Anarchistic Knights-a serialadventure Chapter 6B-The Exam by Joe Bandel

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"You may proceed with the medical examination now. We will be starting with a shower."

A small shower nozzle emerged from the ceiling and began spraying him with tepid soapy water that left his eyes stinging and his lungs gasping for breath. This was followed by a rinse of cold water as distinctly unpleasant as the jets of air that dried him off.

Realizing the futility of further resistance and wiping back an angry tear Tobal finally gave up and concentrated on what lie ahead. He moved from cubicle to cubicle and was given an exhaustive physical exam that lasted several hours. Then he was given a small silver bracelet and instructed to wear it at all times. It was a med-alert bracelet that monitored his physical health and acted as a locating device so he could be found in an emergency.

After the physical examination, he began a series of mental and psychological tests that seemed to last forever. Small breaks were given with food and water appearing out of the wall just like the drawer had. Twice he slept on a cot that slid out of the wall. The first things he learned were the controls to activate the food and water. The bathroom and shower were the next. He lost all sense of time and for two days was moved from one cubicle to another, problem solving, analyzing and doing test questions on a computer screen or taking objects apart and putting them back together again in demonstrations of physical dexterity.

After two days of wearing nothing but a silver bracelet, Tobal was relieved when a drawer opened containing clothing. There was a gray woolen robe that reached to the floor, folded gray blankets of the same material, a pack, a sleeping bag and a pair of hiking boots with several pair of socks. He was busy tying his new boots when a final door opened with a cold draft and the computer voice said.

"Welcome to Santuary."

As the door closed behind him Tobal found himself in dim light standing between rows of sleeping cots. It was a dormitory of some sort. His legs started trembling and he sat down on one of the cots. It was hard and uncomfortable like molded plastic or ceramic. Still shaken by his experience of the past two days, he wondered what he should do now. Sanctuary was not what he had expected and he had not seen another living soul. He was nervous and wondering when he would be getting his medallion back.

His eyes slowly adjusted to the gloom and he heard a noise in the corner to his right. Moving closer he saw two of the cots were occupied by sleeping figures. Against the wall he saw another food and water dispenser. To the right was the restroom and shower area. He walked around exploring each area in the dim light. He didn't see any exits and it smelled like a locker room.

Moving over to the food and water dispenser he tried some of the food and nearly gagged. The machine dispensed soft chewy bars the consistency of glued together oatmeal. It was cold and distinctly unpleasant with a wicked aftertaste that stayed long after the food was gone. He grabbed a paper cup filled with water trying to get the taste out of his mouth. The water had a strong plastic taste and odor that made it just as unpleasant as the food bar. While it was wet, it was not at all satisfying. Again he sat down on the nearest cot and tried to think. So this was sanctuary. Just what was Sanctuary? What had he gotten himself into?

There had to be a way out. He walked slowly around the room brushing his hand against the wall and in the darkest corner noticed something he had missed before. He entered the darkness and turned a corner that was barely visible. A light was glowing weakly and he moved cautiously toward it in the gloom. The light seemed to be flashing and oddly familiar. As he came closer he recognized it as the terminal he had first encountered on entering the building. At his approach it sprang to life and asked.

"Do you seek sanctuary in Heliopolis, the city of the sun"?