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<< Ethan Sheldon’s [Deceased] Brain Autopsy >>

Damn, this one's going to be a long one—an all-nighter mopping the floors in this creepy ass place. There is no music or sound except the splashing noise of cleaning fluid. I'm in a hallway; there's nothing to look at; it's all glossy white with no tinge of excitement except for the thrill of coming across the occasional door. There are no people here either; I've always seen many people come and go from the building, but rarely anyone in it. 

I always thought this section of the facility might've been kept to a selected few; something secretive was happening here. They won't let me use my phone or bring any other technology. They completed a body check to ensure I didn't sneak anything in, and every time they did, one of them read out the contents of the non-disclosure agreement I signed eight months ago. The thing is, I still don't know what they do here. How can I disclose information if I don't have information? It's obvious that they're working on some research project; these guys are scientists, but I don't even know who they're working for; the employer's name looks like an alias, TALE. I did some research in my own time, but I couldn't find much. 

It doesn't make sense. I work here every night, and the floors are spotless every single time. Why do they hire me? If they spread my shifts only once a week, I might come across some dirt or dust. These guys are walking sanitisers. I shouldn't be complaining about this; they pay unreasonably well for work that also doesn't seem to exist. I owe them a lot; their benefits are incredible. The facility has a residential section in its east wing, and they gave me an apartment there free of charge. The only thing is, I can't leave whenever I want to; I have to inform them first and carry a tracker on my wrist whenever I go. They say it's to make sure my services do not go missing, but I'm pretty sure there is a microphone on the device. 

It doesn't bother me too much; it's not like I have somewhere to be or someone to go to. My parents passed away a decade ago when I was a teenager. I had a partner for a few years; then she left me for another man. I became stressed and volatile. I lashed out at all my friends until they all decided I wasn't worth it. I ended up pushing everyone away. I decided I would leave the city and work rural, figured it would help take the stress off. I got a job at a local corner shop before these guys approached me. They said I was exactly what they needed, but I never applied for the role. I kinda just heard what they were willing to pay and started mopping. They really sav-

<< Merging with Sensory Data >>

They really saved me, I thought. A few hours went by of the same arduous task of cleaning already clean floors. You know, in the beginning, I didn't think they had cameras here; I figured it was because it might pose a risk in case of a data leak. Once, I started sliding across these halls as though it was an ice rink and got a warning from them. Weird, how did they know? They cut my wage for the night as punishment, though that didn't bother me. What bothered me was the idea that there might be cameras in my apartment. Are they watching me in there, too? 

Then I heard something that was rare. Against the backdrop of absolute silence, I heard sounds that didn't come from me or the mop. Footsteps. As they got louder, I realised that there were multiple people, and they seemed to be in a rush. This hallway was not completely straight; it had a few bends here and there, so I heard them before I saw them. As they crossed the nearest bend, I saw that it was three people; two scientists in hazmats and a businessman. It was strange; I'd never seen a suit before, and as for the scientists, I don't often see them in hazmats. The suit seemed anxious; the light bounced sweat off his forehead. This hairstyle was something vintage, out-of-time, and he wore his suit as a second skin. The scientists dressed the same, but by their overall outline, I could tell that one was male and the other was female. They were both holding an object I'd never seen before; it was silver metallic, something ancient but also cutting-edge, and looked like a tool. 

"You better get this specimen under control; we cannot afford to lose it," said the businessman. They rushed past me without even a glance in my direction and entered a room with double doors. There was no label on that door or on any of them; I wondered what made that one so special. Specimen

After the door closed, nothing. It all went back to the quiet, eerie silence. My mind, on the other hand, was running wild. Why is a suit here? What's going on? I thought that the suit was someone higher up the ladder rather than a scientist, which made sense considering that he looked like he was in his early 50s.

Interesting. These guys were having trouble with a specimen; I thought about what this specimen was; a prototype recipe, formula, or maybe a newly discovered plant or animal. I got so lost in my own thoughts that I didn't realise that I had slowed my mopping pace. What could this specimen be? I thought.

A moment passed, and I heard a sound. It was something like an explosion but not quite; it sounded organic. I only heard it because of the hallway's silence; the double doors seemed to be great sound insulators. Another moment passed, this one a lot shorter. I heard a scream, followed by some electrical noises and… gunshots? What the hell is going on in there? I was more transfixed by curiosity than fear at this moment, though I felt the latter lurking in the recesses of my mind. 

It was silent again. I heard organic clicking noises that gradually increased in volume and frequency; there was a human grunt followed by the clanging sound of metal on ceramic tiles. The double doors opened. The sounds are more audible and explicitly clear. I heard the beeping of computer terminals, a sound associated with something gone terribly wrong. I heard footsteps again, running this time. 

I saw the suit run across the bend towards me, a bloodied right hand covering the right side of a bloodied neck. As he got closer, I realised that his fingers were there and that there was a large seeping wound on his neck, the type of wound that a person does not survive. At this moment, my fear became more prominent, my thoughts running wild on speculation. 

"Hey man, what's going on?" I said, unable to hide the quivering nervousness in my voice; my mind was blank. My legs felt heavy, a flight response. As I turned around, my foot knocked over the bucket containing the cleaning fluid, and it emptied into the hallway. The suit tried to run over it but slipped; his right hand left his neck to brace for the fall. He let out a suppressed yet painful scream as he fell; the chemicals burned his severed fingers. His blood was diluted with the liquid. 

"You fucking idiot!" He exclaimed. As I went to help get him up, he kicked my left leg, and I slipped and fell. I couldn't brace in time and knocked the side of my head against the tiles. 

"Shit," I immediately grabbed my head in an attempt to soothe the stinging sensation. My vision became blurry. I looked up at the suit; he was already on his feet and running, albeit slowly. His injuries were too severe; he would die of blood loss soon. He didn't look back. I tried to get up despite pausing for a second on the way up. At this point, I realised that the clicking sound was getting louder. It was coming from the hallway; I turned to look and…

What the hell is that?

I froze. I saw what looked about the size of the average person, though it was hunched over, so it was probably bigger. The body seemed to be made out of translucent silver, reflective though not uniform. I thought my eyes were playing a trick on me; I hoped it was probably another design for the hazmat suit. This was short-lived; as my sight started clearing up, I saw that the body was now some type of shell, an exoskeleton with six limbs. It began to approach me slowly.

"Hey! Stop!" I yelled. I started walking backwards in the direction the suit ran. He tripped me to save himself. The thing started moving faster; I turned and ran as fast as I could. The clicking started getting louder, increasing its frequency. The only thought present in my mind was fear. I could hear it catching up. SHIT SHIT SHIT, I thought, FU-

<< End of Conscious Layer Log and Sensory Data >>

<< Reason: Ethan Sheldon Dead >>


I'm 22 years old, living in Australia and I like Sci-Fi. This is my first attempt at a short story, I'm hoping to publish a few more before trying my hand at a novel (maybe a series). They will all be interlinked under the Sci-Fi genre.


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