Chapter 12:

PART TWO-- Everyday

Pyro's Grand Demise

I stare at the mannequin in front of me. It’s made from a gelatinous substance meant to imitate the human body. The fake ribs and intestines are visible from the outside and look frankly disgusting. Let’s see how much damage I can do.

I pop each of my knuckles before lifting my left arm. Click goes my firestarter.

A thin stream of flame erupts from the palm of my hand. I turn up the power with a thought, and soon the stream has grown into a river of fire. I change the color from red to orange, then white and feel the heat biting at my face. I can no longer see the test dummy beyond my hand.

“Stop,” says the overhead voice. I click my tongue and turn off the flames. Terence is no fun.

The mannequin is no longer standing up, but rather a melted pile of goop on the floor. I take a few hesitant steps forward and observe how the fake innards have all combined into one color, and the ribs are all fractured into tiny bits. I clap a hand over my nose and mouth. It smells fucking awful.

“Good,” Terence says, his voice booming from the microphone in the ceiling. “You've reached a new record of thirteen-hundred eighty-six degrees Celsius. You will be rewarded.”

I lamely pump a fist into the air. Whoo.

“Please exit and return to your room. And no dawdling in the hallway.”

I glance at the one-way glass Terence is hiding behind. He’s in charge of new technology testing for GravityTech. I’ve heard the other Cy’s saying he’s worth billions of dollars, but he doesn’t look like much to me. A doughy belly, short stature, and tendency to lose his temper. He also has a pinched face that makes him look like he’s always tasting something bitter.

Oh, and I can smell his breath from across the room. He apparently likes tuna and pickle sandwiches, which is not a great combo smell-wise. He eats those every Tuesday and Wednesday for lunch. Thursday is spaghetti day, followed by takeout for Friday. He’s never here on the weekends so I can’t guess what he might eat at home. At least not until Monday because then he brings leftovers.

How someone could eat according to the same schedule every week, I have no idea. I just know that I must have sunk low to actually notice the eating habits of a man in his forties. I get restless in here, and it’s strange how the mind conjures up activities to fend off boredom.

I wait for the metal door to open. It slides soundlessly into the wall and is a solid four inches thick. Sometimes I wonder if I’d be able to crush it. Unlike in the outside world, Laboratory 221 has something called gorilla steel which is meant to contain even the strongest of cyborgs. Something in me wants to test it, but I’m not particularly up for another tase-stick fiasco.

The hallway which stretches before me is long and empty. It’s a five minute walk, and when I reach the metal door leading to my room I simply wait outside it. Whoever is currently monitoring me on the cameras presses a button which slides open the door. I enter and it shuts silently behind me, entrapping me in the small, square cell.

A cot is built into the wall, creating a small alcove of gray walls and crisp, white sheets. When I’d first woken up there after my surgery, I’d panicked just a smidge. This room can be quite claustrophobic, especially since I’d no idea where I was. I had an inkling though.

There’s hardly any furniture, save for a simple wooden chair and miniature television on the wall. There’s also a painting of carnations, although I’ve yet to see a single live plant since I’ve been here.

At first I’d been surprised to see there was a television, but it only has eight channels which kind of sucks. I keep watching reruns of a popular show called Dusk which came out decades ago. I’m already halfway through the seventh season and they only play four episodes a day. There’s also books and they get swapped out once a week. I’ve been reading the classics and have found them a lot less pretentious than I thought they’d be.

Dusk isn’t coming on for an hour, so I decide to take a nap. I wake up to a sharp knock on the door and red lines from the pillow on my cheek.

Instead of the entire door opening, only a small portion near the bottom slides into the wall. On the other side is a box, which is what I’m guessing is my prize for getting better at catching things on fire. So long as we’re good here, we’re rewarded. If we’re bad… well, there are numerous ways the people in charge deal with unwilling cy’s.

I reach forward and slip the box toward me. The opening almost immediately shuts, as if they’re afraid I might try to squeeze through the foot-wide space.

I turn on the television before clambering onto the bed. The theme music for Dusk plays as I sit cross-legged and carefully lift the top of the box. Inside is a candy bar. I roll my eyes at the ‘reward’ but pick it up with extreme caution, planning to eat it over the span of the next several days. I’ve hardly eaten any sweets since getting here, and sugar is in fact addictive. I sometimes think I might just kill a person for a brownie.

Beneath the candy bar there’s something else. I frown and lift the note. It’s neatly creased and torn from a notebook. I carefully unfold it, afraid to expect anything.

West supply closet. 6:00 PM. No cameras.

Six is when the doors open for dinnertime. Everyone walks to the cafeteria at once, and all the cameras are monitored. So what does ‘No cameras’ mean? Of course there are cameras! I’ve been caught trying to escape several times in the past three months, each and every time because of the cameras. Unless… they won’t be activated for some reason?

Do I really want to risk being punished again? I prod at my ribs which had been bruised to the nth degree shortly after I first arrived. That time I’d been beaten with a baton, but in the incident afterward the same baton had been pulsating with electricity. Hence, the name I dubbed it: the tase-stick. The third offense results in three days of solitude, at least that’s what I’ve heard.

Am I really willing to risk days of solitary confinement in exchange for meeting up with a total stranger? I don’t even know what their name is, much less what they want.

I try reading the candy wrapper both inside and out in search for clues, but there’s nothing to find. In a moment of frustration, I eat half the bar before forcing myself to stop. I’ll hate myself tomorrow if I eat the whole thing today.

After mulling over it through two episodes, I make up my mind. I’d rather take a chance and meet whoever this person is than accept living the rest of my life in this cell, pining after chocolate. I deserve all the fucking chocolate in the world, and I’ll be damned if I don’t gorge the moment I get out of this place.

Steward McOy