Out of Body

There were a lot of bodies. They were neatly laying on stainless countertops spaced evenly throughout the windowless room, amidst a labyrinth of push carts with gleaming tools and monitors that blinked stupidly in the silence like dead-eyed cattle. None of the bodies were Kent, though.

I picked my way through the laboratory under the dim redness of the backup lighting and the cool blue glow coming off of the constellations of monitors. I think I preferred the low lighting; I didn’t want to see more than I had to. It was uncomfortably cool and the stench of antiseptic was so strong it stung my sinuses like horseradish.

Where was he?

The overheads flickered momentarily, followed by an electric pop somewhere up ahead. I clutched at my chest and pressed on, more quickly now, toward the sound. The lab continued in much the same fashion behind a heavy set of double doors, which were ajar just a sliver. Of the many glass-walled bays of bodies, one was flooded in sterile white light. Running now, I raced to the stainless countertop and shut my eyes and shook and shook and shook but could not wake him. My whisper came out a croak. “Kent, please, we have to go.”

“He’s not there.”

I spun in surprise and fell back against a bank of monitors. It was the Gold Woman. The human side of her face failed to convey any expression, same as the mechanical side. She raised one arm, her dull gold cape slipping aside. She held a small glass cube. It was multifaceted and white points of light seemed to be shifting along complex paths inside of it. It was as hypnotic as a kaleidoscope.

“He’s in here,” she said. “They’re all in here, now.”

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