Six - Ira

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"Ira, you there?"

I closed my eyes and hoped that the doctor would go away. She was the one that everybody detested here, forcing checkups on everyone. No one even knew her real name; we only called her Doctor A. It could stand for anything. Atrocious, maybe. She was atrocious with her demands, but evidently excelled at her job. As far as I could tell, Doctor A seemed to be in charge of this underground lab.

I focused on my breathing, and tried to slow it down. In through the nose, out through the mouth. In through the mouth, out through the nose. I could almost hear Stuart's voice in my head - the gentle lapping waves that always carried me away from panic. The tension in the air dissipated as Doctor A left the room.

"Ira." Not much time passed before she was standing in the doorway again, giving her eyes a quick rub. She must have just turned off the lights in the corridor, and her eyes weren't adjusting to the darkness quickly enough. It was the only way to get to my cell, without me kicking and screaming at the light that the open door would let in. Doctor A had learnt the hard way. "I know you're awake. You don't sleep. Stop pretending."

What did she want me for? I pulled my blanket tighter around my body, and pressed myself against the cold sterile wall.

"I'm not going to ask you again," Doctor A said, her words chilling the room. I wondered if she ever had children; they must have grown up to be monsters. "I need to talk to you."

Before I could choose my reaction, the world fell away around me. A thousand knives promptly lodged themselves into my skull - I should have known that Doctor A would switch the light on. I rolled off the bed with my hands over my eyes, taking the blanket with me. I felt Doctor A's sinewy hands on my arms, and tried to shake them off. A push threw her off balance, and I heard her land on the floor. It took the last of my energy. I rolled onto my stomach, pressed my face against my palms, and pressed the back of my hands against the smooth floor.

The pain subsided a little with the self-imposed darkness. The world slowly came back, and I could hear Celestia breathing deeply against her dry throat. She wouldn't do anything. With her skin peeling off all the time, she couldn't do anything.

Doctor A got up beside me. "So much unnecessary pain, Ira," she said. "Why do you do it?"

Before I could reply, she jabbed a needle into my arm.

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"She should be coming around now," I heard a voice drifting by. A male face flashed in my head. A nurse—I remembered him. He used to be a little clueless. Less so now.

"Ira." Doctor A was there too. "Try opening your eyes."

"Huh?" I said groggily, surprised by the instruction. Even though I was heavily drugged, surely even Doctor A would know that my eyes were off bounds. I got migraines even with my eyes closed.

They weren't there this time.

I was definitely in the lab, but my eyes weren't detonating my brain. I dared to open one eye. It was a bit too bright, but I was able to tolerate it by squinting. The nurse peered at me from above, nodding contentedly. "That's it," he said. He straightened up and cleared his throat. "All good."

I strained my neck to look at him - brown hair, brown eyes, and a cyan mask - before realizing that he was speaking to someone across the bed. Waves of Doctor A's blonde hair came into view as I looked to my right. She smiled wryly.

"How?" I slurred.

Doctor A nodded to the nurse, who immediately left us alone. "This is what happens when you don't deny yourself your checkups, Ira," she said methodically. "We've been meaning to try this new medication on you."

My muscles stiffened, "New..." Not only did Doctor A stab me with a tranquilizer, but she also took it upon herself to do whatever she wanted while I was out. I must have been out a long time for her to carry out the test.

"It just makes your pupils temporarily less dilated." She sighed. Her shoes clicked as she walked around to the other side of the bed to scrutinize the monitors. "Ira, we're giving it our all to come up with a permanent solution for your eyes. You're the one who isn't assisting us in your recovery."

I could only groan at her entrapment.

Doctor A pulled up a chair and sat close to my head. It was the only time that I wished there was nothing blocking the light from above; her presence was suffocating. "I wonder what Doctor Neville is doing. We've done more in a day and a half than what he's tried to do two months."

My hazy mind wouldn't give me a face to that name. "Who?"

"Stuart," Doctor A says, leaning further forward. I could smell steriliser off her skin. "So what do you talk about in your sessions? Do you know that he doesn't record them?"

"No."

She huffed. "Knowing him, I bet he never gets to the point." Doctor A pulled up her sleeves. "Well, why don't we make some more progress? For starters, why are you so stubborn?"

"Am I supposed to answer that?" I attempted to sound forceful.

"Well, I suppose it was rhetorical." Doctor A shrugged. "But your resistance is beyond you hating this place. I've heard a few things about your past, Ira, and I'm very interested. I believe you killed a grown man as a child." When I took a sharp inhale, she said, "Calm down, you know this already. Celestia and I had a little chat about you. Why won't you cooperate like her?"

"Like that's done her any good," I said under my breath, trying to hide my disappointment in Celestia.

"She's getting better," Doctor A retorted coldly, "and you're not. Are you going to come to terms with your past, Ira? You're sabotaging your own life, and you know it. I don't know what Doctor Neville talks to you about. He still likes to uphold stupid confidentiality."

I heard some truth in that, but I wasn't going to admit it to her of all people. "I'm done here," I said, reaching across my body to pull out the drip in my arm.

Doctor A lay a firm hand on mine. "That's there for a reason, Ira," she said, trying to sound logical as always.

That was when I saw red. "Then explain to me the reason why I'm here in the first place." I flung her hand away, and heard it knock against the bed rails. Finding the energy to sit up, I deflected Doctor A's attempts to push me back into place.

I began yelling and flailed my arms about, sometimes colliding with Doctor A, sometimes accidentally hitting metal and plastic around me. I could hear Doctor A raise her voice, but the only thing I could focus on was keeping her away. Her crisp clothes, gold watch and neat hair were no longer keeping her together. She was not in control anymore, and had no control over me. 

"Stop it, Ira." 

I finally listened to her when I noticed the growing pain in my arm. I'd forgotten that a needle was still in there. I sank to the floor, the cold unlocking the bitterness in me. 

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