Monday, November 20, 2006

White Rooms, Part 4 (Serial Fiction, Thriller)

(Just joining us? Go back to Part 1)

      MT1023 eased to his feet. The figure in the doorway drifted sideways, not seeing the movement. He too was dressed in white.
      MT1023 crept closer. "Israelis," he hissed.
      The figure flinched.
      "I knew it." MT1023's voice gnawed the words. Spat them.
      MT1023 eyed the space beyond. Only one man to get through. A reasonable chance, even in his condition.
      The other man's face darkened. Either fear or rage. Perhaps both. "Arab," he said.
      MT1023 leapt. He plowed the man into the threshold. The man cracked into the frame and collapsed.
      MT1023 threw his flopping limbs into a wild run. Freedom soared on his face.
      He careened into another narrow white bed. Legs flashed out from under him. He twirled in midair and banged down onto his back. As he slid up to another white wall, a sink hovered over him. Foul stains dripped down the sides.
      MT1023's mouth worked, but no sound came out. The other man pounced.
      He grabbed MT1023's feet and dragged him away from the wall. MT1023 pushed up with his hands, but the stomp of a foot crushed one of them. MT1023 took a kick to the face, and the man flashed toward's MT1023's neck with hands like claws.
      The room was shredded by a hideous scream. It wasn't a human sound. In the middle of the attack, the man curled into a shaking ball.
      MT1023 wiped away pouring blood from his nose. He growled like a dog.
      With the other man still shrieking, MT1023 crawled over and grabbed a fistful of hair. Arms stiffened, ready to smash his head into the floor, but before he could deliver the blow, MT1023's face ballooned scarlet. His legs clamped, and he doubled over.
      Rushing noised croaked from his throat. He was vomiting with nothing in his stomach to vomit.
      A few seconds later, the shrieking stopped, and MT1023's face relaxed. Both men coughed, clutching their privates. MT1023 probed and found the implant they tucked in the folds of his scrotum. Electrical conduction directly to the testicle.
      Neither stirred, but MT1023's eyes were open. He gazed at the feet of the splayed man. A small line of text was tattooed on the center of one sole. MT1023's brow pinched in thought. It read JT1023.

Day 8, 3:24 P.M.

      The two men glared at each other from the two ends of the long bed.
      "What do you think they're doing with us?"
      "You think I know?" JT1023 said.
      MT1023 did not often look him in the eye. "How long have you been here?"
      "I don't know. Days, I think. Lots of days."
      "In this room?"
      MT1023 looked around. "It's exactly like mine, except this has that sink instead of a toilet."
      And no food. Nothing was hung over the sink.
      JT1023 leaned forward. "You have a toilet?" He looked to the doorway.
      "Don't get excited. I've had to drink from that toilet. You have a sink. You have been able to drink and wash."
      "Do you see that? Look! I've tried to piss in there. And other things. It's too high. And I have nothing to clean with. Nothing but my own clothes, and it's much too cold to get them wet."
      MT1023 stood and walked toward the plumbing. He looked along the wall. "There is writing here."
      "Yes, I've seen it."
      "Do you know what it means?"
      "Some kind of code. MT1023."
      "Does it mean anything to you?"
      "No. Nothing."
      MT1023 returned to the bed. He crossed his left leg over his knee. The sole of his foot pointed away from JT1023. Without drawing the other man's attention, MT1023 stole a glance at the bottom of his left foot. Recognition flickered on his face, then disappeared. There was a tattoo matching the number on the sink, just like the Israeli's tattoo matched the one on his toilet.
      "Have you seen a code like this anywhere else?"
      "No," JT1023 said. "But enough of this. I want to see your room."
      "My room is the same."
      "I want to see it."
      "No. I want to ask you more questions first."
      "I don't care about your questions. For all I know you are part of this. You are here to try to gain my trust. To get me to talk."
      MT1023 smiled an obviously forced smile. "I'm a prisoner like you. Of course, maybe you are the person planted to trick me."
      "I wish I were." JT1023 rubbed his eyes. Time dragged endlessly in the bright light. "I'm going over to the other room now."
      "Maybe we should start with this first. Tell me your name."
      "Don't you already know?"
      "How could I know? I told you. I'm a prisoner like you."
      JT1023 smirked. "Chaim," he said.
      The air punched out of JT1023 before the name stopped vibrating on his lips.
      Another blast from the implant. MT1023 caught him before the convulsion pitched him to the floor.
      "Stop it! Stop it!" MT1023 yelled.
      JT1023's jaw muscles bunched, rock hard.
      "Stop it! What did he do?"
      MT1023's hands moved along the other man's body. Helpless. He shook his head. grabbed fistfuls of the man's shirt.
      Then, MT1023's face shot toward the ceiling.
      "His name! His name! His name is JT1023!"
      Like a switch thrown off, the man in his arms deflated. His face dropped into the cradle of MT1023's bent arm.
      MT1023 held him while he wept.

