I ate the fruit. He made me. Every last wedge, he forced me to chew while he watched with shrewd eyes, his smile thin, a wisp of scorn. You would have done the same—eaten it. I suppose at some point you will.

Be prepared. It tasted like rust. My stomach convulsed against it. Don’t really know if it was physical or mental, but that didn’t matter when eating it would get me away from him. That much I hoped.

“Impressive, Mr. Now,” he breathed, implying the opposite as he took the glass bowl from my hand and placed it behind him, feigning causal interest as he rested his hip against the metal table.

“Screw you,” I pushed past my thick lips, heavy and sagging more by the second. A weight pulled down upon my arms as he folded his skinny ones across his chest.

My eyes focused for a moment on a red smear on his lab coat sleeve. It was the first I’d seen it. That stain. Bloodred, fresh, and bright against the stark, spotless white. Remember that. The stain.

My eyelids drooped closed.

I heard the door behind me open. Muffled voices grew louder as my strength withered and my head lolled to the side. Bad moment that. Try to stay awake if you can.

Strong hands gripped my armpits. I felt my hip and leg hit the metal table hard before I was hoisted up and slapped down on it, my back and butt cheeks vibrating from the impact. I would have laughed if I could have, but my face was melting, and my mind dripped into the dark coolness of metal.

I was unconscious in the lab of Doctor Then.

When I came to, I lifted from the metal gurney as if I had slept far longer than eight hours. I felt wooden, dead, yet wetness dripped out of my nose. I lifted my sleeve to it and wiped my nose on my white jacket. It was blood. My shoulders were heavy, and I leaned my arms against my steel bed and hung my head. I took several deep breaths then opened my eyes. The reflection that glared back from the metal surface was fuzzy yet unmistakable.

I had become him. The shrewd eyes. The thin lips. All of it. Out of stasis, my mind moved quickly. With clarity came my terror. The clock beside the metal gurney blinked the time, ten minutes ago, and then the date. I was mistaken. It wasn’t ten minutes ago in the past. It was 100 years later. One hundred years had crumpled to dust, and I was filled with the horrific knowledge that this dance had gone on and on, never ending…

And now, I see you walking into the lab, sauntering in to take the challenge.

Eat the fruit.


copyright 2019 Kara Ashley Dey. All rights reserved. Stock image used from Depositphotos, Inc., ValentinaPhotos.

Special thanks to Hot Tree Editing for looking this over.

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