“Kelly?” He spat the name through a cough, his throat tight as though he had just suffered from some kind of strangulation. “Kelly?” he repeated, clearer this time, as he crawled over to the curtains, following the only source of light available. He grabbed hold of the windowsill and pulled himself up, groaning in pain as he did. He felt around his stomach which was sore and wet, but he couldn’t make anything out in the dark. He pulled open the curtains and used the light from outside to examine himself, finding that his stomach was wet with blood . . . his blood. He lifted his bloody shirt and stared at his wound intensely, though the light was sparse, making it difficult to see properly. He felt around his stomach delicately only to find a hole the size of a small kitchen knife, leading him to believe he must have been stabbed at some point, but he had no memories of it, no memories at all.
A dark shadow consumed the only source of light briefly, prompting Kaleb to look up and outside of the window.
“What the hell?” He stuttered, grimacing in pain. A large shark-like creature manoeuvred past the window until its entire body was finally out of the way, revealing the source of the green light. Mouth wide open, Kaleb stared straight ahead.
Before him was an entire city, green lights emitting off of buildings, the atmosphere rather dark and dingy, but at the same time, it was beautiful, and it was all . . . underwater? Impossible! Kaleb thought, still staring in awe. He tried looking up to see if he could garner how deep down the city was, but there was no sign of the ocean’s surface. Windowed corridors intertwined with each other, leading to shops, houses . . . even underwater skyscrapers. Wait, are they still called ‘skyscrapers’? Seascrapers, maybe? The buildings were all watertight, promising safety that Kaleb wasn’t quite sold on; billboards, footpaths, bicycle lanes, street lamps, anything and everything he could think of was perched on the deep ocean grounds before him. He took a step closer to the window which sent a shock of pain through his stomach, causing him to wail in agony. He began pulling off his shirt with great difficulty, and then wrapped it around his body, making sure to cover and put pressure on what he was certain was a stab wound. As he tended to his stomach, he noticed something black on his right wrist. He brought it close to his face, making sure to use the light from the city outside to reveal what the markings were. The sequence 1/7276-KW-801 had been tattooed onto his wrist along with some kind of barcode:
.--. .- - .. . -. - ....... --- ..-. ....... .- --.- ..- .- .-. .. .- ....... .- ... -.-- .-.. ..- --
“What the fuck?” he said aloud with a deep sense of confusion, for he was a 30-year-old man who had never got a tattoo, so where did this one come from, and how? What did it even mean?
“Procedure now in progress,” an automated female voice declared over speakers that were scattered around the city, and in the same room Kaleb was in, causing him to jump at the sudden noise after being accustomed to the quiet. . . .
. . . And then his thoughts caught up with him; where was his daughter, Kelly? Was she in this underwater city too? Or did she remain on the surface where they lived, wondering where her daddy had disappeared? She was only 14 years old, leaving Kaleb panicking about what could have happened to her. If she was in the underwater world, then she could be anywhere with anyone. Suddenly, his thoughts were interrupted by a loud, female scream.
“Kelly?” He yelled in a panic, and ran for the only door in the room, highlighted by the green light emitting from the window opposite. “KELLY!” He began banging on the door which seemed to be locked shut from the outside, finally deciding to do a run and jump. On his third attempt, he went flying through the door, landing on the cold wet floor on the other side. His shoulder took most of the impact, but that didn’t stop the shock of pain through his gut where he had been ‘stabbed’. The female screams were louder out in the corridor that Kaleb found himself in, and with great struggle, he managed to pull himself up onto his feet, slouching against the wall to keep himself steady. “Kelly?” he forced out through his gritted teeth, and, with a limp, he slowly made his way to where the screams were coming from.
The torturous screams grew louder and louder the closer Kaleb got, encouraging him to move faster despite the severe agony in which he was in. Every step sent a shockwave of pain through his stomach as if someone was twisting a knife against his insides. He did his best at holding in his screams, as he didn’t want to alert anyone of his presence in case it was to jeopardise the life of the female whose own scream he was following. He was torn, though; he hoped that the poor soul screaming was some stranger so he knew his daughter wasn’t being tortured, but at the same time, he also hoped it was his daughter’s screams because then he had found her and just had to save her from whoever was inflicting pain on her. The thought of someone hurting his daughter to the extent of being able to produce such horrific screams of fear and pain stabbed at Kaleb’s chest; his heart. It made him sweat and panic, his heart race and stomach churn; please let it be her . . . no, don’t let it be her . . . just, let her be okay! he thought to himself.
