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The Cube
The Cube

Drake lost track of time in his three by three prison cell. He could no longer count the days, or even the hours, as they passed him by. It got to the point where he even struggled with the seconds at times. His senses were all assaulted by darkness and frigid temperatures, creating an unchanging miasma of bland nothing. Drake wondered if what he felt at that point was what it felt like to be dead.

Then he decided that being dead was a luxury, compared to the purgatory his captors held him in. It was all textbook, he would know that much—he helped to write the protocols for it. The only reason they used it against him was because there was no way to counter it. No way to prevent the torture from breaking him down, bit by bit.

Allowing himself a brief moment to shift his weight from foot to foot, the three inch deep water pooling around at his ankles shifted and splashed.

A totally dark cell, cold, featureless walls. Just enough water around his feet to stop him from laying down and sleeping, or even indeed from getting too comfortable. Wet clothes clung to him if he sat in the rancid water, and whatever else they had put in it dried into a sticky sheet on Drake’s skin if he let it sit for too long. The only thing he had left was to keep standing, which had turned into a herculean effort.

Had it been weeks yet? Months? Or was he simply experiencing the passage of hours as though they were days?

Drake didn’t know, and found that to be the worst part. The unknown walls, the unknown water, the unknown passage of time. All of it wore down on his psyche like an ever-present weight about his shoulders.

Briefly he remembered the story of Atlas, the Titan cursed with taking on the weight of the sky.

Alarms began to warble, and Drake answered back with a wailing cry of his own. At random times, the speakers and sirens in the ceiling of his otherwise-silent chamber began to scream. He put his hands to his ears, but the noise persisted. Insinuating its way deep into his mind and drilling into his skull in pounding, metreless beats of bass.

Drake’s own head pulsed back with a mind-shattering migraine. In the moment he could not decide whether or not the oppressive silence or the jarring noises were worse.

When it stopped, and all Drake was left with was the ringing in his own ears, and the thumping beat of his frantic heart, he decided the silence was worse. In the silence he was truly alone, back into the featureless black void. His only company in the anechoic chamber was his own blood rushing through his eardrum, and the cacophonous roar of the water whenever he so much as shifted his weight from one tortured foot to the other.

Drake was briefly tempted to lock his knees and let himself pass out. His captors would either have to open the door to make sure he didn’t drown, or leave him to die. Either way, he would win.

But the thought of letting the putrid, stagnant water touch his face was enough to make bile rise in the back of his throat. He would not give his wardens the satisfaction of coming in to find him face-down in whatever vile concoction they had spread about the floor of his cell.

There was a noise outside. One that wasn’t the electronic whine of the speakers powering up for another volley of sound. These were rhythmic. They had metre, and equal pauses between them.

It took the man far too long to realise that he was hearing footsteps. After hearing nothing save for his own bodily functions and the strangled cries and pitched roars of the accursed noise they blasted into his cell, his ears and eyes began to follow it around the cell.

They were pacing—circling his prison. They were mocking him.

Drake rushed over to the side of the cell, splashing water up onto his clothes as he went, and he shoved his weight against the side of the three by three cube as hard as he could. His shoulder began to sting with pain as it met the titanium shell, and the footsteps outside stopped.

No, they paused, before resuming their march around his cube.

Drake pounded his fist on the side of the wall hard enough to crack one of his knuckles, but he didn’t care. The pain kept him grounded, and fueled the last remaining fires of his anger simmering beneath.

The footsteps paused again, then kept going. Drake could imagine the face of the person doing it, twisted in a sick grin. Drake had been diligent in fending off the hallucinations after the second day… or was it the second hour?

But now they were here. Grinning, laughing, taunting him. He kept pounding on the walls, his strength sapping away every second. The footsteps kept going, the rictus grins widening, their eyes becoming hollow sockets devoid of light or colour. Drake felt himself melting into the darkness, losing feeling in his fingers.

The darkness was taking his last remaining sense now, as he hurled himself into the wall over, and over. With the last ounce of his strength he rushed back over to the other side of the wall, hurtling himself into the titanium as hard as he could, and dropping down into the water beneath as the last of his strength failed him.

He floated atop the three inches of water for a time, if time still had any meaning. His ears became clogged with it, his sense of smell assaulted by both putrefaction and the smell of whatever disinfectant they had used to make sure he couldn’t get sick from exposure to it.

He could no longer tell if his eyes were open or shut, not that there would be a difference between the two. Consciousness began to fail him, and he strayed into the nothingness around him like an old friend.

'Assessment of 'Enhanced Interrogation' process codename 'PERSEPHONE

Subject: Doctor Drake Stevens, PhD, ScD, PsyD

November 18th, 2434

ONI Section III Anti-Seditionist Research Unit

Subject to be interred in a 3x3x3 meter cube of Titanium-B plating. Cube is to be filled with 3 inches of disinfected saline solution, temperature to be maintained at 8 Celsius at all times.

Entrance to cube to be hermetically sealed and locked with Security Clearance Gold access codes. Oxygen concentration to be kept at 19.25% - 19.75% total, considered bare-minimum for continued survival.

Maximum length of internment to not exceed 3 days, so as to minimise potential for permanent damage to organs or tissues from hypoxemia/hypoxia.

Sound level to be kept as minimal as possible to induce anechoic chamber-like effects. Prolonged exposure to soundless environment detrimental to subject psychological well-being.

At random intervals, 2 interior speakers are to broadcast at a range of 132 decibels for a period of time not exceeding 5 minutes, and not short of 90 seconds.. This is to prevent subject from resting or becoming used to the prolonged silence.

No food nor water is to be given to subject during internment. Saline solution to be 35 grams per litre salt content to prevent subject from consuming it. Periodic speaker broadcast of footsteps to give subject illusion of outside contact.

Subject Drake Stevens interred as per testing protocols. Subject monitoring via biometrics displayed increased heart-rate after hour 3, increased agitation after hour 5, and life signs consistent with that of severe stress after hour 32.

Subject lost consciousness after hour 62. The executive decision was made to release subject from internment prior to hour 72 for medical treatment. Subject displayed signs of hypoxemia, hypothermia, and hypoglycemia.

Subject transferred to medical ward for medical treatment. Subject regained consciousness after 38 hours, and reported compromised emotional and psychological state. Observation of subject in the following weeks displayed evidence of potential development of thalassophobia, thanatophobia, claustrophobia, nyctophobia and phonophobia.

Effectiveness of procedure is deemed absolute. Approved for widespread use as enhanced interrogation technique.

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