I heard a loud thud, but it was also somewhat muffled to my ears. I tried to open my eyes, and realized it was quite a strain to do so. The lights around me were positively blinding. I let my eyes adjust to the light. It took longer than I was satisfied with.
I found a person having just closed a large metal door. They were wearing a full face mask, white, with white medical pants and a white lab coat. White from head to toe - even their shoes were white. I looked around the room. There were no windows anywhere. The walls, the floor, the ceiling, all white.
I looked down at myself. I was being held into a medical chair via brown leather straps. They were buckled around my neck, upper torso, both biceps, both wrists, both thighs, and both ankles. I absolutely could not move an inch. Next to me was an IV bag full of… something. Saline? Drugs? I wasn’t sure. From what I could tell, there was no IV drip attached to my body. Not from what I could see. And I didn’t feel any stinging. I didn’t like needles.
The person at the door approached me with metered steps. They stopped at my left side. From the depths of their pockets, they pulled a bright blue rubber band and started to tie it around my arm. No… no tie offs. I worked too hard to get out of that pit.
“Stop, please…” I pleaded. “I’m a clean and sober man. What are you putting inside of me?!” My panic was rising against my will, and it was getting hard to breath with the strap around my neck that now felt like bricks.
They continued through their actions as if they couldn’t hear me, or even notice me resistance at all. I began to grapple against the straps, attempting with every ounce of strength I had to pull away from them. Resistance was futile; I didn’t budge.
“STOP, PLEASE!” I yelled. “STOP!”
They paused, momentarily glancing up at me, and continued through the steps of their process. I suddenly felt the butterfly needle of the IV plunge into the crook of my elbow. It was a bittersweet rush. I was angry at myself for the brief sense of relief I felt. I yelled in pain and winced my eyes. My vision was blurring from tears of exhaustion. I was completely helpless. They flicked the IV line a few times, and recorded something on a notepad that also came from their pockets. They then turned to leave.
“Wait!” I whimpered. “Who are you? What are you putting inside me?”
They held a finger up to their lips, as to shush me. I thought they may have shook their head in the smallest of movements, and then they left the room. The metal door slammed with another loud thud. A very long amount of time passed. I didn’t really feel anything. No temperature change, no altered state of mind, nothing. I was hyper aware of the sensations in my body, fully cognizant of any change whatsoever. Nothing. Eventually, the IV bag was empty. I still felt nothing. Eventually enough time passed, and anxiety rippled through me badly and long enough that I fell asleep.
I woke up to the sound of a voice. It sounded like it was coming out of a radio. I could only assume that somewhere behind me was a speaker. Shaking off the sleep, I strained my ears, hoping to hear better. The attempts were fruitless.
“You have been selected from a group of consenting participants to take part in a medical study. At random, you will have a variety of three different substances dripped through your IV. This afternoon was a test. A simple saline solution. It had no effect on you other than hydration. Of the stated variety - one liquid is a selection of hallucinogens. We may question what you experience after the session is complete. The next liquid is an assortment of fierce, but non-lethal, poisons and venoms. We will observe any physical, or possibly mental, effects it has on you. The last liquid is a newly discovered element. It failed in animal studies. Their bodies couldn’t handle it. We will start it in low levels diluted with saline, and increase in potency dependent on results.”
My mind was racing. “Consenting? I didn’t consent to this!” I shook as hard as I could in my prisoners chair. The voice continued.
“Failure to comply with the study that you, the consenting adult, agreed to can result in jail time with a penalty of death.”
I screamed. I cried out, howling until my voice would no longer produce any sound.
I no longer had any concept of time, or time passage. The absolute lack of movement and detail in the room made my mind begin to dissociate from the reality of my situation. Eventually, the now identified lab scientist returned to the room. I didn’t react. They hung a bag to my IV pole. It contained an opaque orange liquid.
“Do I get to know which of the liquids is inside?” I asked. They ignored me. “I apparently consented to this, you can at least answer me!” I was growing angry, and tiresome. Following all the same strategic steps as the first time they hooked me up, the liquid eventually started flowing. They left. I was unnerved, to put it lightly.
I heard something similar to a film reel. It was a loud clicking sound. I sat up quickly and looked down. Then the stark realization hit me that I was actually able to do either of those actions. I wasn’t strapped to the back of the chair. The straps around my extremities were all undone, clanging against my chair. The clicking - it was my restraints.
I stood up. I was going to escape however I could. As I stepped my feet onto the ground, I instantly felt them sinking. The room changed from white walls and burst into a towering inferno of flames. The floor beneath me was scorching hot. With a quick glance, I saw that it was not a floor, but was now raging lava and I was being swallowed up, burned to death, and drowned at the same time.
“Get it out!” I wailed, as loud as I could. “Get this toxin out of me!” They had to be observing me, right? Gagging, gasping, and with a complete loss of control, everything eventually went black.
My eyes opened. I was back in my chair. The room was back to normal. I flitted my eyes down. I noticed some black around my ankles and feet. At first, I thought the liquid must have been one of the hallucinogens. But the scorch marks around my ankles proved otherwise.
“Did that actually happen?” I asked out loud to no one in particular. As expected, no answer came.
More unexplainable amounts of time passed. Eventually the lab scientist returned. This time it was a clear liquid. A long time passed after the liquid started flowing, and I felt nothing. I just felt an insistent tapping on my head, and some sort of mumbling from a far distance. It sounded like it was coming across the loud speaker again. Maybe a different channel was breaking across their radio frequency?
“Please, no more tapping. It’s giving me a migraine. Whatever this is is just annoying!” I wished more than anything I could swat away that tapping sensation. No more! I couldn’t stand it anymore.
* * *
His nephew was still young, only four years old. He tapped his finger across his head over and over, whispering ‘Uncle Jay, wake up’. His sister sat in a chair in the corner, crying softly. The doctor, dressed all in white, entered the room.
“I’m sorry, Ms. Braxen. The overdose dropped him into a static coma. His mind is active - we have reason to believe he thinks he is awake and functioning. We can’t guarantee that he’ll ever recover.” the doctor explained to his sister, who was now crying and sniffling.
“I understand, doctor,” she said, “but what caused his feet to turn black?”