The Becoming – Part 4

Part 1, Part 3, Part 5

Part 4

Shelby led us back through the main hall and to the glass doors and staircase that Havoc had pointed out before. When the doors opened, the noise was nearly overpowering. It reminded me of stepping onto a factory floor. There were booms and crashes and a general rumble that sounded like a combination of machines working, fans blowing, and water running.

Shouting over the cacophony, Shelby warned us, “Just stay on the foot path as we go past The Playground. Get ready to see some weird stuff.”

“We’ve already seen a lot of weird stuff so far,” I quipped.

Get ready, Reid,” she reiterated.

As we walked down the stone path, we passed more odd creatures. One was not only covered with feathers, but she had a beak and wings. I say ‘she’ because her overall shape was far closer to that of a woman’s figure than a bird. Even her scaled legs and four-toed feet didn’t much take away from the fact that she looked as humanoid as she did bird. There were “people” with fur. Then, we saw creatures that looked nothing like anything else I’d seen. A cross between a snake and a millipede. There was a frog-like creature crawling on the stone ceiling of the cavern. Upon closer look, it was a group of at least a half dozen, but they were changing colors to blend in. Each one had to weigh at least 300-pounds. There was a lake in the cavern and there appeared to be platforms or floating stones sticking up out of the water. On two of these platforms were two figures facing each other, with giant balls of fire swirling around, as though they were sparring – fencing with weapons that were so completely alien to me that I couldn’t categorize them. As I watched them, I saw a great dark form ripple up out of the water. Its eyes were huge like basketballs and its teeth were like thousands of needles protruding from its bony mouth. I thought I saw an angler fish type lure, but couldn’t be sure before it disappeared back into the dark waters. Creatures flew, crawled, climbed, and they were all alien. I felt like a cave man on the Vegas Strip.

“…Reid!” I finally heard Shelby calling my name and realized that it was not the first time she’d called me just now. As I turned she said, “you weren’t ready. Anyway, we’re here. Don’t forget to listen. This is going to go pretty quick as most of the other students have had a head start on you and they need to go to The Playground for a while.”

I had been staring out onto the lake in The Playground and the bizarre wonders there to be seen, and I had completely missed the wall of glass behind me that was the classroom. We went into the classroom and found a table to sit down. There were other people in the classroom, and I recognized a few of them from the first room – the one with the projector and shuttered booths. But, they all looked different now. It was hard to identify what the difference was. Many of them were now wearing uniforms and sat a little straighter, as though they had boosted their confidence. I didn’t think that we’d been here more than a few hours, but these people looked like they’d been training for weeks. Just exactly how much time had passed? General Havoc came in with an assistant and they basically explained the same things over again from his original speech to us.

“Each of you has special, unique talents,” he said, “you’ve been selected because of these talents. Your training will help bring out these talents.” And then, he said some interesting things that he hadn’t said before, “almost all of you have talents that you don’t even know you have. But, we know you have those talents and we’re going to show them to you.”

Wait. That’s weird. I hadn’t even ever heard of this place before those guys brought us here after the bus broke down when we were on our way to… Where were we going? And, why were we going there? I remember the bus broke down. It was probably the radiator or something. And then, we rode with two guys, and then we were here… Anyway, that’s not the point. If they sought us out before we had even heard of them, then it stands to reason that they’d been watching us for a while. And, if they were watching us because of ‘special, unique talents’ then the recruiter meant to be there to pick us up when the bus broke down. And, how about that coincidence that the bus just happened to break down when it did. Was this whole thing a setup? Had they been stalking us and sabotaged the bus with the sole purpose of bringing us to this place? And then, as quickly as that, I could no longer remember why I was the least bit upset or angry with Deep Hawk.

During the orientation, many of the students displayed their budding new talents that they had learned since we all arrived at the facility. Some of their actions would have seemed downright magical, had I not just been witness to all the weirdness going on around me. As Shelby promised, the orientation was short. The most advanced students went to The Playground or their own labs that were tucked away in deep corners of the facility. Havoc took Naomi and me into a small room that was off of the metal hall with the demonic wood burning stove. The room had a bar-height table with bar stools around it. Two tiny men were waiting for us there. They couldn’t have been much over two feet tall each and weren’t perfectly miniaturized, with obvious signs of dwarfism.

Havoc addressed these two directly and said, “Boys, I’m feeling like a little chemistry tonight. Would you please bring my equipment?” The two diminutive men scuttled out of the room. Havoc turned to Naomi next, “How do you feel about electronics?”

