Lab Rat 4 First Day on the New Job

“The post-testing re-configuration function does not self-activate.”

“Agreed, even though the stressor is well within the design parameters.”

Quorn and Halt were peering down at Daniel’s puddled form on the floor of what Daniel had started to privately call his Temple of Doom.

This was the fifth time they had melted him with heat the equivalent of a small supernova.

Even though they had told him that he was indestructible the whole thing just felt wrong. The two earnest scientists had tried, somewhat fruitlessly, to convince him of this fact with incomprehensible scientific jargon, diagrams and charts.

After an hour of resistance he had been physically manhandled into the transparent cylinder that he had come to loathe so well. He had cowered in the one end of it as they turned up the heat.

The sensation was something beyond his most nightmarish imagining. Even so, Daniel could honestly say he had not felt pain, just terror. When he had first felt the molecules in his body liquefy he thought he would lose his mind.

By the third time, he had started to be able to feel himself slipping from his solid self to a gloopy, sticky mass with a smidgen of detachment.

“Irrespective of what state your body attains, your basic senses will function normally. Each molecule of your matter contains every sense and intelligence: they are not extant in separate loci.” Halt had peered at him earnestly as he tried to explain.

During the morning testing the once earnest expression on Quorn’s face had changed from surprise, through disappointment, to a pained look of disbelief. He and Halt had poured over printouts and poked at computer screens with scrawny grey fingers. They had mumbled between themselves, voices rising in occasional dissent. Daniel could feel the heat of their reproachful stares, as he lay there.

The irony of his situation had not escaped Daniel.

At one point, oblivion had seemed irresistibly seductive. Now, oblivion was physically impossible, and it seemed that he was going to stare at the whites of its eyes a thousand times a day, into the foreseeable future.

Even in his molten state, Daniel was acutely aware of the smooth, cooling surface under him. The acrid tang of scorched air-filled the space around him. He also felt the sharp edge of the scoop as they scraped him off the floor into the bucket.

Being poured was not something he had ever expected to experience in anything equating a conscious state. It was vaguely obscene – he felt like a very large dollop of snot that should be disposed of down a toilet.

He composed himself as best he could in the body-shaped mould, and felt the electromagnetic waves pulse through him. Solidifying was every bit as disconcerting as melting. The jury was out as to which was worse.

An hour later his perfectly proportioned body was still tingling as they led him to his newly assigned quarters.

“Quorn and I will review the design algorithms to see where the glitch is. We will recommence your testing at 08:00 tomorrow.”

“You will auto-engage in maintenance mode in” Quorn consulted his wrist unit  “5 hours for a duration of 3 hours. Please ensure you are in your quarters before your shut down. Access to the entertainment and education modules is gained through voice command”. He indicated the screen on the far wall.

Although it seemed that he had been given the freedom of the facility, Daniel didn’t feel up to leaving his suite. He stalked around the three modest rooms investigating each cupboard and spotless corner.

Finally, he sat, cross-legged, on the low, square stool which occupied the space in front of the screen.

“I would like to watch something, please.” He felt awkwardly self-conscious addressing the empty room.

“Certainly Daniel, what would you like to see?”

First he started with documentaries, especially about history and the current affairs of the people on Argle. He was grudgingly relieved to see that the general populace behaved just as badly as his once-fellow humans. The politicians were just as self-serving, and big business just as greedy. He should have learned, by now, not to expect miracles. Human nature, it appeared, was not limited to humans on Earth.

“Always expect the worst, Daniel, that way, if it turns out ok you’ll be pleasantly surprised.” Mum’s voice echoed over the remembered scene of Daniel’s ignominious first day at primary school. He had been excited and had woken hours before sunrise to check and recheck his school bag. He had dressed and lain awake in his bed, as the birds shouted to each other outside his window. All was well until first break. Mum had decided to pack him a treat, which turned out to be a boiled egg (peeled) and a particularly pungent piece of Polony on rye. As he opened his lunch box, the smell rolled out around him, in an inexorable wave, punctuated with the sniffs and gags of his class mates. From that time forward, the entire class (except for John Green, who had no sense of smell) made sure it was up wind when he had lunch.

His video journey progressed to sport and he was downright alarmed at how freely the blood flowed at any major event. Either the Argles bled easily, or they were quite a bloodthirsty bunch.  Some competitive endeavours seemed close to Earthly games, but the rules were such a mystery that, in every instance, he had no absolutely no idea what was going on.

He had settled himself comfortably to engage a series of what promised to be bizarrely vertiginous music videos when everything went black.

CopyRight Kim Magennis 2015

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