Survival of the Strongest

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic


A mans fight for survival.

Submitted: February 16, 2018

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Submitted: February 16, 2018

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I lay quietly. My eyes are tightly shut. The silence is like a physical presence lying heavy upon me. My mind is whirling with thoughts that have no start and no finish. Finally managing to focus, I sense rather than hear the movements around me.  I can feel an anger building within me. How dare anyone do this to me! Pulling apart my gummed eye lids, I see two indistinct shapes materialising in the dim light. All seem to be struggling, as am I.  A noise starts up around us; subdued and pervasive. It is a cross between the slow clockwork sound of a metronome and the rhythmic thudding of a heartbeat. The level of light increases and I can see those around me are fully conscious and scrutinising each other, as if their lives depend on it. Without knowing why, I know this to be true.

 

The light is now bright enough to examine my confederates in more detail. Two males dressed in the same way I am; blue, long sleeved shirt, jeans and ankle high walking boots.  Both seem to have a familial look to them. Blond with green eyes and pale skin, but their commonalities end there. Seething with rage, I spring to my feet to face them, as if facing an enemy.

“Who the hell are you? Why have you brought me here?

My voice comes out scratchy and dry, as if I have been unconscious and without water for a long period of time, but still it reverberates around what appears to be a huge cavern lit by fluorescent tubing attached to the high ceiling. The noise catches us all by surprise. The taller and more muscular of the two strides confidently forward making conciliatory gestures with his hands.

“Calm down, Calm down. I’m Michael. I’ve no idea how I came to be here, or who any of you are either. I do think though that we are all in the same predicament, so we should probably stick together for the time being and try and find our way out of here.”

This he said with surety, energy and a great deal of bonhomie; just on that I knew he was a take charge sort of guy. I hate him immediately. No one tells me what to do.  He thrusts out his hand in greeting; I ignore it and turn towards the other.

The second is no more than a boy sitting quietly, with arms wrapped around his legs which are pulled tightly to his chest. He blurts out an undecipherable word and his head sinks forward onto his knees

“He said his name is Sammy,” Michael offered.

For a moment, the two of us stand there looking at each other; lost in thoughts of how, what, where and why. Sammy sits huddled on the floor.

Bad temperedly and begrudgingly I grunt in his general direction.

“My name is Simon”.

 

“SAMMY, ARE YOU THERE? CAN YOU HEAR ME?”

 

An ear shattering voice issues from the very air itself. Two of us jump at the unexpectedness of the noise. One of us closes tightly into a foetal position. Michael takes up a position in front of him and looks carefully around for any physical threat. I stand to the side and glare threateningly around me.

The questions are repeated with no reduction in volume. Michael yells into the air,

“Sammy’s trapped in here with us. He can’t speak at the moment; he’s terrified.”

I don’t know if the voice heard Michael or not. The only noise was the steady background beat that had been ever present since I had woken.

 

“SAMMY I AM TRYING TO GET TO YOU, BUT YOU MUST COME PART OF THE WAY.”

 

Someone was coming to help us; at least Sammy, anyway. If there is a way out, I would make certain that I would be the one taking it. Michael had Sammy on his feet and was herding him towards the upward incline of the tunnel exiting the cavern. I followed behind. The overhead lights came on as we progressed and those behind dimmed and faded to nothing. We were moving forward within a self-contained bubble of light.

 

I don’t know how long we travel.  There is little change in our surroundings. A rocky, debris scattered pathway climbing ever upward to freedom. That’s what I tell myself anyway. I feel isolated and alone.  The other two seem to blend together into a cohesive unit; each seemingly drawing from the other to find the strength and the will to go on. Michael is the stronger though and therefore the more dangerous to me. He had assumed guardianship over the weaker lad and that would be his Achilles. I trail at the back, carefully watching their every move and look for any advantage that may be of use to me later. Let them encounter and solve the problems before us. I was going to get out, no matter what the cost. Seconds feel like minutes; minutes like hours. We continue climbing.

