Author’s Note: PG-17/R for Language - This is Merry #5 –A-, one of several parts that make up a whole. *Wow even*. You might blame the title on Doctor Bender.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
(Somewhere between Langley, VA and ARC.)
I was running, trying to get lost in the maze of pipes and wires. I could hear the rasp of scales on cement and on steel. A dry rustle that wasn’t quite paper and not quite dead leaves seemed to echo off of every wall and from every dark shadow.
I had turned the valve that would divert the pressure off of the main reactor and if I made it to the next junction I could lure the pythons into a steam bath. I glanced to my watch, my time was measured in nano-seconds, not that it mattered; I was way behind the power curve.
~’Go faster Merry.’~
“God dammed snakes just leave me alone!” I ducked under a looping coil that was frozen in time long enough for me to slip past. “Red and Black, friend to Jack. Black to Yellow, Kill a Fellow.” So much yellow and black, diamonds too, the scales were so unbalanced.
Sweat was dripping from every pore and my eyes were fairly burning from the poison spray from the spitting cobra that was further back down the one of the many tunnels I had raced through. Motion blurred then stopped, the router, follow the router to the junction. Circuits flowed and bent under my weight, I was pressing every button, hitting every sequence.
~’Only two hundred and seventy one combinations, child’s play Merry’~
“Child’s play he says, he’s not the one with the snake bites.” I slapped a few more sequences into motion, “/patternFinder execute.”
L,I,T,B,E,Y,R,*,*,*,*,*… Eleven letters, five repeats. Where am I? Think, passwords are often tied to mnemonics.
~’The Reactor is in Liberty, Kansas Merry, does that help?’~
L,I,B,E,R,T,Y,*,*,*,*, four letter word and liberty. Doh! I am not a Pennsylvanian resident if I can’t make that jump. I keyed in LIBERTYBELL, then I watched the locks open on the pump. I pulled the lever and the pumps kicked into gear, “Alright! Eat that you suckers!”
In the distance the snakes hisses were replaced by the sounds of steam jetting out under excessive pressure. A warning siren started screaming. “Its! Not! Fair!” I screamed back at the sirens.
~’Get to the control room, the terrorists have set the reactor to overload.’~
~’You can do it.’~
I sighed and ran, I was so tired of running. The net was nearly dead down here, only a few data lines were up. “They cut the main trunk lines.” I looked around, the local network was still up in the Reactor’s Control Room.
I slipped into the hubs and up into the security system. From various inputs I could see the firefight tick by in single frames on the outskirts of the plant. I found the fire suppression system, the only people alive in the control room were the terrorists, so many broken bodies in white shirts lay on the floor. “No hostages are alive in the control room.”
I triggered the Halon system and watched the fire doors slip shut, and the white vapor started filling the room. No distractions, just ignore the people making fish faces in the various cameras. I eased down and into the control room computer. No snakes for a change, just a few twitchy things that pounded at keys and doors.
“What am I looking for?” I watched the digital gauges rise exponentially, it was going to be a hot time in the old town tonight.
~’Scram the plant, look for the control rods. All of them need to go in to shut down the plant.”’~
I found the control rods, of course they were locked. I beat my hands on the panels, “Why can’t things just go right!”
~’Go faster. Look for an emergency bypass.’~
Wires and paths, switches, relays and monitors. I flipped through a model of the plant, I would have to go into the reactor. I turned on the monitors in that room, it was filled with snakes. I closed my eyes, “Snakes, no more snakes.”
~’No one else can do it Merry.’~
I turned and ran down the cascading logic gates, On, Off. NOT, NAND, XOR. I fell into the pool of ones and zeros only to drop into the digital sea below. I let myself drift with the current then I surfaced in the stand-alone system attached to the hydraulic rams that would insert the cooling rods.
I was standing besides a bank of switches all flashing in a red sea. I ignored the bites, the hisses and the ugly caress of the scales against my flesh. The largest one was wrapping me tighter and tighter each time that I pulled a lever down. I clasped the last leaver and let the weight of the snake pull it and me down.
~’Get out Merry.’~
Out. Out was good, even quiet, and then even though I was out; the last hissing snake bit at my neck.
“A god damned nightmare. How many people did we lose?” Paul asked someone on his cell phone. “Just wounded? Ok. Yeah I will get back to you. Tell them to start the convoy moving again.”
The trailer rocked a few times and the cargo trailer cum hospital room rattled loudly. A small figure was secured to a bed with straps and various wires that connected her to a small jungle of monitors. Aside from what appeared to be a mad plumbers convention on and going into her body; she might have been sleeping peacefully.
The assorted medical team members were looking everywhere but at the two men. The general undercurrent of the mobile hospital room was distinctly hostile. For a moment the only sound came from the medical monitors and the hum of the tires against the road.
Evans was glaring at Paul, “I hope you are happy.”
“It was necessary.”
“Necessary,” he echoed with a snort of disgust.
“Look I am not happy about it, ok? I just follow instructions.”
Evans shook his head, “Save your justifications, I read you well enough.”
“You can resign at any time.”
“Oh I plan on it, once she is safely at ARC and after I file –my- report.” Evans looked at the unconscious girl, “I hope you get what you deserve, once she wakes up and finds out what you did…”
“She will never find out.”
“Care to lay odds on that?”
Saturday, October 28, 2006 (Morning)
I was melting, I could feel myself sliding backwards, the hissing had faded; though the pressure on my arms was still great. I could feel its mouth constricting on my neck. I tried to scream for help; then I awoke to darkness.
I was drenched in sweat and couldn’t move my arms, my heart was pounding from the nightmare; there still was that pressure on my neck choking me… I screamed trying to take one last breath before it swallowed me. Somewhere in that moment I started coughing then it was blessedly quiet again.
A trio of people jerked alert with the scream that echoed over the speaker and they looked towards darkened monitors. One of the three rapidly started punching buttons and the multiple cameras and lights that fed into the room turned on. As the monitors sprung into life, they framed the girl who was lying on the white padded floor of the room. Her oddly highlighted black and blue hair was pasted to the side of her face with sweat. From the bottom end of the straight jacket, her bare legs peeked out, though her arms were lost from sight.
The second person was largely overweight, though he moved with the careless ease of one accustomed to having the world get out of the way for him. He peered into the all white room with some concern. He took a PDA out from the pocket of his exceedingly loud Hawaiian shirt, the PDA easily vanishing from sight in his hands. The black pants were a sharp contrast to the Samoan tribal tattoos that graced his brown arms and face. A tag on his shirt simply read: Kam, ARC, Support.
He scratched at his short-cropped black hair, then he closed his eyes for a moment. When he opened them again the girl in the next room rose a few feet and the straight jacket slowly but carefully undid itself from around the child. A few moments later she drifted over to the bunk and was placed careful in it, the straight jacket was allowed to fall with careless abandonment.
“Kam, was she supposed to be loose?” The first man, was dressed in medical whites, he was a sharp contrast in thinness compared to the Samoan. His sandy long brown hair was tied back with a multitude of colored scrunches.
Kam shrugged and tapped his toes, letting his sandals slap loudly against the tiled floor. “Chris, she’s in a bad way, poor girl.”
Chris looked in on the sleeping child, then at the temperature gages for her room. “She’s sweating way too much for the rooms temperature setting.” He looked over to the lady who was tapping at a keyboard. “Say Kerry, when was the last time her blood sugars were checked?”
The red head turned to look up from her notes, she was wearing a pale blue blouse under a white lab coat, a pair of gray slacks and a pair of white Nikes stretched out lazily under the desk. She flipped through a few pages of barely legible notes, “Four-twenty in the morning, it says she was at one hundred fifty. A bit high, but not dangerously so.”
A glance to the clock showed the current time, “It’s six now, when was her last meal?” asked Chris.
“Uh, one second.” Kerry tapped at a screen then looked back through the pile of charts. “Breakfast this past Wednesday.” Her nose wrinkled slightly as if she was lost in thought, “She had a delusional episode resulting from some of her medications, shortly followed by anaphylactic shock. Stabilized… Ye gods, they either didn’t like her or were scared shitless of her.”
Kam glanced down at the girl in the monitor, then the screen zoomed in to show her legs, a multitude of small Band-Aids covered her legs. “What’s with all the Band-Aids?”
“Some of them were from the glucose study, evidently she is diabetic. On top of her other problems; she is listed as a sociopath.” Kerry’s voice held a hint of disbelief. “Anti-Psychotics, Deidrik’s, antidepressants, glucophages, and heavy sedation. Currently she’s got a red flag on all medications, her body chemistry is a ‘fun’ one.”
Chris looked over to Kam, “So, what brings the heavy mover of ARC to my humble abode?”
Kam blinked slowly, “Hmm, I would say it’s because they are afraid one little girl is going to use you for a tooth pick.” He grinned, “Still, I think it’s an error on some ones part.”
Kerry chimed in, “Not entirely, overkill perhaps, but not in error, look at the ambient voltage sensor.” She reached up to tap a digital meter, “Five thousand volts and rising quickly.”
Kam whistled softly, “Itty bitty package, awesome cosmic power.”
“How? The room is shielded from outside power sources.” He walked over to a bank of instruments, “Figures, they left the Rosenberg Field un-powered. Idiots.” He flipped a switch, “Ok, that should make a difference.”
“And she is stabilizing at roughly ten thousand volts,” Kerry shook her head, “Messy, the folks at Langley are just plain sloppy. An image popped up on the monitor, then a second. Evidently they were before and after shots of Merry, taken from her testing. In one image it is plain to see she is largely androgynous, the next is evident that she had transformed to mostly female.
“Blood stains?” Kam rumbled in surprise.
“Not her blood, hers is literally blue, they sent a few moments of video.” The video flickers to life and Merry is in the testing chamber, where she is looking at a gun. A few moments later she is shown killing a lady in camouflage outfit, a few moments of static and she is shown shooting another man in the same type of clothing in the back.
“Look at her face, she’s in shock or something. No visible emotions.” Chris was looking at the two monitors, “She is showing more emotion sleeping than she did then.”
“An astute observation Chris,” stated a gentle baritone voice. The man took a few more stepped into the room past a separate array of monitors that looked as if they were viewing a scene from ‘2001 a Space Odyssey’; cryogenically frozen sleepers in deep hibernation.
The man was wearing an immaculate white lab coat over a nicely fitted three-piece gray suit. The only color it seemed he allowed himself was a pale blue tie. Black dress shoes reflected the light of the room lending an air of height to the man.
“Hello Doctor Otto, come to see our newest problem case?”
“Yes and no, the ‘Powers Above’ decided I have a full plate at the moment.” He smiled at the trio, “Still it does seem like they have a good support staff in place.”
“Hey Doc, didn’t hear you come in,” Kam offered in way of greeting.
He waved aside issue with one hand, “she is quite the enigma isn’t she?” he asked and chuckling softly. “Have you worked through her classifications yet?”
“Somewhat Doctor, I was focusing on her medical problems first.” Kerry turned and motioned to a stack of files, “It’s amazing she didn’t suffer a burn out in her testing phase.” An image from an MRI came to life on a monitor, “Here she has a gland or something that is roughly the size of my fist, at least on the image.” She pushes a key, “Here it has radically expanded in size. It’s now about three times what it was before the test. Not to mention the other physiological changes.”
“How big is it now?” Chris was looking over the pair’s shoulders.
“Well it expanded to occupy a good third of her abdomen, at least it appears to do that on the video. Then she changed again and her body mass and structure altered radically.” She presses a button and another image replaces the last two, “Here she had a normal stomach and intestinal tract,” another image comes up. “Then it altered immensely, her stomach remained the same, though her intestinal tracts appears to have contracted and compressed in on themselves.”
“Adaptive mutation?” Kam was looking in from one side.
“Or something, there is also a secondary medical file stating that some sort of prior surgical intervention was necessary earlier. Largely tied to secondary sexual characteristics.”
“In English?” Kam looked at Kerry with a bland expression.
“Um, she was born with both sexes and the parents made a bad call, one of them was removed.” She shook her head, “And later as it grew back, the poor kid’s kidneys nearly shut down before they figured that out. It says she even went as far as to go into cardiac arrest on the table.”
“Tough little girl.”
“Interesting.” Doctor Otto was looking surprised, “Was her mutation active before or after resuscitation?”
“After it appears,” she chucked her tongue in amusement, “evidently they charged her up, and she knocked a few surgeons to the floor as they tried to operate.”
“She woke up -on- the table?”
“Briefly, though it doesn’t sound like she was aware of it.”
