(Just joining us? Go back to Part 1)
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.
"You! Can't! Hold! Me!"
He punched each syllable into the wall.
MT1023 stared at an imaginary point on the ceiling, or at least where he assumed the ceiling to be.
"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.
"SOMEONE ANSWER ME!"
On to Part 3