Tais had been locked up for some time now, but it was a different sort of imprisonment. It imprisoned his mind, leaving his body to lie idle.
The prison was built from materials he had never seen or imagined before, and they stimulated his senses, causing him to feel comfortable, sleepy, self-indulgent.
He lay upon a great mass of cushions with blankets and pillows made as if from the softest of air. He was mute to describe the room he was within, having no comparisons available to him. The walls were rich and decorated, the carpet thick and luxurious, the air warm and scented, and the window more beautiful in light than he could ever have imagined in his days of darkness. Real light flooded through the translucent material and he felt its life like nothing he had ever experienced.
There was nothing to do in this room but lie on the soft material and stare at the ceiling. And his mind felt a peculiar tingling that disallowed him to think clearly. Perhaps it was the scent of the air that caused him to feel so sleepy.
But just as he was about to fall away into a deep sleep, he recognized a danger. He grabbed at his head and forced his eyelids open. Just to make sure that he had indeed caught himself, he even sat up and shook himself vigorously.
Then he swung his legs over the side of the bed and stared at the window until his spinning mind had stabilized. The sleep that had almost subdued him had been unnatural. And had it not been for a subtle trigger in his mind, he would have drifted away without a hope. But he remembered now.
The day Salla had been injured. I remember it well. They had come for her with needles and red gloves. The same smell I smell now had accompanied them and their white lab jackets. They used drugs to subdue her and then when she was asleep, though they did not know I watched from the ceiling, nor did they know I even existed, they did more than stitch her wound...They'd opened her skull.
Tais fought the drug even harder, but his head was beginning to grow far heavier than he could bear. Where was the smell coming from?
He stumbled across the room and suddenly hit the carpet. Why did the floor have to be so soft? He pushed himself from the ground with all his strength and then noticed that he was staring straight at the vent. He groaned and pulled a pillow from the bed. He flung it against the vent and then crawled closer. He managed to push the pillow against the vent, but then he realized that the amount of drug already in the air was enough to push him into another world.
Somehow, pressing his back into the wall for support, he got to his feet. Then he lurched across the room to the bed. The bed was soft, but it had to have some structure to hold him aloft. He bent down and tossed the quilt aside, spotting the legs that held the mattress up. Soon he was on the floor, unscrewing one of the legs with as much haste as he could muster, concentrating everything he had on controlling his fingers. They were slowly losing their mobility. Finally, the leg came off, the bed slumped sideways, and Tais backed against the wall with a dizzying motion.
Then he stared at the glowing window with narrowed eyes, focusing all he had on not falling over or dropping the leg. Then he groaned, pushed himself from the wall and hurled the leg at the window. Through this effort, the world went dark.
A beautiful, musical sound entered his drugged mind, and began to set things straight. It chirped through the sluggish bonds while a cool breeze brushed away the stifling fog. Then he awoke.
The chirping continued, and as he opened an eye, he realized that he was caught in a beam of the purest light. He could barely move, for the wonder was so strong.
He rolled onto his back and stared at where the window used to be. A brilliant blue met his eyes, and he cried out, covering his entire face and rolling away. The blue had been so definite, with a higher resolution and more powerful saturation than anything he'd ever seen. It had no texture, no material surface. It was simple, brilliant blue.
And the air: it was free, it was light, it was fresh. The drug was gone from his nostrils, and he was now filled with the purest of air. And then a voice came to him.
Tais, stay away from the window. It is too much for you. Stay away. Hide beneath the blankets.
It was the voice of Salla. But how could he still trust Salla after what had happened? Tais was confused. Salla had been his one and only hero. She had meant everything to him. Who was the woman he had seen in the test room? What had happened to the woman who had cared for him more than she'd cared for herself? He groaned and slowly moved his arms from his face.
Tais! Do not go to the window! Stay where you are! I have sent help. They will be there soon. Stay on the ground!
Tais frowned. He knew her voice, and yet its emotion and tone was disturbing. She was not as she used to be, if it was even her at all.
Tais, the voice continued. You have to trust me. Sometimes you have to obey the authorities above you. They know what is best for you. You could never understand.
"Yes," Tais said aloud. "How could I understand? How could I understand when my mind is their slave!" He cried out the last statement with spite. Then he stood up and faced the brilliance. He took a few steps forward, ignoring the voice that grew in urgency. "My mind is not their slave," he announced as he reached the blinding rectangle of open air and light. He stepped up onto the sill, still disregarding the now screaming voice. "And neither is my body!" he cried.
And Tais jumped from the windowsill into the world above.