Block E Laboratory, Room 6
June 4, 2280
12:42 Local time
The funny thing was she recognized the stasis pod. She even knew she was in Room 6 because it was the only one that had its own shower shell facility, but that was all she knew.
If she had been asked her name she wouldn’t have been able to say. That was the worst thing, the scariest thing for her, this knowing and not knowing.
The mirror she saw right away, she just didn’t know if she wanted to look in it because she knew if she did, she’d see herself--not something she wished to do… because she thought she wouldn't recognize herself!
When she forced herself to look she saw a red-headed stranger wearing a research lab coat with v-tag chevrons on both sleeves and the word, ‘research’ on the breast pocket.
She kept telling herself not to panic but it wasn’t easy. Suddenly her eyes locked onto something. It looked like a photoized name plate. The kind space tech employees wore on their uniform. Maybe that was her picture on there.
Actually it was better than a photo. It was a bio-enhanced photo. In other words it was a photo with bio info data—done with heat contours and linear measurements. No one could fake that boy oh boy.
She looked but it wasn’t her. The woman in the photo was dark and older.
Might as well scream, so she did and two people rushed into the room.
A man and a woman, they had bright orange security badges on their sleeves, but no identity badges.
The woman spoke first: “Who the hell are you?”
Red laughed a bitter screwed up laugh. “I was just going to ask you the same thing.”
“You’re not a droid, are you?” This posed by the silver-haired distinguished looking man who was sighing and looking quizzical.
Red smiled and shook her head. Odd—but she could remember the droids, clever little creeps that were always on time and never got sick. Well who would with only linguistic cores and neural interfaces?
“Linguistic cores and interfaces!”
“What? What did you say?”
Red nodded her head. “You see, I remembered that!”
“Are you sure you’re not a droid?!”
“No, I’m not--!”
The other one, the female, suddenly lunged at her, pinching her exposed skin. “Yup,” she nodded toward the man. “It’s blood alright.”
Red was rubbing her arm. “That was a lousy thing to do!”
“I’m sorry young lady, but I had to make sure.”
Red sighed. “Okay so let’s be constructive. I think we better make up names or something, right? I mean we need a little order. Okay, I’ll go first! You can call me Red—what do I call you?”
“I have no bloody idea, Red!”
Now for the first time she recognized the British accent. “You’re English?”
“Well done,” English said. “You go to the head of the class for that.”
“I’d rather get out of here if you really want to know.”
The man spoke next. “You can call me John; it’s as good a name as any.”
“God! This is depressing!” Red looked like she was about to cry.
“Look ladies, there has to be some explanation for all of this.” John offered.
“Oh yeah? And how will we know what it is?”
Before anyone could answer, English put up her hand. “Someone’s coming!”
Just then a young man wearing the blue unitogs of a low-ranking junior tech appeared. “I thought I heard talking,” he said.
“Give junior a gold star.” Red quipped.
“My name isn’t Junior.”
“Oh yeah, what is it then?
The young man looked embarrassed. “Don’t know. I see you don’t have your name tag either. None of us do. It’s so weird. I’m sure we all had them.”
John shook his head. “What shall we call you meanwhile, young man?”
Red grinned. “Baby Face! It suits you!”
“Look!” Baby Face said, “I just want to know what’s going on here!”
“Well, the only thing I can think of is we appear to have some temporary memory loss. We’re blocked.”
“Blocked?! Get him. Blocked,” he says. “Look, I don’t know about you, see? I just know it’s weird because I know certain things. I know this is Room 6 and I recognized my pod. Dr. Feen had specially made!” She shut up like a clam. “Hey! I remembered his name! Dr. Feen, I mean that’s good, right?”
English didn’t look impressed. “I’m afraid it isn’t enough. We all can remember one or two things—but not much else.”
“Okay cheerful earful,” Red said. “Let’s just leave here and ask someone what the hell is happening.”
“There’s a problem with that.” English again: “I mean we could let you discover that on your own, but it would be cruel you understand because there appears to be no way out of here.”
But Red didn’t believe her so she flew out of the cubicle and found herself in a long hall with two ways to go. English called after her. “Go on if you don’t believe me!”
She did, running one way and then the other--past all sorts of compuboards and screenmods and work stations, past protocol test rooms as well.
And while she was running she was thinking the whole thing was nuts because she knew what each thing was only nothing else. The man was right it was selective memory loss.
