Yvonne Gates was head researcher. Allman had been forced to promote her, after security discovered the dead body of Harvey Syton lying in the experiment chamber five weeks ago. The reason behind his suicide was still a mystery, and though she thought about it for a long time, she was never able to reach a sensible conclusion as to why he finally pulled the trigger. However, that issue didn’t matter anymore, because she had now become the third most respected figure on Con Caven Island, standing only before headquarters boss Allman and the Boss of the ISS. She’d finally realised her secret childhood dream – to become one of the most feared criminals in the world.
The project was nearly over, which disappointed her slightly. Over the weeks, she had enjoyed using Syton’s prototypes to butcher, burn and skin most of the remaining test subjects. She was proud of the tests, because they produced decent results which delighted the Boss. Their screams did not haunt her, but pleased her very much, and each experiment prompted her to take the next to more extreme heights. Now there were only three left alive – lying in wait for death to come, terrified. Furthermore, her pay had been tripled. She couldn’t have been happier in her life.
Sitting in Syton’s cubicle, which was now her own, she unwrapped a packet of crisps and put her feet up on the desk. As soon as she reclined back in her chair, the phone rang and she rolled her eyes, taking her feet off the desk again to reach it.
“Yvonne Gates, SG64. May I know who’s speaking?”
“Yeah. I’ll tell you who’s speaking. It’s your boss Allman.”
“Hello Allman, what can I do for you?” She always called him by his last name, never ‘boss’. That was what Syton used to call him, and she refused to follow in his footsteps. She refused to suck up to him. The only person she would call ‘boss’ was the real Boss himself.
“I want to discuss private matters. Please come to my office.”
“Sure. I’ll go over when I’ve finished my lunch.”
“No, Gates. You’ll be over here right now.”
“Gates, I’m warning you,” he growled, “you may think you’re something. The Boss might reckon that too, but I know what you want. And you know it too, so don’t deny it.”
“Allman, I have absolutely no idea what you’re going on about.” For some reason, the one time Yvonne Gates ever told the truth in her life, Allman still didn’t believe her.
“I knew you wouldn’t admit it. You’re a goddamn fox, that’s what you are. Never mind. It’s only natural – I would want exactly what you want if I were in your position. But remember, you’re just a temporary replacement. You’re not half the man Syton was, and you never will be.”
“That’s a little sexist.”
“You know what I fucking mean. Now go away, and just remember that I’ll be watching every move you make.”
“I’m sorry Allman, but the language you’re using is threatening. I could get you reported if-”
“Gates, just get out of my sight.”
“I refuse to leave until an explanation has been-“
“GET OUT!” Allman yelled in fury, slapping the keyboard on his desk. He picked up the cordless phone and aimed it at her head. Without hesitation, she sprinted out of his cubicle and wondered what the hell was wrong with him.
Gates and Allman hadn’t been getting on particularly well since he’d been forced to promote her. He didn’t like her self-worshipping personality and much preferred Syton, who had been naturally quiet and never questioned his superiors. She couldn’t deny that she enjoyed Syton’s company as well, but now she had replaced him, and she was going to make it clear that she was there to stay.
Strangest of all, she couldn’t understand why Allman had burst out like that. There’d been tension between them but it never got violent until then. What was he so worried about? Something he thought she apparently knew? A secret? For once, she didn’t know anything she wasn’t supposed to know – and it worried her.
Suddenly, Max Bridges appeared right in front of her from nowhere, making her lose her train of thought. Bridges was the good-looking contract killer who’d recently been employed by Allman and moved from an underground ISS branch in Indonesia to the HQ. He was a smooth guy, with the most gorgeous neck-length dark hair and a smile that would make any girl swoon. But she could argue that she was pretty attractive herself, being a young woman in her mid-twenties. That’s why he’d seemed to have taken a strong liking to her after he joined the HQ. She didn’t deny that he was pretty cool, but as of now, she wasn’t interested. He was merely a tool she could use in her rise up the ranks; just like everyone else.
She stumbled backwards and nearly fell, but he caught her arm just in time.
“How’ve you been, babe?” He winked twice as he spoke.
“Not bad, you?”
Bridges lifted her chin and leaned in for a kiss, but the grin on his face disappeared when he felt sharp fingers grip his neck.
They walked together through the central hallway, side by side.
“That hurt, you little fuck,” moaned Bridges, as he rubbed the bottom of his chin.
