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Suspense Mystery Fiction

Burp

“Number 58.”

I can hear the words but there is a thin piece of white cloth in front of me, dulling the sound.

“Number 58.”

I feel like I should do something but I’m stuck deep inside my head.

“Number 58.”

Pause.

“That’s you.”

The woman, beside me, nudges me aggressively, more of a shove.

“You’re ticket,” she points at a piece of paper in my hand, “it’s your number.”

My brain begins to surface, and I can see the room I’m in.

“They don’t like to be kept waiting.” She says.

I want to ask who, but it feels like I’m the only one who doesn’t know. The only one in a room filled with thousands of people.

A young man comes up to me and takes my hand while cupping my elbow. His movement is not threatening but it feels like the option of having a choice has been removed.

He takes me into a hallway and into a small room.

“Sit here.” He says in a soft voice that is disproportionately lower than his youthful appearance would suggest.

I sit and wait.

I am alone, sitting across a huge desk. There is a large window to my right but every time I try to look out the window it turns white, fuzzy white, like an off-air channel. There is nothing on the desk, just the shine of a dark oak surface reflecting a bright white ceiling. There is a small light in the corner of the room, sitting on the floor. The chair behind the desks is large and ornate, a throne.

I am the subject.

I have decided this is a lucid dream, or an NDE, but I don’t remember going to bed, or dying. I just remember a sort of fading experience, I think, maybe, I was making dinner. I can hear my dog barking, but that’s it. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t killed. I don’t have anything anyone wants and I’m pretty sure no one knows me well enough to hate me that much, I think.

The door behind me opens and a large fat man comes in and sits on his throne. He touches his desk; it lights up like a huge computer screen.

After watching him press and swipe his desk surface for a least a few minutes, I decide to speak.

“Hello?”

He put his hand up in the universal shut up sign, using one finger to signal the amount of time he will need to remain a rude asshole.

Finally, he speaks.

“You are number 58?”

“Yes.” I grab the piece of paper with my number on it, crumpled inside my sweaty fist, and put it on his desk.

“Do you remember anything?”

There is no concern in his voice, just data collection.

“Yes,” I answer, “My dog barking, maybe the smell of my dinner?”

“Shit.” He says, frantically hitting his desk and swiping, like he has killed a bug and can’t get it off his desk. “How about now, can you still remember a dog barking?”

“What dog?”

“Perfect.” For the first time he looks up and me and smiles.

“Welcome.”

“I don’t feel welcome.”

He laughs and leans back. “Well, you definitely were not invited.”

Pause.

“Great,” I get up. “Then I can go?”

He laughs again, but this time it sounds more like a snort. “Go where?”

“Home?” I ask. I feel like I am being tested in my own dream.

“You’re not dreaming and there is no home for you, there never was.”

He leans forward, about to explain something he has explained a million times before.

“You are what happens when time slips, just a bit. A glitch that creates a shadow. You existed parallel to the real you.”

I am confused, but I have a feeling I am about to be more confused.

Pause.

“Sit.” He points with the same rude finger he told me to shut up with.

I can feel myself sitting in the chair, hearing him talk to me, and I feel very real to me.

“You see, time is a measurement allowing material existence to develop.”

“Ok…”

 “It is a very slow method of frequency containment that allows the growth of what you would call a soul.”

His robot tone expresses a need to release information without any concern for its impact.

“If time burps, as we call it, the shift creates a shadow on the soul developing and you exist parallel to yourself, but you are not part of the system.” He sits back and pauses.

“So, does everyone alive develop a shadow when this happens?” As I ask this question, I can see the interest fade from his dark little eyes.

“No,” he starts scanning his desktop, moving images I can’t see. “Only a weak soul develops a shadow when a burp happens.”

Did he just insult me?

“Ok, well.” I stare at the top of his head as he examines something on the desk screen that is clearly more important than a glitch created by a weak soul. “Do I exist?” I whisper, not really wanting the answer.

“Yes,” he says not looking up.  “Please exit, someone will show you where to go.”

With that, I take my weak shadow soul and leave the room. Exit, exist…maybe I’m just a fading image waiting to evaporate.

A very tall woman in a purple jump suit greets me outside the room.

“Hello Sunshine.”

She seems friendly.

“Sorry, I mean Moonlight.”

“Moonlight?” I am confused, again.

“I can’t get these names straight,” she says, moving her hand up and down an invisible screen in front of her. “Are you one of those pronoun people?”

