Let Me Out Prose in Game of Tomes | World Anvil

Let Me Out

CONTENT WARNING: gun violence, character death, attempted murder, human experimentation, imprisonment, genocide, crimes against humanity, suicidal ideation
Something was wrong.   Subject 3L1-V97-25 paced. The guard that usually waited just inside their door was absent, and that never meant good things. Ms. Anders had already left for the day, pleased with their progress. They knew they had come a long way in recent months, from never writing more than simple stories to casting their first minor literomantic spells. Even Doctor Brandt-Schmidt seemed pleased, although it was sometimes hard to tell with him. Still, he'd been flinging fewer threats and insults their direction.   Their dreams of the fiery tunnels to someplace different, someplace better, had never been so clear. Sometimes they almost felt awake during those, could almost feel the heat of the flame. A few times they had even woken up sweating in the middle of the night.   Another gunshot sounded, this time closer.   They hadn't known until a few months before, when they had met Ms Anders, what the random loud booms were. Doctor Brandt-Schmidt, tired of the way Subject 3L1-V97-25 threw fits, had shot another subject right in front of them. Guilt twisted in their stomach. Had that subject had done something wrong or had it — they, they were not its no matter what the doctor said — been... an example? Someone innocent who had done nothing?   They chewed their lip, uncertain what to do. Dimly, they remembered being in a group of children when they had been very small. Every other child had disappeared, one by one, until only Subject 3L1-V97-25 was left. Was this going to be like that, only loud and filled with gunfire? Or were they about to disappear too?   Maybe it's time? they wondered. I can't survive in here forever. No way out, after all. Maybe I should give up.   Some dim part of them rebelled against this thought, recognizing the danger, but they were tired. It had been another long day after a lifetime of long days and even longer tedium.   Ms. Anders talks about the sun sometimes. I wonder what it looks like? They gazed wistfully up at the ceiling of their tiny cell.   It was exactly large enough to hold a cot, table, two chairs, and a toilet. They could only pace next to the table and bed. Six steps to the wall, six back to the door. They didn't even need to count it anymore, they had lived here for... they weren't sure. They had been shorter when they moved into this room. They only left it when Doctor Brandt-Schmidt decided they needed to bathe.   Bathing was... unpleasant. Before Ms. Anders (and Doctor Brandt-Schmidt's gun demonstration) talked them into bathing on their own, it had taken six guards to hold them down. They hated water. It hurt! It felt like it was ripping apart something vital to Subject 3L1-V97-25's very being. Still, if they were being honest, it hurt less when they were bathing on their own. The guards were not gentle, although they were incredibly thorough.   Another gunshot sounded, even closer, and the door opened. They braced, as ready as they could be for the gunshot they were expecting, but it was Ms. Anders who stepped through the opening.   "Ms. Anders?" Their voice wavered. No, don't let on. Don't show your fear.   She smiled nervously. "Under the circumstances, dear, perhaps you should call me Martha. It's too late to get you out the way I wanted, I think, but there's another way." She rustled in her bag for a moment and pulled out a stack of paper and a pen.   Subject 3L1-V97-25 backed up against the cell wall. This was all wrong. "What's going on? What do you mean, 'get me out?' There's no... You want me to escape?"   Martha nodded firmly and thrust the paper and pen at them. "Write. Write your way out. You've done literomantic spells before, you can do this."   They fumbled, dropping all but one piece of paper and the pen. "Um..."   "Shit" She knelt, reached for the scattered papers. "Why aren't you writing? You need to be writing! You don't have enough time, 3L1!"   Another gunshot, very close now. Martha squeaked. She jerked up, papers in hand.   The door opened again. This time, it was Doctor Brandt-Schmidt. A gun smoked in his hand. Behind him, a guard hauled away what used to be another subject.   He looked bored.   A sharp stab of fear. Ice in chest and limbs. They shrank away from him. Nowhere to go. They dropped the paper and pen.   "Ms. Anders." The doctor lifted a single eyebrow. "You should have gone to your living quarters already. Why are you here?"   White-lipped and shaking, Martha tidied the papers in her hands. "I... I went to my room, but I couldn't sit still. I thought perhaps Subject 3L1 would like to write some more."   Even Subject 3L1-V97-25 would have known she was lying. They could see Doctor Brandt-Schmidt wasn't impressed.   "I see." Cold, flat, neutral. "So this has nothing to do with my orders?"   ''What orders?"   "This Sector is being purged. Your favored test subject included."   An ember of hope in their heart, now ash. Tears filled their eyes. They blinked them away, trying to straighten. They weren't going to let him, of all people, know how much they wanted to live.   "Do it then," they found themself saying.   He frowned in their direction. "Repeat that?"   "Don't," Martha whispered. Her lips barely moved.   "No, let it speak," Doctor Brandt-Schmidt waved the gun in her direction.   