With a frown Doctor Otto took up a chair, “You are aware she cannot be handled directly?” The trio nodded, “It would seem we have a few mysteries, though the how and the whys of it may only be seen in Gods cook-book.”
“Why bring her ‘here’, what makes her so dangerous?” Kam asked in some confusion, “If all she is just an untrained energizer.”
“Not entirely, that may only be a secondary aspect of her true gift.” He waved a hand to the monitors, “Behold a first of her kind. You have seen telepaths and others with gifts like your own, correct Kam?”
“Every day Doc.”
“As easy as some might pluck thoughts from minds, this child manipulates computers.”
“OK so she can read data files, big whoop.” Chris opined.
Doctor Otto chuckled, “A bit more in depth than that. I believe she once threatened to target an nuclear missile on someone’s house.” He held up a finger, “And they believe she very likely could do it.”
“Get out.” Chris incredulously responded as he was looking back to the monitor, “People supposedly hack into NORAD all the time, like the movie War Games.”
“Well from what I have been able to wiggle out of a few people, she can bypass virtually all security on a computer in seconds. Not to mention change files and so on, to reflect what she wants them to.” Doctor Otto was grinning.
“What is so funny Doctor?” Kerry asked.
“From what I gathered, if you like your bank accounts to remain full, you don’t want to annoy her overly much.”
Kam smiled, “Can she get me a raise?”
“Very likely, though do you want to explain that to the IRS?” Doctor Otto was looking at Kam with a bemused expression, “I seem to recall you having a difficult time in Nevada, something about roulette and craps?”
Kam’s face colored and he looked at the floor, “Um, yeah.”
“So do you want that kind of headache again?”
“No, I will stick to my nice six figure salary.” Kam grinned ruefully.
“So what is her primary classification then?” Kerry was holding a pen with her records open.
“Cautiously, I would label her as a Cyber-Path of undetermined ability,” he shrugged, “if that is indeed the proper name for it. As far we know of, she is the first ever, so it is rather hard to judge what her range and limitations are.”
“If she indeed has any,” he shook his head and glanced at the trio to ensure he had their attention, “They think she has a proximity range that she has to be in, in order to effect computers. Though we are not certain, needless to say there is some concern about the quality of data from our good friends in the CIA.” He said the last with an edge of sarcasm.
With a shrug he motioned to the cameras, “Hence all the heavy shielding. She has been documented to be able to know if a network is active and if a power line is alive or not, from mere observation. Though that may be a secondary aspect of her power.”
“It says here,” Kerry tapped a file, ”her eyes register wavelengths deep into the electromagnetic spectrum. All though they say she is ‘technically’ color blind.” Kerry snorted, “Not to mention being able to ‘see’ while in total darkness.”
“That’s a fun trade off.” Chris noted while leafing through another file, “Photo copied records, cute. Wasn’t there a something about a bomb at a hospital in Philadelphia recently?” He held up a page that had a Philadelphian hospital logo prominently displayed in one corner.
“I think, some radical anti-mutant group or something claimed responsibility.” Kam shrugged as Chris tried to hand him the file, “I just move stuff Chris, I am not supposed to play doctor.”
“Well you are getting paid to keep your intern hat on this week, for a change,” said Kerry with a smile, “All those shuttle punks will have to change their own tires for a change.”
Otto chuckled deeply, then pointed towards the girl in question, steering them back on subject. “Needless to say some folks are concerned that she will invade our computer systems and play havoc with things.” He was looking thoughtful, “You may want to back things up to DVD on an hourly basis. I am planning backing my own computer up, just in case.”
“She’s that good?” Kam was looking at his PDA with some worry.
“If you like your little black book Kam, I suggest you leave it out here.” Kerry was smiling, “We know how love the ladies.”
“Hey there is a lot of me to love.”
“We can see that,” commented Chris.
“Why I ‘aughta’”, Kam raised his hand up in the air majestically.
“Send him to the moon with out his space suit?” Doctor Otto commented dryly.
“Aw Doc, just because one loud mouth shuttle jockey got under my skin one day…”
“And you lifted him two hundred feet into the air, minus his parachute…” continued Kerry.
“Doesn’t mean you would have dropped him, more than a hundred feet, before catching him again.” Finished Chris for the large man.
“Ummm. You got me.” Kam was looking slightly pink. “I didn’t hurt him.”
“Right Kam. So I will see you at Anger Management Group, Tuesday afternoon?” Doctor Otto seemed to be enjoying the larger mans discomfort slightly.
“Ah jeeze Doc.”
“It’s only a few more sessions Kam, besides its Henry’s turn to buy the pizza.”
“Ok, fine.” He moaned in mock pain, “the things I put up with for free food.”
“I’ll see you at group then.” Doctor Otto stood up from his chair, “If things get too weird with her, I would like to know.”
“Officially? Or?” Kerry was eyeing the Doctor with a hint of suspicion.
“Oh, just the odd mention of it might be appropriate.” He waved a hand to the building in general, “Let’s just say I have my own concerns.”
“One of your infamous hunches?” Kerry asked, but all eyes were on the Doctor.
“That and human nature,” Doctor Otto pointed to the PDA in Kam’s hand, “With something as simple as that, she is thought to become a weapon. Though I expect the truth is even more interesting.”
Chris looked at his friends and summed things up neatly for them. “Oh boy.”
I awoke to a blue and white world, in a strange bed and in a stranger place. You would think I would be used to it by now, though I wasn’t. If anything I was beginning to treat it as a sign that my life was taking another turn for the worse.
I could feel that I was on some sort of cot or bunk, it was firm and had a distinct hospital antiseptic smell to it. I wasn’t sure if the walls were white until I poked at it with a finger. The wall was canvas covered and seemed to compress a bit before firming up. I closed my eyes and floated in my own blue world for a small amount of time. It was nice not to be pushed around by the electronic breeze for a change.
I was very achy and stiff; leaving me to guess that I had been out of it for some time. My nose and throat were rough and had a scratchy feeling. My mouth had a nasty feel to it as well; not to mention it was largely dry. Opening my eyes again seemed to be a mistake as the room spun slightly. I could see and feel one bright spot of bright blue next to the overhead lights, and very faint lines on the distance that might be a computer or more power lines.
I was feeling a bit thick in the head as too. Which might explain why it took me a few minutes to realize that the white of the room and the softly padded walls were not a figment of my imagination. Though, when I did realize I was in a padded cell, I can’t say I was overly surprised.
~:Welcome Alice to your own padded cell, the White Rabbit will be along shortly with the red and blue pills.:~
“If only it was that easy.”
~#Designate location as safe?#~
“Safe, well maybe. Doubt it though.”
~!Well look at it from this way, cleaning it will be easy.!~
~$ *Worry*Panic* Run, hide.$~
“Relax folks, we are mostly safe.”
~:As in mostly harmless, too?:~
“Well, it ‘is’ us.”
I eased myself up to look around the room resting on both arms, then I sat up slowly the rest of the way, as the room tilted slightly. “Crud, this is not a good indication of how my day is gonna go.”
I eased my feet to the cushioned floor and in a moment of abstract weirdness I remembered to not flash anyone. I rearranged my hospital gown to cover my ass and looked for any markings on it. There were none I could make out, though the stark white cotton hospital gown did not promise to be useful for any escape attempts.
Sitting up made two things apparent; first was that I really had to pee. The second was that with the wild gyrations the room was making, walking to the exposed toilet was going to be a problem. I closed one eye and eased down to the floor; with luck I could crawl the short mile to the toilet and not pee myself.
Have you ever noticed that when you are sick and have to do anything, that it seems to take forever? Ok maybe not forever, though the short eternity it took to get there, sure made its length known. In some ways I was glad someone had neglected to return my underwear, though from the unnerving aspect of trying to hide what I was doing under the hospital gown; some extra modesty would have been nice.
The sound of a small motor made me aware of a video camera in the room as I sat and took care of some overdue business. I scrunched down, and watched the camera watch me. Not wanting to miss my chance at giving the giving the wrong impression I flipped the camera the bird. Then I said, “fucking perverts.”
I did get a slight giggle when the camera abruptly pointed to the opposite corner. Though I can’t say for certain, I was fairly sure the motor was not that fast. I shook my head and contemplated the tissue dispenser, single sheet, single ply. Stopping up the toilet was not going to be a viable escape ploy.
I sighed and worked at shredding a piece of toilet paper trying to take my mind off the watchers. It was one of those tricks that I never understood, until I figured out that the on and off switch muscles for peeing are different for guys and girls. Since then it has almost become a ritual of its own right.
Once the internal pressure had dropped off, I got this odd feeling that I was missing something or it was slightly over due. I tried to tick off days on my hands as the camera started back to life. I sighed and finished up before it tracked back in position where it could see me. Then I put one hand out to touch the button recessed in the wall to flush.
For a short time I had discovered a few new words or two in my vocabulary, of which I used, loudly. The other thing I noted was that the toilet’s flush button was a very good grounding point. My other concern was that I might have welded the silly thing in the off position. Which if it was the case could make things a tad smelly in a few hours.
I shook my hand and blinked a few tears out of my eyes. “If you all can remotely flush the toilet it might help.” A few moments later the toilet flushed, which answered the questions of if they could hear me and could flush.
“Thank you. Also, it might be really nice if you could get me some underwear and pads in the next few days. I am a bit over due for my period. An’ I don’t want to sleep in it any time soon. Tu Capisci?”
I almost made it to the bunk when I tripped over something. Considering I was weaving all over the place, it could have been my own feet. Though when I recovered enough of my wits and my equilibrium, I noted that it was a straight jacket.
~:Just your size, how nice.:~
I pushed myself up and untangled my legs from the arms of the jacket. I gathered it up and sighed as my butt was hanging out of the gown again. I picked my dignity, myself and the jacket up, and then walked the last few steps to the bed. I rolled the jacket up and placed it at the head of the bed, since it was the only feature of the room I could use for a pillow.
When the jacket rose up by itself and moved to the door, I was more than a bit surprised, if not edged out by it. The jacket danced its way to the door and then the door opened with a flood of electronic breeze, though no one was in sight.
You didn’t have to credit me for being slow of thought, much less to suit thought to action. Unfortunately some jolly joker had dipped my feet in glue after the first step. Experimentally I gave each foot a good tug, then strained for a few seconds futilely before giving up. “Well fuck me!” Evidently I was not going anywhere soon.
“Tut tut, such language.” I turned my head to the voice then tried to take a step backwards as the largest man I had ever seen out side of cartoons, walked in.
I flailed for a moment as I lost my balance, my knees wanted to go where my mind told them but my feet did not. Just as I thought I was going to bite it big time, something ‘caught’ me in mid fall and then moved me to the bed gently.
“Sorry, didn’t mean to startle you,” he said.
I looked at the man and shook my head slowly trying to find polite words. I for one did not want this mountain of flesh mad at me any time soon. Especially considering he seemed to act like he was responsible for my sticky feet.
“I’m Kam,” he offered into my silence.
“Hello. Um Kam. Did you do?” I pointed to the floor then motioned to the bed. When he nodded with a smile, I knew for certain I did not want him mad at me. “Oh, sorry, my um, mouth tends to react on its own at times.”
“I saw that.” He pointed to the button on the wall that would have flushed the toilet. He laughed and fanned a large hand in my direction, “You know that little zap dropped your current power level about two thousand volts?”
“Eeep!” Not terribly communicative but it suited my guts’ clenching sensation.
“Needless to say I won’t be volunteering to shake your hand. I suppose we probably need to set a few ground rules.”
I groaned and lay there shaking my head. “Wonderful.”
“Oh it is not that bad. I am a nice guy, honest.” He was rocking side to side on his sandals. I suppose that if your feet are that large; shoes may not be an option. Though the sandals seemed very out of place in the all white room. As did the flowery red tent he was wearing as a shirt.
“I’ll take your word for that.” No I was not trying for sarcasm, though it may have leaked out.
“Ah a ‘hard case’.”
“Not really, I am just not much for rules.” I grinned impishly, “The less rules there are, the less I feel the need to urge to break them.”
“Oh one of those types,” Kam chuckled. “Still just so we know where we stand, I have to give you a few.”
“Ok, just remember I may try and break them anyways.”
“First rule, no throwing food or fecal material.” He pointed at the toilet, “Crap stays in the toiler, yes?”
“Ick, I think I can live with that part of the rule. If the food sucks though…”
“Have you ever known hospital food to not suck?”
“Well for the time being you may want to pretend that it is good; even if it sucks. I am not going to clean up after you. If you eat what turns up or most of it, we will see about a candy bar or something. Ok?”
