She was invisible yet powerful; her robotic computer voice a pleasant female's; her cruelty served politely.
"Will you comply with the Venus Napalm program?" She asked now for the fourth time.
Dean Ambrose was in the corner, shaking, trying to warm his body covered only in jeans and a t-shirt. "Fuck you!" He yelled angrily.
"You answered 'No.' Room temperature dropping to 35 degrees Fahrenheit."
"You fucking bitch!" He yelled at the faceless voice. He'd managed through a sharp drop from 71 to 55 and even to 45 but from there it became more and more unbearable. Would she keep going until he died there? In this perfect square of a room that consisted only of white tiled walls on all four sides, a sterile, shiny white floor and yes, a white ceiling. Just a space-age, clean, pristine white death box for him.
After ten minute's at a steady 35 degrees, she asked politely, "Will you comply with the Venus Napalm program?"
"No," He was so tired. He wondered if she had the ability to detect that.
"You answered 'No.' Room temperature dropping to 20 degrees Fahrenheit"
"Fuck, that's 15 degrees. You've been doing ten. Hey!" The voice did not respond. "Answer me!"
"Please make your request again in 14 minutes, 23 seconds." And she was silent.
"Fuck," He felt the cold creeping up on him like a cloak. "Fifteen fucking minutes?" He wrapped his arms up against his body as the torment continued.
He was startled when he heard, "Are you still there?"
His limbs were numb. Had he drifted asleep? The fifteen minutes had passed in a nano-second. "Ye …" It was just a whisper. "Yes," He managed louder. "Did you think I was dead?"
That sent shivers through him stronger than those the cold had brought. "Will you comply with the Venus Napalm program?" She was silent. He wondered if her next strategic move would be 20 degrees colder at twenty minutes. "You have 30 seconds to answer. Then another temperature-conditioning phase will begin."
"I'll comply," He answered, shivering. "Just make this place warm."
"Very well. Warming to 75 degrees." The room warmed quickly and yet, he couldn't shake the chills that kept him trembling.
A new voice took over. Another computer-sounding female with a British accent. "Welcome to the Venus Napalm program."
"Great, now I get to go to British hell."
"Please be seated."
"Fucking where? The floor? I'm already seated." He was angry and confused and deep inside, absolutely terrified. He noticed a sterile-looking white leather couch rise from the floor.
"Please be seated."
He sat down on the edge of the couch, staring at one of four white walls. In the very center of this one was a small lens. He assumed he was being watched through it. He flipped the camera off. "Please be polite, Mr. Ambrose. There's no need for aggression."
"Fuck you bitch," He said angrily. The couch dropped suddenly. "Fuck!" He jumped up and watched the piece of furniture rise slowly back up.
"Please be seated. Keep in mind further arguments and aggression will be dealt with swiftly."
He hesitantly sat. "Now what?"
"Please remove your shirt."
"Are you serious? Take my shirt off? You can see me in a hundred matches and hundreds of gyms not wearing a shirt. Seriously? You're this elaborate, expensive machine that's only purpose is to get my clothes off? A fucking daytime stripper could do that."
"Please remove your shirt."
He jerked the tee over his head and threw it down. "Please deposit the piece of clothing in the provided container." He looked around knowing there was some magic box that must have appeared.
"Oh, a magic drawer. Might as well." He walked to drawer that opened from the wall and tossed his shirt in. It quickly snapped shut, making him jerk back. He sat on the white couch again.
"You can relax. No harm will come to you while you comply with the ..."
Though the voice continued, he yelled over it "...Venus Napalm program! Yeah, I get it!"
"Precisely. Such efforts will be rewarded." A slim, round steel table rose from the floor beside the couch and on it, his missing cigarettes and his lighter. Since his "abduction" all his personal belongings had been missing. He remembered nothing but waking up here, on the floor in this sterile white room. He was dressed in only his jeans and t-shirt and his underwear. His shoes and socks were missing.
"Thanks," He grumbled and quickly lit a cigarette. "Fuckin' sweet Mary, that tastes so good."
"You should know that cigarette smoking has been linked to cancer."
"I don't give a shit!" He yelled, looking at the lens "You tried to freeze me in your creepy Star Wars room and you think I give two fucks about something this little thing could do to me when I'm fucking 40-years-old? Christ!"
The voice was silent as Ambrose smoked his cigarette, still trembling from the cold. "Are you cold?" It asked suddenly.
"Yeah, I'm fucking freezing."
"Warming to 80 degrees." The room suddenly felt as balmy as Florida. Shortly a light sweat broke out on Ambrose's forehead and chest. "Perspiration detected. Would you like the room to be cooler?"
"Sure. Why not. Whatever. But don't fucking freeze my nuts off again."
"Cooling to 73 degrees and maintaining." The room was finally comfortable, at least as comfortable as a creepy, talking room could be to a kidnapping victim.
"Venus Napalm would like to play a game. By agreeing to comply, you have also agreed to play."
"What fucking game?" He narrowed his eyes at the lencse.
"Please return to the drawer and remove the box inside." She refused to answer his question and simply gave polite instruction.
"What am I playing? I wanna know that first." He leaned back on the couch in defiance.
"Please return to the drawer and remove the box inside."
"I'm fucking done with this. People are looking for me. Do you know who the fuck I am, bitch?"
"Dean Ambrose aka Jon Moxley. Your birth name is of no importance. You are a character in this game. You will play."
"Or?" He stared into the lens, bottom lip pouting arrogantly.
"Or you lose the game. Termination."
"You'll fucking kill me?" He challenged.
"Affirmative. The temperature-conditioning sequence was designed to do so. You survived. Congratulations. Please return to the drawer and remove the box inside."
"I have no detected viruses."
He felt the urge to continue arguing with the voice but actually feared it. He stood and returned to the drawer that opened from the wall as he approached. Inside, a small black box about the size of an engagement ring box, sat centered on a clear glass plate. "You gonna propose to me?" He asked snidely. "Cuz the answer is 'fuck no' all damn day."
"You aren't suitable as a marriage partner. But only as a toy." It was the first time the voice had said anything remotely, possibly sexual in nature. He returned to the couch and opened the box without direction from the voice. He hesitated afraid a poisonous gas would overtake him or some such horror, but then decided that his fate was out of his control at this point. Inside, a small pill, yellow in color. "Your effort will be rewarded." Another slim pedestal from the floor and mug filled with what looked to be beer sweated on it. Cold. Tempting.
"Ah, I get the beer but to swallow your fucking death pill?" He had closed the box and sat it aside.
"The pill will not cause death. Refusal to swallow it will."
"No way. That could be fucking anything. A slow death or fucking cyanide and I'm dead before I hit the floor. Something to make me hallucinate crazy shit."
"You will hallucinate. Images will not be frightening." The voice answered simply.
"Is it X? I mean I've done that. No biggie. Not a problem." He shrugged, trying to appear casual.
"Ecstasy or GHB is only part of the chemical makeup of the pill. Please swallow the pill."
"I'm not doing it! Do you get that, bitch?!" He tossed the box at the lens
"Pick up the fucking box!" The voice became loud and distorted, chilling. Then she added politely in the former robotic voice, "Please."
He was frightened by the demonic sound that came from the walls when she spoke that time. He refused to agree to taking the tablet but retrieved it and sat holding it in his palm.
"Please swallow the pill."
He held it, knowing a decision had to be made quickly. Just letting this room kill him would be easy but the thought of dying so young, so in demand was crushing. But that pill – that round object of pure terror – was perhaps much worse than dying. The only way to know was to experience it. "What the fuck do I do?" He whispered to himself.