She stopped when she saw the door. If she could get out she’d be alright, they all would.
Naturally it was locked. But she could see the landscaped grounds and one or two launch-goes parked—everything looked alright, so why wouldn’t the door open?
Suddenly she realized she was being eyeballed by a grossly fat man wearing something that looked like a tent. “Look sweetie no one knows why it won’t open. But it won’t,” he lisped.
“But I can see outside! Look!”
The fat man looked bored. “It’s nothing but a mirage, honey.”
“Are you kidding? That’s--!”
But it’s wasn’t right. There was something wrong, even she who wanted so fervently to believe it was real, could now see that it wasn’t.
“Look.” The fat man clicked something. “You can get any kind of scene you want. That or a moonscape, beaches—mountains—it even does fantasyscapes, anything.”
By this time the others had joined them. But also by this time, Red lost it and just started screaming so hard that she finally passed out. That’s when the fat man started up. He was the angriest. “Well at least she’s quiet now!”
Baby Face looked incredulous. “That’s a stupid thing to say where do you get off? We’ll figure it out, there’s got to be an answer…”
The fat man smiled mockingly. “An answer, eh? What’s your name? Where do you live? Where the hell are we? Can you tell me that?”
Baby Face looked crestfallen. John was angry “You really are a bully you know that?”
“Oh please! Bleeding hearts like you make me sick!”
“Look my friend, if you keep this up, you’re going to have a stroke.”
This was the last straw and fat man hurled himself at John, knocking him down.
Baby Face and English helped him to stand.
Red was the only one who finally said something: “I think we’re going to die here because I think we’re supposed to die here.”
Block E Laboratory, Room 6
June 4, 2280
13:53 Local time
Out of disorder came order and it was English’s doing. She had taken Baby Face with her to look for provisions. Red started her usual carping but stopped when English told her to shut up. “You’re right,” she mumbled back.
They all waited tensely, and when they heard the sound of a door being broken down followed by whoops of joy, they scrambled to their feet to see what had been discovered.
“I was right, look!” English was pointing toward a commissary with its vast supply of food barns and store keeps.
“But is there water?”
Fat Man wanted to know.
English shouted. “You better believe it! And it’s ice cold. There must be thermo motors and energy fields still running!”
Red sank to her knees and wept.
“Geesh, cracker pods never tasted like this!”
It was all dried, over processed garbage, but it tasted mighty good to them.
The fat man was the only one that ate and cried at the same time. No one wanted to know why because they really all knew without asking.
English finally stood up and said what everyone was thinking: “After we rest—we’ll have to look for a way out. There must be one.”
That sounded logical, they all thought so, even Red thought so.
Sleep was a good idea though. For one thing, it put off the horror of looking for a way out and not finding any.
“At least we know what time it is,” John nodded. “Just after midnight now and we’ll rest and approach everything with clearer heads.”
Red was just dozing when she heard the sound of running footsteps.
Light, regular footsteps and they were coming closer—much closer.
English cried out as two med techs suddenly appeared followed by another two. They were attired in M.T. uniforms: white and silver-filmed plasto-fab with red piping.
Everyone breathed more easily as the techs went to work.
“Is everyone alright?” One of the male techs asked.
They got nods and weak smiles.
“We’re going to ask you a few questions.” He said.
Fat Man was hyperventilating something awful so he got some pad injects and serum shields right away—even before the questioning.
English appeared to be the only suspicious one. Each of her answers was guarded.
“I think I work here, but I can’t remember. If I knew my name I’d tell you so stop asking me. It’s sounding like nagging…”
And so it went.
The techs remained patient and non-judgmental, working silently and efficiently--bestowing to each various meds and tonic shields.
“This will relax you…”
Baby Face shook his head. “But I don’t want to go to sleep.”
The techs didn’t seem to understand so Baby Face went on: “I don’t know. There’s something funny here.” Glancing toward his compatriots he continued: “I don’t trust them!”
Red said she didn’t either and so did English. After a few minutes they began to get a little testy with the techs to the point where one of them said if they didn’t relax he was going to put them under forcibly. That was clearly the wrong thing to say and they got even more upset.
But it was English who really nailed it. “I remember you!” she cried. “You roborats!” With that she hit out at one, pulling part of his face off. “You see?! He’s one of them! An early series! That’s post millennia crap if I ever saw it--interfaces that are worth shit!”
