This is a story I've been thinking about for a long time, and have a lot planned for it. I hope you enjoy it, because it sure was fun to write.
If, at the end of the chapter, you really liked it, please review. I could really use your help and support when working on this piece. Thanks to everyone who reads or reviews!
And here we go!
Marshall Meyers was used to waking up in strange places and not remembering how he got there. He was used to waking up with a near-migraine. He was even used to finding himself in a stranger's clothes. He was not, however, used to waking up in a place like he found himself now. Only one room, every visible surface was painted almost-blindingly white, and furnished with only a single toilet, sink, bathtub, desk, flat-screen television, chair, and bed – which was where he now found himself, neatly tucked in and dressed in a set of light gray pajamas. The space reeked of cleaning supplies and he heard the soft tune of music playing from somewhere in the ceiling.
My god, he was in some new age prison.
It wasn't the fact that he'd been thrown in any kind of jail that surprised Marshall, in fact he'd been expecting it to happen sooner or later, but instead that he'd been arrested and thrown in here without remembering it at all. How wasted had he been last night? He was almost positive that he recalled falling asleep in his own bed, alone, late last night. Surely he should remember some of it?
He slowly pulled himself into a sitting position and looked around the room again. A metal door stood at the other side of the room, seemingly out of place in the otherwise stylish room. It gave him some degree of comfort, as it was clearly a sign of a typical jail cell, and that at least was something he was familiar with.
With effort, he pushed himself from the bed and staggered over to the door. He tried the handle, and to no surprise it was securely locked. Banging his fist on the cold metal, he called, "Hey, I want my phone call!" Not that he had anyone to call, he just felt that the formality shouldn't be forgotten, and maybe then at least he could get some food – Jesus, he was starving.
It was only a few moments later that there came a reply, but the voice came from inside the room rather than outside. Marshall spun around to find the face of a middle aged woman peering down at him from the flat-screen. She looked particularly high-strung with her severe facial expression, disapproving glare, and graying hair pulled back into a tight bun. She deserved a vacation, thought Marshall.
"Hello, Mr. Meyers," she said, her expression remaining icy, "You must be wondering where you are." When he didn't answer, the woman continued. "My name is Officer Swanson, and you are currently staying in our correctional facilities."
Correctional facilities? That was a pretty fancy way to say jail. "So what am I charged with?" asked Marshall, crossing his arms and trying to match his glare with the Officer's, before adding, "And when do I get that phone call?"
Something twitched in the corner of Officer Swanson's mouth. "I believe there is a misunderstanding, Mr. Meyers," she said coolly. "You have not been arrested, only contained for the time being."
Marshall raised an eyebrow. "Excuse me?"
"Your case has recently come to the attention of our office, and we felt it best to introduce you to our facilities, where we will have adequate time to address the situation and find a suitable solution."
His case? What office? Where were these facilities? What exactly was situation? What the hell was going on here?
"You lost me."
The woman smiled, but the emotion looked forced and strange on her face. "I suppose that's understandable. I'll make the introduction simple for now, you'll have plenty of time to listen to the details later. Quite frankly, you have a specific set of talents that we have become interested in, and we were disappointed to find you've bee using them illegally. We'd like to help you find a suitable and legal way to put them to use."
"What talents?" Marshall knew himself to be good at exactly two things: drinking and fighting, and he couldn't imagine either of these things would interest the Officer; she was a government official, and last time he checked, government officials were not looking for criminals like himself to fill any positions.
"Ah, but Mr. Meyers, you have so many. Perhaps it would be best if I left you to figure them out on your own."
He was growing frustrated, all he wanted were some straight answers. "I'm a slow learner," he growled.
"If that were the case, you wouldn't be here," was all that she replied before the screen flickered off.
"Dammit," said Marshall under his breath, kicking the bottom of the chair. That conversation came and went and he was still nowhere closer to figuring out how he got here. However, he ended up having very little time to brood over his frustration when minutes later a small slit was opened at the bottom of the door, and in slid a food tray. And she said this wasn't jail.
Marshall picked up the food and as he did so realized that wasn't all he was given. Underneath the tray had been a thick folder, on which was stamped "Resident Information: Dealbreaker" in dark red ink. More hesitantly, he picked this up too. Not taking his eyes off the folder, he sat himself at the desk and tore the cover off the food tray with his teeth: baked potatoes and pork – if he knew this was how they feed convicts, he might have gotten himself caught a long time ago.