“I’ll consider it.” Though the idea of a candy bar made my stomach wake up.
He paused, then nodded. “Good, next I won’t call you names if you don’t call me names.”
“No jokes of ‘Howdy Jailer?’”
“I’ll consider it.” He chuckled and made a hash mark in the air with a finger. “One for me, I think.” He knelt down on one knee, “Last rule, you don’t try and zap me, and I won’t glue you to a spot for an hour or three.”
“Deal, shake on it?” I held out my hand and smiled.
He reached out and paused before moving his hand back out of reach, “Almost had me. They didn’t put anything in your notes about you being sneaky.”
I made a mark of my own in the air, “One for me, arm wrestle for the last point?”
“Nope, I don’t think so, at least not until I can find some heavily insulated gloves.”
“Feel like food?”
“No. I don’t even feel like me…” I paused at his chuckle, ”My head and my stomach are not talking to each other using nice words yet. Not to mention with the way things have been going I’ll crash soon and need a shot or something. Also the room is doing a slow whirl to the left.”
“Well I will see what the folks say about that. Still, how about water or something?”
“Hmm, a Jolt Cola™ would be nice.”
“Sorry they don’t want you running laps in here on the caffeine, how about a sports drink?”
“Ok, it beats water.” I held my nose and made a sinking motion with my hand.
“You lounge there and I see if I can get a jug of punch for you.”
“No problem I can get it for myself.” I rose up and sank back down as the room did a triple gainer. “Or not…” I felt my stomach lurch. “Um, sick.”
“Yep you don’t look so good.”
“No. Going. To. Be. Sick.” I managed to get each word out and keep what little was in my guts, in my guts.
I felt the bed fall out from under me and I closed my eyes as I floated in what felt like the direction of the toilet. “Hang in there Circuit Breaker, a few more seconds,” I felt the room violently spin, though that could have been me being flipped over to face the toilet. “Ok, let her rip kid.”
I didn’t need a second invitation. Though I am sure there were some very rude comments building up in delayed outrage from the sudden violent spin he gave me so that I faced the toilet. Once the urge to vomit had left and I had wiped my mouth, I settled for giving him a dirty look. “Oh Kam, about that rule where we don’t call each other names?”
“If you ever spin me like that when I am sick, again. That rule goes down the crapper.”
“Oh,” he said in a small voice. “I wasn’t thinking of that.”
~:That’s obvious.:~ Chad added snidely, though I had to agree with him.
“Trust me you do not want to try it, at least from my perspective anyways.” I told him without the added rancor provided by Chad.
“Ho-Kay. Back to bed?”
“If you would, just no trips through Beggar’s Canyon today.”
I heard him laugh, “Right, up you go.” I floated upwards away from the toilet. “And over,” then I was slowly sailing to the bed. “An back down.” Where he deposited me softly into the bed. A few moments later he walked over and flushed the vomit et al, away.
I felt oddly weak, like I had skipped a few meals and then just ran a marathon. “Ugh, maybe the Jolt Cola™ would be a very good idea about now. Someone just flipped my off switch.”
About that time a lady walked in with the nefarious test strips, meter and the pointy clicky tube. “Sorry Circuit Breaker, need a quick test.”
Evidently we were playing the code name game today, “its just ‘Breaker’.”
“Ok, Breaker, time to check your blood sugar levels.” She settled everything on the end of the bed near my feet. “You know how to do this?”
I grimaced and slowly sat up, no the world was still not liking me. “Yeah, unfortunately I do.” I picked up a wipes packet and spent a few seconds deciding which finger to abuse. I gave a mental shrug and selected the middle finger, as I may as well get some use out of it. After the wipe, stick and test was done; I was the proud owner of a bandaged ‘bird.’
I glanced at her medical whites looking for a nametag. Evidently this crowd didn’t run around advertising who they were. “Your blood sugar is very low, can you tell if your pump has kicked in or not?”
“Nope, sometimes it vibrates just after a dose. Though if it happened while I was puking my guts out just now, I would not have noticed it.”
She dug in a pocket and tossed a red and white striped candy into my lap, “Start sucking on that, I think you need solid food in you.”
“Ok.” I shrugged, I was not sure how a bit of candy was going to help. I unwrapped it and started the dubious process of making the candy cane flavored candy vanish.
“We’ll be back with a meal soonish, oatmeal sound ok?”
“Nothing that tastes like dead gym socks please,” I sighed recalling my last meal that didn’t go so well.
“Oh I think we can find something better than that,” she was smiling though her eyes were saying something was off.
I grunted and they departed fairly quickly taking the trash and the test meter with them.
I lay there chasing the candy around my mouth with my tongue, and trying to figure out just why I was doing it when the insulin pump vibrated once. A few seconds later it vibrated again, then it sat quietly ignoring me like it usually does. “Well the pump did something twice,” I announced to the room.
Blue, blue and more blue, I was starting to drown in it.
“Good idea,” I croaked aloud and spent a few long moments trying to come up with something that would let me float in the blue sea rather than drown amongst it. I seemed to be successful, though I could feel every single flux of the power line that fed the light overhead.
The pressure inside and outside of my bubble was building up to the point were I it seemed to be a rude tug of war. I of course, was the frayed cord. My head was now splitting apart on top of my just being sick. I must have whimpered aloud because the next thing I was aware of was a light tug on my gown.
“Breaker? What is wrong?” asked Kam, evidently he was back.
“Too much power coming in. Kill the lights and the other stuff please?”
“Too much power, how? Never mind, everyone has his or her tricks.”
I ignored him and just tried not to feel my brain melting through the backside of my skull. I tried to tighten down the bubble and block everything out. But how do you block what is inside of you? I didn’t have an answer for that. So I settled for praying for a quick death or something.
~’Ow. You do have a problem don’t you?’~ it was an unfamiliar voice, male though.
Gee I was collecting quite a vast assortment these days.
~’Not quite, consider me an interested party to your madness.’~
Ok it was making fun of me.
~‘Hmm, no. Though if you like I think I could tell a joke or two?’~
I sighed and held my eyeballs in my head with both hands by the expedient method of pushing against my eyelids with the palms of my hands.
~’Having a pretty rough time of it? Ok, let’s see what you have got going. Ah, so you found a copy of the Whateley Powers and Meditation Guide?’~
“Yes what?” Kam asked in what sounded like confusion, though if you ask me he fairly screamed it into my ear. Though I was sure he wasn’t that mean.
“Talking to the voices in my head, don’t worry, be happy.” I giggled, then immediately wished that I had not. I was flying and I don’t mean via Kam. If I didn’t hurt so much or sick it would have been be fun.
“Ask the voice for a name.” Kam advised with a chuckle.
~’Good idea, hello I am Otto.’~
“Oh great, now I have a new personality named Otto. Shit.” I blew a raspberry into the air above me, and almost cried as the vibration form my lips and tongue nearly took my head off.
Kam was laughing and it ‘hurt’. “N-no, it’s a friend of mine, sometimes he has good advice.”
~’*!* Ok, I see I will have to talk with Kam some time soon. I think your body is trying to overcompensate a bit for some reason.”
“You think?” I asked. Yes I was drowning in sarcasm at the moment, ”gods, the last thing I need is more people thinking in my head.”
~’It’s not that bad, everyone talks to themselves sometimes. You are just one of the few lucky people who can ‘name’ the voices you talk to.’~
“Fuck, everyone here is a comedian.” I opened an eye to peer at Kam, “If you just would shoot me now, I would feel so much better.”
“Kerry will have something to stop the room from spinning in a bit, just put one foot on the floor. That usually works for me”
~’*chuckle* Don’t mind that bit of advice, people who drink to much, swear that it helps to keep the world stable. *shrug* You don’t feel good do you? Hmm, let us review this ‘bubble’ of yours. What feeds it? Oh and just think at me, no need to speak.’~
*Wonderful, ok, it’s connected to nothing, the bubble just is.*
~’Ah, you don’t find it a bit odd that it is just powered by you willing it to be?’~
*Nope I do it all the time, someplace else. *
~’The Net? Ah I see, so you think the same rules apply in and out of the Net?’~
*Well I am the person inventing the stuff so why wouldn’t it be?* I asked with a distinct tone of irritation.
~’Yet the bubble gives you a headache, while what you do in the Net does not?’~
*Yeah, it is a lot harder to hold up too. Have to keep focusing on it or it goes pop.*
~’Right, humor me for a moment, ok?’~
*Sure, I am not going anywhere.*
~’Quite, let the bubble go, then let me know when you are ready.’~
I took a breath and braced myself for the impact that would come when the bubble went. I let it go and was swept up in the flood of incoming power from around the door’s cracks. Ugh. *OK it’s down, gone, what-ever.*
~’Now I want you to picture a line coming out from you, that connects you to the bubble. Think of it as you being an embryo, in a very hard egg. Now think of the bubble while pushing your own power out to form it.’~
I was not sure where he was going with this, but I gave it a try maybe it would help. So, a line out to the bubble, fine, a mental game, easy enough I suppose. Pushing stuff out was not quite as easy as letting it flow in. I growled in frustration when it was not going as fast as I wanted it too, then there was a loud pop. Followed a tornado of broken glass screaming defiantly in its rain from the ceiling.
~’Interesting. Now take a breath, calm down and try again.’~
~’That isn’t calm. Just breath, in and out, like the first few exercises in the book.’~
I let out a long sigh and spent a few moments thinking of every word that fit the occasion. Most, if not all were profane.
~’Right, try again please.’~
I made the line go out and I started to push stuff out into the bubble.
~’Wait, try just letting the bubble attach itself to the line.’~
I gave it a shot, it appeared, it connected, then it went away once I stopped focusing on it. *Nada, next trick?*
~’Odd, ok, what do you normally do when this happens?’~
*Go into the net and wait it out.*
~’Well I don’t think that will be an option. Work on some variations on your own. I have to ask some folks for their take on it.’~
*Gee thanks.* I made every effort to make sure the last thought had loads of sarcasm in it.
~’You are welcome, Merry. Now returning you to your previously scheduled mental break.’~ Then there was silence, well if you could call having a four-way debate as quiet.
I started to laugh, then I cried as my head was still pounding. Reluctantly, I opened my eyes among the tears. It was dark in the room, but I was glowing brightly enough that I could see the room clearly. I took a glance to the ceiling it was dark, no bright blue spot next to the light either nor was there any pressure beating down on me, aside from the edges of the door.
There was also the smell of fried electrical wiring in the room, a glance to the door showed it to be open a crack. Unfortunately, I was so miserable that the effort to even put one foot on the floor, to even try to escape, had set me to wishing ‘something’ had worked.
Something cold rubbed up against my leg and I jerked in surprise. “Easy Breaker, just something to slow the rooms spin.” I relaxed and then there was a sharp jab and the feeling of pressure in my thigh muscle.
“If this helps I will love you forever.”
“That’s what all the women say, alas it is not so.” Kam chuckled and then I felt a Band-Aid apply itself. “Still. It looks like your solitary existence will be interrupted for a bit. You know that when the light exploded I about left my skin.”
“It happens a lot around me, I get too jazzed up or ticked off and stuff just goes to hell.”
“No biggie, they should have expected it. Not your fault. Though it will mean a different room for a time, once you feel like moving.”
“Ok, how about one with a view?”
“Yeah, too much to ask for I guess.”
“If it is any consolation, Kerry doesn’t think you will be having a period for a time. Something about how Depo-Provera will slow or stop your periods all together for about three to four months.”
“Well that is something, though I would like some underwear.”
“Not my department. Besides if you had underwear you might get serious about escaping.”
“Oh and you think my not having undies would stop me much?”
“Yeah it my prove a bit obvious that you were not where you belonged.”
I considered that, well he might have a point. “Fine, how about a bribe?”
“Not on me.”
“Sorry, I don’t work on credit,” he was grinning when he said that.
“How about your weight in chocolate?”
“No thanks it gives me hives.”
I gave a theatrical sigh, “Well you are no fun.”
“I am fun, this is work, not a party. I can be quite fun at parties,” he said with the tone of a man who was greatly aggrieved that work was not a party.
“So when is this shot supposed to work?”
“In five to ten minutes, if you had an IV drip, it’d go faster.”
“I’ll pass on that, there are enough holes in me as it is.”
“Yeah, speaking of which, you should take a few minutes, later on, and see if you can shed a few dozen Ban-Aids.”
“Why bother? They are the only bit of color in the room other than you, at the moment.”
“And I thought you liked me for my scintillating conversation.”