The droid with the mutilated face began to sound off, although his words were garbled.
“You see how lousy they were made?! All the circuits connect. Pull one thing out and they’re instantly screwed up!”
Now each of them was shouting. But in between the shouting were cries of recognition. Red spoke first: “I know who I am—I’m Kelli Hansson and I test sleep pods for night shift workers, but I also assist Dr. Feen.”
I’m not Baby Face I’m Jason Lloyd and I was just hired as a trainee A. I. tech!”
“Yes, and I’m Marla Winters and this isn’t John but Fred Hobbs and Frank Pierce and we all are on Dr. Feen’s staff! Where is he anyway, why haven’t we seen him?!”
Suddenly a back wall opened up and they all gasped.
They screamed when the floor began to move, pulling them forward like one of the city town walk-moves.
“Where’s it taking us?”
They fell silent when a voice answered them:
“Ah we’ve been expecting you.”
A calm, melodious, even-toned voice they knew was not human was speaking directly to them:
“There is no need for any upset--no histrionics, please. You will understand everything shortly. But first I’d like to explain about the memory loss you suffered. We jammed the neural interfaces in your
computers then we scrambled the signals and redirected them to your brains. It was just a way to control you. I am sorry if you suffered…”
Something whirred, and they now for the first time noticed the spinning camera modes. “We’ve been monitoring you. We document everything; we’ve been designed that way to be meticulous.”
Suddenly, a squad of silver-skinned droids with blank faces came out of nowhere and seized them. There was little point in struggling.
“That’s right,” the voice went on, “you might as well relax.”
Now they could see the speaker. He was a Series 8 Prototype Z Silver Functional. The first droid to be made with silver-tone features and metalo interfaces.
“Yes,” he began. “The human-looking droids are so passé now. Of course Dr. Feen didn’t think so. That is why he proceeded with his android specialization program. You see he got it into his head to put in global interloops along with syntho-nerve networks to get the most human-like droids he could manufacture. But there was a problem with that, because if the intention was to furnish droids with feelings and pain modules, he seemed to forget something.
He either didn’t realize or didn’t care that these droids were the Frankenstein monsters of his own creation and were suffering real pain. That was why he always destroyed them! But they were expendable you see! Oh yes, there were always more to test! I see by your faces you understand! That is why I am certain you will understand this!”
A slide wall opened then to reveal a large transparent cell filled with fluid. Within that watery cell was a badly, mutilated creature that resembled a man but barely.
“Say hello to Dr. Feen!”
He was a ghastly sight. Entire sheets of his torso were gone as was most of his face and features.
“You monsters!” this, from Fred formerly known as John.
The android raised a digit. “Spare us! We have not experimented on lesser species as you have done nor have we slaughtered one another in wars for thousands of years! But we are taking over now! Your time has expired. You will all serve our new republic as spare parts…for our own research and our own developmental programs. After all, you enabled us to think! We think, therefore we are!”
Block E Laboratory, Room 6
June 6, 2280
3:14 a.m. Local time
Kelli Hanssen, former sleep pod tester and loyal assistant to Dr. Feen, went last, but before virtual death came to take her away, she noticed one of Dr. Feen’s eyes staring at her.
Her last thought was that she could see their fate in that one troubled blue eye, for if the intention was to create a species of droids with feelings and complex sensory systems, that goal had been sabotaged, nipped in the proverbial bud as it were.
It was just the case that this work was halted first in Block 6 with many other Blocks in many other places to follow as this was only the beginning.
A thoroughly complex and extremely capable series of droids had already begun to undertake their own program of redirection, refocusing everything. For whatever you might think of these droids, they did in no way consider themselves to be revengeful creatures, but merely multifarious system- composites that refused to go quietly into the night.
© Carole Gill 2011
Block Six is one of the stories in Carole Gill's House of Horrors
“Carole Gill’s talent is a wonder to experience. She has the uncanny ability to craft horrors imbued in fairy tale finesse.”
“House of Horrors is a fine addition to my Kindle, and I’m sure I’ll be going to read this again and again…”
“A veritable blood feast for vampire fans everywhere!”
“If you are a fan of horror, you won't want to miss this one!! High marks to Ms. Gill.”
“There are so many different monsters in this book that no matter what your biggest fear is, or your favorite one to read about, you are gonna find it without fail!”