The Magical Labyrinthbyhammingbyrd7©
Ring... Ring.... Ring... "Hello?"
"Hi mom! How's it going?"
"Aha! My long lost daughter returns. It's been a full week! You never called, you never wrote, you never e-mailed. Three weeks away at college, and already you're starting to forget your poor mother?"
"Ha! I love you too mom. It has been seven days since I called you last Friday, hasn't it? This week has really flown by."
"Is everything okay?"
"Everything is great! The Homewood campus of Johns Hopkins is everything I dreamed it would be, and last Friday I met a really wonderful boy at a mixer and we've been spending quite a bit of time together. I've become very good friends with my roommate Susan and my other suitemates at Wolman, and I've even gotten used to the traffic on St. Paul and North Charles. I love my classes! The premed program has really turned into quite a challenge and I love it. No one is teasing me anymore about studying too hard or calling me nicknames like The Brain. I just feel surrounded by really smart people, people with the same thirst for knowledge that I have. I feel like I've found a home."
"Rebecca, are you trying to torture me? Tell me more about this boy you're spending all this time with."
"Oh. Well, we met just a week ago. He's majoring in Applied Math, taking a lot of advanced classes. Spends a lot of time in Kreiger, that's in the center of the campus by the upper quad. He's a wonderfully gentle and talented person, super smart. He plays the guitar. We've talked a bit about teaming up with my violin and jamming together. He has a mixed East European ancestry, just like me. Let see, what else? Oh, he's a fabulous chef, international hotel quality, no fooling. You should taste what he can do with a fresh salmon or chicken, something to die for. And he's an alchemist with duck liver, turns it into pure gold. He's been cooking me dinners in his apartment for most of this week. I'm up here now waiting for him. He's out getting groceries."
"What? You're alone in his apartment? How did you get in?"
"Oh, he gave me a copy of his key a few days ago."
"What!? Rebecca, this does not sound good. Is he an older man? And you haven't even told me his name!"
"He and I are almost exactly the same age, we both turned 18 two months ago. His name is Robert."
"Robert? Is he Jewish?"
"Well, no. Christian. But he does worship, just like me. We've talked about our faiths with each other. We're actually very close to each other in spiritual beliefs..."
"Rebecca my daughter... Wouldn't you be better off waiting to meet some nice Jewish boy, someone like Seth?"
"Oh mom... Seth was never interested in me. He was just looking for a female body to get sexy with while he was between girlfriends. My senior prom night was a disaster. I've never felt so embarrassed..."
"Rebecca, what I'm trying to say is that you have almost no experience with dating, and within a week of meeting some strange man, you're living in his apartment! If this man is only 18, how come he's not living on campus? Are his parents rich?"
"Mother, I am not living in his apartment! And Robert doesn't have any parents. Both his parents were killed in a car crash when he was an infant."
"Oh, I am sorry. But then I mean his adopted parents."
"He was never adopted, I don't think. Or if he was, it didn't last. He's opened up a little bit about this with me, but we probably have a whole lot more to talk about. He was bounced around in dozens of different foster homes growing up, spent the last two years in independent living before finally aging out of the system in July."
"Yikes, worse and worse!"
"Mom, Robert is a wonderful human being and I really, really like him. It's too bad dad isn't still alive, I'm sure they would have gotten along great... I'd love for you to meet him some time. You'll see how nice he is."
"So I can listen to him play rock guitar?"
"Oh mother, please stop! And I never said rock guitar, though he does have a banjo and plays a little bluegrass. He's mostly into Spanish guitar. Yesterday when I came here he was in the middle of Sor's Allegro from Sonata, Opus 22, just playing it from memory. For the next five minutes, I was in heaven."
"Oh... Well, that does sound nice... But Rebecca, if he has no money, how does he have an apartment?"
"No money? I just said he has no parents. He has a job with the National Security Administration and they're paying him very well..."
"With the NSA? Are you kidding?"
"No. I was a bit doubtful myself, though I didn't say anything. Robert noticed my skepticism, and brought up his bank account for me on the web. The NSA is paying him over $4000 a month net, and he only has to be there one day a week during the school term. He drives down to D.C. and is gone all day Saturdays. He's been doing this for almost two years now. He has almost $50,000 saved. I saw it myself..."