For a moment the sarcastic voices in my head developed an urge to think of all sorts of nasty yet witty comments. I reminded them that Kam out massed me by at least five to one. I won that internal debate. “I would laugh but my head feels like that light bulb.” I indicated the mess on the floor.
“Never seen a fluorescent bulb implode before,” he chuckled then I heard the faint yet ever so loud screaming sound of glass being gathered up.
I opened an eye and peeked out, all the glass was floating in a neat ball. “Do you do windows too?”
“Only on the second Tuesday of the week.” He moved towards the door, “You rest for a bit.” He left the room and I waited for the click of the lock to engage, a few seconds later it clicked home. I felt a slight smile tug at my lips, so they used remotely controlled magnetic locks, a very useful bit of information.
“So what do you think of our guest?” asked Kerry as Kam deposited the floating orb of glass into a trashcan.
“She’s cute,” Kam offered.
“And she has enough voices in her head to make a barbershop quartet,” winced Chris. “Not to mention she has a killer headache.”
“Ah, so you were monitoring?”
“Yep, we can’t have a young girl take advantage such an irresistible lug like you.”
Kerry was shaking her head and laughing at the same time. “In the space of time where she blew out the lights, the ambient voltage level of the room surged up to twenty-five thousand volts for a few seconds and stayed there.”
She made a note in a separate book, “They think she can handle fifty times that amount,” Kerry tapped a report. “Though, her testing was interrupted and the final data was lost.”
Chris whistled softly, “What’s a few giga-volts amongst friends?” He shook his head in evident amazement.
“Funny I didn’t feel a thing.”
“Must be all that good living,” Chris pointed to Kam’s shirt. “So how is your day off?”
“It’s not dull. Still, time and a half for just watching a kid isn’t so bad.”
“At least they let you come in ‘relaxed’.”
“Laundry day, nothing clean,” Kam grinned. “You know how it goes.”
“If I were to check in your house I bet that I would see everything hanging neatly in your closet.” Kerry was clicking a pen with some agitation.
“Ah, true but since they have to take my word for it…” he trailed off, “Ok, what has got your dander up?”
Chris was eyeing the lady with some bemusement, “Security wants to post a Stormtrooper in her domain.”
“Why?” Kam drew the single note of the vowel out to make it fill a space where three others would fit.
“Security is concerned that the normal locks are subject to tampering.”
“But they are computer controlled. Oh.”
“Precisely, so in some ways her little problem with the room is a good thing. They are going to rework the locks while she is in her first session.”
“When is that?” asked Chris he sounding a bit chipper.
“Ah, there speaks the ‘junior’ head shrink,” Kam poked at Chris with a thick finger.
“I’d shrink your head,” he deftly stepped out of reach. “If there was anything in it left to shrink.”
Kam clutch his chest as if mortally wounded while Kerry spoke, “After she gets a real meal in her, which should be shortly if the kitchen gets it’s ass in gear.”
“That may be fun to watch, she’s a sneaky one.”
“Well considering she nearly got you on a simple handshake,” Kerry was smiling widely. “I would not care to lay odds that she’ll try something, once she is feeling better.”
“She isn’t slow on the uptake, I can sort of read her. Considering what I know of MPD, I would expect her identities to be in conflict frequently.” He shrugged and waved a hand to the monitors, “It will be fun to see if she plays head games with the others.”
“Oh if her records are even slightly accurate, we may need to have security watch them, she likes to push buttons.” Kerry was tapping one page of records, “Evidently she has a problem with ‘authority figures.’”
“Ah what kid doesn’t?” was Kam’s bemused comment.
When you are locked in a white room, with white furniture, decorating the walls with anything starts to sound appealing. Though playing with my feces did not have any appeal, and oatmeal didn’t look much better. No I didn’t throw away the first meal that I could remember in a few days away.
Yet I was tempted, largely in part to the fact someone had used fake sugar in it. Oatmeal is supposed to have all sorts of good things in it to take your mind off the fact you were eating gruel. Plain oatmeal, with fake sugar, sucks.
Not having a clock I decided that since it was oatmeal, this must be breakfast. Which if you didn’t have a clock, and meals were the only thing to break up your day with, well anything of any real importance. You used them as your ‘clock’.
As promised I was lead off to another room, presumably for the replacement of the lights. As if. I was cautiously greeted by a thin man who was wearing a very expensive suit, I could tell it was expensive by the way he was sitting in his chair. It looked like he was worried the chair was going to rub off on it. His hair was a neatly cut brown swag and his eyes were hidden behind a pair of silver mirrored sunglasses.
I eyed the yellow notepad he had in front of him with some interest as the top page of it had the words “Circuit Breaker,” in big bold unfriendly letters. It was sitting on a table that looked like it had a few miles of use on it. Rough miles. He indicated a chair across the table with his ink pen, “Please sit.” He looked at Kam, “You are dismissed,” he said loftily.
On the way out Kam rolled his eyes at me, evidently he wasn’t too impressed either. When he left I watched him exit, noting the keypad lock he used, unfortunately his body blocked the numbers that he entered.
“Please be seated,” he repeated with a hint of irritation in his voice. I ignored him and listened for the decisive click of the door, it was slow too, though faster than the one on my ‘room’.
“Don’t bother trying to escape, there is no where to run.” Ok, this guy was starting to get on my nerves. I ignored him and ‘looked’ at the walls near the keypad, I could pick out a solid blob near the keypad.
“I said sit down,” –Sit Down- that odd pressure resounded in my head. I pivoted around slowly and took a step to the chair, as I did a chorus of angry voices swelled up in my head.
I spun the chair around and looked at him and it; then I sat astraddle the chair. “The last person who tried to force themselves on me, ended up with a serious case of being dead. Do not push me.”
He shifted in his own chair looking at me with a hint of annoyance. “Sit properly young lady.” –Sit Properly-, for a moment there was an angry blue fog in the room with us.
“No, and stop doing that.” I slapped the desk with the palm of my hand, the echo it produced was satisfying. So I did it again, and again, after the tenth time; I think he reached his pissed off level.
“Stop that!” –STOP THAT!- he shouted and tried the Bene-guess-u-wat-zit mind control thing again. Yes, his face was going through some interesting shades of red. Cute.
I slapped the table harder, once more time for effect. “Ok.” Then I gave him a seriously bent smirk, if the muscles on my face were any indication.
He fidgeted with his tie for a moment as it seemed to calm him slightly, so I slapped the table again. Oh, my bad, I pissed him off. Part of me was laughing hysterically, another part was watching with a detached air. I think that one part of me was shocked when he said a word that was not in my current library of cuss words. I blinked slowly and gave him a feral smile, “Feel better?”
He started to say some thing and stopped, just sitting quietly for a moment and then he let out a long sigh. “Who are you?”
I forced my voice into a low growl, “You can call me Legion, for we are many.” Hey it wasn’t quite scripture but he certainly jumped as if I stung him. “Sorry I am not doing the pig thing again, though if you ask me the pigs got off easy.”
It was his turn to blink and he slid deeper into his chair. “Legion, so ‘Legion’ how are you feeling to day?”
I bared my teeth at him, no it wasn’t a smile. “I was bored until a few moments ago.”
“Bored. Are you bored often?”
“Bore, boring, bored.” I made the motions of swinging a bat, “And it’s outa the ball-park.”
“I see, so in this ball game of yours who is the pitcher?”
“No, Who is on first base.”
“That was a comment. Not ‘word association.’”
“Whose game is this anyway?”
“My game,” his pen was beating a staccato rhythm on the pad and he had yet to write anything. “My game has rules. I am the Doctor, you are the Patient.”
“Are you sure of that? So far all I have seen is some jittery esper type with a twitch disorder.”
He frowned in concentration and I could feel what felt like ants crawling on my head. I slapped the table fiercely, and the itching stopped when he jerked, “Made you stop.” I grinned at him wickedly, “Seriously if you keep trying to fuck with our head we are going to do a tap dance on your face.”
“We? Talk about yourself in the royal tense frequently?”
“Only when it annoys people like you.”
“I am trying to help you.”
“I doubt that.”
“You sound angry.”
“Oh this isn’t angry, you don’t wanna see me when I am angry.” I took a moment to seriously look at him, he had a blob of blue in his coat, it didn’t feel like a PDA. So it was either a cell phone or a beeper. “Did you know that batteries explode when overcharged?”
“No, I didn’t know that. Is there a point to this tid bit of erstwhile information?”
“Well if I was you I would be a bit concerned about carrying a potential bomb next to my chest.” I winked at him slowly, as he quickly pulled a thin silver cell phone out of his inner jacket pocket and placed it on the table.
“See? I just saved you from a potentially really bad day.” I eyed the phone, I doubted I could dial NEXT for a pick up, though dialing nine-one-one seemed amusing to some part of me. I stood and watched him flinch, I then turned the chair around and sat in it, scooting it closer to table. I looked at the pad of paper and his pen. “Oh cool my code name, can I have a sheet of paper and a pen, since you are not using them?”
He looked at me and resignedly pushed it and the pen towards me. “Can we play my game now?”
“Ooh I like games, Chutes and Ladders or Monopoly?” I grinned and started to doodle on the paper.
“Let’s play twenty questions, ok?” Something seemed off there, perhaps I lost momentum.
“Sure. Can I go first?”
“Here is an easy one: Who are you?”
“Michaels,” he paused, “Doctor Michaels.” He tilted his head trying to look at my paper so I moved it so he couldn’t see.
“Your turn. Michaels, Doctor Michaels.” Someone was giggling, it must have been me, because the Doc was looking grumpy.
“Who are you?”
“You are a stranger, not supposed to tell strangers my name.”
“I told you my name. It is only fair if you tell me yours.”
“Nope, can’t do it. My question. What is your favorite color?”
“Any special version of green?”
“Sea foam Green.”
“So did you hate your parents?”
Ohh sneaky, change the rules. “Did you hate yours?”
“Please answer the question.”
“No you didn’t you asked another question.”
“Questions are good.”
“Yep, unless it’s during church.”
“Why is that?”
“It just is.” I gave him one of those ‘you must be really stupid’ looks. I felt weird on the inside so I ducked back somewhat.
“So who are you?”
“I see. So did you like church?”
“Well the cookies were ok.”
“Yep, except those arsenic flavored ones.”
“You mean almond flavored?”
“I know what I mean. Jimmie ate one and his face went bloop.” I stretched out my cheeks with both hands. “He hadda go.”
“The b-a-d place.”
“You don’t like hospitals?”
“Do you like hospitals?”
He frowned then asked “Do you have any other family?”
“Um no.” Can’t say that name either.
“Are you sure?”
I looked at him, then added a few more scribbles to my map of the small glowing lines. “Nope.”
“Nope, as in you are not sure?”
“Yes you have more family or no?”
“Game over, you lose.” The Doctor was looking confused.
“Yes, you asked all of your twenty questions.”
“But.” He started then looked at me with some evident consternation.
I stood up and stepped around the table sliding the notepad with me as I did so, getting nearer to the phone. I stopped and slid the pad of paper in front of him. While his attention was on the map I had drawn I scooped up his phone and dashed back around the table. “Mine!”
He blinked and tried to grab the phone, for an instant his hand touched mine, there was a spark and he fell over abruptly. “Oopsie, never grab the kid,bad mojo.”
I walked over to the door and stood off to the side, and flipped the phone open. No bars over the antenna, damn, but for the hell of it I pressed the pound sign then nine-one-one and dialed. After that I dropped the phone to the floor and waited for the door to open.
Sure enough a few seconds later the door fairly flew open and a few people rushed in. I let them go past and stepped into the hallway just in time to almost bounce into Kam. “Later alligator, tag you’re it!” I made a swiping motion at him and he jumped back, falling backwards in his haste to avoid getting tagged.
“Sorry dah-ling love to chat, must run now.” I dodged around the corner and slammed forcefully into a figure in some sort of funky space armor, knocking the both of us to the floor. As I looked down from on top of him; part of me was saying ow, and woah really big gun! I saw that he had a gap in the armor near his gloves so I gave it a quick tap, zapping him. I definitely didn’t want him to get up, people with guns that big did not need to get up, no siree!
It was one of those movie moments, you know the kind where Han Solo looked at the crowd of Stormtroopers and charged them looking like a crazy man? Ok, so it might work for me, as I made my high-pitched banshee wail as I stood up and started to run again. After a few steps I felt myself rise up off of the floor. “Ah dirty Jedi Mind Powers! Put me down I have to escape from the Death Star!”
Kam made a sound like Darth Vader breathing, “I have you now.” He intoned with a chuckle.
“Aw jeeze.” I was turned in mid-air to face Kam, evidently he wasn’t angry though he did look thoughtful.
