An Education

Tinker02

I awoke in total darkness with no memory. I thought I was dreaming at first. The blackness was so complete, that I surprised myself when I touched my face. I jumped up with a start, thinking that someone else was in the cell with me. I waved my arms and struck a wall next to me. I pushed my nose into the concrete, but still couldn’t see the stone that almost touched my eyes. I started sliding along the wall, trying to see what the extent of my prison was. The square cell was only a few paces on each side. When I reached the fourth side of the prison, I felt a cold metal panel disrupting the smooth wall. This must be the door, but I could only feel iron rivets protruding from its surface. I pressed my face close to the floor, looking for any wisp of light, but the door ended in a small furrow that blocked all light from the outside. I assumed that there was light just a few inches from where I was. Perhaps the whole world had fallen into darkness while I was lay here.

I couldn’t remember the why of my imprisonment, and it became very important to me. What evil had I done to deserve this dark place? I shouted questions into the darkness for hours, but never heard any reaction.

I awoke in total darkness, but I could hear something now. A low rumbling thump reverberated through the floor. It felt like a giant taking slow, deliberate steps outside my cell. I started counting the pauses between steps. After counting the steps through several revolutions, I thought that some guard must be pacing the hallway outside my cell. The pauses varied, but always came back to their original interval. I listened to the steps until I could predict each one without counting.

I awoke to a blazing stream of light coming into my cell. As I blinked away tears, I realized that it was just a thin shaft of light, reflected from some source I couldn’t see above my cell. I was surprised how my cell vanished into darkness far above me. I had always imagined the ceiling to be just out of reach over my head. The pencil of light came out of that darkness and fell on a corner of my cell. It illuminated a rusty plate of bread and a cup of water. I ravenously consumed all there was and started searching for more scraps on the floor. As I put down the plate the light winked out. The sudden darkness dazzled me. Blobs of light passed in front of my eyes even as I squeezed them shut to block out the images. They became little figures, shaking their fists at me. As the steps started to rumble outside the door again, they grew fuzzy and faded away. I started to count again.

I awoke to the light and another plate of bread. This time, I approached the plate more slowly to keep the light longer. The light winked out just as I reached the plate. I spilled the water as I fumbled for it, and I had to suck the liquid up before it soaked into the concrete floor. The door burst open with a screech of metal, and I was blinded by the light pouring into my cell. I felt something sharp prick me in the arm, and darkness overcame me again.

I awoke in a chair. There was a blinding light shining into my face, but my head was strapped to the back of the chair and I couldn’t turn away. A voice boomed from beyond the glare. “How many steps! Do you know why you are here? Who do you serve?” He didn’t pause between each question. As I tried to speak, someone injected me from behind.

I awoke in total darkness. I crawled to the door and weakly rapped on it. I tried to shout that I didn’t know why I was here, but all that came out was a thin squeal of fear. As I fell silent, I heard a scraping sound far above me. I think it was a panel opening because three small objects fell onto the floor. I crawled around the floor looking and came across a sharp star shaped piece of metal. I soon found a hollow sphere and a short rod. As I felt the edges of the pieces, it occurred to me that they might fit together like a puzzle. After some fumbling, I was able to fit the star inside the sphere, using the rod to hold the three together.

Days… Time passed. I can’t say it was days, it was just time. Sometimes, the giant would pass outside my door, sometimes he didn’t. The pattern of steps was changing, though. I knew his steps like my own heartbeat, and each time I heard him, it was slightly different. Sometimes he would speed up, then slow down, other times he would start slow and finish fast. At long intervals, I would hear the scraping sound, and another piece or two would fall onto the floor. The objects he dropped into my cell changed, too. Sometimes, a small clatter of parts would fall, other times, just a single piece would fall. The parts fit, but not always at first. I often had to disassemble everything to make new parts fit into the small nooks of the sculpture. At first, I thought it was a small figure of a man that I was creating. As I added new parts, the whole started to change into something else. A spider like object began to form in my mind when I touched the sculpture. It had many legs and a central body with small hollows and protuberances. The legs had sharp points with little wires poking through. The wires had been the most difficult part, they were so small, and I could only assemble them by touch.

I awoke to the cell door being thrown back. A large figure stood in the doorway, but I couldn’t make out any of his features. The light streaming into my cell from the doorway was too bright. He strode up to me with deliberate steps and struck me across the face. He injected something into my arm, and picked up the spider. I remember seeing it for the first time. It wasn’t the color I had imagined, but the shape was very close to what I thought it was. He began dragging me out of my cell as I lost consciousness.

I awoke tied to the chair again. I tried to turn away from the bright light, but my head was once again strapped to the chair. A voice boomed from beyond the light. “You are here because you have been selected for retraining. You displayed poor aptitude for your last assignment. I see that you have received basic cryptography and high tech assembly training while you were here. Now that it’s active, the final part of your basic training is to see if the control module you assembled works. Any failure of the device will reset your training.” He walked up to me and held the spider in front of me. I heard my teeth grinding as I struggled with my bonds. He placed the spider on my collarbone and the legs dug into my neck. I felt electric shocks running through my whole body as I went limp and passed out.

I awoke in total darkness with no memory.

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