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S-223: Chapter Two

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I keep staring into Alice’s blue eyes, body beginning to slump as I lean closer to her face. I can just barely see myself in the glass, my deep amber eyes against hers, and I watch as she moves across her desk.

What exactly is she doing? Scanning me? Pulling up my file? Making notes on my face, eyes, and any other sorts of body language? I’m dead curious, just like I’ve always been, and I keep leaning in until my paw presses against the glass.

I swear that I can almost see what she’s doing, her face is vivid from the computer screens’ light, and I try to adjust my angle. It's almost in view, almost visible, and my eyes stare as Alice makes a few more keystrokes. More than anything, I want to know what they think of me, what they know about me and so much more, but as Alice makes a few quick taps on the keyboard, I know that I never will.

I’d have to kill her before I could ever get to them, and in return, they’d almost certainly kill me…

Alice suddenly glances up from her papers and stares questioningly, “Ready to- Oh, enjoying the screen today, are we S-223?”

I look over at her, not bothering to retract my body, “Yes, yes I am.”

I knew that was coming; the humans hate curiosity time and time again, but when have I ever cared about what they think? Any sort of inquisitive action towards the administrators is always discouraged but barely reprimanded, and the most they've ever given me are threats and commands to step away. Why would that cause me to stop?

She pauses before speaking again, “Would you, umm, would you mind stepping back a bit for us, S-223?”

I keep watching her, half of me determined to just stay there despite the inevitable response. My fingers tap across the screen, and I glance over as Alice dryly flips through her papers. I still can’t catch anything, not that I could even understand what I’d see, but for some reason, I can’t help but try.

“S-223, would you PLEASE mind stepping back for us? I don’t want to have to take action here, it’s been a long, long day.”

A few seconds pass, and I almost don’t move, but then I push my muzzle against the glass to leave a small wet mark before shifting back into attention. I think I saw something? To be honest, I have no idea what something would even be, and as I slink away part of me burns beneath the human’s intellectual superiority.

Alice types a few keys again and glances up, “Oh, good, you’ve decided to cooperate…”

There are a few quick key taps, and I then hear the distinctive click of a treat dropping down into the tray. Of course she gave me one, that’s their favorite way of rewarding me, and I pause a second, not wanting to grab it just yet. It’s devilishly tempting, yes, but that’s what they expect, what they want- not what I’m going to do.

Alice turns to her computer screen and after a few seconds flatly replies, “S-223, I’m not sure what’s gotten into you today, but you seem to be more… uncooperative than usual. You do realize that this is a deciding factor in the readiness of your advancements, yes?”

“What… what if I’m not hungry?” Her threats barely mean anything to me. I’m probing her, regardless of what she says, and most of all, I'm enjoying it. I’m not trying to prolong the physicals; those are inevitable. For some reason, I just don’t want to make it easy for her right now. I usually will play along, be their little pet, but today... today Alice will have to work a little harder.

Alice sighs and rubs a hand down her face, “S-223, you haven’t consumed food for well over a day, we know that you’re fully capable of eating,” there is a pause, “Plus, these treats are fully optional, S-223. They’re delivered at my discretion, and if you don’t want them, I don’t have to give them.”

She turns away for a moment, and I slip a paw into the tray and try to sneak out the treat before she can see. My claws move into the hard, surface, and in a split-second I have it out of the tray and onto my tongue.

“Good,” she doesn’t even glance at me anymore, “Did you enjoy that?”

“Yes,” I lick my lips in between words, “Delicious as always.”

I’m actually a little surprised that she saw me sneak the treat out, and my face drops into a faint frown. She wasn’t supposed to see, at least not until I wanted her to, and I listen as Alice flips through a few of her papers. She’s sharper than I remembered…

“Now if you're ready, S-223, we'd like to start now.”

Her words break my concentration, but I nod and wait for the instructions to start, or rather, the food to arrive. The humans like to examine me while I'm eating, they always do, and we never start until I'm occupied by a meal. To be honest, I suppose I'm grateful. The physicals are sometimes stressful, and the presence of food always calms me down and makes the exams slightly more bearable.

