~Cranial Loop~ (part 6)

WordWulf By WordWulf, 26th Mar 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/102blplj/
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Short Stories

~ what comes next ~ corners lead to corners ~ I am a man of colors ~ her father doesn’t care for me ~ more that than why can’t she speak ~darkness the depth of her sleep ~ answers in the tunnel ~ I am the elevator three tiers down ~ blood on my hands ~

~Cranial Loop~ (part 6)

~Cranial Loop~ (part 6)
~Suffering the Found~

“A bunch of stuff!” he said in a louder voice and opened his eyes. He knelt and walked the fingers of one hand up the concrete wall in the opening. Approximately halfway up, a finger poked through. Basil rose to his feet and reexamined the opening. It was clear to him now that the car had stopped halfway past the opening to sub-level one. He gripped the concrete where it topped out and prepared to climb out of the elevator onto the floor of the first sub-level.

His face met with resistance and, when Basil realized he had pressed it into a massive cobweb, he fell back into the elevator. He landed on his butt and clawed at his face with both hands. Strings of webbing stuck to his fingers. A thousand spiders, real and imagined, skittered across his skin. He pressed his palms against his thighs and counted slowly to ten.

When he had regained a bit of his composure, Basil stood up and tugged at the iron gate. Just as it closed, something large and dark bounced against the web from the other side. “Oh no, I did not see that,” Basil promised himself. “Spiders don’t grow that big and what else could be down here?” He eased the foot brake loose from its keep and pressed the buttons for ‘down’ and ‘sub-level three’. It had been a very long time since anyone had visited sub-level one and, as far as Basil was concerned, it could remain that way. The same applied to sub-level two, at least for now.

The elevator ground to a halt. Basil heard a sproing in the cables echoing though the shaft. He had never noticed that as he and the professor traveled up and down, in and out. The lights blinked off and on. Basil set the foot brake, threw open the gate, and lunged into the hall. He paused and took a deep breath, relieved to be out of the belly of the hungry little beast the elevator had become. Basil had begun to see shadows where there were no shadows, phantom movement at the periphery of his vision.

Glancing frantically up and down the hallway, he couldn’t decide which way to go. “They’re not really what I’d refer to as hallways,” he recalled Grimes saying. “They are a labyrinth of tunnels connecting to the main body of the University. They spider-leg out to satellite buildings, the Psyche Building for instance, take dozens of forgotten turns to places men long-dead devised.”

Basil reached into his pocket and grabbed the keys. Seventy-six keys, seven and six is thirteen. I found homes for fifty-eight of them upstairs, five and eight are thirteen. Ah damn!

He put one foot in front of the other and, following his instincts, reached the stainless steel operating theater. He opened the door, reached in, and flipped on the lights. After his experience in the elevator and the dim-lighted hallway, Basil gloried in the stark light of the operating room. He opened the control panel of the Cranial Loop and plopped down exhausted in the chair before it.

Basil punched the power switch and a myriad of colored lights came on. The message, “Cranial Loop unable to engage”, displayed itself, end to end, over and over, on a computer monitor screen. At a tonal beep, the message changed to: Attach external device to initiate startup. Spiders crawled through Basil’s brain. For a long suspended moment, he imagined he was seated at the helm of a space ship, two prehistoric alien worlds away from his own civilized planet. “Wow,” he said aloud, “This place is beginning to get to me, it really is.”

Glancing around the room, Basil thought, Eighteen keys left; how many can I account for down here? One and eight, that’s nine… endings. Basil rose from the chair, shaking his head. It aggravated him that he was unable to shake the inane tumble of numbers and their attributes from his mind. It was illogical behavior and unfamiliar territory for him. He had more important things to think about. He tried a few keys in the control panel. The fourth one fit. Basil found another that fit the door to the room. “Sixteen left,” he mused, “One and six is seven; lucky, lucky seven and lucky me, nothing left to unlock.”

Basil wandered into the hallway. There were no doors he could remember between the operating theater and the elevator. He took half a dozen steps in the other direction, figuring he was safe from getting lost as long as he could glance back and make out the bright light shining from the operating room into the hallway. To his surprise, the hallway ended in a dozen yards or so. There was a single door at its end. The door was locked but Basil was able to open it with one of the remaining keys on the ring.

