In the near future, Daisy takes part in an isolation experiment for five years only to find a very different world waiting for her when the doors open...
(comedy/horror/sci-fi/distopian. All rights reserved.) Part one of many.
Last Dog Standing
In the near future...
Daisy drums hers fingers on the stainless steel worktop. Above the pressure sealed doors a large projection of a digital clock is counting down.
Only five more minutes.
Only five more minutes.
In five minutes the experiment would be over and she would be free. Back in the real world. With real people. And chocolate. And alcohol that came in a glass with ice and a slice not in a sterile swab... yes she wasn't above admitting to sucking the odd swab in a moment of desperate, lonely madness... perhaps she'd delete that bit from her soon-to-be a best-seller diary. But free, to feel real sunshine on her skin, not the weekly Sun-U-Like lamp session. To feel the rain...
'We have a lot of protocol to finish before you go.' The voice brings Daisy back to the present.
'That ironing pile for a start. And you haven't compacted the toilet waste today.'
'Not ironing, not compacting, not today!' Daisy can feel her whole mood lift at the thought of change from the routine for the last five years. Glorious freedom!
'Well, I think it's a shame if you leave the place looking like this. They spent good money making you comfortable and this is how you repay them?'
'I've been in here for five years, without any interaction from the outside world of any kind, they are not going to care if I've compacted the toilet! Who put you in charge anyway, you are here to help me. You go compact it!'
'You know I can't, I'm a computer program designed to provide you with a sounding board for your inner voice.'
'Nag me to death more like.' Daisy whispers under her breath, not taking her eyes off the digital countdown.
'I heard that.'
'I heard that too.'
Daisy sighs deeply, wondering for the millionth time why she ever signed up for the experiment and then she remembers. On the successful completion of five years in the isolation capsule laboratory, under conditions that would resemble living off-world, she would be free. Free in the credit no problem, rich and famous for life kind of way.
'Are you really going to go out dressed like that?'
'Well, I'm guessing the World's press will be gathered to see if you are still alive or not along with your family and friends and, obviously, the SpaceLife Science Team running this experiment and you are going to meet them all wearing that?'
Daisy glances down at the once-pink fleecy onesie she is wearing. 'What's wrong with it?'
'You have been wearing it for the last 127 days. That's what.'
'Well, as you've already pointed out, nothing else is ironed so it'll just have to do and, as well you know, since I am an orphan and have no relatives out there waiting for me, which is half the reason I was chosen for this in the first place...'
'It must smell terribly...'
'Argghh! You are the most infuriating programme in the history of invented computer personalities... I don't care if I smell or how I look, I just want to be out of here and AWAY FROM YOU!'
'You'll be sorry... first photo to the waiting world will be of a big, pink, stinky, teddy-bear woman...'
'ARGHHHHHHH!' Daisy picks up the nearest object she can find and hurls it at the nearest speaker on the ceiling. The object, a spanner, misses the speaker and knocks the fire hydrant nozzle next to it instead. Immediately a high powered burst of water sprays all over her.
'… a big, pink, stinky, soggy, teddy-bear woman...'
'SHUTUPSHUTUPSHUTUP!' Daisy screams at the voice while jumping up and down, making a squelching noise with the padded soles of her onesie.
From across the room there is the sound of air escaping and then the doors click and slowly open outwards as the clock above finally stops on 00.000.00.00.00.00
Daisy half expects someone to appear in the doorway, with a fanfare and a cake, a cake would be nice... after five years. But seconds pass and no one appears. There is no sound either, no comforting cheering or applause. Just an empty, open door and silence.
'I thought you couldn't wait to leave.'
'Going!' Daisy waddles to the door in her wet onesie and then, thinks better of it and steps out of it to reveal a grey vest and sweatpants underneath. Then, hesitantly, sticks her head out through the open doorway and says 'Hello?'.
The word echoes around the cavernous interior of the warehouse holding the isolation capsule laboratory (ICL). The place is completely empty. It occurs to Daisy that the light in the building is coming from a huge hole in one of the walls, light streaming in over fallen masonry. She makes her way over to it and steps out into what once was a busy industrial estate. All around are the remains of burnt out buildings and wrecked lorries, and not a single person in sight. Daisy wanders around in the sunlight unable to comprehend what is going on. The place is deserted, destroyed. She stumbles out into the road but it is the same there, in all directions, devastation and an eerie, empty silence.
A movement near a pile of rubble catches her eye and a skinny dog trots towards her holding something in it's jaws. It is cutely straggly with a ragged ear and jaunty tail. Daisy smiles as it approaches her and than she works out what it's holding. It's the unmistakable shape of a human hand, still articulated and waving at her from the long arm bone the dog is chewing. For a second Daisy is rooted to the spot and then the dog drops the bone and starts to advance towards her with a low, ominous growl that suggests next on his menu is one of her arms. Daisy snaps out of her fright and makes a headlong dash back across the car park, into the warehouse and back into the ICL, slamming the heavy door behind her. She sinks to the floor, panting as outside the lone dog howls disconsolately at the loss of his next meal.
'Back so soon? I thought you couldn't wait to leave...'
Daisy squeezes her eyes shut, hoping it is all a dream, a nightmare she would wake up from in any minute and she would be safe in her bunk, about to start the last day of the experiment.
'Daisy, it's time for you to leave.' But the voice is insistent and definitely not her morning alarm.
'Daisy, are you sick? What has happened? The experiment is over, you can leave... it really doesn't matter what you wear... Daisy, please answer me...'
Outside the dog stops howling and sniffs around the ICL. There is no way in and so he wanders off to find some shade to lie in and wait.
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