My entry, Mindkill, for the August Furious Fiction Comp by the Australian Writers’ Centre.
Each story has to be no more than 500 words and include the following three sentences:
- The door was locked.
- She laughed.
- It felt familiar.
Someone, some time must have betrayed her because that’s when it would have happened. The door was locked. Now it remains irrevocably, stubbornly, permanently impenetrable.
The doctor says we must break in. That will hurt Una. But we need her consciousness to give consent.
If I don’t sell her house, I can’t keep her here. Hoping she will one day wake. Because she’s deemed still capable of sentient thought, no power of attorney applies.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” asks the nurse.
It’s too dangerous to jolt her out of a coma so we’re trying this mindtalking technique. It’s experimental but consent given through this method is legal.
A probe connects with the latent mind, producing transcripts of the internal conversation with the subject. The procedure works. It’s been proven in cases where the subject wakes from a coma with full awareness of the subliminal agreements they made.
But we can’t break through Una’s mental door… a protective shield. In full consciousness, a person can choose to bypass it. In a coma, the subject remains hidden behind the door. The only way through is to break in.
The doctor asked me to try the probe, thinking Una might respond to me. Her mind was shut tight but it was unmistakably her. It was familiar. Warm. Fragile. But tenacious. Clinging to life.
Now the doctor frowns.
“You must do this. Or make arrangements to move her out.”
“Let me try the probes one more time.”
The doctor doesn’t like it but I’ve already attached the wires…
I’m back in. I stroke the barrier, obstruction, door.
Suddenly it folds… I slip through. Una. Like the time I slipped into her room… she caught me reading her diary. She laughed. She always used to laugh.
Today she’s caught me in her mind. She’s not laughing now.
“Why do they keep knocking? I need rest.”
“You’re in hospital, Una, but they want you out. We need your consent to sell Oasis House.”
“Sell our ancestral home?”
“Yes, or you’ll be on the streets. You—I—have nowhere else to go.”
“But I will wake up one day. I know it will be soon. How can we live anywhere but in the home of our youth?”
A pressure. The doctor. He’s reading the transcript of this mindtalk.
“You have no choice, Una. Without selling, you’ll have to leave. They’ll turn off the life support. You’ll die.”
Una says nothing.
“I have to go soon.”
“I have a plan.”
“A plan! Una, you’re in a coma! You can’t implement any plan.”
“Mira, why don’t you stay here with me?”
“Me? How can I stay here?”
Another pressure. The doctor indicating I should withdraw my probes.
But I can’t. I turn round and round in Una’s mind and cannot find the door.
She smiles. “You’ve got a walking, talking functional body. If you stay, they can’t turn off the life support. If they kill me, they kill you too.”