 

Michael, who is leading (of course), comes to an abrupt halt and kneels. He tries to lower Sammy gently to the floor, but he just crumples to the ground in exhaustion. Michael moves forward and signals me to join him. This annoys me. Who appointed him leader? I control the rising bile; drop and crawl forward on my stomach to ascertain the extent of the impasse that is obviously in front of us. The floor of the tunnel has collapsed and left a gaping crevasse. It may as well be bottomless. Even with the lights, nothing can be seen except for the inky blackness below. Looking to the side of the tunnel, I spy a small ledge which circumnavigates the chasm. It varies in width; as narrow as six inches and as wide as a foot. It provides a chance. We carefully move back from the edge and Michael tells Sammy of what we now face.

 

Michael volunteers to test the way and who am I to deny him. It’s a ‘win, win’ situation as far as I’m concerned. If he manages to find a safe way, I’m one step closer to getting out. If he falls, there’s one less person for me to worry about. With his back pressing hard against the rugged wall of the tunnel, Michael carefully inches his way along the rock shelf; one foot sliding forward and the other clearing debris as he goes by kicking it into the gaping maw of the pit. The sounds of the falling rubble do not stop, but just recede into nothingness. He accesses the far side with little difficulty and turns to face us.

“Sammy, you come across next. Just take your time and you’ll have no problem.”

Sammy lifts his head. Looks at Michael on the far side; looks at the ledge, shudders and shakes his head. Not a word is spoken. I curl my lip in a sneer. The little coward's true colours' were shining through. With a look of disgust, I step past him and manoeuvre my way onto the shelf and start wending my way across. I take it calmly and slowly, with a mantra playing over and over in my head.

“Don’t look down and I will survive. Don’t look down and I will survive.” Again and again and again, until I feel Michael's hands grabs my arm and swings me forward. The anger which is always with me flares brightly once more. I do not like to be man-handled.

I turn to Michael, but he is already on his way back to Sammy’s side with all the confidence of one walking down the middle of a four lane highway.

Quickly making it back to Sammy’s recumbent form and bending over, he whispers to him;

“Come on Sammy, we’re on the final leg. I’m sure of it. Just one more effort and we’ll be on our way out. You can do it. You know I’m always there for you.

Sammy looks up into Michael's eyes and a reassurance, trust and strength pass between them. Michael slowly helps him to his feet, before once more setting off with Sammy’s hand clutched in his own death like grip. They are halfway across when from all around comes that unknown voice, as if from the very air and rock;

 

"I’M GOING TO TRY SOMETHING DIFFERENT TO GET THROUGH TO YOU. KEEP TRYING SAMMY."

 

I have heard of the expression “the silence was deafening”, but this was the first time I had ever experienced it. It may have been only seconds, but it seemed as if the whole world is holding its breath. Even the ever present back ground noise has stopped. Then it begins; an onslaught of sound and vibration which shakes me to my very essence. The lighting system which we have become so reliant on flickers and goes out as I am unceremoniously dumped to the ground. I lay there winded. As it starts, so does it finish; stillness and silence reign once more, followed by the reinstatement of the light.

 

I look back to where Michael and Sammy had been. They have disappeared from sight. I feel joy rise within me. I have survived. I crawl to the verge and look over. Hanging from one hand wedged into a crack in the wall and with the limp form of Sammy in the other, is Michael.

“The ever vigilant protector and guardian of the weak,” I think to myself.

“Simon. Simon. You've got to help us!”

I look down at them and stay silent. Pleasant scenarios play out in my mind. It would be so easy to pick up a rock and bring it down on his unsuspecting head. Two birds with one stone. His hand is in reach. I do not move.

“Simon, I can’t hold on much longer. I know you won’t be able to lift both of us, but you might be able to help Sammy.” I can hear the strain in his voice, as he finds it harder and harder to maintain his grip on the semi-conscious form below him. Looking down at Michael, I can sense that he has always protected the boy and shielded him from whatever the world has thrown at him. He will soon be on his own as I know that Michael is not going to make it. I don’t know why, but I reach down as far as I can. Michael takes a deep breath and making a super human effort he starts to raise the boy up to meet me. His face is a chameleon of colours as it transcends from bright red into the purple spectrum. His breathing changes as he drags in large amounts of oxygen to fuel the last super human effort of a dying body. Sammy is now flapping around like a fish out of water. One hand flails out and I grasp it. I hold him steady. Michael feels that I have him. Our eyes lock and I can sense that he is pleased that this final task is complete. With that, his whole body relaxes and falls. I listen, but do not hear his body strike as it disappears from sight.