They stepped forward, trying to distract him, hoping beyond hope she might still escape. "Do it. You've killed everyone I've ever known, haven't you? My turn, right? Get it over with. I don't want to live here anymore!"   "Curious." He considered them a moment. "Under other circumstances, I think this would be useful. However..."   The gun raised, pointed directly at them.   "I have my orders," he said flatly.   "No!"   BANG!!!   Despite their best efforts, they flinched. There was no pain, no impact even. They'd been expecting... well, something...   Subject 3L1-V97-25 opened their eyes. No Doctor Brandt-Schmidt. Just a tight bun of greying blonde hair and the back of a set of scrubs. A splotch of red grew on the thin white fabric.   Something deep in the recesses of their mind splintered.   Martha staggered back into them. Their brain finally kicked in enough to grab her. She sagged and they went to the floor with her, holding her carefully. She smiled weakly up at them, dark red blossoming all over her chest. Something wet soaked into the knee of their pants.   They caught movement and remembered Doctor Brandt-Schmidt. He pointed the gun at them again and pulled the trigger.   Click.   "Ah. Last shot, one moment." He reached into his lab coat and pulled out a slim, black cartridge.   Their paralysis lifted as he pressed something on the gun and the empty cartridge popped out. They fumbled for one of the pieces of paper on the floor. Where was the pen? No time.   They lifted a hand, covered in Martha's blood, and wrote with their finger, "LET ME OUT!"   Fire blossomed underneath them. A roar of flame and heat, drawing them in and down and then...   "Martha!"   She was still in their lap. They looked down at her.   She smiled weakly and raised a hand to their cheek. "I knew you could do it." Her eyes fluttered closed. The hand fell away.   "Ms. Anders?" they asked. They shook her. "Martha?!" Their voice cracked.   She didn't, couldn't respond.   They rocked her gently, not sure what to do or say or feel. She had been... kind. She taught them the meaning of the word kind. She had... died to save them? Why?   They felt like crying. The tears wouldn’t come.   Something smelled good. It was distracting.   They sniffed, looking around. Bile rose in their throat. Martha's body was on fire, was actively cooking. They yelped, jerking. Martha flew off into the flames.   The fire around them slowly consumed her. Flesh, bone, and all. They watched in fascinated horror.   Martha.   They threw up.   The fire burned that too.   They watched it burn. They stared at their trembling hands through the flame. Why weren't they burning? They weren't even particularly hot... Except behind their eyes. That was burning... They buried their head in their trembling hands and cried.   "Burn me too!" The words ripped out of their throat before they knew what the words were.   Are you sure? the fire seemed to ask.   "I don't... I can't... I want..."   Something in the crackles whispered, Child... for child you are... What do you want? Can you even know? You have walked these paths, but you do not know what they are. You do not know what you are.   They sobbed harder. "I want to die..."   Do you? the fire asked. Are you sure?   "YES!!!"   Very well... I hoped you might be a friend, but...   Pain flared. Burning, hot, screaming pain! They bit their lip against the pain. It intensified. They screamed, shifting to rabbit form, then badger, then several other confusing shapes. Each was burned, scarred, and hurt in turn.   They couldn't take it anymore. "Stop! STOP!"   Have you decided to live? the fire asked, unabating.   "Yes! Stop! Please!!"   The pain receded. Their clothes had been burned away. A burn on their right wrist filled in again and disappeared. It almost tickled.   None of this made any sense.   Will you take my gift? asked the fire.   "Are you going to burn me more if I don’t?" they asked.   No. Only if you refuse to live. I have no use for those who wish to die. Have you decided what you want?   They felt tears fill their eyes once more. "I... I want... I want to go somewhere safe! Somewhere far, far away from where I was!"   Even if it means returning will be difficult? the fire asked.   "I don't want to go back there!" they growled, hardly able to breathe around the pulse in their throat.   Not yet. But you may. One day, you may. The fire crackled in the silence, both a threat and a promise. You may have what you want then. You already know the spell, child. You need but cast it.   They remembered the spell they cast to get here. "I... don't have any paper. Or a pen." They looked at their clean, trembling hands. "Or blood."   Have you not been given power over my flame? Write.   They thought about their fire powers. They raised a hand, ready to form the flame, but then hesitated.   Yes, little one?   They bit their lip. "Are... are you real?"   A sudden gout of flame almost sounded like a bark of laughter. Return to me someday and find out for yourself.   They nodded and formed the words in the flame: "LET ME OUT!"
This article is a work in progress, and may be subject to changes.
This article is part of a series related to streaming the Game of Tomes. For more information, see Streaming Game of Tomes.

Cover image: Iron Tome by Misades


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Jan 8, 2023 04:02 by Diane Morrison

This is really well-written. Tense, gritty and emotional. I am invested. Well done!

Author of the Wyrd West Chronicles and the Toy Soldier Saga. Mother of Bunnies, Eater of Pickles, Friend of Nerds, First of her Name.