The Research Project

When Chelsea saw the sign on the campus message board she couldn’t wait to tell her friends about it.

Volunteers needed for research project
Overnight commitment
Food and beverages provided
Compensation available

She had worked two jobs during her three years at college, yet she knew she’d still graduate with too much in student loans. This research project intrigued her with its offer of compensation.

She could barely contain her excitement when she walked into her apartment. “Who wants to join me in a research study?” she yelled into the foyer.

As she could have predicted she heard Zoe’s voice yell from upstairs, “ME!” Then the footsteps running down the hall preceding Zoe’s colorful appearance, as always. Her enthusiasm was so contagious, she was rarely found alone.

“When is it, Chels? What do we need to do?” Zoe beamed with excitement.

“I’m not sure. We have to call this number. You’re in?”


“When do Stephanie and Alyssa get back from class?”

“They should be back by 4:00.”

“Great! If they are in, we’ll call right away to save our spot.”

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

The girls arrived at the address they were given. They carried their overnight bags as instructed. Chelsea was the first one up the walk, but hesitated before she knocked on the door.

“Are you all sure we should do this? Something doesn’t feel right.”

“C’mon, Chels, just ring the bell. You always get nervous.” Zoe nudged her best friend out of the way and rang the doorbell.

The door swung open and they faced a tall, serious looking man in a crisp white button-down shirt and jeans. Without expression, he gestured for them to enter. The girls exchanged nervous looks, then followed Zoe into the house.

They followed the man down a hallway into a dining room. Nothing was on the table except for a single sheet of paper in front of each of the four chairs and what looked like a neatly placed blindfold.

The girls silently sat down, each filled with nervous thoughts, wondering what they were doing.

The man finally spoke, no expression in his voice, “Ladies, the research you have signed up for will not be described prior to its start. The basic concept is problem solving and reactions to stimuli. It is imperative that you all follow directions precisely, or you will be removed from the project. What I can promise you is that the compensation allocated to each of you will pay approximately one semester of tuition, books and housing. If any of you do not complete the project, the others will receive equal shares of your forfeited compensation. I will provide no further details outside of telling you that the papers in front of you are to be signed by each of you. They state that you agree to take part in this research. I can assure you that this research does not include any kind of sex or violence.”

The girls exchanged long looks, but signed the papers in front of them. The man walked behind them collecting their papers, then tying the blindfolds on each of them.

“Sit here and you each will be led to your rooms.”

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Time had passed so slowly. Chelsea had no idea how long she had been in this room all alone. No windows for her to see sun or darkness to count the days. The only thing that marked any time was a voice coming from somewhere behind the wall telling her it was time to wake up, sleep, shower or to select one of the holes.

She looked around her room at the few items she had gathered from the holes. A blanket. A Bible. A sheet of paper. A pen. A lamp. A towel. Pictures of each of her friends leaving the house. She knew she was alone and had no idea how to get out.

When a voice commanded, several holes would open somewhere in the walls. She had to select a hole, reach into the darkness of it and retrieve whatever was there. The best holes contained food or water. The worst, a coin.

She had tried reading. Tried writing. But nothing made the time pass comfortably. All she could do was sit and wait.

She waited for someone to tell her what to do next.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Written as a submission for‘s Speakeasy #150 challenge.

If you like what you’ve read, please vote for me and 2 more favorites at the Speakeasy on Thursday.


47 thoughts on “The Research Project

  1. I wonder if part of the test is seeing how long before people decide to escape and when they do, how do they solve the problem. It’s like a test within a test. Still it’s all seriously creepy, especially given the demeanor of the scientist. This still gave me the willies. Kudos on fostering that reaction!

  2. Argh! Noooo! You can’t stop there. I must know. So many questions… Very creepy and intriguing. This prompt is throwing up some great writing, but too many cliff hangers. I’m not sure I can cope. 😉

  3. This leaves so much room for more! Great story, well-told. Did her friends really leave? If they did, does that mean she “wins”? What’s in the next hole? What happens when it’s over? So many questions! 🙂

  4. Am still shuddering-poor Chelsea!What will she do now/How will she escape from this crazy hell hole?Wonder what happened to her friends-did they lose their minds?Why were they allowed to go?So many questions-I can’t wait to read the next part:-)

  5. Ooh, this is so creepy and so fascinating! I want to know what the experiment is all about and if her friends really did leave the house… Fantastic take on the prompts! 🙂

  6. Pingback: winner of the speakeasy #150 | the speakeasy at yeah write

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