by Bryan Cole & Matthew McLean
The air stirred as the bandaged man stumbled around the dark apartment.
The shades were a yellowed and grimy color from the years of neglect and indulgence by the countless occupants of the room. They cracked open as the bandaged man worked the cheap plastic rod affixed to the top of the window.
Outside, the metropolis beckoned, but it, as many things, would have to wait. The bandaged man had only just begun to regain consciousness for more than a few minutes at a time. The dust leapt in between the rays of light afforded by the slats, and their hypnotic pattern nearly enticed the bandaged man back to sleep, but the buzzing of the alarm clock interrupted his trance.
Instinctively, his hands felt the bandages and his memory began to replay what had transpired to place him here in this room, his head wrapped in some mockery of an Islamo-fascist. An operation. It began to hazily replay itself in his mind. Dragon had set him up with a surgeon to get that god-damned bomb out of his skull. He contemplated removing the bandages to check the work, but decided against it after seeing the various stains on the artificial carpet and the general condition of the room in which he found himself.
Under the pillow he found a sidearm. Obviously, whoever had placed him here had left this as well. The bandaged man wondered if he had told someone to do that or not.
The suspicion vanished as he wandered over to the standing sink/toilet and removed the steri-lite toothbrush and nano-paste, operating on auto-pilot now as he brushed his teeth and made his body as comfortable as possible. The nanites that were slowly sewing his skull and skin together would require plenty of fluids. This he remembered from the ‘briefing’ before his operation. Food wasn’t as much a concern since the nanites would not need to live longer than was necessary to repair him, and even that was almost a formality as his boosted immune system would aid in the healing process. Water had electrolytes, and electrolytes, as he’d learned when he’d first been augmented, were the lion’s share of the nanites’ energy-source.
Back in the main part of the room he found the 4 liter canteen under the bed, and drained half of it in a matter of moments. Feeling more awake, he took in the efficiency in which he found himself. A simple viewscreen, with a large crack through it, stood in one corner next to a rotted card table and what could only passably be called chairs. Deciding the bed was the safest of the furniture in his room, the bandaged man sat back down and stretched his neck.
A half-lit outline of a sat-scrambler revealed itself in his peripheral vision on the nightstand next to the bed. Instinctively, the bandaged man grabbed it and touched in numbers he knew by memory.
The sat-scrambler went green as it synched to Dragon’s device, delivering the pre-programmed message that the bandaged man had put in before the operation.
“Condition Five by Five. Headache Gone. Awaiting contact.”