8) The Corridor – Page 51
miles per hour. As the dawn broke, the floating island blotted out the sun on the calm waves of the Chesapeake, on its way to a new destination and a new name.
What can we offer you? asked a voice in his dream.
Six months of mandatory rehabilitation leave was ending in a spare, impersonalized office. That was the character of not only his superior but the entire Acquisitions division — clean and detached. Chandrasekhar sat in an extremely comfortable office chair across from a tired man with a tic in his cheek. His resignation letter laid rested between them like a physical barrier, restricting the movement of their limbs on the table.
Chandrasekhar was expressing his gratitude to the organization, while looking his superior steadily in the eye. They both knew there was no reason to be grateful; Acquisitions had been acting in its own best interests when it spent untold dollars trying to salvage his body. A trained employee in Chandrasekhar’s line of work was not easy to acquire and keep, undoubtedly, but he suspected that wasn’t the genuine reason they had kept him recuperating all these months.
The first month had been utter hell. From the moment he emerged from the pod, he had barely been able to stand from the pain. The Acquisition doctors had sedated him with mitylpropicin for hours at a time, eventually letting him control his own dosage to stay conscious and relatively functioning. Your brain is working overtime, explained one of the interchangeable men in lab coats. Your central nervous system is sending too many signals to your brain, which is working overtime trying to interpret them all. The pod had saved his life, but it had been limited in what it could do to reconstruct him; when he’d asked the lab coats when the pain would go away, they gave him incomplete answers and talked to him about the dangers of exceeding his mitylpropicin dosage.
What could they offer him? He had been dead, and now he had another chance at life. Could he start over again? He had other thoughts, thoughts he couldn’t get rid of.
Chandrasekhar finished his speech, searching for a reaction in the other man’s countenance — an impassive mask but for the tic. Nearly ten years ago, his superior had retired from active service and had his control implants removed. The tissue in his cheek had been damaged in the procedure; now the muscles twitched constantly. Comically, for those who didn’t know the old man that well.
The eyes in his blank face glanced down at Chandasekhar’s hands, making sure that he had noticed. His hands were shaking slightly, nearly imperceptibly — unless some knew what they were looking at. Maybe you need more time.
More time on your psych tests? thought Chandrasekhar. He tried to still the motion in his hands, breathing in and out while imagining a black wall with a growing circle of light at its center, a