Wh...where am I?
Why can’t I... remember anything?
My mind is so groggy, and the room around me is so completely dark that I am unable to process a single thing about it.
The last thing in my mind is, of course, the dream I just awoke from. Mestopholees captured me, took me through another eighteen years of time on Mystix, and wishes to resurrect me to fulfill a prophecy of some sort. Aside from that, I simply do not have an awareness as to how I could have ended up here.
With the greatest of my mind mustering, I attempt to recall what it was that I last experienced in the conscious world.
I was in... Los Angeles, yes. My second day in that wretched place where stars are born and others sell star maps. There was that pitifully boring luncheon, and then there was... Oh, yes.
Francis and I kissed.
Or, rather, I kissed him. Not out of love; I can’t say why I did it, really, except that it simply felt right. It was not the same infatuated heart-throbbing feeling I would be overcome with when I would kiss Malia; no, this was entirely different. An honor-bound duty, of sorts.
Perhaps I am lying to myself with all this talk.
Perhaps this deep pain in my heart is the result of love, after all. How else could I have reached the pits of despair to be in such a literally dark place?
The lights come on.
My room, so narrow it can hardly fit a bed and bathroom, is lit up in blinding bright white. What was once an almost unfathomable darkness is an almost unavoidable white.
There are no features in this room whatsoever. I can see nothing of interest. My feeling, as well, is diminished considerably. It is almost as if my strength has been sapped away from me with some sort of technological magic.
I cannot hear Francis.
There is the faintest blip of a signal, a spark that alerts me to Francis’s existence somewhere out there. But whether it is distance or some sort of psychic shielding around my location, I cannot communicate with the friend I hold so dear and yet hurt so badly. The [Empathetic Link] no longer has any known effect.
Truly, I am alone.
It’s so quiet.
And time passes with absolutely no bearing on my existence. I would sleep if I could, but with the lights on, the room is simply too bright for me to be able to do that at the moment. I simply have to sit up in bed, back against the wall, and stare at the colorless palette of everything around me.
Even my clothes are white. My beautiful pink garments are gone.
Whoever, or whatever, did this to me will surely pay a dear and dreadful price for what they should have thought much more deeply about.
That is, if I ever find out the truth behind this. It must be hours now that I have been in here, wide awake with nothing to do. I am being held, obviously, with some purpose. If that purpose is to drive me to the brink of insanity, then my captors are well on their way to causing that fate to befall me.
“Please,” I mutter. “Someone, help me.”
I’m begging for my life to continue. I have already descended deep past the threshold of my honor.
Much more time passes before the door finally opens.
Finally opens and gives some variety to my eyes, some amount of color beyond white and gray and white.
It is a tall, lanky man in a suit and tie, and wearing sunglasses indoors. He gazes in my direction, assesses me for a few moments, taps rhythmically in some sort of code against his wrist, and then the door closes behind him.
“Eryk Solbourne,” he says. “Pleasure to meet you.”
The pleasure is all yours, I wish to say, but I fear such sarcasm would end with one of my fingers broken, with this man’s cool, deadly demeanor.
“Might I inquire as to my situation here?” I ask. “Why am I in this room?”
“Just a holding cell as a precaution,” he says. “Don’t worry about it. You’ll be out of here in no time once you pass the evaluation.”
“Evaluation... Sir, please. No more secrecy. I’ve had enough of it.”
He looks at me quizzically and says, “My name is Agent Miles. Not my real name, but call me that anyway. Eryk, I work for the U.S. government in the Bureau of System Affairs. Officially, my organization doesn’t exist. But neither do you.”
“We have reason to believe you have had contact with agents of a foreign government before,” he says. “South Africa, if our information is correct. Mind telling us what they said to you?”
“Why, I couldn’t possibly comment.”
He shakes his head. “Oh, Eryk. You’ll soon learn that cooperation with the U.S. is your best option forward. Stop worrying about anything else. Your whole life is over now. No more obligations, no more pain. Just safety and patriotism.”
“You’re with America now,” Agent Miles says with a smile. “You’re in safe hands.”