Gift of the Gruldak, Chapter 11: Bubbles Within Bubbles
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- Introduction, Table of Contents, and Chapter One of Gruldak
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Chapter Eleven, Bubbles Within Bubbles
The car was suddenly in motion and the goons were already comfortably seated and amusing themselves in assorted ways that did not involve me by the time I blurted out, “Hey!”
I may have been a rough duplicate of a duplicate existing in a body less than two hours old but my survival instincts had arrived completely intact. I sat there trying to control my breathing to stave off panic. It didn’t work, mainly because something delicate and wet touched first one leg and then the other under my pants legs. Light foamy bubbles smelling a bit like lemon-scented wet-wipes were filling the capsule from the bottom up.
I said in a loud and uneven voice, “Uh, hey, guys? Guys?”
They sat there variously occupied looking out windows, reading from small screens, and possibly even listening to music.
The foam reached my knees and I started kicking and hitting the transparent shell as hard as I could. That got the fake doctor’s attention.
“Settle down in there,” he said, clearly audible inside my pretty pink coffin.
I subsided and kept my cool until the bubbles reached my chest and accelerated their speed of ascent. I felt screaming was appropriate then so I did that, along with more of the banging about.
The goons didn't seem bothered. The pale one scratched his crotch and the blond fiddled with something in his ear. They all looked utterly bored.
I screamed, mixing it up with an occasional shout, flailing about until the wetness touched my neck. The bubbles didn’t seem to be penetrating the fabric so I pulled my suit coat up over my head as best I could in the limited space and turned it to form a pocket of air around my face and head. I held it as far from my face as I could without letting bubbles seep in it anywhere.
I huddled there in my dark air space wondering in a slightly detached kind of way what this kind of hypoxia was like to die from and how long it would take. I guess I was sort of like a bird with a blanket over his cage. It was nice and citrusy under there.
My fingers and toes began to tingle and my head felt like it was pleasantly full of helium. Mandelbrots of swirling color spectra played in pale translucent hues over the blackness under my jacket, morphing into variations like a pulsing mandala made of vapor. I could feel all the space between the tiny particles making up my body and the universe rushed through them like I was no more than a bag of tea. It felt kind of cozy.
I tried very hard to stay awake. I remember a vague feeling of regret. I think I may have called out aloud to Guido before painlessly diffusing into smoke and dispersing into the darkness.
I had a great conversation with someone and I felt wonderful. I thought, huh, maybe there’s something to that heaven stuff. I tried to say that but I heard an unfamiliar man saying something like, “Ungh mahee hair humhum hehhhhven.”
That last word sounded like heaven to me so I guessed he was agreeing with me. I tried to ask him questions but he kept talking when I did so I couldn’t come close to understanding him.
Eventually, I realized it was just me speaking aloud. As if the drugs weren’t enough to create confusion, I hadn’t gotten used to my new voice yet.
After an indeterminate amount of time I started hearing another voice and all I could do was listen to myself answering the questions it asked with absolute, perfect honesty. That was not good.
As the drugs began to wear off I found myself with more and more control over my body. While I babbled about vaporizing people and Guido’s delicious protein snacks I discovered I could wiggle my toes. So I tried to close my mouth so maybe stuff would stop coming out of it.
My success was marked by a funny fart-like noise as my jaws and tongue stilled and my lips closed. Sounds and air still came out but they were rendered meaningless.
Someone in the room sighed and it wasn’t me.
“Hal,” he said, “I still don’t know if this guy knows anything or if he’s just a nutball.”
“He did something to the MT at the Hong Kong station,” Hal replied, “and that makes him more than a nutball.”
“I know we were hired to get information from this guy.”
“Just give it some time. Keep recording and prompt him if he stays quiet too long. He should start making more sense soon.”
“God, I hope so, Hal,” the nameless voice replied.
“And stop using my damned name.”
“It’s not going to matter; we’re going to sanitize this guy when we’re done, just like all the rest.”
“We can’t. His wife left a mic open when the extraction team was there. The audio is all over the net now. If we disappear him now it will just confirm all the conspiracy theories.”
“It’s really starting to bother me, Hal.”
“Again with the name! Now you’re developing a conscience?”
“No, no, not that. The MTs. That crap is starting to scare me.”
“Now it’s starting to scare you? We’ve known how they work ever since this guy managed to be in two places at once.”
“I’ve used matter transmission twice since then!”
“It doesn’t matter, Jake. If you can’t tell the difference what difference does it make? You’re identical in every way.”
“Hey! Don’t use my name!”
“See what I mean? Anyway, Kevin Bob Evan over there needs a little prodding.”
I felt something like air rushing at my face and my skin vibrated with an odd slapping sound. I managed to pry open an eye. It wasn’t just a sound. It didn’t hurt so I giggled.
“There you are. Tell me about the alien woman again. What does she look like?”
“Gweeo? Gweeo’s boo-effull,” I said. Hmmm, maybe I hadn’t really given anything away, I thought.
“I think he’s starting to make sense.”
“Oh, gooo,” I heard myself say, voicing aloud my pleasure at learning my earlier answers were only coherent in my own mind.
“I don’t know, just keep him talking and don’t give him anymore juice.”
“Juice,” I said, “but I wan' some juice.”
“Sorry, buddy, the boss said no more.”
“Jake, you idiot, give him some water. He’s thirsty.”
“Yeah, thirssy,” I agreed, though I wouldn’t have minded more drugs if they’d have kept me incoherent longer. I wanted anything that would buy more time.
Something touched my lips and I tried to move my head away.
“It’s OK, buddy, it’s just water. It’s a straw, just suck on it.”
I giggled and said, “Yeah, suck it.” The water was tepid but delicious.
As the world came into sharper focus around me the cloud my brain was sitting on began to melt. Hal and Jake asked questions and I kept answering them, the words slipping out mostly without passing by my brain on the way out. It really didn’t matter because I didn’t say anything that hadn’t already been touched on at Bob and Kira’s house in some way. At least I said nothing new that didn’t sound completely unhinged.
Hal said, “You know, I think this guy doesn’t know anything. If he did before he got in the MT in Hong Kong, it all got scrambled somehow by whatever he did to sabotage the booth.”
Jake said, “I think you’re right. Should we call in and let the boss know?”
“I’ll take care of it. I’m going to recommend we drop him at that research hospital with the psychiatric unit in Arizona, what’s it called again?”
“Neuropsychiatric something or other, isn’t it?”
“That’s it, the Neuropsychiatric Research Hospital of Glendale,” Hal said.
“He’s stopped talking again, Hal.”
“Don’t worry about it, let him rest. I’ll call in and if we get the go ahead you can package him for travel again.”
It grew quiet in the room as I started feeling all my extremities again and felt the return of my own volition. I must have drifted off because I awoke with a bit of a start, trying to sit up against some sort of restraints when Hal yelled, “OK, box him up for shipping, Jake. And make sure he gets completely covered this time, he could have broken his neck in that air pocket.”
The room was remarkably unremarkable with beige walls and an off-white ceiling. It had an institutional feeling to it but that didn’t give me any clues to my whereabouts.
Jake leaned over me to press a button and I realized he was the same young goon who’d put me in the pink plastic box.
“Night, night, Kevin Bob,” he said and I didn’t even struggle when the lid snapped down and the bubbles came to claim my consciousness.
Continue Reading with Chapter Twelve, Neuropsychiatric Research Hospital of Glendale, Arizona
- Gift of the Gruldak, Serial Installment #12
Join Kevin as dedicated caregivers fight to return his stolen powers of language in chapter 12.