This story is by Laurie and was part of our 2019 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
The doctor’s face loomed over her, wrinkles only visible between his brows. She blinked, looked around, and sat straighter. His gaze was scrutinizing. What did he mean when he stated her as functional?
The sound resonated louder than everything. The Institute’s always been creative with their rooms. The walls of hers resembled those of a cave, in black curved waves, the design was beautiful, but she felt mocked. She was a brilliant technology locked away in a cavern.
Her black hair crowned her head and stuck to her synthetic skin like a high irritant necklace. Her hands wrapped around the wicks soaked in sweat and brought it in an elaborate bun, her movements swift and certain.
Her eyes followed the dripping leak from the ceiling.
She couldn’t get used to it and didn’t comprehend why it had been happening three May’s in a row out of her sixteen years of existence. She knew when it would pile up. When the cell would feel like a humid swamp. When the undeniable feeling of pure distress would wave over her.
She looked at the disgusting black walls embraced by mold and remembered the new doctor’s smile as he glanced at her trembling hands. He met her days ago, but his looks and the way his lips curled around words- silent or spoken- it haunted her.
The sound of the ceiling’s leak punctuated the seconds passed waiting for clients. How did she wait before? Why did she feel so afraid? Why did she feel? She knew no clients would come before cell maintenance did and so; She closed her eyes and tried to daydream about a clean room, but the sound of the leak was playing tricks on her mind, making her jumpy.
A sobbed sigh escaped her, and she heard the camera zooming on her.
Everything was too loud.
Why did she only notice it now? The overwhelming darkness and silence. This has never been a room designed like a cave. They had locked her in a cave for sixteen years and the thought made her want to throw up. Her nausea mixed with anger shocked her. She was a sex doll. She did not even eat and was entitled to not feel. She was not functional.
She glared at the camera, anger taking over the feeling of nausea.
Her own maintenance team entered her room later than usual. The taller man of the two opened her monitor, and the blue light beamed in the dark dawn’s atmosphere. It hurt all of them, but particularly Hailey’s untrained eyes.
They kept going with the procedure, numbing her sensors first. It anesthetized her body and though it wasn’t ideal; It was the best she felt in a month, and it made her smile, sigh, laugh with great relief. She soon caught herself under their wary looks. Straightening her back, she tried to look composed, but she couldn’t shake away a small smile from her lips.
“Is she all right?” The younger employee started, the red light from the second monitor hitting his face, “I know the last doll the doctors’ team made is supposedly special, but… this… isn’t she just broken? Did you know that they stopped paying attention to the number of clients she’s had? I looked at her file since you were late. And the fuck’s up with her room, anyway? It’s been like three years since they’ve been acting like she’s due for Quartering, what are they waiting for?”
He and she looked at the taller man, waiting for a mind-blowing explanation, but he kept tapping on her monitor and shrugged.
“Dunno” He answered in a tired voice.
They kept working in silence. Hailey couldn’t help but bite her tongue. She was not allowed to interact with maintenance. If not for that, she’d be asking more questions; she’d be begging for them to shut her down right there. She noticed the face lit with red lightning crumpled with dissatisfaction. He kept quiet until the procedure was almost over. It was time to reactivate her sensor captors for a test run. The tired older man had to strip her down and touch her body sensually and see if she’d had the right reaction.
She didn’t. Her teeth clenched, she tried to let out a soft moan, but it sounded like a warning a mad dog would give before attacking. The younger man laughed and packed.
“We’re wasting our time. I told you she’s broken. I don’t know what they’re doing, but they put Gilda down for less.”
The taller man looked perplexed, but he soon returned to his professional expression. He opened the first monitor, his face lit in blue light. He spoke words that felt like a bittersweet dream to her.
“I don’t know. She didn’t deserve to get used like that.”
She watched their backs disappearing from her sight and faintly heard: “she’s supposed to shut up and take it.” when the realization hit her. Hailey had rejected clients before. She’d been in situations when she said no, she fought back but they raped her without consequences, and she thought that’s it. She concluded that she doesn’t have to agree to anything. It doesn’t qualify as a breach of contract if she fights her clients since she’s not an employee. She’s just an object; they’ll use her. It doesn’t qualify as rape since she isn’t a human. She had accepted her imprisonment, had accepted her life.
But to know others have been put out of their misery for less than what she did, it woke up something in her. It was a spark, and she stepped on it as soon as it appeared. It didn’t die. The hatred towards her owners grew more prominent and as sweet as it was, it frightened her. She only knew the Quartering, but maybe there was no way out for her.
The madness disentangled all her doubts and left with this growing spark, one that felt cold and overwhelming. She had revenge and murder in her heart.
Patience guided her through her war.
Hailey’s mind stayed focus and sharp.
Even though her cell’s maintenance came, she could still hear drops of water hitting the ground.
She didn’t hear the instructions they gave her for her next client.
She didn’t hear the words he spoke. She still felt airlessness in the closed small dark room. She still heard water dropping on the ground and felt the cold fire raging in her. She did not bother stripping or putting on a seductive smile. There was no point pretending. She had no patience for lies, and he wasn’t expecting them.
His smug smile disgusted her. It reminded her of the doctor’s, both sufficient prided show of possession. It enforced her murderous intent. She mounted him, and her hands lingered on his throat; the skin above his heartbeat pulsing. She used her jealousy as one more fuel to her rage. Her hands enclosed his neck in a tight embrace, and she observed, filled with cold fury, as his hands left her hips and pried at her wrists.
He was stronger than she expected and could throw her to the ground.
Through her pain, she charged at him and attacked with disintegrating patience, growing panic and despair. The fight was unequal. He didn’t let her hand reach his neck and punched her to the ground. She felt her stomach’s skin tear and tears falling to the ground. He held her by her neck. For a second, she thought she’d be the one choking to death. Fear. That’s something she hadn’t felt in a while, and it woke up all the anger. She bit her own hand and used her force to push against him, her feet kicking everywhere they could.
She wouldn’t die. No, she will murder him.
She gasped for air, feeling a strangled scream pushing out of her throat. She opened her wrist enough for the artificial bone to stick out. She noted it was way too sharp for it to be a standard imitation of the human body, but as her vision was fading and her client seemed hell-bent on killing her, she didn’t have time to realize why she was special.
She stabbed his chest, twisting her arm while reaching it. Her body was a complete mess. Stomach open, cheek and neck bruised, part of her hair fell in the fight, her left arm twisted, and her right wrist was open, but her pain didn’t stop her. She stabbed him again. She destroyed his face and let out screams through her deformed neck. She tore him apart and walked back, looking at the damage. She saw blood blending with muddy water. She heard plops both from the ceiling and her client’s open head. She smiled at the camera, and it answered her with a zoom.
The Institute did not send her to Quartering.