"This doesn't sound believable. What kind of a job could a teenager do for the NSA that they would pay him that kind of money?"
"I'm very curious about it too, but he is like a tomb when I ask him about it. Just says he shouldn't talk about it. Robert's very careful about security, says he doesn't even doodle about the work outside of the green-badge areas. Outside of Saturdays, the only work he does for the NSA is thinking, and doing a lot of public-domain reading. The money isn't the only payment, either. The NSA is also paying for a car lease and complete tuition and living expenses. And as you know, Johns Hopkins isn't cheap. He can also buy any book he wants on their tab. It's a deal any undergrad would dream about..."
"What in the world could he be doing?"
"I've snooped around a bit in his apartment. He has a ton of textbooks on wildly different topics. One shelf of books is on network security, encryption, and Internet packet protocols. Another shelf is on network routing theory. Another shelf is on pattern matching techniques and neural network learning. Another shelf is on quantum theory, covering everything from quantum computing to quantum entanglement to interferometer design. And then there's the shelf of antenna books..."
"Antennas? You mean like my TV antenna?"
"As a matter of fact, yes. I thought studying this stuff would be obsolete in this digital age, but he has textbooks on analog TV single-sideband transmission, all sorts of wave- launching horn design books, book after book on various antenna capabilities... I don't see how all this stuff could possibly be tied together. Whatever he's working on though, I suspect he is a wunderkind at it for the NSA to give him such a sweet deal..."
"Rebecca, all joking and Jewish mother aside, can I give you some advice?"
"Sure mom. I'm listening."
"Robert sounds like a good boyfriend for you, my dear scholar child. You do have an insatiable thirst for knowledge, and it sounds like you might finally have found an equal. I'd like to meet your Robert sometime. But remember you're both very young, with your whole adult lives in front of you. Go slowly, take your time. There's no need to rush."
"That's really great advice mom. I understand what you're saying, and I agree. Try to relax mom. I know what I'm doing. And Robert is just as shy about dating as I am. We are going very slowly. We've been meeting at dawn to go jogging together, and we've had some dinners together too. Yesterday was the first time we held hands. And if he doesn't try to kiss me goodbye tonight after he walks me back to Wolman, I think I'm going to risk taking the lead. I know he's attracted to me, I can see the hope in his eyes when we meet. Oh, we have a date this Sunday too, to go backpacking for the afternoon. We pick up I-83 a few blocks west of the campus and head north. Place called Prettyboy Reservoir and Gunpowder Falls State Park. Robert says it's really nice... Ah, I see his car pulling in outside, do you want to say hello?"
"No, I don't want to break into your time together, not yet. Soon though. Take care Rebecca, I love you."
"I love you too mom. Bye!"
Rebecca awoke slowly feeling dizzy and miserable. Her head was spinning, she felt freezing cold, and her stomach has heaving. She blinked in bewilderment into the bright white light around her, trying to understand where she was while resisting an urge to vomit. She tried to make sense of her environment and failed. Her memory was an absolute blank as to how she got here. Where was here? As her mind began to clear, she realized she was lying flat on her back in a large empty room without windows, entirely naked.
"Well, not entirely empty," Rebecca thought, as she looked across the room. "What the hell is going on?"
Across the empty room Robert was also lying naked on his back, appearing fast asleep. Rebecca felt too sick to be embarrassed by her nakedness. She stood up and began to pace along the blank walls, finding that the exercise helped clear her mind and calm her stomach. Along one wall was an oval projection with multi-colored buttons on it, about shoulder high, next to a large square indentation in the wall. "Some sort of door?" thought Rebecca, "How did I get in here? What is the last thing I remember?"
"It was Sunday. Is it still Sunday? A mild and pleasant sunny day. It was so nice chatting with Robert as we drove to the State Park. He was right, the park was beautiful. I was in delight! I didn't know Robert was a bird watcher. His binoculars were great! The titmouse, the chickadees, the nuthatch, the woodpeckers, they were beautiful! And his lectures on the trees were so interesting, the holly and the red cedars and the crabapples... He even made some fresh sassafras tea for me from the tree by the stream, getting the hot water from a vacuum thermos in his backpack. It tasted... What, did it taste okay? I can't remember! And then... My memory is gone! Totally gone..."
