Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Chapter One: Beginnings

It was like being born into the arms of a concrete wall. Except less lovingly.

She could feel a bone break - or at least what she imagined a bone-break felt like. She was definitely bleeding, from her knees and elbows from being thrown to the ground at the very least. She knew that much, but little else. The hood over her head took more than her sight - she felt completely swallowed in its thick, suffocating fabric. This has to be a nightmare, she thought between nerve endings screaming from one end of her to the other. The feeling of many hands groping, clawing, scratching at her body, it was like an experience that no one knows, but everyone thinks about in their darkest fears. And just when she thought that she had to wake up - that it couldn't get any worse without her brain shutting down - she felt something strike the back of her head - a quick, lightning-hard strike. Then the light disappeared as if back into a womb of unconsciousness. After a while, it felt like a night lingering on for far too long.

Then, just as night became familiar, like the new norm of existence, dawn screamed, and she felt herself tumbling down into life once more.

"Ms. Rhodes, if you're in there, please answer me."

Even though her eyes were just fluttering open, the saturation of light was too much. It was as if she were blind, but she always thought that blindness meant utter darkness, much like she remembered experiencing moments ago. She thought she heard herself let out a moan - a mixture somewhere between pain and confusion. The second thing she realized was that she couldn't move. At all. She tried to struggle, but she was held fast by ... something. Desperately trying to hold back panic, all she could do was let out a defiant whimper. Apparently, that was all of a response the voice needed.

"Ah, I see you're finally awake. Please, don't struggle, Ms. Rhodes. You are safe now. Don't worry, you're in a hospital, and you're currently in traction after several surgeries."

Hospital? Surgeries? The words buzzed through her hazy consciousness, barely registering in her thoughts, but she understood everything she was hearing.

"I don't want to go into more details right now, because you must be terrified as it is. But I will say this - I'm surprised that you're even alive after the way you looked when we found you. My name is James Archer, and I work at this facility. When you've got a little more strength, I'd like to hear a little more about you. But, when you're ready. I'll be back soon."

Just as he was turning around to leave, placing the medical chart on the table beside him, James heard a soft, barely-audible word.


James walked back to the bedside and looked down at the broken girl lying helpless there in front of him. He still had trouble believing that she was actually alive.


"I.. my name is Allyson. I'm 22, and I'm from Lancastle Sector. Tell me ... James ... I have so many questions. And I'm scared."

"I know you're scared, Allyson. I'll answer whatever questions you have, but do save your strength. You've been through a lot in the past year."

"Y.. Year? I don't.. I don't understand. What day is it?"

"It's... the twenty-third of March ... 2153. We found you on January eighteenth, 2152. You've been in and out of consciousness for a little over a year."

Allyson couldn't believe what she was hearing, even as her body began to tremble at her new reality. The feeling was excruciating, and yet she couldn't stop herself. James knowingly placed his left hand on her forehead and tried to calm her.

"It'll be alright, I know that this must be a shock for you to hear, but you mustn't panic, or you'll disrupt your treatment and lost consciousness again. We've had a lot of trouble keeping you alive and awake, and your treatment's almost complete. Just hang in there."

It took her close to eight minutes to regain herself, and by that point Allyson was close to fainting from the pain. But, finally, she recovered enough to speak again.

"Thanks ... James. I'm so sorry about that ... where am I?"

"It's O.K., Allyson. I understand how difficult this must be for you - there are many patients here like you. Well, not in as rough of shape as you were ... In any case, this is the Montgomery Sector, Precinct Twelve Medical Facility, now renamed "The Inn" by the Returners."

".. Th.. The Returners? You mean the resistance group from Edenmore Sector?"

"Yes, Allyson. We were able to recover you soon after the ... incident. By our records, you had been unconscious already for four hours when our team found you. And since then, we've been doing our best to keep you alive."

"But..." Allyson prepared herself to ask the question of which she wasn't sure she wanted to know the answer.

"... What happened to me?"


No comments: