Friday, August 15, 2014

Choices - Part 2

Fiction Friday! Escape pod here!

Choices - Part 2

Deltes stumbled into the next corridor feeling sick. He'd killed that unknown man and now one of his own friends. He had saved his brothers life and that of another friend, but he still had flicked the switch to choose between them. He knew this sick bastard had more in store for him. The white arrows painted on the floor ran down the dirty corridor and vanished under another door. Rather than following them, he tried the other doors along the corridor. All were locked and barricaded. The person running the show obviously had taken his time in setting this up. It appeared that the only way through was to follow the trail laid out for him. Reluctantly Deltes followed the arrows into the next room.

Inside the room, two women were secured to large wooden chairs. They both started to scream as Deltes entered. He recognised both at once. One was an ex-girlfriend, Jana. They had dated for nearly a year and broken up just before he met Josvis, however the split had been amicable and they'd remained friends. The other woman was his supervisor at work. Both young, attractive women, were fastened to the chairs with what appeared to be shower heads above them. The white circle was painted on the floor again as well as the console. Clear pipes ran from the shower-heads to a small tank mounted on the ceiling, it was filled with some kind of liquid.

"This one is more interesting Deltes. Lets see your thought-process here. When the timer hits zero acid will be released from the tank above. It will rain down on the two women. Given that they'll share the entire tank between them, they are both likely to survive. That amount, when split equally, is unlikely to kill them. They will be horribly disfigured, probably blinded and the pain will be immense. However, they will both live. You can use the console to divert the flow to just one of them. A full tank dumped over one person will likely be fatal, but the other will be totally unharmed and free to go once you complete the course. So what will you do?"

Deltes looked at the timer as it started to tick down from thirty seconds. He screamed in rage and frustration. The two women were thrashing in their bonds, their wide eyes pleading with him to divert the acid to the other. He didn't know what to do. The three options he had were unthinkable. Killing either of them was not a choice he could make, but what would their lives be if he didn't act. He was paralysed, unable to move. A subtle click above signified time was up. Deltes stood rigid as he watched the amber liquid slowly move through the clear pipes above their heads.

The two women were screaming as hard as they could. As the acid finally erupted from the shower heads above them the screaming went up an octave.

Deltes was frozen as he watched the acid do its work. The women's heads went bright red as the skin bubbled and blistered. Hair fell out in clumps as the acid ate into their scalps. After a few seconds they both passed out, their bald, featureless heads a mass of red sores.

Deltes bent over and was sick on the floor.

"Mmmmmm interesting, very interesting. Wouldn't make a choice there? Wouldn't condemn one to death to save the other the pain? Anyway only two more to go." the voice cheerfully boomed over the speakers.

"NO! No more!" Deltes yelled. "I'm not playing your sick game any more. Kill me here if you want but I'm not leaving this room just so you can torture and kill more innocent people!"

"Oh, that is a disappointment. I suppose I could always make the decision... for your Josvis."

Deltes dropped to his knees and sobbed. The maniac had his wife.

"So are you going to complete the last two rooms?"

Deltes stood refusing to answer. Still sobbing, he walked to the next door.

He flung the door open. His wife was not there, it was his sister and her son. They were stood within the usual circle with their arms tied above their heads, stretched towards the roof. Their ankles were similarly fixed to a large metal ring in the floor.

"Now we are getting to the very difficult levels Deltes. Your emotional attachment must be greatest for your sister correct? However, your nephew is only an innocent child, with his whole life in front of him. How do you chose between your sister, your own flesh and blood, and that of a child relative you don't know as well? The chains on their arms are connected to powerful motors on the next level. These winches can lift 25 tons. As you can imagine, there is no way a human body can take that pull."

Deltes looked at the counter, it was dropping from 45 seconds. He locked eyes with his sister, she looked terrified but nodded down to her son. He knew what she wanted, what any mother would want. The question was could he do it? His sister and he had been close until she married young and moved away. He'd only seen his nephew a dozen times or so, barely once a year that he'd been alive.

He looked at the console, 20 seconds left.

"15 seconds Deltes. Unless you flick the switch, they both will die."

He looked at his sister again, she looked calm now. Her blue eyes penetrated his soul. She calmly nodded for him to do it. With a sob Deltes flicked the switch to save the boy. His sister smiled at him, a tear running down her cheek. The counter struck zero and a motor could be heard staring up. There was a rattle of chains and his sister was lifted off the floor as the chains around her arms rose. The chains wrapped around her ankles and calves pulled tight and she jerked to a stop. She started to scream behind the gag. Deltes could tell the chains were pulling on her. There was a slight movement in the top chain as it pulled on her limbs. Popping sounds echoed around the room as her joints gave way followed by a ripping sound as her shoulders tore. Skin stretched before tearing. Her body fell to the floor whilst her two severed arms were raised slowly to the ceiling still tethered to the chain. She thrashed around for a few seconds as her stumps pumped jets of bright red blood onto the floor in large arcs. Less than a minute later she was still.

