Lena awoke in a doctor's office illuminated by soft, but bright lights. She lay on an examination bed clad in a hospital gown. She did not remember falling asleep or how she came to be there. Nervously, she sat up and looked around. It felt like a doctor's office, but something was amiss. For one, the room was about twice as long as might be expected and it seemed too industrial with while tile and an ammonia-ridden scent screaming of twisted sterility. Lena shook, “H-hello?”
Not even a whisper.
“Hello?” Lena called louder.
She stood up and realized she wore nothing but her underwear beneath her hospital gown. The last thing she remembered was being taken away from the Network headquarters with Hank and Isadora. Where were they? And where were her clothes? Lena tried not to worry.
The door opened and in walked a middle-aged Asian man wearing a laboratory coat. He looked at Lena and then his clipboard before asking, “You are Lena Mitchell?”
“Who's asking?” Lena gave him the response Hank told her to give should a stranger ask.
“I am Doctor Wu,” the Asian man said with a friendly smile. “I am here to give you a physical.”
“A physical? What for?”
“To see if you are healthy,” Wu replied. “You need not worry, it is only a formality.”
“Formality? For what?”
“Don't worry,” Wu wore that thin, reassuring smile seen only on medical professionals. “I'm a doctor.”
“I don't understand,” Lena shifted. “What's going on?”
“You're getting a checkup,” Wu said, not losing his warmth. From his lab coat, he pulled an otoscope and asked, “Can I look into your ear, please?”
Lena shot him a suspicious look, but would not budge.
“It's just an otoscope,” Wu assured her. “It can't possibly hurt you. Not unless I hit you with it. But I can think of better things to hit you with, can't you?”
Lena supposed he was right and that an ear examination couldn't hurt. She pulled back her hair and let him look inside. “Why do I need an ear exam?”
“Everyone needs an ear exam from time to time, Mrs. Mitchell.”
“But why now?” Lena shook her head as he removed the instrument her left ear and switched to the right side. “Last thing I remember is-”
“Easy,” Wu interrupted. “You have very good ears.” He put away his otoscope and drew his small flashlight. “Okay, now for your eyes.”
“Doc!” Lena looked away. “Just explain to me what's going on, alright?”
“You're getting a physical.”
Wu sighed, “You fainted, Mrs. Mitchell. We need to determine if you are alright.”
“Why not just tell me that?” She looked forward. “And where's my husband?”
“Your husband is waiting for you in the waiting room.” He rapidly passed the light over each eye. “Very nice.”
“Sit down, please,” Wu instructed. Lena obeyed. “Alright, it's time for the kick test! Children love the kick test.”
“I'm not a child.”
“Oh, I know,” Wu smiled again. He hit her knee with his tiny hammer. Her leg jerked forward. “Reflexes look good.” He took his stethoscope, put in the ear pieces, and pressed it on her back. “Take a deep breath.”
Lena inhaled deeply and exhaled slowly.
“Good,” Wu said. “Pull down your gown, please.”
She hesitated. “Why the lies, doctor?”
“I did not want you to enter a state of shock. Now, please, I would like to check your heart.”
Lena did as he asked. He placed the end of the stethoscope between her breasts and listened for a moment. “Sounds good. Blood pressure.”
“Why couldn't Dr. Lorentz look at me?”
“Who?” Wu wrapped pressure cuff around her arm and pumped.
As it tightened, Lena shook. It felt tighter than it should have. “That hurts,” she said.
“It's only pressure, don't worry,” Wu said.
“The doctor from my ship, the Holdsworth, he's my regular doctor.”
“I don't know,” Wu shrugged as he removed the cuff. “I just know they sent you here. 127 over 81. I need to you to disrobe.”
“Take off your clothes, please.”
“I would like to administer an adult exam, a rectal exam, and a breast exam.”
Lena put her hand on her collar. She had no intention of getting naked for this creep.
