Friday, July 7, 2017

Short Story - Yarbrough & Peoples Don’t Stop

Yarbrough & Peoples Don’t Stop
Words: 696

I pulled the creased card from my pocket yet again. This was becoming some strange dream, but the words hadn’t changed.

KEEP ASKING QUESTIONS

I had long abandoned the opinion this was one of the easier tasks. At first I was getting to know everyone else through my plight, but I defaulted to sitting in one of the plush recliners asking no one in particular, “What are you doing?” Maybe I was asking myself the question. I was worried about driving anyone else mad, but each of us was so focused on our own task that it didn’t matter. I couldn’t stop, none of us could. Even pausing long enough to look at the card could put everything in jeopardy. I had to follow the command on the card.

We were a collection of lunatics blindly following the instructions on a card at the hopes of a prize.

I chanted the question as I closed my eyes, ignoring the voices, footfalls, the ball hitting the wall, and general commotion in the room from these repetitive tasks.. I was so tired of the guy doing jumping jacks, of the elderly lady doing yoga, the man clearing his throat. I’m sure they were too.

I opened my eyes, realizing I was feebly asking, “...why… why… why…”

There were fewer people in the room than when I had last observed, I wasn’t sure how long I had been chanting. The couple playing checkers was gone. The guy drumming on the table, gone. The girl pacing the room had crumpled to the ground and the double doors had opened. Three men in matching polo shirts entered, a taser in hand. Pacing girl raised her hands, but it didn’t halt what happened. Her body convulsed and they dragged her out, shutting the doors and locking them back.

After a beat the room resumed, what was left of the room. It was a surprise at first despite having signed the waiver, but not anymore. Even the first person… it wasn’t an unknown outcome. We had signed up for this. We knew what would happen, but I’m sure they were like me. The prize clouded our vision, our judgement. We agreed without knowing the full extent.

My voice had gotten hoarse, I could only whisper now. I knew they were at the window watching. It looked like a mirror, but it had to be one way glass. They were waiting for us to fail. One by one we had. My chance at failure was soon approaching. I kind of welcomed it. I wanted to be out of this room. Away from the guy constantly flipping through the channels. Away from the man flipping playing cards. These mundane tasks didn’t stop. It wasn’t worth it.

I stood up, walking past the person typing on the keyboard, the woman reading, and another mindlessly flipping through a magazine. My voice was gone, but I wasn’t done. I grabbed paper and pen from one of the cubbies and began scratching the word “Why” onto the paper. Sure enough the double doors opened shortly. The three matching polo shirts walked over and one of them looked at the paper. He held up to the other two. The one with the beard nodded and they returned, the door slamming shut. I had bought myself more time. Was it enough?

Every cell in my body burned white hot as I woke from slumber. I had never been tased and youtube videos had not prepared me for the sensation. I tried to yell stop or even hold my hands up but I had lost complete control. The three men dragged me out of the room. There were still a handful of people left, but nothing like the overcrowding when it started.

In the short distance it took to sit me in a chair across from a gray haired man in a lab coat I was regaining feeling in my arms and legs.

“My name’s Dr. Greeper. As we discussed before I’ve got a quick questionnaire for you to fill out before you go.”

I barely heard his words. I just wanted win the gift card, but I didn’t last long enough.
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