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Title: Screams in the Night Author: Scifiteki

The first thing that hit Bob when consciousness flooded back into his tired body was the light. It was everywhere, blasting his senses with a continual stream of painful brightness. His skin felt like it was being roasted alive, tortured under a giant heat lamp. He squeezed his eyes shut and covered them, hoping to gain some respite from the incandescent rays, but it was no better. The light still filtered through, scarring his eyes, burning his flesh.

Desperately, he threw himself forwards, groping for some form of sanctuary. He tumbled head over heels until he slammed against a wall, shaded from the unyielding brightness. The wall was soft, pliable, and he bounced off it almost comfortably. The air here was cooler, safer. With a sigh of relief, he opened his eyes to take in his surroundings.
Immediately, he closed them again. He might have been out of the direct path of the light, but it still reflected off the floor and walls, making them glow with radiant, painful light. The opposite walls and floor were not that far apart, though. Wherever he was, it had little in the way of space. Cautiously, he turned, and opened his eyes to the wall that was not coated in light.

To his surprise, what greeted him was not solid grey wall. Then again, why was that surprising? It seemed important, but he could not be bothered to reflect on it now. Instead of comforting grey blankness, the wall was bumpy, covered in thousands of ridges, the colour of pale flesh. As he watched, glistening trails of some sort of liquid trailed down the walls. He reached out to touch it, and found it was uncomfortably warm and slimy. The wall itself throbbed slowly and almost imperceptibly, in time to some far away heartbeat.
Looking down, he saw that the floor was made of the same material, fleshy and wet, pulsing continuously. What was this place? How had he come here? It all made no sense at all. Almost unconsciously, he reached down and touched his chest, trailing his finger over a circular insignia. He started. What circular insignia? He looked down, and saw that over the faded green material of his flight suit was a small emblem, of a circle within a circle. He brushed it lightly, almost trying to bring out the memories with the tips of his fingers.
Nothing came. The little symbol seemed remarkably important, a link to another world of memories, but they would not come. It just sat there, almost taunting him, mocking the spaces where his memories once were. He felt the liquid on the floor seeping through his pant onto his skin, sending shivers up his spine. He thought briefly about standing, but quickly decided against it when a quick look revealed the source of blasting light just a few centimetres above his head.

Despondently, he sat back down, trying to remember something, anything, that would reveal the nature of this? cell. Yes, that seemed the right word. But who would imprison him? What had he done wrong to deserve such a nightmarish prison? His head throbbed angrily, sending distant pain shooting through his body. Timidly, he reached up and touched his head, knowing already what would greet him. His hand came back sticky with blood.

So, that was why he couldn't remember much. In fact, when he thought about it, he couldn't remember much at all. Just his own name, Bob. Yes, Bob. Bob, Bob, Bob, Bob. He repeated it over and over, a litany of one word. He wrapped himself around that single word, a lone candle against the night of his memories. Bob? And screaming. Screams of pain in the darkness.

Screams? Why were there screams? Were they why he was here, trapped in an enclosure of flesh? Whose screams were they, anyway? They were not his own, that much seemed clear. His friends? Yes, that sounded right. Why had his friends screamed, screamed out loud in the darkness, calling for help? Help which never came? Why had it not come? Too many questions, all rolling around in his mind, all surging and coursing through looking for answers that were not there.
Wincing, he sat back, making sure not too look at the other side of the room even with his eyes closed. Remembering was so hard, a struggle for something that might not even be there. Better just to sit, and rest for a while. Until something came to him.

His eyes closed reluctantly, and he sank back into the spongy wall, waiting for sleep. It did not come for a while, not matter how hard he tried. Something always bothered him, the slippery walls, or the aching in his head. After what seemed an age, sleep finally advanced towards him, reaching out to over his eyes with blessed quiet.

Then something woke him, jarring him out of his rest. Something was shaking. It was not the regular beating of the walls, in and out. It was something else, something different. He touched his hand to the floor, and found it was vibrating lightly. Confusion crossed his features, clouding his mind. What was this new torture? The vibrations grew stronger as he pressed his hand against the pulpy floor, jarring his hand. His vision began to shake, and he grasped unsteadily as the whole room began to shake, stronger and stronger.

The convulsions grew more and more violent, until the entire room seemed to be shaking itself apart. He curled up in a little ball, the tremors shaking him apart, rattling his bones around like stones in a sack. The pain grew unbearable, his teeth rattling uncontrollably. Then it stopped, and the room was plunged into total darkness.