He shoveled the food into his mouth with the feeble plastic spork that'd been provided, and flipped open to the first paper in the folder, and then nearly spewed his half-chewed food all over the document.
It was him. That was him all over that first page. That was him in every picture, some from traffic cameras, others obviously taken from surveillance videos. That was his name printed over and over the page, each passage with different details of his background or recent activities.
Marshall flipped to the next page, and then the next, and the one after that. He flipped through every page, finding everything from gas station receipts to pictures of him smoking pot behind a liquor store. He even found a close up picture that'd been taken of him one morning by a girl he'd spent a few nights with. He looked closely at that picture; it wasn't often that he really saw what he looked like. He was big, granted, and that on top of his many scars and few tattoos on his arms and chest, he looked pretty damn intimidating. His short brown hair was dirty and messy and he needed a good shave. It bothered him that they'd gotten hold of such a personal picture of him.
"Who the hell are these guys?" he asked aloud, well aware that there were most likely cameras in the room recording everything he said. Let them hear, looks like they'd been doing it without his permission for a long time now anyways.
He continued flipping back and forth between pages for a long time before he found something he didn't understand. It was the final document, on which was printed "Current Status," and read out the following:
Name: Marshall Devon Meyers
Weight: 190 lbs.
Classification: Invalid, Class 1
Status: Contained as of November 5th, 1996.
While angered by their knowledge of his personal family, what really caught his eye was the classification that he'd been assigned. What exactly was "Invalid, Class 1" supposed to mean? He let his mind mull over it for several minutes before his frustration got the best of him and he threw the papers haphazardly back into the folder and pushed them to the other side of the table.
Why had they – whoever they were – given him this information? They wouldn't have given him their own elaborate reports unless there was something they specifically wanted him to find. He thought back to what Officer Swanson had said. Quite frankly, you have a specific set of talents that we have become interested in, most exclusively because they are used illegally.
As if something clicked in his mind, Marshall pawed for the folder again, and pulled out one of the pages with a small collection of surveillance video pictures he suddenly remembered briefly scanning over. And there he was, in nearly every picture, slipping into alleyways with his head ducked and hoodie shadowing his face, just out of reach of visible range of the cameras. He frowned to himself as he remembered what happened in those hidden alleyways, safely out of range of any cameras or people who might overhear. He was always so careful about those cameras, always making sure that no one but himself knew what had happened in those dark moments.
Or at least he thought he'd always been careful. With this much evidence connecting himself to at least be in the vicinity when those sins were committed, Marshall was skeptical that these facilities hadn't already connected the dots. Perhaps they had and were just going to let him sweat it out. Maybe they were trying to make him crack under the pressure, feel guilty, or confess. Maybe this was prison after all and they were just practicing a new kind of psychological interrogation. That seemed most likely.
If that was the case, they were sure to be disappointed. Sure, he would probably confess to the crimes, but not because he cracked or guilt tore him apart. Because he didn't feel guilty. He wasn't sorry. He felt no regret in what he did, and would probably never stop for as long as he remained free and prowling the streets. Maybe they knew that already.
Marshall thought about this for a long time. He wasn't panicked, or even remotely worried. He was, in fact, quite calm. Recently, he had begun to realize he was tired with his life.
He was tired with all the drunken, hazy nights spent in motel rooms, or bars, or stranger's apartments. He was tired of having to get up in the morning and spend the day fighting off a raging hangover. He was tired of those mentally exhausting dark nights, the ones he was probably in here for, the ones that left him worse off than his most wasted nights for days after. It never ended, and he was tired of it.
Maybe this would be the end of it all, maybe this endless circle was finally drawing to a close and he could finally just stop.
These thoughts strangely comforted Marshall, and, slouching over in the white chair, he began to drift off into a light sleep filled with the images of memories he'd experienced before he'd fallen into his rut.
But tonight was not a night that fate was going to allow him rest. Tonight was to be the first night he heard her voice.
It came to him softly in his semi-consciousness, and at first he thought it was a part of his dreams, but she seemed to quickly grow irritated, and therefore louder.
Hey! Wake up! she called, the sound seeming to echo strangely in his head. Marshall's eyes shot open. I want to talk to you! came her voice again. Funny, it sounded like a young girl, but this was no place for kids.
