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.
It was not a demand, as Osahi and De Vroes’ questions had been, it was an entreaty and I felt compelled to answer. I tried to summon my thoughts, to command my memories forth from the void where they had been imprisoned. The void remained, a place of darkness, empty and showing no signs of anything being hidden there. Just as I began to despair and to stutter forth a reply to her question, the lights became visible again at the bottom corner of my eye, growing brighter and larger, until they burst forth at the center of my vision, unfurling like a flower going into bloom. They took form and shape and became memories, thoughts, my being, all of myself returning at once in a blinding torrent. It was so fast, such an assault that I found myself gasping for breath.
“What do you remember?” she said again, putting her hand on mine to calm me.
Everything, I wanted to say to her, but was unable to. There were multitudes within me, bursting to life, with the promise of more to come, but there was no sense to it, no coherence. An image here, a scrap of conversation there, familiar faces without names. It was all too much, I did not have the means to process it at once. The woman squeezed my hand and said, “It will come.”
“I know who I am,” I said, finding my voice at last, for I had seen myself in amidst all the other recollections and at last my self-image had footing.
“Yes,” she said. “Who are you?”
“David Aeida,” I said with conviction. “I am David Aeida, sub-Regent of the Watcher’s Order.”
“It will come,” she said and smiled, releasing my hand. I closed my eyes, trembling, tears threatening to burst forth. It felt so good, was a relief beyond measure, to know with a certainty who I was. The feeling of dislocation, of not being myself, of my face and thoughts all being false, had gone, replaced by this sort of jagged madness. But as the woman said, it would come, the pieces would find their proper order.
I tried to speak, wanting to express my thanks to her, for helping, even as I wondered why she was and why I trusted her so absolutely. I knew her, that was why, though I could not recall her name or how our paths had crossed. That did not explain my trust though, for she was here, in league with subversives, intent on thwarting the Grand Regent. I wrestled with my mind, trying to find some memory, however slender that would shed light on this apparent contradiction, but none was forthcoming.
As I opened my mouth to talk, she put a finger to her lips and gave a shake of her head, nodding to the ceiling, suggesting we were being monitored. She leaned in close, as though to give me a kiss on the cheek, and whispered in my ear, “Remember.”
As she said it she glanced toward the door and then walked over to it. My eyes followed her and I watched as she stepped aside, giving me a clear view of the keypad, and typed in the code. The door hissed open and she walked out, at the same time as De Vroes walked in, the two of them sharing a barely acknowledge glance. De Vroes turned and watched the door shut, ensuring that it was locked, wanting to be certain she was gone before proceeding.
“You’re awake I see,” he said, turning his attention to me. I tried to speak, but my mouth was dry and my tongue heavy, and when I tried to talk my words were slurred and garbled. De Vroes paid no attention to me, turning to the counter, filling a needle with another of his elixirs. He peered into my eyes as he injected me and said, as I began to blink and drift into that unsteady darkness, “What do you remember?”
This is the fourteenth part of The Forgotten, a science fiction thriller. A new section will be published here every Thursday.