Cautiously, Bob lifted his tired head, his aching bones creaking, expecting the violence to start again at any moment. But nothing happened, and all that he could he see was black. It was total, enveloping. Where there had once been a stream of excruciating light, there was nothing at all. Just empty blackness covering his vision. Nervously he unfolded, steading himself against the dripping walls, waving his hand in front of his face. But he couldn't see a thing. The only colour he could see was the afterimage of bright sunlight on the inside of his eyelids, a dancing, splotchy pattern of yellow and red. He swore, and punched he spongy wall angrily, what little force he could muster rebounding off the fleshy facade. What was this place? Why had he been thrown in here and left to rot? He glared into the unfathomable darkness, imagining some unknowable captors laughing at his fate. Breathing out tiredly, he sat back down, trying to remember again.

Still, nothing came to him. Except? The darkness stirred memories deep in the recesses of his mind, dragging them reluctantly forwards. Memories of long, dark corridors half-lit with flickering lights. Grey walls, splattered with blood. And running, always running. Why he had run, he couldn't remember. All that was clear was the swift movement of bare feet of cold, unyielding floor, rooms flashing past, breath heavy with tiredness.

It made no sense, no more than anything else. Had he been caught? Was that why he was here, a prisoner of a living nightmare? If so, who had caught him? Who could be sick enough to create this mockery of a place, with fleshy walls dripping with slime? Once more, the questions roiled, a boiling sea of unhappiness. Quickly, he shut them out, draining away the sea. The questions just hurt, and got him nowhere. Better that he just not thought at all.

Slowly, gradually, the room began to drift into focus. Over what seemed like hours, he made out the features of the room once more, lit by a faint white light that still spilled through the window. It wasn't much to see by. He could barely make out the bumps on the floor and walls, their edges glimmering lightly. Nevertheless, he could still see. Curiously, he looked up, to the other side of the room that had once been hidden by a wall of light. It was pretty much unremarkable, made of the same dull pink flesh. Interestingly though, almost hidden by shadow, there was a shallow depression in the wall, about the size of a door. And escape, perhaps? Cautiously, he sat up and started to crawl over to it, one hand at a time.

The floor that he had once been cringing on was still warm, from it bath in radiance. He paused briefly, letting the warmth seep into his tired body, filling his weary bones. It faded quickly though, a fleeting glimpse of pleasure flying away into the darkness. The unpleasant, faint, sticky heat replaced it, and with a shudder he moved on, up to the depression.

He reached the depression, only to be perturbed. The depression was only around a centimetre deep, and was joined seamlessly into the wall. He ran his hands along the edges, looking for some catch, some opening that he could jam his fingers into and wrench the whole thing open. He found nothing, just a continuous line of light red meat stretching all the way around. Desperately, he shoved his finger into the join, trying to scratch it open. His efforts were futile, scrapes against steel.

Tears streamed down his cheek as he sank against the wall, beating it uselessly. Why was he being trapped here? He hadn?t done anything wrong, had he? Nothing he could remember. Or had he? No, no that couldn't be true. He wouldn?t do something so bad as that would require someone to shove him in this cell. Or would he? His memories whisked around the edges of his vision, taunting him. Why couldn't he just remember!

Frustrated, he turned his vision to where the source of light had been, up high above his former resting place. It was some sort of window, looking out into? Space? That seemed right, but not comforting. Why was he in space? The view was spectacular, a multitude of stars all clustered together, almost merged together in a single wall of light. Yet as wondrous as it was, it provided him with no comfort. The stars seemed wrong, somehow, as if he should be seeing something else. He couldn't remember what, though. All that he knew was that the arrangement of stars should be telling him something, something too terrible to even consider.

He slid down, lying against the wet walls. He closed his eyes and sighed, wiping the tears away from his eyes. He was too tired to think of all these things. What he really needed to do was just sleep, regain his strength. Perhaps then he would remember the things that eluded him. Sleep did not come easily. The wetness seeped into his clothes, covering his back. The bumpy surface provided no comfort, only annoyance. And the memories still poked him, prodded him, unsettling him. He spent what seemed like hours just shifting restlessly around, trying to get a better position, trying to dispel the shadows in his mind. Then sleep fell on him like a stone, covering him completely.