“And where did you think you were going?” he asked with the tone of a worried grown up who has yet to figure out the rule had changed when he was not looking.
“To the room where all the wires go?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Back to my room?”
“Yes, you need a ‘time out’.”
“Don’t need a time out, just need out.”
“Cause people wanna mess with my head and I like my head where it is. Thank-you-so-very-much!” I folded my arms in indignation.
“You can’t get out in that direction anyways.” He was looking down the hall to a thick metal door, “Even if you could get the hatch open.”
“Where der is a will, der is a way.”
“Right, much as I would love to see you pull that off, I think you should go back to your room for a bit.”
“How am I supposed to escape from there?”
“You are not supposed to escape.” He looked at me and I started floating down the hall after him as he walked away.
“But that is not fun!”
“And being glued to the floor is?”
“Hey I didn’t zap you. The rules say I don’t zap you I don’t get glued to the floor.”
“What about the guy with armor?”
“He had a gun, I didn’t. Besides we didn’t make any rules for me not shocking anyone else did we?”
“No I suppose we didn’t,” he was laughing as he said that.
I took a quick glance at Kam, if the other guy had a phone the odds were good sooner or later I would hit someone with Pocket PC or PDA. As it was Kam had a blue glue in his shirt pocket, hmm, PDA.
Yes! I fell into the PDA and started adding new features. Sheesh, he sure had a lot of phone numbers. Oh well, I only needed a bit room to make things go in my favor. Wireless net is oh –so-o-o-o-o- cool, unfortunately I would not know if my surprise package in his PDA would do anything for a time.
Nothing too destructive, lets just flip the monitors over and have them quote odd phrases from peoples personal email, then there is the Ever-SO-Cool spinning pentagram with burning flames. I set up the ‘bomb’ and ducked back out.
“… So you like messing with peoples heads?”
I guess he was too absorbed into moving me to my room to not have noticed my ‘departure’. “Only if they try to mess with me, besides he was a jerk.” I fairly growled, “If I had a gun I would have shot him.”
“You don’t mean that.”
I felt my face tighten and my voice turned flat, “Care to bet?”
He turned to look back at me, “Kid, I think you have some serious issues.”
I snorted, “All my comics are up in smoke, no more issues.” Not to mention all my issues of 2600 were gone in the same fire that took the house. Inwardly I sighed, Mom and Dad thought they were gaming magazines, like the old Atari 2600 console game. Can you say clueless?
He blinked, then he looked at the door, it opened a few moments later, “In you go.” He set me down on my feet and let me walk in.
“Don’t you want to come in and see my etchings?”
“You don’t have any.” He was smiling slightly, which made me feel better.
“Ah yeah, dang! I could have kept the pen.”
“Um no.” With that he let the door shut. It clicked almost immediately. Crap, they did something to the locks.
I took a few seconds to glance around the room, the light was on above me, but the blue dot that fed it was much smaller. The door was different as well. I took a step over to it and tapped my foot in irritation; it looked very different. Where the lock was previously, someone had placed a large metal cover over it and screwed it down.
I shrugged and turned to look back at the room, yes it was still white. Joy. I went to the bunk and sat down, inwardly laughing. Some people were in for a real shock in the next few hours, I figured that Kam had to enter a WI-FI network someplace around here. When he did, my neat little surprise was going to get out, though I did make sure it could not be traced to Kam, after all, he wasn’t an idiot. Doctor Michaels was in for a rude shock though. Rather another rude shock, some people should think before acting.
~’Like you do?’~
*So who’s ringing my bell now?*
~’It’s Otto, Merry.’~
*Sure it is, I’m probably making you up. Lalalalalala!*
~’You are an interesting young lady.’~
*Interesting good or interesting bad?*
*I am so glad you are amused.*
~’If you were not under our care, I would be tempted to hire you just to have you around to train people on.’~
*Thought you were doing that with Michaels, Doctor Michaels. *
~’I will say I have not laughed that hard in a few days.’~
*So whose head were you looking in on that one?*
~’No ones, I get to watch all the video feeds I want.’~
*Next time someone tries to futz with my head like he did I am gonna do something painfully rude to them. *
~’I will see that folks are warned not to try that trick again.’~
*Good, and for my next trick… Guess.*
There was a pause, then. ~’Oh… You are inordinately pleased about something.’~
*Ah, no fair peeking! *
~’Quite.’~ There was a longish pause, ~’Now that is clever. My screen just flipped over. Playing pranks are we?’~
*Who me?* I sent while putting an angelic face or at least trying to. I wasn’t sure if that would –transmit- or not.
~’*SIGH* Well that should be a good exercise for the IT department. I would ask how you did it, but I think I don’t think I want to know. For the moment. Pardon me while I go and see what the ruckus is about.’~
*Sure, have –fun-. *
~’Indeed.’~ With that he left. Well at least I think he did, all the other mind flayers had a pressure behind them, he didn’t.
Or something I thought to my selves. So he gets to watch all the video feeds he wants, may have to see about doing something to all of that for my next trick.
~:Sounds like he is the man.:~
~!So, we in a Death Star?!~
I considered that for a time, the entire place felt wrong. Kam had implied that the big door was a dead end, though there were lots of faint blue lines in that direction, and possibly a network. So going that way seemed even more enticing. For a moment I wondered if they had the firefighting system hooked up to the computers here, that seemed like a fun trick to go for next time around.
In a soundproof room or acoustically dampened room, the silence tends to build up until you notice every single odd noise. That is, once you get past the odd ringing in your ears. I suppose that the grenade going off did something a week back or maybe it was a pressure shift. Still the faint buzzing from the door had my full auditory attention, as did the electronic breeze coming from the vicinity of the locked door.
I got up and sat in front of the door then I listened. It had a distinct hum to it, looking at it was just plain weird. It seemed to have several glowing spots and a trail of wires that connected to a blob right next to the door jam. There were times I wish I had x-ray vision like Superman, rather than just being able to see electricity. Still I made a note to look at the other side of the door when the chance occurred.
Somewhere in my boredom I fell asleep in the bunk, everything was off and I was clumsy like I was too big again. It’s like having a very bad case of cooties, I had bumps on my chest and a lousy hospital gown. Not even a pair of Underoo’s, to keep that under cover. I sat up and the lights turned on. “Yuck, what a dump.”
The faint buzz from the door was very annoying, like a hairdryer that was stuck and not turning. I closed my eye and listened, yup it was definitely stuck. I giggled and walked to the door. “Hair dryer go boom, door go boom?”
I reached out and put my hand over the part that was buzzing, for a split second nothing happened, then there was a muffled clunk. I pulled at part of the padding on the door and it swung in slowly. Ha! I snickered softly and went into the next small room. Wow what a collection of junk, a pair of old fashion television cameras peered into the room I was ‘supposed’ to be in. Off to the side where a pair of old style reel-to-reel tape recorders, one was marked video. I grinned and hit rewind for a few moments then I hit play, heh, let them watch me sleep. I was going out for a walk.
The keypad lock on the next door was tricky, but it didn’t like having the pad knocked off with a chair; or being rewired. Keypads are neat, and might have been a problem if they were not designed to be idiot proof. Pull this red wire, touch that dot of solder and Shazam! The lock then resets and you can put in a new code. One-one-one-one; simple is best if you are in a hurry. The only tricky part is you have to hold the red wire back in place when you tap the new code to open the door. That done, the lock bleeped its form of electronic happiness and I was on my way.
My section of the Death Star looked a bit newer that the rest some sort of white material that looked like it should have been on Tatooine, you know the stuff that Luke’s Uncle’s house was made of. Sorta plastic-like as well, I squinted at it trying to read the wires under it, but they were very small and faint. I followed the corridor looking at the various rooms that were under construction, one was like the cell they put Magneto in the X-Movies. There was a concentration of blue blobs off in the distance and I so wanted out.
A few turns later I found myself facing a dilemma. There was another corridor like mine, though it was with out any of the funky white stuff covering the walls. The hallway was spooky, the few signs on the wall said something about Cryo-Suspension Facilities. Something about the rooms further that way were very scary, as if something very, very bad was waiting to be let out.
~’There are some very bad people asleep in there,’~ commented a quiet voice. ~’You push the wrong buttons and they won’t ever get better or wake up.’~
‘#Information likely true.#’
“Oh.” I whispered and tip toed in the other direction.
~’You don’t need to tip toe, we can see you well enough.’~
“Says you, Scooby and Shaggy always got away when tip toeing.”
There was a panel on the wall marked Security Feeds, something said look closer so I did. It had a nice feel to it, like there was a small but functioning computer or something like it there. I felt my face make a smile, “Hi Computer, all your bases belongs to us.” I turned and sat down so my back was to that wall and closed my eyes, free falling into the net.
People think that the Internet and other things may be like caffeine or drugs are to some people. In my case they may be right, for I was truly happy for the first time in a few days. Admittedly it was a wimpy computer network, but still, I was in my own world, no annoying grown ups to tell me what to do.
I was hoping for a way to get to the GEO game portal, but the net was strictly internal. My poor character in GEO was never gonna get above tenth level at this rate. Still it was funny to create all sorts of images of a girl running around in the different digital feeds. Not to mention opening and closing all sorts of doors, unlocking the locked ones, locking others.
I really liked the feeds that came from section marked Power Armor Remote Access. I had my own set of robots to play with and I really missed my Transformers. Dad had busted my last one when he couldn’t walk normal, said it was ‘underfoot’ all the time. That and a few other words, then the belt. Always the belt.
So I made the robots walk around and salute people, it was funny to watch; all those funny looks not to mention odd shouts. Hmm, target acquired evil Pepsi machine must die… Hmm lets see arm, check, aim… Ohhh goodie plasma cannon or rail gun? Never seen a rail gun outside of cartoons. ~:Check the Thermal Input you don’t want to hurt the good guys do you?:~
Oh phooey, I didn’t think that there were good guys on the Death Star. I found the Thermal Input, red blobs were moving behind the soda machine. ~:See? Good guys.:~
“Ah man, how am I supposed to blow stuff up if I have to watch out for good guys?”
~:You could try and find the Princess, she needs to escape too.:~
I considered this, I was a prisoner, which means other prisoners were here too. Gotta let the prisoners out, everybody escapes from Death Star, an I get a big reward. Hmm I needed a R2 unit. I looked around, ah there, Mobile Service Automata. I looked at them from the different feeds. There was one that was about my size and looked like it was a robot spider. I called it Grabber and told it that it was my friend.
I gave Grabber an easy mission, it had to open all the doors that had people trapped behind them an’ find the princess. Surely one of them had to have the Princess behind one of them. Though all of the people behind locked doors just had numbers attached to them. I thought about that and looked at myself with the system, I had a number too. My number had to go bye-bye, as no numbers is the best numbers, I told the system I didn’t exist and it said ok.
I felt the net stretch and pull at me then there was an odd plop and I was floating down the hall ways. “… Kids these days.”
“What-chu talking about Willis?”
“Ah you are awake. You could have took a nap in a nice comfortable bed, not on a hard floor.”
In the faint distance I could hear the sounds of sirens, “So like, what’s up?”
“I should ask you that, Princess. I thought I left you nice and safe in your room.”
“I had Scotty beam me out, it was boring.”
“So how come you are not on the Enterprise?”
“They wanted me to wear a ‘Red Shirt’.”
Kam was laughing and had to stop for a moment to catch his breath. “You wouldn’t know why Security is having such a hard time of things at the moment?”
“Um they have all these neat toys?”
“Yeah, they gots Transformers and robots and remote control gadgets all over the place.” I sighed feeling a bit bummed out, “No Decepticons to blow up though. Then there was the Pepsi Machine that people were around so I could not shoot it with the Rail Gun thing. I wanted to see stuff go boom like in the ‘toons!”
Kam blinked a few times, “You don’t like Pepsi?”
“Code Red is good, but the rest.” I made a gagging sound.
“I see. Good thing you are awake, time for your next session.”
“Session, ohh Like Lain?”
“I don’t think so.”
“More jerks in suits?”
“Not this time, well Chris does wear a suit some times, he is nice though.”
“Friend of yours?”
“Yes, so I would prefer it if you didn’t zap him, ok?”
“Ok, just as long as he doan get no funny ideas about makin’ me do stuff. Doan like it when folks push.”
“You don’t like bullies?”
“Bullies always used to hurt me, take my lunch money, call me bad names. I got even, they hada do summer school.”
“Sounds like a good trick.” Kam was chuckling as I floated along after him.
“Yes an no, yes it was a good trick and no it didn’t make things ‘right’, they still called me names.”