My paws nervously pad the tiles for a few seconds, and then, almost on cue, a steel bowl clatters against the tray. I take it up with both paws, and hold it in position below my face to take a few quick sniffs. It's a normal meal, filled with small pellets and a white, milk-like liquid, and I lift it up to my muzzle before starting to eat.

It isn't as flavorful as the treats, but the meal is still quite good. It's more filling, and the cold milk feels wonderful as it runs across my tongue and down my throat. I keep eating, loudly munching and crushing every piece, and Alice waits a few seconds before giving me instruction.

“Do you mind spinning around for us, now, S-223? A slow rotation will be fine.”
I set down the bowl, spread out my arms, and pad in a small circle. Alice watches intently, scribbling notes across her papers, and with every second I'm dying for her approval so I can dive back into the meal.

“Just a little more, please...” there are a few more pen scratches and I finish to face her, “Excellent, thank you, S-223. Please continue eating.”

I pick the bowl back up and resume licking up the pellets, greedily slurping down whatever milk I can reach. I've never understood their insistence with these 'physical exams.' Of course I'm fine, and if there was a problem I would certainly be aware of it before they were, but after a second I push the grumblings aside and try to enjoy my food for as long as I can.

I hear Alice review her observations with a few of the other humans, and I briefly glance up. I can't make out her words or the others, I think the voices are intentionally put just beyond my reach, and after a second she returns back to me.

“Everything seems normal,” I keep eating, not bothering to acknowledge, “We just need you to do a few more things for us, S, alright?”

I take another bite into the pellets and slurp up the milk, sloppily nodding after another mouthful.

“Okay, so as I'm sure you can remember, the next few tests don't require much action on your part,” Alice continues, “Mostly, we just need you to stand still while we take a few
samples and run several more tests.”

I nod again, and watch as the light from a computer screen dances across her face. She's correct, the next few tests only require me to stand still but regardless, I can't help but grow nervous. Despite being able to clearly see the actions, I really don't know what they do next, and whatever actions I do recognize are shrouded in technologies that I will never understand.

But worst of all, I think the humans want to keep it that way.
There is a short pause before Alice turns back to me, and I straighten up and eat the last few pieces of food. I'm trying to finish as quickly as I can before I'm pulled away and after a few more gulps I tilt the bowl and guzzle down the milk.
"Ready, S?"

I wipe off my mouth and clumsily nod. I’ve managed to finish without a second to spare.
"Excellent," her tone is thinly raised, and I'm certain she's more than ready to move on. She presses a few buttons, and the screen clicks in before she continues, "Now if you're ready, would you mind leaning into the top screen for me?"

"Of course," I do as she says and shift into the top of the mirror until my nose is pressed against it, "How is that?"

"Good, good…" Alice taps a few more keys, "Now watch the light for a few seconds, and you
can move away when we're done, alright?"

I nod, and remain perched against the mirror for her. My tail and ears twitch nervously as I stare into a small black circle, and with every second I beg for her to go ahead and start the test. I absolutely hate standing here in this position, I’m practically blind, completely vulnerable, and my body is begging me to ignore Alice’s instructions and turn away.

I let out a low, miserable whine as the stress moves through my entire body, but then the familiar, burst of light rips into my eyes. I force myself not to blink, I’ve done that once and Alice forced me to start over, and I keep staring until she decides I’ve suffered enough.

One... Two... Three...

“Okay, S-223, go ahead and step away,” her voice is sweet, beautiful relief, “That’s enough.”

The lights suddenly flash off and I blindly stumble backwards in response. My vision is flooded with colors, streaks and other things I can't even imagine, and I keep stumbling back until my paws finally steady.

How does that exam help me? I can hardly believe that my eyes still work after torture such as that, and I rub a paw over my closed eyelids and loudly groan. I can almost see Alice, watching coldly as I sit here and suffer, but what else would she do? Why would they admit, or even acknowledge, the pain their tests cause me?

