Havoc chuckled, “Yeah, he’s just a Skunk Yeti. There are lots of different Sasquatch in the world.”
Weird. I hadn’t paid that much attention to cryptids, although maybe I should have at one time or another. At this point in life, it probably would have done me well.
I pushed him a little, “I asked earlier about what my ‘special talent’ is that you plan to train me on, and we never really got around to the answer there. So, what is it? Everyone else, including my wife, has been assigned training. What do you have in mind for me?”
General Havoc sighed deeply, “I see you as the kind of guy that can take like four to ten men in hand-to-hand combat simultaneously. You will be the bowling ball that we can roll through the enemy lines. Repeatedly.”
“Dude,” I laughed, “I’m not a big guy. I can hold my own, but I’d be hard pressed to get a couple guys in one go.”
He reprimanded, “Reid, when you get where you are going, you’d shock yourself on what you are capable of. That’s why I need you to be like Gandhi. I can’t have you getting mad. Even in a room full of armed guards, if you aren’t in control of yourself, you would be deadly.”
“So,” I asked, “everyone else has started their training. When do I get to start mine?”
“You’re in the middle of it,” Havoc said, “Why don’t you go and get a little sleep and we’ll do some more tomorrow. Go spend some time with your wife.”
He was right. I still didn’t like the guy too much, but he wasn’t always wrong either. So, I took my leave and found my way back to my quarters. When I got there, Naomi was there and completely energized. She was excited and told me all about her evening. When she had gotten back to the lab, they had set her project aside to ‘grow’ and had moved on to another few projects involving plants and lodestones and other things. Although it was fascinating, I was completely wiped and ready to sleep.
“I still don’t trust General Chaos,” I sleepily mused.
“Havoc,” Naomi corrected me, “It’s General Havoc.”
“Whatever,” I murmured as I gave way to slumber. She told me that she would need to wake up early to get to the lab. I was so tired that I fell to sleep to the pleasant sound of her excited chatter and planned to sleep in a little in the morning. It felt like as soon as I closed my eyes, I was awake again. the floor and bed were shaking and there was a terrible rumbling sound. The furniture was walking on the carpet because the vibration was so bad. Naomi had already left for the day. The phone rang. As in, the room’s land line rang. With furniture walking across the floor and objects being propelled through the air, I answered the phone. It was my dad. My mind was blown.
“Hey, I was wondering if you were coming over for lunch tomorrow,” asked my dad.
I answered, “Sure, that sounds great. Do you need us to bring anything?”
“No, I think we have it covered,” he said, “did I catch you at a bad time?”
“Well,” I said, dodging flying objects, “a little bit. Maybe we’ll just talk about it more tomorrow?”
And then, I actually woke up. The phone call had been a dream. The floor really was rumbling and the furniture was rattling and walking a little bit. The phone was not ringing, but I remembered my dad calling in my dream. I threw on my pants and rushed into the hall to see what was going on. There in the hall, around the corner, I saw two more strange creatures. These were disembodied heads that were around seven feet tall. They were talking to each other and flexing their psychokinetic powers. I yelled at them to tell them to stop but they couldn’t hear me over the noise they were producing with their bloated minds. So, I fled the scene, hoping to avoid anger, which I’d already been warned against. I went to the main hall – the one with the metal and the demonic wood stove to show up for work. I hunted down General Havoc and asked him for something to do, but he was too busy to talk to me and told me to go to Shelby. I asked Shelby what she might have for me to do. She gave me some papers to sort. In a previous lifetime, it would have only taken me a couple of hours to sort those papers, but with my brain the tired mess that it was, it took me two days.
For a couple of days, Havoc sent me out with recruiters. They always used either a large SUV, full size van, or a school bus. A couple of times, I didn’t know what to do, and when I asked, they instructed me to sit in the van and look scary. I don’t know how to look scary. I’m not a big guy. They assured me that if I just sat there and frowned and stared at them, I’d look scary enough. It worked well enough too. That gave me time to think. Unfortunately, I lacked the will to think, or something. I wanted to think, but I couldn’t. The days went by. Now, I mourn the people that the ‘recruiters’ took that I helped with, now that I can think about their fate. At the time, I couldn’t. I was having a hard time thinking about anything. Once, the recruiters pulled a school bus onto a race track and wedged it into the turn and hopped out of the back with submachine guns. I watched as they mowed down some drivers and dragged others out of their cars. More than two were torn from their cars before they’d even come to rest. I was busy. I was trying to think.
Several days, I spent out in the facility. The facility was huge. It had nooks and crannies. It had corners that nobody thought about. It had rooms that hadn’t been occupied in years that nobody bothered to lock. Nobody bothered to think about them. None of the birds or snakes or lizards or minotaurs or cats or gorgons or officials bothered me in those rooms. When I was there, I wasn’t blinded by sunlight or deafened by the buzz of submachine guns. I was trying to think. When I was among the people, there was the butt tape to falling gut to dizzy nausea thing on at least a couple of occasions, but I couldn’t tell exactly how many. When it happened, it reset my will to think and I had to start over. That’s why the outer corners of the facility did well for me – people would leave me alone. The bird people and the lizard people and the cat people and the people people would leave me alone and I could almost think because of it.
I could almost think. And so, I could almost remember my life. I had gone on vacation. I had a box of parts at one time. I once had parents and lunches. I was married to a beautiful woman. Yes, I had a wife. Her name was Naomi. Where was she? She was with me when I got here, right? I remembered us being together. I remembered our night together when we were introduced to our secret talents. And then, I couldn’t remember being with her since. How many days had it been? I had lost count. I had not slept every night, but I had had several days of doing several tasks each. It had been well over a week, and possibly as much as weeks since we had last seen each other. The emptiness had crept so far into my head that I had nearly forgotten Naomi’s face. In the catacombs under Deep Hawk, I let out a screaming roar of agony, and the tunnels were silent for a few moments because of it. It seemed that even the ventilation gave me a moment of silence. I had found my mission. I had found myself. I had to find my wife. Even if I lost myself, I would not lose her.
*** Yes, there was actually an Inception-style dream-within-a-dream. I have had some wild, vivid, involved dreams before, but this one really took the cake. We’re about half-way through “The Becoming” at this point. I hope you’ve enjoyed it so far!