Wednesday, November 15, 2006

White Rooms, Part 3 (Serial Fiction, Thriller)

(Just joining us? Go back to Part 1)

      Filters stripped the air, and the oxygen level dropped further. Nothing MT1023 could feel or smell. His hands picked at his pants, and cold sweat beaded on his skin. Anxiety was building, building, as anoxia clawed his brain.
      Not knowing why he panted, he flashed his unfocused eyes from side to side. Panic folded in his face.
      Dropping more. Red line.
      He stood, lost the support of one of his legs, then fell back. His mouth gaped, and his pupils rolled.
      When his head drooped, then settled on his chest, a seam opened in the wall, and four men rushed into to the room. Their black clothes swam in the sea of light. Another syringe sank into MT1023's neck, then each grabbed an arm or leg and swept the limp body away.

Day 6, 1:17 A.M

      MT1023 squeezed his head in his hands and massaged his temples. He groaned, mumbled something the microphones didn't capture, then dropped a leg on either side of the bed. He heaved himself up.
      It was the first deep sleep since he was taken, but the drugs would leave his body punched and chewed.
      He looked down. Fingers traced along the edges of the bed. He repositioned his bottom.
      Feet came up out of the cold and crossed under him. He rocked back and forth to test the stability. He seemed to distrust his perception. He couldn't know precisely, but the bed was three inches wider.
      MT1023 tilted his head. Behind him, a thin stream of water trickled. The tinkling sound tiptoed around the room. He finally heard it.
      His pants squeaked against vinyl as he turned. His jaw swung open.
      Bolted to the wall, the oval of a toilet hovered like angelic, cupped hands. MT1023 scrambled over and knelt, almost worshiping it. He caressed the mirrored chrome of the flush handle.
      The water cascaded down the inner sides and rippled surface. He licked his lips. Although they hydrated him intravenously when he was unconscious, nothing touched his cracking throat.
      He looked over to the corner where he urinated days ago. The frozen yellow pool, and the remains of when he defecated, were gone.
      MT1023 plunged his hands into the bowl and scooped. Streams fell between his fingers and splashed onto his legs. He sucked in the puddle in his palms, then dove for more. He inhaled instead of drank, and he doubled over in a storm of coughing.
      When his lungs finally cleared, he threw his head back and let it rest on his shoulders. His eyes blinked upward. Exhausted.
      His gaze tipped down and focused. Something else was different. High over the toilet, higher than any normal ceiling would be, a mesh bag of fruit dangled on a peg.
      He climbed up and onto the rim of the bowl. It was wet from his thrashing, and his foot slipped and plunged to the bottom. Water sloshed out onto the floor.
      He winced, but kept his balance. He pulled up for a second try.
      Hiked up onto his toes, he stretched until his arms shook. He needed at least five more feet before he could snag the bottom of the sack.
      His face flashed scarlet, and he slapped the wall. His shoulders heaved with deep breaths.
      He looked up as if to gauge the distance and jump, but the tension drained from his muscles a few seconds later. He climbed down and sat on the edge of the seat.
      That's when he first noticed the writing. He touched the letters scratched along the back of the toilet.
      It read, JT1023.

Day 8, 2:03 P.M.

      MT1023 laid on his stomach. His elbows propped his hand-stretched face. The fruit hung overhead untouched. Some of the bright colors had browned.
      He stood and paced. He scrubbed his fist in his hair with blood crusted fingers. Hours ago he wrenched the bed from every angle and tried to rip it from the floor. Then, he knotted his pants and tried to whip the bag off the peg. His shins were covered with purple welts from when a desperate jump from the toilet went wrong. He pounded down in a jumble and speared his gut on the plumbing. He couldn't draw a normal breath for twenty minutes.
      He glared at the bananas and pears. Especially the bananas.
      "You think I'm a fucking ape?" he screamed. "See if the ape can reach the bananas?"
      He flailed at the air. Enraged.
      "Fuck you! You hear that? FUCK YOU!"
      He dropped onto the cushion and scraped his feet off the frigid floor. He rocked and rocked, with his head pressed into his knees.
      Then, a noise across the room froze him. A clang and a rolling heaviness. A rectangular shadow appeared in the far wall.
      An inner surface sank in, then slid out of view. When the sound stopped, an opening yawned in the silence.
      MT1023 didn't move. Sensors registered a spike in his heat signature. In his hands. Under his arms. In his crotch.
      Then, a figure appeared in the doorway. MT1023's eyes widened.

On to Part 4
Go back to Part 2


LiVEwiRe said...