“So you don’t think they were punished enough?”
“Spoiled rich kids, their ‘daddies’ gave them cars that year. So I revoked their licenses an gave them tons of parking tickes, got to love the DMV.”
“You are a trip,” he opened a new door inside was a couch a desk and there was pictures of the ocean everywhere. “Here you go Chris, remember big brother Kam is watching.” He pointed a thick finger at me, “No zap Chris or I get your candy bar after lunch, deal?”
I was lowered carefully to the couch, it was one of those typical physiatrist couches, brown leather and bronze tacks. “Deal.”
“See you in an hour Chris, she is supposed to eat on the hour or Kerry will throw a fit.” Kam waved to the both of us and let himself out.
I looked at the room, it was a nice change, though I could tell Chris liked the ocean or his decorator did. On the shelf were several plush stuffed animals, a big black and white whale had the tag on it proclaiming that it was from Sea World. “Oooh Shamu!”
Chris smiled and reached over to the shelf and tossed it to me, “Ever been to Sea World?”
“Just on the web site, Shamu cam is cool.” I snugged the whale it was very soft if not just a bit dusty. I gave it a quick few pats and removed some of the dust. “You need a maid.”
“I’m a small fish, only the big fish get maids.” I gave him the once over, his hair was long and looked like he had every color of the rainbow in it in the form of scrunches. His brown hair was a nice contrast to the pale gray eyes that seemed to smile even when he wasn’t.
“Small fish, I suppose they wanna see if I eat you?”
He laughed, it was almost bell-like in the room, very bright and joyful. “I’m a bit hard to swallow, even sharks don’t want to mess with me.” He turned a picture on the desk in front of him to where I could see it. Teeth, lots of teeth filled the frame. “That was from my trip to Tahiti last summer.”
“Yes it was, so who are you?”
“It’s ok I am a friend of Kam, do you think he would be friends with bad people?”
“I don’t think so. He prolly gets picked on too.”
“He used to yes,” he winked. “Just not any more.”
“Ok, you can call me Chaddy.”
“Yup.” I watched him scribble a note down.
“Why don’t you use that comforter to cover your legs, it can get cool in here.”
I looked at the comforter, it was evidently hand knitted and was a riot of colors, though there was a lot of white and almost maroon in it. I pulled it on top of me and lay back on the couch holding onto the whale. “Nice, who made it?”
“A friend of my mothers, she died a long while back.”
“Sorry to hear that,” I offered, people who make good stuff should never go away.
“She needed to go, in the end she was hurting too much, sometimes death isn’t a bad thing.”
“Did you?” I motioned to my head.
“Somewhat, you have a loud mind at times.” He shrugged, “Sometimes I can’t help but pick stuff up. If it bothers you too much I can block you out.”
“You’re honest, so it’s ok, as long as you don’t go poking in. I know it’s hard to block stuff out some times. Do you get headaches too?”
“All the time, so you like honest people?”
“Well you can’t always tell when folks is honest, though I can tell when folks are assholes.” I covered my mouth with my free hand. “Sorry.”
He laughed, “Asshole is a very mild word Chaddy, I don’t think anyone will be too upset if they hear it.”
“So you like the ocean stuff?”
“It’s the next best thing to being in space.”
“I dunno, don’t think that I am gonna see the ocean or space ever other than in pictures, except Hubble-Two is very cool to look out of.”
“Why do you think that?”
“Got a problem just trying to take a shower or a bath. Makes me weak and sick feeling.”
“Yeah, feels like I am slipping down the drain.” I shivered, “So bad, never make that joke again.”
“Yeah, stay in when the water goes down the drain an you’ll go with it.”
“Ah, my brother used to tease me about that too.” He wiggled his brows they were dark black a real contrast to the sandy brown of his hair.
“Oh,” I said in a small sad voice.
Chris wrote something on the pad and sat back. “You miss your family?”
“I know how that goes, I always hated summer camp, my brothers used to go and I was stuck with no one to play with.”
“Least is wasn’t church camp.” For a moment I felt a hint of anger deep inside then it was gone.
“Nope, Boy Scouts,” Chris marked something on the paper. “I take it you didn’t like camp?”
“Camp was out of the house, away from them. That part was ok, ‘cept folks running the camp had their own thing going.”
“Thing?” A scribble.
“Yeah, like the stuff in books, keep people up late, do all sorts of things to make you think you are small, worthless, and then make you feel better if you think their way.”
“What sort of books?”
“Something ‘bout mob psychology, had assignment on it once. Program people like computers.”
“An you knew this was happening?” His pen was scribbling like mad.
“Yeah, torches look like candles if you see them from far away, like the pictures in the books. I saw, so I put on the mask again.”
“Mask?” he was looking at me intently.
“Like this.” I blanked my face and put on a slight smile and nodded a few times before letting it go.
“I see, I think.” He was frowning and he took a few minutes to write things down, he was looking slightly angry.
“It’s ok Chris they didn’t beat anyone that I knew.” Inwardly I shrugged, people cried in the bunks a lot but no one was hit, though there was… No don’t think about it, bad...
He blinked a few time and nodded. “Still it didn’t sound like a fun time.
”Parts were ok, lots of running, learning how to shoot BB pistols and stuff was neat. I won lots of stuff doing that.”
“Really?” his pen made a note.
“Yeah, I could bulls-eye all the time.” I blinked, “That made the adults very happy.”
“What other sort of games did they have?” He sounded both curious and worried.
“Obstacle course, capture the flag, fort making, ‘cept the digging sucked.”
“Para-military… How old were you when you were doing this?” He moved to a fresh piece of paper and started making new notes.
“Um every year since I was eight.” I giggled, “Not going this year.”
“Did they show any movies?”
“Yeah, mostly dumb stuff, old black and white things. ‘Don’t look at the flash’ and ‘Get under the desk’ stuff.”
“Civil defense films, did they have a circle and a triangle at the beginning of them?”
“I think so.” He nodded and made a few marks.
“Any gory stuff?”
“No, only the leaders got to see that stuff, I peeked once. “ I shivered, “Really bad, almost as bad…” I closed my eyes and pulled the whale tighter to my chest.
“Relax for a moment and just look at the whale, let all that stuff drift away.” I could hear his pen moving and for a moment his own eyes were closed.
I held the whale and studied it, it had a smile stitched where the mouth should be, it was also very velvety. “Can we skip camp stuff?”
“I think so, other people may want to ask you about it some time. Just not soon.” He had a disgusted look on his face. “Though if I can ask, what time of the year was camp?”
“June tenth through the thirtieth, every summer.”
“Ok.” He sat for a moment with his brow crinkled slightly. Then he nodded.
“No, not yet. Just some heavy thinking.”
“You fibbin’ at me?”
“Some,” he smiled, “Folks are trying to offer helpful suggestions. Mostly they need to butt out.”
“So you get voices in your head too?”
“Not like yours.”
“Are you sure?”
“Mostly,” he laughed, “when I first ‘started’ I was sure I was headed to Nuts Ville Central.”
“Doing the mind stuff.”
“Oh, so how come you didn’t end up like me?”
“I had help, about like me helping you.”
“So is that why you a head shrinker?”
He smiled, “partially, I like helping people to get better.”
“Ah, am I gonna get ‘better’?”
He paused occasionally wincing, “Screw him. Oh sorry Chaddy, they want me to stop without answering you.”
“I do not know, though I have a distinct hunch it is not a good thing.”
I felt the sarcasm drip out, “wonderful.”
“I’d let you take the whale and comforter back, but… Rules.”
“It’s ok,” well it wasn’t but not much I could say about that.
“I am sorry Chaddy.”
I smiled, “Not your fault. They might freak if I made a garrote out of it or something.”
He laughed and looked down at his notes then added a sentence. “That does make something a bit clearer.”
“People upstairs are trying to sort out where you picked up such odd skills.”
“Oh, I guess I said too much then?” I felt the frown slip into place.
“Not as such, you know about terrorist camps?”
“Yep, O-slam-a Bologna and all that.”
“Yeah, well some ‘church camps’ are almost as bad.”
“I’m not a terrorist!” The lights flickered in my sudden irritation, “I don’t try to melt nuke plants!”
“No you don’t. How do you feel about killing?”
“Sometimes you gotta kill,” my voice sounded small even to me.
“Do you enjoy it?”
“What kind of sick fuck do you think he is?”
“What do you mean?”
“Chaddy is a kid, kids don’t get off on killing.”
“And you are?”
“Ah, you are not ‘Chaddy?’”
“Ok let us say for the sake of argument you are someone else?” He was looking at me intently, “Do you have a gender?”
“Gender is a function defined by form.”
“Ah you are the other,” his eyes were closed. “If I may say so, you are very different. Almost cold, like a shark.” He opened his eyes and blinked a few times.
“Temperature is adequate with additional covering.” I looked around to the picture on the desk, “Shark. Aquatic predator, function: eat to maintain balance, reproduce in order to maintain equilibrium. Poor simile.”
“But you are a predator.”
“Anamorphous analogies are incorrect.”
His eyes were closed I studied him as he studied me.
“You really should ask before attempting intrusion.”
He sat back abruptly shaking his head, “A Chinese lexicon and dictionary, just what everyone needs to carry around in their head. So what was that little show for?”
“Show? Not show, example.”
“Example of what?”
“Process, self same assimilated this ‘Chinese’.”
“Encountered intrusion, stopped intrusion.”
“What was the purpose of doing that?”
“I don’t understand.”
“What is the measure of a man?”
“People have been asking that question for ages.”
“And yet the question still remains.”
“Perhaps not.” He was looking at me, and perhaps deeper. He shook himself slowly then sat back, “You are different, that is for certain.”
“Different is not always bad, change not always good, acceptance of what is, is not acceptable.”
Lunch arrived with a table and chair, which I thought was a vast improvement on the décor of the room. Though the food wasn’t an improvement, I suppose they were deliberately making everything as bland as possible to give my stomach a chance to readjust to solid foods. Broccoli, steamed, no cheese, meatloaf of unknown origin, and an assortment of mixed veggies that did wonders in the color department. I somehow managed to get through a few plates before my gut complained that I was overfilling it. Joy.
I don’t know why I was so wiped out and tired all of the time. Once Kam removed the residue of the meal, and had inflicted yet another blood test on me and departed; I crashed. I wish I could say my nap was relaxing, it wasn’t. For some odd reason it felt like I had been quizzed for a few hours, not to mention I woke up tense and aggravated by something I could not quite put my finger on. I guess I was feeling a bit grouchy when I was collected for my next ‘interview’ by Kam.
If Kam noticed my irritation I am not sure, though the lights kept dimming off and on. I was playing things back in my head trying to sort out why I was so pissed. I kept coming back to things like; “How did that make you feel?” or “Tell me about…” In my post dream haze. I stopped and looked at Kam for a moment, “So how long was I ‘asleep?’”
“Oh about an hour and a half, why?”
“I feel like my head was vacuumed.”
“Ah.” He shrugged, “Not too surprising, your day has been busy in that department.”
“So it was just a dream?” I could feel a frown forming.
“Yes and no.” He motioned that I should keep walking down the corridor.
“Tell me about the ‘no’ part.”
“Not much to tell, some doctor came in, sat down for a bit, studied you and then left.” He was laughing softly, “Evidently you are as much fun in your sleep as you are awake. I thought he was going to pop a gasket a few times.”
“Wonderful, so how are things?”
I waved to indicate the whole of where ever I was located, “You know, things outside of my fun white world?”
“Well I suspect you know as well as I do that things got a bit ‘lively’ for a time.”
“Too bad. So I take it they swapped locks again on me?”
“Need you ask that question?”
I snickered, “Not really. So back to see um, Chris?”
“Nope, he’s the low man on the totem pole, at the moment.”
“Lovely, so someone new to annoy.”
“You didn’t annoy Chris.”
“No I suppose not. He was ok, for a suit.”
“You don’t like ‘suits’?” Kam’s curiosity was showing in his voice.
“Not as such.”
“Well, here we are, go in have a seat and I am sure someone will be along shortly.”
“Peachy.” I sounded –so- unenthused. I walked through the door into a very unremarkable room. It was very oddly colored, great. I suppose they expected me cave in to some sort of color therapy, that wasn’t going to happen. There were to overstuffed chairs and a coffee table with a pitcher of water with a pair of plastic cups. The carpet was an unremarkable gray, I noticed the camera looking down at me and so I gave it the bird.
Then I grinned and rearranged the chairs so that the ‘Doctor’ would be the one the camera was facing, I sat at the one with the back to the camera. I figured that they could ‘deal with it’, as I now had control of the room. Never surrender an advantage once you have generated it.
