Room Number 8

[mc, rb]

((this story is dedicated to Steph, a.k.a. robotunit8. It was written upon a challenge to combine two things in a story, namely electroshock therapy and robotization.))

The scream coming out of the aseptic room number 8 was an atrocious one, and it was hard to believe that a human being was capable of producing such sounds. Nonetheless, it was happening and right on the first day of work of the West Clinic’s newest intern, April Connolly.

“Is this normal?” the young blue-eyed blonde asked her mentor Leslie Sanders, the only woman who had been inside the dealings of Wonderland Inc. ever since the company had been created back in the early 90’s. She had the face of a fairy-tale witch and befitting manners as well. To say anyone actually liked her in the premises would be a big, fat lie, but she did her job right, and that was all that mattered in the end.

“It happens, sometimes.” she replied, disdainfully, as if the shrieking agony reaching her ears was somehow a heavenly piece of music. “It’s time to call Doctor Hart. She’ll know what to do. Take care of it, will you?”

“Uh… sure.” said April pressing the intercom’s blue button, the appalling cries making her feel very uncomfortable, and repented of ever accepting that position in the first place.

* * *

Natalia Hart arrived at the scene less than five minutes later, looked at the number of the room, and remarked in an equally scornful tone.

Again?!!! Oh well, Leslie turn on the stroboscopic lights, will you? I’m going to calm our patient down.”

“Of course, Doctor.” responded the older woman as she moved towards a metallic panel a little down the corridor and flicked the corresponding switches. When she turned to face the bedroom door once more, it had already been shut and locked on the inside. A morbid curiosity led April to try to listen to what was about to happen inside and she managed just that, even though the results proved much more frightening than enjoyable.

* * *

When the three titanium locks were firmly tight in place, an octahedron of colourful light beams was already flickering in the ceiling, its kaleidoscopic refractions illuminating the body of a middle-aged woman strapped to a bed. Her head had been completely shaved and more than one hundred electrodes carefully placed throughout her body; all of them were connected to two dark cubes, one placed in each side of the bed, which served as the primary sources of energy from which the electric current was being distributed at regular intervals.

Apart from these items and the ceiling’s ever glimmering light bolts, there was only a chair and a TV screen placed against the far wall, the remote of which lay perfectly still on the seat. Natalia Hart grabbed it with her flawlessly manicured hands, sat down and addressed her least favourite patient, whose screams had died down a bit ever since the moment she had heard her high heels click in.

“Hello, Steph.”

“What are you doing to me?” the tied up woman asked, her eyes roving deliriously. “This is torture! You’re killing me!”

“Now, now… don’t go on saying silly things like that, Steph!” retorted the Doctor, while admiring the wonderful display of prismatic patterns that were meant to have a soothing effect on her restless state of mind. “You’re here because you want to and you’re simply receiving the treatment you need in order for your innermost fantasy to come true!”

“That’s a lie!” shouted Steph, a mild current coursing through her every pore. “I… I… never asked for any of this!”

“Oh, but of course you did. That’s why you came to us at Wonderland Inc. because that’s what we do around here: we help people live their wildest dreams and become whatever they become to be, for a price. You’re at one of our clinics and I’ve been attending your case ever since you were brought here more than two months ago. I’m Doctor Natalia Hart and I’ve sat in this room with you many times before. Don’t you remember me?”

“I… hmmm… I’m not sure… your face do looks familiar, though.”

“That’s because it is.” smiled the Doctor, despite the fact that none of the warm emotions being conveyed in it were actually true. “You signed a contract with us right around New Year’s Eve, and that process was fully documented and recorded for future proof in case any doubts should arise. I’m going to show you the video transcript, now. Please, look at the TV screen.”

The liquid crystal display was turned on and Steph saw herself as she was a couple of months ago, when she still had her flaming red hair and looked perfectly sane and capable of making her own decisions. She was sitting in a room with a group of corporate executives that looked like clones of one another, with the same expensive suits and quirky, annoying mannerisms. One of them, wearing an obnoxious pink tie and waving a wrinkled hand with three golden rings, was talking to her to make sure that everything had been dealt appropriately.

