Sunday, June 27, 2010

Ann Onymous, pt. 4, 390 words

The stash was in an old, abandoned house nearby. The place had been condemned years ago, though nobody had bothered to take care of it. The property wasn't worth the cost to rebuild, probably not even to smash it down to an empty lot. Squatters didn't stay for long, either. The floor was rotting out in most places, and the stairs were even worse.

Ann shimmied up an old downspout, which she had bolted back into place. Some extra dirt, scuffing, and a sprinkle of an oxidizer had made the bolts look as old as the rest of the house and ready to fall out. She gained the second floor and climbed into a window, ducking out of sight as quickly as possible. The floor up here was stronger, but not entirely secure.

Ann crept into a small bathroom, squinting against the dark. Something felt wrong. Some sense of presence in the air, though all was silent but for her own breath. Ann closed her eyes, listening carefully as she stepped forward into the dark.

The floor. She hesitated, and tested again. A board that all but screamed when stepped on barely squeaked. Ann stepped back quickly and fumbled a flashlight from her pocket. Its tiny cone of light illuminated the room.

The figure stood, stooped over, in the bathroom. It was a good two and a half meters tall, head bumping the ceiling. It leaned down into the light, glaring at Ann.

It was ugly. Hideously so. Not a kind of ugliness that a person could be born to, but one that had to have been manufactured. The echoes of human features remained in the figure's face, but any previous identity or sex had been obliterated. Scraps of skin stretched tight between smooth, hard plastic plates, the only sign in its face that it had even once been human. Its nose was gone, its mouth sealed over. Blank polarized caps covered its eye sockets. No hair, just a dark metallic cowling, and ears that had been trimmed back to the barest protrusion with some stiff fabric material stretched over the openings.

The figure had been as utterly dehumanized as possible while remaining recognizably human.

“Hello, Number Four.” The words were flat and monotone, the voice that of a corpse. Nothing moved on its blank face. Not a twitch.

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