The Countdown

January 16, 2012

Prompt of the Day

Tom Scott

065, 729, 861

065,727, 739

065, 724, 935

I couldn’t tell you how I know, but in the deepest center of my being, I do know.  Doubt made everything more complicated, and if I had even the smallest doubt now, it would make all of it… unbearable.  Certainty is the only thing I’ve got to hold on to. It’s the reason I’m left here alone. Just me, what’s left of Steve, and the numbers.

065, 497, 478

At first, me and Steve were fine. As fine as we could be expected to be after waking up in that strange room. Steve got it together more quickly than I did, he got me to settle down and help him start looking for a way out. All we found was the clock.

We didn’t know it was a clock at first. The numbers changed too quickly to register, flashing in red digital lines, and we were too rattled to notice how it changed. When we finally realized it was counting down, it seemed like a victory – we finally knew something about where we were. In actuality, we still didn’t know anything, and that clock was going to create more questions than answers. When we realized there was a STOP button on top of it, everything started to go wrong.

065, 273, 139

After maybe a day (the numbers dropped by about 90,000,000), Steve became convinced we should press the button. He said one way or another it would make something happen, that it would be like forfeiting, calling for the end of the game, maybe we’d be let go. It didn’t sound right to me. What if the numbers were counting down to our release? What if it was just a timed incarceration, and we just had to serve our time and be done? We couldn’t risk hitting that button. We argued about it, we started to get hysterical. Steve was crazy, he was screaming. Finally, he just lunged for the button, and in that moment I knew I couldn’t let him touch that button. He wasn’t paying attention to me, when I crashed into him from the side, his head whipped to look at me, aghast and surprised and angry all at once. He swung at me, and I couldn’t do anything but fight back. I managed to grip his hair in my fingers and I was just trying to knock him away, to confuse him so he’d stop swinging and yelling, but I couldn’t stop myself, until my hands slipped in the wet. Where Steve’s head was, red was dashed across the white floors and walls, a slash of color in the otherwise devoid room. Only that red, and the flashing red digits of the clock.

065, 067, 593

I knew I couldn’t let Steve hit that button. I hadn’t been sure when I jumped to stop him, but in the hours afterwards, when I sat alone in that room, watching the numbers change, I knew it couldn’t be a meaningless countdown. I know it has to mean the end of that room. The numbers will turn to a line of zeroes, and a door will open or a tunnel will be revealed. Somehow, it will be the end. I just have to wait. Only a few more hours left. I can’t tell you how I know it. But I do.

065, 059, 384

….

065, 058, 158

065, 055, 479

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