Wh—Where am I? Or should I be asking… who… am I? Why can’t I remember anything? Even my name is a blank. I’m sure I would be asking more questions if I could open my eyes… but I can’t. Everything is numb, and I can’t feel a thing. There’s no sounds. No smells. Nothing. Am I losing my mind? Or do I even have a mind at all?
My thoughts are real, so I must exist in some shape or form. I just have to get back to it, like finding my way home.
I try to focus my thoughts on a singular point and latch onto it like a beacon. I hone in on the spot, clawing my way forward until… until… There! I hear something in the distance. They’re voices. Not clear voices. Just dampened mumbles. Like whispers underwater. But it’s a start and something other than the dark silence I’m in now.
Slowly I can distinguish the voices from one another. There are two of them. Distinct and separate. A man and a woman. Old and young. Though I can’t hear what they’re saying. At least, not yet.
I drive forward, pushing my mind into a body I know is right there and waiting. I have no awareness of a nose, but I’m overwhelmed by the smell of stale mildew and must. A sensation gently falls over me: a cold tingle of wet, moist air on my skin and the hard pressure of metal against my back. I can’t move but can feel my arms, my legs, even the bitter tinge of blood across my tongue. I perceive myself being constructed a fragment at a time, like pieces of a puzzle snapping into place.
“Olivia, can you check sensor T6?” the old man says, his voice clear as day. “The reading seems a bit off.”
I hear footsteps, the tapping of shoes against a hard floor. It’s getting closer. They’re coming towards me. I have to get out of here! I have to escape!
“Umm, Dr. Truman?” the woman says, her voice nervous and confused. “His finger is moving.”
She’s talking about me. It’s my finger that’s moving. I can feel the muscles in my hand flexing as I lift them up and down.
“That’s impossible,” the man replies. “We deactivated the…”
WHAM! A surge explodes throughout my body, causing my eyes to shoot open in a gasp of panic. The room’s sole light bombards me from overhead. It burns my eyes and I look around, desperate to get a bearing of my surroundings.
I see the man and woman. They’re wearing lab coats of some kind with machinery all around them. Expensive machinery. Fancy. Slick. Neat. Totally unlike the room we’re in, which is dark and bland. The stone walls are old and cracked, covered in layers of grime and dirt.
“Calm down, Mick,” the man says. He doesn’t seem frightened. Just surprised and the slightest bit… curious.
Is that me he’s talking to? Am I Mick?
I look down at a naked body I don’t recognize covered in scars I don’t recall getting. Strange patches are stuck to me from head to toe, all hooked up to wires that connect to the machines around the room.
What the hell is going on?
“Just take it easy,” the man says, approaching me with an outstretched arm. “We can—”
I scramble off the table, ripping the wires from my body and pushing the man out of the way as I break for the open door.
There’s no time to think. No time to plan. Just run.
The corridors are cold, from the ancient air settled in the halls to the cracking floor and walls of barren concrete. Unlike the light I woke to, which was strong and white, the bulbs dangling from the ceiling glow an ugly yellow that flickers faintly without warning.
The passageway goes on and on with no end and no discernable features. There’s plenty of doors on either side of me, heavy barricades of iron bars and wood, but there’s nothing behind them. Just tiny empty rooms of stone. A prison with no prisoners.
I try to recall a memory. Not just who I am or how I got here, but anything at all. There’s nothing. My mind is just as lost as my body.
The corridor continues when I spot a white light in the distance similar to the one I woke with in my face. It burns brighter as I draw closer, emanating from a room off the side of the hall. I approach it eagerly, praying for answers, but that hope vanishes when I peer inside.
Far larger than the cells behind me, the room is the same size as the one I escaped with identical machines scattered all around. There are no men or women to greet me, but in the center of the room sits a large vertical tube. Chamber would be a more appropriate term. The glass is filled completely with a golden viscous fluid, and floating inside is an unconscious man wearing an oxygen mask. He’s stark naked, much like myself, except for one clear difference: the man is missing an eye.
A sense of urgent dread radiates from my chest but is stifled by an alarm that blares through the hallway. The hall’s dim yellow light is replaced by a glaring red that seems to flash from nowhere. The near deafening noise drills into my skull, and no amount of pressure I put on my ears can stop it.
Opposite the room with the eyeless man I see a door unlike the rest. It’s full and thick with no bars, which is good enough for me.
On the other side I find stairs and tear up them, bursting through the first door I encounter. They take me into another hallway filled with a softer red light and an alarm that isn’t as loud. I can actually hear myself think.
I’m approached by two men, one on either side. Their stiff, emotionless faces are anything but friendly. They’re dressed the same too in dark blue uniforms with batons dangling from their belts.
I try the door I just came from but it’s locked now. There’s nowhere to go but through the men.
“Don’t do this,” I plead.
“Oh, but I want to,” the man on the left says with a grin.
I place my shaking hands together, begging for their sympathy. “Please. Just… tell me what’s going on here?”
But they ignore my question.
“No lasting damage,” the man on the right tells the other. “They’ll have a fit if you hurt him.”
“That’s what the docs are for,” the man on the left says while removing the baton from his belt.
He takes a step towards me, but I don’t wait and sprint to the right. The man there is caught off guard and I plow into him. We tumble over, rolling to the floor, but I’m able to bounce back up and take off before the other man reaches us.
They chase me through the old, weathered halls that zigzag without end. I find more doors with stairs that lead to more levels with quieter alarms. I keep going until I no longer sense the men behind me. The red light and alarm are now a fraction of what they were, a faint hum and twinkle that barely register in the background.
I continue to wander, desperately wishing an exit would fall into my lap. This floor has no doors, though. No cells or rooms with machinery. I come to a window instead. On the other side of the glass is an operating room where a team of doctors hovers over a naked woman on a table. I’m positioned above them, peering down at the scene from above.
I have a clear view of the woman, which is the first sign of comfort I’ve experienced since my mind came into being. I can’t recall where I’ve seen her. I don’t have a single memory to draw from. But her nose, her cheeks, every feature on her sleeping face fills me with the warm glow of familiarity. I don’t know how and I don’t know why… but I know this woman. And it pains me to see her like this—with her head sliced open and a team of doctors poking around in her brain.
It’s a horrific picture but I can’t look away, even as an army of footsteps approaches me from both sides. I finally look up and see a small platoon of men in uniform, near copies of the two I encountered earlier. There’s too many of them now to fight back. I got lucky before. Now my pointless attempt at escape has come to its end.
Leading them is the old man in the lab coat. He doesn’t appear happy to have caught me, though. Not even mad or particularly upset that I ran away. Just morose. Like he wanted to be here even less than me.
“Where am I?” I ask. “What is this place?”
He shakes his head with a regretful frown. “I can’t tell you that, Mick.”
“Why not?” I whisper, my voice cracking.
His frown sinks even lower. “Because you asked me not to.”
His answer… It doesn’t make sense. I want to ask a follow up. I want him to tell me more. I never get a chance to, though.
One of the men shoots me in the neck with some type of dart. I can sense my mind drifting away again, slipping further and further into a void. My thoughts are growing quiet, distant, nearly forgotten.
And then… there’s nothing.