I snarl and force my arm out of my eyes before staring at Alice, my face lit with a vulnerable and vicious stare. I can just barely see her, looking back with the same neutral expression and blank, unfeeling face, and I slowly limp back up to the video screen.

"Wonderful, S-223," Alice rapidly snatches the conversation before I can, "That was an almost perfect sample."

"Almost... almost perfect?" the words drip through my disgusting excuse for a voice and I wait for Alice's response.

"Yes, it's not as precise as we'd like... but it should be perfectly workable. Thank you, S."

Her face is illuminated by a shallow smile, and after a second I hear the sound of another routine food deposit. I pause a second, and then reluctantly start to shift up to her, frustration moving inside my mind with a flurried vigor.

At this point, her friendliness never fails to disgusts me. She isn't the one who had to endure that procedure only yo hear that the sample was ‘almost perfect’, she isn't the hope-starved 'fox' that's forced to spend every minute of his existence at the human's mercy. How can she even attempt to comfort me? I can still see the colors fresh in my eyes, and every one of my instincts begs for a counterattack.

But as I slowly slink up to the tray and wrap my claws around the treat, I once again realize that every thought is aimless. Like it or not, the humans truly are my authority, and as I take the treat up into my paws, I can barely muster the will to acknowledge Alice.

"Thank you," my voice is the same miserable whimper, "Thank you."
She doesn't reply, and I rapidly divert my attention down to my paws. They've given me something different this time, a 'strawberry' as Alice once called it, and I give the red juicy berry a deep sniff before pushing it down into my jaws.

I sink my fangs into the red fruit and let the tart juice flood over my tongue and in between my teeth. Compared to my normal diet, the flavor is so exotic, so delicious, and I chew it for a few more seconds before finally swallowing.

That… that was wonderful.

I glance up at Alice and lick the extra juice away from my lips. I’d almost forgotten her generosity. Treats like this are so rare, especially now, and after another second I suck my tongue back into my mouth and shift back to full attention. Maybe Alice isn't as bad as I remember, maybe I’ll cooperate, just a little, just enough to get another beautiful little strawberry...

“Good, I see you’ve enjoyed that,” Alice smiles from beneath the screen, “Keep cooperating and there should be several more, S!”

I make an overdone smile and wag my tail. Why not play along? They seem to enjoy it well enough.

Alice makes a few more sharp key taps and I slide over to my right in preparation for the next test. We’re almost finished, if my memory serves me correctly this is the last one, and I patiently wait for her to begin.

I don’t need to do much now. They only need my right arm for this test, the rest of me can remain untouched, and I tap my paw against the wall while staring up at the screen.
“Umm... I’m ready, Alice.”

She suddenly glances up, surprised, and smiles widely.

“Oh, sorry, I didn’t expect you to be this eager today, S! Normally...” She trails off before stopping and turning back to her computer, “Umm... just a second...”

I smile and lazily stretch out my back and toes while she hurriedly works. I love doing anything to throw the humans off attention, and Alice falls for that trick almost every time. I’m eager one day, then I’m not, and next I’m a little of both, and the administrators are always too occupied with themselves and their computers to predict my next move. The trick is nearly flawless, and as my face expands into a snarling grin, I can hardly keep myself from laughing.

But then my focus is quickly drawn down to my paw at the hiss of an opening door, and I stare as a small circle neatly slides away into the side of the wall.

“Umm... there you go, S,” her voice has pretty much settled, “You may start whenever you’re ready.”

I nod to Alice and extend my paw out into the new opening, cautiously watching every second. I can see bright, almost coarse light flood out from the hole, and after a couple second’s hesitation, I push my arm in.

This test is supposed to take some kind of blood sample, and fortunately it’s nearly painless. I just need to hold still for about half a minute and then it’s over...

My arm is inside up to my elbow now and my fingers wrap around a curved metal handle. My claws bite into my palm as I squeeze tightly, and after another second the opening’s surface presses down to lock me in place.

