I swear no one has needed to feed me like this since I was a baby. The man even put a bib on me. If I weren’t so starved, I would be insulted. But the steak he cooked and brought is enough reason to forgive him for the small offense. I can’t believe I didn’t appreciate my food more before this. I could feel every strand of muscle and lining of fat as it went into my system to restore my weak body. The man stopped feeding me, and I couldn’t help but want more. My body begged for more food.
“Ugh,” Barry moaned, “I may feel like I’m going to die, but at least this food tastes like I’m going to heaven.”
“I thought,” Kelsey said, “it—”
But Kelsey couldn’t finish her sentence, and I heard a groan of dismay from Barry.
“Don’t waste your energy Kelsey,” the man said, “you need your strength to give them the information on the three donors you found the other day.”
I’d expected that the man had forgotten about that. With April’s accidental death and then killing Niel yesterday, I only hoped that Kelsey could regain enough strength to give us the information. I didn’t hear Kelsey moan or groan in satisfaction, but I saw the man next to her feeding her through the bars of her cage. It’d been, well, a lot of days, and I’d already grown used to the bars around me. I didn’t feel trapped, but instead, as if it was just part of my life. I expect he’ll kill me at some point, but I don’t know if that will be tomorrow or the next day. He’s seemed to leave Barry alone ever since we arrived. It’s like he is keeping him just as a witness. Maybe Barry can survive and find the cops to at least take care of our coworkers’ bodies.
“Alright,” the man said as if he encouraged a child to muster their courage, “tell the others what you learned.”
“I still,” Kelsey said, “don’t feel good.”
“You’re doing much better,” the man said, “I can see the color returning to your face.”
Did this guy just write down everything we said? But he was doing the right thing, reassuring the person, so they didn’t push themselves back into a chaos spiral. A grunt came from Kelsey’s direction, but I couldn’t see why.
“Uh,” Kelsey said. “I think I found three possible donors. All were red charts.”
I rolled my eyes. Almost a quarter of the donors used red folders, and at this pace, I feel like Kelsey will die before she gives us the names. I closed my eyes and tried to wait while Kelsey collected her thoughts.
“Come on, Kelsey,” Barry whined, “hurry up so we can get out of here and get real food.”
“Barry,” The man snapped, “respect your coworkers. She is sicker than you, so you must give her time.”
At that, Barry started to cough dry coughs that sounded like his throat hoped to eject every organ inside his body but couldn’t. The man grumbled something and then walked away. I didn’t know how long I had until he returned.
“Kelsey, yes or no,” I asked, “do you know who he is?”
Kelsey shook her head no.
“Did he give you any clues while you looked for the folders?” I asked.
Shoes clacked from behind. Kelsey nodded her head, yes.
“Are you sharing secrets without me nearby, Kelsey?” The man asked in a twisted voice.
Kelsey shook her head violently no and looked at me with eyes wide. Brown hair clung to her damp forehead, and Ben noticed the stained trails on the chairs. I guess I wasn’t alone. Though I never smelled the others, I began to smell my urine this morning. I don’t even want to think about the other half of the stench in the room. I can’t even remember if we asked the man for a restroom break at some point, but in reality, I think we all just accepted that we weren’t getting one. I could feel the rash well formed between my cheeks that started a few days ago. As I said, I don’t want to think about it too much, so back to identifying the murderer.
“What were the three charts, Kelsey?” The man asked.
I still couldn’t see his face, but I could hear the smile in his voice as if he found pleasure at the moment. With three red charts, that could mean the first names started with A or B, but there are many people with those first letters. If I could get it narrowed down to three donors, it would make it so much easier to figure out.
“He only let me read the last names,” Kelsey said.
Kelsey gasped, and I gritted my teeth. Of course, he wouldn’t make it easy. The right name should stand out to me if I got the full name.
“Johnson,” Kelsey said before another gasp.
Oh, great, of course, the most common name in the world.
“Brown,” Kelsey rasped out.
Not much help there either. I looked Kelsey in the eyes and wished that I could beg her through telepathy to tell me the other information the man gave her. There was a strange shift in her eyes as if she accepted something that she’d fought long before.
“Socks,” Kelsey said with such finality that I almost thought she felt better.
Then Kelsey’s body slumped in the chair, and I couldn’t see her eyes anymore. The man stood up from the tall chair he sat on with frantic slaps to Kelsey’s face. Socks? Was that the last name or hint? I didn’t get it, but I couldn’t ask her to explain any better. The man whispered something in harsh tones to Kelsey, but I couldn’t pick out the words.
“Why can’t you tell us the last name, man?” Barry asked, but his voice trailed off at the last word.
“Because Patient Zero,” the man said with a strained voice, “it doesn’t work like that. She will wake up again, and then she can tell you the last name of the third possible donor. I will tell you, though, that all three donors always donated at the same time of day. I donated evenings, one donated—ah, you thought I’d slip up and tell you names—in the morning, and the other arrived promptly at noon every day.”
Clacking shoes disappeared, and I stared at Kelsey’s still form. Her chest rose and fell. Maybe she can give us the final clue. But the man did give us something to work off. I hope it’s enough in time to save us.