Half expecting cobwebs and spiders, maybe a bat or two, Basil was relieved when he reached in and found a light switch. He clicked it up and the lights in the room came on. He stepped in and found himself in a large rectangular shaped room with a couple of desks, workstations complete with computers. There was no dust visible and it appeared as if the area was used recently and regularly. The long wall opposite the desks was composed of a bank of metal filing cabinets. Basil grinned; fifteen keys left and, without counting, he knew there were fifteen filing cabinets. He started from the left, whistled a little tune as he opened them one by one.

“And what secrets do you have to reveal?” he teased the final cabinet. He was smiling happily as he opened it, reassured to have found snug little caves for each and every one of the keys. Seventy-six keys, it was almost unbelievable to him that he had found homes for all of them. The smile left his face when he pulled the first drawer open. There was a sliding glass security cover over the contents of the drawer, ‘EYES ONLY – RESTRICTED MATERIAL’ stenciled in large red letters on top of it. The glass cover was in two parts, fitted into grooves in the drawer, and fixed with a cylinder lock of its own. “So much for seventy-six keys,” Basil murmured to himself. The lock required a round, tooled key; those on the ring were all conventional in style.

Basil squinted his eyes in an attempt to make out what was written on the file tabs under the glass. The master tab was easy enough to make out and intriguing to say the least. It read: DEATHS. Following it were a number of individual folders with names on them. The names were hand written and impossible to discern through the glass. Basil went on to the second drawer, which was titled: SUSPENSIONS AND EXPULSIONS. Unable to make out any of the names, he moved on to the third one: SLUSH FUND EXPENDITURES and the fourth and final drawer: CLASSIFIED INCIDENTS.

Basil fell to his hands and knees, the better to peer through the glass in an attempt to discern the contents of the bottom drawer. Without realizing it, he got so close his face touched the glass. No matter how hard he tried to focus, he was unable to make out the hand-written names on the folders. Frustrated, and completely out of character, he pounded a fist against the glass. The restrictive cover shattered and cut Basil’s hand. Blood splashed onto the folders in the drawer.

Using the thumb of his uninjured hand on a pressure point above the cut, Basil was able to staunch the flow of blood. He left the room and went to the Operating Theater, which was equipped with a scrub sink. He turned on the water and winced at the sharp pain when he began to irrigate the wound. It was half an inch long and close to his wrist. Apparently a shard of glass had stabbed him when his fist went through the cover. He hoped the cut wasn’t deep, tested it by flexing his fingers and rotating his wrist. Moving it was painful but everything seemed to be in working order.

After a few minutes, the wound stopped bleeding. Basil located a first aid kit, cleaned the cut and applied antiseptic. A bit clumsy with his left hand, he wrapped gauze around his wrist and fastened it in place with tape. He went and sat down in the chair next to the Cranial Loop apparatus. What had gotten into him, he wondered. How would he explain the broken glass and blood to the professor? Wrist throbbing, he decided to go back and clean up his mess. He’d been off-center and out of sorts since meeting with Emily’s parents. As soon as he finished straightening the drawer out, he’d go visit Emily. After that, maybe he’d scout out something to eat, then try to get some rest. Maybe he could replace the glass but what about the blood. Ah hell, he’d just have to tell the professor he was a curious idiot and hope he’d understand. The situation would be clearer in his mind tomorrow in the light of day.

Blood and oil, Basil thought, A drop spilled spreads and looks like a gallon. He carefully picked the larger pieces of glass from the drawer and dropped them in a waste basket. Basil stopped abruptly and sat stock still. The first file in the drawer labeled ‘CLASSIFIED INCIDENTS’ was Emily Alexander’s file. It bothered him deeply that her records would be kept in a secret cabinet. Basil grabbed his injured wrist, applying pressure and using the resulting pain to calm himself. “This file is probably just copies of papers I have seen,” he said to himself in a reassuring monotone.