“I don’t know,” she said, “I like them just fine I guess.”

“I’m talking about control systems primarily,” he clarified.

“Well,” she responded, “I’ve done a little programming. Nothing too intense, but you know.”

“No,” he further clarified, “integrated circuits. Oh well, it doesn’t much matter if you have had any experience with them. The skill set we want you to learn is completely different, but it’s just the best starting point that you might have from life outside of here. I’d like you to meet Claire,” he indicated behind him.

“Hi,” Claire said, and they shook hands, “if you would like, I could show you the lab. Right now it’s closed so you could warm up to it at your own pace.”

Naomi looked at me for an opinion. We’d made it a point not to get separated so far at Deep Hawk. “Go on,” I encouraged, “I’ll catch up to you tonight in a little while. So she went to the new lab with Claire.

General Havoc stood next to me and said, “You’re a good man!” and gave a coach-like slap to the butt. But, it felt like he stuck a sticker there.

“Oh no,” I uttered as the sticker feeling melted into gut-lifting nausea and dizziness, “What did.. what did you do?” was all I could get out in my disorientation.

“Oh, you alright there?” he steadied me by putting his arm under mine and deflected my question.

The two miniature men came back in with a couple of aluminum briefcases at that moment. He helped me to a barstool and took the cases from his little helpers. He opened the cases and inside were vials and chemicals, and measuring vessels and test tubes and all kinds of things. “As I was saying earlier,” he said as he began to mix chemicals, “we all have special talents. Some are common between us, and some are singularly unique. Not all of these talents are particularly useful,” he placed a glass in front of me with a blue steaming liquid in it, “but even some of those are fun. Drink up. It will help clear your head.” He continued to mix and stir and add liquids to a large clear glass bowl as he talked, “I’m sure that by now you’ve realized that you will see things here that you have never seen before.” He produced some straight sticks that were spiral striped red and white. Candy canes? But they weren’t canes, just sticks. He dipped them into the blue liquid in the bowl and stirred them slowly and the liquid flashed and turned orange. He slowly withdrew the candy canes which were now being orbited by dozens of tiny glowing sparks. He handed these to his two tiny helpers, “Those look about right, don’t they, guys?” then he added a couple more fluids until the bowl went from orange back to blue. As he did so, he continued to talk to me, “I’m sure that right now, your lovely wife is learning that she is capable of some things that she’s never even thought of. Don’t be shocked if she’s so engrossed in her work that you don’t even see her for the next few days.”

As if on cue, I heard Naomi’s voice, “Look what I made!” I turned and she presented me with a little box about the size of an Altoids tin. Inside it were what looked like little charcoal boxes and cylinders. Upon closer inspection, the objects inside had particular light deflection, as though they had consistent surface textures.

“Is that…” I asked, unsure of my perception.

“It’s a microcomputer,” she announced with proud excitement, “it’s an extremely powerful one. With the right software, it might even be self-aware.”

“Seriously?” I asked incredulously.

Claire nodded, “She shows a lot of promise.”

As Naomi looked into her little boxful of computer, her eyes sparkled with a glossy sheen that I’d never seen there before. She thoughtfully poked at its components with her finger, and I saw a blue spark run from her finger into the microcircuitry and dance over the components. She looked so happy.

“I love you,Naomi,” I told her.

She smiled at me, “I love you too, Reid!”

“Let’s get your project back to the lab for now,” said Claire.

My wife looked back at me and said, “I’ll catch up to you in our quarters later.”

When they had left, I asked General Havoc, “So, everyone has stuff going on and a direction to go, but I’m still in the dark here. What are you training me for?”

He sighed and said, “Walk with me, will you?” and he handed me one of his special candy canes.

I polished off my drink and hardly even remembered the slap on the butt and the subsequent unpleasantness. the sparks orbiting the candy cane had a very bright, sweet flavor. We were walking back up the white hall toward the front room with the dim mercury vapor lights. He was explaining to me again that we’re all different and have to work at our own paces. I was feeling warm and pleasant, and let him talk. He was hitting all the talking points that I’d heard him hit previously and I just didn’t care. When we got to the front room, it was even darker than I remembered. He sauntered over to the corner to the left of the stage and leaned against the shuttered window as he talked. As he talked, I stopped and looked up at him, and saw two of him. the one closest to me was talking and the one to his right was not. I looked closely at the second General Havoc and noticed what looked like a barrier of white fur between his legs. The one who was talking handed a candy cane to the other one who took it.

