The Game Ch. 01byNephylim©
It is never good news when the telephone rings in the middle of the night. Simon reached for it, rubbing his eyes and staring blearily at the clock. It was three am.
"Simon, we've got a problem."
"Honey, my whole life is a problem at the moment. What's so important you have to wake me at this ungodly hour?"
"It's Adam... he's gone."
"What do you mean 'gone'?"
"I mean gone as in vanished, disappeared, not here any more."
"He rang me this afternoon. Said he thought his phone might be tapped, and he might have been followed home. I told him to stay put and lock the door and I would go there straight from work tonight. When I did there was no one there. I have tried telephoning his mobile for two hours and there is no answer. I have checked all the safe houses and his friends and no one has seen or heard from him since before I spoke to him today."
"Is there any sign of a struggle at his house?"
"No, but there is a half eaten sandwich and coffee. He left in the middle of it."
"Not good news. This would not be a good time to lose one of the main players."
"Is that all you're thinking about... the game? Are you not the slightest bit concerned that something bad might have happened to Adam?"
"Of course I am concerned. For the game and for Adam. I'll be there as soon as I can. Stay put."
"Si there's another thing."
"Oh great... more bad news?"
"Adam had a message last night."
"Last night. Why the fuck didn't he tell me?"
"Because it freaked him out."
"What did it say?"
"It said that the final move is in his hands and he has to lose his mind or his life before he can take it."
"Great. So we've not only lost a player but the one we need to make the end move."
"Again you seem to be missing a point. I was more concerned about the other part of the message and I think Adam might have been too."
"But if anyone was listening in to him then that is not the part THEY are going to be most interested in."
"True. Although I don't think that anyone else would have been able to intercept it. It came through....er ... a closed line."
"Given, but if they are tapping the phone they may have been bugging the house and they may have heard him telling you."
"Nope that was closed line too."
"Any chance that someone has been hacking the closed line?"
"Not that I am aware of. I have never met or heard of anyone who can do it, not ours."
"Alright. I'm on my way. I'll bring Jac, if there are any tracers, or hackers he'll pick it up."
"Why scared? I told you I'm on my way."
"Not for me. What if 'they' have him? What would they do to him?"
"They won't hurt him Annie. He's too important, to them as well as us. They just want to keep him away from us, keep him from playing his part. They will just hold him somewhere."
"Don't worry. Adam's safety is not the issue. The fact that we can't win the game without him is."
"I am beginning to wish I had never got involved with the game in the first place."
"Well you did, and there is nothing you can do about it now but play it through to the end."
"Adam was never meant to get involved in this."
"Again, that may well be the case but he is involved and he also has to play it through to the end."
"I know, that's what scares me."
There are voices, not whispering, talking openly but just outside the range of hearing. For some reason it is important to be still, to be very still and not let anyone know that I am awake, that I am thinking.
I am lying down, flat on my back, although the bed, if that is what it is, is tilted up so I am half sitting. There is a sense of space all around, a big room, and sound echoes strangely. Not a room with a lot of soft furnishings. There are people, clearly or there would not be voices.
Out of pure habit I try to expand my senses but my mind is dull, my head aches when I try to think or to do anything with my mind. If I think about it I don't know exactly what I am trying to do anyway, so I stop. Something is strange. I can't quite put my finger on it but there is definitely something wrong, something out of place, something not quite right.
Even as I think about it the thought slips away and I start to sink back towards sleep again. It is simpler when I am asleep, I don't have to think. I don't have this strange feeling of wrongness and this strange urgent drive to do.... something.
There are footsteps, echoing, coming closer. Someone touches me, strong fingers gripping my wrist and a lighter, almost gentle caress, brushing the hair from my face.
"Daniel.... Daniel, can you hear me?"
Daniel? Is that me? The name doesn't sound familiar, not at all. I have no memory of anyone calling me Daniel and it just doesn't feel right. That's it... that's what feels wrong... that's what's out of place.... I have no memory... no memory of anything. I don't know where I am or who I am. Shouldn't it matter? It doesn't.
"Come on Daniel. I know you can hear me. Open your eyes."
I obey. There doesn't seem to be any good reason not to. There are three of them, all men. One is kind of young, nice looking with collar length blonde hair and an uneasy expression on his face. The other two are older. They are all wearing white coats and staring at me. Are they doctors? Am I ill? Is that why I can't remember?
"Excellent, right on time. How do you feel Daniel? Do you know who I am?"
I think about it. I kind of know but the knowledge is hidden in the fuzzy part of my mind, with all the rest of my memories, my self, so I shake my head and let my eyes slide past him to look at the room behind him. It is all white, tiled floor, walls and ceiling. There are no windows, no furniture, nothing. Not a hospital room then.
"Do you know where you are?"
I have to shake my head again, haven't worked that one out yet. There is no point looking around the room, there is nothing to see, so I stop. I look down at myself instead. I can't see much to give me any clues. I am covered with a white sheet. I think I'm naked underneath. I don't think this is a bed after all, it's too narrow and I seem to be strapped down. That is pointless because I can't move anyway. I occurs to me to wonder why not. Maybe it has something to do with the tubes that are going into my arms. Yes, I feel drugged.
It just gets more confusing. I am surrounded by doctors, hooked up to medical equipment, drugged, with no memory and no control over my body and yet.... This is definitely not a hospital and if not.... then what?
"How do you feel?"
