Lest We Forget
rating: +1+x

The alarm went off.

Patterson’s eyes flashed open and he stared at the stained ceiling. He slowly propped himself up on his cot and looked at the clock, which was in the shape of a cartoon pink bunny. It was a gift from a researcher who worked here before. He couldn’t quite remember her name. The clock’s digital face flashed orange over and over and displayed the time: seven o’clock sharp. Patterson jabbed the off button, silencing it. He took a moment to scratch his side through his blue uniform.

He glanced around his cramped room in silence. The chipped sink on the opposite side of the cot was leaking from the faucet. The mop that he had left leaning on the wall last night had fallen down beside the bright yellow bucket. The radiator, once painted white now sat beside the cot, lowly humming and rusted beyond repair. Patterson’s radio laid on the plastic chair by the door, on top of his navy blue cap. Due to some kind of coincidence, the radio beeped just as he laid his eye upon it.

“Janitor, we need you at the cafeteria immediately. Janitor, do you hear me? Get your ass down here.”

Patterson got to his feet, grabbed the bucket and mop, his radio, and the remaining part of his dignity.

The shiny white hallways of Site-19 greatly pleased Patterson. They made him feel clean and safe. He made his way down towards the elevator and tapped the button. Instantly the doors opened and Patterson was greeted by the sight of a security officer.

“Random check, show me your clearance card.”

Patterson chuckled.

“You’re kidding me right? Let me in the damn elevator.”

“Do I look like I’m kidding? Show me some ID or you’re in a world of hurt.”

Patterson quickly shuffled through the pockets of his janitor’s jumpsuit. His hand found the plasticy feel of his Level One clearance card and dug it out. He handed it to the officer and saw his own reflection through the man’s faceplate. The officer glanced at the card and handed it back swiftly. He quickly hit a button inside, and the doors closed in front of the janitor.

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me,” muttered Patterson.

After a brief detour down the stairs, Patterson reached the Site-19 cafeteria. The smells of breakfast foods filled the air as the electronic double doors slid open for him. It was breakfast hour and the room was full of researchers and guards. Even a few agents were there. He held his bucket close to his chest and walked through the bustling tables. He felt tense as his eyes met those of a stern faced scientist.

“There you are, what took you so long?”

Patterson stood quiet.

“Whatever. Some Junior Researcher dropped the bottle of ketchup and it broke by the drink machine. Clean it up please.”

In the janitor’s closet, Patterson flipped through the calendar hanging from the wall. His eyes zigzagged through the rows of days until he reached today’s date. In the little boxed numbered 16, he read the handwriting.

MONTHLY PSYCHOLOGICAL EVALUATION

The letters were written in black ink and large font. It looked foreign for some reason. Patterson shrugged the thought off and went to report to the medical office.

After a somewhat lengthy trip down the facility’s stairs, the janitor reached the medical wing. He scanned his card at the door, and the electronic reader gave out a high pitched beep and a comforting green light. In the lobby of the wing, he was greeted by a single terminal. He walked up to and entered the requested information.

PATTERSON, SCOTT//MONTHLY PSYCHOLOGICAL EVAL

Patterson hit the enter key, and almost instantly the nearby metal door slid open. Out stepped a man dressed clad in a Foundation lab coat. He had dark skin, short curled white hair, and wore matching white glasses. His face looked worn down from hours of work. Patterson briefly looked down at his brown loafers.

“Mr. Patterson, it’s nice to see you again.”

The doctor’s face twitched.

“My name is Doctor Ocanas, we can perform your evaluation now. Please follow me.”

The doctor turned back through the metal door without looking back. Patterson followed closely behind. The two entered the first room on the right. The inside was dark and gray, with only one lamp hanging from the ceiling lighting up a metal table and two black folding chairs. The janitor couldn't exactly remember if his last evaluation was held in the same room. No, it definitely wasn't.

“Please, have a seat.”

Patterson sat in the chair, the cold metal sending chills up his spine. Ocanas sat opposite of him.

“Let’s begin.”

The janitor heard a footstep by the door and turned his head. In the doorway stood a stall white man dressed in a black suit. The Foundation logo was printed by where his heart would be in white. He wore sunglasses, and stared Patterson down.

“Uh, don’t worry. That’s Agent McHendricks.”

