the new child

“This child can’t talk, walk, or reason.” Brenner combed long fingers through his messy grey hair. “I am unsure whether keeping her will hinder further research. I can afford her little more of my personal time, I am certain. A new subject has been acquired which much take precedence. Perhaps he will yield more satisfying data.

“The girl will remain at the lab until she proves her uselessness. At which time, I may dispose of her.”

Brenner stopped the audio recording. He straightened his suit and smoothed his hair back into it’s gelled form. With a few deep breaths, he sauntered off to appraise his new subject.

Danny, a seven-year-old, sandy-haired, chunky boy, sat in a corner of the minimalist room Brenner afforded to any of the children. Stimulation would be specific and catered to the psychological development of the subjects. No accidents.

Brenner approached the small huddled child –Number Seven, he would be called. Sorrow did not take this child. The creases on his tiny brow warned of a stronger emotion.

“Seven, I know in time you–” Brenner stoped as a warble of solid air stopped his progress toward the boy. He looked from the child to the assistant who shrugged.

“No bloodwork has been possible,” the assistant offered. “Since he figured out this trick, we can only make sure he eats. He won’t let anything passed but food.”

“Why was I not informed?” Brenner studied the excess fan on the small child; food could be negotiated. Without another word, Brenner left. The attendant received severance pay, and was replaced with a man more suited to science than coddling.

Brenner returned to Seven after affording him several hours of solitude. The shield had grown larger, evidenced only by the resistance Brenner met within feet of entering the small room. The phenomenon pleased him.

“I suppose you need more time alone with your hunger.” Brenner turned to leave.


Finally, a child who talked. Brenner smiled and turned to Seven. “Yes, my boy.”

“What is that?” Seven jumped up and rushed Brenner, who braced for the barrier to hit. But no invisible push preceded the child who pointed to the napkin-wrapped parcel in Brenner’s hand.

“This is mine,” Brenner took the covering off the donut he held, and bit out of the glazed treat.

The boy’s face grew red, and tears welled in his brown eyes. He retreated to his corner, and Brenner stumbled back, pushed by the boy’s trick.

“I earned this,” Brenner said, taking another bite. “Do you want to earn one?”

Seven nodded.

Brenner finished the donut, pulled latex gloves from his pocket, and pulled them over his hands. He walked toward Seven. The barrier resisted. Brenner shook his head.

“Maybe you want to be hungry until tomorrow.” With that warning, the boy ceased resisting. Such control. Beautiful. Brenner knelt beside the boy, and set down the bag that hung over his shoulder. He pulled out several viles, and then a needle. Once Seven saw the sharp metal, Brener found himself sliding across the floor, this progress stopped only by the wall. Glad for his strong grip on the needle, Brenner stood and left the room. Tomorrow, then. 

Why are you pestering me?

There are other numbers out there, so I’m not sure why you’re so desperately intrigued by me. But, I will concede my story like an obedient little thing.

A thing is all I knew myself to be for my formative years. Brenner is crewel, and he controlled those years. Even so, I never mistook him for my Papa. I suppose some are more intelligent than others. In fact, until I reached thirty, I failed admitting a papa or mama existed in my past. My self as a number; that I could comprehend, but nothing more.

Other numbers had parents who cared, some too much, as poor Eleven learned. –And on that note, if you ask too many questions about that woman, I will give you a phone directory, and you can talk to Jane Hopper herself.– Where was I? Ah yes, mothers. Many of them needed removal from the picture (a feat Brenner enjoyed too much.) Their children disappeared, died, or never took their first breath; Brenner lied well. Right now, I would embrace my mother with gratitude for her brilliant idea to remove me from the picture. If her plan had worked, you could pester a different number for their story.

If my mom had her way, I never would have suffered existence. Abortion. Mmm, how I wish it had worked. You might think that an ugly word, but it would have been my salvation from a hellish life. There are fetuses who survive several moments of pure anguish as their underdeveloped and unprotected bodies give out, unable to scream out their pain. I would take that short and less painful road. But he was there.

One of Brenner’s goons taunted me once about the beautiful scene of a newly-pregnant surrogate carrying me safe in her womb while my mother bled out in a back-alley abortion clinic. . .

I don’t know how Brenner knew to target me, I just recall the years of frustration and disappointment when I did not develop as he wished.