“That’ll teach you to touch a girl.” Thinking about Allman again, she found herself glaring angrily at the back of his head as she passed his cubicle window.
“Bridges, do you like Allman?” She suddenly asked, her voice no louder than a whisper. He raised his eyebrows disappointedly at her, as if he were listening to a little girl beginning to gossip.
“Yes, I love Almonds.”
“To be honest with you, I haven’t known him as long as you, so I can’t really judge any better than you can. He doesn’t look that great though. Why, what’s he done to you now?”
“Remember, this is strictly between us two, do you understand?”
“Sure thing babe.”
“So, just a minute ago,” she began, “he called me into his place to yell at me. But the thing is, this time he kept on saying that he thought I knew something, or that I was going to do something. Then he demanded I admit it. I don’t know what the hell he’s bullshitting on about.”
She took a breath, then continued.
“Then I got the fuck outta there because he was going to chuck something at me. Do you think he’s going nuts?”
“I dunno. Well, he definitely doesn’t treat me like that. I haven’t signed the contract yet, even after five years of working at the ISS. So if he did dare to yell at me, I’d get myself outta here and the Boss would kill him for losing someone productive and valuable like me.”
“I was stupid, Bridges. I signed the damn thing a year into the job. Now I’m stuck here for the rest of my life.”
“I’m sure it’s not just that. You mentioned he liked Syton, right?”
“Yeah, and he’s using that against me as well. He keeps on feeling the need to remind me that I’m not as good as Syton – at dicksucking. Bullshit.”
“Well I definitely hope you are,” he smiled. She looked at him angrily and sighed.
They were both clueless. But then, he thought about it for a while, and he finally understood.
“You said he accused you of knowing something. Of wanting to do something, am I right?”
“…Yeah. I couldn’t imagine what though.”
Bridges suddenly laughed out loud hysterically.
“How on earth could you be so stupid?!” He remarked.
“Look, think about who you were and who you are now. He hates you because he knows you like taking stuff for yourself. Oh, don’t look at me like that. Everyone knows you’re like that, even me. His favourite employee Syton just died and now he’s been forced to make you the head researcher. So were you just going to stop it there? Weren’t you thinking of…I don’t know. Maybe, getting promoted just a little further?”
At first, she didn’t understand, but then she realised what he was getting at. It seemed both Allman and Bridges were both thinking one step ahead of her. They seemed to know her better than she knew herself.
“You’re right,” she gasped. “He thinks I’m trying to steal his job!”
“WOW. And Allman thought he knew what you were thinking. Talk about smart,” he jeered. “But you’re the type who usually plans these evil things. Why didn’t you think of such an obvious thing to do?”
“I don’t know. My mind was wandering at the time, and I was too busy enjoying myself with that project. I wasn’t really thinking about stuff like that.”
“You mean…ugh. That project. Too much blood and guts for my taste. Rather just shoot them. But I guessed you’d like that kind of thing, you creepy psycho.”
“I suggest you watch your mouth, because you’re talking to the head researcher here.”
“Yeah, whatever. See ya later babe. Feel free to cut me open any time.” He blew a kiss as he walked away down another corridor, and she rolled her eyes again. Bridges was smarter than he looked, and she reckoned staying on his good side would do her well. Still, she couldn’t understand why such a blatantly obvious idea had never popped up in her mind. Now she knew what Allman was thinking, she could put her worries to the side.
She made herself tea before returning to the imprisonment chamber. The security camera had run out of battery, so the three remaining inmates had been left unsupervised for at least three or four days. Jackson, the bald scientist who was monitoring the security pictures, had forgotten to feed them. They sat stationary in the corners of their cells, and when she entered carrying a handful of batteries, they glared at her menacingly.
“How you doin’ boys?” They didn’t reply, and started growling in anticipation.
She dragged the stool across the room and positioned it under the broken camera. The soon-to-be test subjects watched every move she made, lying completely still in waiting. She stepped up onto the stool and removed the camera from the wall.
“Yvonne Gates…” she heard an ominous whisper behind her.
“Yvonne Gates,” it came again, “you want to do it. You do…”
She heard another voice.
“You want to do it. You know you want to…”
“You want it…you do…and you’re going to get it, aren’t you…?”
“Stop it, STOP!” She demanded, becoming a little afraid. She turned around, and all three inmates were clutching the bars of their cells, staring at her with wide eyes.
