A man wakes in a white room.
|In a White Room
Alberto awoke in a featureless white room. It was dark but a large window almost filled the wall in front of him and this allowed enough light to enter for him to see his surroundings. And it was definitely a white room. It was, in fact, pristine in its whiteness. The walls were white, the ceiling was white and the floor. It was as white as a room can get.
The window was the only large feature that relieved the general whiteness. This was exaggerated by the black grill that covered the glass, presumably to prevent an occupant escaping. Or someone getting in by smashing the window, perhaps.
Otherwise the walls, floor and ceiling were white. The two side walls did have rectangles where small holes provided ventilation. But these gave little relief from the blank white of the walls. The fourth wall he could not see, being unable to turn to look at it.
Which thought distracted Alberto from his consideration of the white room. Why couldn’t he turn to see that wall? He tried a second time to turn his head. It would go no further than a certain point and then his body refused to assist by turning with it. It was clear now as his mind escaped gradually from the fog that had entangled it. He was tied down.
Well, not exactly tied down. He was sitting in a chair, a substantial, solid chair with arms. This, too, was white. And he was held in the chair by straps around his waist, his arms and legs. Held very securely, as he ascertained with a few ineffectual struggles. This chair was clearly made with one purpose in mind, to hold a prisoner motionless and helpless.
The fourth wall slipped down the list of his priorities. There was obviously no point in trying to see it. He couldn’t and that was the end of it. Alberto considered why he should be here in the chair at all. But this, too, seemed to be pointless. Why would anyone construct such a room with a solid chair in the middle purely for holding a prisoner immobile?
Had he somehow offended some fabulously rich person and so deserved consignment to such a room? He didn’t even know anyone with enough money to have paid the price of building this white-walled monstrosity. He searched his memory for anything he had done that might somehow, by some devious sequence of events, have caused him to be captured and imprisoned in this room. It just didn’t make sense.
So it must be random then. And that was almost beyond consideration. It meant the death of hope that he might somehow atone for whatever he had done and earn his freedom. If he had just been chosen because he was in the right place at the right time, an unwitting and innocent victim, there was nothing he could do to extricate himself from this predicament. That was much worse than being held for a sane reason, perhaps to provide some important information required desperately by his captor. No matter how important such information might be, the possession of it was surely the only thing that held out a possibility of release.
But Alberto had nothing with which to bargain. No secret information, no rare and desirable ability, nothing. If his jailer had been looking for the most useless person on earth, he would have been close to success when he decided upon Alberto. The true impossibility of his position overwhelmed Alberto and he collapsed into despair in the chair. If he had not been so securely strapped in, he would have flowed forwards and down, on to the floor.
The floor, that was something he had not investigated yet. He opened his eyes and looked at it. Like everything else it was white but appeared to be covered in a thick sheet of clear glass. The whiteness came from the real floor beneath the sheet. That was odd. What could be the purpose of having a glass floor immediately above a white one? To protect the floor somehow? But why glass? It didn’t make sense.
In fact, nothing made sense. This was a ridiculous amount of trouble to go to, just to hold a prisoner securely. There must be some reason for these specific details of design, an intention towards some object that required the featureless whiteness and the glass above the floor.
Alberto looked upwards at the ceiling, hoping for some detail that might offer a clue to the purpose of all this. There was less help there than anywhere. The ceiling was a flat, unbroken slab of white, without ventilation holes. He was imprisoned in a white box without any visible means of escape.
There might be a door in the wall behind him but how was he ever going to be able to reach it, strapped down as he was? Whoever had caught him and trapped him in this place had made his plans well. There was no way out.
A voice issued from the ventilation in the walls.
“Ah, our little specimen is awake. Comfortable, are we?”
Alberto’s first feeling was one of relief. At least he wasn’t alone. This might be the voice of his tormentor but anything would be better than being abandoned to die slowly and painfully in this chair, without any hint of the reason why.
“Why have you done this?” he asked. “There must be some mistake. I’m nobody and you must have taken the wrong man.”
“Unlikely” drawled the voice. “I just picked the first idiot who stepped into the trap, so I don’t care what your name is or who you are.”
Alberto felt a surge of anger at the insanity of his situation. “Then what the hell am I here for? What can you possibly want from me?”
The voice made a sound that indicated the shrug that accompanied it. “Nothing much, to be honest. I just want to conduct a little experiment.”
“An experiment? What sort of experiment?”
A sound like the scratching of a chin came from the vents. “Well, you might as well know. It could even add to the experience if you know beforehand. I’m interested in pain and I want to observe yours.”
Alberto fell silent. His mind considered all the possible ways that pain could be administered to a body in his situation. The worst was the one he’d already glanced at - being left to die slowly without food or water, with life ebbing away slowly.
There was silence in the room for a long time. Then the voice spoke again. “Nothing more to say? Well, I guess I might as well start the process then.”
Alberto lifted his head to look at the window. He could see nothing beyond it but supposed that his captor was standing there watching him. “What process?” he asked.
“You’ll see very soon,” said the voice. There came the beeping sound of computer buttons being pressed and suddenly the room was flooded with light. Alberto’s chair, in fact the floor upon which it stood, began to turn in circles. A humming sound came from the vents.
The whole thing reminded Alberto of something he knew very well. What was it? With horror, he knew suddenly where he’d seen this scenario before. He screamed.
“No, no, you can’t do this. Not the bloody microwave!”
Word Count: 1,222
For SCREAMS!!! November 11 2020