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I had no memories. I could imagine places, feelings, and things, but not people, faces, or memories to match them with. I couldn’t remember the tiniest thing about myself. Not even my name. I didn’t know where I was, but I knew it wasn’t right, wasn’t normal.
Desolate wasteland surrounded me. The vast nothingness was maddening; the blankness hurt my eyes. The horizon was empty, just a thin border between dry, cracked land and a strange, indigo sky. The sky. It was somehow different. Why? Then, it hit me: there was no sun. It’s something so ordinary, you always assume it’s there. Impossibly, the desert was lit without it. Like it was day. I felt no wind, yet cooling sensations passed over my body from time to time. Nothing remotely alive moved except for myself. The land was strange. Was it Earth? Couldn’t be. Everything here wasn’t possible.
So, I did the only thing I could do; I walked. For miles, I travelled, never tiring nor needing food and water. Good thing, too. There wasn’t any of either. But there was the presence of something. Its mystery pressed against my mind and body, making it hard to breathe or even think. It clung to me like a damp towel. At one point, I tried to run from it, but still, it pursued me. Blood pounded in my head and adrenaline pumped wildly through my veins, but I soon found that I was running in vain.
Eventually, I collapsed on the ground, sobbing. Tears streamed down my face and pooled in the dusty ground. I felt so hopeless, but still impossibly hoping. Hoping I would wake up from this dream. Praying someone would find me and take me home. Out of this strange world. I was positive that I would die. Still do. I wished I did. Still do.
There was no time. No way to count the hours, so I had no idea how long I had been trapped in this torturous place when you appeared. At first, you were just a small, black dot of hope on the horizon. With nothing else to do and nothing to loose, I headed, unknowingly, in your direction. Not long later, I was a mere mile from you. Then, I stopped. I tried to go forward again, but there seemed to be an invisible wall between us. Glass, maybe? Or something more supernatural? Before my thoughts could ramble any farther, I caught sight of your face. That perfect face brought every memory back, except the one of how I got here. The missing puzzle piece.
I almost called out to you, but the sky darkened. Clouds covered every visible inch. Even they looked sinister. Lightening struck. It pulsed against the ground, ultimately striking a flame that was quickly doused by what seemed like an invisible wave of water. Ashes rained down from the sky like snow. All was quiet except for the electric sounds of lightening as they struck the dry, cracked ground. Your face bore no expression. I heard you mutter, “You get what you deserve.” The ground between us split, and a long ravine appeared. It looked like it stretched on for miles. My journey had ended. Again, you repeated those five words, louder this time. I flinched. Every round was louder, harsher than the one previous until the sentence bounced around in my head long after you stopped. I barely noticed that the feeling I had earlier was gone. It no longer choked me, but you did. Just when I thought you had finished the torment, you whispered, “Welcome to your nightmare,” and disappeared. The feeling came back, and then I knew its name: madness.
Shaking myself from my numb stupor, I ran and didn’t stop until my lungs burned and my legs screamed at me to stop. A new sensation washed over me. My stomach rumbled and cramped from its emptiness. I stumbled to a stop and doubled over in pain. I hadn’t been hungry before, or tired. I was dying in the worst way possible. Alone, tired, hungry, and in desperate need of a shower. The world faded to black around me as I lay there, a miserable shell of what I used to be. Then, I was nothing.
* * *
The harsh sound of an alarm clock wakes me from my sleep. Bleary bright red numbers come into view: 7:30 am. I rub the sleep from my eyes and head downstairs for breakfast. You’re already down there, cooking bacon and brewing coffee. “Morning, sleepyhead,” you call merrily, kissing my cheek when I draw near. “It’s about time you got up.”
I can only manage a nod. I’m not a morning person until I’ve had my coffee. “Sleep well?” I ask, plopping down on a wooden chair.
“Just fine,” you reply, placing heaping plate of bacon and a steaming mug of black coffee in front of me. “You?”
“Not really. I had this horrible dream. I don’t remember much of it. Only bits and pieces.”
“That’s horrible,” you say, giving me a sympathetic look. “Poor baby.”
Then, I remember something from the dream: the ending. You abandoning me in that horrible place. Just like clouds clearing on a rainy day to reveal a blue sky, I see through everything. I see now that your smile is tight and that your eyes hold no emotion. Everything about you is perfect and calculated.
You are probably going to leave me any day now. Just like in my dream.
No. I tell myself sternly. It’s just a dream. You’re being paranoid.
“Honey?” You say, gently laying a hand on my arm. “You haven’t touched your food. Something’s up. Does it have to do with your dream?”
“No,” I snap defensively, shying away from your touch. “Why do you ask?”
“You don’t look well is all,” you say, eyebrows knitting together. “You should lie down. Go back to sleep, maybe.”
I nod dumbly. “Yes, sleep will be good for me. I didn’t sleep much last night. That’s all it is.” I say it like I’m trying to reassure myself rather than you.
“Come on, baby,” you say, guiding me out of my chair and upstairs. As if in a trance, I let you take me to my room, where you cover me up gently. I barely felt your cool lips on my feverish forehead before I fall back asleep.
* * *
As soon as I’m asleep, you sneak downstairs, pulling out your cell phone and dialing a number.
“It’s me,” you say when they pick up. “I don’t know how, but the Subject knows. It’s only a matter of time before the truth is out.” You pause to listen to the answer. “How much time do you think we have?” You ask. They reply. You grin evilly, “Excellent. The Subject won’t see it coming.” With a snap, the phone closes, the call ends, and a plan is set into motion.