Twenty years after…

My eyes opened to darkness.
I controlled my breathing, trying to calm myself down. Concentrate…concentrate. Remember who you are. Don’t let darkness and despair win.
I tried to remember scenes of my life before I was captured. But it only pained me, knowing that I would never be able to get out alive. Swallowing my saliva, wetting my parched throat, I tried to understand my situation.
It seemed that my captors have blindfolded me. Bound by chains, I already cannot move, yet they still thought that I could escape? Such was their fear of me, robbing me of my sight even though I already have no chance of escaping.
I couldn’t see the sliver of light that usually filtered through the thick bars lining the small window of my cell. For how many days have they held me in this small room? I have lost count. Why bother counting when my end would come? For who would care about the number of days you have left, when in the end you know you would die and you couldn’t do anything about it.
I expected no rescue, for surely no one would come for me after what I did. After what I did to all of them…May they forgive me. However, forgiveness wouldn’t do me much good when I am dead.
The people who captured me have taken everything from me.
Now, they even took away my light…



Just kidding, it was just a book covering my face.
Maybe I should write a book, I thought as I grinned beneath the pages of my book. It was a new book and still has that new book smell right of the paper.
Enough imaginative bullshit, time to wake up and enjoy my last day in this hospital then it’s back to work for me. I’m sure my adoring fans and loyal subjects have missed Herald Stone, Chimerical Corporate Counsel, Admirable Attorney-at-law, Laudable Lawyer, Veritable Bodacious member of the Bar. 
“The hell does chimerical mean?” I mumbled as I took the book away from my face. ‘Chimerical’ was a word I read in the book I held. Although, I don’t know what it meant, it sounded cool. Maybe I could fit in ‘chimerical’ in the next pleading I wrote, which wouldn’t be anytime soon since I rarely litigated in court nowadays.
“The fuck? I fell asleep while reading?” One of the things I prided myself in was that I could only fall asleep if I wanted to. It was very rare for me to fall asleep when I didn’t intend to sleep. I could probably count with the fingers of my hands the number of times I fell asleep while doing something else during my the past twenty years.
The last time I checked the clock, it was about 2 a.m and I continued reading for probably about half an hour before falling asleep. I spent last night reading a book that I had my secretary buy for me and deliver to my room in the hospital. Weirdly, books were making a comeback.
In this age of WeeCees, spinal ports, and digi-lenses, printed words on paper refused to be trodden upon by the gadgets. In addition, I’m a lawyer and we were kind of required by social stereotyping to read printed paper. The older lawyers also have a need to want everything printed on paper for them to edit. Which was understandable if this was fifty, sixty years ago, but these geezers were born in the age of computers, so I don’t know why they preferred paper.  
Blinking the sleep away from my eyes, I looked around my room. It was dimly lit, heavy curtains shielding the window. Pressing a button on the side of my bed, I turned on the lights. I checked the clock on my phone as I placed my book on the table. 6:30 a.m.?
Why did I wake up this early?
At least, I got up without being woken up by an alarm clock. So that’s another rare thing to happen. I really should get out of this hospital. Unpredictability was something I hated.  
Plus, there’s that smell. In every hospital, there was always that smell. Hard to describe. Too clean? Antisepticky? Was that even a word? That should be a word. “Antisepticky,” I said out loud, trying out the word if it sounded right or not.
Taking a deep breath, I looked around my room. It was furnished more like a five-star hotel rather than a hospital room, except the bed was a hospital bed with all those adjustable features. A transparent wall with adjustable opacity separated my bed from a small living room. Of course, if I wanted to, the wall could drop down and hide beneath the floor.
I haven’t stayed this long in the hospital since my father’s death about…twenty years ago. Of course, I visited friends who were admitted in the hospital, just a visit of a few minutes or so. But I haven’t stayed in a hospital for more than a day before.
The comfortable hospital bed made my stay for three days tolerable. It has been awhile since I have actually appreciated a bed. Usually, after changing clothes after work, I immediately fell asleep. And the food’s nice too. Which it should be, given what I’m paying; hopefully, my client would handle my expenses since I fainted during working for them.
The doctor said that I could go after one last visit from him. That guy usually came near lunchtime. So there was still a few hours left for my “vacation.” A well-earned vacation after a decade or so of hard work, I mused sarcastically with a smirk.
“That was such a nice way to end the contract signing,” I said, remembering what landed me in the hospital. After winning a big case for JYE Corporation, they decided to bring me in as a sort of contracted out general counsel. Which meant I’m still with my law firm but I’m being loaned out to them. It’s kind of different from their corporation outright hiring me for a case, which was our arrangement before.
Right after the contract was signed, dizziness took over me and I blacked out, fell headfirst on the edge of the table, and then rolled over the floor. Of course, they only told me that my head hit the table because I was already unconscious before I hit it.
Oh yeah. And I have a head wound.