When the doctor came in I could tell he was a bit put off by the new arrangements. “I think you are in my chair.” was his comment.
I studied him silently; he was wearing a pair of black trousers with a white shirt held up by a pair of off color tan suspenders. His tie was one of those eco-friendly prints of a Panda and bamboo, I gave him a few style points for that, then subtracted them for his military buzz cut. His eyes were a pale yellow, which might mean they were green.
“No, I have the correct chair.” I finally replied to him.
“Suit yourself.” He produced a small recorder and sat it on the coffee table after turning it on.
“Hope you didn’t buy that yourself.” I indicated the recorder.
“Nope, it is staff property.”
I gave the door a look, I had forgot to check it on the way in, this side of the door was unremarkable. I wasn’t sure if it was locked or not, so I filed it under maybe and focused on my newest playmate. “Ah, so who are you?”
“You can call me Jacob.”
“Oh, is Jacob your real name?”
“No. So whom am I talking with?” he crossed his legs and folded his hands upon his lap.
He closed his eyes then opened them after a few moments, “You seem male, though much older than the last one.”
“More or less, you would be Chad then?”
“It’s a name.”
“Your real name?”
“A name, real or not.”
“Let us say for the moment you are Chad,” he smiled as if it was a big thing.
“You don’t sound to impressed by our detective work.”
“Should I be?
“Well considering how much trouble we went through to get it, perhaps.”
“So what? Data retrieval doesn’t give me a rush.” Inwardly I was irked, I had thought I had cleaned up better than that.
“What gives you a rush?”
“If I have to explain it, you would not understand.”
“Try me, I am fairly smart.”
“One zero one zero one.”
“Cute, that would be a line from ‘The Core?’ The only language you need to know, and with it you can take over the world?”
I shrugged, “It works.”
“What if I was to say you will never see another computer?”
“I would say you’re smoking some fairly whacked shit.”
“Why is that?”
“Let’s just say things happen.”
“Like the incidents with Security?”
“You tell me.”
“So how many systems have you invaded?”
“Do I need a lawyer?”
“Well considering I have not been charged with anything, I doubt it.” I shrugged.
“You don’t seem too worried about the law.”
“It’s not the law I have a problem with.” I just ignore the ones that don’t apply.
“What laws apply to you?”
“Well I have yet to figure out my way around gravity.”
“So natural laws?”
“Well aside from the ones that define this,” I pointed to my body. “Though I am sure Darwin would be impressed.”
“Why is that?”
“Is it evolution?” He was smiling slightly, “Or accident?”
“Doesn’t matter, what is, is.”
“Would you say you are a cynic?”
“If the shoe fits.” I pointed to him, “Would you say you are an accident?”
“No. I have it on good authority I was planned.”
“That’s nice…” I frowned.
“That bothers you?”
“Not exactly, I am not sure if it matters or not.”
“No, go ahead say what you feel.”
I suddenly had that mouse and hungry cat feeling. “So how much do they pay you?”
“Glad to hear it.”
“Why did you change the topic?”
I shrugged, “It was a dumb question.”
“So you want interesting questions?”
“No, I want to be left alone.”
“Why is that?”
“This is a waste of time.”
“Let me be the judge of that.”
“No. I think I can judge when people are wasting my time.”
“What if I said your judgment was suspect?” He was smirking slightly.
“I would say you needed a new job.”
“Why is that?”
“Because if you believe that, you are pretty fucking clueless.”
“No need for foul language.”
“Like I care, you can get a censor and bleep shit out if it offends folks.”
“What if it offends me?”
I smiled slowly, “If it bothers you, you can fucking get up and leave.”
“Sorry I am not offended that easily.”
“Can’t say I didn’t try.”
“That is true, so how does that make you feel?” He was smiling.
“Ah, a shrink joke?”
“A little one.”
“To go along with your little brain?”
He snorted, “Touché you have wounded me with your dazzling wit.”
“Why don’t you tell me?”
“What, just go looking through your head for my answers?”
“Why not?” I lifted my hand over my shoulder and gave the camera the finger again, “Everyone else seems to think it is an acceptable method.” I dropped my hands to my lap.
“That bothers you?”
“Put yourself in my place, how would you feel?”
“This isn’t about me, it’s about how you feel.”
“Do I feel?”
He frowned than sat up slowly, “The other part of you bares its head at last.”
I looked around the room, chair placement was adequate for the moment. The door was a variable but that could wait.
“The subject is environmentally aware.”
~:Subject, well that is a new twist, though not unexpected.:~ I stood up and walked around the room, the stupid monkey was still sitting in his. I looked around the room sorting out the various electrical sources, part of me was amused by the disparity of security, my cell was severely isolated. It was like they wanted me to do something…
I looked for the network and to see if there was computer close enough to use. It was cute, if that was the word for it. There was a small network setup against the wall, if I had not played with the chairs I would have been sitting in the midst of them. Specifically it was an isolated network. I touched the wall for balance and sent a series of commands, one by one the computers shut off.
I shook my head then walked back to the chair and took up a seat again. “Did you get any good data?”
He was sweating nervously and he blinked several times, “Fascinating. There is definitely an esper element in the process.”
“Fascinating, there is someone paying you to be scared?”
“Why do you say that?”
“You have elevated respiration, you are sweating with out any noticed exertion, your eyes are focused entirely on me or the exit.”
“Is that all?”
I threw myself up out of the chair and watched him flip his chair over trying to get away. “That and you are exceedingly jumpy.” I smiled slowly and lazily returned to my own chair.
He took a few moments to collect himself and return his chair to its normal position. Then he picked up his recorder, “I think we are done for now.”
As he left he gave me an uncertain look, I gave him the plastic presidential smile and wave. “Buh bye, buh bye.” Now if I had a nuke and an alien aircraft to escape with… not to mention Will Smith as my pilot, I would be good.
His eyes crossed for a moment and as he left, about falling out the door in his haste. I shook my head, it’d be amusing if I wasn’t so annoyed.
I spent the next hour filling little white circles with a number two pencil… Do you feel like hurting yourself now? A- Agree, B-Strongly Agree, C-Disagree, D-Strongly Disagree, E- Not applicable. At first I randomly filled in the dots, which earned me a fresh page of circles to fill in. Then I tried just filling in all E’s, which of course earned me a new sheet. After a time I just made pictures out of the dots; that didn’t work well either.
You would think having folks poke in and out of your head would make filling those forms almost redundant. I suppose it was a way to kill time, after a time I just put myself on auto pilot and let the others fill in the dots. At least my white room was quiet.
I tapped the paper with dots on it, “Yeah quiet.”
~’Noise, or something else?’~
*You are the mind reader, you tell me.*
~’A bit testy are we?’~
I sighed. *I suppose you won’t stop nagging me about it?*
~’I can not help you if I don’t know what is wrong, can I?’~
*You want to know what is wrong? Fine. I can’t trust anyone here. I don’t know where here is. I have a extra voice in my head asking questions. Not to mention I hate being a freaking lab rat.*
*Isn’t that enough?*
~’So you would be Chad?’~
~’Right. Well Chad, when did you first notice any extra voices?’~
~’Lets just say a noticeable voice.’~
*I dunno, few weeks back?*
~’Before or after you changed?’~
*Change is relative.*
~’And you would be?’~
*Designation, Merry plus AI, Mai, functional reference.*
~’Can you tell me about the noise Chad was talking about?’~
*Self Chad, not communicating, evasion. *
~’I had noticed –that-. Can you tell me?’~
*Spurious data signals.*
*This environment, isolated, limited noise.*
~’And outside of your current location?’~
*Current facility is mostly quiet, though by comparison to this room, loud.*
~’Ah, compared to a city or Langley?’~
*City and Langley, constant source of spurious data and signals.*
~’How is it in the Net?’~
~’How long has the noise been there?’~
~’When was that?’~
*Before day 0111, month 1010, 0010 0000 0000 0110 serial year date.*
~’Ah. So the Seventh of October, not quite two weeks?’~
*Possibly longer, as pain suppressing medications were dated from several months prior.*
~’Why are you so helpful?’~
*Curiosity, data in question is of no account.*
~’You think this is a meaningless avenue of questioning?’~
~’You seem honest, in comparison to the others.’~
*False data is illogical, if I need to not say something, I do not say it.*
~’Falsehood by omission?’~
*Application of human term falsehood, inappropriate.*
*Word grammar construction parallel, not.*
~’Ah, well I must think about this.’~
*End communication protocol.*
I looked down at the sheet of paper, then crumpled it up. I had filled in the circles in a binary sequence, very decorative and not at all what they wanted. I put the pencil on the table and announced to my room. “Screw these tests.”
I sat on my bunk and stared at the walls, it was that or sleep. In some ways the constant interruptions of interviews and tests was a nice break, though I was getting tired of the same old shit. There are just so many ways you can be asked: How do you feel? And not scream in anger.
When the door opened I ignored intrusion, with luck they would get bored and go away. If I was really lucky it would be dinner time soon.
“We need you to fill out those forms.” I looked up it was a bald man in doctors whites, the only real noteworthy item was the cord his glasses hung from, and then it was black.
I gave him the bird.
“That is not a very polite thing to do.”
I gave him a matched set of birds, well not quite matched set, one had a band-aid on it.
“Very well, we can discuss phobias.” He turned my chair around and sat in it.
“Great, what are you afraid of?” I asked with a heavy dose of sarcasm.
“Not me, you.”
“I am afraid…” I trailed off.
“Of? Yes go on,” he looked pleased with himself.
“I am afraid, you are wasting my time.”
“Look here young lady, a great deal of money is being spent on your welfare.”
“So? I didn’t ask for your help.”
“No I suppose not, but then you are quite sick.”
“I didn’t ask for your opinion.”
“How do you feel about heights?” Suddenly I felt the floor drop away from the bunk.
I shrugged as a trickle of anger started to flow, “Cute trick, how do you feel about your immanent death?”
“I don’t think about it much, how do you feel about drowning?” Suddenly I was under water and waiting for my lungs to pop.
I took a deep breath and let it out, “I can pass on that.”
“Fear of fire?” A cloud of flames surrounded me.
“Fear of electrical storms?” A bolt of lightning crashed into the room.
I laughed, “hardly.”
“How about birds?” My world was suddenly filled all things feathered.
“Seen one too many Hitchcock films?” I asked with a hint of annoyance.
“How about being tied up, unable to move?” That was an odd feeling though not scary.
“Can we puh-leeze leave your personal kinks outside of this?” I was hoping something would get a rise out of him.
“How about blindness?” My white room was suddenly black, aside from the faint blue glow that outlined the room.
“Keep that up and I will take a nap.” I yawned for effect. “Boring.”
“Clowns?” Suddenly I was in a circus.
“A fan of Steven King are we?”
“Computers, technology?” This was getting pedantic.
I felt my face tighten in anger, “are you just stupid? Or working down a list?”
“Oh it’s a list, though I am just hopping around it some.” He was watching me intently.
“What were you to say if I told you your were sitting on a bunk covered with germs?”
That, was a good question, I looked down at the bunk it was clean and white, fairly sterile in fact. “I don’t think that is a problem here.”
“What if you were in a sewer?”
I made a face, “Been there done that, the worst part was the smell.”
“Care to talk about it?”
“Sorry you are not cleared for that information.” The funny thing was, was that he wasn’t.
“That sounds like truth for a change.” He looked at the camera, “You may want to check for odd bits of news in the past two weeks concerning sewers.”
I fairly snarled, “You should stay out of my head.”
“I wasn’t, that time.” He seemed offended.
“That time. So you have –some- morals?”
“Yes, though in some cases need outstrips the code.”
“That would make you a hypocrite.”
“Pragmatic, actually,” he put his glasses on. “So where were we?”
“You were about to leave?”
“No. How do you feel about corpses?”
I considered that, “You won’t catch me playing with them.”
“Do they bother you?” There was the stink of blood and death in the air, for a moment my stomach rebelled then it let off.
“You are one sick fucker, did you know that?”
“If it’s any consolation I feel what you feel.”
“So you should feel pissed off and want to leave now.”
“Let me rephrase that, I feel some of what you feel.” He chuckled, “Personally I am enjoying this, you have caused us no end of difficulty.”
“Like I said, you are a sick fuck.”
“Can we dispense with the name calling?”
“How about the closed confining spaces?” All the free space in the room faded away. Part of me had a small quibble there but it wasn’t bad.
“I grew out of that along time ago.”
