He woke up in a sticky container of red . . . naked, cold, and completely helpless. A man in a white lets him out and asks him if he knows his own name. The scary thing was . . . he couldn't recall it . . . What happens when you aren't sure whether your guardians are trying to help you, or do something else to you?
It's got a little bit of Adventure, a little bit of Horror, a little bit of Romance, and a twisted Mystery. Nothing is as it seems.
Let me know if I should continue.
" . . . I think he's coming to . . ."
" His eyelids are fluttering."
"My God . . ."
"Would you look at that."
"Temperature 99.8 . . . Brain activity is a bit above normal . . . Doctor, come look at this."
"Son of a bitch, it worked . . ."
"Yes . . . yes I see. Okay, I'll call you back in the morning."
"Take down that info, stat."
"All body systems are functioning."
"Keep the light down, George. If it gets to bright, who knows what'll happen."
"What do you propose, Doctor?"
" . . . We remove the wires at dawn."
Beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep . . .
Buuuuuuuuzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz . . .
Creeeeaaaaaaak Shlock. Click.
Jingle Jingle Jingle Jingle
Click . . . .
Flip . . . Flip . . . Scribble Scribble . . .
Thump, Thump, Thump, Thump.
Tick tick tick . . . tick tick . . . Tick.
Shlossh shlossh . . . gurgle gurgle
Thump Thump Thump. Thump, Thump, Thump. Swipe, Slam, Jingle, Click.
Cough Cough . . . Creeeeaaaaaaak Shlock. Click.
Something was pounding. A painful pounding sensation coming from his temple. The feeling grew quicker and quicker, and it throbbed at his head. Soon, it repeated by the second, causing him to squirm and and try to move as his eyes squinted shut, though he found that he was quite cramped between two wet barriers. He tried to scream, but something was in his throat. The pounding continued to beat endlessly, until it was too fast to comprehend. In a moment, the pounding came together in one flash . . . and then there was no more. The pain ceased to be, and he found the courage to open his eyes.
At first everything was white in his vision. Just a blank light shining on him. But within moments, the light began to fade, and color and texture came. Soon, depth perception told him where he was.
It was a . . . container of some sort. The inside was dark, bloody red, and it was covered in cold, sticky substance that smelled funny. He tried to move again, but found it much more difficult this time. His whole body ached from head to toe, and his muscles felt neglected and ill-used. With much discomfort, he turned his head to see above him. There was a window and on the other side was a ceiling light, making a dull buzzing noise.
He heard two loud clanks. A few seconds passed as his heart began to race. The container that covered him moved, and the cover that lay over him began to disappear before his very eyes. Another clank signaled that the cover had hit the ground, and now, he was in the open air, which he found to be dreadfully cold. He curled up even tighter from his original fetal position and tried to keep whatever warmth that wasn't flying off of him by the second.
Footsteps came around slowly and stopped at the side of the sticky container. The figure crouched and watched him. It was a man . . . an older man. He was tall, a bit stocky, with a mustache that was just a tad a-skew. His hair was brown and thinning at the top and his eyes were a greyish-green. He wore a long white coat with initials on the the front pocket, and a gray shirt and black slacks underneath. He had a wise look on his face. A wise, but mischievous face.
" . . . You're awake," said the man in a deep, aristocratic voice.
The boy looked up at him, confused and dazed. He seemed at a loss for words.
" . . . And you're alive," the man continued. "Alive and well . . ."
The boy slowly turned on his back and tried to sit up. It was painful, but he managed to muster up the strength to sit on his behind without falling back. He shivered as the cold air hit him again.
The white coated man came close to him and stared at him long and hard. With an unassuming chuckle he pulled up a chair and sat closely to him. First, he held the device that sat in his mouth and pulled it out slowly. The boy choked as the long tube came out of his throat. Then, the man took out a few devices unknown to the boy and began to pry at him; checking his eyes, his ears, his mouth, and temperature. When he was done, he put them away and continued to stare at the boy with wonder-lust eyes.
" . . . . . Can you . . . can you understand me?"
The boy nodded slowly, looking him in the eyes. The man continued.
" . . . Can you . . . speak?"
The boy touched his mouth and thought. Could he speak? He was sure he could. But what would he say? He had no such words. To make up for his lack of wording, he nodded again.
"Can you remember your name?" asked the man. " . . . If so, tell me exactly what it is . . ."
The boy thought deeply about it, but was disturbed to find no evidence of a name. He didn't know who he was, and was deeply frightened by it. Without even thinking about it, he spoke, his voice hoarse.
