When they wheel you in, you're on your back. So you don't see the floor beneath you; not quite covered in blood but tiled, blue, queasy blue-green. But the ceiling above hums. Electric and trembling, as if it too shivers in the gasp of what will soon be done to you.
The windows, barred up over vents, the locked wood doors and tables you can't see what's on top, because the cocktail's really coursing through your veins. Makes your head roll back, your shave-culled head that they've already attached some metal crown around, that they've already cut open and stirred around.
A partisan? A refugee? A cally-fighter? Who knew just what you used to be. Your type-4 build and those wide eyes were what got you down here, another try for them, just another life of agony for a living body that wasn't worth anesthetizing before they cut it open and stuffed it with some trash they'd taken from some partner lab's discard organ tissues rancid reject bin.
You look down; X marks the spot and the tape they slapped on over it's still fresh.
There's the prick of one more needlehead into your arm.
And then a figure - you can't quite tell is that - where is his...?
The swell of your vision goes watercolor bloom and your eyes lose focus. And so it's not what you see but what you feel now. The cold curl of polymetal straps starting at your neck, then going down, down, the surface biting down until it can't help but reflect your shape. Stopping just above the organ cut-in sights and leaving fingertips and eyes untouched...if you could think to open up your mouth you'd only get cold metal 'gainst your tongue, and always will again...
It's later on, they've dumped you off. No more use for you for now, better to let you rest up before they take you to the crunched-up pens and jection-rows.
But here the cell floor's cold, the tile dark-slate shiny and the bars double chain-linked. Your ears might be covered with the black polymetal but even beneath that it's quiet, just a fuzz over the whir of the down-motors.
And yet you're not alone, there's another in the cell with you. Four-legged, wobble-bodied, it seems so familiar, your head slow lulls from the old memory's sway (don't worry, it's probably the final residual one) and you feel...your hand gentles down to reach out to your cellmate.
A stranger to you, but here...
It's feeble and exhausted as it makes its way up to you. It cranes up its head and lets itself be held, it crawls up onto your knee.
You reach down and stroke its back. Its body quivers and then grows still. Your hands touch the same black amalgam substance that covers up your mouth and heart. This one's spread across its whole head down to the same point halfway down, and on its face, another a red X...
Palms slick across the plastic slip, you only hold it.
If it could have thought to open its eyes, we would have been blinded, we would have been blinded.