“How about being spanked or beat with a belt.” That image swam though a lot of variations before it stopped. I felt the mask slip into place.
“That bothers you?” he asked.
“I can live with out it, you get beat enough you either go numb to it or you let it rule your life. It doesn’t rule me.”
“Is that why your face is blank?”
“You tell me.”
“Defensive mechanism, you were abused then?”
“I would prefer to speak with one of the others.”
I shook my head, “You were saying?”
“We can come back to that later, it seems you have a protector.” He shook his head, “An interesting relationship.” He paused and thought for a moment. “How do you feel about creepy crawly things, bugs for example?”
Being buried with bugs is not a fun sensation. “I’ll pass on that thank you.”
“Did it bother you?”
“Well I won’t rank it as anything I want to do for fun.”
“How would you rate it?”
“But not frightening though?”
“How about crowds?” If I didn’t know better the room suddenly had more than two people in it, well more than five people.
“Look, how many of phobias do you plan to go through? This is getting so very old. Not to mention I am starting to feel like kicking your ass.” I clenched my fist and thumped the wall with it.
“Hostility based upon fear?”
“Hostility based on fear…” I replied in a mocking tone, “No. Hostility based upon having to deal with a total fucking idiot.”
“I am not an idiot, I tested quite high on the Mensa.” He seemed overly proud of that.
“Big whoop, I saw that test in Barnes and Nobles, it was boring so I gave up on it.”
“I found it quite challenging myself.”
“The only fun part was the math side of it. Even that was too easy though.” I smirked, “But then you probably had to cheat on that part. Or did you just pick someone else’s brain for the answers?”
For a second he sputtered, then seemed to get a hold of himself. “Young lady I don’t have to cheat.”
“No I suppose the answers just popped into your head while you were ‘listening’ intently?”
He blinked and removed his glasses, “So you don’t have a problem with taking tests?”
“Nope, other than being bored most of the time.” Evidently he liked to ‘listen’ intently.
“So, back to the list. How do you feel about doctors?”
“Oh any will be sufficient.”
“Well I am developing a strong dislike of shrinks.”
“What about Dentists or Medical ones?”
“Been there done that, used to have the scars to prove it. The only hard part is to trust them to know what they are doing. It is about like trusting you to be working for my good.”
“So you don’t trust Doctors?”
“Why is that?”
“Well considering that last one made me into a lab rat…”
“Yes, your paranoid episode with your last surgeon.”
I sighed with a loud long exhalation of breath, “Look dumb ass, if people are trying to fuck with you and kill you. If you are not concerned about it; you are as good as dead.”
“So you think you are not being paranoid, even though evidence says you are behaving irrationally?”
I shook my head, “You missed the whole fucking point didn’t you?”
“How do you feel about needles?”
“Can’t say I like them, though I may have to live with them.”
“Stupid blood sugars test.”
“Ah yes. But are you afraid of them?”
“What about sin?”
“Sorry, I can’t forgive you, if that is what your are looking for.”
“No, I suppose I need to rephrase that; how do you feel about your own sins?”
“That would be between me and my priest.”
“So, would you say you have a fear of going to hell?”
“Puh-leese, it can’t be any worse that having to listen to morons like you.”
“What about worms or other slimy things?”
For a moment I blinked back to my dream from the morning. “I’ll pass.”
“So you don’t like snakes?” I could feel the scales start to rasp around my feet so I pulled them up off of the floor. “Ah a crack in your shell. Not so very brave when there are snakes around you, coiling over you?” The snakes started to crawl into the bunk with me, slowly filing the room. Each one hissing, licking, trying to get me to move.
“No-no, no snakes, stop…”
“You really ‘do’ have a problem with them don’t you.” There was a large one sliding in from where the Doctor was. It was speaking, laughing at me. “Such a small thing are snakes, did you know there are over twenty five thousand varieties of snake, and that only about twenty percent of them are poisonous? Perhaps if the room was completely filled with them?”
I watched as the snakes started to crawl out of the wall, from out of the video camera, dropping out from the light above. A large python pushed its way out of the toilet and smaller snakes slipped in from the cracks around the door. I was starting to feel them under the gown, slinking around my neck. Somewhere in there I started screaming though it felt from so far away.
“You see? Everyone has a weakness,” the immense King Cobra was weaving back and forth while lecturing me “We will just use yours to ensure that you behave from now on. You see, my dear child, it’s for your own good, though we may have to kill off a few of your personalities.”
“No. No, no-no-no!”
“You can not fight this child, you will get better, one way or another.”
“That’s going too far Doctor.” I think it was Chris’s voice, an angry voice, though from all the scales and hisses I could not tell for sure if it was or was not him.
“Just making a point.”
That superior smug voice lit a fire deep someplace, I could feel part of me that was slumbering deeply, rise up. I felt it on the same day John died. ~#I can handle this threat. Rest now, all of you.#~
The room was suddenly empty of snakes, though a pressure was still there. I reached to the electronic breeze coming into the room from the open door and pulled it in tight. Abruptly the only light in the room was coming from me. “You have been deemed a threat. Termination of threat is indicated.”
“No don’t do anything hasty, Chaddy.” Chris held his hands out in a calming gesture.
“’Chaddy’ and the rest are asleep, this self is the only self awake. You should go, if violence upsets you.” I started to stalk the bald doctor, moving him closer to the back of the room.
“Don’t hurt him, he isn’t worth it.”
I focused myself against the pressure, “It won’t hurt, much. From all sources, electricity applied to the cortex is instantaneously fatal, at high levels.”
~’You would murder him?’~
*Not murder, self-preservation. You can not murder someone who is trying to destroy you.*
~’I see, I cannot allow it though. Even if I may agree you in principle.’~ There was a pause, ~’I do apologize for the headache, though.’~
Suddenly all the lights behind my eyes went off at once, then there was darkness.
Chris blinked a few times as the young girl collapsed as if someone had turned her off. “Oh god.” Her glowing form arced and crackled as she slept unknowing. “She was going to kill you.”
“Not her. It.” The doctor was shaking slightly and he spat into the toilet, “She has a distinct phobia of snakes, with that we can control her, it’s the odd partnership she has formed with the entity in her that is dangerous.”
“I wouldn’t bet on that alone.” Chris knelt down to watch her breath. “For a moment something else was awake in her.”
“Not surprising, some incidents can force a gestalt effect on multiple personalities. In her case a sufficient fear inducement may be required.”
“You intend to push her fears into her face?”
“If that is what it takes. Now that we know a gestalt may exist, it should be interesting to see what form it takes.”
When the large Samoan spoke, both men jerked, “I think you should leave Doctor. Now.” He took a look as Chris, “I like you, but I think you should make yourself scarce for a time, as well.” He looked over to the bald man and cracked his knuckles, “The psychic bleed over you created was very unpleasant, all the sensitives on this level would like to pummel you. I have dibs.”
“Now, there is no need for violence. I was just doing my job.”
Kam made a motion with his hand lifting the Doctor off the ground, “Your job? Well my job is to make sure this little girl gets better. If I have to bounce you out of here on your head, so she can recover, I will enjoy it.” He smiled slowly, “Or were you not aware that I had an anger management issue?”
“Th-that will not be necessary.” The doctor stammered out.
“Good, now go,” Kam relaxed his will and the Doctor landed roughly on his feet.
Chris regarded Kam with a hint of bemusement, “Kam.”
“Chris, just go. Ok, take a break, go see Doctor Otto or something, just go away. No more tests for the kid today.” Kam’s voice sounded tired.
“It bled over that bad?”
“Yeah, kid was screaming loud enough they felt it five levels up, even in isolation.”
“Ouch. Yeah I think I need to see Otto.”
Kam nodded and the girl rose up and slid into her bed, “We need to keep her calm and the door closed. She tripped every breaker on this level trying to ‘suck’ up power.”
“Dare I ask how much?”
“Oh if she had grabbed the good doctor just then, he would have been dead.”
“Can’t say I would have blamed her.”
“You didn’t feel her scream, did you?”
“No. I was shielding at the time.”
“Trust me, it wasn’t nice. They are tranking out the isolation ward, all of them.”
“Christ. Just what we need, more overtime.”
“Yeah, now scoot and close the door.”
“You going to stay?”
“Yes,” Kam sighed. “She needs to wake up to a friendly face. For a change.”
“Good. For what its worth, I didn’t know he was going to pull that.”
“I know, Kerry’s fit to be tied, so mind your toes.”
“Wonderful. Think they will pull you from the team?”
“Nope, I have it on good authority that I am here for the duration, isn’t that right Doctor Otto?”
“Indeed, Chris, I would like some of your time. In my office, if you will?” Doctor Otto looked disquieted, as if he had a bad taste in his mouth.
“Sure Doctor.” Chris looked at Kam as the gentle giant sat carefully on the sole chair of the room.
“If she wakes up incoherent, page me and I will find something to calm her.” Doctor Otto pointed to the sleeping girl. “I am not sure how long she will sleep, though I expect that if she dreams it will be a bad dream. Do be careful.”
Kam nodded, “You got it.”
Waking up, waking up was hard. It was so easy just to stay out and gone, away from everything. Sleeping or whatever it was didn’t hurt, being awake hurt. For a time I just lay there and breathed in and out, trying to push the rough spots away or under.
“Awake princess?” Kam sounded concerned, if not a bit annoyed by something.
I opened an eye to see the blue glow from my body illuminating his large form in the chair. “Welcome to my blue world.”
“How do you feel?”
“Not you too?” I was whining and I could tell I was whining.
“No, no head games. Just how are you?” his voice was soft, tender even.
“I feel like crap. Everyone has been trying to mess with me all day.”
“Everyone?” he asked.
“No, I suppose not, Chris was ok.”
“People are worried about you.” Some thing in his voice said that much was true.
“They don’t show it very well.” I complained to him softly.
Kam nodded slowly and the lights flickered to life, “Yes I know. How is your head?”
“It’s attached, beyond that I am not sure.”
“Do you remember what happened?”
“Some sick fu… ugh. Head hurts.” I shook my head trying to clear it, my head felt someone had shoved a pillow through my ears. “Snakes.” I shivered, “Why is it always snakes?”
“I used to freak out over spiders.” Kam said with a soft sigh.
I sat up slowly holding the bunk for balance, “You were afraid of spiders?”
He nodded, “Yep, though the spiders at home were about as big as my hand.” He held up his hand and made crawling motions. “Tarantulas really, but…” He snorted, “Had one drop on me in my bed once, while I was asleep. I woke up everyone.”
“Is the room spinning again?” He pointed to my death grip on the bunk.
“Somewhat.” I looked down at the floor, then I gingerly set one foot down, nothing bit me. So I set the other one on the floor as well.
“There is nothing in here but you and me.”
“Ok.” I was humming with excess juice I half walked half weaved my way to the toilet.
“Need me to go for a bit?”
“No, just need to get rid of some of this.” I waved my hand around watching the air crackle slightly, “Ionic breeze, no filters.”
“Ah, so how are going…”
I reached out towards the flush button that ‘bit’ me earlier. I closed my eyes and pushed out at it. There was a loud –crack- and a wash of heat pushed back at me. I didn’t notice the heat so much as the nasty searing shock that flared up my arm.
“Jeezus Breaker, warn a guy will you?” I looked over to Kam where he was blinking furiously, “I got spots everywhere now,” he complained.
“Sorry,” I shook my arm trying to provoke some sensation other than really bad tingles in it. “I wasn’t expecting it to be that bad.”
He spent a few moments blinking then he walked over to look at the flush button for a moment. I sneezed once as the air tickled my nose with burnt fabric smell.
“I think you shouldn’t do that again. The fitting is glowing red hot, and you don’t want a fire in here.” He looked thoughtful, “Or a flood if the fitting blew out.”
“If I had a real place to ground or my spike it would be a lot easier on me too.”
“Super conductive pointy thing,” I held my hands about eight inches apart. “About like a tent peg, mine had a cable and a ring on it. I don’t feel a zap when I hold it and touch a grounding point.”
“Sounds like a weapon to me,” he sounded dubious.
“Well, yes and no, only hadda use it once as a weapon, a robber had a gun. He fall down, go boom!”
“Cute, we might be able to rig something in the next few days. Anything else you might want?”
“Music,” I sighed and my shoulders slumped, “and a hug, today absolutely sucks.”
“A hug,” the large man turned to look at the bunk, a thin blanket rose up and moved to encircle me slowly. A half second later it gently closed around me in a ‘hug’, “Hope it’s not too hard?”
“Nope, just right. Thanks Kam.”
“Anytime princess. Anytime.”
To be continued in Merry 5 ‘B’.