The Business of Losses

Copyright © 2014 Chris Schnaufer
Slowly the fog lifted enough for me to realize that I was nice and warm and well tucked in. I could feel the hard surface of the bed underneath me but I was too comfortable to care about that. The soft pillow went up to my ears as I lay there absorbing the listening of nothing. It felt like heaven just lying there soaking up the warmth.

Slowly I opened up my eyes trying to keep my sense of wellness intact. Bright white light began flooding in as I slowly opened my eyes. Opening my eyes fully, I looked around seeing nothing but more white light. As my eyes adjusted to the small room, banged up and bruised feelings came into focus. It took me a moment to remember that I was seeing again. Vision! I was able to see again!

A feeling of relief swept through me. I sat up in the hospital bed, or rather I tried to sit up. The sheets were too tight for me to move. I flexed my hands and tried to sit up again. Still stuck. Bracing my body and trying again didn’t change anything. My feeling of wellness was beginning to leave me.

I turned my head left, right, and up behind me. But the fluffy pillow was in the way and I didn’t see much except the ceiling from where the light was coming.

“Hey!,” I yelled. “I’m awake!”

“I am right here,” said a soft voice to my left. “How are you feeling?”

I looked to my left at the pillow and the top of a balding doctor whom, I assumed, was dressed in the standard uniform of a white jacket.

“Let me out,” I said.

“I am not authorized to let you out.”

“This damn blanket is too tight,” I replied.

“Do not move for one moment,” the doctor said. He reached down and did something.

I felt something on my arms and legs that I hadn’t felt before detach. Looking down I saw the blanket moving as whatever it was retracted to the sides of the bed. It stopped moving and I felt, rather than heard, the bed hum and a little warmth spreading under me. I tried sitting up again and found that I was able to do that now.

“How are you feeling?,” I was asked again.

Taking stock I replied, “battered and bruised.” It was true; I felt as though I had been in a car wreck. I don’t think there was a part of my body that wasn’t sore. “What happened?”

“Turn your head to the left,” was the reply.

Why is it that doctors don’t answer your questions I wondered as I turned my head left, then right, and then followed his finger through the air.

“Last I remember I had hit my head and was blind,” I said continuing my line of inquiry.

“You are not blind.”

Getting annoyed I looked squarely at the doctor and was surprised to see that he was actually wearing a white skin tight suit with a full face mask, not the doctor’s jacket as I had thought. Not only the lack of jacket but the fact that he wasn’t writing anything down began to unnerve me. Most doctors are smart, but not so smart that they automatically remember everything. Plus weren’t there protocols to follow that required them to write everything down? Perhaps he was one of those freaks that remember everything, or perhaps he wasn’t a real doctor? I couldn’t be sure.

“I know I’m not blind,” I replied sarcastically. “I am asking you what happened to me.”

Feeling something cold on my right forearm I looked down. There was a small metal plate glued to my arm. I tried to take it off. The doctor reached out and said “Please. Do not remove.” It was hurting me to take it off so I stopped.

“What is going on?,” I shouted at the doctor. “Why don’t you answer my questions? Why can’t I leave? I want some answers and I want them now! I am Sty Stevensons and I demand that you release me now or I will contact the governor and have your licensed revoked!”

The doctor looked over his left shoulder and said something I couldn’t understand. He then turned to me and said something else I couldn’t understand.

Before I had a chance to say anything the room spoke to me and said “Please calm down Mr. Stevensons and your questions will be answered.” I couldn’t tell if it was a man or woman that was speaking, but it was one of those calm voices that tried to soothe you. It wasn’t Donna’s voice unfortunately.

The doctor continued speaking in the strange language I’d been hearing lately with the room providing translation.

“Please relax. I have some questions that I need answered and then I will answer your questions.”

I lay back with a groan. A foreign doctor was the worst. This one didn’t even speak English.

“Can I have a different doctor? One that speaks English?”