He took the file and sat at one of the desks where he began to peruse the contents. Words and phrases from various reports and examinations demanded Basil’s focus, then reached out to slap and shock him with their implications: Bruises on the patient’s upper arms and inner thighs; human bite marks on both breasts (impressions made, see exhibits); signs of forced entry (see tissue samples); semen and blood evident (samples taken; see exhibits); traces of opiate in blood (sample in exhibits); high levels of Triazolam (induced temporary coma?). The list went on and on. It contained more, much more, than Basil could absorb in a single sitting. Nowhere could he find it stated but it was obvious to him that Emily had been drugged and raped. The evidence was conclusive and staggering in its preponderance to premeditation.

A blood drop splattered onto the paper Basil was reading. For a tense, insane moment, he thought it must be Emily’s. Hand clenched into a tight fist, he had reopened his wound. The gauze around it had begun to drip blood. Basil stared at it, dazed and uncomprehending. He shifted in his chair and held his arm over the wastebasket under the desk. His whole world had begun to spin out of control. That he might bleed it away made perfect sense to him. Dear Emily had been brutalized and where was the outcry? What steps were being taken to bring the monster responsible for committing these atrocities to justice? Maybe they’re waiting for her to regain consciousness so she can tell them what happened, Basil reasoned. “No, you fool!” Basil was startled at the sound of his voice, terrified and angry in tone. There was plenty of evidence. Those at the top must know or at least have a close idea who committed the awful crimes against and upon Emily.

His mind wrapped and warped around the CLASSIFIED INCIDENT the attack on Emily represented. Whoever did this to her was sure to be out there and waiting. Emily was in grave danger. If this cretin thinks for one minute he’s about to be discovered… “Oh God,” Basil moaned, “Who can I talk to about this? Maybe the professor…” His eyes blinked, focused on the papers spread before him across the desk. How many stacks of notes had Basil transcribed for Professor Grimes? It was obvious the examinations were carried out and documented by none other and signed off in his hand. Why hadn’t the authorities been brought in?

Hedgeny. Basil bit down on the name. From the first, he had been sure Hedgeny knew something more than he was willing to divulge about what happened to Emily. Now it was obvious he was covering for someone. Professor Grimes, a man above reproach, was involved in some kind of cover-up. Do they think I did it? Basil thought wildly. Is that why they’re keeping me close, thinking Emily will wake up and point her finger at me? “Stop it!” Basil ordered himself. They have DNA, he thought, Blood and semen. They have all the tools needed to figure out who brutalized Emily.

Basil gathered the papers and put them back in the folder. He would give them to Emily’s parents and advise them to take her back home with them. She wasn’t safe here, was she? John Alexander was a rich and powerful man. Acting from his deep sorrow and pain, he would bring action against the University and get to the bottom of this thing. How will I tell him what really and truly happened to his baby, his Emily Anna, Basil wondered. Basil was a bloody mess and in such a state of mind that he was completely unaware of his physical appearance. He had blood all over his face and clothes. His eyes were shocked, open and wide. His hair stood up in greasy spikes. He looked every bit the madman.

Operating on automatic pilot, he made it back to the main floor of the Psyche Building. The boxes he had left outside Grimes’ office for Emily’s parents were gone. Basil paced back and forth, frantic and at his wits’ end. How could they have gone already? He made his way to Emily’s room, opened the door a crack, and peeked inside. She was resting peacefully. He opened the door next to hers and entered his own quarters, turned on the light and sat down at his desk. He noticed John Alexander’s business card lying where he had left it earlier. The number to the Alexanders’ hotel was written on the back of it. Basil dialed the phone excitedly, hands shaking and eager to share his pain. The phone rang several times. He was ready to hang up when a clerk picked up and informed him the Alexanders had checked out half an hour or so ago.

~Tom (WordWulf) Sterner~
~Cranial Loop – 5~
~The Candle~

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author avatar Rathnashikamani
7th Apr 2011 (#)

Beautiful fiction I thoroughly enjoyed.
Your style of writing is extraordinary and just catching.

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author avatar WordWulf
7th Apr 2011 (#)


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