Friday, November 10, 2006

White Rooms, Part 2 (Serial Fiction, Thriller)

(Just joining us? Go back to Part 1)

The Facility
Day 2, 3:41 P.M.

      MT1023 twitched, the first movement he showed in thirty six hours.
      Inside the featureless room, scores of full spectrum lights were concealed behind translucent panels. They blazed, and the darkness vaporized.
      Groggy, he raised an elbow to his face to protect his eyes. The movement tipped him over the edge. He smacked the floor.
      His syrupy reaction to the pain was delayed.
      His palms slid outward along the floor, hard and slippery smooth. He pushed himself up, neck wavering with the weight of his head.
      Squinting, he tried to process what he saw. Brilliant white in all directions. Just on the threshold of pain. As he blinked, drool glistened in the stubble on his chin.
      He reached out and touched what he fell from. It was a long padded board, perhaps a bed, but not quite wide enough to fit his body.
      He frowned. No recognition.
      The floor pulled at his attention, and he looked down. The surface was horribly cold, and a current of frigid air flowed over it. The hairs on his wrists fluttered. It wrung the heat out of his fingers.
      He snatched up his hands. Amazing how quickly the searing pain built.
      "Hello?" he said.
      The size of the room was difficult to judge. Light washed every surface evenly and left no shadows, color, or texture. He searched for the usual cues. Doors, windows, seams. Anything to orient him. But the room was a perfect, smooth white.
      He rubbed his thighs. Pants wouldn't hold back the cold.
      "Is anyone there?"
      He rolled himself upward on stiff legs, then dropped crosswise onto the strange, narrow bed.
      His feet still touched the icy floor. He tried to cross them, sit on them, but nothing worked.
      He turned lengthwise into the white cushions and hugged his knees to keep himself sitting. His gaze probed the room. It never stopped. But it was so hard to see. The light flowed from everywhere, and it couldn't be blocked.
      The number of minutes he sat was noted. Also, the number of times he rubbed the bend in his back.
      When he finally laid down and balanced himself on the bed, the time was noted, and the light got brighter.

Day 3, 12:21 A.M.

      One monitor zoomed on MT1023's eyelids and another on his chest. They recorded evidence of conscious intervention. He was not asleep.
      A sound gurgled in his throat.
      "I'm hungry," he whispered.
      The light grew brighter.
      MT1023 licked his lips. The thick mucous wouldn't spread.
      Under him, imperceptible movement tilted in the bed. He didn't appear to feel it.
      So slow. One micron at a time. Tilting. Tilting.
      "Thirsty," he said, lost in some daydream.
      The tiny changes were designed to swim through his equilibrium.
      Without knowing why, over he went. He flailed and slapped into floor. First elbows, then forearms, then the vulnerable peaks of his knees. Tender bruises already oozed blood under his skin. They didn't need to be hit again.
      He curled in pain.

Day 4, 4:12 P.M.

      A low sweep of sweat hung under MT1023's shirt. "You can't hold me," he said to the wall. "I didn't do anything wrong."
      His voice sounded calm, but his eyes ticked in chaotic movements.
      "I have rights! I want to call my lawyer!"
      But the room swallowed any sound.
      He touched the wall. Traced over it. The temperature was kept warm, indistinguishable from his heat of his own skin.

5:20 P.M.

      "You! Can't! Hold! Me!"
      He punched each syllable into the wall.

5:26 P.M.

      MT1023 stared at an imaginary point on the ceiling, or at least where he assumed the ceiling to be.

5:29 P.M.

      "Who are you?" he said, pulling at his hair. Tufts like little grey ghosts moved in the chill along the floor. He watched them wander for a while. Mesmerized.
      His voice shrank to a sob. His fingers dug into his face and shook.
      Then, his arms flew down. Split flung from his lips, and the air howled from his lung in a throat-tearing scream.

On to Part 3


anne said...

Ooooh, nice! I was going to add "I'm dying to know what happens next", but that sounds like a risky thing to say here.
I like how it all speeds up towards the end.