On to Part 5.
Go back to Part 3.


Susan Abraham said...

Sounds torturous but very interesting, Jason.
I admire your tenacity in writing this story.

Saaleha said...

caught up on the last two installments. Turning out very interesting. Dying to know what will happen next. I love the gritty in-your-face feel of the story. No embroidery. Just stark, raw emotion. Lovely.

anne said...

That's one bizarre attempt at solving the conflict in the Middle-East...
I was puzzled at the "Israeli-Arab" exchange of pleasantries, but I suppose they recognized their arch enemies?

beadinggalinMS said...

very tense!! I can't wait to read the next part!

anna said...

yes! definitely the action has begun. OUCH with the testical torture. Good going Jason.
Can't wait for the next installment

mermaid said...

Israeli and Arab? This is deeper than I thought. We are always at war with each other, but are we responsible, or is someone else responsible?

klgilbert said...

This packs a powerful punch! Loved the pace. Good interaction between characters. Very interesting premise. KLG

Shesawriter said...

Very intense, Jason. I like how you keep the tension going with not just the light touches of description, but the dialogue too. It's very alive.

Good writing!


Anonymous said...

Susan, thanks. :) This is a bit of a departure for me. I wanted to give it a shot, though.

Saaleha, gritty in-your-face feel of the story. No embroidery. Just stark, raw emotion.... Thank you for the feedback! There's a brutality and pragmatism to this story.

Anne, I did make a bit of an assumption there. I'm struck by how the different ethnic groups in the Middle East can instantly tell each other apart, e.g., Arabs, Persians, Turks, Tajiks, Afghans, etc.

Beady, :D I have to get busy, I guess.

Anna, thank you. :) I'm not showing these folks any mercy, am I?

Mermaid, yes, this is a bit of social, cultural, psychological commentary on my part. More complexity to come.

Kaye, thank you for the feedback!

Tanya, thanks for the kind words. I was looking forward to bringing in the dialog element. It was hard moving the story in isolation.

LiVEwiRe said...

In some ways, this really makes me think of brainwashing and interaction between the two is very interesting. Friend or foe, guess we shall see! This is different for you, kind of minimalist; great to see another facet of your talents.

Bernita said...

Curiouser and curiouser...

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing that when you have nobody else, your enemy can become your best friend.

JLB said...

I love that we're stepping outside of the bubble now. The action/fight scene was a little difficult to follow, but I imagine it was also a bit of a challenge to write. ;)

Can't wait for the next installment!

Wilf said...

Bizarre punishment or experiment? Either way, for his sake, I hope he's a quick learner. Tense stuff, Jason!

Anonymous said...

Livewire, thanks! It's fun to try different styles and techniques.

Bernita, yeah, this is a strange one.

JLB, if I do rewrites later, I'll try to clean up that fight scene. Thanks for the feedback!

Addy, a quick learner.... I agree! :)

Steve said...

Sorry I'm late to comment, but have been out of town.

Your story brings something to mind. The series 'The Prisoner'. The location, The Village.

angel said...

oh my goodness jason... this is absolutely heartwrending!! i half wish you'd write faster- i can't wait for the next instalment!

Anonymous said...

Steve, I don't know the series, The Prisoner, but I'll take your word for it. :)

Angel, I'm glad it's got you going! Sorry, we have a holiday weekend here and I'm behind on the story installments. I'll get back on it ASAP.