Killing Time OST – 13a – Exam

<< 12c – Struggle

The nightmares started as they usually did, dragging me under in an oily ocean of mechanical parts. The brushing of fabric mixed with the cringing of metal as I trashed in my bed even though I knew it wouldn’t free me. Pain rang through my arm as my wrist hit something hard but it didn’t suffice to snap me out of the horror.
The machines had me and would never let me go. Eventually, the loud drumming of the Terminator theme song resounded over the barren land of my nights. Even in my nightmares that movie seemed right on the dime: machines did control my world. And humans died because of them every day.
Pain shot through me again, rising from my thigh. The texture of the dreams suddenly changed, somewhat mushier, somewhat less tense. They still jostled me around like a ragdoll but most of the fear receded. Which, in a way, stressed me all the more.
What storm would come after this calm?
The bumping felt a bit too real and I wondered if I was still dreaming. My attention overcame the numbness one push of will at a time.
Linens were firmly tucked around my body but I couldn’t feel the familiar weight of my covers. The air was a tad too cold and I couldn’t move. It smelled wrong too. Still my brain swam at the edge of consciousness, not quite able to snap out of dreamland. An eternity passed before I pushed through.
Or so it seemed.
It was only then that I realized my hands and feet were strapped to the table beneath me.
“Gosh, your metabolism is fast.” A hand gently pressed against my cheek. “Lor?” The hand pulled back when I turned to bite it. “Lor, don’t freak out.”
My eyes snapped open and reality rushed in. “You treacherous bastard! I should have killed you!”
Vexx took a couple of steps back and shook his head. He was wearing his fake face and sported a bruise on his elbow, where I had hit him in my sleep. My wrist still throbbed from the force of the impact. Cataloging my situation in a glance, I realized my linens were my only clothes. Vexx’s snake waited on the counter nearby, a tiny drop of blood on its fangs.
Damn! I knew it!
“Do I get to know when you snapped? For old time’s sake?” The harshness of my question drew a sigh out of my captor. He turned around to pull his face off.
Great, I’d get to look him in the eye when we traded places.
“I’m not one of your guinea pigs and I’m certainly not going to become strike two on your ‘dead in experiment’ list.” His fake face dropped and I saw Vexx paled drastically. With a little luck, I could leverage his guilt to force him back to sanity. He’d hate me for it before he got better. “Remember strike one?”
“For the love of code!” He covered the distance between us in one stride and punched my table for emphasis.
Crap, he was building up in anger too. Grief might not be a good leverage after all.
“I’m not going to hurt you. You’re the most freakishly stubborn person I’ve ever met. You didn’t leave me any choice.”
“Oh! So regression to crazy Vexx is my fault?” Had he played me for the last six months or did I actually manage to save him for a limited time?
“I. Have. Not. Snapped. Will you let it go? Extreme measures were the only way for me to scan you properly.”
“Why the hell would you scan me? You said yourself my chip is okay!”
“But you’re not!” His voice snapped so loudly that for a moment, I lost my own.
What the hell was he up to? Was he going to try and convince me I was sick and that the only remedy was some tech he specifically designed for me? Did he actually believe that could work? I had to get out of these restraints.
I looked around, searching for something that could help. My eyes fell on the brain scanner I had used six month ago to clean Vexx. Next to it was another machine that analyzed in real time the content of blood; I had bought it to monitor Vexx’s hormonal levels as he went through withdrawal.
I needed a plan. Maybe if I could get him to focus on my face, I could try to slip out of the straps holding my wrists.
“Listen,” he said softly as soon as my eyes returned to his. “Yesterday, I noticed something odd on your blue print. The BluePrinter isn’t tailor-made to analyze a human brain so I want to do a proper CAT scan to know what’s what.”
He waved at the machine as if his explanation needed clarification. My right hand, almost invisible between Vexx’s body and mine was getting looser. I couldn’t move it too much without drawing attention and I needed a bit more time. Vexx seemed inspired so I remained silent and let him do his speech.
“You metabolized the tranquilizer quicker than I expected. I’m all set up and I just need you to hold still for a couple of minutes. Can you do that?”
“Not without a why.” I still needed a moment to break free and I refused to let him poke at my brain again. Vexx sighed and tousled his hair with a hand.
“It’s a hunch. The parts of your brain responsible for hormonal production and regulation are awkwardly developed.”
I blinked a couple of times fast. That was it? He violated my privacy over that! He obviously hadn’t snapped.
“Doesn’t sound very life threatening. Can’t you let it go?”
Vexx eyed me suspiciously. My calm and reasonable routine wouldn’t fool him long. I had to get out of those restraints fast.
“What if I told you it might be related to the nightmares?”
My eyebrow rose. We were right back to buying my cooperation with doubtful arguments. I was sick of it.
With a jerk I freed my hand and grabbed Vexx’s throat before he could pull back. I didn’t wish to outwardly crush his windpipe; only stop his breath long enough for him to pass out. Both of his hands went to my arm, struggling to loosen my grip. I held him too well. He’d have to punch me if he hoped I’d let go. If he did, I had officially lost him. The clean Vexx might have the balls to kidnap me in the middle of the night but he wouldn’t lay a hand on me.
A sharp pain shot through my leg and I turned my head to catch a glimpse of the snake, firmly planted in my thigh. The tranquilizer was already taking over my system, banking of the trace amount of the previous dose to hit me twice as hard.
“Damn it, Lorelei!” was the last thing I heard.

13b – Exam >>


About Aheïla

Somewhere in Quebec City, Aheïla works as a Game Design Director by day and writes by night. Known for her blue hair, unyielding dynamism and tasty cooking (quails, anyone?), she’s convinced “prose is the new crack”. She satisfies her addiction daily on The Writeaholic’s Blog and weekly on Games' Bustles View all posts by Aheïla

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