I was still disoriented by the cascades of memories assaulting me, trying desperately to cling to this latest revelation that had sprung forth, only to disappear into the ether, when a scream interrupted my thoughts. All my questions, whether Meredith and I had been lovers, the nature of her betrayal, and how I could have been in the other universe—for there seemed no doubt the palace where we had met was not located in this world—dissolved at the sound. Another scream followed—a woman’s voice—and I knew, with a terrible certainty, that I had to escape now or my life would be forfeit.
I summoned my remaining will, trying to push aside the constant buzzing of my thoughts, the lights ebbing and flowing like the tide in the corner of my eyes, and clambered to my feet. I stood above the chair for a moment, unsteady and feeling ill, before taking a lurching step toward the keypad. It seemed to take hours for me to cross the room to the door, each step a monumental effort from which I had to recover. My body still felt weighted by some obscene gravity—had I been transported somehow to another planet, I wondered—and my thoughts would not go quiet, leaving me to gather and orient myself from moment to moment.
Something like the aftershock of an explosion shook the room, sending me tumbling to floor. I lay cringing on the floor, waiting for the next rumble to overtake me. When none came, I regained my footing and went to the keypad, a burst of adrenaline washing away the numbness from my body, and entered in the code the woman had shown me. After a sickening pause, where I was certain I had been fooled, or simply dreamed it all, the door hissed open and I stepped out into the hallway. Continue reading
When I awoke next the restraints had been removed from my arms and legs. I tried to get up from the operating table and nearly fell to the floor. Two sets of strong hands seized me by the shoulders and dragged me to a chair someone had brought into the room. I slumped into it, my legs jutting out in odd directions. My body felt leaden, my mind dull and vague, and I briefly wondered if I was still asleep, but dismissed the idea out of hand. This was no dream.
Two other chairs were brought into the room and De Vroes and Osahi sat across from me, their faces grim and strained. Their assistants, the man and the woman, stood on either side of me, ready to act should I attempt anything, though it was clear I was in no shape to do any such thing. The woman was absent, I was certain, though I had been unable to get a good look at the rest of the room as they had transferred me to the chair. Now I tried to focus on De Vroes and Osahi, but my eyes kept wandering and I found myself staring at nothing, my vision a blur.
“Let’s begin,” Osahi said. He had taken off his suit jacket I saw, revealing a finely tailored white shirt, with emerald colored buttons that gleamed. I became entranced by their color, seeing in them the same line of lights that had presaged the return of my self.
Before he could utter another word I announced to the room, in a voice heavy with sleep or drugs, “I am David Aeida, sub-Regent of the One True Church, and you are holding me against my will.”
Osahi raised an eyebrow. “Well, now. Do you know who I am David Aeida?” Continue reading
I felt adrift, unmoored from all sense of myself, awake one moment and unconscious the next, unable to distinguish between the two. De Vroes appeared from time to time to check on my vitals and to administer further drugs, plunging me further into this disorienting sea of darkness. There were storm is the distant murk, filled with vague flashes of light, creeping across the periphery of my vision. The lights were blue and green, edged with gold, shaped into a line of thin circles with frayed edges, that went bright and dim and bright again. They were above and then below, always on the very edge of my vision, no matter how I strained to catch a clear glimpse. Within the circles of light I was certain I could see images and details, but no matter how hard I tried they would not come into focus.
I lapsed into a deeper reverie, and awoke sometime later to find myself alone still strapped to the table. My body ached from being constrained in one position for so long, but it was a dull pain, distant from my other sensations. I could not seem to feel the table or see the room properly, it was as though I was floating in another dimension only tenuously connected to this one.
The woman stood over me, though I had not noticed her enter the room. Perhaps she had been there all along. Her face seemed more familiar now; I knew that I had seen her somewhere before, though I could not yet place where. The memory was so tantalizingly near I could almost feel it, as if the thought had gained substance. She leaned in so that her face almost brushed against mine and I could feel her breath upon my lips, as her eyes sought my depths.
“What do you remember?” she whispered. Continue reading
His name, he told me, was De Vroes, though I doubted that was the truth. He had begun with questions which, when my answers proved unsatisfactory, led to him calling in his companions from the van. They held me down on the operating table, strapping me in, while he injected me with a blue serum. I could feel its effects immediately, a tightening of my muscles and a loss of equilibrium, so that at various times I felt as though I was standing and about to fall down, others as though I was floating above the table where I lay. De Vroes peered into my pupils to assure himself the drug was working and proceeded to ask me the same questions again.
I do not know what I said in reply. I babbled and muttered, raved like a lunatic, spoke endless untruths. This perplexed De Vroes and the other two to no end. They injected me again, with no change in my answers, and did various readings of my body’s responses, which only left them more confused. I was as baffled as they were, for I had lost all command of my faculties. My awareness was shuttled aside by another, and I was forced to watch as something within me spoke things that were not in my own thoughts.
De Vroes came to same conclusion, having exhausted his patience with his questioning. “There are two possibilities,” he said to the others, “He is a Mask, or he has been made not to know.”
“Why would they strip his mind?” the woman said.
“Intriguing isn’t it?” De Vroes said. “We will find out soon enough.” Continue reading
At some point I drifted from consciousness and when I awoke I had been released from the chair and my clothes returned to me. I was alone in the room, curled uncomfortably in the corner, as far from the operating table and counter as possible. The room was dark, but when I sat up, trying to work the kinks from my neck, the lights clicked on. The lower part of my back was still in agony from the injection I had received, pain radiating from it at the slightest motion on my part.
I ignored it as best I could, forcing myself up onto my unsteady feet so that I could investigate my surroundings. I went to the door first, confirming it was locked, and studied the keypad, quickly realizing I had no hope of figuring out the code. Instead I turned my attention to the counter where I saw several needles of various sizes and a machine, not unlike centrifuge, filled with empty vials. A screen was connected to it, providing a readout of some sort, but I could make sense of none of the numbers or measures.
As I squinted at the machine, trying to get a better sense of what it did, the door hissed open and the doctor entered, along with another man. Though his features were unfamiliar I had a very strong sense that this was the stranger who had been present while the doctor performed his procedure. I was disappointed that the woman was not with them, for she was the one who I wanted to speak with. The doctor sealed the door and they both approached me warily, unsure of what to expect.
“David? That is your name?” the stranger said to me and I nodded. “Good. We have some questions for you.” Continue reading