“There isn’t another doctor,” came the room’s reply after the doctor spoke.

“Fine,” I said shortly. “Ask your questions.” There was something going on and I didn’t know what it was. I would wait for my time to come and then deal with it.

“Where are you from?”

“Here. This city. Assuming I’m still in the city.”

“What do you remember before you woke up today?”

“I fell going to work and hit my head and became blinded,” I answered. Looking around I said, “Hey, where are my people?”

“Keep your questions safe until we are done asking ours please. How did you enter the city?”

“The same way everyone else does; I flew in 10 years ago and now live in the city.”

“Confirm that you live in the city for 10 years please.”

“Yes. 10 Years,” I replied and also gave my address. “I have lived there for the past 3 years. You can check with the landlord.”

“Declare your purpose for being in the city please.”

“Business.”

“Clarify what the business was please. Financial, working, refuge, or something else.”

“Refuge work?”, I thought.

“Financial work. Look the entire building you found me in has my name on the front. The mayor, police chief, governor, and state controller all know me. Ask them now if you haven’t done that already. Am I under arrest or something? If so why aren’t the police questioning me?”

“Your answers are consistent as expected,” came the doctor’s reply through the room’s voice. With that the doctor got up and walked through the door that appeared in the wall.

“Hey wait!” I said. “What about my questions?”

“I am qualified to answer your questions,” came the rooms reply.

“Ok, so answer them!”

“Complying. You claim that you fell and that has been verified by your people. Next, you claim to have been blind. This is not true, your sight has always been available to you. Next, …”

“Wait a minute,” I said sitting up again. “What do you mean that I could see? I definitely could not see in my building. Isn’t that why I’m here – because I got a concussion and couldn’t see?”

“Speaking of which,” I continued, “since I can now see and the doctor has checked me out, when can I leave?”

“You could not see in the building because of your lack of optical systems, not due to trauma. You cannot leave until authorized.”

“So when will that be?”

“I do not know when your optical systems will become brought up to specifications.”

“Not my ‘optical systems’, you dumb ass. When will I be able to leave?”

After a small delay I got the reply. “You can not leave until proper authorization has been given. I calculate a low chance of that happening.”

“What?!”

“What did I do, murder someone?” I said in my best sarcastic voice.

“Do you prefer me to answer previous questions, or this line of questions?”

“This line! This line!” I yelled as I stood up. “What the hell are you saying? I didn’t kill anyone or anything! I am an honest businessman in real estate investments with a well deserved reputation of fairness and getting deals done! Who the hell are you guys and why am I here?”

I felt a coolness take hold of my arm where the plate was and I began to feel more relaxed. “You are drugging me,” I said.

“Your hormones are balanced by the arm implant,” the room said. “You have no need for drugs.”

“Damn you,” I said to myself as I sat down on the bed. Feeling more relaxed I lay down and told the room to continue answering my questions.

“As I just mentioned, there is a low probability of release. We are a group of exotic weapons researchers and have received you through the strenuous efforts of the man you talked to earlier and called doctor. You are here because of your criminal nature. You are charged with over 3 million counts of murder of the first degree, 15 counts of possession of deadly illegal substances, one count of failure to register at the border, 15 counts of waging terrorist acts, five counts of accomplice to terrorists, over 200,000 counts of property destruction, and approximately 50 charges of a lesser severity. You also have 15 million civil law suits filed against you as a result of your actions. There are also 1500 cases for extradition pending for an additional 200 thousand charges, at a minimum. As the impact of your actions continues to be felt, I am certain more charges will be filed.”

The thought of having over 18 million law suits filed against me was too absurd to spend any time on. My mind raced as I tried to think of what else could really be going on.

“How am I supposed to have killed all 3 million of those people?” I asked the room.

“Biological warfare,” the room calmly replied. “You carry over 15 diseases that have not been seen for over 400 years. You also contain many unknown fungus, virus, and other biological agents that have never been seen before.”