“He’s pretty good, isn’t he?” one Havoc addressed the other, who nodded in response. At that, the second Havoc seemed to melt down into another creature. It was standing upright, and was covered in fluffy white hair. Its face was nearly man-like but almost like an ape. the creature stood at less than five feet tall. At five foot six, it was pretty easy for me to gauge this creature’s height. At that point, the creature seemed to melt into the brick wall behind him, and then he was gone.

“What was that?” I asked.

“What was what?” Havoc responded.

“You know damned well what I’m talking about. What was that creature that mimicked you? Was that a Sasquatch?”

“Oh him,” Havoc chuckled, “Just another one of my helpers. He’s just a little Skunk Yeti.”

I had heard about the diminutive Skunk Ape myth from the southeast and I had heard of the Yeti of the Himalayas, but I had never heard of a cross between them. Then again, I had never paid too much attention to cryptids. Given the current circumstances, I wished that I had.

The Becoming – Part 3

Part 2 is here and part 4 is here. Part 1 is here, if you want to start at the beginning.

Part 3

So, we were finally led through those double doors, deeper into the building. There were the white painted walls and white vinyl floor that I had seen as others passed through the doors before me. the ceilings were white, industrial ceiling tiles with fluorescent lighting. The hall was long and stark, and there were unmarked doors here and there down its expanse. After about a hundred yards, the hall ended at yet another set of double doors.

“This is where most of the magic happens,” said General Havoc, as he swung open the doors. Behind them was a breathtaking amount of activity, full of color and motion. He pointed to the glass doors on the left that led down a staircase into a large, dark chamber, “That’s The Playground. That’s where we do the dangerous stuff. The classroom is down there too.”

This corridor was lined with metal framing and instruments of mysterious purposes, with dials and gauges that made whirs and ticks. There was what appeared to be a large furnace to the right. It looked almost like an old-fashioned wood burning stove, but the wicked, red glow that seeped from the cracks between the doors and hinges suggested that there was no mere wood fire within. On the left side of the hall there was a narrow counter top with small observation windows that overlooked parts of ‘The Playground’ and there were passages to other rooms to the right, past the furnace thing. All up and down this hall, there were at least a dozen or so… workers. They were almost like people. Most of them were bipedal creatures, but none of them looked quite human. Several of them looked anything but human, truth be told.

Havoc pointed out various creatures and introduced them, but my head swam with the unexpected sensory overload, and I missed most of the introductions, “Are you listening, Reid?” he asked. Introducing us to a woman severely dressed in red and black he announced, “this is Shelby. If you need anything, you’re best off addressing your questions to her. She knows more of what’s going on around here than I do, and she’ll take care of you.” Many of the creatures looked like mythical characters. There was a gorgon, and a minotaur, and a… I didn’t have any clue what that thing was, but he had scales and claws. And, that one had feathers. Some of the more human ones had eyes that were not quite the right shape, or orientation, or color even. Even those that looked the most normal wore strange uniforms that I had never seen before, such as flight suits from another race of creatures. To put it simply, it looked kind of like a costume party.

“So, you’re the new kids?” asked Shelby.

“That’s us,” Naomi smiled at her.

She smiled back, “Don’t worry. We’re all freaked out on the first day.” And then, she said to me, ” I will tell you that you might watch out for her.”

That’s when I felt the hand grab my butt. The woman who walked past wore a little white dress, and bright red lipstick – almost but not quite naughty nurse style. She gave a wink over her shoulder as she walked away. It felt as though she had stuck a bumper sticker across my buttocks. I reached back to feel for the offending sticker, which wasn’t there. The feeling of having something stuck on my seat melted into a gut feeling like I’d just fallen from someplace high up. I wasn’t sure what the woman in white had done, but it was something. It was something that was weird and unwelcome and I had never experienced anything like it before.

“What was that?” I gasped.

Naomi looked at me in confusion. Apparently, she’d missed the whole thing. I have to admit that it happened extremely fast, and the woman might have escaped my view as well, had Shelby not pointed her out to me.

“Don’t worry about that,” Shelby said with a little too much concern on her face for me to feel comfortable with her dismissal, “As I said, you might watch out for that one. She’s a mess.”

As the feeling faded it gave way to mild nausea and wooziness. I steadied myself with my hand on the door frame as I regained my head. “Duly noted,” I said.

She quickly changed the subject, “Let’s get you the keys to your quarters and settle you in so you can go to class. I know General Havoc wants to start you two on training as soon as possible, and there’s orientation and introductions to be made in the meantime.”