* * *

He found himself once more in the cell, surrounded by the throbbing pink flesh, dripping with moisture. But it was different, though. The cell was bigger, wider, taller, larger, greater. The throbbing was more intense, pushing the cell walls in and out, in and out. He felt small, pathetic, worthless. The walls towered above him, cowering him into submission. He felt something sticky under his hands, and looked down. There, pooling beneath his fingers was warm, fresh blood. Repulsed, he stood, pulling his hand away. The pool of blood just grew larger, spreading across the floor. Desperately, he looked around the walls, only to see more and more blood pouring in everywhere, from the walls, and the ceiling. It rose higher and higher, overtaking his ankles, soaking into his feet with sticky warmth.
He screamed, but no sound came out, his mouth gaping soundlessly. The blood rushed ever higher, covering his legs, his stomach, his chest, a neverending sea of dark blood, choppy and violent. It pulled on him, dragging him down into its depths.
It was so hard to resist, to keep his head above the surging tide. Perhaps it would just be easier to surrender to it, sink into the blood, be subsumed into the sticky warmth. Yes?

* * *

He woke from his dreams of blood with a start, pulling his head up. His face was sticky with fluid, no doubt from rolling around on the bumpy floor. What had he been dreaming about? He shook his head. This place was going to drive him slowly insane, if he couldn't at least remember something.

A faint chittering noise started him, freezing him in place, sending a chill to his very core. He knew that sound, better than any other sound. It was the sound of fear, of that which had pursued him down the long corridors. His hands shaking, he turned his head ever so slightly to the side, fearing what he might see.
His breath disappeared as a thin grey leg with a three-toed foot came into vision. No! It couldn't be, not them, not here! But? Who were they? He strained against the chains of his amnesia, struggling to catch a glimpse of what it was that he feared. The only thought that consumed him was that whatever they were, they were worse than the things of his darkest nightmares. He looked up hesitantly, but could see nothing more, the shadows thankfully covering everything. Everything except three glowing red eyes, set in a triangle, staring balefully at him.
Another chitter, and a thin but unnaturally hand shot out and grabbed his hair, long fingers digging painfully into his head wound. The pain caused him to gasp, his eyes widening in shock. What was going on? What were they doing to him? For the millionth time, he asked himself what he had done to deserve this. But his memories met him with silence. Then something hit him in the back, hard. >

Pain shot through his body like a thousand lances, all spearing him at once. A burst of light flashed across his vision, blinding him. The agony was overwhelming, setting his entire body ablaze. Then something hit him again, this time in the head. Another starburst of pain slashed through him, ripping him apart. He tried to scream, but his parched throat made only a whisper. His sight washed with waves of pure white light, intense and unbearable.

Then they hit him again, and again, and again. Torment cut through his arms, his legs, his neck. Something smashed into his stomach with the force of a hammer, making him double over. His stomach, heaved, and he retched uncontrollably onto the floor, nearly choking. Then they hit him again, and he slipped into unconsciousness, blessed peace against the nightmare of pain.

* * *

He was no longer in his cell. Standing on cold hard ground, he realised that he was in the dark corridors and rooms of his memories, covered in grey. The room he was in was huge and empty, lit with steady white lights. He tried to take a step forwards, but he found he couldn't. He was trapped, but nothing he could see or touch. He felt something warm against his hand, and looked down at his hands. They were covered in blood.
The blood streamed off his hands, dripping down onto the floor, always falling and falling and falling and falling?He shook his hands, trying to dispel the unnatural blood that would never go away. But it stayed, mocking him, laughing, the laughs echoing off the hollow walls. He looked up, and realised that it was not the blood that laughed, not alone. In front of him, behind him, all around him, were people, disfigured by wounds, their faces bloody and beaten. Some had no arms, others no chests. They stood around him, laughing, their blood-soaked limbs shaking with amusement. Then the moved inwards, towards him.
Then he noticed the spikes. They were all holding them, all pointed towards him, like primeval hunters. They held them steady, pointed towards his chest. Even the ones with no arms. He tried to run, but felt chains pulling him, keeping him still. He looked down, and saw he was held in place by dark chains, the fetters of his memories.
One of them threw his spear, and it landed with a solid thunk in his chest. He felt nothing at all, only emptiness. Another spear landed, and then another, and then another, and then another, ripping him into tiny shreds, tatters of worn-out flesh, too tired to go on.
He sank to his knees, feeling the chains pulling ever tighter, hauling him towards the ground. A woman came towards him, her eyes torn out, bloody holes where they once were. Blood dripped down out of the empty sockets, streaming like tears. She spat on him, her face twisted into a grimace of hate. Then another man came, with a deep hole where he stomach once was, and he spat on him as well. And then others came, all deformed and covered in blood, all spitting on him.
Their hate flowed onto him, covering him in a tide of hate, burying him in a flood of disgust. And then there was silence.

