The low humming of the room filled with unnatural tubes that oozed chilling cuffs of air was occupied by two individuals. One of them, a man in a thick burgundy coat, khaki pants, and leather snow boots ignored the question thrown at him and continued to sit with scattered puzzle pieces on the desk in front of him. He was diligent when it came to puzzles because he just had a knack for fixing problems that seemed unsolvable, but it merely only needed time, effort, and patience. He made himself focus and block out any external disturbances—moving one of the blank pieces close to the other to test the theory of them being connectable mates, but the other person within the room placed her hand over his to stop him. He couldn’t avoid her this time, so he looked up at the woman and peered into her abysmal black eyes, feeling himself being pulled deeper into the unknown bowels of her personality.
“Even though we’ve known each other for years, nothing has changed with you. It seems as if everything stopped in time…ever since we left that place,” she said cautiously.
“What about yourself?” he pinned the question on her with a glare. “You haven’t changed either.”
They both remained silent for a while, but eventually, the woman broke the silence and said, “I have changed. I’m not the same person you met within the Bridge. I have a feeling you aren’t pleased with that either.”
He scoffed, and pulled his hand away from hers in disgust, “Don’t even bring it up. What do you want, Yana?”
Her eyes remained as an abysmal hole when he conducted his action. Still, her body was tense, but soon she relaxed herself with a cool sigh and pulled her straightened, dark hair behind her pierced right ear with a dangling golden hoop, “He has shown signs of waking up.”
The man shot up in shock, nearly stumbling towards the door due to her words. Yana was about to inform him further, but she held back her words and followed the man out of the room quietly. She walked lightly despite the snapping claps of her silhouette boots hitting the glassy hallway floor outside the room. As she walked, she trailed her hand through the glass on her left side while staring through it at the many prison cell styled rooms housing many unnatural, mechanical tubes. There were multiple floors leading up despite what was in front of her and it reached as high as thirty floors—more than enough to benefit a good-sized town or city. It was a foreign place because of the advanced technology that surrounded them everywhere they went, but it was also familiar because in her gut, this place was of significance to her and the man.
She noticed the man had entered the King Chamber—the room at the bottom floor that was the largest in comparison to the others on the other floors, and within was a budded contraption that resembled a dormant flower. She was on the second floor, so without any disruptions, she made her way down the nearby staircase and arrived at the automatic moving doors of the King Chamber. Inside, the man was at the front of the budded machine at the center of the naked white room. The machine hung down from the ceiling with myriad wires of varying sizes crawling into it.
Yana moved closer to him, “Now that you’re here. Let me discuss the other part.”
“I’m listening. What’s his condition? You know I don’t know how to work this stuff,” he replied.
“Very well,” she nodded to his back and hurried over to his side—touching the surface of the budded flower imitation, and in response a hologram of information popped up in front of them.
While she analyzed the information, the man pulled out a silver liquor canister from within his coat and said to the machine, “How long has it been? Five years? Hell, if we even got the time and date right to begin with. Still, if it’s right, then what he said was all planned from the beginning.”
“Still, it doesn’t change the fact that we’ve been alone here for quite some time,” Yana mentioned. “It’s a shame we were the only ones to awake that day.”
“Right,” he nodded slowly, unscrewing the lid of his canister and raising it up proudly. “Well, a toast to some damn progress for once. If we can wake up someone else, we may be able to do the same for the others and find a way about of here.”
He heaved down some of the liquor in a single gulp, but it had a bitter aftertaste and effect on him once he stopped himself. He smiled whimsically, “Have you ever thought about why we don’t get hungry, tired, or any other of that human bullshit? I think whoever put us in these things did something to us and locked us away. There’s something big going on, Yana, and you know it!”
She faced him with a solemn expression, “We’ve been over this. Speculations isn’t good enough for our situation. We need concrete proof and a solution. If we don’t know, someone else will.”
Swiftly, he reached out and grabbed her arm roughly, “What if that person doesn’t have the answer either, huh?!”
After all the years, the man saw something in Yana’s eyes that resembled who she was before when he shouted at her—someone he trusted and knew like he knew the boy within the budded machine; however, what he saw wasn’t just what he sought inside her, but it was something he never wanted to see again. Fear sat still within her bottomless eyes and the arm he clenched frantically throbbed. He released her, but it was too late to stop what was pouring out of her. Streams of tears rolled down her high cheeks from her bronze irises as she replied to him, “You got a better damn idea?! I…I don’t know what I’m doing, or even why I’m here! Yana isn’t even my real name!”
She held herself, clutching the arms of her white furred jacket, “No one is going to help us. We must do something ourselves, and this is the only step we can take. You can wallow in despair if you want, but I’m not laying down and writing off my future because the answers are out of reach!”
The man dropped his shoulders and stared at her, releasing his guard and losing the attitude he had about Yana, “I apologize. I…There’s been a lot on my mind ever since we woke up.”
She wiped away her tears, trying to put herself back together. In time, she did, and when she was ready to speak, she looked over at the hologram information, “When I told you that he was waking up, I didn’t mean it as in now. Something has triggered within his brain, which is the connection with Bridge. I don’t know what it is, but it almost seemed…planned. As you know, there’s an inevitable loop within Bridge—the virtual dreamland created by all the brains of those sleeping in these cocoons. The world is similar, but the people take a different path in life, almost like a reincarnation at the end of it all. A never-ending scenario…one we personally attended until that boy broke us out.”