"Don't know." My voice sounds as though it is coming from a very long way away, down a long tunnel. It's a nice voice, it's quite deep and has a hint of an accent but I can't quite work out what. This is weird, listening to my own voice as though it belongs to a stranger and trying to work out where I come from by my accent.
"Can you move you hand Daniel?"
I shake my head. I can't move anything... well I can move my head, and my eyes. I wonder why when I can't move anything else.
"That's good. It's very good. Do you know why you are here?"
Stupid question. "I don't know anything."
"Do you remember anything? Anything at all?"
They seem to know that I have no memory and it doesn't seem to bother them, indeed they appear to be pleased by it. That isn't right. Shouldn't they want me to remember? "No." I try to think about it, try to remember something, anything. It hurts and I have to stop. They must have seen my face change.
"Does it hurt you to try and remember?"
"That's alright. If it hurts just stop. Do you know who you are?"
The man who is questioning me looks up at the others and smiles in a self satisfied way. The others smile in response although the blonde one looks at me and there is something almost like disgust in his face. What have I done to make him look at me like that? Am I being punished?
"Punished Daniel? What do you mean?"
Did I say that out loud? I hadn't meant to. "I don't.... know."
"No, Daniel, you're not being punished. You haven't done anything wrong. You have been ill. We are helping you. You're almost there. Just one more treatment and you can go home."
"Do you know where home is?"
"Do you remember Annie, Daniel? Simon? Adam?" I thought I told them that I don't remember anything. So why do they keep asking? None of those names means anything to me.... not even Daniel. Although.... although.... something.... something tugs at my mind, something.... something.
With a sigh I shake my head and the man looks pleased. "Alright Daniel, you just take it easy for a moment, relax I just need to have a word with my colleagues and then I'll be back and we can get this over with so you can go back to sleep okay?"
I don't have the energy or the motivation to acknowledge him one way or another. I am aware of the three of them moving off a short way and talking again. I know they are talking about me but I don't really care what they are saying. I don't care about anything. I don't think about what the man said to me, I don't think about anything. I just let my mind wander, slide back towards sleep again.
I am dozing when I feel the world suddenly tilt and I come awake with a gasp. It isn't the world tilting, it is just the bed. I am lying flat now, and I can see that there is something behind me, some kind of equipment. It looks like computers and one of the men, the young one, is tapping on a keyboard. He glances down at me and again there is that look, as though he hates me..... or is it something else he hates? It doesn't matter.
"Alright Daniel?" He doesn't wait for me to answer, which is just as well because I had no intention of answering. "Just relax and it will all be over before you know it."
I watch him take a syringe and slot it into a piece of blue plastic sticking out of a plastic tube that is snaking out of one of the pieces of equipment behind me. It doesn't even occur to me that it is the same tube that is in my arm until I feel a sharp pain where it goes in that makes me gasp.
"It's alright Daniel, it will only hurt for a minute. Just relax." He keeps saying that. What else can I do?
The pain in my arm is moving. I realise that it is the drug moving through my vein. It feels cold, stingingly cold, as though it is carrying slivers of ice through my body. It moves all the way up my arm and across my shoulder. When it reaches my heart it hurts... a lot. I hear a strange noise and realise that it is me. I am making a grunting noise as the pain squeezes my chest and makes it almost impossible to breathe.
I stop being concerned about the progress of the drug through my body; I am too consumed with the pain and the struggle to keep breathing.
"That's the way. Relax now, it won't last long. It will all be over in a moment."
I have a flash of fear. 'It will all be over?' What will? My life? No, there would be no point in that. This is way too elaborate a set up if all they want is to kill me. Even as I think it the pain begins to ease and a numbness spreads through my body. I can feel it rising into my head and I stop thinking altogether.
I have no thoughts now; no care for what is going on around me. I feel hands on my body but I don't know what they are doing. I feel them moving my head but I don't know how or why. I see the white ceiling, the faces passing back and fore. I hear voices but have no idea what they are saying. And then I feel pain. It is pain so intense that it stops everything. I have no consciousness of anything but the pain. I could not have said where it came from, it seems to come from everywhere at the same time. I feel my body seize up and everything stops. My heart, lungs, mind.... all are frozen, every muscle and sinew contracted in a spasm that lifts me off the bed.
My eyes are still open and the man's face appears as he bends close to me. I cannot move my eyes, cannot blink, cannot scream. The man is smiling.
And then it is over and I feel like I am floating, encased in nothingness. I have no awareness of my body at all. The man's face seems to float, disembodied in darkness.
"Well done Daniel; that was excellent." Was it? What had I done? Nothing. His voice is distorted, coming from a very long way off. "Daniel, you must let go now, you must relax and listen very carefully to what I have to say. You must not hold on to any thought or feeling. Just focus on my voice and listen very carefully to what I am saying."
I feel strange. Something is happening to my body. It is as though little trickles of ice water are running over it in certain places from the top of my head to my feet, but... and this is the strange part.... it is not running over the skin but under it; on the inside.
"I told you to let go Daniel. Do not think about the way your body feels; think only about my voice and what it is saying to you."
How does he know what I am thinking? How does he know I was thinking about the way my body feels? Something tickles the inside of my mind, something that I should know, that I should remember. There is a little corner of a mind turned to candyfloss that is still working, still whispering to me, still telling me that there is something wrong, something terribly wrong. I follow the whisper back, back, back, and all the while the man's voice washes over me, whispering words I don't understand and can't follow.
When the pain comes again my body and mind can't cope and give up. My eyes are still open when the darkness falls. The whole of my vision turns red and then everything stops, like a switch turned off and there is nothing more.