's 2019 Horror Write-off:


Submitted by Anonymous

You are abducted by unknown agents in the middle of the night and awaken to find yourself suspended in a vessel filled with pink transparent liquid, your body bound in a network of metal restraints. The room beyond your vessel's rectangular glass porthole appears white, square, and sterile, the only feature on its visible surfaces being a single closed door centered on the far wall. The unseen ceiling above shines light through your window, and in the glass you see your own reflection. Your mouth has been covered by a respirator mask, and a long, thick tube runs down from the mask, out of sight. You move your body - slightly numb, you find, though your arms are unrestrained - and tug gently on the tube, testing the mask's tightness. As you pull, you feel the tube shift in the depths of your throat, and the nauseating sensation stops you instantly, reflexively, from pulling any farther. As you release your grip on the tube, you feel it slacken and twist against your inner thighs, where it bends and seems to plug into a wall behind you. The vise encircling your head makes it impossible for you to turn your gaze that far, but you can feel the way the tube curls, and your arms can just barely reach a flat, solid
surface if you stretch them out backwards. Your feet are anchored to something beneath you with what feel like metal fetters, and your shoulders are tethered by a set of metal cuffs attached to the vise around your skull, which is itself suspended from the roof of the vessel, out of sight.
As you reach toward the face reflected in the glass, the door in the far wall slides like the door of an elevator, and a man steps into the room. His eyes
are invisible behind opaque black lenses and surgical binoculars, and the rest of his head is concealed with a white medical mask and cap. He strides toward the vessel, isolation gown flapping behind him as he walks, and stares into the porthole directly at you. After a moment, you raise an arm and slowly wave to him.

He does not wave back.

The man steps aside and you lose sight of him. After a few empty minutes of listening to your own heartbeat, he steps back into view and stares through the window again.
You feel an agonizing pain as something sharp and precise pierces your torso from behind, followed by a strange sense of euphoria and then a cold, tingling sensation. Numbness and lethargy spread through your body, and for a few seconds you struggle to keep your eyelids open, watching the man in the surgical uniform stare at you until unconsciousness overwhelms you.

You find yourself lying horizontally beneath lights so bright that you shut your eyes automatically against blinding pain. Your head is swimming and your
eyes twitch involuntarily. You attempt to raise a hand against the light, but find that your arms will not move. Slowly, gradually, your eyes adjust to the light and you find that you can move your head - but nothing else. Your body is strapped to a hospital bed, each limb separately tethered to the railing around its perimeter. You are still wearing a respirator mask, and on either side of your bed a series of metal posts stand supporting IV bags whose extended needle-tipped tubes now penetrate your limbs. At the foot of your bed, a group of computer monitors hum and whir, their visual readouts blinking and cycling in time with your vital signs. A maze of wires snakes its way from the monitors to your limbs. Above you, the harsh light continues to glare.
Two men, both identical to the man from the other room, emerge from opposite sides of the space behind your bed. They walk to the monitor at the far end of the room and stand watching the display. One gestures to an electrocardiogram readout, and after a moment the other nods in approval. The second man then gestures to a respiratory rate readout, prompting an approving nod from the first. Then, both men turn to another monitor - this one displaying an unfamiliar graph, with a chaotic, rapidly fluctuating readout - and nod repeatedly, simultaneously, to each other. The first man begins to type on a nearby keyboard while the second continues to watch the graph oscillate wildly. After a minute of typing, the graph flatlines, and as you lose consciousness, you can see a readout on a different monitor beginning to climb.

The room - is it a room? - is pitch black and silent, but somehow you know that someone is breaking in. You are lying flat on your back, unable to move anything at all - somehow even your eyes are frozen, somehow you know this even though there is nothing but black all around you - and trying to speak, trying to scream, trying to do something, anything, to get away from the invisible person you somehow know is now standing above you in the darkness, made of the darkness, part of the darkness, the source of the darkness, suffocating your every sense with black animalistic panic as he whispers in a voice that sounds like static from a thousand broken television sets drawing closer and closer and you try to breathe, but he's on top of you now, holding you down, choking you, and you lie there frozen and vibrating with terror as he drags you out of yourself.

Back in the vessel, you find yourself suspended upright again - but fully bound this time. You can't move a single finger. You can barely move your eyes, you feel so sluggish. It feels like a long time has passed. Your unfocused gaze is fixed on the porthole ahead of you. The tube in your mask is full of
something. There are cables woven through your limbs, needles implanted in your neck. A gaunt face stares back from the porthole with vacant, half-lidded eyes. You would be too weak to lift your arms if they weren't already held upright by this new set of restraints. You hang from the ceiling by your
unresponsive arms and let your feet idle in their fetters. The dilute liquid stirs gently around you while your feeding tube pulses in a faint rhythm. You
listen to your heart beat in time with the pulses and feel a bit less alone, a bit less afraid. Currents of liquid sway your body back and forth, rocking you
like a lullaby. You wonder where your body ends and the rest begins, now. These machines are the only thing keeping you alive. You couldn't live without them anymore. You can't make it on your own. You don't want to die. Are they doing you a favor, then, by keeping you here? Are these restraints protecting you from yourself? After all, when you still had your arms, you almost removed your feeding tube, not knowing what it was. It must be better this way. They must know best. Yes, you tell yourself, they must know best. They wouldn't keep you here if you weren't helping, and they wouldn't bind you like this if you deserved freedom. They know better than you - it's for the best that you're kept this way. And they did you a service - they gave you such a larger body, made of such beautiful parts, and they freed you from the obligation to care for the body you had. They're taking care of it all. And you're helping them, too, out of gratitude. It makes you feel good to be so helpful. You wouldn't want it any other way. You can hardly imagine it any other way, anymore. You can't imagine what it would be like to live alone, without their company, without the ceaseless company of the vessel and the liquid and the tubes. You can't imagine deserting them after all they've done for you, after how much love they've shown you. After how much they've shown they want you. How could you want anything else? How could you love anything more...
You stare through the porthole and wait for the man to return.

You keep waiting.