I feel myself drift in and out of consciousness over and over again. People's hands are always on me, and sometimes I can hear voices. I try to fight my way back, but I can't wake up.
Finally, I hear a soft, steady beeping noise. I feel some kind of small tubes connected to my face, pushing air up my nose, and when I try to move, it seems like more are taped onto my arms. I open my eyes, and they feel like they're full of sand. I have to squint because the light is way too bright. My body feels heavy and strangely numb.
This isn't right! Server duty isn't like this! People wake up and walk off feeling good. They do it every day. Panic begins rising in my throat, and I struggle to sit up. The beeping beside me increases its pace.
"Calm down, Arthur," a woman whispers in a gentle voice. "Everything's alright. Just take your time."
"Who are you?" I am shocked to hear my voice croak. What happened to it?
"I am Dr. Chase." She turns my face with her hand so that I can see her better. Her face is pleasant above her dark purple scrubs, but her eyes look tired.
"What happened? Where am I?"
"You're in Institution 231 for disabled citizens," she says.
An institution?! Wait... "Why?"
"Oh, come now, Arthur," she says with a sigh. "I know your condition was explained to you. The treatment the Community provides you is designed to ease your suffering, but it is also very costly. You need a variety of daily medications, physical therapy exercises, and assistive technology. Naturally, your own contribution needs to be a little bit more than the average citizen. You'll be allowed to take breaks from your service here in your room, and have some time for yourself."
I glance wildly around the room. I'm lying in a hospital bed. The room has a small desk with a single chair on one side — the chair she is sitting on. There is a small locker in the corner, and a window I can't possibly fit through. I pat my hands past what seems like leads on my chest, and then... What's happened to my stomach?! My hands bump into something plastic and hard, and I cry out in surprise and pain.
"Be careful," she says, standing to force my hands back down to my sides. "You don't want to damage your feeding tube."
"How long?" I ask. "How long have I been hooked to that machine?" How long has Gina been waiting for me?
"Your session lasted three months and seven days. Your brain performs wonderfully," she says as she turns off the sound of my racing pulse.
"I want to leave. Please. Let me go," I sob. My voice sounds weak and pitiful.
"We can't do that," the crazy lady says. "Your health is much too poor to be out on your own. You're making a fine contribution to your Community right here."
"No!" I start pushing her hands away. "No, I don't need this. I have to find my sister!"
"Sister?" she whispers and backs up against the door. "Arthur, I have to ask you to calm yourself. I know it can be a difficult adjustment."
"Get out of my way!" I croak, cursing my weakness as I try to push myself up off the bed.
I don't see her move.
Sharp pain flares in the side of my neck, and I look up to see that she's shoved something against it. I swat it out of her hand, and what bounces across the floor looks like a miniature injector. With all my strength, I arch my back and roll out of bed onto my feet. I lean forward and stumble out into the hallway. My legs feel heavy and my brain can't seem to tell them what to do. Stumbling, I collapse onto the floor. I roll onto my side and try to push myself back up, but I can't. She's dosed me with something for sure.
"Pick him up," I hear the woman's tired voice behind me. "This one's going to be difficult. He said something about family. Make double sure his record is thoroughly sterilized, and prep him for another transfer. Well, hurry up, before he damages something!"
Two huge men lift me and drop me back into the bed in the tiny cell.
"Please," I sob, but it comes out slurred. "Please let me go home."
One of the men looks down at me with a sad expression. "You are home, kid."
Okay folks, what do you think of the prequel? Are you interested in seeing some of Infinitus here on Wattpad before it's release?
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The Global FellowshipScience Fiction
Arthur Mallorey has reached the end of his rope after the death of his parents. He's lived his whole life in pain, struggling with his family to get by in the Dregs - a section of town the Community now chooses to ignore. If his only shot at a life...