“Excellent, S,” I can feel my heart rate begin to spiral as the pressure increases, “Hold still for a few more seconds and we’ll be finished for today, yes?”

I glance over to Alice and nod, eyes betraying every bit of anxiety I have. I don’t know how many times I’ve calmly approached this exam only to leave cowering at its end, and today is no different. It’s just like the eye test; they’re forcing me to sit powerless while they perform their operations, and with every second I can barely stop myself from tearing away.

“Hold on, we’re starting now,” Alice’s voice is the only sound I can hear, “Three... Two... One...”

*Pssssssssh!*

There is the sharp prick of a needle in my lower forearm, and my face briefly contorts into a sharp grimace. I think I can feel everything as they take the sample, sense the blood leaving my body, and I let out a low, nervous whine. I don’t want to die here.

“Alice, Alice, how much longer?” I glance nervously, eyes begging her to let me go. She is the only thing that can convince me that these tests will ever end, and I keep watching her, every second hoping that she’ll say those words.

Alice makes a few quick taps with her keyboard and leans into a screen, “Steady, S,” the speakers crackle as her lips brush against her microphone, “You’re almost done. Just... just keep still, okay?”

“Okay...” I reluctantly whimper.

My claws dig deeper into my palm, and I push them a little harder. The pain helps fight the fear and tension.

“One.... two.... three.... four....” there is a pause as she hits a few more keys, “There, finished.”

There is another sharp hiss and I feel a nerve as the needle darts away from flesh. My furred fingers rub against the metal ring for a brief second, and then I take my paw away and wait for Alice to release the wall.

“Done, there you go, S.”

The second the restraints release I dash back into a corner and begin to examine my arm. I cradle it within my second paw, fingers tenderly curved around my wrist, and brush back my fur as I try to find the insertion point. My thumb quickly glides against the skin, and then pauses above a small, barely noticeable bump.

It’s in the same position, as always, and after half a second I tuck deeper into the corner and start licking it.

Alice watches silently, and I try to ignore her as much as I can. I’ve done this every time they’ve taken a blood sample, regardless of whether or not it has an effect, and the humans are kind enough to allow me a few short minutes of peace during this tender moment.
“Excellent work by the way,” Alice’s voice murmurs across the speakers, “That was one of the best samples we’ve had this week.”

I hear several items drop into the delivery tray, and I glance over at her. She’s smiling.
“Thanks,” the more... casual word comes to mind, and I return to licking my damp fur. I’m almost finished, and then I’ll go see what she brought me.

I grin and make one last stroke; undoubtedly it’s something delicious, and I quickly retract my body and pad over to the food tray.

She’s left another strawberry and a small, rounded treat, and I greedily toss both into my mouth. The treat makes the strawberry rich and chewy, and I lean back against the wall and wrap my tongue around my wide open jaws as I try to take every last bit.

I glance over at Alice, half-trying to show her that I’m enjoying the reward, but she’s gone. There’s nothing on the video screen except an empty chair and the same blue background, and after a few more seconds the image fades away to the familiar company logo.

That’s odd; normally she’ll at least tell me when she’s leaving, and if not I can typically hear her go. I shift over to the front of the screen, tongue making an unconscious pass across my nose, and tap several fingers on the glass. No response.

I whine disappointingly and retreat into my favorite corner. Like her or not, Alice was at least a link to the humans and company, and now that she’s gone I’m back to waiting. For all I know it could be hours, maybe even days, and I loudly whimper and slide down into a pathetic lump.

Come back, Alice...  I miss you.



I'm not sure how much time passes. I think it's only a few minutes, maybe an hour at most, but it feels like years longer. It’s not like Alice to leave me for this long, she’s usually back in seconds, and my mind starts to race with fear and anxiety as I sit alone in my cell.

What is going on out there? Within seconds I’m back on my paws, rapidly pacing back and forth as I wait for her return. I pass by the door and screen more than anything, tail and paws scraping across the glass as I stare at the logos and nonsensical words, but all I want to see is Alice.

