Today's Reading

Can I get up?

No. But I can move my head a little. I look down at my body. I'm naked and connected to more tubes than I can count. There's one in each arm, one in each leg, one in my "gentlemen's equipment," and two that disappear under my thigh. I'm guessing one of them is up where the sun doesn't shine.

That can't be good.

Also, I'm covered with electrodes. The sensor-type stickers like for an EKG, but they're all over the place. Well, at least they're only on my skin instead of jammed into me.

"Wh—" I wheeze. I try again. "Where...am...I?"

"What's the cube root of eight?" the computer asks.

"Where am I?" I say again. This time it's easier.

"Incorrect. What's the cube root of eight?"

I take a deep breath and speak slowly. "Two times e to the two-i-pi."

"Incorrect. What's the cube root of eight?"

But I wasn't incorrect. I just wanted to see how smart the computer was.

Answer: not very.

"Two," I say.

"Correct."

I listen for follow-up questions, but the computer seems satisfied. I'm tired. I drift off to sleep again.

* * *

I wake up. How long was I out? It must have been a while because I feel rested. I open my eyes without any effort. That's progress.

I try to move my fingers. They wiggle as instructed. All right. Now we're getting somewhere.

"Hand movement detected," says the computer. "Remain still."

"What? Why—"

The robot arms come for me. They move fast. Before I know it, they've removed most of the tubes from my body. I didn't feel a thing. Though my skin is kind of numb anyway.

Only three tubes remain: an IV in my arm, a tube up my butt, and a catheter. Those latter two are kind of the signature items I wanted removed, but okay.

I raise my right arm and let it fall back to the bed. I do the same for my left. They feel heavy as heck. I repeat the process a few times. My arms are muscular. That doesn't make sense. I assume I've had some massive medical problem and been in this bed for a while. Otherwise, why would they have me hooked up to all the stuff? Shouldn't there be muscle atrophy?

And shouldn't there be doctors? Or maybe the sounds of a hospital? And what's with this bed? It's not a rectangle, it's an oval and I think it's mounted to the wall instead of the floor.

"Take..." I trail off. Still kind of tired. "Take the tubes out...." The computer doesn't respond.

I do a few more arm lifts. I wiggle my toes. I'm definitely getting better.

I tilt my ankles back and forth. They're working. I raise my knees up. My legs are well toned too. Not bodybuilder thick, but still too healthy for someone on the verge of death. I'm not sure how thick they should be, though.

I press my palms to the bed and push. My torso rises. I'm actually getting up! It takes all my strength but I soldier on. The bed rocks gently as I move. It's not a normal bed, that's for sure. As I raise my head higher up, I see the head and foot of the elliptical bed are attached to strong-looking wall mounts. It's kind of a rigid hammock. Weird.

Soon, I'm sitting on my butt tube. Not the most comfortable sensation, but when is a tube up your butt ever comfortable?

I have a better view of things now. This is no ordinary hospital room. The walls look plastic and the whole room is round. Stark-white light comes from ceiling-mounted LED lights.

There are two more hammock-like beds mounted to the walls, each with their own patient. We are arranged in a triangle and the roof-mounted Arms of Harassment are in the center of the ceiling. I guess they take care of all three of us. I can't see much of my compatriots—they've sunken into their bedding like I had.
...

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