Bernita said...

Want to think about this and wait.

Scott said...

I'm getting the feeling that MT1023 doesn't like being cooped up like that!

One nit pick. The line As he blinked, drool glistened in the stubble on his chin. Since the story is from MT1023's point of view, this might be a violation. I think it would be better to describe the drool drenched stubble from his perspective, unless there is a mirror in the room for him to see it.

Saaleha said...

Gripping stuff. I'm looking forward to the next installment.

Anonymous said...

Still more questions...

angel said...

what excruciating torture! brilliant! when's the next part?

anna said...

Hmmm, I missed the 1st installment
so started there. I kept waiting for smells..
the wife cooking? the little boy and his mother? the awful medicinal smell in that horrid room?
It's very very good stuff Jason,
nice tension throughout. kept my interest - didn't falter a bit. I'd buy the novel

Anonymous said...

For some reason, 1984 comes to mind.

beadinggalinMS said...

Great ending. I too will be anxiously waiting for the next installment.
Have a great weekend Jason!

Joni said...

Sweet. I noticed the POV thing too, so I'm anxious to see how that resolves.
And I also thought of 1984.

Very enticing, Jason.

Anonymous said...

Anne, I like how it all speeds up towards the end.... Thanks! That was a late addition in the rewrite stage. I like it more than the structure I had before.

Bernita, no rush. There will be a lot more. We're just getting started. :)

Scott, you're actually hitting on something vital in the POV. This piece is a bit of an experiment. The POV is an unnamed outside observer. That's why everything has a distant feel to it. You never get into MT1023's head or see things from his eyes.

Saaleha, thanks for coming along for the ride! :D

JLB, hopefully some answers will be forthcoming, right? LOL. I'm afraid I'll be laying out a few more questions first.

Angel, thanks for the compliment! The next installment should be Wednesday (I alternate posts with serial stories so I have time to write the next part).

Anna, smells, good point! This is a POV issue. You'll see some discussion in the comments to the first piece and some in response to Scott. Since the POV is an unnamed outside observer, the smells are not within the range of the POV.

Steve, I can definitely see that. :)

Beady, thanks! You have a great weekend too. :)

Joni, I was hoping that the POV would add to the discomfort/threat. We'll see if the whole thing works in the end. ;)

mermaid said...

The silence that responds to his pleas for release is infinite and chilling. So much symbolism here. Is someone holding him, examining him, punishing him, or is this all self-inflicted?

This is so painful to read, that it makes me rethink the punishment convicted and non-convicted persons suffer. How much should judgement weigh?

Mercy. Mercy.

anne frasier said...

jason, i really like this, but much of it does seem from MT's POV to me. sorry!

Susan Abraham said...

Not easy to capture the suspense of the self but you do this very nicely through a fine piece of studied writing, Jason.
I really mean this.
And of course, flanked too by your natural aptitude to employing structure in prose.

LiVEwiRe said...

Just caught up from the beginning and I'm really interested to see where this is going. Who is he? Where is he? Where was his wife when he was taken? Answer me damnit!!! Ha, ok, just kidding. ;)

Anonymous said...

Mermaid, your discomfort shows that I'm doing my job here. I'm not sure anyone could predict yet what going on. I could say more, but I don't want to spoil it. :)

Anne, no worries! Thanks for the feedback! If all my experiments worked, then I wouldn't be pushing hard enough. :D I can see this unnamed-outside-viewer thing isn't working the way I'd hoped, but that's okay. It's still forcing me to keep a certain distance from the character, and I'm liking that for this story.

Susan, I'm always humbled by your comments. Coming from a skilled writer like you is high praise. :)

Livewire, so glad to see you back in one of these serial stories! I love when you get into it. That said, I'm not telling you yet, so there! :D

Wilf said...

Hmmm, odd - it's like MT1023 is some ghastly experiment that requires a bit of a check up before he's let out again...I am intrigued, Jason.

Jeff said...

The suspense is building. I like that. :)