Rebecca felt her intestines cramp and then felt an odd wetness around her anus. After reaching between her buttocks, she was horrified to find her fingers wet with a clear, odorless oil... She suddenly looked at Robert with a look of cold fury on her face.
"You bastard! You fucking son of a bitch! You date raped me! You fucking son of a bitch!"
Rebecca stormed over and glared over the sleeping Robert. "I trusted you and you betrayed me! In time, I would have given you my body in joy, and you stole my body from me instead, drugging me and sodomizing me! Knocked me out with a date-rape drug, didn't you? You fucking son of a bitch! And what is this place, some dungeon of yours? You fucking son of a bitch!"
Rebecca was so furious she considered kicking Robert's exposed testicles with all her might, but in the end the core of her compassionate nature stopped her. She just sat down beside him and cried and waited for him to wake up.
She didn't have long to wait. After about five minutes Robert began to stir. As he opened his eyes Rebecca grabbed his throat with one hand and cocked her other arm, preparing to smash her fist into his face if he got aggressive.
"Why!? I thought I was beginning to love you! Why did you have to ruin everything and rape me?! WHY?" she shouted.
"Becky, what?" Robert suddenly glanced from Rebecca's face and saw her naked breasts. He blushed with embarrassment, his eyes wide open, and he turned his head away to give her some privacy. Rebecca was stunned and let go of his throat. Robert tried to stand, but dropped back down to his knees. Rebecca could see his face contort as his body was hit with cramps. "Wow, I feel terrible... Feels like food poisoning, with a throbbing headache thrown in... Are you okay? Where are we? It's so bright in here... Where are our clothes?"
"Let me help you stand Robert. Try to walk. It helped me to clear the symptoms..."
Rebecca helped Robert walk around the room, her mind in turmoil. She recognized a great desire within her to trust Robert, but she could come up with no other explanation for her situation except date rape. Could he be acting, faking his illness?
"Robert, do you trust me?"
"Oh, yes! I know we haven't known each other for long, but I think of you as kind and trustworthy, and as gentle as an angel. And two days ago you became the first girl I've ever kissed. I want to trust you completely..."
"Great! Spread your legs far apart for me and bend over."
Rebecca stood behind the bent-over Robert. She reached around and laid the flat of her hand underneath him along his abdominal wall. With her other hand she placed the tip of a finger against his anus. After a second she pushed in, easily sliding her entire finger into his rectum while firmly squeezing his abdominal wall. She felt his sphincter grip the base of her finger as her squeeze and anal penetration caused another cramp to hit his intestines. She could feel the genuine cramp along the abdominal muscles. Robert grunted but maintained his position, accepting Rebecca's penetration into his anus with complete trust. Rebecca withdrew her finger and examined it, and realized it was covered with the clear, odorless oil. She began to shake with embarrassment...
"I don't know," said Robert, "I don't think that helped. Walking around does seem to though. Great idea..." Robert noticed that Rebecca was crying. "Becky, are you okay?"
"Oh, forgive me, forgive me! I woke up a few minutes before you did, feeling sick just as you are now. I can't remember how I got here! I assumed you drugged me and raped me... I'm so sorry I didn't trust you... It was so wrong of me to play doctor with you and cause you to cramp... Please, please forgive me."
Robert put his arms around Rebecca shoulders and hugged her. Rebecca hugged back fiercely, both of them standing still for a moment, neither saying anything. "Rebecca, there's nothing to forgive. This situation is so bizarre; your guess was reasonable. It just wasn't correct. Let me walk around for another minute... Maybe afterwards we can compare notes on what we remember."
After a few minutes the two sat down together near the oval keypad. Robert kept glancing away from Rebecca's nakedness. "What Robert, you don't want to look at me?"
"Sigh. You're... You're even more beautiful than in my dreams, and over this last week I've had lots of sexy dreams about you. I can feel myself getting an erection just seeing you... I don't want to embarrass you..."
"Oh. Well... I think it's cute you can be aroused by me. Let your penis get erect as often as it wants to, okay? Look at me however and as often as you like. I'll just take it as a compliment that you think I'm pretty. Okay?"
"Yes, that sound's fine. Thank you... What in the world is going on, Becky?"
"I'm stumped, Rob. I recall being at Gunpowder Falls with you, and then my memory is gone. We're trapped in an empty room. What do we do? I'm guessing that the indentation in the wall is a door. Should we push the buttons on the oval, to see if the door opens?"