The three voices spoke in unison. They all told her to ‘do it.’ Were they trying to scare her?
“Kill him, Yvonne Gates. Just do it…you can do it…”
“You want to do it, don’t you, Yvonne Gates? We know you want to…”
“Just do it…just kill him…”
“What? Kill who?” Even though she asked, somehow in the back of her mind, she knew who they were talking about.
“You don’t like him, do you?”
“Then just kill him…slice him open…and it’s all yours…”
“You know you want to do it…”
It was crazy. Where were they getting the ideas from? She glanced down at her hands. Even they were telling her to do it. Could she really?
“Do it, Yvonne Gates…”
“Just kill him…”
“You know you want to…”
She lifted her head again. To her surprise, she saw all the inmates back where they were, huddled in the corners of their cells. They were no longer staring at her, no longer gripping their cell bars. They didn’t speak, and made only quiet animalistic noises. Confused, she shook her head. Had she imagined that whole episode?
If she had, it meant something. Even her subconscious mind was telling her to get rid of him. No, it was telling her more than just that. It was trying to say that once Allman was gone, everything would be hers. And she would be the one to drive him out. Only she could kill him, and claim all.
She would think about it later, as it seemed like a risky but viable option. Stepping off the stool, she clicked open the battery compartment of the camera then bent down to select a few replacements. To her horror, there were no old batteries in the compartment. There was nothing – it was empty. That meant someone must’ve deliberately taken them out, but no employee would’ve done that.
She looked up again, and this time, the inmates were growling suspiciously loudly. She walked a few steps further into the centre of the chamber, where they stared at her intently. It was then that she noticed each of the inmates’ cell locks were positioned at a slightly strange angle. She couldn’t help seeing it, because it seemed odd. It was as if the lock pads had been turned upside-down. Then, she realised they had been broken.
The inmates’ growling rose in volume. Suddenly, one of them jumped out of his cell, prompting the others to escape too. They launched themselves into the centre of the room, snarling and breathing heavily, crawling on all fours like wild beasts. Each opened his mouth wide open, and spit dribbled from their chins. Then, they started advancing slowly towards her.
“Security…SECURITY!” She shrieked, watching their hungry eyes glowing in anticipation.
They attacked her, and she screamed. The camera fell out of her hands and onto the floor, shattering into many pieces. The inmates mauled her and ripped at her flesh with their teeth, chewing off chunks of her face and arms. She flailed around madly in pain and they continued to crawl around her and bite into her limbs.
“HELP ME!” Her screams were muffled.
Five guards dashed into the chamber, followed by Allman and the bald scientist. Blood covered everything in sight, and even the brightest parts of Gates’ white coat had been stained a painful shade of pink.
Security dragged the inmates off her, throwing them back into their cells. They tried to jump back out, but they were tranquilized and soon, all three of them fell into a deep sleep. She felt herself being lifted into a stretcher, and carried away. The last thing she saw before she passed out was her left hand, which was now no more than a gloopy red mess of flesh, skin and bone.
Allman shook his head, gazing disappointedly at the blood splatters in the middle of the room.
“What a shame. The HQ really does need to order some new locks, doesn’t it Jackson?”
The bald scientist eyed him suspiciously.
“You seem calm, boss.”
“Well, one does need to be calm in situations like this. It’s the only way you can get through life, you know? They don’t call me headquarters boss for nothing.”
He walked over to the pile of batteries and the shattered pieces of camera. He picked up two of the plastic pieces, which he fit together like a puzzle.
“Shame,” he said again, turning it over and looking at the battery compartment. “These things cost a fortune.”
He smiled, gazing down into the empty slots, from which he had removed the batteries.
She opened her eyes again. She sat up to examine her surroundings, and saw that spots of blood had stained her pillow. Her wounds didn’t seem to hurt much, so she lifted the covers off herself. She was wearing a light blue patient gown, and her limbs and face were wrapped in bandages.
She unwrapped her facial bandages slightly and dragged her fingers across her face. She was delighted that she only felt two stitches, one down her left cheek and one in front of her ear. At least the attack hadn’t damaged her face too much. But her left hand was still a mess, and underneath the bandages, she could see that the top part of her thumb was missing. She felt a sharp pain in her shoulder, forcing her to lie back down.
A nurse entered the room, bringing her a cup of coffee and some biscuits.
“Ah Gates, you’re awake. Do you remember what happened to you before you came here?”
