Keep going - your story has me hooked already... What happens next?
The Joanna Files Part 2: Pieces of Mind
“We need the ones with high intelligence."
"But they always break through sooner or later and we have to start over."
"I think I have found a person that is going to be so well integrated into the system nothing will sever the tie. The only thing that can end it is death. But we wouldn‘t make it that easy."
For some reason they let him live. If you could call being intravenously fed a bare minimum of necessary minerals and nutrients living. In a semi conscience state he can hear snatches of conversations that he can not make sense of.
Except for that last one.
Were they going to "send me back in?" he thought to himself. Would he be himself, or remember any of this? Is he so valuable to their research that they are rehabilitating him (in their own special way) and completing what they started? Or is his life so worthless, that his death will be a minor setback. His thoughts made him restless. He could hear the monitors he was hooked up to rapidly beeping, in chorus with his accelerated heart rate. They would know he was awake. Would they care?
"I-I think he's finally waking up."
"Do you think he heard anything?"
"Doesn't matter, he can't do anything about it where he's going." He felt a rush of fire sizzling through his veins. His heart felt like a lump of coal. The first stage had begun. The Coats (as he liked to think of them, because "Dr" or "nurse" is to nice a word. Plus, everyone favored the same long coats) had no idea how much this stuff burned. He could not move or scream, and when the burning slowed down they'd start pumping more of that mess into him. If you want someone under your complete control torturing them from the inside out is a start.
"First course almost complete. He'll have to rest after. According to the monitoring he must be hurting."
"Yeah, we went through a lot of rats before getting the dosage correct for human injections. Some minds analytically have to sort facts based on a reality that is constant. When you introduce a highly unlikely development into their environment, the reaction is what fascinates us. Such intelligence and yet give them a few wild and fantastic suggestions and you'd be amazed at the results. Some break the programming, the best we've had. Even now, we still get people that reject it and we have to pull them out before they die."
"But now? We aren't? I mean we are going to just let them die?"
"With the amount of data we have and the funding we can keep researching this phenomenon for quiet a while. The new developments are astounding." While drifting back into a drug induced sleep state the man wondered what The Coats were referring to. What ever would make someone want this? Why would he have wanted this? He felt like he was falling now and there was no stopping the feeling of, when will it all end.
The antiseptic smell of the room reduced his whereabouts to 2 logical options a hospital or, other medical facility. He was going with “other”. He cracked his eye open and saw he was in a private room. Opening his eyes the rest of the way he saw he was no longer strapped down. He started getting up. First putting his elbows at his sides and lifting his upper body. When dizziness and/or nausea did not grip him, he sat up fully and turned to put his feet on the floor. Testing his leg strength he pressed them into the floor as if he were about to stand. A bit weak but more strength than that of a newborn. Bracing the sides of the bed he leaned forward and stood up. Breathing deep he paced the floor thinking.
He did not have a mirror, toilet, or sink. There was no slot in the door with which to receive meal trays or any other way to get things to someone confined to solitary. The door would have to open sometime. He would not be staying in here 24/7. He glanced down at his feet and hands. A definite male body. Or large woman.
The large and heavy feel of male anatomy made him certain he was indeed a man. He made a minor adjustment. He was only wearing boxers, plain cotton drawstring pants, white socks, white tee, and a robe. There was no closet in the room. Nothing with which he could MacGyver a weapon and surprise the next guy through the door. Not that he was that handy, but he could dream.
Seems as though that was all he was doing. For how long really. He had no idea. He needed answers real answers but first. He needed to get the hell out of here.
#4827911. That was what they said. Said it sounded like a prison number, then the Coat grinned slyly. This was no prison Cole had ever seen. Bare bones maybe, but not a prison. The drugs they pumped into him left him feeling as though he had just gotten over the flu. Achy and weak.
There was a system he had begun to track. He decided to keep everything either in code or in his head. He decided since he had time, for now, in his head worked fine. The gate (or cage) guard ran the switches. The system that operated the section of the building he was in. The daytime row guards were assigned rooms and did the rounds. They had a schedule and often changed the rotation. But it had to stay regular enough for daily routines not to be interrupted. So Cole watched and calculated. The rotation would usually follow the activities change. Would double up when they took more than 10 of then at a time to one section of the facility to another. Or if they went outside.
