Familiar

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


A woman wakes up in a strange place, being held by a mysterious captor.

Submitted: March 05, 2018

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Submitted: March 05, 2018

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Familiar

Her eyes were drawn out of their unknown slumber by the cheap and unstable looking light hanging from the ceiling of the room. She was terrified of the bright light. The room was small, white, and all but empty except for an overly large door, a silver table in the center, and a mirror stretching across one of the walls. Groggy, and not yet fully coherent, her futile attempt at sitting up was quickly halted by a sudden smash against the table.

 “Awe come on, not again.” A male voice had spoken to her and she heard the voice laugh softly as if trying to hide it. The source, seemingly nonexistent as there was no speakers present in the room. She rose to her feet and examined her physical features. Unknown to her. Lengthy brownish-gold hair adorned her head along with a deep scar to contrast her physical beauty.  Hailing at roughly five foot five she stood observing herself in the mirror.

 “How’s your head doing, kiddo? I knew I should’ve moved that table considering that this is the third time this week that you fell off your bed and smashed your head on that stupid thing. Sorry about that. But in my defense……. It was pretty funny.”

 “Where am I?”

 “Please don’t tell me you don’t know already. It has only been two days since last time.”

 “What are you talking about?”

 “Just calm down and have some water.”

 A slit in the intimidating door began to jiggle and a bottle of water was placed in it.

 “What did you do to it?”

 “Don’t you think if I wanted to hurt you, I would’ve done it already? The table doesn’t count. Technically that was still your fault. Anyways, just drink it. Don’t be a baby.”

 She took a slow and careful sip. Looking at the mirror as she did so.

 “Seeeeeeee…? Told you so. Big baby.”

 She stuck her tongue out at the mirror. She didn’t know why but she blanked out for half a second. She had no idea why she felt so secure and not threatened by the seemingly nonexistent person who owned the soothing voice. She felt no fear. The voice was enough to allay any problems she felt with the whole situation. Though, technically speaking, he was her kidnapper, as far as she knew.

 “Here. You should take some of these.” As he slipped her a few small pills.

 “What are these?”

 “What do you think it is? Just shut up and take them.”

 She gulped down the pills without reprimanding the voice any further. She surveyed the room again and noticed something she had not noticed before. A projector hung from the ceiling.

 “What’s this for?” Gesturing to the projector.

 “I’m glad you reminded me. I need your help with something. It’s not hard. I just need you to help uhhh……. Jog my memory. I want you to look at these pictures and tell me what you see. Okay? That easy.”

 “Yeah, sure. No problem.” The projector was flipped on and the lights flipped off. The first picture that light up was a picture of three young girls. One clearly taller than the other two. One had red hair and was much shorter than the other two. They were wearing bathing suits and life jackets. Behind them was a set of stairs and further back, a lake with boats gliding across the water.

 There was a pause. She looked hard. She stared at one of them in particular, the blonde one who was in the middle in terms of their respective heights. He could tell that she recognized herself, which was a start. She never did that quickly. She normally forgot what she looked like too quickly and never put it together.

 “Do you know anyone? Anyone at all?”

 “The blonde one. That’s me……. That’s me isn’t it?”

 “Yeah. That’s you. Do you know the other two?”

 She stared. For the longest time. He waited. And waited. She must have lost track of time. When she caught herself blankly staring at the photo. She looked physically distraught. She was shaking and sweating profusely. She was teary eyed from the stress.

 “I- I- I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I just don’t know I-”

 “It’s okay. Just relax. Relax. Everything is okay.” He wanted to bust open the door and cradle her in his arms and reassure her that all would be okay. But he couldn’t. Not again. It wouldn’t help in the long run. He had calculated every variable and every situation led back to the same thing. She would calm down. Look him in the eyes and see a stranger. Nothing but a stranger. The voice she heard from the other side of the room would no longer be comforting. It would be foreign. An entity she had never known nor heard before. It would constitute fear rather than comfort. He couldn’t take it again. It was better to be unknown than forgotten. At least for now.

 “You’re doing fine. You’re doing fine. Let’s try another one, yeah?”

 She attempted to dry her sweat and tears and nodded faintly. As she did so, another picture popped up. This time it was a picture of her and two adults. A short woman with blonde hair and a man with almost no hair.

 “How about them? Do you know them?”

 “I don’t –” She was getting choked up again.

 “Hey. Hey. Hey. It’s okay. That was just a trick one. You don’t know them-” He had said that lie to soothe her a hundred times. It worked, most of the time anyway. But when it didn’t, it really didn’t. He waited anxiously to see if today was a bad day.

 “Really?”

“Thank God.” He mumbled. “Yeah, really. You’re okay. Everything is okay. Let’s just--- try one more. Okay?”

 “Yeah. Yeah. Okay. But can we take a break after that?”

 “Of course. Here.”

 The last picture flared up and her eyes got wide. A young man and she were there together. She was in his arms. Clutched to him tightly, smiling.

 “I know him. I think…”

 “Really?” He was doubtful, she said that almost every time but failed the test. She would always say she knew his name but would fall for it indefinitely.

 “His name…. I know it.” Here she goes again.

 “John. Right?” He said, testing her.

 “No. That’s not it. It starts with a ‘J’ though. I think.” She replied.