The door opened again, and Max Bridges stepped in. She groaned silently to herself. He had a sly grin on his face, and his hands were behind his back. As he walked closer to the bed, he took them out, revealing a bunch of flowers wrapped in pink plastic paper.
“How are ya, babe?”
“Aww, that’s sweet,” she smiled, as he placed the flowers on the table beside her bed. He placed an unopened card on top of them, which read ‘GET WELL SOON!’ on the front in large, pink letters, above a picture of a teddy.
“Now, can I have a kiss?”
She sat up and pecked him on the lips.
“Gates and Bridges,” sighed the nurse. “My perfect town has Gates and Bridges."
"Pish, corny puns," mouthed Gates.
"I’ll leave you two to it.” The nurse went out of the room.
“Now, would you mind telling me what the hell happened to you?”
“I can kind of remember it, but not too clearly,” she began. “I was going to change the batteries on the security camera in the place where I kept the test subjects…” She paused. She wasn’t sure whether she should tell him what happened next in her mind, as of yet. No, she would skip that part.
“Muh-huh,” he nodded.
“I thought it was weird, because broken cameras usually give the computer an alert telling you to replace the batteries. And nobody had known about this for ages until I asked about it. But then, I found out, the batteries weren’t broken. There were no batteries. Someone had taken the batteries out, and the CCTV images didn’t get through to Jackson. I don’t blame him, because that’s why he forgot to feed the test subjects.”
“Yeah, I was thinking the cameras were quite stable here. Even if one broke, it would send an alert message. But not if someone deliberately took it out. Hmm.”
He paused and thought for a few seconds.
“I swear I saw Allman go in there once. He was by himself as well, and-”
“What? A security guard always has to accompany a boss into the chamber. That’s the rules.”
“Yeah, exactly. That’s why I thought it was strange, but I just…well, it was nothing really.”
“Well it’s something now,” she laughed. “It’s something serious. I always knew it. Allman was the one who took the batteries out!”
“Hey, don’t jump to conclusions-“
“Don’t question it. I know it was him. He planned it all, and he knew this shit would happen.” She lowered her voice. “He knew Jackson would forget to feed them. Jackson was monitoring the security pictures; he’s old and a bit ditzy – if he didn’t see the picture, he wouldn’t question it. Allman knew I would be the next one to go in there. That’s why he loosened the locks on the cells, and they were all able to jump out and attack me.”
“That’s a sensible conclusion, I guess.”
“Well what then? Do you think all three of the inmates could’ve broken the locks themselves, taken the batteries out of the camera then had the sanity to hide back in their cells just to jump out at the last minute to bite me? Who else would’ve done it? Who else hates me as much as Allman does?”
“Yeah. Okay. Makes sense. But what do you want to do about that now?”
“I honestly don’t know.”
They looked at each other, their faces more tense than before. The door opened, and Allman came into the room. She was surprised to see Bridges stand up and leave the room abruptly.
“Miss Gates, how’s it been?” He almost jeered at her. Anger boiled up inside her, and she felt like she wanted to knock his teeth out right there and then. But she resisted, keeping her face totally calm and professional.
“I appreciate your concern Allman. I’ve been well, thanks. The recovery’s been slow, but I’ve been…well.”
He took out a small box of chocolates from his briefcase and put them onto the table, but no ‘get well’ card followed.
“Thank you,” she smiled, “I’m very grateful for all of this, but it’s really not needed.”
He smiled back at her. Almost sarcastically, she thought.
“I see someone’s already beat me to it,” he said, looking at the flowers Bridges had given her. “Who’s it from?” Before she could stop him, he opened the card. Great. Now Allman knew about their relationship, he was bound to degrade Bridges too. She just hoped he wouldn’t hate her for it.
Bridges hadn’t signed it with his full name. Not even his initials. She sighed in relief – reminding herself that he was smarter than he looked.
“That’s my friend Beatrice Smith,” she said, quickly making up a random name. “She’s working for the ISS department in the Philippines. It was quite nice to receive her mail.”
“Really? Never heard of her. And did she mail the flowers to you too? They look a bit too…alive for that.”
She clenched her fists.
“No, those were from the emergency department.”
“What?” A bead of sweat rolled down her forehead. His eyes seemed too narrow for safety. He laughed.