She led us down one of the side passages into an industrial carpet labyrinth of passages. The colors were a little softer than the stark white and metal that we had just seen, and the lighting was a little warmer than the sterile, cool fluorescents. Eventually we made it to a wood door that the keys unlocked. Inside was a queen-sized bed, a dresser, a small table and two chairs. There were lamps on both sides of the bed, and there was a night stand with a land line telephone. Everything was clean, but it looked like it had been furnished from a hotel supply. Upon noticing the phone, I had a suspicion and pulled out my cell phone. Sure enough, there was no signal.

“Yeah,” Shelby said, noticing my cell phone, “we’re so far underground that you’ll never get a signal down here.”

“Don’t you ever get lost in this place?” Naomi inquired.

“You’d be surprised,” Shelby said, “your training will… well, you’ll learn to remember the important stuff.” Before we could ask for clarification of her cryptic comments, she continued, “besides that, if you have any trouble, I’ll help you out until you know your way. Most anybody here will be glad to help you if you need it.”

“So what’s next,” Naomi asked.

“Well,” Shelby explained, “I need to take you to the classroom so you can do orientation, and then I think General havoc wants to meet with the two of you. It will be very informal; mostly just getting to know expectations in both directions.”

“What is with that guy, anyway?” I asked.

“What do you mean?” Shelby seemed genuinely confused.

I read her face for a moment before responding, “Nothing. Nevermind.”

The Becoming – Part 2

It may be ill-advised, but I’m trying my hand at fiction after a 10+ year hiatus. This is the second installment in the retelling of a wacky dream I had one night. Click here for part 1. The next one will be found here.

Part 2

He said he was a General. General of what, I wondered. The few uniforms I had seen so far certainly didn’t look much like military uniforms. I had to wonder if it was a self-imposed title or if it actually meant something. I did get the distinct impression that he was supposed to the the guy in charge around here.

“Babe,” I said, “That man said his name was General what?”

“General Havoc,” Naomi answered.

“What a weird name,” I mused, “I mean, what were his parents thinking?” I was tempted to ask if that was a nickname or shortened form of something else, but I usually put my foot in my mouth when I ask that sort of thing. My thoughts were interrupted by another man who had taken the stage and was calling names off a list. We all listened carefully for our names, and then those whose names were called were instructed to file through the double doors to our left. Our names were not called, but we watched as those that were made their way deeper into the facility. I curiously craned my neck to see through the doors, but all I saw was a white-walled hallway with white vinyl flooring. When the group of people made it through the doorway, the doors were closed behind them. After we had waited for some time, I began to get bored and then to get drowsy. I laid down on one of the couches and closed my eyes. Then, I became aware of a presence nearby. I opened my eyes to a squint against the anemic but irritating mercury vapors to see a silhouette standing over me. It took me a second to realize that it was my ‘friend’ from before.

“It’s me, Mike,” he said, “we met earlier.”

“Yeah.” I sat up. I hadn’t realized it but I must have fallen asleep.

“So, I tried to talk to your wife but she didn’t want to talk to me. Is that rude or what? Anyway, are you excited for when they call you?”

I stared at Mike in disbelief, “You seriously just woke me up for that?”

He stammered a little bit, “Well, I mean, I’m not really too excited about it, but a lot of other people act like they are and I just didn’t know, I mean, I was curious if you were too…”

“Look guy,” I said, “I’m tired of this room, and I’m tired of being in the dark both figuratively and literally,” I rolled my eyes across the room as if to punctuate my annoyance at the low light, “I don’t know how they do things where you’re from, but it’s generally considered rude to wake someone from sleep to make small-talk.”

“Geez. Sorry. I didn’t mean to rub you the wrong way,” said Mike ineffectually as he shuffled away.

I laid there on the couch and fumed. There was precisely one other person in this place that I cared anything about, and that was Naomi. I was tired. But, I couldn’t get back to sleep. I sat up and looked around. The crowd had thinned out significantly; it was pretty obvious that I had slept through a couple of roll calls. A few couches down, I saw my wife reading a book. I turned and there was my case of parts at my feet. I stretched and yawned, and picked up the case, standing up to go and join her when I was jarred from behind.

“Oh sorry,” said Mike as my case crashed to the floor, scattering parts across the carpet as the lid sprung open. It was pretty obvious that he hadn’t bumped me on purpose, but was simply clumsy. Still he had hit me hard.

“What is your problem?” I blew up at him, “Would you watch where you are going? You know what? On second thought, just stay away from me. And my wife, and my stuff too!”

