in and approached her. Two of the guards each grabbed one of her hands and pulled them down, cuffing her wrists behind her back. The third guard had no such free hands to lay on her. They were far too busy holding onto the incredibly large gun that looked like it weighed more than Delilah herself.
“Easy there,” Delilah complained loudly as the guards tightened her cuffs. “How am I supposed to get my hands free if you do them up that tight?”
Delilah was suddenly whirled around to face her cell door, all the air in her lungs escaping in one sudden exhale.
The guards placed their gloved hands on her upper back and pushed, forcing her to fall into step behind the third guard who had also turned and was walking from the cell. The trio of guards walked Delilah through the corridor outside her cell which wasn’t much unlike her cells appearance. Grated floor, smooth metal walls and a caged halogen light bulb that illuminated them with an eerie green glow. Once reaching the end of the corridor after passing hundreds of cells similar to her own they took the elevator from their current sub-level seventeen to the facilities fourth floor. Delilah was shoved into the hallway, this one well-lit with its pale-blue, floral wallpaper that was covered with tapestries and paintings. Dark oak doors lined each side all the way to its end.
The lead guard stopped outside of a particular door and knocked. Three seconds later a voice came from inside.
The guard turned the golden doorknob and pushed the door open before they stepped aside and stared at Delilah, waiting for her to move. When she hesitated, she was shoved forward a third time, stumbling the few steps to the door. Regaining her upright posture, Delilah stepped inside.
The room she was in was simple and professional. The same wall and floors as the hallway, but lined with bookshelves that were filled with awards, files and books. Before her was an enormous dark-wood desk that looked so large and heavy she imagined the facility having to be built around it.
“Welcome back 41688245,” came the voice from the frail, bespectacled man sitting behind the desk.
Stories of Dr Vanswholenburg were plenty throughout the patients of the facility Delilah was being held in. Rumours of patients going to his sessions and never returning. Stories that more people lose their minds in his sessions than retain their sanity.
Yet he looked so tiny behind his over-sized desk. Fragile. Non-threatening.
“My name is Delilah,” she retorted, not moving from her standing position a few feet from the two empty lounge chairs facing each other between her and the desk.
The man sighed and begun to flick through the notes before him, pushing his glasses back up the bridge of his nose.
“We’ve been over this many times before, you aren’t Delilah, you only share her memories,” he shook his head softly as he looked at her. “They aren’t real, only an unexpected residual side-effect.”
“You say they aren’t real,” Delilah almost hissed. “But they’re real to me.”
Dr Vanswholenburg scoffed slightly, causing his top lip to curl in a half-smile.
“I want you to look at some photos for me,” the doctor said, ignoring Delilah’s aggravation and pulling a Manila folder from one of his desks drawers. “And tell me if you recognize them, what goes through your mind when you see them.”
He opened the folder and slid out the first photo, turning it to face her as he pushed it across the desk.
“Do you recognize this photo?”
Delilah stared at the photograph for a moment. She did recognize the photo. It was of a little girl, barely twelve years old and smiling for the camera in the middle of an area of grass.
“That’s me,” Delilah answered with the hint of a smile at the memory that flashed through her thoughts. She remembered that day like it happened yesterday.
She pushed the photograph back to the doctor. “We were out for lunch for my father’s birthday.”
“How does it make you feel?” the doctor questioned.
Delilah’s small smile faded.
“Sad,” she responded. “My father died six months after this photo was taken.”
“What about this one?” Dr Vanswholenburg pressed on.
“That’s my home,” she replied without hesitation. “Or it was at least... I miss it.”
The doctor sighed like he was disappointed and pulled the last photo from the Manila folder. He slid it in front of Delilah without saying a word.
The photo was of a locket. Heart-shaped and made of a black Obsidian crystal with a silver bezel on a thin chain. The photo instigated an emotion she hadn’t felt in a long time. Something she hadn’t felt since her mother was taken away and Delilah was brought to the facility. She had given the locket to Delilah for safe-keeping and she had it with her when she came here.
“They took it,” Delilah thought as she gritted her teeth so hard she could hear it inside her head.
“My locket,” Delilah whispered.
“Where’s my locket?” she growled at the doctor with a raised voice.
Dr Vanswholenburg wheeled backwards in his chair ever so slightly, making more space between him and his desk.
“You don’t have a locket,” he answered, trying to keep his voice stern and level but Delilah immediately noticed the slight shake in his voice.
“You only have what we gave you, you don’t have any possessions.”
The doctor gulped, his Adams apple visibly rising and falling on his throat before he continued.
“The locket you think you own doesn’t belong to you, the memories you’re experiencing are unforeseen and should not be occurring but I assure you, they will fade in time.”
“IT DOES BELONG TO ME!” she roared as she slammed both hands on the desk. “WHERE IS IT?”
The doctor, in a panic, jumped to his feet.
“GUARDS!” he called out, looking frantically at the door.
“You won’t need the guards if you just give me my locket... I know you have it!”
Delilah pounced over the doctor’s desk as he reacted, trying to dodge her and tripping over his overturned office chair.
The pair scrambled on the floor as the office door burst open and the sound of heavy boots could be heard running across the floorboards.
By the time the guards rounded the desk, Delilah had both hands wrapped around the doctor’s neck.
She was watching his bloodshot eyes began to bulge when she heard the shot. Loud and unexpected.
Delilah felt her fingers loosen on Dr Vanswholenburg’s neck before she felt the burning on her back. Then her insides lit up like a bonfire, white-hot and angry.
“You shot her you buffoon,” the doctor panted as he climbed out from under Delilah. “I know they’re expendable but I had high hopes for this one... she made so much more progress than the others.”
Delilah felt like she had to strain to hear him. He sounded so far away.
She rolled onto her back as the doctor ordered the one of the guards to pick her up. She knew she was dying. She wasn’t qualified to diagnose she was, but sometimes you just knew.
One of the smaller guards bent down and went to wrap their hands behind Delilah’s neck to sit her up when something fell out from behind the guard’s collar. Something shiny, black and familiar.
“My locket,” Delilah gasped weakly, wanting so desperately to reach for it.
The guard hesitated, then slowly reached up a hand and removed the blacked-out face shield.
“No,” Delilah cried out as loud as her dying breaths would allow as the guard put their face shield on the ground beside them.
She could feel the coldness start to embrace her as more and more of her warm blood seeped onto the floor. Her eyes darted back and forth between the locket and the face of the guard staring back at her. Her face.
“No, it can’t be... it can’t be true.”
The guard with her face smiled menacingly at her. The face was slightly older. Scarred in places but mostly Delilah saw a face that was worn and tired... like someone who had dealt with a lifetime of trauma and suffering in only a short few years. Someone who had had everything stripped away until only anger remained.
“Filthy clone,” Delilah heard her own voice spit back at her.
“I’m not a clone,” she wheezed. “I’m not the...”
Delilah neck lost its strength and she barely felt the back of her head hit the floor.
“I know...I’m... not.”
Delilah’s eyes rolled back into her head as a tear escaped them and whispered as her last breath escaped her.
“I know... who I am.”
Did you enjoy my story? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, Nathan Joel PhillipsWrite a Review