Talk about being toyed with! I'm wondering if JT1023 came before him in an alphabetical test-subject line up; were there others? I have a tendency to read these before bed then I stay up thinking about them half the night! ;)

anne said...

A Clockwork Orange meets Flowers for Algernon.
Actually, I have no idea, I never read either. But I kept thinking about both.
I really like this, Jason.

Terri said...

Great job at painting the scene for us, Jason, and (as always) the build of tension is remarkable. Yes, my heart is racing a little and I can feel his frustration.

Susan Abraham said...

Hi Jason,
Finely-detailed with no nuance left untouched.
It wouldn't have been easy to paint this scene of isolation.
I believe you would have spent quite a while on this part; being extremely careful with detail and concentration.
Well done!

Bernita said...

All this detail is a bit torturous (!).
There should be an explanation of purpose soon or you may lose us.

JLB said...

More questions indeed. I do like but the drugs would leave his body punched and chewed.

I also agree with Bernita - as a reader, I feel as isolated and disembodied as MT1023. I need to look out a window, or hear a voice... or something... or I may start jumping for that bag of fruit myself! :)

Anonymous said...

Livewire, you're on the right track! I hope I didn't cost you too much sleep.

Anne, I like your analogies! I've read one of those. I should really read A Clockwork Orange too.

Terri, sorry I'm being so hard on him. ;) There's a reaon, though.

Susan, yes, because of what I'm trying to do, and the fact that the room is almost empty, writing this story has been a challenge. It's about to get easier though. :)

Bernita, it's fascinating how much stories rely on human interraction. Writing about a person in isolation is hard, especially since there's a reason I don't want you to get close to the character. The process of the "torture" has been the essential element until now.

JLB, this portion of the story might not be working, at least for some, but I assure you there's a reason I'm keeping you away from this character! :D The disembodied feel is intentional. It might not be working, but it's intentional, LOL!

Steve said...

I am really enjoying this. I wonder if they have anything like this at Gitmo?

mermaid said...

When one is the actual subject of an experiment, his/her perceptions change. Judging others becomes more complex.

I wonder if the initial scene with MT1023 judging the mother and child at the beginning has any connection with this experience. Can't wait for the ending...

Bernita said...

I take it he goes to be fully dressed?
The average reader may not recognize that as "combat ready."

Anonymous said...

Steve, thanks. :) I imagine even the "legal" techniques of "coercion" are more brutal.

Mermaid, your powers of perception are truly remarkable. Yes, that connection is important.

Bernita, sorry, I'm not following you on this one. He is clothed in what his captors dressed him.

JLB said...

Well, I'd say that it's working, and I can tell that it is intentional... I can't wait to find the mysteries revealed! :)

Bernita said...

Sorry, Jason, must have missed that...was wondering if he had been snatched from his bed, dressed.

Wilf said...

Ooo er. Looking forward to the next bit, Jason.

Kelly Parra said...

Great tension, Jason!

Anonymous said...

JLB, we'll see how it goes. I knew I was biting off a big job for myself with this story. :)

Bernita, I understand your confusion now. I could add something earlier to make clear his clothes have been changed into something sterile and white.

Addy, it's going to be a challenge, but I hope to keep to my schedule for the next piece early morning Monday.

Kel, thanks. =)

Scott said...

You've got me interested. I liked the touch with the JT1023 bit. The Chinese Banana torture treatment is little known, but effective. Also digged the way you communicated his arousal.

anna said...

the drugs would leave his body punched and chewed.

especially loved this. I am very fascinated by this story Jason.
Laughing about Bernita's comment. If this was a book we'd skim
over the little details but
(writers beware) this is a different medium entirely and it is difficult to keep the readers interest for more than 250 or 300 words. my 2 cents for what it's worth anyway

beadinggalinMS said...

Does he get the fruit?? I always enjoy reading your stories cause they way you write I can picture myself right there seeing and feeling everything.

Jeff said...

Great description and suspense, Jason. I'm following along. :)

klgilbert said...

Just read through from the beginning. I wonder if it is my husband's strong coffee (read this - road tar) or your story that has my heart pounding. I suspect it's both! I enjoy your sense of detail! It puts the reader square in the scene. The POV adds suspense.
Looking forward to next installment. -K

Anonymous said...

Scott, Chinese banana torture...LOL! :D

Anna, yes, the blog medium reads differently. The pace of this story is about to change, though, so perhaps that will liven things up. :)

Beady, if the scenes draw you in and surround you, then I'm a happy writer. :D

Jeff, thanks for reading along. :)

Kaye, I'm glad if the parts build when read together! I'm always a bit removed from the overall pace, since I write these things piece by piece.

angel said...

oh the poor man!!! my mouth is watering for him!