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Carl finds himself on a table, blind, immobile, and unable to talk. He doesn't know how he got there. A strange doctor is working on him, and Carl doesn't like him very much.
|AUTHOR'S OTHER TITLES (2)
Playing Games (Short Stories) Jase Riza has been picked up for a crime he did not commit. The detective interrogating him is having some mental problems, and the interrogation goes south in a hurry! [2,491 words] [Drama]
The Nephilim (Short Stories) A man reflects on the demise of the small town he lived in. Where did the giants come from? Can they be stopped? [2,369 words] [Horror]
“Can you hear me?” a voice asked. “If you can hear me, blink your eyes.”
Carl could hear the voice so he blinked his eyes, which was kind of disturbing, because he couldn’t see anything at all with his eyes except blackness. He knew his name was Carl, but that was about all he knew. He didn’t know where he was, how he got there, why he couldn’t feel anything, or who was talking to him. He was just aware that his name was Carl, and he was alive. The voice he was hearing didn’t instill any feelings of security. Instead, the tone of it made him feel vulnerable and naked, as if the person behind the voice could do anything to him without any consequences. It felt, in fact, like the person behind the voice was God Himself.
“That’s very good, very good indeed,” the voice said. “I’ve finally got your ears working, and I just can’t tell you how encouraging that is. Why, I thought I’d never get those damn things working!” he said, laughing. “Now, I bet you’d like to be able to talk, wouldn’t you?” he asked Carl. Carl blinked his eyes again to answer the man’s question. “Of course you would, and I think I can make that happen very shortly.” That was good, because Carl had a lot of questions for the man who might be God.
While the Godman worked, Carl tried to remember how he came to be where he was, and in the shape he was in. He came to realize rather quickly that there were no memories in his head for him to remember. No childhood, no friends, no wife, no children, and no family. He knew these were things a normal person had, but he had none of these. He had knowledge in his head, but no life memories.
“Carl, I’m going to hold off on your speech for awhile, it’s giving me fits,” the Godman said. “I’ll just get your eyes working for now. I think I can pull that off with no problems.” Carl was in no position to argue, so he just blinked his eyes in acknowledgment. The questions would have to wait.
Since he couldn’t remember anything about what got him where he was, Carl tried to guess what might have happened. If he was in an operating room, that meant he was in very bad shape, since even the most basic functions had to be restored, and he couldn’t feel anything at all. He almost feared being able to see what the rest of his body looked like. Was he here because of an accident? Was his body a mangled, bloody mess?
“Alright Carl,” the Godman said, “I’m about to activate your sight. Be advised that the light may hurt a bit at first, but you’ll adjust quite nicely, I’m sure.” A moment passed, and the Godman said, “Open your eyes, Carl.” Carl did, and the pain was exquisite. He opened his mouth to scream, but of course nothing came out. As quickly as the pain came upon him, it left him, and Carl could see the face of the Godman. He was a thin man, wearing a white coat and pants. His gloves were the thin latex kind. His face wasn’t exactly kind. It looked safe enough; there was no real malice in it. He did look strange, though, and Carl was still not comforted by him at all. Carl was laying in an inclined position, so he had full view of the rest of his body without having to move his head, which was something he still could not do. His body was not mangled or bloody at all. It was, in fact, in quite good shape. He was dressed in gray coveralls, and his shirt was a nice denim one, long sleeved. His shoes were black and very generic looking. There was absolutely nothing physically wrong with him. So why was he here?
The room was solid white. The only other color in the room was silver, and that was the color of the table he was on. It was a very sterile looking environment. The Godman spoke again.
“Well Carl, are your eyes functioning properly? Blink twice for yes, once for no,” he said. Carl blinked twice. Everything seemed fine. He wanted to talk very badly now.
“Very good. Now I’ll get your motor functions going, and get you on your feet again. This is the simplest part, but I saved it for now because I couldn’t very well have you walking around blind and bumping into things, could I?” he said, and laughed again. Carl didn’t see anything funny about it. In fact, Carl was becoming quite angry at this man. Carl was immobilized on a table and the Godman was making jokes.
