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Surviving the Dark

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Today Hob spoke of another plan to infiltrate a laboratory somewhere, the words ran into each other through the filter of my exhaustion. I fought to keep my eyes open and my waning focus in check. Relief flooded me when we were allowed to return to our own devices.
Hob had scarcely had time to adjourn the meeting before Mondo leapt up, grabbing his skateboard. “I'm going to hit the skate park, anyone want to join me?”
I opened my mouth to volunteer but a yawn stole my words. Then Lindsay called me into the kitchen.
“Catch you later, dude!” Mondo exclaimed as he jumped onto his skateboard and raced out the door, a blur of energy.
She sat down at the table sipping a mug of tea that has probably grown cold now. I sat at the table, the uneven chair rocking slightly.
I saw her hand resting on the arm of my suit, a comforting gesture but I wish I could know what it felt like. “Seymour,” she began, her voice low as if trying not to scare me. “Are you alright?”
My eyes met hers for a moment then darted away.
“It's just that you seemed a little… dazed in there.”
“I'm fine.”
A door shut rapidly with a resounding bang. All movement in my trachea stopped.
“Dammit Pete, I'm trying to concentrate!” Hob bellowed.
“Sorry!”
“Seymour, it's just Pete again. You're safe here.”
I tried to steady my breathing. Lindsay adjusted her glasses, watching me keenly.
“You don't have to sit in on those meetings of you don't want to. If it's too much…”
“It's fine. I want to make those…” my conscience wouldn't allow me to use bad language. “Those people to stop. We haven't done anything to hurt them. We just want to exist.”
Lindsay rubbed her eyes, hanging her head. She remained like this for a few moments because I made her feel guilty even though she'd done nothing but help us.
“I'm happy here,” I said, feigning a smile. “Just tired.”
I stood up. “I'm just going to see if there's anything on TV.”
She looked up. “But Seymour, you need sleep.”
“Mondo will be back in a few hours, I want to be up for him.”
She raised an eyebrow as I scurried into the living room and the sanctuary of its bright lights.

I watched the pictures on the screen moving, the plot drifting in and out of my consciousness. My eyes began to close and the green film of mutagen clouding my world faded to black.

My few muscles seized as a blade of light pierced the darkness punctuated by a human figure. She towered over me as I lay helpless on the hospital bed. My efforts to escape were reduced to a pitiful squirm. I remained still, a clump of cryogenically frozen cells suspended in a formula, not even a complete person.
I can hear her words but they don't make any sense I think some of them are codewords designed to keep us experiments ignorant of our fates. They gave us intelligence but only to follow orders, we're weapons, devoid of any personhood.
They take me to their lab, opening up my suit, draining the mutagen I need to sustain me. I'm gasping for air, my overly inflated lungs shooting in pain. Their icy latex clad hands jab at me and they grimace as if I am no more than a disgusting piece of hazardous waste.
Someone closed their hand around me, I can't even think, all I know is absolute, unfettered agony. I arched back against the glass of my tank into convulsions. My organs tremble with each movement. I would die soon and I would be free…
“Seymour!”
My eyes jerked open. The intense movements generated a fury of bubbles in the tank barely able to make out Lindsey's face.
I heard her sigh. “Are you okay?”
I couldn't reply.
“Don't worry about talking at the moment, you're trembling. You had a nightmare, but you're with me now. Seymour, you're safe.”
She carried on, her voice like soothing flute music lulling me into peace.
“It was just a dream, I'm fine.”
She examined me, her forehead creasing in concern. “When I was a child I was afraid of the dark.”
“I'm not afraid.”
“Maybe not of the darkness but it reminds you of something back at the lab, doesn't it?”
My eyes stung as shards of the dream flashed in front of my eyes. I stared at a large gash on the side is the sofa in front of me. Somehow I ended up crouching to the side of the room, the threadbare curtains hanging in my peripheral vision. Stuffing oozed from the gash frames by loose threads hanging like vines. I tried to focus on it, anything to avoid closing my eyes again.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
The threads moved from a draft which I could not feel. “Did Mondo get back?”
“He's asleep, everyone is.”
Blinking, I noticed she was in her pyjamas.
If I had skin I would have blushed. “I didn't mean to wake you up, I'm so so sorry!”
Lindsay smiled, I could see her hand out of my peripheral vision resting on the side of the tank. She looked away and drew in a deep breath. “You've done nothing wrong. I wish I could do more to help you.” She sat down beside me and adjusted her glasses. Her finger tapped out a beat on her knee. “What we need is to make it as little like the lab as possible.”
“Pete gave me a nightlight,” I volunteered.
“That's a good start, what about music or nature sounds?”
There were some trees outside but they didn't really make any specific noises that could aid sleep, the rain was calming though. “Like rain?”
She nodded. “And bird noises.”
I shook my head. “I’ve lived with Pete long enough to know that's not a relaxing sound.”
Lindsay snorted. “That's true. What about other sounds like waterfalls or rainstorms?”
My eyes widened. “I have never heard a waterfall before!”
She looked surprised for a moment then hung her head. “I don't suppose you have.” She was silent for a moment the stood up, holding her hand out to my mechanical one.
We went into my room and pulled the covers aside.
“I'll play a waterfall sound on YouTube.” She sat in the old arm chair in the corner of the room. “I'll sleep here so you're not alone tonight.”
The chair was so ancient and emitted a damp stench. “Lindsey, can I sleep on the chair? You can take the bed. I can't feel it anyway in this suit so it doesn't matter.”
She looked slightly relieved as she sank into the bed unable to stifle a yawn.
After a few moments she got the video up and the sounds filtered into my consciousness. Washing away all my problems if only for a while.