Pen 14

The janitor looked down at the paper before him, his vision threatening to make it even worse to look at. He read each word carefully. This had be a dream or something, there’s no way anyone would be desperate enough for this.

“Are… are you sure this is legit? I’m not hallucinating this shit, right?”

The woman that sat opposite him didn’t show a hint of emotion, which was slightly unsettling for what was a self proclaimed doctor. The light shining off her face didn't help things either; the shadows made her look a lot more threatening than anything.

“No, everything in this contract is 100 percent true. Agreeing to the terms of this will grant you a substantial sum per year, with the added benefits as stated.”

Seemed simple enough. Living on site wouldn't be such a huge deal, and the accommodation looked pretty neat, and the day rotations were pretty fair, considering how much they would squeeze out of most lowly janitors.

He let out a chuckle.

Lowly janitor.

He decided to look at the paper again, this time searching for any fine print, usually too small to read without the aid of a magnifying glass, or microscope. But nothing came up, not even a loophole in the clause that would fuck him over or something. He rubbed his eyes, sleepy dust falling to the floor.

The woman noticed, and placed a finger over one of the paragraphs. She began to recite it out loud.

“Our company is an institutional research and containment centre, and with the help of government funding, we are able to help develop some the solutions for the problems facing the world today. This contract, when signed, will bind the recipient into a minimum of 2 years and maximum of 6 years of janitorial duties within a facility.”

The janitor stared with half open eyes, his body swaying back and forth. The woman sighed and placed her glasses on the table, the reflection of light irritating him.

“Mr. Koreshkov, I'm sorry to be blunt, but I really need you to pay attention here. I can't have you slipping in and out during this.”

Koreshkov mentally slapped himself awake, just as the doctor clasped her hands together.

“When we saw what happened to you, we knew that leaving you alone wouldn't be the best option. But we couldn't take any chances either. You remember, don't you?”

Koreshkov took the time to swallow her statement.

Remember…

The word echoed through his head, bouncing off every surface that it could worm its way into. He closed his eyes and tried to imagine his current… ‘problems’ as he called them.

For a bit, he couldn't remember many problems he had faced. Brief snippets of memory would pop up here or there, but nothing to big to warrant a job change.

Wait, a job change?

Why did he want a job change? What was so bad about his current one that he would be sitting in a poorly lit room with a contract in his hands, ready to sign? No, there must be a reason, a big reason th-

?!

A flash of light invaded his mind. An image of a hallway, devoid of anything but rows of green metal containers. Lockers, each broken beyond repair. He was there, in the very centre, a mop in one hand and a cart in another. He was dressed in all yellow, stains lighting him up like a Christmas tree.

Wait, what? Why…am I here?

He made a full turn, looking every which way. From behind him, a child could be seen running through, her school bag half torn and leaking a viscous black liquid. He gasped.

Wait, no please!

Koreshkov begged, but his mind left no mercy

The girl skipped along the hallway, as each step revealed more and more liquid; red, black, and white, mixed with chunks of brown and crimson. It filled the lockers and ceiling with a foul odor, overpowering the cleaning cart's chemical smell. The girl turned to him, a wide smile across her face. Innocence.

“Come on, daddy! The school’s having a big assembly!”

No, please don’t!

"A big assembly? I think I'll stay here, darling. You run along."

“Come on daddy, don’t you want to see it?”

Something ran through her hair, something leaking out.

It was the colour of blood.

No, no…

“What do you mean daddy? Everything’s fine! You don’t look too well, though…”

The girl walked towards him, her smile even wider. He stepped back, dropping the mop.

“Darling, please, I don’t want to.”

“But you have to, you don’t want me to end up like them do you?”

"Them…?"

The girl smiled even wider.

"You know, them!"

She pointed to a pile of red white and brown. The janitor shut his eyes, but the image remained, becoming more clear by the second unt-

NOOOOOOO!!!

He forcibly snapped back to reality, warping and stretching until he could see the doctor in front of him. He held his head, his fingers digging into his skull.

“..eskov…Koreshkov!”

The woman folded her arms together and sighed.

“I'm sorry for making you go through that again. I know how traumatising it must be for you.”

She fumbled with her glasses, placing them in a small case before putting them down again. A small flicker of remorse slipped through her iron demeanor. She let out another sigh.

"Once again, I'm sorry."

She pushed her chair out and went for the door.

“I’ll be back in a short moment.” The doctor placed a pen down next to the contract, the tip pointing to the signature line. “When you’re ready, just sign there.”

The door clicked shut and left the janitor to his own thoughts, thoughts that he didn’t want to end up reliving again. Not today.

He eyed the pen, and then the paper. A flick of the wrist, and it would be done. He could get away from here, away from it all. A place to sleep, eat, clean, and stay safe. Sounded like the dream.

But was it the right choice? Could he leave everything behind, again? He did it once sure, but why would he do it now? Should he be doing literally anything else?

No.

With slight hesitation he held the pen with his left hand, the trembling fingers making it difficult to maneuver properly. Using his right hand as a guide, he scribbled his sign on the line, his full signature.

As he placed the pen down, a voice broke the silence.

"Welcome to the Foundation."

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