On a Scale Of . . .
There are many different degrees of pain. After all those trips to the infirmary and the
inevitable question - `on a scale of one to ten' - I have the analysis down to a fine art.
It's a joke really. The Fine Art of Pain. I probably qualify for a doctorate in it.
One. Barely worth mentioning. The annoying sensation when you prick your finger -
there for a fraction of a second and then it's gone. Or the easy slide of a needle into
Two. Those paper cuts can sure sting, but they're forgotten as easily as long overdue
reports. Burning your tongue on coffee you're too anxious to drink.
Three. Stubbing your toe. Admittedly a good crack on the feet from a loose rock
while running barefoot through undergrowth can be momentarily distracting, but
nothing to get worked up about. Just like a punch, glancing across your jaw, thrown
off course by your own retaliating fists.
Four. That one's easy. Waking up the morning after the night before, your head
pounding. Another pain easily avoided, but one I seem to have experienced a lot over
the last few years. Needless to say - self inflicted. Any headache seems to be up near
a Four lately, even the ones when you wake to find yourself the guest of the enemy,
head ringing from the blow that sent you into unconsciousness.
Five. It's beginning to worry me that being used as a punching bag has become old
news. Down here on the half way mark of the scale lies all those fists connecting with
your body. The ones that sent you swinging.
Which leads, ever so naturally, to -
Six. Hanging from your wrists, all your weight pulling on tender skin, muscles
screaming while your shoulders feel like they've been dislocated - and probably will
be if they keep hitting you the way they are. Swinging like a pendulum as you're
rocked by the blows.
And here comes the inevitable head goon to crow and posture while you try to get
your breath back, grateful for the break in the proceedings.
Where was I?
Seven. Ribs once cracked and now broken. I shouldn't have been glad for a break in
the proceedings when said break was all too real. Breathing is right up there on the
scale now, no longer an automatic process, but one that takes concentration and effort.
Eight. This one's new.
My body jerks from the zat blast and my shoulder dislocates with a loud crack as my
captors laugh. Memo to self - never get zatted while hanging from wrists again. It's
up there with pain sticks and ribbon devices.
How about just never getting zatted again? Because I'm still flopping around here like
a fish on a hook and breathing isn't so much of a problem as an impossibility.
I must be annoying the head goon, stinking up his pretty torture chamber this way, but
frankly I challenge anyone to keep control under these conditions. He's looking
pissed, which is ironic really, but we won't go into that.
I think I was up to Nine.
Not a number I visit very often. There was Hathor's little snake buddy. A couple of
episodes in Iraq I'd sooner not think about.
In fact, Nine is a number I'd rather not touch on as I feel the effects from the zat
slowly passing and I hang limp. Goon Guy's grubby boots are all I see, until he lifts
my chin and smiles. I wonder what he has to smile about until he holds the zat up to
my eyes. I blink as my brain tries to process the information and his smile gets wider.
He drops my chin, and I don't have the energy to raise it again.
The zat makes that soft clunk as it arms, and I manage to get my head up enough to
find myself staring down the barrel of number Nine.
And all the fires of hell convulse every nerve in my body when the second blast hits.
Dislocated shoulders, hands almost torn from wrists, blood gushing from my mouth as
I bite hard on my tongue - none of these things figure on the scale as my heart is
squeezed until it bursts within me.
Ten is the agony of dying alone.
. . . . . . .
. . . . . . .
Ten is waking up in a sarcophagus knowing it will all happen again, in infinite
variations until that scale of old Doc Fraiser's is perfected. I wouldn't want all this
fine research to go to waste. I sure hope someone is taking notes, because I'm
Here they are, back to refine the scale, but this time points One through Six are passed
completely over and we're straight on to Seven. Bastards - don't they know there's a
procedure to follow?
This time Seven isn't hanging from wrists with broken ribs. It's being kicked while
you're down, and in places it's better not to think about, let alone mention in polite
Moving directly to Eight and the prospect of a place in the Vienna Boy's Choir is
looming larger by the moment. I find myself wishing I could hurry on to Ten, but it's
not to be. Eight is being dragged slowly out while some slimy snakehead wannabe
watches. He's come to enjoy the entertainment, and Goon Guy is playing up to his
audience. Nothing like having your god in attendance to make you take a pride in
Speaking of work - I know this is all part of the job, and I should be used to the risks
and all that, but I want to go on record now as saying this Sucks Big Time.
No talking. I get it.
My wish is his command.
Here comes Ten . . .
. . . . .
. . . . .
I forgot something.
It seems to come after Ten, which is odd, and surely not natural. Zero is a little
puzzling and somewhat scary.
Zero is floating, and billowy clouds, and brain cobwebs.
Zero is, to not put too fine a point on it, nothing. Zilch.
Zero is what happens when you're hit over the head with a large heavy object and you
Sometimes Zero lasts for a long, long time, much longer than any of those other pesky
numbers, but it's hard to know that while you're a Zero on the scale. Which means, if
I'm following my own reasoning, that this can't be Zero, even if it sure feels like it is.
Nope, I was right.
And we're back to the old pain scale again. Someone set some C4 off inside my skull.
Did I mention Four being headaches? I'm upgrading that to a Seven.
The smell of antiseptic. The soft beep and chirp of machinery, The low murmur of
There's something horribly familiar about this scenario.
Go directly home. Do not pass the torture chamber. Do not collect your slightly
damaged CO. What part didn't they understand?
God, I hope all my bits are still attached.
Should I check?
I move my hand ever so slowly southward.
"You're awake, Colonel. Good."
Bits forgotten, said hand flies up to cover my eyes, but too late. Bright light spikes
agony in my head.
And here comes the inevitable question. . .
"Now, sir, on a scale of one to ten how much pain are you in?"