The doctor looked at the agent. McHendricks stood there stoically, not moving a single muscle in his face. Patterson watched his chest slightly rise and fall as the agent breathed in and out. The doctor gestured toward him.

“It’s fine, you can leave us.”

McHendricks nodded and stepped backwards out of the room. The metal door slid shut. Doctor Ocanas looked over at the janitor.

“Mr. Patterson, please tell me your job description.”

Patterson took a moment to think. He had only woken up an hour ago and he smelled of ketchup. The combination made him groggy and lethargic.

“I’m a janitor, Clearance Level One. I’m tasked with keeping the facility clean.”

“The whole facility?” asked Ocanas.

“No, no. I’m not the only janitor. I just clean whatever they ask me to.”

“Ok, how would you describe your conditions?”

The doctor leaned back in his chair.

“Um, I think they’re okay. Food is nice. I could use better quarters. My closet is really cramped most of the times.”

The doctor nodded and produced a notepad and pencil. Patterson sat up straight in his chair, feeling tense now.

“If you don’t mind, I’m going to start the psychological test now, Mr. Patterson.”

Patterson nodded firmly.

“I’m going to read out some numbers from my notepad, and I want you to tell me the first thing that comes to mind. Please bear with me, this test is very… Abstract.”

The doctor flipped open the notepad and looked at the first line. Patterson stared at the pencil, perfectly placed perpendicular to the doctor. The sharpened lead gave off a shine in the light of the lamp.

“173.”

Patterson’s eyes wided. He thought immediately of blood, feces, bones, and concrete. He looked down in an attempt to hide his expression. He brought his head up and looked the doctor in the eyes.

“The drink machine, in the cafeteria.”

Ocanas let out a brief smile.

“Ah, maybe 173 is the code for your favorite drink?”

“Something like that.”

Patterson fidgeted in his chair. His eyes darted around the room. There was no drink with the code 173. Why would there be? Site-19’s drink machine didn’t even have up to 100 drinks. The doctor continued.

“096.”

Steel cube. Mauled bodies. Fingers. Patterson clasped his hands together on his lap.

“I don’t know.”

Doctor Ocanas looked up at Patterson.

“You don’t know? Nothing comes to mind?”

Patterson gritted his teeth behind his lips.

“Like you said, Doctor. This is a very abstract test, right? You’re just saying numbers. 096 doesn’t mean anything to me, okay? It’s just some random number.”

The janitor felt his voice raising and quickly stopped. He felt the light of the lamp above. The heat slowly pushing him to the edge. He brushed the hair on the side of head back with his fingers.

“You seem uncomfortable Mr. Patterson, we don’t have to continue.”

“No, no. Please. I’m fine.”

Patterson could feel the sweat sticking to the back of his jumpsuit.

“Okay, one quick question. Do your duties ever take you into the Euclid or Keter Class wings?”

Patterson opened his mouth and hesitated. The doctor interjected.

“Oh, my bad. You probably know them as Light Containment and Heavy Containment.”

Patterson grabbed his edge of the table.

“No Doctor, I’ve never been to those places. Other janitors go there. I don’t. I just mop the hallways and bathrooms. This morning I was at the cafeteria. Some idiot Junior Researcher dropped the ketchup bottle. I cleaned it, I mopped it and I left and returned to my closet. I looked at the calendar and I had marked today as my monthly psych eval, but you don’t understand all of it. It wasn’t my handwriting, I didn't write it there. I don’t even have a goddamn pen!”

Ocanas burst to his feet.

“Agents!” yelled the doctor.

Immediately McHendricks and another agent rushed through the metal door. They grabbed Patterson by the arms and pinned him to the metal table. Patterson squirmed and fought, but he couldn’t overcome the strength of the two agents. McHendricks pulled back his suit jacket, revealing a leather belt holding several syringes. He looked at Ocanas.

“What’s it gonna be, Doc?”

“Class C, get him to medical after.”

McHendricks pulled a syringe marked yellow from his belt with his free hand. Patterson screamed as the needle approached his neck. He kicked and jerked. It was all futile.

The alarm went off. Patterson’s eyes flashed open and he stared at the stained ceiling as the chirping kept playing. He slowly propped himself up on his cot and looked at the clock, which was in the shape of a cartoon pink bunny. It was a gift from a researcher who worked here before. He couldn’t quite remember her name.

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