“So, it’s perfectly clear to you that, once the process begins, there’ll be no turning back, isn’t it? You’ll be turned into a robot and live the rest of your days as one, mindlessly carrying out other people’s instructions, completely devoid of any traces that currently ascertain your individuality. Please state for the recording that that’s indeed your wish before signing the contract in front of you.”

“I want to be transformed into a robot!” she exclaimed. “That is my wish and the sole purpose why I came to the facilities of this company!”

“Very good, then…. The expression of your desires has been fully acknowledged and will be dealt accordingly even though the process will be a long and sometimes painful one.” The executive handed her a golden pen. “Now, if you shall do the honours of signing in every dotted line in triplicate, please…”

The images of the past came to an end, the TV screen fading to black once again. Steph saw it all incredulously as she simply had no recollection of that meeting ever taking place, nor ever having such a fantasy. Even though that was clearly her in the video, something didn’t feel right. Was it really her voice she had heard say those things or the one of a very skilful impersonator? Were the images one hundred percent trustworthy or, on the contrary, tweaks and lip-synching effects had been masterfully applied to turn an elaborate ruse into a claim of undisputable truth? She was confused, alarmed and still not entirely convinced.

“This is all so very weird…” she mumbled. Another wave of electricity moved across the electrodes and her body stirred ever so slightly in the bed.

“May be so, but it’s also all you’ve ever wanted…” cooed Natalia. “The electroshock therapy we’ve been giving you for a while now is a mandatory first step to prepare your body for the cybernetic implants that are being custom made to suit your anatomical structure. They will not adhere properly if your organism isn’t positively charged and, as such, the pain and discomfort you feel at times are fully justified at the prospect of the pleasure that’s to follow. You have nothing to fear, Steph.” continued the Doctor, now in an even more subdued, mesmerizing voice. “You are safe with us, getting ready to fulfil your dreams.”

“I…” the lights above kept flashing and shimmering, moving from red to violet, and green to blue, slowly freezing her neuronal net and, with it, her ability to resist.

“Say it, Steph. You are safe here.”

“I am safe here.” the woman droned, her mental disturbances giving way to a complete stillness.

“This is what you want.”

“This is what I want.”

“You will become a robot!”

“I will become a robot!” Steph concluded certain that was indeed her only prospect of a future.

Natalia Hart smiled again, this time because the chain of control had been properly re- established and that, for a while, she wouldn’t give her any more trouble. Besides, the time of the electroshock therapy was coming close to an end which meant that she wouldn’t have to put up with her for much longer. Moving towards the door, she began unlocking it.

* * *

April was almost caught red-handed eavesdropping to the whole exchange of words, but luckily Leslie yanked her arm in time to save her ass. Doctor Hart came out of the room with the satisfaction of a job well done and gave her final instructions.

“Leave the lights on until the day is done. In a week or so, she’ll be ready for the final stage and I have a feeling she won’t give us any more trouble until that day. However, if that’s to happen, call me immediately! Too much money has been invested on this one already to let the project tank because of some lingering reluctances.”

“Understood, Doctor Hart.” responded Leslie and faced her protégé the moment they were left alone in the corridor again.

“Don’t ever pull one of those stunts again, you hear me?” she yelled.

“I got it. She’s really a mean person on the inside, isn’t she?”

Leslie smirked at the comment.

“Mean? That woman is the Devil incarnated! If you think I’m tough and bitter, which I know you do, that’s because you still haven’t seen what she’s capable of. Whoever gets in her way is bound to lose everything!”

“I understand. Hmmm, Leslie, can I ask you something in confidence?”

“I think I already know what it is, but if you’re brave and stupid enough to do so, then, by all means, ask away!”

April bit her fingernails and avoided eye contact.

