Friday, September 13, 2013

The Silent Room: Part 7


Grenfelder had been sitting with his eyes closed for what seemed like hours, trying to ignore the ever deepening hollow of hunger in his gut from not eating and the nearly unbearable itch of his head and wrists where they were strapped to the wall, when he began to get the distinctly prickly sensation of being watched. He opened his eyes slowly in the half light, letting the wildly spinning world settle into into one solid image.  When his vision finally cleared, there was now a blue flashing light on the wall above the door that had not been there earlier.  As he stared the light slowly began to expand from a rather fuzzy blue ball into an ever larger image of an orange haired doctor. As she resolved into sharper edged image, she looked to be standing just inside the door of his cell. Idly he noticed that her top knot was a bit askew and her white coat hung just a little off kilter.

"Ah, there you are," the soft tinkling voice echoed inside his head, followed by a laugh. Her laugh was brittle with an almost hysterical relief laced over its surface. Over her shoulder he could see numbers counting slowly down toward one on a large digital clock.  He wasn't sure if seeing this doctor was a good thing or a bad thing. Perhaps, somewhere in between beating him, starving him, and chaining him to a wall, they had also slipped him something with hallucinogenic properties.  He hoped. If they hadn't and his mind was making up its own images, it wasn't boding well for his chances of standing up under torture.  Good thing there wasn't much that he could tell them.

"One moment while I adjust the app," she lifted her hand and moved it about in mid air. Then she let it drop abruptly where she dusted her hands together, pleased. "There we go. Now, I've only got a minute or so yet.   Can you get to that desk over there?"  She extended her arm and pointed at something off to his left. Following the direction of her hand with his eyes, he found a squat fat wooden desk sitting against the wall.

"That wasn't there before!"  His voice was rusty with dehydration and disuse.

"I used the program visual manipulation app downloaded to your chip. The same one that lets them manipulate your world perceptions for imprisonment, actually.  You are still bound, but your mind won't recognize that when you are in the sim.  You can get up quite easily now and walk over to the desk. Never mind all that about the hows and whys though. You have to get the envelope in the drawer."

"Huh?" Even as she spoke, he realized that he was no longer bound, and he dropped his arms down in front of him to begin rubbing at his wrists where the bands had held him fast.

"The envelope. In the desk drawer. Get it. If you can get hold of it before the simulation ends, you'll be able to read it even after the rest of the visual manipulation disappears. A kind of technical programming loop hole thing. "  A ding sounded behind her, and she startled abruptly even as her image began to shudder and shrink, " Now get the envelope!"

The last was said fiercely, nearly at a shout, a moment after the image of her had shuddered out of existence.  He stared dazedly at the blank wall where she had been standing, then looked back at the desk.

What kind of a dream was this, anyway?  Had she been real?  He had been prepared for torture, wheedling, that kind of thing.  But help of some kind from a scattered doctor? That he hadn't been prepared for.  Maybe it was a trick they were playing. Well, even if it was, it was more interesting than sitting here.  He got up slowly and made his way to the desk. The desk had a single drawer with a brass handle.  Carefully he grasped the handle and slid the drawer out to find a slim white envelope inside it.  He reached out and picked it up.  Even as his hand closed over the paper, he felt the room begin to spin.

He closed his eyes for a moment and focused in on the smooth texture of the envelope in his fingers to steady himself, only to feel the paper slipping slowly away.  His eyes snapped open as he made a quick lunging grab to catch back the falling letter, only to wrench his neck and arms painfully against the straps holding them to the wall.

He groaned to find himself back in the holding cell where he had started.  The doctor had said the letter might come through with him.  He wondered if it had.  He glanced down to the floor. Nothing. He glanced toward where the desk had stood.  Oddly, the letter still hovered in mid-air near where his hand had been in the sim.  "Sure enough.  Visual manipulation and technical loop hole thing at work," he muttered.

It reminded him of all the strange stories his father used to tell him about creating your own personal dreamworld with only a string of code or opening boxes with your mind. He should have guessed they weren't just stories.  His father never did anything without an intention behind it.  There had been a trick to that one.  Something about...  He set to work trying to see if you could open an imaginary envelope hovering in mid air with only your mind.

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