* * *

The first thing that Bob did when he woke was sneeze. The dust tickled his throat, provoking one sneeze after another. He pulled himself over, lying on his back, so that the dust didn't get in his mouth. He distantly recalled that he'd always been allergic to lots of things. It didn't really seem important. Then it hit him, the realisation more stunning than any blow.

He was no longer in his cell! He laughed, uncontrollably, his body shaking on the dusty, dry ground. He was free! No more of the pink flesh to taunt him endlessly! He wasn't sure how he'd got out. Truthfully, he didn't care. All that mattered was that he was out, free, away. Reasons were unimportant.
He sat up and looked around at his surroundings. The place where he'd been dumped was not exactly picturesque, but pure beauty compared to the cramped monotony of his cell. He was lying on the floor of a long canyon, which stretched up at least a few metres. The walls were made of some sort of reddish-grey rock, spiky and unpleasant-looking. The dusty floor of the canyon was the same colour, littered with sharp fragments of rock. The sky above the canyon was bizarre, unfamiliar, a swirling tapestry of purples and reds, odd-coloured clouds twisted into strange and fantastic shapes that seemed impossible.
The air was crisp, with the smell of dust, but the faint hint of the kind of aroma that you smell just before rain. It didn't seem very likely that there had been any rain here in quite a while, judging by the sandy soil. It wasn't hot, but not really cold either. The wind blew erratically, swirling in every different direction, tossing his hair left to right.
He reached up to touch his hair, expecting to feel pain, but nothing came. His head was whole once more. How very odd? He felt something, but he couldn't really put a word to it. He felt wrong, tainted, like he had felt when he saw the stars out the window. He couldn't place a reason to his feeling though. It was just there, hanging in his mind.

He dismissed the thought. It probably wasn't important. No need to worry. He stood, and for a minute he just stayed there, feeling the cold caress of the wind brush his face clear of worries. He had nothing to fear. He was no longer in the prison, and wherever he was, he'd find a way to get by.

Off in the distance, at the end of canyon, he could see a huge plain, which stretched off into the horizon, the same colour as the rocks and the ground. The wind pulled at him, brushing his clothes. The plain seemed like the right place to go to. Yes, that was it? He would go to the plain, and then? He wasn't sure. But he'd figure it out.
He stepped forward, slowly and unsteadily at first, then more confidently. He strode forwards, through the winding, close passages of the canyon. The wind blew again, teasing him onwards, faster, further. He stepped cautiously out of the canyon, and into the sunlight.
The plain was bigger than he had first thought it was. It seemed to stretch out in all directions, off towards the horizon. He appeared to be at the top of a gradual hill, which lead down into the main basin of the plain. The plain was littered with thousands of fragments of stone, broken apart by the forces of wind and tide long ago.

Down at the flat part of the plain, far off in the distance, he could make out a small building, a grey box against the endless red-grey plain. An unfathomable longing welled up inside of him, consuming his thoughts. He had to go to that building. He couldn't say why, or what he might find there, but the need was overwhelming, stronger than anything he'd ever felt in his life. He must go down to the building.

He broke into a run, tramping down the hill, across the sharp stones. He kept running, onwards and onwards, across the plain. He pushed himself ever harder, straining his legs to put in just a little more speed. He couldn't say why he needed to go there. It just seemed absolutely necessary. Reasons had fled his mind long ago.

As he sped over the plain, his legs pumping furiously, trying to push just a little bit more speed into his pace, the building came into focus. It looked like some sort of communications installation, with all the satellite dishes packed onto it's roof. He could see figures striding around the roof, human shaped figures. As he raced ever closer, he could see they looked just like him, with the same flight suits with the insignia over the chest. People just like him! Joy and relief spread through his mind, calming. He had been right, this was the right place to be!
As he came closer, the doors of the facility coming into view, some of the figures noticed him, and waved. One of them shouted something. He wasn't listening to them, but staring intently at the huge metal door as he ran towards it. He absorbed its edges, its curves, its extrusions. It was the most magnificent thing he'd ever seen in his life. It called to him, soft and sonorous, enticing him closer, to touch it's cool surface. The shouts of greeting became shouts of anger, as he stopped in front of the door, marvelling at it. Desire swept through his spent body, enshrouding his mind and soul. He had to touch the door. He must. Nothing else mattered, only the door, and the feeling of flesh on cold hard steel. Never before had he been so absolutely certain of anything.

He reached out to touch the door, and the light that had been growing at the edges of his vision expanded to cover his vision. As he slipped beneath the light, one thought went through his mind.
His name wasn't Bob. That was just a nickname. His real name was Bernhard.

Then he slipped beneath the waves, and was gone.
As was the facility.

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