Author : Steven Holland
You awake; the familiar smell of synthetic, processed food greets you. The pneumatic tube has delivered three packages of food. They contain artificial eggs, sausage, and pancakes today, just like every day. You, Stackhouse, and Sergeant Zimmerman begin your breakfast. Itâ€™s the three of you today, just like everyday.
As you eat, it never occurs to you that you canâ€™t remember a time when you didnâ€™t live in this room, eating the same food with the same two men. You never question why you are being kept in this large, featureless room. The room houses bunk beds, exercise equipment, several couches, two ping pong tables, and one locked door. The dozen bunk beds, coupled with the large size of the room, suggest that 24 men could be housed here comfortably. You have often wondered why only three men need such a large room. You never once suspect that you might be being held prisoner in here. Instead, you know with confidence that you live in this room; you have always lived in this room.
The door opens at 0930 hours, just like usual. In walk four men clothed completely in white hazmat suits. They take Sergeant Zimmerman and half walk, half drag him out of the room. One of the four men mumbles something about taking him for some tests and not to be worried. They can rest easy; youâ€™re not worried. They always take him for tests at exactly this time every day. The door closes after them with a familiar metallic hiss. This sound always triggers you to look down at your left arm. You do so as is your custom. You wonder, as always, why the half dozen needle marks peppering your upper shoulder never heal. They look exactly the same as they always have. You donâ€™t think to ask what was injected into you. You could care less; a warm, fuzzy, and detached feeling swirls around and in your brain. This is the way you feel; this is the way you have always felt.
The rest of the day passes without incidence, exactly as it always does. You and Stackhouse entertain yourselves by lifting weights, playing ping pong, and trying to guess the exact moment when the quiet hiss of air from the pneumatic tube will announce the next meal. Lunch and dinner arrive promptly on time, each meal composed of the exact same food as the day before. The two of you donâ€™t talk much, for there is not much to talk about. Nothing ever changes in the room. At 2200 hours, the lights shut off. You are already in bed and fall asleep immediately.
You awake; the familiar smell of synthetic, processed food greets you. The pneumatic tube has delivered two packages of food. They contain artificial hash browns, french toast, and glazed ham today, just like every day. You and Stackhouse begin your breakfast. Itâ€™s the two of you today, just like everyday.