Author : Zachary Murray
My mind came awake before my body. I was thankful that the sense of detachment was short lived, and it was good to feel the warmth of the fluid that filled the tank around me. I hated being in the tank. The whole breathing liquid aspect of it always left a bad taste in my mouth, and the regular sting of electrical pulses was the closest thing I could imagine to being cooked in a microwave oven. They said the shocks were to prevent muscle atrophy, but to me they were just a pain in the ass. I tried to laugh at the joke I stumbled upon, but having your lungs filled with fluid makes it difficult.
It’s not hard to get restless when you’re stuck in a near perfect state of sensory deprivation. I tried to open my eyes, but all I got for my trouble was a searing glimpse of the life-lights that lined the tank. It was still amazing to me that they had figured out how to keep a person alive off of light alone, for short periods at least, but they could have at least included a dimmer.
At that point I figured I may as well get comfortable, not that I could change anything of course, as there wasn’t much I could do until the techs pulled me out. In pre-jump training they told us to refrain from violent movements when we first woke up. They wouldn’t want us to break their fancy equipment after all. I could still see their smiles as they told us normal tank extractions averaged only five minutes, and not to be alarmed if it felt longer.
That thought was of little comfort to me since I didn’t have a clock to look at. Not that I could have opened my eyes long enough to see it even if they had bothered to include one in the tank with me. I could still remember how pissed I’d been after my first dunk. No one does well their first time and I was no exception. I came out swearing, my fists ready, and I didn’t calm down until they told me I’d only been awake for three minutes. Those three minutes had felt like a lifetime though, and just thinking about it made my chest feel tighter.
To pass the time I contemplated some violent movements I hoped to show the techs when they pulled me out. My dark reveries came to an abrupt end when my tank shook hard enough to send me bouncing from side to side. Several choice curses came to mind as I floundered around, but once again the fluid in my lungs kept me from expressing myself.
When things were once again still, and nothing else happened, I sat trying to decide if I should be getting nervous or not. I’d just come to the decision that everything was probably fine when the grow lights kicked off and I was surrounded by darkness. I realized the electric pulses had also shut off along with the lights. Oddly enough I missed the sensation. The tank felt much smaller as I hung there waiting, and I couldn’t help but remember that the lights never went off during training.
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