Copyright © 2016 Chris Schnaufer
I woke up feeling warm and tucked in again. My eyes opened to a dim room that gradually got brighter as I woke up. With a jolt I tried to sit upright as I remembered the last time I had awoken in this white room. Being held down again by the sheets and blanket. I closed my eyes and screamed in frustration.
“Good Morning Mister Stevensons”,” came the same calm voice from before.
Damned machines I thought. When will they ever understand human emotions and needs?
I took a deep breath to calm down and noticed that I was already calm. So, they weren’t getting to me. I moved my hands and arms under the sheets and felt that I was attached to tubes again. Still can’t feel where they enter my arms; must be local anesthetics.
“Good Morning,” I replied in a calm, reasonable voice. “What’s on the agenda for today?” If anyone who knew me heard me talking like this, in this situation, they would be very worried indeed; the storm of anger would be coming sooner or later, made no difference to me.
“Ketquin will be visiting you in 5 minutes and 13 seconds. She has questions prepared for you.”
“Ket-quin”. The room’s voice spoke each syllable distinctly.
“Ket-chin,” I tried again.
“Don’t lower your tone at the end of her name,” the room said. “Also, the first syllable has a lowering-rising intonation.”
“What?,” I said run response. And in a flat voice, “Ket-cheen”.
“Can I get cleaned up before ‘Ket-cheen’ gets here?,” I asked. “What the hell kind of name is ‘Ket-cheen’ anyway?”
“You are clean.
“Her name is derived from the name ancient name Catherine, which is a variation of Cathy.” The room pronounced it ‘Cathae’.
“That would be Cathy, Cath-ee” I replied absentmindedly. “What do you mean, I’m clean? I haven’t shaved in god who knows how long and haven’t showered either. I’m sure I smell badly and look like crazy man without having a haircut or a shave.”
“Please confirm cleanliness and state desired actions if not sufficient.”
“How the hell ca… ,“ I started to say struggling against the sheets. I stopped speaking when I found I could move my arms out from under the sheets. I sat up and ran my hands over my tubeless arms.
I sniffed my armpits and felt my face and head. Everything seemed to be in order. Even my sideburns were the correct length. Looking up I noticed that I was being projected onto the wall in front of me. I was looking pretty good in hospital whites.
“While we wait, I want some questions answered,” I said.
“I have been held prisoner for 4 months and 3 days. Is that correct?”
“It has been 5 months and 1 day since your capture,” came the reply
“It has been 5 months, 1 day, 6 hours, 22 minutes, and 34 seconds since your capture. You last woke up approximately 28 days ago. During…”
“You’ve knocked me out for a whole month!?,” I exclaimed. “What the hell is going on?”
“Ketquin has reserved that line of questioning. You can ask her when she arrives.
“How are you feeling otherwise?”
I stopped walking around the table and took stock. “Pretty good actually. Surprisingly good considering I haven’t moved for a month.”
“You have no recollection of your activities for the previous month?”
“What do you mean? What has been happening…” I trailed off as Ketquin entered the room. For the first time I noticed the wall behind her was also completely white and appeared to be slowly closing in behind her.
She sat down on a slab that came out of the wall and gestured me to a second slab near her. I slowly sat down on the surprisingly soft surface.
“What …” I began to say trailing off as Ketquin held up a stiff hand to silence me.
“I only have a short time today,” she said keeping her palm raised. “To quickly answer your questions; first, you will not have any memory for most of the time since your capture, and you should be very thankful for that.
“Second, your physical rehabilitation has been successful.
“Third, your arm is healed and your hormones, pheromones, blood and nervous system chemistry are what can be considered normal for you.
“Finally, your pathogens have been neutralized and your supplements are performing A-OK.” She lowered her hand. “Any questions on that?”
“I have a lot of questions,” I replied. I glanced at a countdown clock that had appeared on the wall behind her. “Pathogens and supplements?”
For a split second she looked confused, but then her face cleared. “Oh, a question.
“Yes, you brought deadly diseases to the city which spread widely before they could be contained and eradicated, both in the world populations and yourself. Some were quite unique and very cleverly designed.
“The supplements are carbo-organic nano biological engines that assist in maintaining your well being in an environment that could be detrimental to you. Actually, I think ‘machine’ is a better term than ‘engine’. Unlike everyone else, your body somehow responds better to carbo-organic synthetics. It looks like there’s something fundamentally different in your, simpler, biology that hadn’t been accounted for.”
“I keep hearing that I’m some global criminal deliberately killing people with disease. I can tell you right now that I had nothing to do with that, and never would.”
I took a deep breath. “I want to contact my embassy for release and I want this damn tracking device in my arm removed,” I said gesturing towards the plate in my forearm.
Ketquin sat still for a moment. “Since your capture we have obtained a complete story from you several times. They are all consistent with each other but ultimately pieces are still missing; pieces we have asked you about on many occasions. You won’t remember any of this, since the drugs you were given prevent memory formation at all four levels.
“That device in your arm took a while to develop but runs autonomously and performs the functions I mentioned.”
“But,” she said sitting up straight. “I have good news! You are going to be released from this place today!
“I am afraid that is all I have time for.” She smiled and suddenly stood up and walked out the door.
I sat stunned for a second as her seat slid back into the wall. Looking up at the projected clock I saw there were still over five minutes left.
“Hey wall,” I asked, “Am I really getting out this place today?” I leaned into the slab’s backing.
“That is correct,” came the room’s reply.
“When am I moving and where am I going?”
“I calculate that in less than 6 minutes you will be leaving here. I have no information on where you are going next.”
While I waited I looked around and noticed that my bed had vanished while I had been talking. Aside from the clock there was nothing else to look at.
The clock counted down to zero and turned off.
Soon enough the room spoke again. “Please stand.”
I had no choice as my seat slid back into the wall. A door opposite me opened. A man and woman entered, along with four people that appeared to be police or soldiers of some sort.
They walked across the room towards me. The man stopped directly in front of me and spoke while the room translated.
“I defend you, but case very strong,” he said. With that he stepped aside.
The woman then spoke/translated from my right side. “You are guilty of all counts against you. Sentence is death.” She gestured to the soldiers.
At her hand wave the soldiers lowered their weapons and I forgot everything.