Chase didn’t realize he’d been abducted, not at first. Lingering from the night before was a vague recollection of an infomercial about a revolutionary new cleaning product and the pyramid of beer cans he had built on the coffee table. He must have fallen asleep on the couch.
When he awoke, the hangover he expected was there but his surroundings were not. He found himself lying in the fetal position on the floor. In itself, this wasn’t particularly alarming, Chase experienced floor awakenings as frequently as not after nights of heavy drinking. However, he was lying in the midst of a white, extremely well lit, circular room and it was this aspect of his current condition that gave him pause.
Too groggy to devote as much energy to this new revelation as was merited, he pulled himself to a seated position with great care, his hands pushing hard on his temples as he waited for the vertigo to subside. It washed over him in lurches and eddies and he tasted a warm hint of bile in his saliva. He wondered if he might vomit on the sterile-looking floor.
A feminine voice came then, jarring him badly. “Stand please,” it said.
It was whisper soft and didn’t seem to Chase that it came from outside his head at all. Rather, it was present like the voice one might hear when thinking. His eyes darted about the room for its source but there was nothing. He felt it prudent to obey and struggled to his feet, vertigo spinning the room in lazy circles.
“What is this?” he demanded of the empty room. “Who are you?”
“You will be administered a battery of questions, Chase Allen Edling. Please answer each to the best of your ability.”
“I didn’t sign up for any test and I want to go home,” said Chase. “Who are you? How did I get here?”
“Your questions will be addressed when testing is complete,” said the voice. “Please answer each question to the best of your ability.”
“Listen,” said Chase. “I’m drunk and sick and it’s way too bright in here. I don’t know what this is or who you people are but I’m starting to get annoyed. I need food and water and I want to go home. It’s Saturday and I have things to do.”
The lights in the room dimmed by half cutting the glare. Chase found himself simultaneously grateful and furious. Just as there appeared to be no source for the voice, there appeared to be none for the light. It just…was. He saw no windows or doors and the ceiling looked exactly like the floor, flat, white, and seamless. It was as though he was standing in a highly polished, over-sized toilet paper tube.
A large stand materialized before him. On it sat a two types of pizza, a glass of what appeared to be water, a Snickers and a package of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. He grabbed the glass and smelled it. Then he dipped his finger in it and put it to his lips. Tasting nothing, he drank the glass and returned it to the stand. When he released it, he saw that it was full again.
Pizza didn’t seem like great hangover food so he chewed on the Snickers.
The voice said: “Question 1. Rolling Stones or the Beatles?”
Chase spoke with his mouth full. “What?”
“Rolling Stones or the Beatles.”
“Uh,” said Chase drinking half the glass of water and watching it refill itself. “Rolling Stones. Is this a joke? Seriously, what is this?”
“Question 2,” said the voice. “Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson?”
“Listen, you guys got me good, can we just wrap this up? Seriously, I’ve got lots of stuff to do today.”
“Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson?”
“I don’t even watch the NBA,” said Chase. “I don’t know. What’s the question? Are you asking which one had the best career, who was more talented, who I’d want to have a beer with…?”
The voice repeated the question.
“Uh…” said Chase in a resigned tone. “Michael I guess.”
The questions continued in this way for a long time, Coke or Pepsi? Beyonce or Whitney? Johnny Depp or Robert Downey Jr.? Finally, after an hour or so, the session was complete and the lights came back up to full strength. Chase saw that the stand with his food and water had vanished. He felt better now although he noticed his hands were still shaky.
“So then…” he said when the voice fell silent, “that’s it? I can go?”
“You’re free to go, Mr. Edling,” the voice said. “Thank you for your participation.”
A massive drone appeared then, descending from the ceiling. Robotic arms folded him into a seated position and soon it was carrying him out of the building and high above the city below. Within minutes it deposited him in his front yard and vanished.
“Look for a new iphone to be delivered later today,” said the voice. “This gift is our way of saying thank you for taking our survey. Sincerely, your friends at Amazon.”
Now try this: Magnificent Discovery – Short Short Story