Who is David Aeida and what does he know that has so many people after him? He can’t remember, but he finds himself embroiled in a conflict spanning multiple universes, involving a religious cult, a guild that patrols the crossings between the universes, and, most dangerous of all, an implacable hunter, known only as the Seeker. All of them will stop at nothing to get whatever knowledge they believe he possesses. . His only hope is to recover his memories before they do, and his only ally is woman named Meredith, and she definitely knows more than she is telling…
The whir of the engine, so sleight I had to strain to hear it over the sound of the other cars on the road, was a comfort as I fled. It felt familiar, a sound that had formed the background to a thousand memories, and seemed to quiet the cacophony of thoughts, filled with memories that jabbered and capered about, each demanding my attention. The contradiction inherent in the comfort—how could this car, with its engine from another universe, be familiar to me?—was something I could ignore while it eased my anguish. But for how long? That thought too was there, lurking beneath these spiraling recollections, these multitudes I suddenly contained that seemed to be fighting to burst free.
I am David Aeida, I told myself, repeating it like an invocation. All of the rest, my garbled memories, the absent knowledge that the High Regent and even the Seeker believed I possessed, would sort itself out given time. Hadn’t the woman told me it would come with time? Meredith had as well. The memory of her false embrace arose in my mind, demanding my attention, though I tried not to think of it, to not replay the moment again and again. Though the memory had no context, it felt like an open wound each time I returned to it, and yet I was compelled to.
Could I trust her now? Who else did I have to trust? She was of the Order, as was I, and, in spite of the embrace, she was the only thing resembling an ally I had.
It took me some time to determine where I was as I drove, but eventually, as I followed the flow of the traffic, I spotted the ocean gleaming in the sunlight and a bridge spanning the bay leading back to downtown. There were mountains behind me to the north and at last I remembered where I was. Vancouver. The Lions Gate Bridge. After the bridge came Stanley Park, a forested peninsula spidered with paths, all of which gave the appearance of leading deep into some world apart. Continue reading
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
Awareness returned slowly. I was lying upon the table, my body in restraints. I felt distant from myself, as though I were standing in another room viewing the scene through a window. Someone was moving around me, passing from the operating table to the counter and back again. An implement of some sort was picked up or set down, and felt myself wincing in response. I opened my eyes, but I still could not see and when I attempted to move my body did not respond.
“Did he have any ID on him?” The voice sounded very near, just off to the left of my head. It was a man’s voice but I did not recognize the speaker.
“Yes. Joseph Aurellano. I have Aleksandra and Martin looking into it. I doubt they’ll find anything. The Order is very thorough about these things.” Continue reading
“Not a word,” the man said, his breath moist on my ear, as he guided me through the crowd toward the warehouse door. He had removed his hand from my throat, but the gun remained pressed against my back. I craned my head as we went, trying to catch Meredith’s eye before I disappeared. It had only taken an instant for us to be separated and the man to intercept me, though it felt as though minutes were passing with each breath. I caught sight of Meredith as we came to the door, frantically scanning the crowd trying to find me and I opened my mouth to call out to her.
“Don’t even think about it,” the man said, grabbing my arm and brutally wrenching it, causing me to gasp in pain.
He shoved me out the door just as I thought I saw her catching sight of me with my assailant, a look of horror on her face. That was the last I saw of her, for as we stepped outside the back door to the van was thrown open and two others emerged, seizing my arms and dragging me within. The first assailant shut the door behind them and got into the front passenger seat just as the van started to drive away. Continue reading
The tension did not leave me as the platform disappeared from view, replaced by a checkerboard vista of streets filled with house, stretching on for what seemed an endless distance. The people around me on the train seemed to press closer and closer, especially after the next stop as more passengers got on. I shuddered at their inadvertent touch, wanting to shove back at those whose arms and backs were pressed against mine. My life is in danger, I wanted to cry out. The dull and distant expressions on everyone’s faces told me how that would be received. I would just be another of the train’s discomforts that had to be endured.
My phone vibrated in my hand, a text from Meredith: In the next car. Did you get on alright?
Yes. But the Seeker saw me, I replied.
Her reply, instantaneous, hinted at her anxiety: Did they get on the train?
I told her they had not, my hands shaking as I tapped at the phone. My face felt flush and feverish, my forehead damp with sweat. There was a knot in my stomach, clenching and unclenching. I began to worry that the other passengers were watching me, noticing my distress, and wondering what was wrong with me.
The phone vibrated again. Good, Meredith said. We’re riding to the end of the line. I glanced up at the transit map above the door and counted the stops left—five it appeared—and tried to focus on my breathing. I relaxed, ignoring everyone around me, being pushed and pulled as though I was adrift at sea, without purpose.
My mind would not stay quiet for long, the lingering glance of the Seeker resurfacing in my thoughts. What had he been thinking in that moment? If I had to guess I would have said that he was indifferent to my escape. There was patience there, a knowledge of an inevitable conclusion. In due time he would run me to ground. I felt that inevitability as well. Even if we managed to slip this particular chase, we would have to stop at some point and he would find us again, just as he had this morning. There seemed no point in running, which made me wonder why Meredith was. She would know how hopeless our situation was. Unless there was something she was not telling me. Continue reading