So, as I focused on what I was missing, I felt my mind getting stronger. Now, I could think more clearly than I could remember. I think, therefore I am. It was time to confront the General. As I made my way through the halls I felt the anger and indignation swell inside me. How dare they do this to us! I came out from the dark catacombs under Deep Hawk into the residential sections. I made my way through those halls, passing other individuals periodically. I was moving fast and they seemed startled by my rush as I passed.
It was obvious that they were trying to change me. What were they changing me into? I didn’t really know. I did know that when they introduced ‘recruits’ (kidnapees) they introduced them to their assigned new life in a particular way. What seemed like a lifetime ago, I remember them taking Naomi to the lab where she would be working. I saw them taking other people to expose them to their new futures. What did they show me? Havoc made a drink and candy for me. He had basically dismissed that as a party trick though. And, there was that creature that appeared in front of us. Of all the creatures I had seen, that one had been unique with his white hair and ape-like form. Was that it? Were they trying to change me into a creature like that? The tape on the butt feeling – every time they did that to me, I felt like I lost a little piece of myself. That had to be the treatment they were administering to attempt the transformation. Fortunately for me, they had underestimated my strength and resilience. I still knew who I was.
Suddenly, I stopped. Wait. What is this? I know this place. I turned to my right and the door looked important for some reason. That was our room. These are the quarters we were assigned when we got here. I put my hand on the knob and the door was locked. I patted at my pockets and found that I was missing my room key. Frustrated, I sighed deeply. I placed my right hand on the door knob and braced against the frame with my left. I don’t know what I expected to accomplish, but I took a deep breath and pulled until I felt movement. There was a creak and snap from within the latch mechanism and the door came open. When I looked inside, the room looked like it had not been occupied in a long time. None of Naomi’s or my personal belongings were in the room and a layer of dust was on all of the flat surfaces. I turned from the room and slammed the door. It bounced back open against the door frame as I sprinted away.
I knew the way to the main hall – the metal hall with the evil furnace. I had a feeling that’s where I would find the General. No, it was more than that. I could feel his very presence there. In fact, I could feel many presences. It was odd, it wasn’t exactly a new sensation, but it had come on gradually enough that I hadn’t really noticed before. Couple that with the fact that my brain had been in some kind of a stasis that I was now waking from, and of course I hadn’t previously noticed. There was a breeze in my hair that swept away the tears of anger. I suddenly realized that I had never run this fast before, and yet I was not short of breath. I didn’t waste too much time on this thought as I came into the metal hall. All of the creatures near me went silent as they turned their wide eyes toward me. There at the other end of the hall, with his back turned toward me was the General.
“Havoc!” I roared at him.
He turned towards me, but before either of us could say anything else, I felt that disturbingly familiar touch again, that I had pretty well determined was the transformative treatment. Someone had again smacked my backside, and the tape feeling gave way to the dropped gut feeling. This time it was far more intense than it had ever been before. It wrenched at my insides and made my ears ring. I went down from the dizzy nausea. I laid on my back on the cold floor in convulsions for a moment, breathing heavily. General Havoc took one of my hands and one of the main hall workers took the other hand. Shelby pushed on one shoulder as they hoisted me to my feet. Someone else was at my other shoulder. Once I was back on my feet I looked around to gauge my situation. Had it been Shelby to do that thing to me this time? Surely not, but who else? I looked into her eyes inquisitively and they told me that it had indeed been her. I snorted as I looked away from her apologetic gaze. General Havoc looked startled to see me, but was playing it as cool as he could.
“What can we do for you, my friend?” he cooed.
“We are not friends,” I growled, “are you trying to turn me into one of those things? Like appeared that night when we were talking in the entry room?”
Havoc looked surprised. I had a feeling that he didn’t expect me to remember that event so clearly. Many others in the room suddenly averted their eyes, uncomfortably looking at the floor. “Why no,” Havoc said, “as I told you then, he was just a little Skunk Yeti. You are going to be a full-blown Bigfoot.”
“Need I remind you that I am not a big guy?” I pointed.
General Havoc stepped closer and looked up into my eyes. I suddenly realized that I was looking down at him, even though he was almost six and a half feet tall. By comparison, I must have been close to eight feet tall at that point. “It took four of us to put you on your feet just now,” he reminded me, “look at your hands, Reid.”
I looked at my hands in horror. They were covered by thick fur. My bare palms were leathery, and my thumbs were low, toward the wrist bone. When did this happen to me, and why hadn’t I noticed? I watched the faces around me as they witnessed me come to the realization of what had happened to me. It was not at all what they were trying to transform me into so much as that they were successful and nearly complete in my fundamental transformation. I reached to my hip. “Where is my gun?” I demanded.
Havoc looked confused, alarmed even, “You remember your gun?” He quickly shook off his surprise, “It wouldn’t do you any good now anyway. Even if you weren’t inherently more deadly than bullets, your finger won’t even fit in the trigger guard anymore. Don’t worry about your gun.”
“Where is my wife?” I roared. I suddenly realized that my voice was entirely different from what I had known my voice to be.
“You remember your wife?” This seemed to shock General Havoc even more than the previous question.
I could smell the fear in the room, “Where is she?”
“She’s safe,” Havoc assured without really answering my demand. Two figures in helmets with guns rushed into the room behind him. He raised his arms to block them, “No, don’t. You’ll only piss him off. Just put your rifles down. We need him to be calm.”
“Fine,” I said, “I’ll find her myself.” I took off on all fours and didn’t stop for the closed double doors but plowed them completely off their hinges on my way through.
As the doors clattered to the floor, I heard Havoc cry, “he’s going to tear this place apart!”
“Your fault!” I yelled over my shoulder as I turned down another hall.
*Edited to read “Your fault” instead of “You’re fault”. I still can’t believe that I perpetrated such an annoying grammatical error!