Here is Chapter Three, I hope you enjoy. Remember to come back next Friday for Chapter Four!
They watched him plummet down from the surface of the lake from behind a thick pane of glass.
“Well he made it further than the others.”
“Do I look impressed?……. Drain it.”
The cold spread through his body like locusts through a harvest. A far cry from the warm waters he remembered swimming in back when he’d visit here as a child. It was a memory that almost felt alien, as though it was from a different life but such are the effects of time. Floating in a momentary stasis beneath the surface, no longer sinking with the momentum of the fall but yet to start his ascent back to the world, he opened his eyes. The moonlight struggled to permeate the clouding filth of the water. No fish. Nothing. The lake was as dead as his memories of it. His lungs began to scream. He clawed his way to the surface with the same vigour that they clawed at his chest.
He gasped as he erupted back into the night. A silence dwelled in the air and strangely it appeared darker out here than it did underwater. The shore of the lake was a gradual incline meaning he’d be able to stand long before he left the water. He started to swim towards it but he felt a pull. He couldn’t get any closer to shoreline. To his terror he realised he was getting further away. Before he could act he was dragged under. A full-blown current was now in control of his body. He missed the chance to gather air before being pulled down. His lungs screamed again. Even more so than before. The current took him downwards. Further and further until he struck something solid. The water continued to rush past him at the same time pinning him down. It felt like an age before the water stopped and he found himself lying on his back, choking up what seemed like the entire contents of the lake. He got up. Confusion hit him like a bus as he found himself looking around a room filled with medical utensils, fridges and lab coats. Sat dead in the middle was a hospital bed outfitted with heavy-duty restraints. He slowly wandered around the sterile, malefic room, the approaching footsteps from the other side of the door almost going unnoticed. Panic hit, trying to finish off the job that confusion started. He hid behind where the door would open. It was the first place he saw. The handle lowered and the door opened. A frail man, dressed in a lab coat, an apron and rubber gloves, walked through at a metronomic pace. No sign of a rush but also none of lethargy. Routine. His focus was on some documents attached to a clear, plastic clipboard so much so that he didn’t notice the man slip out from behind the door and escape into the hall.
It soon became clear that this facility was immense. How it could exist where it did defied logic. Frantically the man explored the seemingly unending maze of corridors. They were clean but it was clear that, that cleanliness was a mask. They weren’t clean because of good upkeep but because events had occurred that needed to be cleaned up. The dim glow of artificial light coupled with the aesthetic of an abandoned hospital did nothing to convince him that he wasn’t walking through his own nightmare. Despite the vastness of the complex, rooms were scarce. The few he’d passed so far were either bathrooms, empty patient rooms or storage cupboards. He turned a corner leading to a single door, just in time to watch it close. Maybe the same frail man, still holding the clipboard? Tentatively he approached the door, a faint bit of hope that this was the end of the maze fought to suppress his ever-present fear. He went in.
The lack of anyone in the room was barely noticeable when set against what else was in there. Bright, harsh lights shone down on the immaculately clean lab equipment laid out militarily throughout the room, leading up to a door on the other side. All being the type of equipment way beyond a layman’s comprehension. He moved over to the left of the room where a large tank stood on its own against the wall. The tank radiated warmth and the dials all lit up with readings that all meant nothing to him. It was full with small brown seeds. On the other side of the room was a row of containers, all leaking out a cold mist. Each container had a dozen glass trays labelled “эмбрион” and then a number. Nothing was making sense, everything he stumbled upon only added another question. Even the computer sitting in the corner was locked. A sudden noise diverted his attention away from the computer. The door on the other side of the room was now ajar. Without hesitation he headed towards it and then through it.
Beyond the door was one long corridor. Blank walls on either side led all the way up to a set of doubles doors. Above them was a traditional, glowing green exit sign. His legs decided to run before his mind even had the chance for an input. By the time he had reached the doors he was at a full-blown sprint. He charged through them but came to a halt immediately on the other side. Their stares met. Their expressions a reflection of each other’s. Their faces a reflection of each other’s. The man stood there face to face with the man. With himself.