" . . . I . . . I d-don't know . . ."
The coated man took out a clipboard and scribbled down a few choice words, which the boy had no access to seeing. It made him scared to not know.
"Do you know what gender you are?" the man asked.
Feeling a bit absent minded, the boy looked down at his body.
"A . . . A boy . . ." he said.
The man took down notes again and went on.
"Do you know where you have been for the last 24 hours?"
The boy shook his head and looked down at the container he was sitting in, his mouth feeling dry with a metallic taste.
"Do you know where you come from?" the man asked.
The boy's lip quivered as he shook his head. Once again, the man continued.
"Can you remember anything of the past?"
"Do you feel as if you know nothing?"
The boy lowered his head and closed his eyes, silently sobbing. A sudden rush of shame overcame him as he realized that he was naked and crying, something he felt that he should never do.
The coated man got up and leaned over to rub him on the back.
" . . . Don't worry . . . I'll explain everything . . ."
And with that, the man exited the room, leaving the boy alone in the cold.
He sobbed harder, upset to see the only contact he had leave so soon. Still, it felt good to not have to answer him anymore. He rubbed his eyes clumsily with the back of his hands, his mouth hanging open as he cried.
He wanted to get up . . . but he didn't know what would happen if he did. He felt so small . . . so feeble . . .
The door opened again, and a woman rushed into the room quietly and began to write on a piece of paper. She closed the door with the underside of her foot, not bothering to lock the door.
She was a woman of only about 5 feet and 4 inches. She had dark skin, hair pulled back in a neat bun, and large eyes. She was not skinny, but curvy. Her outfit was white, like the man's coat. But it didn't have initials on the front pocket.
The boy had forgotten to cry upon seeing her. He wondered what she would do. He hoped she wouldn't ask questions he couldn't answer.
The woman walked up to him, her stocky high heels clopping on the hard floor. She slowly began to smile at first, as if she had been longing to see him. But soon, her smile turned around. She came close to his face.
"Oh honey . . . you've been crying haven't you . . .?"
The boy, looked away, refusing to say anything to respond. The woman's warm face looked compassionately at him, making him feel safe and warm. He looked at her again and felt himself smiling a little, knowing that this lady wouldn't hurt him. The woman look relieved to see him react this way and went to his side.
"I'm going to have you stand up now . . . Don't try to rush it. You're very weak."
She took him gently, but firmly by his arm and urged him to move upward. The boy pushed himself off the ground. It was an aching task, but he was up, none the less. He tried to walk, but found it extremely difficult to do. His legs were so wobbly and clumsy.
"Hold on, honey," said the woman. "Stand still . . ."
The boy obeyed, and waited. She came behind him and began to take things off of him. Things he didn't even realize were there. She dropped the items to the ground. They looked like white, circular pads, and wires and tubes of all sizes and colors. Some lay under his skin, which caused a slight pain when being pulled out. One large tube in particular was lodged somewhere he didn't want her to touch. He backed off and looked at her warily.
"It's okay sweety," she said with a soft, apologetic look. "I won't hurt you. I'm a doctor. I know what I'm doing . . . Do you remember what a doctor is?"
The boy felt discouraged with the question, but found that he did remember what a doctor was. He couldn't recall too much, but he knew that they were supposed to help people. He relaxed and realized what she was trying to do.
She removed the large tubes from his rear and his groin and wrapped them in a plastic bag and threw them into the bio-hazard trash can.
"Don't be alarmed if you find that you can't make it to the bathroom in time before you urinate or defecate. You haven't used your muscles in a long time. You practically a newborn."
She chuckled slightly with a warm, low, motherly voice. Hmm . . . motherly . . .
" . . . . Mom?" the boy asked. The woman blushed.
"Oh . . . no dear. I'm not your mother. I'm Dr. Grace."
The boy frowned in disappointment, losing the feeling of familiarity in but a moment.
"But you can call me Gracie," she said, smiling once again. " . . . What's wrong?"
He couldn't bear to tell her how he had apparently had no idea who he was or where he was, and that he missed a mother figure. He hated to feel vulnerable around women. He picked an excuse.
"I'm . . . I'm naked," he said shamefully.
"I can fix that," said Gracie. She grabbed a towel and let the boy wrap it around his waist. He thanked her and felt much more sure of himself.
Gracie looked up at him.
"My, my, my . . . you certainly are a handsome young man. And tall. Then again, I'm short, so I can't say nothin'."
The boy laughed quietly. He was really starting to like her. She was able to laugh at herself.