"It's a good guess. We'll have to test the buttons on the oval... Perhaps first though... Maybe we should think about our environment a bit before we try to interact with it."
Rebecca noticed that Robert was lightly scratching the back of his neck, looking deep in thought. "That's a good point," she said. "I'm not too eager to start pushing buttons quite yet either... Boy it's cold in here! You look at ease. Aren't you cold?"
"It's just me. I like cool weather. If I'm dry, I'm happy with just a light jacket on if it's above freezing... I would guess it's around 65F in here. You're right, a bit chilly to be without clothes... Becky, can I hold you? Cuddle with you?"
"Oh yes! I'd love it!"
Robert moved over and sat by Rebecca's side, pressing his hip against hers. He looped one arm over her shoulders and down her other arm; try to get as much skin contact as possible in order to warm her. Rebecca took his other arm and held it wrapped around her waist. She noticed his penis was quite erect in his lap and she was hit with a strong desire to hold it, and an urge to masturbate. "Wow," she thought to herself, "This is my first time to be physically intimate with someone. I guess I'm getting aroused too. This is not the time to show it though..."
"Ah, you're so warm Rob. This feels great..."
"For me too Becky... I was in the Park with you. We were hiking, and then.... What happened?"
"I remember you making me the tea. I don't remember drinking it."
"You don't? I do. You said you liked it. Said it was a little bit smoky, a little bit sweet, a little bit like licorice. I thought that was a good description. I remember being glad you were enjoying it..."
"Yes! Now I remember! Curious, it's like remembering a dream. It might be totally forgotten, but if you make a note about it when you first wake, the note can help you remember later. It's as if you've lost the mental pointer to the memory, and the note helps you to find the memory..."
"A few minutes later we finished our picnic lunch and started our return hike. I remember seeing a dog coming toward us, running free. I think I turned to point the dog out to you Becky, and then... Then... Then what? I have a dim memory of a vibration. My feet vibrating. Not like an earthquake, much faster, like standing on a tuning fork. And then.... Nothing... Well, not quite nothing... I have vague memories of clicking noises..."
"Trying to awake. Being driven almost awake by clicking noises and not quite making it. I don't know... It could just be my imagination..."
"That sounds weird. Spooky. I have nothing at all like that memory." Rebecca spent the next minute just staring about the room in silence. She idly started to caress Rob's arm wrapped around her waist, relaxing in his warmth, and then was startled to realize how pleased she was that Robert was still showing a full erection. "I'm glad he's circumcised," she thought, "it's so sexy to see the full head of his penis exposed like that... Rebecca, stop this! Put these thoughts aside for later..."
"This room Rob, what do you think? About 20 feet by 30 feet, with a 12-foot ceiling? Very brightly lit too."
"Yeah, you've sized it just right, with the door indentation about 8 feet square. And this room is brightly lit, especially considering there are no lights."
"What?" Rebecca looked around the room. "Oh, I see what you mean. How singular. Where's the light coming from?"
"The walls must be glowing. Notice there are no shadows? These walls are a piece of work. Smooth like polished stone, but self-illuminating. A real piece of work. Too bright for comfort if we're in here a long time. Perhaps while we're here we should close our eyes occasionally, to avoid fatiguing them."
"Ready for some analysis?"
"You bet! Want to go first Becky?"
"Sure. I propose, until we find evidence to the contrary, that we assume all this is real, that we're not delusional. I also propose we did not wander into here by ourselves. Thus an individual or a group knows we're here."
"Next Rob, this room would take a lot of effort to make. I can't see a lone madman making it and dragging us both here from the Park, too many miles of terrain for one person to handle. I thus propose that a group of people is behind our abduction. Group choices are our government, some foreign government, or a non-governmental group. I'd like to hope our own government isn't doing this. Can we leave them out? What are your thoughts?"
"Well... Perhaps we should add the possibility of alien abduction."
"Yuck! Are you serious? I didn't want to take this conversation into the twilight zone..."
"I do like reading science fiction, I admit. And if it weren't for these self-illuminating walls, I don't think I would have mentioned it. But these walls are a real piece of work Becky, over 1000 square feet of very uniform illumination. I've never heard of anybody illuminating a room like this. I'd like to leave the alien possibility on the table with the other options..."