The Man who was Drowned

A man escapes from the mysterious Foundation and seeks solace amongst the waves. Recaptured and placed under confinement, he has little way of finding the answers he so desperately seeks. Why is he here? What is the Foundation? And most importantly, what is his name? Subject to forces beyond his control and seemingly helpless, there appears no end in sight.

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6. Watershed

 

#246845. A wave of disappointment washed over him. Was this it? Had he got his hopes up only to have them dashed by the realisation that to the Foundation, he was little more than a string of numbers on a piece of paper? No, he decided. It had been foolish to expect the answers he so desperately sought to be handed to him on a plate and besides, the numbers were a start. Prior to this discovery, it would have been impossible to determine if any information he found related to him. Now he had a starting point. Also encouraging were the words 'see psychiatric report for further details.' scrawled across the bottom. If he even got the chance, locating these psychiatric reports would be his first priority.

 

The unmistakeable sound of footsteps could be heard approaching and he knew he did not have much time. Glancing again at the numbers, he committed them to memory. #246845. Returning the clipboard to it's original place, he swung back into bed and just had time to settle down when the door that the Matron had disappeared through not five minutes previously swung open. It was the Matron who now entered, swiftly followed by the Man and two of his thugs. The Matron quickly directed them over towards him and made herself scarce, not wanting to intrude on what was about to happen.

 

The Man strolled over towards him, his pinstripe suit looking almost as out of place in the sanitised hospital ward than it had done among the waves down by the shore. Pulling up a seat that stood next to the neighbouring bed and sitting down, the Man looked at him and smiled. His deep tones filled the room as he began to speak, “Well, what an exceptional set of circumstances we find ourselves presented with.” His teeth were glistening white and had a suspicious shine about them, it was hard to imagine such a perfect set forming naturally and the figure in the bed experienced a surge of anger as he compared those perfect teeth to the awful condition of his own body.

 

“I know why you're here. You're not going to make me forget.” he tried to sound authoritative but he could still barely raise his voice above a whisper. The Man smiled again, which he found deeply unnerving. “But surely you do not want to re-live your recent experiences? I would have thought you would be eager to forget.” He sighed and reached into his pocket. What he drew out of it gave the patient in the bed much cause for alarm. It resembled an iron poker, the sort of which was commonly found next to coal burning fires. It was just over seven inches long and as the Man pressed a button located at the bottom of the handle it began to emit of faint crackling noise. It was an electric cattle prod.

 

He had barely any time to react before the cattle prod was thrust onto his bare skin and a shock went searing through his body. He gasped, attempting to hide how much pain he was in from this despicable creature sitting by his bed. Only when the Man tore his bandages and inserted the prod into his open wound did he begin to scream, hoping to attract the attention of anyone, anything that would stop the searing pain that was piercing his arm and jolting his body. The guards just stood there in silence.

 

After a few moments which seem to last a lifetime, the cattle prod was withdrawn. His entire body was sore from the torture it had just been subjected to. There was that smile again. He wanted to grab the cattle prod and smash every single one of those perfectly formed teeth, but he knew it would do no good. Even if he was strong enough, the guards would overpower him before he had the chance and he imagined the pain he would be put through if that situation unfolded. “See?” Said the Man. “Remembering hurts. Thinking and questioning, all they do is cause pain and upset. It is far better to simply forget. And please do not think for a moment that I enjoy inflicting such harsh penalties upon you, but after your escape you simply had to be made an example of. I should warn you though, attempt any such action again and we will not be as lenient.”

 

The Man had a serious look in his eyes as he continued, “It is not that any of us would derive any pleasure from such an occasion, it's just that we simply cannot afford to tolerate dissent. Obedience gives the Foundation the stability it requires. Obedience and submission.” He stood up and went to leave, only turning round to add, “You are not to make contact with any other inhabitants without the express permission of myself. Such an action would lead to consequences you do not want to begin to consider.” And he turned, leaving the room escorted by his thugs, confident that the thinly veiled threats, reinforced by physical violence, would be enough to ensure compliance. In actual fact, the direct opposite had been achieved. The Man had inadvertently revealed the biggest weakness of the Foundation, that it relied on order to maintain stability. The figure in the bed was even more determined to bring it all crashing down.  

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