"Let's go get you cleaned up, so you can go speak to Dr. Henderson," Gracie said, leading him into another room.
"Who's Dr. Henderson?" the boy asked.
"He's the man that woke you up."
The boy stopped walking. Gracie turned around to look at him.
" . . . I don't want to talk to him," he claimed.
" . . . And why not?"
" . . . He asked me things . . . things that . . . I-I couldn't answer . . ."
Gracie got that sympathetic look on her face again.
"It may seem strange and scary to you now but . . . . just give him a chance. He can tell you everything you need to know. He's a good man, once you get to know him . . . . Now, come on. I'm going to give you a bath and some clothes."
"I can do it myself," the boy said.
"But dear, you may not know how . . ."
"I know how."
" . . . Okay. I'll be waiting for you outside."
With a smile, she closed the door, leaving him to himself.
He looked around the small room, taking in everything. It smelled of something familiar. It wasn't unpleasant, but it didn't feel like a homely atmosphere. There was a sink, a toilet, and a large empty tub. Sitting on the counter were some white garments.
At least he knew what to do here.
He ran the tub's faucet and covered the drain. While he waited for the water to fill the brim, he went to the toilet. For some reason, it felt so good . . . better than usual. As if he hadn't gone in a long time.
After flushing, he studied the clothes he was given. A plain white, long sleeved shirt, a plain white pair of pants, and some white briefs. He figured that if Gracie had laid them out for him, they were probably very good to wear.
He stepped into the warm, water and relaxed his aching muscles. It too felt exceptionally good to lay in the water. It was strange, but vaguely familiar to him. He knew how to operate all these things, yet he felt as if he had never used them fully before. It was like a new and old experience in one, which was something he marveled at.
Not wanting to make Gracie wait, he got out and dried himself off with a nearby towel. He walked by another window, but stopped in his tracks to find that it had a person on the inside of it. He went in front of it again.
This, he couldn't remember. But instead of frustrating, it excited him. What was this strange alternate window, with the person who mimicked everything he did? And who was this guy staring back at him?
He dug through his mind, trying to find something about this thing. But it hurt to dig deeper. It physically hurt his head to go through the blurry images that blogged his brain. Then it hit him! That person in the window was him. And it wasn't a window. It was called . . . . something . . . he forgot the name.
He looked closely at his reflection. So this was who he was. It was so unfamiliar. He had medium length, straight, dark black hair, with some of it falling over his forehead. His skin was light. His eyes were narrow and colored brown. His lips were narrow as well. His cheekbones were high and his jaw was strong, but soft. He had a small mole in the corner of his eye.
He also noticed how close he had to be to the mirror enable to see it. His eyesight wasn't very keen. Now that he thought of it, everything seemed a little more blurry than when he first came out of the container. Maybe Gracie could get him some glasses.
After putting on the clothes given to him, he walked out and looked for Gracie. She wasn't in the room.
He frowned and felt alone again. But he wouldn't sit here and cry about it. He would find her himself.
The only door other than the bathroom door was the one in front of him now. She must have gone out that way.
He opened it and looked around. Stepping into the hallway, he found it to be quiet and empty. The whole place was colored with gray walls, and black tiled floors and felt cold against his feet. The doors that lined down the hall were as white as his clothes. On the walls were small pictures of things. Things that made his mind run wild.
One had the picture of a long pole with a cloth hanging at the end. It was straight out and had symbols on it. He touched the picture frame, thinking that maybe touch could help him figure out what it was. But another picture caught his eye. This one was a four-legged creature with a long tongue and a long tail. It was jumping in place and looked happy.
His head hurt again. What was this thing? He had to know. It felt so familiar.
"That is a dog."
The boy turned around quickly to see where the voice came from. To his right was that man. The man who woke him up from his slumber. Dr. Henderson.
He began to back up, feeling afraid and uncomfortable.
"Don't worry, William. I'm your friend . . ."
" . . . W-What did you call me?"the boy asked.
"William,"said Dr. Henderson, as he got closer to him. "That is your name."
" . . . . It . . . It doesn't feel like my name . . ."
"That's because you don't remember. It may not feel familiar to you, but it will grow on you in time. Come . . . we have much to talk about."
So his name was William . . . He sure didn't look like a William. But if that was what they said he was, then it must be true. He still didn't feel safe around this man, but he trusted what Gracie had said. Maybe he just needed to give him a chance to talk to him.
Dr. Henderson led him to another door, which opened up to reveal a small room, with nothing but a desk, two chairs, and two machines hooked to the corners of the room's ceiling. They looked as if they had eyes. Shiny, black eyes.