With each step Kaleb took, he was sure the screams got worse, like the pain she was enduring grew in severity and regulation until finally, Kaleb reached the room where the screams were coming from.
“Kelly?” he called out, trying the only door at the dead end he had reached. It was locked from the inside. The screams continued to worsen, so he knew he had no choice but to break this door down, too. The thought of the pain it would cause him made him sweat, but he had no choice; someone needed his help, be it Kelly or some other poor soul.
1 . . .
2 . . .
3 . . .
Kaleb limped towards the door as fast as he could considering the state he was in, forcing it to open with what little strength he had left, causing him to fall onto the floor inside the new room he had just gained unauthorised access to.
The screams were louder here, but the room was empty, besides a wall-sized mirror and a light switch. He flicked one of two switches, and within an instant, the mirror became a screen that looked into another room. Above the one-way ‘mirror’ was a sign that was lit up in red saying ‘Procedure in Progress’, the same three words the automated voice said before the screaming had begun. Before even questioning if it was related, Kaleb witnessed a blood-curdling scene before him, almost prompting him to throw up.
The room beyond the mirror was covered in blood, like a massive murder scene; the walls, floor, and a man who was hidden beneath a partially ripped white lab jacket, a face covering and booties. Before this man was a rusty old table, at least 20 years old, and there upon it laid a young girl, at least 14 years of age, strapped to the bloody table with leather straps and chains for further security.
Without warning, the ‘surgeon’ picked up a sawing tool from the trolly on his left and then approached the young girl who was still screaming.
“No,” Kaleb mumbled, the word simply refusing to vocalise loud or urgent enough.
The surgeon approached the woman, switching on the medical saw; then, slowly, he brought the saw to the young girl’s face and began to slice into her flesh, causing her to scream louder than ever before; an ear-piercing scream of pain.
“NO!” Kaleb finally managed to shout, prompting the surgeon to look up at the mirror. Then, without prompting, he laughed maniacally like an overly excited clown. He dropped the saw while it was still switched on, letting it clash with the solid stone flooring at his feet, and then left the surgical room through the back, leaving Kaleb in the viewing room and the now silent ‘patient’ laying upon a rusted metal bed. He began hitting the windows, desperate to find a way in. “Kelly? KELLY?” He screamed until a loud buzzing alarm sounded.
“Procedure complete,” the familiar female-generated voice announced as she did before. Then a door to the left of Kaleb opened, the red ‘procedure’ light switching off upon his entrance to the operating room.
“Kelly?” he whispered gently, approaching the still young girl who remained on the bed. After a few unsteady steps, Kaleb finally reached her . . .
. . . He let out a huge sigh, then trembled with fear. This girl was not his daughter, however, the state she was in made Kaleb feel sick to his stomach. The skin from her entire face had been flayed off, leaving nothing behind but her skull and patches of bloody flesh that were hanging by a loose thread - by veins and what little muscle and membranes were left. Her eyes were bulging from their sockets, her eyelids completely torn off and sitting by the side of her head. Then . . .
“H . . . h . . . hep . . . m . . . me,” she stuttered through her mouth that no longer had lips, multiple teeth missing, and a tongue that seemed to have been stapled down to the underside of her mouth, paralysed. “H . . . hep . . . me,” she spat again, unable to pronounce the ‘L’.
“I’m sorry, I’m so, so sorry!” Kaleb said in reply, his voice trembling with fear and sickness. He leant over her body to release the straps that held the woman in place, but before he took them off completely, the girl let out a massive sigh, her head falling to the side as though she had just gone to sleep, despite the lack of eyelids and the emotionless stare in her eyes . . . she was gone . . . deceased . . . murdered!
Thank you for reading!
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