I come to, feeling a set of thin, veiny digits forcing my head into a lightly padded seat. A needle enters my arm. Though I know it’s possible I won’t wake from the sedative, I’m grateful that whatever it is these people have planned for me, it’s likely I won’t feel it.
I close my eyes and count backwards from ten, waiting for them to extract that needle from my arm. But it just keeps boring deeper into my flesh, dancing between my humerus and ulna clumsily. Then I open my eyes and realize the tiny prick I felt is actually an electric drill with a quarter inch bit grinding through my elbow. Sparks fly as the bit surfaces on the other side of my arm and hits the metal slab I’m splayed across.
Through the thick fog of fear and confusion I settle on a single thought: I’m numb to the pain. I can feel everything else, my body as it convulses, my arms as they struggle against the restraints, and the hands cradling my head against the padded seat. But when I look up, there are no hands. I can feel them weighing down on me as I try to move though. So I struggle more, to feel the resistance of whatever or whoever holds me, to remind myself that this isn’t real, that this can’t be real. Then the room starts to shift, like I’m staring at it through the air above a stretch of pavement on a hot summer day, except the heat waves radiating into the atmosphere are real people, becoming clearer every moment.
The wound in my arm disappears, or closes, or was never there to begin with. A nurse with open hands crossed over one another struggles to keep my head still. Two officers sip coffee in the corner, eyes wide. That’s when I remember I’m playing guinea pig for the prison system, serving two life sentences in sixty minutes via a series of injections intended to make my mind rehearse every scenario I dreamed up for my victims. Only this time, my memory casts me as the victim. I look at the clock, knowing I’ve already been tortured in eight different incidents while under the influence of this drug, some of which seemed to last lifetimes. But I’ve only been in this room for ten minutes.
“You came out of that last one a little early,” the doctor says. “So we’re going to double the dose for you.” He drives the syringe into my arm. “You ready?”
I shake my head, even though the question is rhetorical. I don’t have a choice.
“Relax,” the doctor says as he dispenses the contents of the syringe into me. “Let’s try that last scenario again, follow it through to the end. In less than an hour, you’ll be a free man.”
As I feel the needle dance across my bones again, the doctor’s words bring me little comfort. This time I’m not going to escape the nightmare so easily, and I know exactly where that drill is heading next.
©2011 Kirk Jones
Kirk Jones is an instructor of humanities for the State University of New York. His work has appeared, or will be appearing in The New Flesh: Episode One, Technicolor Tentacles, A Hacked-Up Holiday Massacre, Unicorn Knife Fight and on Bizarro Central. His first book, Uncle Sam’s Carnival of Copulating Inanimals, was published by Eraserhead Press imprint NBAS in 2010.