Sickeningly human advena, p.1
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       Sickeningly Human: Advena, p.1
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Sickeningly Human: Advena
Sickeningly Human: Advena

  By Nicholas Blakeman

  Sickeningly Human: Advena

  Copyright © 2013 Nicholas Blakeman

  Cover Design, Justin Garrison

  (with textual contributes from


  Sickeningly Human: Advena

  “Well, when it starts raining, it just doesn’t seem to want to stop…” He trailed off as his eyes swung towards the window to his left. He cast his gaze out into the drizzling darkness. My eyes stayed focused on his face. His beady eyes behind those thick glasses seemed to be holding something back. I wanted to pry; this man was, after all, the only person I’d be seeing for a while. But I didn’t want to lose his openly given friendship with suspension of absent thought.

  I resisted the urge of questioning, and pacified myself by leaning back, away from the solitary round table between us, and guiding my hand across my now smooth scalp. I presently considered Dr. Prodere’s own bald head in due comparison to mine. His, of course, was natural and from age, mine however, was an unexpected gift from Envision.

  In recollection, it was actually the first thing I remember the sensation of; the cool air of my new room against my recently shaved head. The pillow had been still and only the small adjacent lamp was on. The first thing I saw was Dr. Prodere’s wrinkly face hovering over mine. A smile much too broad to be apparent on such an old face was made while my vision cleared. He stopped looming over me and stepped back and took a seat in the lonesome wooden stool in my ten by ten living quarters. I slowly sat up as the world stopped spinning. I slid my legs off the tightly made bed, forced my head from sagging and looked squarely at Dr. Prodere, who seemed to be smiling even brighter now. He had my attention.

  “What Envision never tells you upon recruitment,” his smiled faded slightly as he leaned forward, “is when you wake up after medical is done with you, Envision has reset your biological clock.” He sat back and his odd smile resumed.

  Feeling the cool air again, my hand went to cover my scalp. As if sensing my next nonverbalized question, he spoke again, “if we told people we have to shave their heads during the examination a lot would never want to come,” he chuckled lightly as he said the last of it. My vision had since ceased the kaleidoscope effect by now and my eyes let me appraise my new, much smaller, home. It was indeed as they had described: simple.

  His gaze followed mine, a small metal table next to the door, the stool, the still made bed I had been placed on during unconsciousness and a single window on the opposite of the exit. Gaining strength I sat up, more erect, and asked the only question left in my mind, “no bathroom?”

  “This room was made for efficiency, not comfort I’m afraid,” he replied softly. The lamp’s light, I now noticing it as the only source of light present in the room, cast shadows across his deep wrinkled face. The effect would have been ominous if it hadn’t of been negated by his grin.

  “There is a restroom stocked with everything you’ll need just down the hall.”

  I was wearing a blue jump suit they had dressed me in, along with white sneakers absent of any brand name. The suit had APPLICANT FOUR stitched in white over my heart.

  “If you feel up to it, I can give you a little tour, and show you the manual prior to me going to bed,” he motioned towards the door as he stood. I nodded and he opened it, revealing a hallway with the same tile flooring as my room and almost its width as well. He looked back through the opening at me after he had entered the hall, “by the time your hair grows back, this’ll feel like home.”

  He had a few liver spots on his shiny head. They were just slightly darker than the rest of his scalp. My eyes found the table between us. Placed neatly in the center of it was a white binder. It had “MANUAL” printed in big, black letters across the front, “way to be subtle…”

  “Did you say something?” Dr. Prodere had heard the sarcasm and was eyeing me from his side of the table.

  “No,” I pulled the binder closer and read the front aloud, “MANUAL.”

  “What it lacks in flare,” he reached across and opened it for me, “it makes up in efficiency.” I looked down at the open binder. It was nearly empty. I thumbed through the pages counting them. It merely had two pieces of paper in it.

  “This is a complete map of the grounds,” Dr. Prodere slid his finger over the route we had just walked together. “This is where your room is, and here is the restroom you will find your fresh clothes every morning. You can also retrieve your flashlight and belt there after I leave you.” He made eye contact with me, the sockets of his eyes sunken deep into his skull from age. He flipped to the next page and that’s when I noticed it. He was using his left hand, and on that hand was the mark of a wedding band being absent. The temporary tattoo acting as a reminder of sadness or loss. I hid mine under the table as he continued.

  “This page is where you’ll find your shift instructions,” it had a list of routes on the grounds and in the buildings I needed to walk each night. He motioned to the bottom of the page, “this is your schedule.” It was three points squared off by red lines, ironically the only color on the page.

  He read off the first point, “You will wake upon sunset, and be allotted 45 minutes to prepare yourself.”

  “Food?” I looked at him skeptically while realizing how idiotically I had phrased my concern.

  “Your meals will be delivered,” he answered without looking up from the binder.

  “Ok…” I rejoined. There was a pause, “how?”

  He looked up now, “Well of course by our evening chef. He is named Ronald,” his eyes brightened and he smiled, “he’s a little more portly than most but he won’t wake you. He’ll drop off your first meal while you’re asleep, your second while you are walking your routes, and the final one right before you bed down.”

  So I might get to see one other person, I thought.

  I read the second point aloud, “when the blue hand reaches the red square…” I halted my reading and looked up. Dr. Prodere simply jabbed a thumb over his shoulder as to guide my confusion. I glanced over his shoulder and saw a clock mounted on the wall, just right of the wall of screens connected to the cameras. Except it wasn’t a clock. It was round like one, but it possessed no numerical labels as do traditional clocks have. In their stead, it had one solitary hand, where the 11 should be, instead a red square was present and where the 1 should be a green square had taken its place. “When the blue hand reaches the red square you must be present in the security office. Do Not leave the security office until the blue hand is on the green square,” I read aloud from the binder.

  I was suddenly filled with questions but before I uttered a single one, Dr. Prodere cut me off.

  “Just a fancy way of saying lunch,” he said it with a smile and an encouraging prod in the arm. I felt like I had the ground to ask to know more, or at least why they had worded it like that, but he spoke on, reading the third and final point. “When the time piece sounds, your shift is complete. You are to retire to your living quarters, another 45 minutes will be allotted you to prepare for rest, once the allotted time is up, do not try to leave your living quarters,” his voice lost its normal light heartedness and took on a sudden melancholy of reality as he finished the point, “any violators of this or any of the above terms will be terminated immediately upon discovery.” Before I could voice any indication of opinion Dr. Prodere’s watch beeped. I didn’t recall ever seeing one on his wrist, and yet it beeped. Before I could grasp the time it indicated, Dr. Prodere withdrew his hands and stood up. He had done it so abruptly in fact, I didn’t notice him flap the binder shut. He busied himself with straightening his white button up shirt, “off to bed with me. I trust you can finish
up here and handle the rest yourself?”

  I was hesitant to answer. I’m completed baffled as to what I should feel right now, I thought. Apparently my contemplation of an answer was taking too long; Dr. Prodere straightened his already straightened matching white pants, “I’m sure you’ve got it.” With one more prod in the arm, he was gone—surprisingly spry for a man his age as well.

  I heard the click of one of the motion sensors that alerted you of possible movement—Dr. Prodere had tripped it.

  “Nothing to worry about,” I said to myself.

  I uncertainly took the room in. One exit to my left, large glass windows on all four sides, a wall of monitors, the clock of shapes on the wall, the round table where the manual still lay closed, and
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