Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer

It’s a reasoning process. There are seconds left. The cold leather of the chair is warming up beneath my manacled wrists. The restraints are tight on my arms. I’m wide awake and dreaming.

I can’t decide if it’s a syringe or a snake that they’re drawing back out of my arm. I can feel the pitter patter of little feet running through my veins, getting progressively softer as they hit the smaller tributaries. My body is a giant vibrating footstep tied to a chair.

Laboratory nine. People don’t come back from this lab. I have opinions. This is where they put people with opinions. You should hear the way the sergeants pronounce that word. It’s right up there with communism, hippie, and free will. Venom drips from their lips.

It’s dark in the tiled room except for the light over my chair. My muscles vibrate faster and faster until they hit a state of constant striation. Being cognizant, I realize that this must be what a seizure is. I’ve never had one before but I saw a friend have an epileptic fit when I was a child.

We were playing in a field. It was a hot day. This was before the occupation, of course, before the clicking mandibles hissing out a whisper that was the closest they could come to English. The messages from the sky. The examples. Prague, Toronto and for some reason Adelaide made into legend as a warning shot. I remember the hissing language from aliens. They looked like a cross between spiders and crucifixes.

I remember they lit up the atmosphere of the Earth to prove their power, to scare the primitives. The ozone layer had flashed like a dance club.

Me and my friend David in that summer field had looked up. The strobe light of the entire sky had set my friend to moaning. His joints froze and he fell back like a broken toy. An animal keening had squeezed out of him. It sounded like a kettle reaching a boil.

It wasn’t a good sound. I can hear it echoing around me now in the laboratory and I realize that it’s coming from me.

Soon, I know that if I don’t give in to the suggestions that are coursing through my veins, I’ll die. No one has come back from this room. No one has given in.

It’s almost comforting to know that there are still humans who will fight to the death on these tables, resisting the attempt to shape their allegiance until they’re switched off permanently. I feel honoured to join them.

I can feel the lights within my mind turning out one by one as the chemicals give up coercion and switch to destruction.

I am candles on a birthday cake being blown out.

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