Hey everyone! On to week three of my new story, Denied. This week's prompt is: If you're not to busy there, can you give me a hand?
“What is he doing here?”
“I left express orders not to bring him to the infirmary. Do you want to terrorize him? Why is he sedated?”
The harsh, angry voice made me flinch, and I started breathing faster, but then something grabbed ahold of my body and control was wrested from me. My breathing slowed, the panic welling up inside faded, and the protesting voice shushing the furious protest couldn’t capture my attention from the strange, peaceful twilight I floated in.
If it was possible, I wanted to stay here. I hurt, but it was distant. Like my memory of the bed I’d slept in for my early years. I’d had a soft, puffy pillow I’d bury my head in as I fought against getting up for schooling.
A pillow was a luxury I hadn’t had in too long. Nothing soft, nothing warm. No sensory input that would make me seek out touch. I’d learned control, especially once they put me in the suit, but that desire for comfort was like a sickening need inside me. Sometimes I’d take the pain, just to ease it a little.
Right now, I felt nothing. Physically, emotionally… just nothing.
But I would be afraid, if I could have been. That was how they’d wanted me to become, the aliens. Indifferent to comfort, even averse to it. A physical null, an emotionless robot. But they never managed it.
Or maybe they had. Maybe that was what this test had been. One last, major test to see if I’d pass or fail. But was this distance from my body a reward or a punishment? I couldn’t be bothered to figure it out, because even as the thoughts tried to pierce the veil around me, they floated away, leaving me once again in darkness.
A metallic taste flooded my mouth. I smacked my lips a few times, grimacing. I blinked my eyes open. I was in a big room and there were flat surfaces—beds—along the walls. There were people here and there. There were also beings. Aliens in colorful plumage and iridescent bodies like I’d never imagined seeing.
The aliens who’d held me had been gray, hard skinned like a flexible shell covered their bodies, and they’d had next to no features. Just two eye slits and a lipless slash across their face that was covered with some sort of bristles. The one time an alien came in my room I couldn’t smell anything or feel any heat from its body. The device it carried spoke in a monotone digital voice—it hadn’t even made a sound. I’d never even seen them touch or speak to each other when they observed me where I could see them.
It made me wonder if they were experimenting on me to change me to more like them. I’d been trained to avoid touch, emotion, contact. My suit was molded to my body and hardened away from my joints. I shivered, oddly cold. The air was swirling in the room.
I glanced down, the cold distracting me from the taste in my mouth. The sight of my arms, pale and bony, was something I hadn’t experienced in all the long years I’d been held in that room. I lifted both arms and held them stiffly out in front of me. There was a garment covering my chest, but it was loose.
“W-what—” My scratchy voice broke.
Aparoe stood on one side of the bed. They held out a container with fluid inside. “We removed that wicked thing they put on you. Here, you have to be thirsty. We’ve had you on fluid replacements, but it took several days for you to recover after the nerve surgery. I’m sorry we had to keep you under, but your body needed time to repair. It would have been agonizing if you were allowed to wake.
“I did… one time.”
“Yes, just after the surgery was complete, but we kept a body block active to prevent the damaged nerves from causing you any pain. They couldn’t heal that way, though, we had to keep you under.” When I didn’t take it from her, Aparoe put the container on a table that hovered beside the bed, then pushed it close. “Please drink.”
I picked up the cup, sniffing the pink fluid. It smelled… sweet. Like fruit. I vaguely remembered eating fruit one time. I took a sip. My taste buds practically danced. Flavor! I greedily tipped the cup, but it didn’t hold much.
“You can have more soon, but we need to make sure your body doesn’t reject normal food and fluids. All the tests we’ve run show a successful removal of that horrible technology, and your nerves are regenerating nicely. You’ll be healthy in no time.”
Food? I’d had nothing but a bland paste I sucked out of a tube. Sometimes I pretended to chew, just to make sure I didn’t forget how. Maybe they’d have fresh food. When I was a kid, I’d looked up spaceship jobs, and the rations had seemed pretty bad. But compared to what I’d survived on… anything would be an improvement.
“Aparoe, if you’re not too busy there, can you give me a hand?” one of feathered beings asked. They nodded and stepped away.
“Do you remember me?” Captain stood on the other side of the bed.
I nodded, staring straight into his eyes. Captain was carved on my brain. He took me out of my cell. He was warm and smelled good, standing close to me. I leaned closer to him, closing my eyes. What was it about him?
“Good. Do you have a name?”
I opened my mouth, then shut it. The first thing that popped into my head was seven-six-delta-nine-nine-two. I’d almost said it, having responded to it for years. But those memories I’d struggled to remember were a little closer. Maybe from the dreams I’d had while they drugged me. I only remembered snatches… but I knew one thing.
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