274 came alive to the clicking. He opened his eyes, blinked twice, then closed them. The clicking continued. The light was bright. The clicking continued. His eyes hurt. The clicking stopped.
"Hello 274," came a muffled voice from the other side of the curved glass. "Good to see you're awake. Just, don't try to remove the cables yet, okay?"
274 opened his eyes and looked down at the mess of cables erupting from his exposed chest.
"Just a few more hours and we'll be done here, buddy."
274 lifted his head and looked at the blurry scientist operating some kind of console.
"Oh, don't try to talk either, 274. Not quite ready for that, okay buddy?"
274 closed his eyes and dreamed of flowers.
"Where do you go, Garry?"
Garry blinked twice then looked up at his wife. Her brown hair fell around her shoulders as she studied his face.
"Sorry, Lucy. It's work. I'm just tired."
"Oh, like I'm not tired here at home looking after these three?" She responded, gesturing to the ruckus down the hall.
"No, but," he started. "No, nothing like that. We're just really busy at work and then I come home and get to look after the kids for a while and it's hard, you know? I'm just tired."
"And I'm always tired," Lucy answered. "But for some reason you get to come home and do things you want to do like having a nap. I can't remember the last time I had a nap."
"Work's hard," he began.
"So is being a fulltime mother."
Garry sighed and closed his eyes.
"What!? Oh, you think you're going back to sleep?" Lucy jumped on top of Garry. "Remember when we used to think we were busy? Before kids?"
Garry opened his eyes and stared deeply into his wife. He smiled, a tiny smile of remembrance.
"You used to buy me flowers," Lucy began before she was cut off by a kiss.
"Alright, 274, time to wake up."
274 opened his eyes. The cables were gone, leaving no evidence of the gaping hole in his chest.
"We need to run a couple of tests. I'll ask you some questions, you need to think of the answer. Don't try to talk yet. Just think of the answer."
A buzzing, a whirring. A clicking. 274 noticed the bank of machines behind the scientist, lights flashing on and off in time with the clicking.
"We'll start with some simple maths problems, okay buddy?"
"Hey, great, you've got nodding," said the scientist before turning to write something on a sheet of paper. "Okay, so we'll start with easy ones. 1 + 1. Just think of the answer."
Two thought 274. A buzzing, a whirring, a clicking.
"Good work, buddy. Good, good work. Now 2 + 2."
Four thought 274. This is easy thought 274.
"Okay, okay buddy. Slow down. We need to take this in stages. It's the rules, buddy."
274 looked at the scientist then shrugged his shoulders.
"Oh, hey, buddy. You just shrugged your shoulders! Great work 274!"
This is going to take all day thought 274.
"Oh, sorry buddy. It's going to take at least two months. Best we've done has been a six weeker, but that was before the regulations. So we'd better get acquainted. I'm Bill. Call me Bill. And I'll call you Buddy, okay?"
274 looked at Bill, blinked twice, then closed his eyes.
"Oh, you tired Buddy?"
I want to rip your arms from your shoulders and use them to club you to death thought 274.
"That's cool, Buddy, get some rest."