“I’m really sorry,” he persisted and crouched, “Here, let me help you.”

“No, I’ve got it. These things have their own little compartments.”

As I gathered the parts off the floor, a different voice asked, “you really don’t get it, do you, Reid?” This was a loud, smoke-seasoned voice. The ‘General.’

I put the last of the parts back into the case and stood up, “Look, Mr. Panic, he was…”

He interrupted me by slapping the case out of my hand. It violently hit the ground, the lid cracked off its hinge and every part inside the case went flying. “That’s General. Havoc.” he corrected.

In all fairness, I was never very good with names.

“You don’t get it do you? What good are those parts to you anymore? What value do the contents of that box have at this point? Would you like to be compensated for them? Do you understand that by the time you’re done here, you won’t even remember what was in that case? Do you want to be part of this program or not, Reid?”

Again, the little voice was telling me to leave. And again, I should have listened. But, you know what they say about curiosity and its effect on the cat. Yes, I wanted to see how far down the rabbit hole went.

“Fine,” I said, “You win. I don’t need those anymore. Do you want me to be more patient with Mike as well? Would that make you happy?”

“Ecstatic,” said Havoc, “That’s what we’ve been waiting for. Are you and Naomi ready to go in to start your training?”

I was flabbergasted, “That’s really all there was to it?”

He then turned to Mike, “good job. I’ll see you at your next briefing.” And then to me, “we needed to assure that you in particular could learn patience and how to let go of anger.”

That one really had me confused, “I have not historically had an anger problem, and what in the world gave you the idea that…”

“Calm. Remember. We have specific plans for you and it is imperative that you learn to go above and beyond what has ever been expected of you. Above and beyond what is ever expected of anyone else actually. In order to proceed with your training, I need you to be like Gandhi.”

I still didn’t trust him, but I found myself complying with his request, “Alright. I’m calm. What kind of training is this anyway? You may have to explain this to me a little further.”

“Understood and agreed,” he said, “I’ll tell you more a little later. Why don’t both of you come with me for now?” he addressed to Naomi and me. I motioned to the mess of parts and broken case on the floor. “Don’t worry about that,” he assured, “I’ll have one of my guys clean up that junk.

The Becoming – Part 1

Last week, I made a short reference to quite a strange dream that I had several weeks ago. When I was a teenager, I penned a little fiction. I’ve mused about exploring that further, either editing the admittedly thin narratives from my younger years or fleshing out some of the ideas that kind of dead-ended for me. I’ve also wanted to play with some original work, but haven’t really known what direction to go with it. This dream that I mentioned earlier was really quite compelling and I think it will make a great starting point, so I will make an attempt to serialize it in a written story here. I’ll try to keep it in small enough chunks that it doesn’t take any huge commitment to read, but provide links so that you can read it all at once if you so choose. Well, assuming you stumble across it when more of it has been published. So anyway, please do let me know how you like it as it progresses, but try to be gentle as I haven’t done much fiction since I was a kid. Anyway, here’s the first installment:

Part 1

I disliked Havoc from the first moment I saw him, and I eventually came to find out that my prejudice was well justified. I don’t know whether that was the name his mother gave him at the time of his unfortunate birth, his inherited surname, or an alias that he picked up along the way; but I appreciate the irony that havoc is exactly what he does to the lives of anyone that crosses his path. It never ceases to amaze me how people will so willingly let him hijack their lives. It seems like so long ago when my life took such a strange curve and some of the details are fuzzy now, as though they occurred in a dream long ago.

My wife and I were on a trip. We were passengers on a bus headed for a resort for a working vacation. For personal protection, I was wearing my pistol, as I always did in those days. I never needed to use it, and I have no idea where it even is at this point. She and I were so happy; it seems like we never had a care in the world. I know that’s not as true as I remember it, but as compared to what we’ve been through since, it’s quite a reasonable feeling. I had with me a case of something that was related to work – small parts or something. As I said, some of the finer details are vague from the old days. I remember that the items seemed important at the time.

Before we reached our intended destination, the bus had to stop. It was most likely the radiator or a radiator hose, as it was losing a lot of coolant and there was quite a bit of steam coming from the engine compartment. The bus company offered to put us up in a hotel while they had the bus repaired, but we had a schedule that we had to keep. We met some people at the truck stop that offered us a ride. As nice as this seemed, we should have declined their offer. I know now that they would have become insistent, and I should have then used my pistol. But, had I known then what I do now, things would have turned out far differently.

