[I’m not sure I naturally would’ve ended this chapter where I did… But then again I think I’m a short-chapter bigot. I hope those reading this find this chapter more thought-out, to have more personality. …Also know the soundtrack so far is OK Computer, please press play on Airbag for this chapter. Or Dancing Queen, which works with anything. Love –dbm]
[ALSO: I ended up revising in draft, and I fuck up when I can only see 4 lines of text at a time. Love me FOR my flaws, the other way is too easy.]
“Jesus Christ does every light in this place burn like the sun as an homage, or is this part of an overall strategy to erode the sanity I’m assumed to be losing regardless?”
Calvin was awakened, as he was every day, by the room’s light fixture being turned on by the guys tasked with always searching anything he had, collecting every fluid whenever they could, etc. …All while messing with the lab rat because it sucked being in what they thought was the same cage.
The light hinged at the wall, had a ball-and-socket elbow joint, telescoping blah blah it’s a light. Calvin found himself unable to remember when the light hadn’t been positioned perfectly above his face when it was illuminated and had awoken him.
The light was so harsh Subject 343 swore he felt photons stinging his skin. …But the light came immediately after a short, angry buzz sounded, as though some bug — some thing with compound eyes, irridescent wings, and why not hair as long as it’s gonna be the most revolting thing on earth — this thing was in the light, and wanted those under it to know they were also under the scrutiny of eyes that saw one hundred angles of him.
Calvin realized it was that buzz that woke him in the mornings, not the light itself. The fly and its goddam geodesic eyes was in there, chiming in a Fuck You before taking things full-bore.
Calvin, indeed, woke with the buzzing sound. His torso shot toward vertical, he was blinded as the halos of lights blinked then blazed from outermost to innermost of the concentric circles. His hand rose to shield his eyes, but his forehead slammed into the side of the fixture with a dull thud. The sound seemed to retreat into the object, as Sub 343’s body fell the way it had come.
And so 343’s waking sounded like this: BUZZ! THUD! AAAAAAGH!
“Why the fuck is it only in books and things that people ever freaking pass out! Jesus! …Fucking dumb as shit anyway… Pain means danger means stay awake.”
“Bullshit aside, the docs will fix you up,” one of the two people who kept him on schedule said.
“Yeah. And that’ll be an excuse to keep me here.”
“Keep you here? You can leave whenever you want, Calvin.”
“Some have,” the other said with an emotionless Calvin thought overdone enough to suggest things weren’t so easy.
“More piss tests for me. –OK, so I love you guys, you know that by now. But can I ask: What the fuck is this shit? Waking me up in the most asshole way at all possible?”
“Protocol. Protocol protocol.”
“Well, at least the word’s lost any meaning for you.”
“You’re fucked up man.”
“Like stupid or like I act in a way the Coats find… worrisome?”
The kid’s face was a blur when it came between Calvin’s almost-closed eyes and the light above Calvin but pointed at the back wall..
The blur said: “Like no one ever bothered smacking sense into you, kid.”
“And so you’re behind the bug-light torture! You fucking fuck! Stress the mice, queer the study.” Calvin momentarily wanted to smash something into the kid’s forehead… probably. Instead he sat on the bed, legs folded in front of him and stared at… Why didn’t he know his name?
Calvin felt a blush begin, then mimicked the others, remaining ghostly pale as he repeated the question.
“What you said.”
“Why ask me?”
“Damn it Malcom, you wanna play broken record, really?”
“I fuckin’ heard what I heard, 343.”
“Failure to address subject by given name.”
Malcom’s eyes shot open in an amazed fear.
“Failure to present subject fit for study. How’s my forehead look, bud?”
“You must’ve gone through David’s–”
“Right. Go get a cop. Get a gun. What I did, Malcom, was bullshit you. What the fuck else to all their goddam forms do?”
“It’s so lovely out this morning, fellows, do let us away!”
The other finished inspecting Calvin’s room, turned to him and stated: “Calvin, one day you should be studied for what’s really wrong with you.”
“But in the meantime: Failure to present subject at specified time!”
No reaction from this one.
“Well played. I know it really is against protocol anyway. It’s in your affect. You overplayed the reaction you chose — none — which was fine for TV, but that’s not gonna work on the big screen honey.”
In truth, Calvin had seen the whites of Malcom’s eyes in his periphery.
“OK guys, long morning, laughs, tears, privacy violations, etc. But y’know I appreciate the ride, yeah?”
“Like we got a choice?”
“Not relevant. …OK, last thing: If this lump keeps me here today — that fucking light keeps me here, Malcom…”
Calvin, without a threat he could both make and follow through on, let the sentence hang between them.
Malcom stiffened. Calvin congratulated himself on having cultivated a beneficially distorted view of himself.
“End of the line, Blue Room.”
“Why’s this room a color and all the others numbers,” Malcom thought aloud.
Calvin managed to control his feelings so that he only nodded his head slightly again again again again. He continually swallowed saliva. …He could be plugged in fucking now now now if–
“Because this room is blue, dick. You can’t imagine it’s so blue.” Calvin’s eyes became unfocused as his mind wandered — and immediately snapped to.
“Sub 343, Calvin,” a LabCoat said. There was no way to tell them apart because they always had a light shining in your eyes. This one had a light bindi, he thought it was called but didn’t know why and he didn’t know why anyone needed one, either.
As the Coat turned to close what sounded like a very heavy door, Calvin had a view of the Rig.
The first impulse — to run to it — was sucessfully repressed, and he slouched into place like the normal-est human that ever was fully and completely, totally normal.
He tilted his head down until his hair covered the bump on his head, died every minute of the pre-session work-up and was about to cry and beg for the bullshit to stop so he could fucking go! already, when he felt the straps tighten.
Then the plug, a molar exploding as he clenched his teeth without wanting to, then…