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Barking in The Dark

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She wakes up in a panic, fighting off invisible hands shoving tubes and needles into all her soft places. No. She is not trapped in that nightmare machine, drowning in visions that scream out prophecies of rapture. Although she is now awake, the screaming remains.

An alarm sounds off overhead. She struggles to her feet, lethargic and slow to make her way to the cell door. A migraine is forming in the wake of that blaring noise. Curiously, there is fresh viscera splattered against the walls across from her little window. Her mouth goes dry when glass shatters in the distance as a white coat darts past her; panicking like a cornered sheep.

“Looks like the lunatics are running the asylum now boys,” giggles an unhinged voice not far behind the false healer. The voices of more men cackle in agreement while their pack round the corner, passing her cell. Their twisted and deformed faces stare ahead after their quarry, not sparing the little window a glance. The hooting and hollering move past the hallway and fade, while the alarm system remains loud as ever. Adrenaline shoots into her bloodstream in realization. She sits down on the edge of her cot to ground herself, but the shakes soon follow. The static begins to cry under her skin again, singing for release.

A riot must have broke out. Nervous laughter bubbles its way up her throat and past her lips. It starts small as she tries to muffle it with hands over her mouth, but soon escalates into all out hysteria. Tears stream down her face in gallons as she nearly chokes from the force of her own cackles. Time passes by like a fever dream, as her laughter bounces around the cell while she hugs herself and rocks.

“Hush now, Child. I’m not the only creature with ears inside these walls.”

“Shut your ugly snout you mangy mutt,” she bites out, not turning to the dark corner where the whisper originates. Her voice feels hoarse. Blood is caked under her fingernails from scratching her arms bloody. The alarms are silent now.

“Don’t you know what this means for us, Child?” The voice echos softly, the amused tilt in its voice ever present. She glances up, as its form solidifies briefly before wavering away like smoke. She shrugs, body feeling heavy and suddenly aware of how thirsty she is. The gleam of teeth shine in the darkness, as it leans forward. It’s gaping maw begins to curve into a grin. It speaks with a tongueless mouth and gazes at her with an eyeless face.

The clatter of something in the distance has her jumping to her feet. Footsteps and excited voices come closer as they try and talk over one another.

“I heard it over here!”

“You’d better be telling the truth or els-”

“No, I heard it too. A woman was laughing-” A third voice, deeper and older than the others.

“There ain't no women left! Those Murkoff fucks made sure o-”

“Adam saw one a few days ago though. Floating in one of those water bubbles down below! Those doctors had her naked and everything!”

“Adam also finger paints with his own shit.”

She rolls under the bed as the voices grow louder. Just in time to avoid the eyes of someone glancing through her cell window as they pass.

“Start checking cells.” That older voice commands.

Under the cot, she can hear the bolts on the door being undone to the cell right of hers. “Check under the beds too!” She nearly pisses herself from blind panic. The dog that is not a dog laughs softly, under the bed with her now. Behind her It’s hot breath tickles the back of her skull, as it whispers low, “These men will savage you, dear.”

It isn't concerned for her well-being, she knows. It’s simply stating a fact, as one would comment on the weather, or a particularly heavy storm on the horizon.

“Fuck off,” She answers so quietly she can hardly hear the reply. Lip curled in distaste.

“I can help you child. You know I can,” it whispers as the bolts to her own door begin to squeak. The man on the other side struggling with the rusted latches.

“Let me in,” it purrs, caressing the back of her shaven head with its snout.
“It will be just like old times.” Goosebumps bloom along her arms.

Buried images and memories lick at her brain. The static surges like electricity under her skin, as the door finally gives to the weight of a heavy body pushing it open.

A single tear rolls out of her eye and hits the dirty floor. She nods. There is silence as a pair of bare feet stride into the tiny cell. She watches as a calloused and mutilated hand grasps the blanket, pulling it up to look underneath the bed.

The dog that is not a dog growls. The hand falters. The woman howls.