The Stolen Man: Into the Wilderness: 4-6
(S.M. Table of Contents)
“Well wake him up, broom boy, he wants to stay we let him stay.”
Perhaps this voice travels dimly to you through your drug induced sleep, but what you can’t possibly know is how quickly Dan moves to do just that, introducing new drugs into your system, attempting to wake you in response to your speech about staying in sunnyvale, about being tired, about not caring anymore. Nor, even if you were awake, could you possibly know of the conflict in Dan, that he wants to wake you while you’re weak, but also that he wants to hear what you remember; to learn about the list, wants you to remember. And even if you were awake and could read minds (as some claim you can), you would, of course, not know what list Dan was referring too, because, you do not yet remember. On the other hand, even in your dream, you now remember that you don’t trust Dan, that you don’t like Dan, although once you both trusted and liked this strange, non-rhyming, non stuttering, non-janitor of Sunnyvale Heights. In fact, you are sure you’ve recently come to hate Dan.
This might explain why in your current psychotropic psychotherapy (as Lorelei called it) you’ve chosen to see Dan as a large half man/half bull and you are trying to kill him. Upon entering L7, you appeared to be standing in an arena made up of concentric circles, each circle larger and elevated above the one beneath, like a giant circular stadium. You entered at the top ring, and in the center ring, at the bottom of the arena, growling, snarling, and looking both completely frightening and utterly ridiculous, was Dan, as the minotaur. You wondered, at that moment, not for the first time, at the state of your sanity, apart from the memory loss, apart from the current drugged state; your mind has some crazy stuff going on inside it to make this up. Now, though, you stand at the bottom of the arena, holding not a sword but a large kitchen knife, attempting to kill the minotaur. You barely remember actually getting down here, blinded as you were by rage. When you first entered, Dan had mocked you, chided you, accused you. First stuttering, then rhyming, than speaking in a dry cruel voice you had not yet heard this side of the memory loss, he talked about your crimes against humanity, against God, against decency. He claimed his crimes, for which you hate him, were nothing compared to yours, to your complete disregard for nature and decency. Frustratingly, as you stand here, face to face with the beast, you are sure he said more, that for brief moments you heard and knew the truth, but somewhere form the outer circle, to the inner, you’ve forgotten again. The minotaur is not moving, not attacking, waiting to see what you do perhaps. You look at the knife in your hand, (why didn’t you give yourself a sword), you look at the minotaur with his mocking sneering smile, and you realize something. You are not a violent man. Not this way, not directly. You can’t kill the minotaur. Something about this depresses you and you turn aside.
“You are such a fraud.”
It’s Dan, speaking behind you. There is anger, mockery, and something else, maybe a little sorrow even, but that’s probably your own sorrow speaking through his voice.
Turning back you see that Dan is just Dan now, all man, no bull, but not as you’ve ever seen him. No manic smile, no shuffling feet or rumpled look. His eyes are steely and the knife you dropped is in his hand.
“I’m a fraud? I don’t even know who you are. Janitor? Patient? Stuttering, rhyming? Friend, foe. Are you Troy?”
Dan laughs, but it’s bitter and cold, “Sure, that’s your way isn’t it? Turn everything back. I call you a fraud, so suddenly it’s about me. No Troy, you’re the fraud. You’re not Troy, you’re barely even human. You think yourself noble because you won’t use this knife, but you take lives with a relish I’ve never felt. You revel in the chaos you cause. Until it touches you, then all of a sudden we’re all despised. When we worked for you it was fine, but when your work hurts you, suddenly it’s no good. You are such a fraud.”
The arena is starting to shimmer, to fall part, and you realize that you are starting to wake. You realize too, that you don’t want to wake, not yet. Something Dan is saying…it’s not right exactly, but it’s more right than anything you’ve heard so far. You want to continue the conversation, to prolong this moment before waking so you speak without thinking,
“No, Dan, you betrayed me. You pretended to serve me, but you betrayed me!”
It’s only as you say it that you realize it’s entirely true. You have no idea how or why but the entire sentence, it’s true. Dan worked for you, (works?) for you, but he betrayed you.
It doesn’t help though. The arena is collapsing, Dan is fading, still sneering. You are rising up through the mist of sleep, feeling yourself coming to. Dan’s face is being replaced by…Dan’s face. Your eyes are open. Dan is there, and as a last residual artifact of your dream, that moment of transition from sleep to waking you hear Virgil say, “You can remember if you want to Troy. It’s up to you now.”
You struggle to sit up, to confirm that you are finally, really, at last awake. You are lying on a cold steel table, your body violated by tubes and cords which Dan is removing from you as you wake. Lorelei is nowhere to be seen. Wasn’t she here? You’re frankly not sure. Last time you thought you woke here, you were really still asleep. And Dan…he looks nothing like the dream Dan. No sneer, no cruel glint. Was that real? Was it a lie?
Dan removes the last probe and you manage to sit up, feeling only slightly dizzy, but surprisingly alert. You are awake. How weird it is, that when you are awake you know it beyond a doubt, but when you are asleep you don’t. You still don’t know who you are, and the holes in your memory are large enough to drive a truck through, but you have learned somethings in your dream…or have you? For a truth-diviner, you are having a hard time discerning whether your own brain has lied to you, or brought you truth.
Dan. You don’t trust him. You shouldn’t trust him. The anger, the hatred has come with you from the dream. As Dan reaches down to help you up you ask, “Am I awake? Really Awake?” mostly to gain time. You have no doubt about it.
“Yeah, you are. The drugs finally word off. Cone on we’ve got to get you out of here.”
“I don’t think so. I’m not going anywhere with you. I don’t trust you.”
Dan sighs, “You remember then?”
You nod, though truly, you don’t know what it is you are supposed to have remembered.
“Well then remember this. Don’t trust me, but Lorelei will be back any minute and she wants to kill you. I may have lied to you…” he sees your glare and corrects himself, “ok, I definitely lied to you, but I’m just trying to learn the truth now. Just like you. But Lorelei is a different matter. Her goal is to get information from you and then kill you.”
I feel like I have done a poor job of providing encouragement during this serial. I’ll try to be more better. I applaud the creativity and complexity of the story. I am excited for more.
You are always encouraging and supportive! Thanks for your faithful readership and input!