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The White Room

JOE GIBSON WAS alone in the narrow white bed in the narrow white room in the small but very expensive clinic. Bursts of hysterical applause blasted from some idiot game show on TV. In the very expensive clinic, the TV was mounted high on the wall, out of reach, and even if he had stood on a chair to get to it, it wouldn't have done him any good. The TV was some special hospital number with no buttons or switches. No channel selector. Nothing. He couldn't even turn it off.

Gibson saw the TV as the key to his situation. In the very expensive clinic his programs were selected for him. The doctors and the nurses who operated the clinic-the ones he thought of as the people in white-seemed not to believe that patients were capable of free choice. Gibson had a different view of it: when a man lost control of his television, he lost his foothold in the world. He wondered if all the patients in the place got the same TV programs or if each one had a prepared schedule tailored to his or her emotional profile. Gibson suspected that it was the latter. It was the kind of detail that the customers paid for in a place like this. He had noticed that he was fed a hell of a lot of game shows, and he wondered what that said about him.

Not that he thought much about the TV. Most of the time they kept him too doped up to think about anything. Only in these periods, the half hour or so before the nurse was due to give him his shot, did he start to get riled by the whole setup. It was only in this half hour that his own memories were at their most intact. After the shot, the confusion started again, and what he believed he knew for real became hopelessly jumbled with what the nurses and doctors, the people in white, wanted him to believe.

As with so many episodes in his life, it had started with a hangover and a loss of memory of a very different kind


Mick Farren NECROM | Necrom | Chapter One