She heard his footsteps.
They echoed through the dark stairway. She stepped out of the shadows and turned the corner to follow him down the stairs. Barefoot, she matched each of his steps to her own, making sure not to fall out of step. She couldn’t risk getting caught.
Everyone told her to just leave it alone. People disappear in this town and it’s not our place to question. They come back eventually. Maybe a little different. Maybe with a little darkness in their eyes. But they never know where they’ve been or what has happened to them. They don’t realize they’ve been gone at all. So what’s the harm?
But she knows better. The recent deaths have been unexplained but share one thing in common: they have all disappeared at one point. The families mourn without any closure, never knowing but refusing to demand answers. They light candles and say prayers but won’t say out loud what they know: something caused this, and it happened when they were gone. Maybe it was guilt. Maybe it was fear. However they wanted to justify it to themselves you could see in their eyes that it wasn’t enough. The guilt extinguished their drive to avenge their loved ones.
And she wouldn’t let that happen to her.
His footsteps stopped, and so did she, and she heard him insert a key into a door knob. Rusty hinges creaked and the door closed gently behind him.
Damn. Still, she had faith. With one hand on the cement wall, she tip toed down the steps until she felt a cold metal door. She slid her hand around until she found the handle and her heart skipped a beat when it turned. Cocky bastard. She took one deep breath and swung it open.
Her jaw dropped and her head spun. He was sitting at a desk, typing on a computer. Behind him were ten people, most of whom she knew but some she didn’t, all laying unconscious and naked on white tables. Bags containing green liquid dripped through the IVs that had been inserted into their arms and electrodes were placed on their heads and bodies. White machines ran their vitals and other numbers she didn’t recognize.
She sputtered, “Wha-what are you doing?” He looked up and smiled at her in a way that chilled her bones.
“Why, I’m helping humanity, of course.”
“Helping? How- how are you helping? People have been dying. Everyone you’ve brought here- everyone. Families have lost their loved ones.” Her breathing quickened. She pointed at the limp bodies. “These people have families. And their families will lose them!”
“Not necessarily. I’m getting very close.”
“Close to what?”
He just smiled.
“Close to what?” Her voice was shrill. “Answer me, dammit! Why! Why are you doing this?”
He poured a liquid onto a white cloth and walked toward her. She eyed the cloth nervously, backing up into the wall.
“Why for posterity, my dear.” He covered her nose and mouth with the white cloth and the world went black.