People seemed to be in varying stages of recuperation. Some did not seem to know where they were. Others had a blank stare like they had no care if they were here or on the Moon. No one spoke to each other. Ever. It seemed as though this was an unwritten rule. Cole did not know this but learned it quickly. He also learned you could find ways to communicate that flew under the radar of the Eyes. The guards and the embedded security you did not see.
A pale thin male with large hands and long fingers took a seat cross from Cole. The faint blue pattern of veins stood out in stark relief against bloodless skin. Not even a hint of life flushed the surface of the man’s face. Cole realized he noticed odd things about people. He watched the actions of people that caught his attention. The man did not, look or act like any of the other newbies.
The man came in one day and was immediately doing what Cole had done. Scanning the upper walls for security (or whatever). Checking the position of the guards in the lunchroom. Curly hair, dark and cut short like the rest of them. His colorless gaze washed over the faces in the lunchroom and locked on Cole‘s. For several seconds he just stood there. Hands gripping the lunch tray like a life raft.. Then he advanced in the line, took his portion of food and sat at the nearest table. The farthest away from Cole.
Cole and the man had gotten to know each other the only way to strangers locked away against their will can know each other. One day Travis walked by him and dropped a piece of paper. He barely noticed at first but then it was barely bigger than a thumbnail. He did not take any chances and did not make it look any more suspicious than picking up trash and going to throw it away with the remains of his lunch.
Getting back to his room operating on shallow breaths and legs that felt like Jello. Each glance from a fellow roommate or guard making him that much more paranoid. There was no real way to hide what he had so he pretended to undress down to his boxers and head in for a nap. Under the covers Cole worked on unfolding the paper. He was surprised when he had a 3”x3” slip of paper pressed against his thigh. The paper was so worn, it felt like cloth. Moving the paper to his chest Cole then acted as though he was adjusting the covers and glanced under the sheet. There. Right there. Was the strangest most bizarre thing he had yet to see since waking up in this place.
The words were scrawled in block print: Want to run away with me?
Was this guy for real?
There was two loud raps on his door signaling dinnertime. Cole must have fallen asleep. When Cole got up to get ready for dinner he tried his best to remain cool and indifferent. Anything more or less got you taken away for “tests”. The cage guard disengaged the lock on his door. The row guard stood, waiting, on the other side. Cole stepped out into the hall the dim lighting just enough to cast your shadow on the wall. Not so lonely with you and your shadow. The other people waited just ahead. The front line row guard signaled to the back line row guard and they all proceeded to the dining hall.
Dinner was the same as lunch. Quiet except for the shuffling of slippers on white tile. The slide of plastic trays on plastic tables. The clink of silverware on dinnerware. The smell of hot meat and cool recycled air. When Cole finished eating his dinner. He got up leaving behind a bit of paper under a fork he left on the table. “Here. You forget this.” Cole heard Travis say after only a few steps. Travis looked up at Cole. Cole noticed that Travis’ eyes, while the contact was brief, were not actually colorless. But a washed out, almost icy grey-blue. Strange. Cole felt a tremble coming from Travis as Travis’ hand brushed his when Travis laid the fork in Cole’s palm. Travis held his head down. Then he turned and went back to continue his meal. Cole then walked over to the trash bin, emptied his remaining food and trash. Then took the dishes to the gray tub to be washed. A row guard was waiting to escort the row he was in back to their rooms. Cole noticed the tiny slip of paper he had hidden under the fork was missing.
As Travis made his way back to the room he prayed the piece of paper his casually folded into the elastic of his boxers did not slip out. All of a sudden everything felt 10 times too big and the leg of his pants felt as if they were pulling on his boxers. Causing them to shift.
“Hey! You doing OK today there?” The gate guard announced through the loudspeaker. Travis paled and felt his mouth go dry. He was speechless.
“Hey Hal. We can shoot the shit later. Buzz me.” The button was pushed, a buzz and the door to Travis’ room unlocked. He looked at the guard as if he did not know what to do next. “After you.” The guard replied sarcastically. Travis went inside and felt like he wanted to faint. He never really was the running scared type. But the things they had done to him…
He took off his bedroom type slippers and folded his shirt and pants across the end of the bed. Nothing to do until activities. He reached down, under the elastic band of his boxers until his hands wrapped around the slip of paper he discovered cleverly hidden under the fork, by Cole. He carefully made it look as though he was trying to get comfortable in bed. He did not know for sure but guessed the rooms were also secretly monitored and recorded. Why go through the elaborate scheme and experiments, lock everyone involved and not continue to monitor their progress. Or deterioration.