"Oh, disappointing. I was hoping the one you chose would tear in the middle. That would have been more dramatic. Anyway, your wife is waiting for you Deltes. Last room. Chop, chop!"

Deltes raced out of the room. His heart stopped as he saw the white arrows vanish behind a heavy metal door down the corridor.


Deltes took a deep breath and opened the door. He sobbed as he saw the scene in front of him. The room was an observation room looking into another room, some sort of air-tight laboratory by the look of it. In that room was a single person. His wife was chained in the middle of the room. She was stood with her arms and legs spread out, the chains pulled tight to the ceiling and floor. She had been stripped to her underwear. In one corner there appeared to be stacked medical equipment and some sort of humanoid drone that was powered down.

"Welcome to our final experiment Deltes. Here is where I hope to understand your thought process that night. Why did you choose not to save my wife and son?"

Deltes finally made the connection. It was the him. The husband of the woman and the father of the child he couldn't save in the crash.

"I didn't choose!" screamed Deltes. "I just acted on instinct! I didn't know there was a child in the other car!"

"Well lets see what your instincts tell you here. When the countdown reaches zero two gases will be released into the chamber unless you act. The first is a high pressure sulphur-plasmatic gas. Very nasty, attacks human flesh like concentrated acid. I have read reports of workers who have been killed by this gas, oh its a very nasty way to go. Certainly not a fast and painless death. Did you know that victims eyelids are usually eaten through before they die meaning they actually feel their eyeballs being slowly dissolved by the gas. Very nasty. Anyway, there is a life monitor in the room monitoring your wifes vital signs. As soon as she flat-lines, and the gas will kill her, the medical drone there will activate. The room has high-capacity extractor fans, the gas will be extracted and the drone will perform an emergency c-section on your wife. As you can see we have an incubator and everything needed to give your baby every chance at survival. Also all the doors will unlock and you'll find an exit at the back of the room and your belongings in a bag on the fire escape. Your datapad is there so you can call the police and medical services too. However there is a problem, there is another gas to be released as well. Pakkon III 'Childbane' Gas is a very strange marsh gas from the planet Pakkon III, obviously. It will make your wife feel sick and dizzy. However, to the unborn, the gas is deadly. Within two minutes of your wife breathing it in, the chemicals she absorbed from the gas will react with the fluid surrounding the baby. It reacts with the proteins and turns the fluid highly acidic. It will kill your unborn child in a matter of minutes. Your wife will also be rendered infertile and she'll never be able to have children again as the acidic liquid attacks her sensitive reproductive system from the inside. Don't worry, she will survive, there may be some pain, but nothing too bad. So, there you go. Make your choice. Save your baby and kill your wife, or kill your baby and be left with a sterile wife. Of course you could take no action and watch them both slowly die."

Deltes screamed in rage, the clock started ticking down from 60 seconds, the longest yet he'd had to decide. Obviously chosen to draw out the time he had to agonise over his choice. He looked through the glass at his wife. She gave a sad smile and mouthed the words "Save the baby". Deltes grabbed his hair in frustration and screamed again.

"No! I will not play this sick game."

He looked around quickly noting the valves in the gas room and the controls in front of him.

"You have choices... choose!" the voice boomed.

Deltes grabbed the switch and pulled hard, ripping the poorly secured plate from the console.

"No! STOP! I'll.... I'll release the gas!" the voice stammered through the speakers.

Deltes flipped the plate over and started pulling the wires free.

"I'm betting you won't. There isn't enough wires on those valves, I can see them. You got sloppy and rushed. You assumed I'd make a choice and not simply rip your shit up. Well asshat, here is option four. I break the circuits to those valves and then you come down here and we discuss how I'm going to kill you!"

There was silence. For Deltes it felt like an eternity however it was only 20 seconds.

"Thinking about it, I'll take option 5. Active the medical drone and then deactivate it when its half-way through the c-section. Then you can watch them both die!"

Deltes span around and saw the indicators light up on the drones head. It was booting up. He ran to the glass door that separated the observation room from the gas-room and started kicking it. The drone lifted its head, it was coming online. He grabbed a section of pipe that was leaning against the wall and started pounding on the glass door. The glass was heavily reinforced and he wasn't making much headway. It cracked but showed no signs of breaking fully. The drone stood slowly and then held still for a few seconds, still going through the start-up procedure. Deltes looked around in a panic and saw a line of rusted gas cylinders at the back of the room. Obviously used for whatever this chambers original use was.

"CreoDron Medical Assistant Class AA42 Online. Activating program 87c. Expectant mother deceased. Unborn child in danger. Emergency C-Section and incubation. Program loaded. Executing." the drone stated in its robotic voice.