As her frustration grows, I offer my label. “My name is Sasha.”

“Are you sure, you don’t look like a Sasha.” She keeps flipping through her invisible Rolodex. “Ah, there you are, Sasha.” She shoos the invisible screen away with a grand arm gesture that looks like she is moving through a cloth doorway. “How do you feel?”

Wow, no one has asked me that yet, and now that I think about it, I don’t feel anything.

“Nothing.” I answer. I would feel defeated… if I could.

“Good.” My blue escort says.

I don’t like her.

She leads me into a long green hallway and tells me to go through the third door on the left. As she is leaving, she yells, number ten is secured, then disappears into the room we just came out of. I thought about not going into the room, but where else do I go?

I open the door. There are two chairs and nothing else. I sit in one of the chairs and only then realize someone is sitting in the other chair.

“You must be number 10, do you feel secured?” she laughs, but not in a mean way.

I sit down, “I don’t feel anything, I think.”

“Here.” She reaches across to me and grabs my left forearm. I feel a warm glow start to radiate from my stomach outward. So, I can feel again. “I figured out how to bypass the system.” She smiles, “Don’t tell anyone, always say you feel nothing, don’t laugh or cry, or look confused.”

I am confused.

“What are we doing here?” I kind of wish I didn’t feel anything again, it was easier.

“Well,” she angles herself towards me and I am oddly touched by her direct attention. “What they are doing and what we are doing are two different things.”

“OK.” I try to hide the confusion on my face.

“That,” she points at my face, “that look, don’t to that around anyone.”

“Ok,” this feels like she is giving me lessons on how not to be human.

“Did you understand anything they explained to you?” she looks deep into my eyes, checking for honesty.

“I sort of get it, but it doesn’t feel real.”

She laughs, “that’s how I felt, until they pulled my feelings out.

“What do they want?” this still doesn’t feel real.

“They gather us ten at a time.” She pauses, “do you want me to pull your feelings, so you don’t freak out?”

“Yes please.”

She explains that they gather us ten at a time to see if we are compatible, as a group, to form a single viable soul. If that is possible, a process called “blending” begins. We are scanned and every inch of our limited existence is labeled and assigned a function. Then we are kept in a holding position until they can mix and match a full soul.

“What if they can’t create a full soul?” I ask, not freaking out, because… I can’t.

“We are sent back to our previous reality.”

“Oh,” I feel a…nothing, I feel nothing. “So that’s good right, we just go home?”

“No, that’s bad. If you are blended you become part of a whole, there is protection in the whole.” She puts her hand on me and returns my feelings. I feel darkness, I feel sadness. “If you are sent back and you are not attached to a soul, you are not protected.”

“From what?” My mind thinks of demons and every ounce of evil.

“Everything.” She finally says. “But there are ways to survive without being consumed.”

“Again,” I say with as much calm as I can fake, “from what, and can you be more specific.”

She looks at me directly but this time I feel less comforted by her direct attention. “If we don’t get blended, look for me and I will help you.”

“How will if find you?”

“My name is Lex.” She takes my hand and presses her thumb into the palm of my hand. “I just transferred my energy signature to you, press your palm with your thumb and let my name appear in your head, the two signatures will combine and create a connection.”

“Sure, I guess.” I still think I’m dreaming.

The room is suddenly filled with a red glow.

“Shit.” Lex says.

“What?” I want her to take my feelings out again.

“We didn’t blend.” She looks at me and says her name again. “Lex.”

I say her name as she slowly fades.

I’m dreaming, I must be dreaming.

February 09, 2023 15:07

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5 comments

Miriam Rhodes
13:53 Feb 16, 2023

No, I wanted Sasha & Lex to be together! Very good job putting the reader directly into Sasha's headspace. Intriguing concept too!

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Greg Lambert
15:43 Feb 16, 2023

Thanks Miriam, I thought it would be a good idea, if I continue with story line, to have them finding each other in their previous reality. We'll see....

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Miriam Rhodes
18:27 Feb 16, 2023

Ooo, I love it!

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Kathy Trevelyan
22:42 Feb 15, 2023

I really like this Greg. There’s a great feeling of menace from the beginning, and Sasha’s predicament is utterly believable.

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Greg Lambert
15:42 Feb 16, 2023

Thanks Kathy, Menace is good, to push the action forward. Hope you enjoy more. I will check out your stories.

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