Now I knew this was some kind of joke. They really had me strung along for a while. Really relaxing now, I decided to play along with their mind games and find out what I could.

“Has anyone called for me?” I asked. “Anyone that I have mentioned? Like the Governor? My people?”

“No one has tried to contact you. None of the people you mentioned either here or before can be found. Your people from the city that told you false names have been arrested and executed for assisting you in your crimes.”

That last bit was a twist I hadn’t expected.

“What do you mean, executed? So you mean to tell me that Nick, Sue, Susan, Aurthur, and, and, .., and Jethro weren’t their real names? So what if they were making up their names? What kind of game is this? How long did it take to set this up?” If they were in on the joke, game, or whatever this was, from the morning when I fell, that required some planning. I was getting impressed with the effort that went into this.

The room replied, “There is no game in progress that I am aware of. Your people’s true names were …” There names were in that strange language everyone seemed to speak here that I couldn’t understand. “It has been proposed that you are playing a character based upon a need justify your actions and your insistence on speaking in an ancient dialect.”

“So they were killed because they told me the wrong names? And if my dialect is so old, why can you speak it? You are talking nonsense.”

Of course I’m being told there wasn’t a game in progress, I thought. To acknowledge the game was to ruin it. “They aren’t my real people by the way,” I added as an aside.

“They were real people,” the room said. “They were executed because of their relationship with you; their assistance in attempted societal genocide. They would also have died from disease, but were executed before that could happen. It didn’t make much difference to their life spans due to the fact that they were only minutes from death.”

I didn’t bother to correct the room about who my people were. I lay there thinking things over. I was locked away somewhere, a research lab supposedly, apparently a mass murder with strange diseases, wanted by 1500 what – countries, cities? No one was trying to contact me, so they must be in on the game as well; or being prevented from seeing me. I had been unable to see before, now able to see. Needing some kind of upgrades somehow. Some what I corrected myself. I was suddenly struck by a horrible thought. I must be having trouble thinking from an anesthetic or something like it.

“How long have I been out?”, I demanded.

“You have not left since you have arrived,” the room said.

“No, not that. How long have I been unconscious? And yes, how long have I been here?”

“You have been here for 2 and one-half- days getting rehabilitated. You were unconscious for 5 minutes during your capture.”

“What! Three days! How long has this whole stupid thing taken? Who’s running my businesses?”

“It has been four months, three days, and 20 hours since you were captured in the building you believe to be yours. You have
no businesses on record. Your name is unavailable.”

“I told you my name!”, I screamed jumping off the bed. “You are screwing with my life! I am going to sue you for everything you have if I’m taking any losses, even if I’m not! I demand to talk to the Governor! I demand to talk to the Mayor! You let me the hell out of here right now!”

“You are not authorized for release.”

“I am done playing with this mess! I am getting the hell out of here and don’t even try to stop me!”

I strode to the door that the doctor had used and stopped before the wall. Nothing happened. I pounded the wall and yelled at them to let me out. Still nothing happened.

I felt coolness in my arm as the metal square tried to drug me some more. Swearing, and then screaming in pain, I ripped the plate out. I started kicking the wall to break down the door. After the second kick I slipped on something and fell. I got right back up and looked around to find another exit. Not finding anything except smooth white walls, I went back to the bed, and facing the door in case it opened, I searched the bed for something to open the door with. Dripping blood, I tried removing the sheets but they were locked down again. The pillow didn’t move either. Running my hands along the smooth bed stand I felt nothing except blood running down my arm.

I was getting really pissed when the lights were killed. I tried to move the bed to the door, but it wouldn’t budge. I was straining at the bed a second time when I felt a poke on my right shoulder. Realizing that there must be more than one door to the room, I swung a roundhouse punch behind me and hit someone in the dark. Putting my back to the bed I ran to the door through which they had entered and collided full on with a wall.

Sliding down the wall and sinking into a cold, dark sleep my last thought was to wonder what was really going on.

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