It was a scary room. It was pure gray, and it didn't have any pretty picture frames in it.
William sat in a chair, and Dr. Henderson locked the door behind them. He also, took a seat and pulled out a folders with many papers in it. For a few minutes, the doctor wrote more things down on his clipboard, still not allowing him to see it, and ignored him.
William's discomfort grew as time got slower and slower. The clock on the wall ticked and tocked monotonously. He wondered if they'd ever get to speak in the midst of all this silence. He feared to break it, for he had a feeling he'd anger the man.
Dr. Henderson, closed the clipboard and set it down, but kept the folder open. He looked William in the eyes and smiled. If you could even call it a smile.
"Good afternoon," he said. "My name is Dr. Henderson. You may call me Darrel . . . How are you feeling today?"
William shifted in his seat.
" . . . I'm okay, I guess . . ."
"I figured that you have no memory of this place, or where you came from, or who your are. And you shouldn't . . . because I found you."
" . . . . . F-Found me?"
"Yes . . . With artificial intelligence and my team of highly trained scientists, we brought back from the brink of death. You were, as of several months ago, a coma patient in a nearby hospital. We took you in and repaired your wounds and brought you back to life, so to speak. If it weren't for us, you'd be dead."
William looked away from Dr. Henderson's eyes, trying to erase the feeling that he was being lied to.
"I . . . died?" he asked.
"You almost died."
" . . . Where was I before the hospital?"
" . . . You see son, you were involved in a . . . a terrible accident that swiped many of your memories away. Before then, you were an orphan. You had no parents, a place to stay at a foster home, and a life that would lead you nowhere. Luck for you we found you, hm?"
" . . . Y-Yeah . . . Sounds . . . depressing."
"Ohhhh it was . . . I feel bad for kids like you. It's truly unfortunate, and you have my sympathies."
William nodded, not sure what to make of this saddening news. Here, all this time he had been wondering where and who is his mom was, only to find he had none. And yet, it couldn't be true. It just . . . couldn't be.
"But we must not dwell on things like that,"Darrel added. "Looking for past memories will give you nothing but heart ache and disappointment. Only look to the future, and forget the past."
William nodded once more. He still wasn't convinced about his past. Maybe if he were to ask Gracie . . .
"William . . ."Darrel called. "Pay attention now, for this is very important."
William gave him his utmost attention, though he desperately wanted to leave the room, which only echoed the sound of the ticking clock when silence interrupted every sentence ending. Darrel went on.
"I am going to tell you the things you may have forgotten during your slumber. But you are not allowed to ask about the accident, for I have already told you everything you need to know. Am I clear?"
" . . . Crystal," William sighed.
" . . . Your age: 18. You are well on your way to 19. Your birthday is on April 14th , 1991. Your ethnicity: of Asian decent. Your height: 5'10''. Your eye color, if you haven't seen it already, is light brown. Your full name is untraceable. Unto this day, you are just William. You do not have a last or middle name, as far as we know. You'll need glasses, for you had previously worn them. We don't know where you're old pair is, so we are giving you new and improved ones. Keep them clean and don't break them."
"Can . . . can I ask something?" William interrupted.
"Please do,"Darrel said.
"The orphanage . . . What was it called?"
"That information is classified. I'm afraid we can't share it with you."
"O-Oh . . . . . When I was, you know, little . . . did I have any pets?"
"Hmm, fascination with animals huh?"
The doctor opened his clipboard and scribbled down some notes. William became incredibly annoyed, but did his best to be polite and not upset him. Darrel continued.
"No, you didn't have any pets on record. The orphanage you belonged to did not allow animals into the building."
William grimaced as all his questions were shot down with a depressing answer. But what he really wanted to know was what his parents had done to leave him in such a situation.
" . . . What . . . What happened to my parents?" he asked.
"Ohhhh . . ."started Darrel, "you're parents . . . They . . . They died in a fire, trying to save you. By time the fire department came in to get you . . ."
" . . . I see . . ."
"Be grateful to them, William. They saved your life. Because of them, you are here now."
" . . . Where is here? And what is this place?"
"My boy . . . you are in C.o.R.e., a research facility. The best one known to mankind. We . . . We make things for the greater good of man, you know. Our inventions make others happy."
"What kind of inventions?"
"The one you came out of was the Vessel Mark VI. A very special tool for saving lives. No need to get into details. You couldn't possibly understand its logic."
William felt surprisingly offended. He didn't know why.
Darrel checked his watch, which made William ponder his decision to do so, seeing as how there was a clock on the wall.