After a few minutes someone turns on my toys, bringing welcome distraction. They aren’t much, just a collection of moving objects and sounds that make me feel like I have something to chase, but for the moment, I do. I race back and forth across the room, ears drawn and fangs bared as I snarl and lunge at the ghosts racing across my cell, and for the moment I’m completely absorbed.

The entire room, my entire mind, becomes completely focused on the new sensory input, and I keep darting around, desperately trying to catch anything I can. For a few minutes I think I have hold of something, it shrieks and squeals beneath my fangs, and I keep attacking until it finally slips down upon the floor.

The toys become my next few minutes, half-hours, and as they shift from fast to slow, harsh to gentle, hard to easy, I think of nothing else.

But then, then they shut off, and above all just as I was about to catch something. I utter a short, disgruntled cry and retreat back to my corner, tongue sliding across my jaws as I rapidly pant. How much longer until they come back? At this point it doesn’t even need to be Alice; I’d be overjoyed to see any one of their faces on that video screen, and I glance over to watch as it shifts back to a reflective, mirror-like surface.

I frown and leap up to my paws, face trying to blend confusion and frustration. If they’ve turned off the screen it means going to be in here for much, much longer, either that or they’re going to open the door, but since I haven’t talked to a human for hours, the chances of that are nearly invisible.

Wonderful, just wonderful. ‘Thanks’ Alice.

I flop down on the floor and spread out my limbs. Maybe I’ll just try to sleep, I can’t see anything else to do, and I curl my body and close my eyes.

But as minute after minute passes, I realize it’s impossible. I can’t stop wondering about Alice.

Why would she go and do something so unexpected like that? With every second I try to understand I just become more and more confused, and eventually, I try to forget it all. I likely won’t even see her again; I should just push the issue out of my mind and get to sleep, and after several more seconds I start to drift off...

*BEEP BEEP!*

My ears swivel up to attention, and I start to move. Did I really just hear that?

*BEEP BEEP!*

Within a second I’m up by the door, vivid delight fizzing my emotions. They’re back, I’d recognize that double beep anywhere, and as I watch the exit I can see the familiar green light.

I’m going to be let out.
*BEEP BEEP!*

I look at the video screen, half expecting to see someone, but it’s still powered off. That’s a little odd, they should have at least told me to put my collar on, but after a second I catch myself and grin.

Am I so used to their protocol that I hesitate when it’s not enforced? Idiot me! They’re opening my cell door, why do I care if they haven’t talked to me about it? I wouldn’t dare miss this for the world!

*BEEP BEEP!*

*BEEP BEEP!*

*BEEP BEEP!*

I dart up to the right of the door and straighten out my body, waiting for the computers to check me. After a few seconds, they should put my restraining collar on and open the exit, and I can scarcely stop myself from bouncing up and down in sheer jubilation.

One, two, three, the progress lights flash on in their usual order, and I stand still as
the collar extends from the wall. The target laser is aimed right at my neck, and the arm slowly inches out until the tip brushes against my white furred chin.

*Snap!* The collar is clamped shut around my neck and the arms quickly retract. I stagger backwards, paws darting up on the metal as I try to make it as comfortable as possible, but admittedly, it’s difficult. It’s not heavy or exactly uncomfortable, I just hate wearing this thing, but I suppose it is for the best, mine and theirs.

It seems to make them feel safe and keep any of their weapons off me, and for me, I suppose it stops me from doing anything stupid; I’m unconscious before I can even try...

I fidget with the collar a little more and watch the door. The green lights are still
blinking and beeping, and I begin to bounce up and down on my paw pads. It should open in a second, just a second, and all the lights suddenly turn solid.

I swear I’m going to I’ll burst from the excitement, and just then, the door hisses open.

And there, on the other side, is Alice.
The second chapter of my series, S-223. If you're one of those brave souls actually reading this, please leave a comment, or at least a favorite. That would be greatly appreciated; I love receiving feedback from readers!
Thank you for reading!
© 2013 - 2024 RitusTheMarlFox
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