Serial Saturday: The Stolen Man, Episode 4-3

The Stolen Man:  Into the Wilderness:  4-3

(S.M. Table of Contents)

You are in room 6-6, but you think you are on level one.  You are sleeping on a medical table, and while you are pretty sure of this fact, all your senses tell you that you are upright, walking and talking with Seven.  You are not aware that you are actually talking to Dan and Lorelei, who stand watching over you.

Lorelei frowns, “Is this going to give us the answers we want?  Did he tell anyone what he heard?  Does he remember, somewhere  down in there?”

Oddly, you answer, “It’s … It’s such a small universe.”

You are not referring in anyway to Lorelei’s questions, however, but instead to what you are seeing on level one.

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It appears at first a typical Sunnyvale Hallway with the doors on the either side and the plain sterile floor and walls.  Typical, except there are only three doors, two on one side and on on the other.  These doors also lack the monitor and instead of the usual numbers, the doors say aba, bcb, and cdc.

Someone is standing between the doors in the middle of the hallway.  You almost miss them at first, because they are standing completely still.  As you walk down the hallway you see that it is Helen.  As you get closer you can see that it is not Helen, but a cardboard cut out of Helen.  That’s odd.  You pick it up and move it to the side, so that you can open the door marked aba.  Seven just watches.

Walking through “aba” door, you are standing in Helen’s bedroom, and yet not Helen’s bed room.  It’s more like a cheap set, a theater mockup of the bedroom.  Just as Helen was only a cutout, so also is this bedroom.  The bed is a one dimensional cutout, the bureau just a backdrop, and the mirror only painted cardboard.

You walk around, touching, shifting things,your perplexity growing, finally coming back out to the hallway.  Seven, who did not follow you into aba is standing in front of bcb  and turns to open it for you.  As you approach, he steps aside and you enter.  This time it’s the coffee shop, another set.  There is one real table and chair, the one you normally sit at, but the others are only painted backdrop, including a painted barista standing behind a painted bar. Here again, you walk through examining things, the sense of surreal growing strong enough to make you feel slightly lightheaded when you see a painted image of your Yin Yang symbol on a painted table.  You place your hand in your pocket and feel the pendant there, only then remembering that none of it matters, that it’s all your dreams, your subconscious.  You fleetingly wonder what you are trying to tell yourself.

Leaving this room you find Seven now standing in front of cdc, welcoming you to enter as he has done previously. Leaving the hallway, and entering the doorway, your find yourself in the first floor of the Sunnyvale Heights; except of course, it’s not.  It’s only a set, complete with painted doors for Six’s office, the rec room and so forth.

You are feeling very tired.  What’s the point?
You leave this room without exploring it much, coming back to the hallway.
Helen’s cutout is back in the middle of the hallway, but Seven is not.  The door to bcd is open and you see Seven inside sitting at the one real table.  You enter and sit across from him.  He hands you a cup of coffee (where did he get a real cup of coffee?) It’s good too. He watches you while you drink, saying nothing.  Finally you speak, “Ok, Virgil.  Guide me.  I don’t get it. “

“You recognize them, no doubt.”

“Well, yeah, of course.  Helen’s room, the coffee shop, and Sunnyvale.“

“You remember them, then?”

“Of course.  These are all places I’ve been since this started.  In fact, it’s the only places I’ve really been.  Even in my dreams I can’t seem to escape those three places.  I just keep circling through them–Helen, coffee shop, Sunnyvale.”

“It’s a pretty small universe, Troy.”

“Yeah, well, there’s not been much time recently for world exploration, what’s your point?”

Seven simply shrugs

You continue, “Besides, this is not my world.  It’s Troy’s, remember?”

Seven just looks at you.

You press on, “And what’s wrong with a small universe? It’s not like I can do anything about the whole world, now can I?  I can’t even begin to understand the whole world.  Better to stick with what you know, right?”

Seven looks at you steadily, “Time to move on, Troy.”

Seven gets up from the table and walks back to the hallway.  You stand up, following, bemused at the sudden action.  Seven leads you down the hallway back to the door to the stairwell.

