The Finger Vault

The Finger Vault

A Story by Neil Dunmer

A trend begins in a colony on Mars that involves cutting off the middle finger.


The Finger Vault

“Cut it off.”

            Spencer flipped his middle finger and took a swig of brandy. “The hell with you.”

            They were the first wave of migrants to Mars, three hundred men and women. Went through a year and 23 days in space travel without a squabble, but in just a month upon arrival, trouble had already begun. The landing had been smooth enough, with the shuttle burning across the red sky then the jerking push of the retro rockets until it lowered and landed softly upon the Martian earth. The puffs of dust settled and the land was silent again. The door opened with a silent hiss and the metal stairs unwound itself out sluggishly like the tongue of some celestial beast. Captain Spencer Winters stepped out and inhaled the thin air.

“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Mars.”

            The Earth men are here.

            Camp was set quickly and before long, the colony was in order; two-floor houses, a busy town hall, farming chambers. It was the promise of a bright future.

Life went on like this, growing slightly steadier and organized, until this monotone was interrupted by blood and gore. One day, Mr. Benson the colony priest severed his left middle finger with a screwdriver.  Hallucinations from stress, as rumors had it. After all, the thin air does drive people insane. The medic patched him up and soon the gossips died down. Then the dawn of June 6th was shattered by coarse scream that rippled from the Bensons. But it was not a scream of fear and pain. No, it was one of pure joy and ecstasy.

People seemed to emerge from nowhere and began to crowd at the priest’s porch. Spencer joined the commotion, sluggish from last night’s liquor.

“What happened?” He rubbed his eyes with both palms.

One of his officers turned around. “I heard o’ Benson cut off his finger.”

“Didn’t he already-”

The door was flung open suddenly and Mr. Benson stood at the door step. His eyes were red and he was grinning as he raised his glistening right hand. The middle finger was missing. Almost immediately shouts erupted from the crowd, for when had one ever seen a priest disfigure himself twice so? It couldn’t possibly be another accident.

Spencer pushed to the front and pulled down Mr. Benson’s arm. “Are you insane?”

“Insane? Spencer m’boy, I am perfectly fine. In fact I have never felt better.”

He turned to the throng of people and raised his voice for all to hear. “I have found the way to abolish our sins. You see, our middle fingers contain the most impure part of our soul. The object itself,” he cried and held up the severed digit with his left hand, “is a vulgar gesture of hate.

“Cut it off. Cut it off and you will be free. Cut it off and you can walk with a new spring to your steps, for you evil is no longer in you.” With the words said, Mr. Benson fainted from blood loss.

The crowd began to mutter amongst themselves as Spencer carried the old priest back inside, and by the time he came out the hubbub had grew to a continuous roar. The colonists argued amongst themselves, squabbling and pointing their shaking fingers this way then that. A few thought it made sense in some way; most thought it to be completely atrocious.

That night, Spencer and his first mate went for a round of drink at the colony’s only bar. “Look here Dom,” Spencer said as he took a sip of the lukewarm beer, “what do you think about the whole affair this morning?”

Dom chuckled then grew serious. “I heard Ms. Corman went to the priest today. She went outta the house with her hands all wrapped up.”

Rumors went around the next day that the Smithsons and the Whalings followed the Ms. Corman’s lead. Soon the once cheery colony became much more reserved and quiet, with people shuffling though the streets with their hands deep in coat pockets. Then one morning shouts erupted from Mr. Gatsby’s mansion that drew the people out of bed to a dissonance of laughter and colorful liquor. It was a full flung party of bouncing balloons and fluttering banners. “All free buffet,” it read. There was just one tiny complication. Above the entrance was a large plywood sign with the dark blocked letters: Middle Fingerless ONLY.

The uncertainly that plagued the colony for the last few days was now out in the open. The rest of the colony can only look on as the middle-fingerless enjoyed the first party on Mars. Mr. Hombre lost his control when he saw Tom the drunkard swagger into the party to be greeted by Mr. Gatsby himself. Some decided that they no longer wanted to be the bystanders and a line formed in front of the priest’s house for what was now called the Holy Amputation. The severed middle fingers would be stored in the town hall’s vacuum chamber while the newly converted prance out of the house whooping, red eyed and grinning.

“How exhilarating! How great it is to be free!”

Just like that, the number of converted grew until Captain Spencer Winters was the only one with his middle fingers intact. He seldom came out of the house, only so to obtain the daily necessities and the occasional liquor. Dom paid a visit to him one day, waiting by the door for countless minutes after pressing the doorbell continuously until the door opened to a tiny crack.

“What now,” a voice snapped. “Can’t a man keep his fingers in peace?”

“Captain, it’s me.”

The door slammed closed. Then there was a rattling of chains and it opened again. “Come in.”

They sat at the balcony, watching the Martian sky turning from red to purple.

“How come you never come out anymore?”

Spencer turned to look at him mustered a cold chuckle. “My dear friend, have you seen the way they looked at me? As if I were the one nuts, not them.”

The conversation lapsed into silence with both men dipping their heads in thought. Then Dom sighed. “You do realize you’re the only one left.”

“No s**t.”

            “Then cut it off.”

            Spencer flipped his middle finger and took a swig of brandy. “The hell with you.”

“Have it your way. Which reminds me why I’m here.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Spencer, I overheard some guys at the bar talking ‘bout lynching.”

Spencer grimaced in disgust. “Can’t say I’m surprised.”

“You don’t get it. I think they’re coming today. You should do something.”

 “As if I’m going to run away.”

Dom let out long breath and drummed his finger. “Well, I tried. Best of luck, Captain.” He stood up and began to leave.

“Hey Dom.”


“Thanks. And lock the front doors.”

“Sure.” He smiled and left.

Spencer didn’t move. He watched the darkness fall, ever so slowly. Then he too left.

At twelve in the night, the lynching mob came, found no one, and dispersed.

One hour later, a light sparked in the second floor of the town hall. The second floor, where the fingers were kept. It grew and flickered until steady flames began to lick around the windows then spiraled into the night. Hungry, the fire roared on.

Mrs. Smithson was still awake in her bed when the yellow lights started to dance on her curtains. She swung her legs off the mattress to investigate. Brushing aside the fabric, her eyes widened and she turned hollered at Mr. Smithson.

“Our fingers! Our finger! Our fingers are on fire!”

Heads began to poke out from the doors in the neighborhood.

“What’s with the racket?”

“Oh my goodness. The finger vault’s on fire!”

“Our fingers!”

One by one, the doors flung open and people streamed out into a massive stampede, all determined to rescue their middle fingers. The horde arrived at the town hall to see the great Captain Spencer Winters already dousing the fire with liquefied CO2, so they stood by the side, twitching and fiddling. When the last embers died out, the crowd surged forward once again, clawing and shoving around in a frantic search.

The lucky ones walked out with laughing in relief, cradling the box that held their precious digits, while the few subjected to misfortune stumbled around, raving and crying.

Spencer smiled.

The following day, the medical robots went overtime trying to reconnect six hundred middle fingers.

© 2013 Neil Dunmer

Author's Note

Neil Dunmer
I have to turn this in tomorrow. Is there any loopholes, grammar mistakes, awkward dialogue, extra info needed, or in general, anything wrong with it. Thanks

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Added on October 20, 2013
Last Updated on October 20, 2013
Tags: science-fiction, sociology, dark humor


Neil Dunmer
Neil Dunmer


I am a 9th grader who has an excess fondness for cheese and yeah. more..