It required some stitches but they speed healed it and lasered off the scars. Very annoying. Why did they assume that I wanted to get rid of the scars? I’m not good looking in the first place. I would have chosen to keep the scar because it would have looked cool contrasting the good-guy lawyer image I was cultivating but I was still unconscious when they operated on me so I couldn’t stop them.
I tutted at the lost opportunity.
The doctor said that I fainted due to overwork and too much stress. Which, I guess, was sort of, kind of, might be, probably true. I have a habit of putting on a strong front and hiding stress and tiredness from work, so I am usually reluctant to admit that I’m actually having a hard time doing a certain thing. Admittedly, I haven’t been taking good care of my body since there’s so much work. So I probably had this coming. The fainting thing, not the bumping my head into the table thing.
I could have gotten out of the hospital on the same day but they kept me for a few days in case the hit on the glass table caused much more damage than a gash on my forehead. Stupid glass table. It didn’t even break so we could call it even.
Since I’m already in the hospital, maybe I could have my cranium replaced with those new type of plaster fibersteel material—I forgot what they called those—that the military and even some athletes use to replace bones. Harder than steel but can mimic the inherent flexibility of bones. It probably wouldn’t be too costly to have that operation. “Costly” being quite relative to my financial standing. Then I could go back to JYE Corporation’s office to find that specific table and bash it with my head again.
Let’s see who breaks who.
But if I did that, wouldn’t my skin be also injured? And I also have to pay for the table that I planned to break. I mulled things over and said, “An inexpensive price to pay for revenge.”
I was about to note my plan down in my phone when I saw the message from my secretary that she was on her way to the hospital. She was supposed to update me on developments while I was away from the firm. I planned to go straight to my office after getting discharged so she might as well make her report while I waited for the doctor.
“Hmm, Mr. Armand from the company will also come to the hospital accompanied by one of our lawyers,” I read from her message. “Probably congratulating me on getting discharged.” Which they should do after all the things I did for their company. I practically saved that virtual reality game of theirs. What was that game called again? PaintArt Online? Oh, that's a different game where people paint together a picture online with strangers. Nornyr Online, I think, was the name of their game. 
Well, they should probably expect that of me since they paid a lot for my services. But if you consider that they hired Herald Stone, invincible attorney, they practically got a discount which they should be grateful for.
People should appreciate how much of blessing I am to their lives. Blessing was probably an understatement?
I looked at my phone and wondered why I picked it up in the first place. Right. I was supposed to note my master plan to get my revenge on the table. Snorting, I placed my phone back on the table. This length of inactivity was getting to me. My pettiness levels were rising.
The phone vibrated as soon as I placed it on the table. I cursed at it. Normally, I don’t even put my phone on vibrate, just on silent mode, which sometimes led to problems when people wanted to get in touch with me. In my line of work, one was on call all the time. But I don’t want to be disturbed. I wanted talk to people on my own terms, I want me to call them—so perhaps this had something to do with my ego. My clients don’t have problems with my attitude though. Usually, when I get back to them, they were very relieved and thankful rather than angry.
Kind of hard to explain how I pull that off. Suffice to say, people don’t usually know that I’m being an asshole. But I am. An asshole in…something’s clothing. What the hell was the opposite of asshole, I though while watching my phone if it would stop vibrating. A dick?
“Well the opposite of the asshole is the dick but I’m thinking of another meaning of ‘opposite’,” I said as I continued watching the phone vibrate.
It was a call; I hated answering calls. I couldn’t easily read a person based on voice alone so talking over the phone made me feel a bit vulnerable, a bit silly when one thought about it, but that’s that. Having the person talking to me in front of me was my preferred form of communication.  
The phone finally stopped vibrating. 
Then it vibrated again. A message.
Smiling, I picked it up. Good thing this person knows to leave a message after a missed call. It was Mr. Armand from JYE Corp. saying that he would come by, thanking me for my hard work blah, blah, blah… without my help, their game would probably be stopped until they sorted out the intellectual property rights to their virtual reality unit.
“Watch their game channel?” I read quizzically. Mr. Armand probably wanted me to have a feel for the game that they created. I honestly do not care about their game so I didn’t even bother trying it out although I have a spinal port installed at the back of my neck. Shrugging, I said, “I’m not doing anything here anyway, might as well check out their game.
Scrambling through my pillows, I searched for the, HP, holo-projector remote. Such advancements in entertainment systems and they couldn’t even invent a convenient way of being able to find a misplaced remote.
“Gotcha,” I said, raising my hand in triumph, holding the HP remote. 3D images rose from the floor at the foot of my bed. “What was the channel again?” I checked my phone for the message from one of the directors of the company. He wanted me to watch an interview with some players of the virtual reality game of their corporation, Nornyr Online.



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