As the drone started to walk over to Josvis, Deltes grabbed one of the large rusting cylinders and quickly laid it flat on the floor. He took his section of pipe and raised it above his head. He brought the pipe crashing down on the valve which sheared off. A ear-splitting hiss filled the room as the cylinder took flight and hit the centre of the door, smashing the glass into fragments. Deltes ran through the broken door and launched at the drone as it extended an arm with a lit laser scalpel towards his wife's bulging belly. He heard his wife scream in pain and terror a second before he crashed into the drone sending them both flying into the wall. He kicked the drone off him and brought the section of pipe crashing down on the top of its head. Sparks flew and a thin wisp of smoke rose from the cavity in the white plastic. It slumped face down on the floor.

Deltes spun around to his sobbing wife. A gash in her belly was bleeding. He ran over and sunk to his knees.

"The baby!" his wife sobbed.

"Its OK" guy said choking on his emotions "Its not that deep. Its a scratch. We're all going to be fine."


The police and ambulance services arrived within minutes of Deltes making the call. The person who had put them through this was right, his belongings including his datapad were just outside the exterior door.

Josvis was taken to hospital as a precaution and Deltes spent several hours down the local police station. He explained that he believed it to be the husband and father of the woman and child he was unable to save in the crash. A few basic checks by the police proved him right. The lease on the warehouse, the purchase of the gases and machinery. The perpetrator didn't even try to hide it.

Checking the traffic control logs they had tracked a small shuttle that had left the warehouse to a remote private residence. As the police advanced on the residence the building went up in flames. A charred corpse was found inside and it was deemed the suspect had killed himself. The whole process went from opening the case to closing it within 24 hours. By the next day Deltes and his wife were back home.

"Do you think you could ever do anything like that? I mean if something happened to me and junior?" Josvis asked as she rested her head on Deltes' lap that night.

"I'd like to say no." he replied "However, if I lost you and the baby, well I might lose my mind as well. Lets make sure it never comes to that. Do you want anything?"

"A juice?" she replied.

He gently stoked her head and slipped out from under her head. In the kitchen he grabbed a glass and opened the fridge. The scream chilled his blood. He dropped the glass which shattered loudly on the stone tiles. He dashed back to the living room. His wife was standing in the corner facing him, someone was behind her with his arm around her neck and a long wide-bladed carving knife in his other hand, pointed at her pregnant belly.

"So Deltes, we have to do this the hard way!"

Deltes recognised the voice immediately. He hadn't burnt to death in the fire at his home. It was a decoy.

"Please, let her go. Its me that you want."

"No Deltes" the man hissed "Its you that I want... to know loss!"

With that the man plunged the blade into Josvis' belly to the hilt and let her drop screaming to the floor. Deltes reached into the back of his pants and the man's face dropped as he produced a pistol.

"Frack you!" was Deltes' simple statement as he fired the pistol repeatedly, the hybrid rounds slamming into the man's chest making bloody craters. The man's body slumped against the wall and slid down, leaving a red streak behind. Deltes rushed to his wife's side. Blood soaked her robe where the knife hilt protruded and she was gasping for breath.


One Year Later...

Deltes stood on the hillside beside the twin graves. One substantially smaller than the other. He bent and lay a single white lily on each one and took a step back. The view here was breathtaking. The rolling hills above the city of New Fontette giving mourners a place to grieve and yet also a place to look to the future. He looked down at the graves one last time and turned to leave.

His wife was at the edge of the plot waiting for him. She lazily bounced the stroller. She smiled as he returned.

"You OK?" she asked.

He nodded and returned a strained smile. Deltes looked into the pram, his son was asleep. The scar above his right eye was clearly visible and would be that way until he was a teenager and the doctors could do an effective skin graft. The knife that the mad-man had plunged into his wife's swollen belly had only grazed him. The attack had put his wife straight into labour and she had given birth there and then on the floor of their house. Deltes had delivered his own child, a 7.8lbs son, healthy, other than the gash to the head.

Deltes had put six high calibre rounds into the attacker and he'd died instantly. The gun which Deltes had bought the day of the attack before collecting his wife from the hospital was licensed and given the preceding 48 hours it was deemed justifiable home defence. No charges were brought.

"Do you ever think what would have happened if you'd have saved those two instead?" his wife asked nodding towards the graves of the mother and son Deltes had just laid the lily's on.

"What is done is done. Thinking about that decision drove their husband and father mad. I'd rather not go that way."

"Shall be go home?" his wife asked.

Deltes put his arm around her and they slowly walked out of the cemetery pushing the pram together.

1 comment:

  1. Great story as usual. May just want to correct this line:

    Guy reached into the back of his pants and the man's face dropped as he produced a pistol.

    I think you meant Deltes, not Guy