Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Silent Room: Part 6

Dr. Adelheid

Dr. Adelheid stood alone in her office. 

Her long white coat swung softly in the currents created by the ventilation system as her hand rested on the edge of the ornate oval frame of the mirror behind her desk. Methodically, she thought through the codes and the list of "proposed signs for partial immunity", the same as she did every night as she fell asleep. At the end of that, she took a moment to review her doubts and emotions. One last chance to look for any reasons not to go ahead with hack..  Was this really the moment?  Was it really worth risking everything?  Had she really taken every possible precaution?  If she ran out of time, if anyone of the upper echelon of Watchers had their eyes turned in her direction... 

She thought again of the disturbance in the Resting Commons that afternoon.   The patients had been decidedly restless. And they were never restless. Ever. They were too drugged by chemicals and false images to do something as dramatic as twitch a finger, let alone be restless.  But this afternoon, for the space of a few minutes, they had not only twitched their fingers, they had slightly, so slightly she had almost missed it, shifted positions in their chairs. In all her years of working for the Institute, that had never happened before.  

If there was a window past the Watchers’ absolute control, then it would be today and only today that she mind find it. Tomorrow the new prisoners would all have been moved on. With one last deep breath to gather her composure, she started.

 "Initiate Time Out."

The heavy clunk of the door lock sliding into place sounded behind her. A beep notified that the countdown timer had started.  In the mirror she checked the door to make sure that the bar glowed blue.  Sealed for fifteen minutes.  Already that was down to 14 minutes, 52 seconds.  

She pushed back the fear before it had a chance to take hold and pressed the button hidden on the side of the mirror.  A wave of energy washed out into the room, creating a reflective bubble around her.  For as long as she stood in this energy bubble, provided the Sensors hadn't noticed the energy surge and set out to break down her door, anyone watching through the monitoring cameras would see only that she was spending a great deal of time standing there, hand on the frame, studying herself. Vanity was of course not one of the best traits to be accused of having, but at least it was a forgivable one in the catalog of forgivable and unforgivable.

Mirror image in place. Check.  System hack, pending. 

The mirror shimmered silver for what seemed an eternity, the silence of the room nearly drowning her with its thickness under the steady counting of the clock.  Another twenty seconds had passed.  She waited for the hack to do its dirty work and give her mainframe access.

Then the words she had been waiting for flashed on the screen.


Below that a faintly silhouetted keypad glowed at the bottom of the mirror screen. With shaking fingers she typed in the codes. The words flashed faster this time.



Small squares representing the video feeds for each of the holding cells lined up, covering  the screen.  So many squares. Too many squares. Somehow she held the rising bile at bay over how many there were. There would be only a lucky one or two that reached the safe sanctuary of her guarded halls. She couldn't give them their lives or their minds back, but she could give them care and kindness.  And she could watch and wait and hope, hope hard, for a day like today to come, when maybe just maybe, she had a chance to make a difference.  She forced her mind back to the task at hand and put the images on slideshow. She had one shot at this…  13 minutes 38 seconds.

When she reached the end of the feeds the first time without finding even a hint of a possibility among them, she had to fight back waves of overwhelming fear and guilt, She hadn't seen what she needed to see. What  if she wouldn’t see it? What if it had never been there to see in the first place, and she had taken all this risk, abandoning her patients to the Watchers?. She forced herself to take a deep breath and center herself. Then she went back to the beginning of the images and started again.  9 minutes 21 seconds.

On the third pass, with 2 minutes 19 seconds remaining on the clock, she finally found a sign. Two gray blue eyes staring back at her through screen.

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