“The patient in room number 8, she… she never really asked to be turned into a robot, did she? The company somehow warped her desires to suit its own business agenda, right?”

Leslie approached her with an angry expression upon her eyes, placed both of her hands on the frail woman’s shoulders and uttered a warning she hoped didn’t require any repetitions in the future.

“If you want to survive out here and not live in fear that something strange might happen to you, my advice is to forget those conspiracy theories and never speak about them… ever again! Even if there’s some legitimacy to what you’re claiming – and I’m not confirming there is, mind you – the truth is: it doesn’t matter!. We simply do our jobs and get paid a bundle for doing so! The rest is just sci-fi gibberish, for all I care! If you want to keep on having good dreams, don’t go opening the door to the realm of nightmares!”

April gulped, comprehending much more than she hoped to. On the next day, she presented her resignation letter and, under the weight of the confidentiality agreement she had been coerced to sign to get the job, she never spoke of the bizarre proceedings that took place on the innards of the West Clinic to anyone during her lifetime.

* * *

And, right now, you’re probably wondering what ever became of the patient in room number 8. Well, Steph continued receiving her low-voltage treatments, with an occasional spike happening when she began giving off some signs of uneasiness, but, thankfully, she never screamed again.

One day, a Monday, if I’m not mistaken, she was transferred from her bedroom to a fully equipped operating room and promptly given a powerful anaesthesia that knocked her out for over seventy-two hours straight. Before falling into the pits of a comatose- like sleep, she caught glimpses of two men and three women wearing white scrubs and surgical masks one of which she was sure to be the ruthless Doctor Natalia Hart, as well as hoary pieces of armour that reminded her of the notorious Cybermen of the latest incarnation of the Doctor Who’s television series. There was the whirring sound of an electric saw of some kind next to her scalp and then, the magnificent embrace of darkness.

As I type this on my laptop, I’m sitting in a chair of a large amphitheatre where an auction is being promoted by the highest corporate executives of Wonderland Inc. Its purpose is to show to all eccentric buyers in the world the marvels of their mind and body altering techniques and provide them with whatever they deem fit to their opulent lifestyle. For you see, they do make dreams come true in the company, but not the ones of the many innocent men and women that visit their headquarters day after day.

I’m here on a mission given to me by my employer and Mistress Sandra Billingsley, a software tycoon that always wanted to have her own personal robotic servant and, over more than a decade, spent a countless portion of her fortune trying to create one, but with no success. Having been forced to resort to other people’s services, I was of course the obvious choice to represent her in the bidding process and pay whatever needed to get her the robot of her dreams.

If I know so much about the things that transpired before this day, it’s because Leslie Sanders didn’t listen to her own advice and filled me in on all the details of the patient in room number 8 of the West Clinic when I showed her the one hundred thousand dollars in cash I had been given to procure helpful information. She was quite a hideous woman to behold and, shortly after she accepted the bribe, I heard she suffered a fatal accident on her way home one night. A hit and run, a very nasty thing, but a necessary one to keep the business thriving. No one ever found to whom she had sold the information and that’s why here I am, in the center of the storm, ready for what’s to follow.

This journal is my personal guarantee that I get to remain a valuable asset for many years to come, and I’ll make my Mistress proud with the purchase I’m about to make.

I should probably save this document now, for the proceedings are about to start. According to the list of the items I’ve been given at the entrance, just about every type of kink made flesh is going on sale, from bimbo dolls to human kittens and whatnot. The first seven items on the catalogue are of no interest to me or my Mistress, although they’ll probably provide a bit of much needed eye candy, since I’m surrounded by all the fat filth I can stand in a day. It’s the eighth I’m after, a number whose irony I don’t fail to grasp in the face of the past events. Interestingly enough, the opening bid stated on the beige leaflet is also eight million dollars, but the stakes will most surely go much higher.

However, whatever it takes, the one formerly known as Steph will be leaving this room with me and no one else. That’s a promise and I always keep my promises, in the same way I always obey my Mistress’ commands.

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