Goodbyes Come Too Soon [Dr Waltham]

I woke up in a room that resembled my office. But it wasn't, I knew that instinctively, and there was something intrinsically, disturbingly wrong about how the style had been copied, down to the arrangement of pens in the desk tidy.

Where was Shelley? I couldn't see her anywhere, but I had no time to ponder because feet were already tramping down the corridor towards me. I held my breath. The door opened, and one of the Voices was visible: fortunately, their face was covered by the shadow of their hood, for which I was grateful. I still hadn't got used to it.

"Where's Michelle?" I demanded. "What have you done with her?" They laughed softly, refusing to reply.

"Come with us."

Well, I could hardly disobey. After all, anything I did wrong might have a negative effect on their treatment of Michelle, and I definitely didn't want that. So I got to my feet and followed them. They led me to a large, empty room, with no furniture that I could see. "Stay here. Wait."

For what? I sat down and prepared for the monotony.

Barely five minutes late, to my intense relief, the doors were flung open again and two more of the Voices marched in. Between them they held a struggling Michelle, who looked at me with something like despair. She'd wanted me to escape, I realised, and I'd wanted her to run. The feelings had to be the same.

"Shelley!"

"Doc!"

Our exclamations, each using pet nicknames with remarkeable ease, came at almost the same time. The Voices sniggered; Shelley glared at them, then broke free and ran to hug me. "I knew you had to be alive, I knew it..."

"I'm glad that you're so pleased to see me. Do you know what they've got planned?"

"No," she replied. "But I have a feeling it's not good."

That was all we had time to say before a full complement -- almost thirty of them, marching in formation -- of the Voices walked in. They separated us and took us to opposite sides of the room. "Now say goodbye. We can promise you this is the last time you'll see each other."

I couldn't speak. I couldn't call across to Michelle and tell her to be brave, to tell her to carry on and do her damndest to get out of this alive. All I could do was whisper over and over again like a broken toy, "Too soon. Too soon. Too soon."

The End

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