“Bye, bye Michael,” I whisper softly.

 

I look down at the young boy below me. He appears devastated. I draw him up onto solid ground. He turns and kneels by the edge looking down; searching for any sign that Michael is still alive.

 

"WHEN YOU SEE THE LIGHT MAKE YOUR WAY TO IT. SAMMY, IT IS IMPORTANT THAT ONLY YOU SURFACE. ONLY YOU MUST GET OUT."

 

With that pronouncement echoing around me, I raise my foot and with a sense of freedom and release, I put it into the middle of Sammy’s back and push.

I scream out exultantly, “Bye, Bye Sammy”.

It is the last I see of him as he windmills into the abyss. The overhead lights flare into incandescent fury causing my body to shut down into blessed oblivion.

 

 

I lay quietly. My eyes are tightly shut. I give no sign that I am awake. I can feel the padded restraints on my wrists, holding me immobile against the bed. I hear the steady beat of the heart monitor performing its reassuring cadence. Where am I? What’s happening to me? Do they know what I did? After my ordeal in the caverns, is this why I’m being restrained? I was just protecting myself. Self-preservation is after all, a strong emotion. Surely it’s not evil to want to survive. I hear footsteps approaching. Not one set, but many. They enter my room and start to talk about me. I listen intently to a deep authoritative voice which sounds vaguely familiar. I fake unconsciousness.

 

“In this room, we have Mr. Sam Stevens. He was referred to us for treatment by Doctor Willard. He has been diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder. Who can explain to me what DID is?”  There is silence. With an exasperated tone in his voice he calls upon one of the others in the room.

“Ogilvie, can I have your thoughts, please.”

“Well Doctor Brooks, I believe it’s a disorder in which a person has at least two other enduring personalities.” He mumbles hesitantly.

“Correct. Barnes, continue.”

“It’s also thought that they alternately control that person’s behaviour,” said another voice.

“That’s right. Stevens seems to have three distinct personalities. His main identity is Sammy; an everyday, functioning personality, who is able to cope with the normalcy of life. If events become too tense or stressing, Michael, a protector or guardian persona who is basically everything that is good, strong and positive, appears.”

“Doctor Brooks is there any reason to worry about this patient if he is functioning at such a degree. It seems he could manage quite well in society like this.” A female voice interrupted.

“If there were only the two, I would agree with you, my dear. But there is a third. Simon. He is the antithesis of the other. When the ‘good’ appears, the ‘bad’ follows. The third personality verges on the evil. He is constantly incensed, he is analytical and without empathy. He feels that any and all of his actions are justified and self-gratification at the expense of others is his primary goal. If not for this man’s medical condition being recognized, he would now be serving time in jail for his actions. His rage knows no bounds.”

 

Can this be me they’re talking about, I wonder. I have never considered myself truly evil. I have done harmful things, for which I have no regret. In fact I believe that strength comes from doing unto others, before they do unto you. Should I be punished for this?

 

“What measures have been taken to help Mister Stevens?” inquires another female voice.

“Over a period of time, we have been using a combination of psychotropic drugs, hypnosis and electro shock therapy. The culmination of the treatments we believe has led to the fusion of both Sammy and Michael and the removal of Simon to form a new personality; Sam.”

His voice shakes with certainty and pride as he makes this pronouncement.

I think it is time to make my presence felt.  I open my eyes and yawn. I look around at the surprised group. Doctor Brooks is the first to recover.

“Welcome back, Sam.”

Grinning, I turn my head and focus intently upon his face to watch his reaction.

With great malice afore thought, I reply.

“Sorry Doc. My name is Simon.”

 


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