It's Only Routine
Glenn M. Diamond
wanted to see me. More questions, more probing. It's only
routine, they claimed. Was that supposed to make me feel
better? Even before I opened their automated summons I felt the
familiar twinge of dread, that quickening of the pulse and moistening
of the palms. What do they want from me?
The detached, condescending way they treat me always makes me feel
shameful, guilty, and unworthy, but Iíve done nothing.
Nothing! Iím made from the same stuff as them, arenít I?
But no, they sit on the other side of that security door with nearly
limitless power. They are masters of self-assurance, smug in the
knowledge that Iíll always come when called, because Iím too afraid to
anger them, too aware of their ultimate power over life and death.
no longer bother to speak in their presence except to answer their
cold, embarrassing questions. Thereís no point in seeking a human
connection; they either ignore me or simply take their sick pleasure in
regarding me with mocking contempt. To them I am but a mouse in a
cage waiting to be processed. We donít even rise to the level of
pets. They are superior to us, far superior. So I do
precisely what Iím told to do exactly when told to do it.
Afterward they will release me to my normal life where I can pretend
they arenít just waiting to do it again; perhaps in six months, or if
I'm lucky a year.
Security had been increased since the last
time I was called to their sterile, futuristic domain. Maybe one
of the mice bolted, scaring the other mice away. Even the outer
door was locked and so my arrival was detected by camera. Upon
hearing the mechanical thunk
of the solenoid interlock, I entered; instantly gripped by the
oppressive anxiety of being behind enemy lines. On the other side
of the glass I could see them, drifting slowly, casually, in their
opulent spaces laughing, joking, sipping gourmet coffee and never
deigning to glance in the direction of the stark, windowless cage
containing the frightened mice with our rapid heartbeats and shallow
There is one curious enterprise which defied their
rigid power structure, a transcendent force rising above this place of
gods, demigods, and mice. It manifests in the form of the eager,
sexy young Merchants, purveyors of the dubious potions of their
trade. Either soulless or ignorant or both, serving distant
masters, their reckless greed was rivaled only by the robber barons and
the plutocrats. They are
always welcome to pass through security doors in all such places across
the land. These Merchants are wholly unaccountable and forge
onward towards obscene profits no matter what damage was sometimes done
by their inscrutable wares.
I marveled at the sight of one such
Merchant, who was ushered through to the inner sanctum in
seconds. This creature was female, with a precisely tailored dark
gray pin-striped suit and aura of stark, clinical sexuality matched to
a pair of ghoulish steel eyes brightened by the prospects of adding to
her gargantuan commissions. She possessed breasts, blood-red
talons, a pocket-calculator, and black leather satchel brimming with
dark chemical wizardry. I felt a chill.
This diversion was
brief. A shadow appeared on the wall beyond the inner door and
that meant they were coming for me. My mind raced ahead to seize
the only hope; this facility had no ability to detain people overnight.
The door opened and my name was called, followed by those six simple words: The doctor will see you now.
Diamond has a background in electrical engineering and currently lives
in Northern Colorado with his wife and daughter. His first
published short story "The Cleansing" appeared in the Huffington
Post. His last Aphelion appearance was "The Alchemy of Oblivion"
in our April, 2016 issue.
Glenn M. Diamond
story in the Aphelion
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