The Stolen Man: Law of the Land, Episode 3-1
Wherein Dan and Troy discuss theories, some good, some bad.
(S.M. Table of Contents)
You are on a ship. That would explain the way the the world is shifting side to side, up and down. It might explain the sick feeling in the pit of your stomach, and the noise in your ears, could that be rushing water? But what explains the blurry cast to the world, as if you are looking through a veil, or a fogged up window.
Except it’s not a ship. It’s a coffee shop, the same one you visited with Helen earlier. Something else happened here too, something about a bracelet…or a necklace…or – wait, someone is here, and they won’t stop talking.
The fog clears just a little and you see It’s Dan. He’s saying something about you being awake now. You would argue the point but it’s too difficult. You stared down at your hand. You wonder vaguely what’s in the coffee cup you are holding and why you can’t feel it at all. You are more interested to note that your hand looks healthy again; no redness, no swelling. You move your fingers to see if it hurts. It does and as you grasp the cup again, now you can feel the heat from the cup.
You look up at Dan.
“What time is it,” you ask.
Dan shakes his head, “Doesn’t matter. What does matter is figuring out the laws of the land, the rules of the game, the way to beat this thing.”
It takes you a moment to remember why Dan isn’t rhyming anymore. There was a reason he stopped rhyming…or stuttering…what was it?
Dan reaches over and lifts your hand, and the cup with it, towards your mouth, prompting you to take a sip. It’s flavorless but hot and it does seem to make you feel slightly better.
“Come on, Dude, snap out of it. They did something to you. Back in that room.”
You nod, “The diamond room.”
“No! the weird chick room. Come on man, pull yourself together. I need your help. We’ve got to figure out what their game is.”
“What time is it?”
“What’s the reason or the rhyme you’re obsessed with the time?”
“Why are you rhyming again?”
Maybe that’s it. “No rhyme or reason.”
Dan looks concerned, “Man, you’re talking nonsense.”
“Well, I think we ought to consider it.”
The world is still making you a bit seasick, but your mind is starting to clear, “Your wife thinks I’m her husband. You remember that you’re her husband, while the only thing I remember for sure is that I’m not! There’s a guy named six who pretends to be a doctor and a guy named seven who does nothing but stand around. There’s a girl in a glass cage and a stutterer who doesn’t stutter, but rhymes, except when he doesn’t! What’s the point? Maybe there isn’t one! Maybe it’s all just nonsense to keep us endlessly searching for a meaning that doesn’t exist.”
“No, that can’t be right. No one would do all this for no reason. There has to be reason.”
You shrug. It was a thought anyway.
“Look, ever since the beginning you’ve only been trying to escape, but if we just knew what the laws of the land were, we could get out of this wilderness, maybe in the end we could get some victory, at least that’s how I see it.”
Dan isn’t making much sense. Is it Dan or is it you?
He continues, “I just mean, it’s like someone else is writing the script, but if we could just figure out the plot…”
“Plot? I don’t even recognize an outline.”
“Exactly. Is the love story our diction, or is it science fiction, a debate philosophic, or a classial epic?”
“You’re rhyming again.”
“Sorry. Something ties all this together and I think I’ve figured out what.”
“You. Look here, Six said there were nine floors, right?”
Dan pushes a paper across the table to you. On it is written in a neat column L1, and under that L2 and under that L3 and so on.
“Dan, these are backwards. It should be going up, not–”
The sudden pain in your hand is enough to make you groan. You let go of the cup, pulling your hand in against your side, examining it for any sign of wound. The ship seems to be turning completely upside down and as you fall forward against the table, you are vaguely aware that Dan has grabbed the paper from the table and instead of concerned seems excited.
“That’s it!” His voice sounds distant like he’s standing on shore as the ship spins away from him, “Troy, It’s Helen! Troy, are you ok? Oh No! Not again!” Dan stands from the table and begins to cross towards you, but it’s too late, the ship is sinking, you are sinking. The world is going black again…
You are standing. The coffee shop is no longer swaying, in fact it’s gone. It’s as if the world turned over and you are now somewhere else. Standing outside…somewhere. Dan is still talking (does he ever stop?)
“…not much of a theory, but still…”
It feels like time is running out, but you can’t identify what that feeling means. What are you supposed to be doing? What happens if you don’t do it? How much time do you have? You look up at Dan, intending to ask where you are. Instead you ask, “What time is it?”
Dan is answering but the world is going again. You wish it would stay still, but it’s slipping away, folding. Where will you appear next? What is wrong with you?