Author : Patrick Condon
His memory was slowly returning. That’s what she told him, at least. The physician was a liar, though. He remembered nothing before Thursday, the day they woke him up.
They called him Keene. It wasn’t his name. He would correct them, only to fail at recalling a suitable replacement. The nurses thought this was cute, and would let him continue the practice. Perhaps it would spark a memory eventually.
He was placed into the White Room, sometimes numerous times a day, where he would perform tasks for the Doctor. The time spent was often incredibly boring.
“Why did the room have to be white?” He would think, “Why couldn’t it be something more… fun, like purple?”
The Doctor congratulated him on his usage of colors, and noted his awareness of the concept of fun.
“Soda pop.” The Doctor said, handing Keene a bottle.
He grasped the neck, holding it upwards like a club. He eyed the bulbous top, dimpled sides, and threaded cap on the bottom. He had seen caps before, and knew their purpose. Pinching the bottom between his finger and thumb, slowly, the cap untwisted. Before anyone could make a remark against his technique, Keene had spilt the entire contents of the bottle onto his lap. A few of the nurses giggled. The Doctor jotted down the results, and took the bottle.
“Up.” He turned the bottle over.
“This:” The Doctor handed another object. “Pen.”
This one had a cap as well. Keene held it, right-side-up this time, and twisted. Nothing happened. He continued to twist, trying to remove the cap. This made him frustrated. The pen was stupid, he decided, and threw it back to the Doctor.
The Doctor sighed and whispered to one of the nurses. She hurried off and promptly returned with a box of new objects. She looked unsure.
“Let’s try it.” One of them said.
One more item was presented to Keene, thought this time no indication was given to what it was called.
Keene palmed the curiosity. It resembled two disks placed together side by side, connected by an axle. It wasn’t like the plates, or buttons, though, he noticed. A string wrapped between the two disks, as well.
It didn’t have any caps, but he tried twisting it anyways. The disks grew farther apart until they threatened to disconnect. He caught onto this and hastily screwed them back together. He looked up, awaiting some sort of cue to guide him.
The Doctor gave him his fake little smile.
The end of the string reminded him of a ring; he had played with those before. Putting his finger in any sort of hole never yielded favorable results, but he tried it anyways. Much to his surprise, and amusement, the loop fit snug around his finger.
The Doctor wrote. Nurses whispered.
Keene stood up, for what must have been the first time in hours. He stretched and wiggled his toes, still sticky from the soda accident. No one made any effort to restrain him. He figured he was doing something right.
In a bout of his usual clumsiness, Keene dropped the item. He winced and closed his eyes tight. He had been punished for this before.
It didn’t sound like an impact; instead, he heard a hum. Reluctantly, he opened his eyes to catch the object spin at the end of its string, peeter out, and hang dead.
More writing. A few nodded.
Keene waited for a second. He wasn’t in trouble? Knowing this, he decided he wanted to do it again. With an awkward, wide armed pedaling motion, he wound the string around the disks. He’d have to refine his technique; he wanted to see it spin. No closing his eyes this time!
He thrusted his hand downward, releasing the disks. A rewarding whiz and spin acknowledged his improvement.
Maybe he could make it jump? Keene tugged his hand. A strong crack met his knuckles.
He’d have to practice. This was by far the most entertaining item yet, anyways.
A few minutes of trial and error, and Keene had the object jumping to his will. It dipped smoothly down and back, down and back. He hooted and hollered at his discovery. This was fun, and best of all, it was purple!
The door of the White Room opened, and the Doctor entered.
“He knows what it is.” He told the nurse. “Get the other unclassified artifacts.”
The Doctor went to reach for Keene’s new toy, hesitated, and instead rested his hand on the man’s shoulder.
“Keene, my boy, what is this?”
Keene giggled. “Fun!”
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
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