Marshall spun in his seat and scanned the room. No one. And the flat screen was still off. "Who's there?" he demanded.
Shut up! They'll hear you! came the voice again.
What the hell? He wasn't talking any louder than she was. "I said 'who's there!'" growled Marshall into the darkness again.
Are you stupid? I told you to keep your mouth shut! I'm in your head, dumbass, no one can hear me right now but you, but you're making it pretty obvious. She sounded quite bossy to Marshall.
What the hell is going on, he thought. What does she mean she's in my head?
I mean, said the girl, that I'm a telepath.
Did she just read my mind?
That's sort of how being a telepath works.
No, you were dreaming, I just woke you up.
This isn't possible.
And then she took him off guard with the question, You're a class one, aren't you?
Why does that matter?
I thought so, most of you class one's are pretty hard to get through to.
What was that supposed to mean? God, this girl was almost as good as avoiding questions as Officer Swanson.
Look, I'm trying to help you out here, so you need to trust me, okay?
You've got to be kidding me. I don't even know who you are.
There was a short period of silence, but for some reason Marshall could tell that she was still there in his head. It was like being on the phone and hearing the static on the other end.
My name is Allie Dowers, I've been here for a couple weeks longer than you have.
What? She didn't sound any older than twelve years old? How could she be in a place like this?
I just turned thirteen last week, thank you very much. And they really don't discriminate based on age here, or by anything really.
You're just a kid.
Yeah, but I'm exactly the kind of kid they like to get their hands on.
What kind? And who are 'they?'
I already told you, I'm a telepath, automatically classified as a class two. Class two is for us psychics, class one is for people like you. I'm not really sure exactly who it is that runs this place, and believe me I've been asking around, but whoever it is, they're fully funded and good at what they do.
Marshall had so many questions and didn't know how to ask them. He decided to start with what he thought was the most important.
What exactly do they do?
Not sure about that one either. But they've been rounding up class ones and psychics like cattle. They track them, catch them, and then keep them contained here for a while. I'm don't know where they go after that. I've been trying to find information by asking around, but most of us are only hearing the same sort of stuff.
Asking around? Who's with you?
I'm alone, just like you. We're all being contained in a building, it's kind of like a prison, I think. But I can communicate with anyone – regardless of separate rooms – so long as they're relatively close by. I can hear just about everyone on this floor with one exception, because not of the rooms are that far apart.
It seemed strange to him that whoever was running this place would be alright with an open phone line like that, it seemed like they were trying pretty hard to keep them isolated.
They probably wouldn't be okay with it if they knew. I think they assumed I can only read the mind of someone in the same room as me.
That's pretty convenient. He was about to ask his next question but was interrupted.
Look, when I keep this line up too long it kind of kills my head, I'm going to need to go soon, but I came here to ask you a question and I need you to answer it. Do you know why you're here?
Marshall began to remember what he was thinking about earlier, but quickly pushed the thoughts from his mind. He didn't want the girl to know that, but she seemed to notice.
That bad, huh? You know this can't be one sided, you've got to help me out if I'm going to help you.
What I know wouldn't help you.
You don't know that for sure.
Yes, I do.
There was a long, static filled silence.
I'm going to go. I might come back tomorrow when my headache's gone. I'll give you some time to think about what I said, I know it's kind of a lot to take in.
And then the static was gone, so Marshall knew she really did leave. He still wasn't exactly sure that he wasn't dreaming, but he felt pretty damn awake. He kept hoping with every blink of his eyes he might wake up in a cold sweat on his own mattress at home, –if he could even call it that – but he also felt that that wasn't a much better alternative to his current situation. After a few hours of just sitting at the desk he finally gave up all of his hope of dreaming, got up, and went to lie down on the small white bed.
Lying on his back with a hand lazily scratching the back of his head, he struggled to sort through his certainties – that might at least give him a base of information to work off of tomorrow.
He was certain that he was in trouble, although he didn't know exactly what kind of trouble he was in.
He knew he wasn't alone, and not everyone that was stuck here was a criminal. Even if she was a little bossy, Marshall was sure that the girl, Allie, wasn't a bad kid.
He was fairly positive that his reason for being here was because of that dark habit he had fallen into years ago, that was the only really standout thing he knew about himself, and he knew he wasn't here for being a psychic. If he was his gambling record would probably be a lot better.
And more than anything else, he knew he could really use a drink right about now.