Chapter 3:



Adam stood in the chamber, waiting. No more voices came to ask him questions, show him things, or make noises or lights. As the hours passed in the darkness he began to see strange shapes and images he couldn't touch. Then something happened that Adam wasn't familiar with, his mind began to wander. His brain reached for stimulation and latched onto the only memories he had, his conversation with the 2 men. He thought about the lights that changed colour, and the warmth that came after he put his hand on the pedestal. Then he thought about the question the man on the right asked, “do you mind if I ask you a question?” he’d been interrupted by the man on the left but his mind stopped wandering to sit on that thought. Did he mind? What would it feel like if he did mind? Hed never minded anything before so would he even know if he did? He might not know what it feels like to mind something but he started considering the idea.

He tried to remember if he had ever minded something before, he remembered the conversation with the 2 men, then the garden, but he couldn’t remember anything before that. He thought about the questions the men had asked and… he’d answered them because he wanted to, he wasn’t sure what compelled him but… no, he didn’t mind. His head became light and a tightness he hadn’t noticed released in his chest as he could breathe freely, but while his diaphragm relaxed his lips became rigid and spread. There was a warmth he couldn’t feel with his skin, he tried to analyse it but it flittered away.

With nothing else to do his mind wandered and began considering if he minded other things. He hadn’t minded looking at the lights, but thinking back to the sound he heard that went from a deep hum to a sharp sting Adam thought that he would mind if they made that sound again. He thought about so many things until he wondered if he minded thinking about if he minded things. he even wondered if he minded standing in this room, it was small and dark and Adam decided he did mind, then he wondered why he was there in the first place. He thought about walking from the bright room to here and about their conversation, “let’s dispose of this thing” the man on the left had said, though he was to Adams right at the time. Was he the thing they had referred to? He looked down to examine himself but couldn’t see in the dark so he tried to remember what he looked like. He had hands, 2 of them, and feet just like the 2 men, was there something that differentiated Adam from them? Or perhaps they were things as well, Adam dismissed that thought, when he saw them he knew they were men, humans.

Then Adam remembered the door of the cylinder he was in, it was shiny and metallic and in the reflection he saw himself, standing with the 2 men and he was the same. He decided then he did mind being called a thing, he minded a lot actually. Then the thought dawned on him, if he was the thing, then that meant they were going to dispose of him. Dispose of, throw out, discard, eliminate, words flashed in his mind and suddenly being called a thing was irrelevant. What did they mean? His heart began to race as his palms gripped and became sweaty, what did they mean, his mind raced through his brief existence looking for an alternative explanation but there was none, they took him into the room with the door that said “disposal” and left only him. The words thrashed in his head and forced their way out as he screamed “WHAT DO YOU MEAN!?”. His chest was tight, and his heart was racing but that wasn’t the sensation that made his fists slam against the wall, it was something in his heart, in his brain, in some intangible part of himself he couldn't identify. A whisper deep from his subconscious pushed through the thundering barrage of thoughts cascading through his mind, it knew the answer and whispered inside his head. “Fear”.

Adam had never felt emotion before, he entered this body like a puppeteer gripping the strings that ran through his muscles. He could pull them and move the limbs and he could feel how they reacted but it was a master-slave relationship as he piloted this body. But now as he was racked with fear, the body was driving him, compelling him, forcing him, but to do what? Survive, escape, live. The words came to him in rapid-fire and he obeyed, this emotion, this fear it was horrible, overwhelming, he needed it to stop, he needed to obey the instincts that roared at him, anything to make these feelings go away.

In a sense of sheer desperation, Adam started punching the door, making it shudder and rattle but it was thick, heavy, stainless steel and he could feel his knuckles become bloody as the chamber echoed and rang. The words In his head burst out again as he screamed “LET ME OUT! LET ME OUT!” Over and over, he roared and at last, he punched with all his might and the door began to open. As soon as the door was wide enough Adam leaped out of the cylinder and collapsed heaving, he could barely breathe, his eyes were hot and wet, and his hands ran with blood. He turned and saw a new person who stared in shock.

“Jesus, they really do love to haze the new guy” he said, looking Adam up and down “what did they do to your clothes? I’ll get them for you” he said. Adam tried to respond, still hyperventilating on the floor.

“my clothes?”

“Yeah, your clothes, cmon” the man said, pinching the overalls he wore, and pulling. Adam didn’t respond and the man became impatient, “you barely look a day over 18, how’d you even get a job at a place like humane? You some kinda wiz kid or something?” He asked before freezing as he glimpsed something on the side of Adam's head. Adam reached a hand up and felt something cold and hard. “Wait, the lab won’t let you in with implants, how did you” the man’s eyes widen in horror “oh god the rumors are true” as he reached for a wrench in his belt.

The calm was flushed from Adam's mind in a flash as the terror consumed his world and he leaped to his feet, but the man had blocked the exit

“They can't find out I saw you, please just get back in the chamber”

Adam shook his head “Just let me go, please”

“I’m sorry”

The man roared and charged, the wrench held above his head and Adam barely had time to cover his head before the wrench came down hard, colliding with his forearm, a bruise forming instantly as Adam registered the damage. He didn’t have time to assess it further before the man swung again and Adam tried to grab his hand but missed and the wrench collided with the top of his head in a glancing blow that sent him to the floor. Adam's head spun as he tried to regain his balance in time to avoid the final blow as the man brought the wrench down for the last time, aiming straight for his skull.

Adam pushed off the ground hard into a kneeling position and dove, grabbing the man and launching him back. The man fell and his head struck the tiled floor with a wet crack. Adam was sent sprawling along the floor still recovering as the man stood, swaying, gripping the wrench so hard his knuckles were white. Adam was shaking, exhausted, and defenseless as the man staggered toward him. He swung, striking Adam in the ankle, then again in the thigh, but his next blow missed Adam entirely, the wrench clanking as it bounced off the floor, and as he raised his arm to prepare another swing he fell into a sitting position. Eyes open but unseeing, jaw slack as he gagged, convulsing before falling forward, revealing the dent in the back of his skull.

And then Adam saw the blood. It ran down the back of the man’s clothes, sliding across the fabric in deep-red rivers pooling on the floor. The man stopped twitching and lay still. He was dead.