Friday, 25 July 2014

Are You Man Enough?

The plugs went into his ears and the headphones went on.

“Can you hear me in there,” the technician asked.

The guy nodded, biting his lower lip nervously.

And then the serious business started, the collar and clamps engaging into place, the dull clunks and bright clangs of the clips snapping shut sounding like nothing he’d ever heard. He felt the pressure of them across his shoulders and against his head and knew he was in it now for better or for worse. The soft swell of the the bulb in his palm took on added significance and he swore he was man enough to take this.

“We’re going to start now,” the voice came, sounding remote and underwaterish. He looked up through the face mask, seeing her there in the control room, her thumb raised. The periscope optic gave him a limited view and he took a quick breath. Steeling himself.

The first tones began, like a guitar riff, sounding like the first blows of Page’s pick in ‘Communication Breakdown”. Only continuing on and on, his head ringing with the noise. As though he was entombed inside an amplifier, the anodes of the tubes directly in series with his brain. Ringing out. Getting louder. And never stopping.

Time passed. He lay motionless either watching the technicians in the control room or the steady rise and fall of his own chest. The tones stopped and then restarted; this time pulsing more rapidly, the table beneath him vibrating in time. His lower lip felt fat between his teeth and he started counting in his head. Trying to gauge the time.

Minutes passed. Maybe fifteen before he felt the table moving beneath him, his arms brushing against the ring carrying the magnets. The technician returned, her smiling face reassuring and calm. He felt her take his arm and then the cool stroke of a swab as she disinfected the entry point.

“You’ll feel a scratch now. I’ll move the bulb into your other hand and then we’ll finish off. Only another five, ten minutes.”

He felt the scratch and then her fingers kneading his flesh, hurrying the dye’s passage. He visualised the alien liquid suffusing through him, merging with his blood. The table moved again, pulling him in. More tones, sometimes in pairs, their pitch separated by a perfect fifth. Power chords. How cool.

It continued, his eyelids drooping into a meditative state. He could do this. It must be almost done.

And then everything went quiet. The table slid out again and he was alone with his own breath. And with his unbitten lip still fat between his teeth.

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