It is with no small thrill that I bring the second week of The Tube serial to a successful close.
For a while, I wondered if – despite having vaguely plotted the course of the story – the world and characters would capture my interest sufficiently to continue to the point of absolute commitment. I am pleased to announce I think that point has been reached.
Enjoy part nine of The Tube, and rest assured that one day, this tale will indeed be complete.
Concept by Michael Winters and Shane W Smith
Written by Shane W Smith
Though it had become clear to Shane that he was an unwilling prisoner in this strange place, he was still somewhat surprised when the first person through the door was a heavily armed and armoured man, his huge matte black rifle up and ready for action. When he noticed Shane in the kitchen, the gun swung instantly around until its barrel was pointed right at his head.
This was the first time that Shane had ever had a deadly weapon pointed at him, and he felt a real stab of fear in his gut. He obeyed the command reflexively, allowing the potato peeler in his right hand to clatter onto the kitchen tiles. He then, without having been commanded to do so, raised both hands in the air to show his willingness to comply.
How long Shane stood there staring down the barrel of death, not even daring to breathe, he couldn’t have said; if pressed, he might have answered that it was probably only a few seconds, but it felt considerably longer. At any rate, through the open door strode another figure, an elderly man in a smart-casual uniform.
“Shane, I presume,” he said, his tone light and professional-friendly. “Please, take a seat.”
The man with the gun gestured, and Shane scrambled to obey, thankful that he wouldn’t have to try to stand on his trembling legs any longer. He was so scared that he’d already forgotten – at least for now – his earlier resolve to do whatever it took to free himself.
The elderly man took a seat on the armchair opposite the couch upon which Shane was sitting. His hands idly played with a rubber tube hanging around his neck; in his present state, it took Shane no small measure of time to recognise it as a stethoscope.
“How are you feeling?” the man, presumably a doctor, asked him.
Shane shrugged, again reluctant to give out too much information. The thought had occurred to him that he might be able to convince the doctor that the pain of that morning had succeeded in scrambling his brains, but to do that, he needed to discern the purpose of such conditioning, something he hoped the doctor would betray in his questions.
“Any unpleasant dreams?”
He hesitated over the appropriate course, and then shook his head no.
“Do you know why you’re here?”
A more emphatic no.
“Do you know your name?”
“Shane,” he replied, fully aware the doctor had said his name not two minutes ago, and was probably trying to catch him in a lie.
The doctor showed no signs of having received unusual answers. He appeared wholly unconcerned as he pulled a small light from his pocket, and said, “Turn your head please.”
After peering into Shane’s right ear, and then his left, the doctor murmured, “Minimal blood in the ear canal; that’s good.” While he was leaning over Shane, he rested his hand – apparently idly – upon Shane’s left hip. He would have pushed the hand away if not for the heavily armed man standing over them, but at least the touch did not seem overtly sexual in nature, merely odd.
“You seem to be well assimilated,” the doctor announced, standing. “We’ll keep the guards posted until tomorrow, but then I think you can be put to work.”
Without further word or deed, Shane’s visitors left. He breathed a sigh of relief, and began to lever himself up from the couch… wait, what’s that?
He reached into the left hip pocket of his pyjama pants, surprised for a moment to find an object that had not been there previously. As he closed his fingers around it, he recognised its shape, and he smiled.
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