Posted: February 29, 2012 in Fiction, Test Subject

I’m still marveling over the fact that I’m not fried to a crisp when I remember my clothes. My pants are blackened around the waist, but still serviceable. My shirt is gone. “Uh, Doc?” I turn around. “You wouldn’t happen to have a spare shirt lying around, would you?”

“There are spare scrubs in the exam room.” She picks up the hazard suit and returns it to its hook on the wall. Doctor Allison collects the tray and the portable screen and herds me back out into the lab. She balances her burden in one hand and slaps the door switch with the other. The double doors of the airlock hiss shut. She nods to the right, toward the double door with the red cross above it. “Through there, the first door on the right. You’ll find scrubs and towels and such.” I walk quickly. The air is surprisingly cold in here. Is that a side effect of being fireproof? Maybe. Allison said it’d only last five minutes though. Maybe it’s just cold in here.

I push through the white doors. Soot smears black handprints across the pristine surface. Oops. I wipe my hands on my pants. “Try not to touch anything, stupid,” I mutter to myself. The doors lead into a short hallway that turns off to the right. It’s lined with unlabeled doors. I guess if it’s just Allison here, there’s not a lot of need for labels. This place definitely violates the fire code though. I chuckle at my own dumb joke. I pull the silvered knob of the door I was told I needed. Inside is a series of shelves filled with assorted black clothes and white towels. I make a guess and grab from the top of a pile. A shirt unfolds in my hand. I pull it over my head. It’s long enough, if a little baggy. Good enough. I’m not going to risk making more of a mess in pursuit of being dressed right now. I head back out into the lab proper.

I head over to the workstations. The doc has a sheaf of papers piled next to my things on one of the desks. I head over and pick up the pile. “What’s all this?”

“In many ways, you are an ideal test subject, Brinks.” Doctor Allison looks up from her monitor. “In other ways, there is work to be done.” I flip through the papers. There is a nutritional guide, several sets of contact information for gyms, apartment listings, and several suggestions for self-defense courses.

“Wow,” I say. I pat my stomach. “I didn’t think I was in that bad shape.”

“You are underweight.” Allison walks over to me. “Energy has to come from somewhere. More than one of the things I will be injecting you with will draw on your body for fuel. You don’t have much in the way of fat reserves, so you will need to increase your caloric intake.”

“I see.” I guess that hadn’t occurred to me. “So how much energy did it take to survive your flame-thrower?”

“That’s one of the things we will be tracking. I know it works, but I don’t know how taxing that particular one is. Regardless, it won’t do to have you waste away in the middle of testing.” She tugs at the baggy scrub tunic. “More so, I mean.”

“Point taken.” I flip to the apartment listings. “What about this?” I ask.

“I expect any equipment I send into the field to return to me. Either your current home needs to be made secure, or you need to move to one that is.”

“Aww, you’re worried about me!” I grin. I look at her. Her face remains expressionless. “Is that why I’m signing up for karate too?”

“The equipment you’ll be using is valuable.” She is quiet for a moment. Then, “Yes, I suppose I’d rather you not be mugged or beaten, either.”


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