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  Viper Wire by Richard Kadrey
 

Speaking Up

At night, Bellmer can hear the dummies whispering. They chatter about their aborted lives, their stunted dreams, their embalmed desires. But only to each other, never to Bellmer. He wonders if they're even aware of him. How he carefully gathers their broken bodies at the bottom of the concrete shafts — after the researchers have finished with their photos and Velocity Impact studies, noting the dummies' compound fractures, the terrible abrasions that mark their white flesh. Bellmer doesn't understand how tossing corpses down ersatz elevator shafts is supposed to make car crashes safer, but he doesn't argue with the powers that be.

Bellmer doesn't mind touching the bodies, but he wishes they wouldn't speak. Listening to the stories of their lost lives fills him with a profound sadness. And loneliness. Even the dead have each other to whisper to, but Bellmer has no one. It was after Alyson left him. He descended into silence and when he looked up, years had ticked by and he was utterly alone. How pathetic, he thinks, to be jealous of the dead.

One night in December, after years of listening to the bodies' rustling paper voices, Bellmer opens his mouth. "My name is William. I've worked here ten years. Tonight is my anniversary." For the first time, the bodies fall silent. They cannot turn their heads or move their eyes, but Bellmer can feel a change, a shift in their attention. He takes a breath and continues. "I was born in New York, but we moved when away when I was young…"

 

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Richard Kadrey is a journalist, essayist, editor, and fiction writer, among other accomplishments. He has written essays and memoirs extensively for the Web, and a search on his name on Google will prove rewarding.

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