“Do not worry, Mrs. Mitchell, I am a doctor,” Wu assured her. “I will turn away.” Wu turned around.
Lena considered her options. She could try to run, but where would she go? Since she was unarmed, she doubted she could take Doctor Wu in a fight. And what if he really was a doctor? Lena decided to let this play out just a little while longer. She pulled the gown over her head, unclipped her brassiere, and pulled down her underpants. “Okay,” Lena shook nervously. Not only was she terrified, but she was cold.
Wu turned around and looked her over, “Very nice.”
“What?” Lena covered herself with her arms.
“Hold out your arm, please,” Wu instructed.
Lena did as he asked. He took her hand and looked it over. Before she could ask what he was doing, Wu slapped a handcuff onto her wrist and rapidly brought her down to a bar on the bed. He clicked the other side of the cuff shut, trapping her there. “What are you doing?” Lena panicked.
“Mrs. Mitchell, I have been lying to you,” Wu said as he took two steps back. “The physical examination was not because you fainted, but because I was told to assess how much torture you could endure.”
“Fortunately for you, I have chosen that physical torture is not for you,” Wu paced. “Instead, we are going to try something more... psychological.”
“I don't understand. Why are you torturing me?”
“The Network, Mrs. Mitchell,” Wu clicked his tongue. “You should know!”
“Know what? I don't understand!”
“How do we activate the Fujikawa Network?”
Lena thought it through, “You can't! The power's out.”
“Mrs. Mitchell, if you do not tell us, then certainly your husband will. He is being given torture specific to him. I suspect they will give him more physical torture. A beating, perhaps? Perhaps even waterboarding. Or perhaps I was wrong and I should waterboard you as well.”
“Th-there's nothin' I can tell you! If the power's out, then you can't-”
“The power is not out!” Wu shouted. “It came back online moments ago. The system is asking for a password. Tell me that password.”
“I don't know the password. Only Hank knows it. And he'll never tell you.”
Wu stepped in close to her, “I think you do know the password, Lena. I think you do. And you are going to tell me.” With her free hand, Lena brought around a fast, hard slap. The cracking sound echoed through the sterile room. “That was a big mistake!” Wu shouted. He grabbed a fistful of the hair on the back of her head, pulled it back, and then slammed his fist onto her exposed neck.
Lena wanted to scream in pain, but she could only gasp for air.
“Many don't know this,” Wu stepped back, “but you should never punch someone in the face. It can damage your hand and the human skull is very hard. The neck, on the other hand, is very vulnerable. Your esophagus, cartorid artery, spine, and vocal chords are all in there. Not to mention being punched in the neck hurts like a son of a bitch.”
Lena finally brought in a full breath's load of air. “You said- you said,” Lena groaned, “you said wouldn't use physical torture.”
“Please!” Wu scoffed. “You think that's torture? That's nothing. If I wanted to torture you physically, I would use any number of the chemicals I have in my kit. I have a rather fascinating one which makes you feel as though you are on fire! Or there is one that makes you have the most terrifying waking nightmare you could ever imagine. My favorite is one that triggers your sexual desires. We use that one to force you to submit, but we don't use it very often though.” Wu looked her over. “I am considering it though.”
Lena curled herself, hoping to conceal as much of her naked self as possible.
“Don't think I would need it,” Wu said. “You don't look too strong. I could easily force myself upon you.”
To that, Lena had no answer.
A knock came from the door. Lena sighed in relief as Wu redirected his attention. “I'll be back.”
Wu went to the door and opened it. He talked to a man outside the door and took a bag from him. Lena could not tell what they said. When Wu returned, he put the bag beside Lena and uncuffed her. “Your clothes are in the bag. Get dressed.”
“They want you in the other room. Looks like you're off the hook for now.”
“Thank you, God,” Lena sighed in relief as she began dressing.
“Thank God?” Wu laughed. “Thank Goodwin. God wouldn't have let you even be here.”