“You have to tell me why,” Beth demanded. “I need to know why you can’t come to my parents with me tonight.”
“I can’t tell you,” Jacob said, pinching the bridge of his nose. He wanted to end the conversation, but he was scared to death of what would happen if he hung up the phone first, during any conversation. It was how he ended up on hour long conversations with telemarketers; his fear of hanging up first.
“I’m not going to hang up until you tell me why. Does it have to do with why you’ve been spending so much time at the university lately?”
She had to know something, more than she was letting on. After all, everything about the medical experiments were so hush hush. If anyone ever found out what they were doing at the university, the subjects would be ostracized everywhere they went.
“I told you, I’ve picked up some extra work.” Jacob clenched his fist, willing Beth to hang up the phone. If only she would. Could he sit here in silence while she continued to ask.
“I’ve seen my friend’s brother leaving there. He told her that he was picking up extra work too, but there is something different about him. Something… I don’t know how to explain it, but it scares me.”
Hang up, Beth. Hang up, please, Jacob thought. How long could he sit here with her before he admitted the devastating secret? That the university was harvesting the subject’s souls, piece by ethereal piece? Jacob did not even believe it possible when he first signed the contract, not even during the first few appointments. But then he saw that tiny silver light escape from his mouth one day, and he knew, they really were.
Or at least they thought they were. But after that, Jacob had started to feel different. Not as full of a person. He knew they were taking something, and whether or not it was actually his soul, it was something that was changing him. And not into something he liked either.
He sat in silence, and kept pulling the cell phone from his ear to see if Beth was still there. She had not hung up. She would not give up. She never did.
What’s the worst that could happen if you hung up first? Jacob wondered. The worst is she could say something world changing, earth shattering and think I heard it. I can’t do it.
Jacob held the phone in his hand, his finger hovering over the red end button. But he could not end the call.
I wrote this from a writing exercise in the kit: The Writer’s Toolbox