Ideal Subject

Posted: May 17, 2013 in Fiction, Test Subject

Once upon a time, I started writing short stories.  I had fun doing little snippets of a million ideas (hyperbole – there were a few different ideas bouncing around at any one time though).  I started to favor the story of Asher Brinks above all others, and I built his story into a hundred-page narrative.  

Then I went nuts.  Sanity returned, but I was having a terrible time moving forward.  In an effort to push through, I tried working backward.  So I wrote a prologue.  I ended up changing more than a few of the details, but the character remained the same.  As I catch up to the events of the very first Lab Rat, I’ll have to re-write or overwrite the existing work.  I’m okay with that.  For now, I’m continuing where I left off…

“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.”

“That’s the nicest thing anyone’s said to me all week!” I tell her. She turns her back to me, but I can almost hear her rolling her eyes. She doesn’t turn back to me as she starts talking again.

“We are done for today.” She turns back and hands me a checklist.

“I thought you said done?” I ask as I’m reading.

We are. You are not. Remember, twenty-four, seven.” I laugh. Good point.

“Okay, teach, when’s my homework due?”

“I’m not giving you any equipment to take home until I’m convinced it’s not just going to a pawn shop.” She peers over her glasses at me. “I realize I am going to have to trust you at some point. You securing your home against further break-ins will go a long way toward helping that. Are we clear?”

“Crystal,” I tell her. I gather my stuff from the derelict workstation.

“Make sure the door latches behind you, Mister Brinks.”

“You got it, Doc.” I step into the stale grey entry and push the door shut behind me. After even a moment in there, the polluted afternoon air smells sweeter. I squint in the daylight. I look down at the sheaf of papers in my hand. I have a lot to do. I head toward the nearest bus stop.

* * *

It’s nearly midnight. I’m sort of tired, but I’m pretty well satisfied. Doctor Allison gave me an advance, so I hoofed it over to the local home improvement store. For a brief, shining moment, I was one of those guys who has twelve bags of crap and takes an eternity boarding the bus. I spent the bus ride trying to decide which martial arts class I’m gonna be taking. I have no idea which one is the best, or which one would suit me the best. She says I need to be in better shape, but Tae-Bo wasn’t on the list. I’ll worry about that tomorrow, though. In the meantime, I survey my handiwork. Dad stopped by with tools and a shitty little television he used to keep in his garage. Said I don’t have to give that back.

New doorframe. Like, entirely. New two by fours, anchored to the concrete. New, electronic deadlatch. Biometric scanner on the outside, keypad and visitor display mounted inside. Seriously cool, and I feel safer already. Landlord is gonna be pissed if he ever needs to get in for maintenance. I laugh at the thought; the guy never fixes things. I drop my mattress back where it belongs against the far wall. It’s funny to think that this lock is now the most valuable thing I own. I flip the channel to whatever late night talk show happens to be on, and sit down on my bed. I’m out cold in seconds.

  1. jenna says:


    The other link you sent me wouldn’t go through, so I’ve been waiting for you to post!

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