"Well look at that!" he claimed. "Time to put you to bed young man. We have a busy day ahead of us tomorrow."
"I have to go to bed now?"William asked.
"Oh yes, you must. Or else you'll be all groggy in the morning, and we don't want that."
William followed Darrel to an elevator. As he recalled it, elevators went up and down. This one went sideways. As it gained speed, it rang a bell everytime it passed a stop. They reached what looked like the 89th part of the facility. The door opened, revealing a comfy looking hallway, much larger and more colorful than the hall from before. It was warmer too, and also smelled much nicer.
Darrel took out a card and stuck it into a door handle. The door beeped and opened.
"Room 2046 . . . I'll be seeing you in the morning at around uhh . . . 7:00 sharp for our first tour of the facility. You'll find a bed in there to sleep in, and a bell to ring if there is any trouble."
"Darrel?" asked William. "When can I see Gracie again?"
Darrel looked at him with a confused look . . .
"Gracie? . . . Oh! Dr. Grace. Yes, um . . . You'll be able to see her later. She's busy at the moment. It would be best not to contact her. I'd hate for her to get mad at you for interrupting anything."
Gracie? Get mad? She didn't seem the type.
"Oh . . . okay," William. " . . . Goodnight then . . . Da- um . . . Dr. Henderson."
Darrel did a quick bow and closed the door once William was in the room, locking the door with the key card. The room was a good size. The bed was big, and there was a TV in the corner. A bathroom sat at the side. It was like a hotel room. William was surprised that he even knew what a hotel room was. So many things were new to him, and he had so much to learn. He felt so dumb in such a high tech place. Surely Gracie would forgive him for his ignorance. He had no idea that they were so generous to him. And even Darrel didn't seem so bad anymore, though he still had that "air" about him. He figured it'd be best not to get in his way.
Suddenly, he heard talking outside his door. Running up to it, William pressed his ear to it to hear what was going on. It sounded like Darrel and some other man he didn't know.
" . . . amazing really," said Darrel. "He's quick to understand even after such little time. And he still remembers simple things we take for granted, which was honestly a worry for me."
"Wouldn't wanna have to re-potty train him, now would we?"said the other man. "Haha, that's great. How's his health?"
"A healthy as a horse I dare say. He looks brand new. I tell you Edison, we're going to make a fortune with this one."
A fortune? What were they talking about? Surely not money? What did he have to do with money?
"And what about his overall use of common sense and knowledge?" asked Edison. "Is he keen or kind of dull?"
"He's a bit dull, but it's probably because of how long he's been in the Vessel. Right now, he knows as much as a small child, but still retains some of his mature memories. With time, he'll be back to the way a young adult should act, and thus, showing us his true personality. I anticipate the day he comes out."
"Till then, make sure he doesn't know . . ."
" . . . Yes . . . It would put a damper in our whole operation if he were to find out . . . it'd break his heart."
"Hm yes, can't afford that now could we?"
" . . .I have to say Edison, he's the ONE. He's the first one to survive the tests! And results show he knows nothing of it! It's perfect! William is our shining star, and with him, and a few more tests, we will rise above to our fame. And no one will question my methods any longer."
"More tests sir? But . . . that could endanger his very life. If he dies, then we'll have no one to represent our success. All proof will be gone."
"Trust me . . . I have it all under control. I won't push him too hard. Just hard enough to get results. And he'll be willing to help me. He obviously looks up to me."
"Wow, sounds like you've got him on a leash."
"Not a leash Edison. That's a harsh term."
"Haha well . . ."
William pulled away from the door, the conversation going through his head. He didn't know what to make of the situation. It was all very strange. He found it hard to understand all the ambiguous talk, but they certainly had something to gain from him. But something in Darrel's tone of voice worried him. Something was very wrong in it all. But what could he do? This was the only home he had, and it was best, according to Darrel, that he didn't know all its secrets.
And was his loss of memory temporary? Would he really regain his "old" self again? What was he like in the past? Who would he be? It was all so new, and he couldn't wait to find out. He hoped that day by day, a little piece of him would come back out. Right now, all he felt was a blank and blind innocence through which he couldn't break through. He knew nothing and understood nothing, like a young child hearing an adult conversation. Maybe by tomorrow, he'd know what Darrel had meant. And if all else failed, he'd take his chances with Gracie. He was determined to know who he was and why he was so special. After all, he was only an orphan who had unfortunately lost his memory. But as he began to fall asleep, a new question entered his mind. He hated to question his guardians, but he couldn't help himself.
Was it all a lie?