“That boy…his name—”
“Reno?” she looked at him. “Do you remember the name he gave us?”
“No, but his face was so familiar,” he said quietly. “Like an old friend’s.”
Yana looked at the machine in front of them and touched it, feeling the cold metal press against her palm, “I hope we can remember you.”
Cyril found himself within a jail cell when he finally awoke. The constant patting of droplets from above slapped his face, which was the cause of him coming back to the land of the living. He combed through his messy hair, and by doing so, he noticed he was chained up at his wrists and had shackles around his ankles. He was perplexed, but all the memories came crashing back into his mind when a little time passed. He had a mild headache as well, but it didn’t stop him from standing up and making his way over to the enclosing bars. He grabbed the rusty metal bars and tried to peer around the area, but everywhere was pitch black or dimly lit to even make out anything. Luckily, the moonlight came in from the barred window in the corner of his cell room, so he wouldn’t have to sit in absolute darkness.
“Some Hero I’m supposed to be,” he said to himself.
It was only when he spoke that he felt parts of his face throb—like his jaw, cheek, and forehead. For the first time, he scoffed at the wounds inflicted on him and imagined himself getting revenge in some way, but honestly, he had no idea how. Even if he wanted to, he didn’t have the power to stand up to them. As he thought more about it, it made him wonder why he is even a Hero in the first place, and why was he powerless. Why should he hide his identity and why are people against him if he’s here for the greater good? Questions of similar basis swarmed his mind, but his thought process was broken when a voice called out to him in the darkness.
“Are you awake now, Cyril?”
He immediately knew the voice, “Neclaytia? Are you okay?”
He heard from the cell across from him, but there was no light within the room to see her, but he could hear her breathing deeply and strangely enough, he could sense her presence as she sat on the ground. “I’m fine,” she replied. “How are you holding up?”
“I’ll live,” he said slowly. “Neclaytia, I’m confused—”
“It’s natural to be. Even I am confused on some things. Believe it or not, this is my first time in Lariat—this continent that is in peril and is being secretly abused by Corruption, but my only proof of that are the words of Goddess Loraine. I have devoted myself to her for countless years as a simple human that was honed and tempered by the willpower of supernatural lords that rule above with an iron fist. I only knew about them the first time I drew breath and nothing about a normal human life or how they interacted.”
Cyril listened intently, soon sitting back down on the ground to relax his tensions and be lured by the voice in the darkness. He felt her move again, this time a little closer to the bars that blocked her escape, “As I watched over you, I wondered if I could learn any answers about my point in life, and if I even had the right of having one. This world that has people who forsaken Goddess Loraine and build animosity is in danger because of that negative emotion. The powers from above cannot conduct emotions they are foreign to, for they are holy beings who only embrace positivity. They will expel all evil to purify their world, even if you and I are contaminated by such emotions. If it cannot change, then a Rebirth will occur.”
“Why are you telling me this?” he asked.
“Because this world is beyond saving. So, as the acclaimed Hero, you would need to know what your fate is unless you plan to change that. Just like the role was thrown onto you, the same has happened to me. I believe we are more alike than you think.”
“I have no power. I can’t defend myself like you,” he said bluntly. “I am no Hero.”
“You do have power and I couldn’t really defend myself. I refuse to let you die on me,” she confirmed. “People with strange gifts like you are capable of many things. You only need to embrace it and open your mind. Don’t feed on the power, but let it guide you. I have no such gifts even when I’ve served our Goddess. I’m only human, so that’s the only advice I can offer you, Cyril. Don’t focus on being a Hero. Just do what you feel is right.”
He watched the darkness in front of him, and in return, she watched him as the moonlight cascaded over his body, “You know, you may actually have dreams after all.”
“Dreams? Why do you say that?”
“You spoke when you were sleeping,” she informed.
Cyril was generally surprised, “I was…talking?”
“Yes,” she nodded, continuing with a worried tone. “You said, ‘I promise to remember all of you.’ Do you have idea what you were talking about?”
Clueless, he shook his head, but deep down, something tugged at his heart and he had trouble breathing. The pounding of his heart thumped against his chest and the blood pumping in his body bubbled fervently. It was as if his body knew, but he himself wasn’t aware at all. It bothered him irritatingly by how strange everything was to him—from his emotions to the reactions of his body, but his mind couldn’t keep up with the natural actions, or it simply wished to bury it.
Cyril was going to respond, but his lips trembled terribly when he tried to open his mouth and his body shivered as a drift somehow licked his neck. It was only until he looked through the barred window and at the moon surrounded by clouds did the tears coming from his eyes became acknowledged by him. Slowly, he lost control of himself again, and they continued to pour out, but he didn’t stop them. There was something he was missing or broken, and he could only assume that it was his own soul.
- United States
Bio: I've drifted from place to place, and each time I've gotten better at writing stories. I've been writing for at least six years now and I'm hoping to write books as either a main career or side career alongside filming. Always happy to support other authors, learn from them, and get their support as well.