An hour lapsed since Subject 32 roused from underneath heavy blankets. His hunched body was on still on the bed, bent downwards with eyes glued to the pale blue light of his phone.
“I don’t have the data in front of me but I think this is the furthest any subject has made it,” said one of the scientists looking on from the adjacent observation room.
Behind the two-way mirror was Subject 32’s living area, a space larger than the average studio apartment with spotless walls and a high ceiling and crowded lighting. At the closest corner is an open bathroom; disused and clean. Positioned across the tiled floor is a simple maze, constructed in short wooden walls and tables with the Variables. In the far corner was the mattress; queen sized and saturated with incontinence.
Subject 32 tried to stand, but his focus remained arrested by his phone, causing him to fall back to his bed.
“Seventy-three minutes, third attempt to rise. Variable A is still in hand.”
The scientists concurred and scribbled the data onto their clipboards.
Moans gurgled from deep within Subject 32 as he rolled and rocked his body to the edge of the bed. Visible distress struck his hollow, unshaven face as he struggles with the notion of parting with his phone. “I need to eat… then I should clean up,” he said as he raised from the bed in a slow arch as if his wobbly legs awoken from a decade of atropine and neglect.
“Seventy-six minutes, fourth attempt, Variable A not in hand.”
He pivots towards the two-way mirror and it is plain to see that Subject 32 is wasting away. A cotton shirt hung over his frail body. Limbs once rich with muscle mass are nothing more than weak bones and his brown hair is chunky with grease like a griddle’s troth after a dinner rush. One of the scientists pointed out that he wears the same stained underwear since last week. Feet shuffle down the maze and the waist-high walls give Subject 32 a birds-eye gander of its simplicity; if he was looking, he’d see it. His goal awaits in the center as it always has. Cold breakfast that is easy for his dying body to swallow and digest.
Subject 32 stopped at the first intersection of the maze. Forward leads to a dead end that consists of a gaming system and television and on the right, one step closer to his goal.
“Just a few rounds… I have time.”
The remote called to Subject 32 and he answered. The faded red power button pushed in and the inputs switch over. He ignored the gaming chair altogether and brings the wireless gaming controller to his stomach.
“Eighty minutes, distraction at Variable B.”
Time slipped beyond the reaches while Subject 32 played his game. He blinks every now and then, bringing little moisture to his bloodshot eyes. A scientist marks the time when he wets himself with dark urine the color of sweet tea. It trickled down his bare legs and created a puddle around his socks. His arms tire from the weight of the controller and it slips to the floor below. Subject 32 looks down, noticing that it landed in his pee.
“I really should drink some water…. That’s right—I was going to eat and clean up,” says Subject 32.
“Two hours, eleven minutes. Leaving variable B, continuing through the maze.”
The scientists updated their data and Subject 32 carried on towards his unreachable goal.
Three options are presented at the next intersection. To his front is a computer and a leather office chair, while on his left is a path leading to the shower. The path on the right wraps around the back of the room and to it’s center.
Subject says, “Almost there.”
But he doesn’t move.
“Two hours, thirteen minutes. Debating at Intersection Two.”
His voice is an exhausted scratch that comes across as aggravated static over the speakers of the observation room.
“The computer can wait. I need to eat and take care of myself.”
Subject 32 chooses and the scientists note the progress.
“Two hours, fifteen minutes. Second distraction at Variable C.”
He pulled the chair away from the desk and stumbled into it. The impact caused him to lurch forward with a dry cough resembling a death rattle inside an itchy throat. Subject 32 regained composure and began to roll himself towards the desk; he needed both hands and heels to reach it. Hands adjusted over the keyboard and mouse and the monitor of the comes to life.
Subject 32 forced himself upright when he finished to return remembering why he needed to divert from here.
“Four hours, thirty-six minutes. Leaving Variable C, continuing through the maze.”
He guides himself along the walls of the maze, supporting his feeble body, dragging himself closer and closer. Subject 32 is now propped against the corner of the last intersection.
“A little rest… before I pass out from exhaustion,” said Subject 32.
Variable E consists of a massive flat screen that is mounted to the wall and a leather recliner soaked like a dirty dish rag from weeks of monotonous filth beckoned to him. His final burst of energy was utilized to pull the wooden handle up and the footrest pops outwards. Subject 32 fished around inside the chair for the remote and once found, he hits that faded button to turn on his death viewing.
The screen portrayed a slideshow of what he was and who he is supposed to be. A final motivator before meant to instill inspiration faded away as they note the time Subject 32 expired in that recliner.
The scientists note the time Subject 32 expired in the recliner.
“Distracted again, right before the end.”
They nod, and leave the observation room.
© Copyright John Potts Jr 2016 – 2017. All rights reserved.