The Stolen Man: Escape, Episode 2-4
(S.M. Table of Contents)
You can’t smell anything or see anything, but the hissing is getting louder. You don’t feel any differently either. Maybe it’s nothing. Maybe it’s all part of whatever test Lorelei was referring too. Maybe you’re not in danger at all.
Maybe you should just step out of the open door and walk out…but you don’t. You’re afraid to call Dan. Not afraid that he won’t come, but that if he does you might…well what would you do? Where did he go anyway?
Surprisingly the door opens and Dan comes in boldly proclaiming, ”In the nick of time he saves your dime! Whatever your strife he saves your life. Diamond Dan the stolen man bringing joy to his friend Troy.”
You almost rush from the cage without thinking, but Dan continues,
“Woah, Troy my boy. You needn’t worry, you needn’t hurry. Dont’ be a dope, I’ve got a rope. Now we can be fleeing, here’s your living being.”
With a flourish Dan pulls on a rope and the old man you chased through the streets, the old man with Six in the diamond room, Seven, stumbles in securely tied by both hands. You reflexively pat the pocket of your slacks feeling the Yin-Yang symbol still there.
While you hesitate, Dan yanks Seven roughly to the front, pushing him directly at you. You leap out of the way and out of the the cage. Seven just looks at you, as the door closes on him standing in the cage, hands still tied. You can’t hear if the hissing is continuing inside the cage, but you imagine it probably just stopped.
What just happened? You didn’t mean to leave him there. Dan pushed him, virtually threw him at you and you just instinctively got out of the way. But then you could have just backed up into the cage, but you leapt out.
You are now adding guilt to the feelings of confusion which have hounded you all day, “But wait, we can’t just leave him. What will happen?”
Dan looks surprised at your words, “This is Seven. He runs everything. I’m sure he’ll get out. Not that you should want him too. You don’t know the things he’s done. It isn’t fun.”
“I might have some idea.”
Seven who has been watching eerily silent without struggle, suddenly speaks calmly and slowly, “Troy, don’t run.”
Have you ever heard him speak before? His voice is deep and resonant, but surprisingly soft and smooth all at once. His words should strike you as absurd for several reasons. For one you weren’t going to run; for another he’s hardly in a position to make demands. And finally, if he’s going to make demands asking you not to run is a strange one. Maybe, “get me out” would be more appropriate.
But they don’t strike you as absurd. For reasons completely beyond you these words strike you as ominous, threatening, terrifying even. In fact, your response to these words is precisely to do the opposite.
Moving quickly past Dan to the door, you grab the doorknob. Instead of yanking it open as you intended, your hand is poked painfully and you pull your hand back. Looking at your hand you see a small pin prick and reflexively bring it to your mouth, sucking on the wounded area.
Dan looks at you puzzled and reaches for the door. You reach for him, but before you can stop him, he grabs the doorknob and opens the door without consequence.
The two of you run out the door and down the hall to the stairwell. You pause at the door, looking back down the hall of level 7.
“Dan, where did he come from? How did you know where to find him?”
“I d-d-didn’t. I went to look for h-h-hhelp and I got lucky and found him.”
“But, how did you know I would need help?”
“I didn’t tru-tru–I didn’t believe Lorelei and that whole setup. It was just w-w-weird.”
“It was that. But you knew I needed him in the cage. How did you know I needed a living person in the cage?”
“I didn’t. I just figured we c-c-ccould use him to help us somehow.”
“No, you said, if I remember correctly, and I suspect I do, ‘here’s your living being.’ You knew what I needed. Come on Dan. You’re not being straight with me.”
“Lorelei must have told me then.”
“No Dan, she didn’t. You’re lying to me.”
“Come on Troy, I’m as confused as you are. I thought that was the hall we were looking for, but there was no diamond machine.”
“No, you’re still lying to me.”
Dan pauses for a moment, looking at you carefully, “You can tell, huh?”
“No, but I had a feeling you might think I could, after what Lorelei said.”
“Listen, if you are starting to get your talents back, then you should be able to tell that I’m telling you the truth when I say I’m on your side. You’re right. I’m not telling you everything, but I am trying to help you, and not just you. You’re right, it’s not altruistic. I need to know what’s happening. I lost my family, remember?”
“But so far as I can tell, you’ve done nothing to find your family. What’s your story? Why do you think I can help you?”
“Because we’re connected, you and me, connected deeper than you can see.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I’m not being dumb, I’m not being coy, but I have good reason to know you’re not Troy.”
“What? What’s this good reason?”
“Your wife’s name is Helen, and she’s pregnant.”
“I never told you that. How did you know. And she’s not my wife.”
“I know. She thinks you are, but it’s not true. I know.”
You are noticing that Dan has ceased to stutter or rhyme, but you feel a revelation coming and you are reluctant to interrupt. As he speaks his next words (without stutter) you feel the familiar pain behind the eyes, the narrowing of vision and the beginning of a flashback or faint.
“Because someone stole my life and tried to give it to you. Helen is my wife. I’m Troy. “