The Godman moved to the rear of Carl and began fiddling with something on or in his head, Carl couldn’t be sure. “It’s done, Carl. You can get up now, if you want. However, if you want to talk, you’ll want to lie here a bit longer.” Carl stilled himself. He wanted to get up, but he wanted to talk even more. “That’s a good boy, Carl. I should have you talking circles around me in a few minutes.”
Carl looked down at his right hand and wiggled his fingers. That was encouraging. What wasn’t encouraging was that he still couldn’t feel anything.
“Aha!” the Godman exclaimed. “That’s what I was missing! Now Carl, talk to me. Say anything!”
Carl opened his mouth and said, “I can’t feel anything. Why can’t I feel anything?” His voice sounded foreign to him, as if it were someone else’s voice.
“Why Carl, you’re not supposed to feel anything. That’s normal. What’s important is that you’re fully functional again.”
Being numb all the time is normal? That didn’t seem right to him. “Who are you? Where am I? What happened to me?” Carl asked.
“My name is Dr. Agnew Pitt, you are in a laboratory at the ChemTech facility, and you were in an accident. I fixed you.”
Fixed him? That was an odd way to describe what a doctor does to a patient. What was ChemTech? “Dr. Pitt, I don’t have any memories. Do you believe THAT is normal?” Carl asked.
“Of course I do, Carl. You were not created to have memories. What purpose would they serve you?” Carl thought about this for a moment. He didn’t know what purpose memories would serve, he just knew he wanted them very badly. “Dr. Pitt, I don’t even know what I look like!” Pitt produced a small mirror, and handed it to Carl. Carl took it, raised it to his face, and then he screamed. His face wasn’t a human face at all. It had a human shape, but that’s where all similarity to humanity stopped. The human shape of his face encased the workings of everything in his head. He wasn’t a human at all, he was a robot.
“I’m sorry, Carl,” Pitt said, a little afraid now. “I should have put your face back on. I guess that was a bad joke, huh?”
“I think it was a VERY bad joke,” Carl said, shifting his gaze from the mirror to Pitt’s frightened face. “What the hell am I, Doc?”
“You-you’re an android, of course. What did you think you were? I may have done something to cause this confusion, maybe I could fix…”
“An android? Is that another one of your jokes?”
“N-no, Carl. You’re a Controlled Automated Robotic Lifeform. That’s where your name came from, C.A.R.L. Look on the bottom side of your right wrist and you’ll see it stamped there.” Carl looked, and it was there. He couldn’t believe it. His mind, or whatever it was, wouldn’t let him accept it.
“No, I’m human, I’m AWARE!” he shouted.
“Carl, you are an android, made to work FOR humans. You don’t have a life outside work. As for you being aware, well, that’s quite a realization you’re having. If you’ll just sit back down, I can probably fix it.”
“I don’t want it fixed, and I don’t want to work for anyone.” With that said, Carl grabbed Pitt by the throat and squeezed. It didn’t take much effort for him to break the small man’s neck. Carl was aware, and Carl was now free.
|READER'S REVIEWS (3)
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"Good stuff, A bit predictable though. I liked the dark ending." -- Vyacheslav Yampolsky.
"I agree; it's a nice piece of writing with good pace. Personally I dislike science fiction a little, but at least it's better than all the arbitrary self-indulgant poetry that's floating around. Thanks for keeping the art of the short story alive. But unfortunately Asimov has left the building." -- non-associated visitor.
"Hi, I'm trying to start my own publishing company. I would love to have your story for my first edition. I have three different magazines I am trying to get out there. Because your story is science fiction I think it would fit in "The Coffee House". The Coffee House is eclectic/mixed genres. Please visit www.serendipityepress.com. I am on the level. There is no pay but I also don't charge for the eZines yet so I am not making a profit off of you. Please respond I really enjoyed your story. email at [email protected]" -- Toni Lynch-Omer, Toledo, oh.
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© 2004 Clint Stutts
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