 His eyes lit up. She had never done that before. It had never been like that. He waited.

 “Jason? Is that it?” For the first time in over a year he had heard his name spoken by her. Something about the way she had said it seemed so foreign, as if he had never heard it before but it could not have been more soothing.  

 “Yes. That’s right.” He couldn’t really think of anything else to say. To say he was overjoyed would be the very definition of an understatement. Of all people, she recognized him.

 “Who is he?”

 “We can talk tomorrow. You have done fantastic today. Here, have some dinner and head to bed when you’re ready. The light switch is in the corner adjacent to your bed. Goodnight. I’m very proud of you.” He slipped the tray through the slit in the door.

 “Don’t you want to eat with me?”

 “I’m sorry, I’ve got tons of paperwork to catch up on. Goodnight.”

 “Goodnight.”

 

 She was awoken in the middle of the night by the sound of a heavy door opening, and promptly closing, but it was not her door. As she lay, she heard mumbling in the room that was beyond the mirror. She got up and put her ear to the thin mirror. The lights were off so she figured she couldn’t be seen. She heard the voice that had been talking to her for the past day, and a deeper, more intimidating voice.

 “It has been over a year now, Jace. You can’t keep her here like this. The tests aren’t working. I think it’s time we send her to the place in Denver.”

 “No, just today she was doing better than ever! She recognized me, she knew my name. She is improving. She gets better every time. And keep your voice down, will ya? She’s asleep.”

 “So you went into the room with her?”

 “No, it was just a picture…… but you know better than anyone that I can’t go in there anymore, even though I’m the only one she has ever reacted to. Positively, that is.”

 “I think that’s exactly why it’s time. Look, I’m sorry but you can’t fix someone just because you wish hard enough. Trust me, I wish it were that way, but it isn’t and it’s something you have to come to accept.”

 “I just need a little more time, that’s all I’m asking. Please….. All this can’t have been for nothing.”

 “Tomorrow.”

 “Are you crazy? How could I pull something like this off in a day?”

 “I’m sorry, I can’t pull anymore strings for you. I’m not in charge anymore.”

 “There has to be something you can-”

 “There isn’t…….I’m sorry…” Heavy footsteps began towards the origin of the opening and closing sound from earlier.

 “Wait……. Can you at least see if that place in Denver is hiring? Could you do that for me? Even a janitor or something.”

 “Yeah, I can do that. Goodnight Jason.”

 “Night.” After the door opened and closed once more, she heard sobbing coming from the room.

 “Hey—Are you—Are you okay?” She squeaked.

 “I’m fine.” He replied trying to compose himself. “How long have you been up?”

 “I uhhh just heard you crying and woke up. Is everything okay?”

 “No. It’s not.”

 “Why?” She responded, even though she was almost certain to the reason.

 “You’re gonna have to go soon….. I’m sorry. For everything I have put you through. He was right…. I can’t keep you here anymore… Nothing worked.”

 “What do you mean? I’ve only been here a day.”

 “No……No you haven’t.” He muttered under his breath.

 “Was it you?”

 “What are you talking about?”

 “In the picture with me…….. Was it?”

 There was a prolonged hiatus as she said this. “Yes. It was me.”

 “Well, if I have to leave anyway. Can I at least see you?”

 Another pause. “I can’t…”

 “Why can’t you come in?”

 “I have done it so many, times…. Looked you in the eyes and watched the confusion unfold on your face. As you said the same thing you did every time. ‘Who are you?’ It killed me. I have tried so many times, but I just can’t take it anymore. You have no idea how many times I have told you about this…. But you still convince me to try anyway.  It always ends the same.”

 “But I recognized you. That’s different right? I haven’t done that yet have I?”

 “No. You haven’t….”

 “Can you just try? For me?” Those last two words got him every time.

 She heard footsteps lead towards the door to her room. She then heard nothing. She knew he was hesitating. But sure enough, the door started to open. And he walked through the door. They stood there, staring.

 “Hi, Christine.” He looked visibly shaken, and as did she. The stare was intense. Scary even. She could only utter a few words before collapsing from the trauma to her head.

 “……………My head….” She fell to the floor. The deep scar on her forehead began to bleed.

“Christine! Christine!” Those were the last two words she heard as her head violently struck the floor.

 She woke in a hospital bed. Alone. Or at least, so she thought. There next to her was Jason, asleep, with her hand clutched tightly in his own. She knew him. She remembered him. She shook him awake.

 “Good morning, Jace.”

 “Huh..? Wha-?” He said still groggy. “Wait, did you just call me Jace?”

 “Yes. Yes I did.….. I know you.”

 “Oh my God.” He said, choked by tears. As he hugged her, almost to death.

 “Okay okay, I just came back don’t kill me.”

 “How did you get your memory back?”

 “What do you mean?” She looked confused.

 “You’ve had short and long term memory loss for over a year now…”

 “Really…? The last thing I remember is a bright light, a sudden crash, and your voice calling out to me. And my head…….Have I really been out for a year?”

 “Yes. So you are telling me, you don’t remember the past year, at all?”

 “No, what happened?”

 “Nothing really.” He smiled to himself and hugged her harder.


 


© Copyright 2020 Cameron Sperling. All rights reserved.

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