Slide to Unlock: Part 4

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See John Fight

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Recap: John explained about his past and how he came to join the Air Force. In the present, he’s still trapped in the lab: we know he tried to escape three times, but he only told us two. What happens the third time?

Masterpost of Parts

<< Previous: Part 3

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Part 4

I don’t think I ever dream in the drug induced slumber. I just remember staring at the back of my eyelids for hours, darkness a warm blanket wrapped tightly around me. Somewhere there is the sensation of floating. Somewhere, too, there is the sensation of drifting. No, I never really dream in that drug-induced slumber.

I suppose that’s because I was already living the nightmare.

The third time I wake up, my body protests. It’s not the normal ‘I really don’t wanna get out of bed’ that I have experienced since—well, since life began; but this is more of the ‘we are not waking up as a point of survival’. I only ever felt this before when I was really sick with the flu and I knew the minute I woke up, I’d need to vomit or would start shaking from the fever or both. My body is just one tight coil of control—by waking up I only feel the suffocation of wanting, desperately, to be asleep.

Nevertheless, awareness creeps in. There are bright notes of pain along my arms and legs, at the midway points between my major joints. The greatest pain is in my head; it’s a dull throb that pulses with my breath, which has begun to pick up rapidly. There is also pressure around my mouth and a steady, but different, pressure all around me.

Everything I hear sounds filtered. There is light chatter, but it sounds garbled and alien. I can also hear the hum of a machine, much louder than the voices, and it doesn’t sound anything like my heart monitor had before. It’s a different machine. And it’s starting to get louder.

Then I realize what the pressure is all around me. Then I realize why my eyes refuse to open.

I force my eyes to open and all I see is water.

I try to scream, but the respirator strapped over my mouth muffles the noise. I try to thrash, but those bright notes of pain in my limbs are actually metal digging down into my bone. I see the holes in my skin. I see the thin rivulets of blood that well as I move experimentally. I can feel the machines biting into my bone until they are a part of my marrow. In fact, I can feel the machines all through me and that glowing, that I had seen before and had been localized to my fingertips, is now coursing all through my body.

The glowing gets bright and brighter until it’s all there is.

The glass of the chamber gives way as an electric pulse shocks out. I have no idea of its source, but I’m terrified that it might be me. It leaves me feeling a little nauseous. In moments, the machines maneuver themselves out of my limbs with whirs and clicks. The wounds of where they had punctured glow at the edges, casually stitching themselves back together. What is left in the place of the glow looks like skin, but I know that’s not all it is.  The nausea increases.

In this moment, I can’t think. I only move with survival in my mind. I rip off the respirator and tear away from the chamber. I feel the glass cut into my bare feet as I land on the floor. The cool air of the room is colder since I’m stark naked and dripping wet. I pay neither the discomfort nor my indecency any mind. I only begin running because the chatter had stopped and now there is a blatant siren howling like a banshee through the building.

The room I was in had been rather big and the hallway I run towards is much smaller in comparison. It looks nothing like the hallways I had been in before—it is window less and covered in iron riveting. I can see a T intersection at the end, but have no sense of direction; do I go left or do I go right?

Do I go left or do I go right?

Do I—

As I reach the intersection, a buzzing I had associated with the alarm seems to dissipate. It melds instead into a thought. Suddenly, in bright Technicolor, is a schematic of the building. I can see the hallway to the left extends towards the observation rooms (one of which I had been in earlier) and a cafeteria beyond. The hallway to the right extends to a militarized breezeway with a parking lot/exit beyond. I can also see all the other large rooms—many with short titles like “Experiment Room 1”, “Treatment Room 2”, and “Containment Room Alpha”—that litter the complex. In glowing red is the alarm room, which gives me a headache when I focus on it.

A shiver runs down my spine. The light above my head flickers.

Deciding that escape is first priority and my only priority, I bank right. With each passing meter, my resolve hardens. I feel the familiar burn of adrenaline before the fight. I run over combat training in my head. I think of all the best methods I know. I think of all the best moves I’ve used. With each passing meter the lights get dimmer. Some burst behind me and the sound is swallowed by the wail of the alarm. The sound of doors slamming shut is also absorbed by the siren’s call.

Eventually the hallway begins to widen and I can see a gate slowly being lowered from the ceiling, iron teeth spiking the bottom of a solid titanium slab. I pick up speed and, mindful of my undressed state, maneuver with little friction beneath the closing door. Awaiting me on the other side are armed men.

I use the term men loosely since these men are hulking monsters of men. None are less than six and a half feet tall. Their shoulders are almost as wide as a bloody SUV. They are also ornamented with so much extra ammo that I’m surprised they don’t go through the floor by the weight of it.

The envy of their ammo carrying abilities suddenly disappears, though, when I see the symbol on one of the men’s sleeves. He’s a sergeant.

…in the American military.

