Aug. 25, 2017
“Pretty normal night, nothing special. Slept pretty soundly, seemed to dream pretty heavily…wish we could have hooked him up to something but whatever, we did what we could.” He handed bill a cup of steaming coffee. “What was really fun was watching those clowns prep the apartment. I swear they moved that gun about thirty times, two inches here, two inches there, like it matters.” Bill took a sip of the coffee and chuckled.
“They call it attention to detail, plus if he doesn’t find it whose head do you think will roll? Not ours.”
“Yeah yeah, I get it, it’s just funny to watch.” James left the room, sensing that Bill needed a moment before starting work. Once he was alone, Bill stared about the room. Cement walls with no decorations, a wide window with simulated sunlight streaming through dusty blinds, a small black dresser in the corner and a twin bed fit for a prison inmate were all that they had to call home during these experiments. He listened to the silence and felt it creeping into his bones. These cement labs may have been economical but they were depressing to say the least.
He wandered into the main room, an expanse of more cement walls devoid of decoration. They had a small kitchenette in the far corner with appliances from thirty years ago. They were hardly used but that didn’t make them any newer. They also had a small two-person plastic table with two plastic chairs where they could eat together, though they hardly did. The rest of the unit was wide open. The entire southern wall was a giant window in the apartment they were viewing. They could see every room and were to keep the subject in view at all times. There was no furniture along the wall so they had nothing to trip over, just a wide open space to pace back and forth alongside their poor experiments. James was standing at the window staring into the bedroom. His final task was to observe the subject waking up, then he could finally get some rest. Bill joined him, ready to start the day shift.
“108, right?” He checked, grabbing his clipboard from the nail below the window.
Bill sighed, “107 failures, 108’s the charm, right?”
James chucked and scribbled his final notes as Subject 108 got out of bed.
“Well, I’m beat. Enjoy! I heard they left you a present in there.”
Bill ignored the comment as James headed to the bedroom to sleep. He knew Bill got bored and always hoped for some excitement, they always teased him, telling him something exciting would happen that day. Twenty years on the job and it was always the same, it was getting rude to claim that anything could be any different. The subject went about his business like they all did, experienced the same sudden panic when he was stuck inside and had the same realization when he found the gun. Everything was par for the course until the subject turned towards the window, gun in hand, and aimed straight at Bill’s head. He froze for a second, unsure of what to do. He knew he was in no danger, the bullets couldn’t breach the glass they installed there, but this was completely new behavior, not to mention potentially detrimental to the facility. Most of the subjects threw the gun away or turned it on themselves, never had they turned it on their environment before. If he fired that gun he might be able to deduce that he is not just stuck in his apartment but in a different facility altogether. The bullet may not breach the window but it may show that the window is there and 108 would become the fastest failure yet.
“Don’t do it, Frank” Bill mumbled under his breath.
Subject 108 pulled the trigger and an explosion of confetti rocketed out from the barrel covering the window with bright bits of paper. Suddenly balloons were falling from the ceiling and dancing around the floor as party blowers sounded and a rush of voices all joined together behind him. “Happy Birthday, Bill!” They broke out into song as a young intern grabbed his clipboard and took over his post to take notes on Subject 108 collapsing onto the couch in confusion and misery. James clapped him on the shoulder, laughing.
“You thought we’d forgotten? Nah, man, have a piece of cake! Your family is waiting for you upstairs when you’re done. Enjoy a day on the surface, let me know if the birds still sing, eh? The real ones, anyway.” Bill laughed, he couldn’t believe they remembered. He couldn’t believe they had gone through all the trouble, this was sure to be his most memorable birthday yet.