Have You Lost Your Mind?

I wrote this in response to a flash fiction prompt to use the title ‘Have You Lost Your Mind?’




Have You Lost Your Mind?

A I creep around the side of the building, I’m surprised at how little security there is. One guard. Marcus said he has a penchant for hard liquor. I just need to wait until he’s asleep.

It doesn’t take long. I creep towards the old metal door and dig into my pocket to pull out the instructions. There are no lights surrounding the doorway itself, only a large, menacing security camera.

I tug at my hood, pulling it over my head and re-read the door code. My breaths stall as I wait to gain entry. Almost instantly, the door welcomes me in. I pull the bandana over my mouth and nose, and claustrophobia overwhelms me. But I have no choice. The consequence of being caught is death. That’s what Marcus said.

The building smells of chemicals. It makes me gag as it penetrates my scarf. I glance once more at the instructions.

Even though I have learnt them verbatim, I can’t unscramble the tangle of words inside my head. I need to read from the paper. The building is a mass of corridors that threaten to hold me hostage. I mustn’t get lost in here. When I’m certain I’ve found the right direction, I start jogging.

Sweat covers my body, and I’m not sure whether it’s from exertion or fear. It must be a couple of miles of corridor before I reach my destination.

I’m in. I gasp at all the jars on the shelves. Each one is labelled with the names of the unfortunate souls they once inhabited. I’ll never find my mother’s. I search the labels, repulsed by the grey walnuts of humankind. The door creaks, and I spin around.

“What you doing here?” the tipsy security guard says.

I gulp, unable to answer. He speaks again, “Have you lost your mind? Is it in one of these jars?”

“No,” I say. “I—I’m looking for my mother’s.”

“Your mother’s? Oh, I see. We can’t let her down, now, can we? What’s her name?”

Stunned by his response, I grapple for the name I’ve spoken with love for the last forty-two years. “Marian Gilmore,” I say and wait.

“Gilmore,” he says, rubbing his chin like a wise old sage. “I’ll take the far side; you start from here.” He motions to a stack of jars at least ten high. He must see the panic on m face because he adds, “Don’t worry, Missy. We’ll get her back.”