Well Travis wanted answers and he wanted out. He unraveled the note and smoothed it out over his stomach and turned to his side facing the wall. Moving the note up under his arm with one hand, he slowly bent his head forward, mimicking a sleeping pose, using his arm as a pillow. Cole’s reply warmed his belly like taking a tumbler full of whiskey, straight up. A laugh threatened to break through and ruin the guise of him napping:
Cole had replied back, in a thin wispy handwriting:
Yeah sure. We can run. But I ain’t kissing ya.
Later that evening, and the only real time to interact, was activity time. It also depended on what the activity was and who was assigned. Sometimes you got the real hard cases and had to remain in a monk-like state of silence. Cole spotted Travis in the line across from him heading in from the other row. Travis glanced up at Cole and a twinkle entered his eye. Cole really wanted to know more about Travis. Cole really needed to ask him if he had a plan but the notes they were too important to contain frivolous information. Plus, the note Cole sent back in reply seem to tickle Travis, not tick him off.
Today they were stuffing envelope. Whoopee. Lining the same tables they ate lunch at but they were cushioned as they would be sitting here longer than 30 minutes. Travis found a seat next to Cole “Hey.” Travis greeted Cole.
“Hey.” Cole replied back. They were never allowed paper, pens or anything else with which to communicate. All they could do was steal and hide what they could and hope they did not get caught. They weren’t in a prison, per say, but they sure weren’t treated like tourists at a resort.
If you asked questions. You were gone. If you caused a fuss. You were gone. If you so much as gave suspicion to the wrong guard they’d have you assigned for testing in two shakes. “You look good.” When Cole made that comment to him Travis looked at him briefly then continued to stuff envelopes. Out of the corner of his eye Travis could see Cole stop stuffing envelopes and then continuing. Travis replied, “Thanks.” Cole cleared his throat.
“What I mean is that you had been looking kind of pale and you are starting to-” Cole looked over at Travis and Travis just had a look that said “go on.”. “I was being polite.” Making a damn fool, a damn old fool, of him self is what Cole felt like he was doing.
“Thanks.” Travis laughed. His laughed was a simple rush of air through his nose. Quiet and quick. He was holding back to not cause a stir Cole noticed. Cole sometimes noticed things about people. It was good having someone to relate to. To want the same things you wanted. Cole so badly needed to find out who was behind all this. The Joanna Files had taken a backseat to the Stevens Briefing. The man who had essentially given his life for his involvement with Gen-a-TEC. The funny thing was Cole did not even know Travis full story. Heck, Cole did not even know Travis’ full name. Cole just had a vague idea why he was in here. If Travis was half as screwed as Cole was. Cole would be more than happy to lend him a hand and find out his story too.
Cole and Travis could not openly express their desire to breakout , of course, but they knew how to keep an eye out for each other and sneak supplies necessary to communicate. They even formed a code that was easy to remember and learned it fast enough to start using whole sentences in code. The notes got a bit longer and more detailed.
There were no restrictions on contact. So a handshake, pat on the back, or for those not insecure about close comfort, a hug, were all OK. Cole had not seen or heard about anyone being treated inappropriately. So they were afforded at least that camaraderie. A lot can be said between men with a wink and a handshake.
Travis and Cole used every opportunity to greet one another is a friendly handshake once things progressed and the notes needed to be exchanged more than once a day. Cole was headed to the bathroom and had a note tucked under his armpit. Cole really had to go so he could not tuck the note down his pants. “Uh. #2.” Cole informed the row guard that escorts the patients to and from the dining room. If necessary to the bathroom, or other areas.
“Make it quick.’ He had to unlock the door manually into a single stall room. Cole made it quick. He removed the note from under his arm and amazingly his sweat had not soaked it (completely). This was it. The final stages. Cole and Travis were going to see if they were mice or men. Being tested was definitely not for them anymore.
Comments 1 to 2 of 2
Comments 1 to 2 of 2