“I mean, the ‘BS’ must stand for bullshit! The flowers are pretty bullshit too. I mean, look at them! They’re cheap. All these people have absolutely no idea how to buy gifts. I’ll have to discipline my emergency department better next time. Of course, god forbid there ever is a ‘next time’.”
He wore a jolly smile on his face. She swallowed, and her pulse relaxed.
“Thanks for the chocolates, Allman. It really isn’t necessary, but, thank you so much. I’ll enjoy them.”
He picked up his briefcase and walked towards the door, then turned back around.
“Oh you will, won’t you? They’re professional quality.” He disappeared.
Irate, she gritted her teeth and sliced the cardboard box open with her sharp, red fingernails. Her conclusion seemed to make sense. This was a man who had planned to kill her, in fear of his position being stolen. Now there was an obvious sense of conflict between them, she knew the fight to become headquarters boss had begun. She was not going to lose to him.
She picked up a finger-shaped chocolate and cracked it open. There was a strange yellow paste inside it, which smelt odd. She licked it, and spluttered because it tasted slightly bitter. Her heart skipped a beat as she realised he had tried to do it once more, and noted the fact that he hadn’t attached a card - so she couldn’t frame him for murder.
She swept her arm across the front of the table, shoving the whole box and all its contents into the bin.
Gates sat in the experiment chamber, all alone. In front of her was the first lethal creation of Harvey Syton – the deadly ‘Angel’s Wings’. She stood up, then walked over to it. Her high heels created loud, echoing footsteps which filled the entire chamber as she walked. She ran a finger down the undersides of the two flat iron bars which met in the middle, where the subject’s chest would be. The sharp iron spikes pierced her skin, and she licked the blood away.
“Hello Gates.” A familiar, unknown voice called her name. She turned around, but nobody was there. Oh no, not the voices again.
“Who the fuck is this?”
“Do you remember me?” She recoiled in shock. Harvey Jack Syton stood behind her, on the other side of the Angel’s Wings.
“Syton!” She shouted. “H-how are you…I thought you were dead!”
“Yes, I’m afraid I was too. But I came back to warn you.”
“Warn me? About what?”
“By replacing me, you’re walking into a deadly trap.”
Before she could move, she found herself entrapped between hollow metal bars. The Angel’s Wings. How had she ended up in there? She didn’t even remember herself getting up.
Struggling to free herself, she resisted the iron bars.
Suddenly, Syton lowered the spikes and she screamed as they dug into her body. Blood oozed out onto her white coat and dripped down her legs. Just then, she saw Syton’s hand on the lever.
“No, DON’T DO IT! MERCY!” She shrieked with all her might. “SYTON! I used to work for you! You’re the original, I’m the replacement! You’re the real one! I’m the fake one! Just don’t do it! PLEASE DON’T DO IT!”
He ignored her desperate pleas, and pulled it down. The machine began to work, ripping her torso open from the middle. The pain was unbearable, and she screamed even more loudly.
“Gates, this is what will happen if you continue to sit idly and watch. You will die,” said Syton, holding a calm look on his face as he usually did when he was alive. “It’s either you or him. You've seen him try to do it twice already. You’ve got to do it. Save yourself while you still can. You can get everything. Just kill him. You know you want to do it…you know it…”
It was telling her to ‘do it’ again. The voices had returned. She pushed against her restraints, trying to cover her ears. She recognised that familiar line. It wasn’t the real Syton talking to her – she was just imagining the whole thing. Relieved, she realised she wasn’t really going to die. The pain stopped abruptly.
She woke up, dazed, in a cold sweat. The vivid image of the ‘Angel’s Wings’ was so real it was hard to believe it was just a dream.
But no, it wasn’t just a dream, it was telling her something. Allman was paranoid of her stealing his title, and he would stop at nothing to get rid of her. She originally wanted to wait a little longer before ‘doing it’, but now it had become clear that only one of them could be the boss – and the other one would end up dead. This dream was a sign - she had to take action quickly before it was too late. Sitting up, she grabbed her cell phone from the desk and tapped in a number.
“Bridges, which wing are you in?”
“Is this Gates? Geez, it’s early. You finally wanna hook up?”
“BRIDGES! I have no time for chit-chat. It’s two in the morning, so there shouldn’t be security outside your wing.” She looked out of the window. “The coast is clear here too. Can you meet me in room SP56 in five minutes?”
“I’ve got serious business to talk about.”
“Sure thing babe. SP56, is that right?”
“Yes, be careful.”
Written by Rinskuro13