They did not take us to the resort where we were headed, but instead took us to Deep Hawk. At first, I was not alarmed because I didn’t know the way to the resort, and thought that our alternative destination might be a facility in the resort itself. Its name is officially Deep Hawk Training Center, but it should more rightly be called a human trafficking detention center. I still had my pistol on my hip at that point. Had I known then what I know now… and yet I repeat myself. We were shown to a large room and instructed to wait.

The room was about the size of a basketball court and was finished darkly. The floors were in brown, industrial carpet, the walls were dark red painted cinder blocks, and the cavernous, industrial ceiling was painted black. There were too few mercury vapor lights that burned starkly, not adequately or comfortably lighting the room, but still casting harsh shadows. Whether the room was not equipped with enough lights or if it had some that were not lit was nearly impossible to determine with the contrast of the harsh light produced against the black background. There were couches and chairs arranged loosely into multiple seating areas about the floor. Around the walls, there were what looked like vending booths with shuttered windows, and there were several sets of double doors. On one end of the room, there was a large projector screen playing commercial material advertising DHTC. There were other people being escorted into the room from the various double doors.

“This seems odd for a resort,” my wife commented to me, “What is Deep Hawk Training Center? Is that an activity offered by the resort?”

“I don’t know,” I responded, “I don’t recall anything about it in the literature.

One of the other people in the room approached me, “Hey buddy, do you know what is going on here?”

“No, I don’t. Do you know where we are?” I returned the question.

“Can’t say,” he said and offered a handshake, “The name is Mike.”

“Hi,” I responded coldly. I didn’t know where I was, but I was not there to make friends. My dread continued to deepen as I overheard others in the rapidly crowding room wondering aloud where they were and why they were brought there. I was scanning the doors to see if we might be able to slip out when a booming voice came from the end of the room opposite of the projector, as if in answer to everyone’s concerns. He was about six foot five, broad shouldered, and had a neatly trimmed beard.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” he addressed us, “I’m certain you’re all wondering why you are here, and I’m going to tell you. I’d like to welcome you to Deep Hawk Training Center. Here we train the best of the best elite forces. Right now, you are thinking to yourself that you’ve never heard of us. That is correct. Nobody had ever heard of us, not even the other so-called elite forces. Each and every one of you has been individually selected for your unique talents that we will help you to cultivate and develop in return for your service.”

There must have been something pumped into the vents, because this sounded like a far better proposition than it seems in retrospect. I was not alone as I noticed the unanimous reaction of excited anticipation from the crowd. I made eye contact with my wife and could tell that she was also fascinated by the proposition put before us. the side doors opened and several people came in wearing strange uniforms. The group cleared a path for them as they made their way to the center of the room. One of the men crouched and then leaped up into the air, spanning the thirty-foot rise to the ceiling, and grasping the ceiling supports with his heels, hanging upside-down. Another man outstretched his hands and the couch in front of him levitated above the crowd. A woman with them held her hands out, palms up, and produced flames from her hands which blazed ten feet into the air, hotly, like the burner in a hot air balloon.

In his tobacco-seasoned, gravely voice the speaker continued, “When we’re done with you, you will jump higher, run faster, and hit harder than you ever thought possible. Many of you will become weapons experts, some of you will be intel masters, and others of you will build skills that exceed the limits of your imagination. If you are not interested in realizing your full potential, there’s the door.”

Not an eye turned in the direction he pointed, granting further credence to the possibility that we were all being drugged for compliance by way of the ventilation system. I unwisely ignored the little voice telling me that this was going to be a long and unpleasant journey. I didn’t trust our hosts a single bit, but I found myself irresistibly intrigued by the proposition.

“My staff and I will oversee your training and conditioning over the next few months. I am General Havoc and I’d like to welcome you all to the program.”

In a previous entry, I asked for advice on POV and other details. I obviously decided to write this first-person, but I have yet to settle on names for the protagonists. The dream was first-person point of view, and unlike some of my other vivid dreams, I was me and I was married to Jenni. I know, but it’s really not as bad as it sounds. Anyway, the storyline deviates so far from reality that it seems pretty contrived to stick with “Michael & Jenni”. So, please help me out with some suggestions so I don’t have to name them “Pubert & Shanaenae” or “Sven & Olga” or something silly even. Or, if you think that I should go ahead and leave them named after us, please tell me that as well.

Edited to fix terminology of lighting technology. o_O

Edited to clarify that the windows weren’t shuddering, but were closed with shutters.

Also edited for a typo in the footnotes.

Part two will permalink here.