You are about to stop him, to remind him that this way never leads anywhere, but when you reach the landing he continues down the stairs,  He continues down the stairs…down…you’ve been through level one, now it must be down to level two.  You are trying to remember who inhabits the first level, and who the second.  Sure enough, reaching the second level, the door says L2 and under that, Curiosity is the lust of the mind.”

Seven pushes open the door and leads you in.  This hallway, like the previous has three doors.  This time they are labeled  ede, fef, gfg.

You are moving towards the first door when a female voice behind you says, “You don’t need to know what’s in there.”

Turning you see Lorelei standing there, laughing at you.

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“He sees you!” says Dan

Lorelei laughs in reply  “Never knew I was the girl of his dreams. “

Lorelei turns to you on the table, “So, Love, What am I wearing?”

Dan shushes Lorelei

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Apparently oblivious to Lorelei’s question in room 6-6, you are responding to the Lorelei in level 2, “Why not?  Why don’t you want me to go in there?”

“Who said I don’t want you in there?”

“You said–“

“That you don’t need to know what’s in there, but then you already know what I said, you just don’t like it.”

You pause, looking around, seeing that Seven is gone.

“Where’s Virgil?”

*************************************************************************************************************

“You really want to know what’s in there, moneyman!”

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“You really want to know what’s in there, moneyman!”

You moves toward door fef.  You stop, your hand poised above the door knob, “”Why are you so eager for me to go in that door?”

“Who said I wanted you go in that door?  I was merely stating fact.”

You looks at her and move to door gfg.  You pause at this door, looking back at Lorelei waiting for her to say something.

“It doesn’t matter what I say does it hon, you have to know all the same.”

“Why?  Why do I have to know?  What will I learn behind these doors?”

“Nothing…or something…It doesn’t matter, love, you just have to know.  No door can remain closed to your pursuit.”

You look at her, at the doors, at her again. What is behind those doors.  Why is Lorelei here?  Where is Virgil?  What is in the doors? You peer closely at them.

“Not even glass ones, you can clearly see through.  You just can’t live not knowing.”

“Not knowing what?”

“Anything…Everything.”

“Not this time. “

You begin to walk back to the exit to the stairwell.  But what if this is what she wants?  What if you need to see behind the door? You do  need to see. After all, she’s not your guide, your Virgil, she’s…what is she exactly?

Lorelei laughs while you stand in indecision, poised between doors.

“Do you know what’s behind these doors?” you ask her.

“Maybe it’s you, baby, maybe it’s you.”

You just look at Lorelei

Lorelei just smiles.  A thumping begins behind the first door,

Lorelei nods at the door, “Better let him out.  He sounds mad.”

Making a decision, you runs to fef and fling it open. Lorelei laughs. Behind the door is the sound of wind, but nothing else.  Now the thumping is beginning behind the second door.  Running to it and opening it reveals the same sound of wind.  Now you are able to feel the wind too, but only lightly, in disproportion to the noise which is getting louder.  Now the thumping begins behind the third door and it also is getting louder. As you move toward the third door, the wind picks up suddenly and intensely blowing diagonally across the hallway, making it hard to walk.

Lorelei is yelling over the noise of the wind, while you struggle towards the final door, “Do it!  Open it!  It’s what you want!  It’s all you’ve ever wanted.”

Seven is standing at the now open door back to the stairwell,  speaking normally but still audible over the roaring wind, “Troy.  Troy, you don’t need to.  Come on, we can move on now.”

You look to Lorelei, to Seven, at the third door.

Lorelei, appears to be laughing but you can’t hear her.  She yells over the wind, “Who do you trust, huh?  Trust no one…”

Trust no one…you said that.  You remember!  But there was more…

You run to the final door but as you grab the doorknob the door is literally shaking under the tumult on the other side of the door.   You look back and see Seven who is motioning towards you, but completely inaudible in the noise.  You are being buffeted by the wind, unable to move either direction.

Lorelei manages to cross to you speaking directly into your right ear, “Are you sure Troy?  Can you handle it?”

You scoff, yanking the door open. There is an incredible rushing sound and you are lifted off your feet.  You can see nothing, hear only the rushing wind and feel only the suddenly pelting rain.  Rain, in a building?

 

(Next episode)

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