The Stolen Man:  Into the Wilderness:  4-7

(S.M. Table of Contents)

You flex your hand. It’s a little sore, but otherwise seems to be on the mend. Your head is starting to clear. It seems that your little journey through hell was not without effect. You did learn somethings. There is still much you don’t know and what you did learn is more feeling than clear memory: Your intense anger with Dan, a sense of remorse and regret, a realization that you messed up. It’s still hard to grasp the whole interrogator thing. Something about that is right, and yet not quite it either. It’s clear you were part of something that you now regret. You learned something, probably as an interrogator, that you wish you hadn’t. And now, you realize wryly, you seem determined to relearn it.

You don’t trust Dan, but as he tries to hustle you out the door, you decide he’s probably right about Lorelei. (Someone whom you still seem to have no sense about.)

As you walk behind him, he turns to talk to you about her, “ Listen, she was sent to find out if you told anyone else what you heard. If you even remember what you heard.

“But I don’t remember what I’ve heard. I still don’t remember anything.” Mostly true.

“I know and that works for them too. If we came up empty, she was supposed to kill you. They’ve decided simply erasing your life isn’t enough with your memory, it might come back to you after all. Now come on!”  Just as you reach the stairwell, you glance back and see the door to 6-6 starting to open. You and Dan duck quickly through the hallway door and he starts up the stairway, you following.

“But what’s Helen got to do with all this, and you, what’s your role?”

“Look, Troy, Helen is my wife, just like I told you. I’m just the janitor here, my wife was just a convenient pawn for the game they wanted to play with you.”

Wow. So that’s what it’s like. You stare, unmoving as Dan continues up the stairs.

Dan pauses, looking back, “What?”

“You’re lying.” It’s a matter of fact statement. It is clearly, a matter of fact. There is no guessing now. It’s as clear as day. Something else returned to you after your journey with Virgil.
Dan comes back down the stairs, and grabbing you by the hurt hand (You grimace, but say nothing) Dan drags you to the Hallway door and opening it a crack, makes you look through. Lorelei is coming down the hallway, looking unusually serious, peering in doors and clearly looking for you.

“She’s looking for us, and she won’t hesitate to kill. That’s not lie, is it”

“No, no that’s not. You believe it anyway. Let’s go.”
You turn and start back up the stairwell. You are silent until the first landing when Dan says, a little too casually,“So, it’s coming back to you? How does it work?”

“I’m not sure. It’s something about the way you click your teeth when you’re worried about the lie you’re telling, or the way your breath escapes when you’re confident about the lie. And your voice, it’s just a hair faster when you tell any kind of lie. In fact, even when you stuttered or rhymed, these things were true. In fact, looking back, I can hear that you’ve been lying to me from the beginning. Not about everything, but most things.”

“Impressive talent. Interrogation was your true calling, I can see.”

“I’m not so sure, but tell me what’s going on.”

“I can’t tell you yet.”

“Huh. That’s truly spoken, but not very helpful. Why not?”

“Look, the drugs were supposed to bring some of it back, at least I hoped it would–” You nod. He’s still telling you the truth–” but it didn’t work, at least not completely. But I think I know where we can resolve this thing once and for all. “

“Where?”

“Where you thought all along, the diamond room in hall 76”

“But there is no Hall 76! “

“I think there is. Move a little faster. It’s really important we stay ahead of Lorelei.”

“We tried level 7, remember?”

“I remember,” says Dan as the two of you pass L7 and continue up another flight.

“So, where?”

“Level 9. ”
For a brief moment you revisit the whole being sure you are awake thing but then you remember there are 9 floors to Sunnyvale and you are appropriately going up, not down.

Dan continues, “The real one. Not the one in your crazy dreams.”

But you never got to level nine in your dream, did you?

Together you pass level eight and continue on up to level 9.  Lorelei, if she is following you, must not know where you are going. Surely if she did she would be close behind. Is she searching each hallway on her way up?

You stop Dan, “Wait. What’s going on. Tell me what you know or I’m going no further.”

“Come on Troy. We really must stay ahead of Lorelei. Besides, you want to know the truth as badly as I do. That’s all we both want–the truth.”  You looks at Dan for a moment and nod.

“Look at this” he says pointing to the door for L9  Dan pushes against the l and reveals it to be a free hanging single letter. Turning it upside down the numbers on the door now read “79”. Understanding, you turn the hanging 9 upside down until it reads 6. “76”  You feel a rush of excitement at the image. It is identical to your memory of the door from your dreams.

“But why?”  you mutter.  Dan pushes open the door and the two of you enter. No doubt about it now. This is the hallway. This is hall 76. The doors in this hallway are identical to the ones on lower floors with the exception of symbols in place of numbers. You examine the doors with increasing interest. There it is! The door with a large Yin Yang symbol on it.

You turn to Dan in disbelief. “It’s real.”

Dan nods, “Yep.”

“Do you have a key?”

“No, but I think you might.”

Lorelei throws open the hallway door, gun in one hand, a look of triumph on her face when she see you. She points the gun in your direction.

 

And this ends episode 4.    Tune in Wednesday for part one of Episode 5: Endgame?.

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