“We don’t want to hurt you.” The sergeant says. His voice is difficult to hear over the alarm but the coldness of the tone is not missed despite the interference. All 10 pairs of steely eyes lock on me, a few of the less focused privates letting their gaze drift a little too low. I fight the urge to cover myself and instead cross my arms over my chest.

If working in my old unit taught me anything, it’s to not let them know you’re scared. Ever. “Why you got so many guns if you aren’t gonna hurt me?” I drawl. The sergeant narrows his eyes, but the corner of his lip twitches up. The hum in my brain is back—like a thought constantly stroking my psyche but refusing to be revealed. I fight the urge to scowl. “Is it just for show?”

The sergeant shrugs and reset his aim, the barrel of his AK-47 only inches from my nose. “Technically we’re not here to hurt you—but o’ course we mean the kind like dead. You’re a Special Unit guy, you know that.” The other soldiers nod their agreement and I watch with disguised horror as they readjust their aim as well. It’s a show that lets me know they’re all prepared to shoot me. “But ya see, we can hurt ya. I’m sure ya noticed your abilities robot-boy. Extremis had been good to you.”

The smile he gives me next reminds me of the smile of the man from before—the one being hauled by the orderlies past my room. It’s manic. I swallow thickly and the noise echoes through the room. It’s the only noise in the room and it lingers there, like a bad odor.

When had the alarm shut off?

Why is this buzzing in my head going crazy?

God, it sounds like a bunch of bees are just bouncing around my skull.

Then, from the corner of my eye, I see the glow. I lift the hand up and I can hear the guns rustle. My hand is glowing and then that buzz in my head begins to double, pushing at the edges and making the back of my eyes hurt. My stomach roils with excitement of the buzzing. I drop my hand to my side and carefully watch the soldiers’ faces. All of them have a look of fear blazing behind their bravado.

I smile and let the buzzing shake through me.

At first, the buzzing just races down my spine. Then it reaches with warm fingers through every part of me, galvanizing every piece until I feel like I might shake a part. Then it works outward in a solid gust—I feel like I’m exploding and, well, maybe I am. I certainly know that, right now, I’m fucking glowing.

Super-powered or not, it’s so satisfying to see the murderous men be shot clear off their feet. The sergeant is sent flying backwards, burns scoring his face deeply and the tip of his gun melting shut. I can feel the wavelengths I send out dig deep into their bodies, go right into their brain, and knock them out cold. It’s like I plugged into their system and overloaded it, just for a few moments, so they crashed. Around me the floor is littered with unconscious men and black scorch marks.

I draw the buzzing back in and leave it to stir in the back of my mind.

I choke back the urge to puke.

After a few deep breaths that settle my stomach and my racing mind because—you know—it’s totally normal to go super nova; I step over the sergeant to leave and then pause. I’m still naked. I consider taking the sergeant’s clothes, but they have holes and some parts are still smoking. Instead I favor the clothes of one of the soldiers that are further away. They’re a little loose since I’m not a monster—only six foot two—but they’ll do the trick. In my new clothes, I head towards the parking lot.

A passing faction of relief guards run by me, in black uniforms and heavy Kevlar. One asks me where I’m headed and I say that I got injured by the bastard and I’m just getting out of the way. The solider doesn’t believe me, but he doesn’t have time to question me either. He’s being dragged towards the breach, the sound of pounding boots swallowing his retreating form.

Once I’m out of their line of sight, I begin to jog.

The parking garage seems to stretch forever upwards, confirming my belief that we are underground. It also makes my heart sink to see the bit of sunshine that signals freedom so far away. The cars I pass all look tempting. I stare at particularly nice Nisan Versa longingly. However, a car would probably draw too much attention—I have no way to get into the car without setting off someone’s suspicion and getting my recently freed ass recaptured. It wouldn’t be one of my best ideas.

Then, the buzzing acts up. At first I fight it because, well, torching a car is not going to do me very good. But the buzzing is persistent and the guy did say I was robot-boy, right? Robots are capable of a lot more than, er, one thing, so I could be too, right?

I walk up to the car and stand awkwardly beside it. The same hand begins to glow again and I begin to doubt whether or not whatever this new part of me is can do anything more than electrocute anything within ten feet. Nevertheless, like the tug of the tide, my hand begins to hover over the hood of the car and I finally cave. My palm drops against the cool surface of the metal. It quickly heats under my hand.

Then—well then something amazing happens. While I have rudimentary knowledge of a car (the gas goes in the gas tank), I didn’t know I could know this much about the car. Or maybe it’s this new part of me that knows about the car and, like before, there is suddenly a schematic of the vehicle’s electrical components in my head. I move around it, lifting the locks and working the ignition. The car jumps to life under my hand. The driver’s door pops open on the opposite side.

“Holy fuck,” I breathe. Then I hear shouting echoing through the compound and the wail of the siren has started up again. I duck into the Nisan Versa and drive like a bat out of hell from the compound—the gate they try to drop on me as I exit the garage somehow failing to fall; the system that normally runs it welded into position.

I keep driving for two days.

I never once dare to look back.

Next: Part 5 >>

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