The Basement

Written by Samuel Gaitskell 

 Photograph by   Taylor Young

Photograph by Taylor Young

I woke up in a dimly lit, filthy room, lying on the dusty ground, my cheeks wet with tears I didn’t remember crying. My lungs stang as if I hadn’t taken a breath since I fell asleep.

… whenever that was.

As hard as I struggled, very few memories came to me. Vague flashes of a walk I was taking late at night came to me, like I was desperately trying to remember a dream, though outside of that, I couldn’t remember anything.

Trying to stand was a fruitless effort after I found my arms had been tied behind my back. Though I was nothing if not persistent… I think. After struggling gracelessly for a few minutes, I managed to find myself standing on my feet. From how it looked, my arms were chained to the floor by way of a lengthened chain, giving me a bit of moving space, though not much to do with it.

Observing my surroundings, it was clear that I was in a basement. The area was cool and musky, with a heavy layer of dust thick in the air, paired with the scent of what almost smelled of rotten flesh. Though the darkness of the room obscured my view a bit, there seemed to be what looked to be a boiler or something of the like on one wall, and a stairway leading up on the opposite one, though besides that, there was little decoration. On the creepier side of things, a disgusting smelling pile of some sort was building up under the stairs.

I heard something above me. Footsteps? Something heavy was certainly creaking against the boards.

The footsteps moved towards the stairwell, before a figure appeared, seemingly unphased by anything down here. I couldn’t see what he looked like, but he was tall and lean, to a level that almost seemed unnatural. The figure kept perfectly quiet as it walked forward, a tray of something in his, or her, hands.

'Food,' the voice said, deep and blunt, cementing the person as male… probably 'you’ll need your strength.'

The guy threw the tray down at my feet. From that distance, I could see it was a tray filled with disgusting slop.

'My hands are tied behind my back,' I said, clearing my throat a bit before continuing, trying to distract myself from the smell of rotten meat that became more and more potent the longer I spoke, 'how am I meant to eat?'

The man seemed somewhat surprised to be talked to, as he paused for a second as if letting the initial shock of being questioned clear away. After the pause was done, the man spoke again.

'I can’t untie you, you’ll run,' he said, in a matter-of-fact tone 'I was told to keep you tied up, until…'

'Until?' I asked, the sound of a buzzing fly returning my attention to the putrid pile lying beneath the stairs, covered by what seemed to be, in the darkness of this room, a blanket or something. The guy noticed my curiosity, and I swear I could see him smile despite the fact that I couldn’t see his face.

'Do you know what’s under that sheet?' The man said, a sick, almost gleeful tone to his voice. I vigorously shook my head no, apparently pleasing him. 'Do you want to know?'

'Yes.' I said, maybe too fast, despite the fact that I desperately wanted to say no. Maybe I couldn’t resist… maybe my words weren’t my own?

The man felt his way to a wall, before flicking on a switch. A rather jarring light flickered on, causing me to squint as white, painful flashes obscured my sight. Once my eyes adjusted, I found myself in a grey, depressing room, standing with a freakishly tall man dressed in bloodied overalls, a face outlined with an unkempt beard and his eyes shadowed by dark bags. Immediately, my mind filled with two rather conflicting emotions. The first was fear. Something inside of me was screaming at me to run, despite the fact that I couldn’t. The second… the second was a strange, confusing love, like I knew this man, and loved him, despite the fact I had never seen him before.

The man looked at me, eyes filled with hope, for a moment or two at least. His face eventually dropped, as if he was looking for something that simply wasn’t there, before he shrugged it off and walked over to the festering pile, a mainly cream coloured sheet thrown over it, a patch of crimson here and there adding a disgusting look to it. A voice in my mind was screaming for me to close my eyes, to just look away, though a louder, more commanding voice was forcing me not to. The man grinned as he pulled the sheet away, revealing bodies. A pile of corpses, each one’s face contorted in pain and terror, each looking sickeningly familiar. Males and females alike, all left naked to rot, all with a bloodied hole about the size of a coin left through the side of their skulls. I had to try my best not to vomit along the filthy floor that I found myself standing upon. Somehow, I knew, deep down, that I knew these people. All of these people. They looked so horrifically familiar, in their eternal sleep.

'No, don’t be scared,' The man said, adopting a softer tone, as my eyes began to fill with tears of shock and horror. 'It’s okay.'

'What the fuck is going on here?' I yelped, backing away as far as my chain would allow me.

'The transfer, all of those bodies… the transfer was unrefined. Brutal, one might say,' the man said, gesturing to the long since deceased bodies lying on the ground, 'their minds rejected it… rejected you.'

'What the hell are you talking about?' I demanded, causing the towering goliath before me to flinch, as if I could actually hurt him in any way. Despite being chained to the ground with my arms behind my back, a deep, dark part of me believed I actually could.

'Doctor… Doctor Price, he was a… brilliant man. He furthered science to an amazing level, his work making the thought of preserving consciousness artificially a reality. As brilliant as he was, he was… dying. To preserve and continue his…' the man paused, as if searching for a way to put his words nicely, 'morally ambiguous work, moments before his death, he… preserved his consciousness, and instructed me to find him a… replacement body.'

The need to vomit grew larger and larger, though I managed to keep it down. What he was saying was beyond insane, but… but I knew he was telling the truth, somehow.

'Of course, most people would be… hesitant to allow a consciousness to replace their own, as Doctor Price wished.' The man continued, speaking as if he was trying his best to step across a field of eggshells 'So I had to get… creative with how I found subjects.'

Flashes of being grabbed off of the street and thrown into a van flashed in my disoriented mind in painful bursts.

'Unfortunately, the process of taking one’s consciousness out wasn’t quite as… difficult as putting a consciousness back in.' The man continued 'You’re the only one so far that didn’t end up babbling hysterically, or something of the like.'

More images flashed into my mind, this time of being strapped into some sort of contraption, a helmet of sorts being lowered onto my head, a headache overwhelming me, as if my skull was being split open.

'But the fact that you are both conscious and sane means that the process is being refined!' The man happily claimed, clapping his hands in sickening joy 'With just a few more tries, I’ll have my Doctor back.'

'A few more tries?' I asked, my voice quivering. I realised what that meant. 'So you’re going to-'

'Kill you? Yes, unfortunately, once Doctor Price’s consciousness is returned back into "storage”,' The man said, looking over to the pile of bodies, 'you’ll have to be killed… speaking of which.'

The man came closer to me, and undid the end of the chain that anchored me to the ground, before pulling me along like I was a dog on a lead.

'No!' I screamed out in fear, kicking and struggling, though he simply pulled me along with the slightest of ease

'Don’t worry,' He said, his tone disgustingly neutral, considering what he was about to do 'your death will not be for nothing. You’re furthering science. We all are.'

My screams for help fell upon indifferent ears, this madman obviously being the only person able to hear me as I was dragged into a different room, a room with that familiar contraption hidden away inside of it.

'This won’t hurt a bit.' the man said, as I was strapped tightly into the chair, as to prevent me from thrashing and flailing about. Somehow, I knew that he was lying. A helmet of some sort was lowered onto my head, and I felt a familiarly painful headache begin to overwhelm me, before everything faded into an inky blackness.

***


I woke up in a dimly lit, filthy room, lying on the dusty ground, my cheeks wet with tears I didn’t remember crying. My lungs stang as if I hadn’t taken a breath since I fell asleep.

… whenever that was.

Vague memories came to my mind. Horrible, disgusting memories, though as quickly as they appeared, they faded, like a long since forgotten dream. Outside of those few flashes of random imagery, random nightmarish imagery…

I Couldn’t remember a thing.