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Chapter One: The Places Between
All lies begin with truth.
Lies are conscious thought directed in opposition to observed reality. The mind that forges the lie must cast it from the mold of truth, creating a negative expression of truth; creating its opposite. The lie and the truth used to create it, if brought together, fit smoothly and cleanly like the peices of a jigsaw puzzle. Then and only then, with all truth and falsehood brought together, can the picture be seen.
That which embraces only that which is true and rejects all that is not true sees half the picture. He She It They see a lie, because the lies of the peices that fit with the truth still form part of the picture. And that picture is reality.
Lies are true. When people beleive them, and act on them, their actions become real and therefore true. The truth is that there is no lie. There cannot ever be a lie. Only truths that He She It They cannot accept and do not like. He She It They You can't handle the truth.
But even if You could, what would You do with it?
IT clung to the massive filmy barrier, an impassible divide between the hungry darkness and the burning light. Between light and black. The Grey Net of Safety. IT looked -- wait. Not IT. HE. Sensation and knowledge was leaching back after the... something. HE looked around, like a spider in the center of an infinite web, as collecting dewdrops rushing towards the center splashed tiny dobs of color here and there. HE opened his mouth mandibles and drank down the beads of moisture.
Sitting by a classmate brother rival friend.
"It's a very triodic process," the other man said.
"Triodic? Is that even a word?" HIS voice.
"Not really, but if the British can stick an extra 'I' in Aluminum, I can say Triodic."
"But the British are crazy. They basically invented warm beer."
"Hmmm. Okay. Bad example."
HE turned away from the memory as another drop memory rolled down the film web at him and splattered on his body, soaked up almost instantly. Well, that was a time saver, HE thought to HIMself.
"Hey! Heeeeeey! You kids get out of that tree!" A man, old and stooped over and wheezing, running a the tree where HE was reaching away from the main trunk, grasping haphazardly at the sweet fruit just beyond arms length, without a care for the dizzying drop below.
Another splash: Two young boys, clearly grade schoolers but still very big to HIS perspective, advancing with malice broadcasting from every cell.
Two more waves of water memory, jumbled: HE was holding onto a drumstick of chicken turkey whatever some kind of bird meat and a yellow labrador dog was tearing some off of the end and wolfing it down... but in the background, a tiny toy car was running along the end of a desk and that desk was actually the top of a bridge and whoever was behind the wheel must have fallen asleep because it slowly slid over, peeled back the railing, and took a swan dive into the river. HE was standing in shock on the riverbank, and was about to dive in and see if HE could crack open a window or a door or something, but the driver bobbed up, gasping, and made an effort to make it to dry land.
HE started to lose HIS grip on the Grey Net of Safety. At first He had been thirsty loss and the drops had been welcome, but now hE had drunk his fill. The drops were connecting, adhering, and he was stuck in the center and drowning.
When he lost his grip, he found out that he was falling up into the light the burned away everything, the light that searched and looked until it found the weak spot and started drilling-
"There. Entry wound on the top of the head."
"No exit wound though."
"Bullet must be imbedded in the scalp. Or the brain. You want to do the honors?"
"Not really. I'll get the bone saw. You start on the scalp and-"
The man on the cooled slab opened his eyes when he heard the word 'scalp'. The two people above him were looking at each other at the moment and didn't notice this detail. As they turned to look back down at him, his arms shot up -- stiff and sore, but still perfectly able to do what arms did -- and grabbed them by the collars on their medical-looking outfits. A half-second before they could scream, and he was sure that they would, he yanked them back down to his level. Somewhere along the way, they collided with enough force to knock them both unconscious.
The noise this made was very unpleasant to the man on the slab. He let them both go so that they slithered down to the ground, and tried to sit up. This was not as easy or as pleasant as arms were; more muscle was involved, and so more stiffness and soreness was as well.
The man wasn't actually thinking at this point -- the attack on the two people had been a totally automatic instinct of self-defense. He was still running on mental autopilot as he staggered over to what looked like a sink... but his mind mislabeled for about two seconds as a fence.
He slapped water on his face and cupped some to drink, and the rest of his mind slowly built up speed as the ache in his head was appeased. Breif and disjointed images flashed across his mind's eye, most of them from that bizarre hallucination between black and white being drowned in color. At least, he thought it was a hallucination.
His brain was back up to what he somehow knew were normal levels. He felt he could multiply a few three digit numbers in his head and get the correct answer after about a minute. Observations and corrolaries about his environment stacked up and self-organized in a sidebar to his normal consciousness, details like the footwear the pathologists were wearing. Yes, they were probably pathologists, since they seemed to be on the verge of performing an autopsy. One was a man and the other a woman. Autopsy. Wait, what?
The man walked back over to the cold slab he woke up on and stared at it. "An autopsy is performed on the deceased to determine cause of death," he said. His voice was much deeper than his memory of talking with somebody about the maybe-word Triodic. "I am evidently not dead. They must have thought I was dead. Something must have caused that."
His mind ran on ahead of his mouth, taking the train of thought one step further. 'Maybe the same thing which made me seem like a corpse would explain why I can't remember my name.'
The thought went through his mind without triggering any alarms, and in fact it took about six seconds to realize that something was wrong. On a related note, he hadn't forgotten how to swear.
The nurse at the station was busy reading what looked like a magazine detailing larger and better-looking houses than she would ever own or even inhabit on her salary. Between those pages was an entirely different peice of literature. It involved pirates, ninjas, ninja-pirates, damsels in distress, dashing heroes, a World War II battleship and a moose that could shoot lasers from his eyes.
It was written by an author for whom humor and schizophrenia seemed to go hand in hand, and while it WAS hilarious in many spots, she mostly read it because the romantic scenes between the hero and the damsel, plus the pirate and the damsel, were described in extreme anatomical detail. It was hardly refined -- barely above the level of smut -- but Nurse Alicia Thorn had a husband who couldn't get it up even with the help of a Prince Albert peircing and giant MRI machine magnets in the ceiling. She would take what she could get.
Footsteps brought her out of her trance and Alicia looked up. A man was walking down the hall, dressed in a white coat, with a mask hanging down unused from his neck. Had she not been in such a hurry to get back to reading about Peg Leg Patrick's other wooden leg, she might have noticed how nervous the guy looked. But her mind automatically jumped to the clothing and concluded the man was higher on the pecking order than she was and had a reason for doing whatever he was doing. She went back to her book.
The man she had noticed and then ignored, who had no name he could recall, proceeded to what looked like a lounge, sat down at a table, and held his still-aching head in his hands. The male pathologist's clothing was not a good fit; the waist was too wide and the legs too short. He'd been able to cinch the belt tight enough, but the shoes were rapidly becoming a problem. The only saving grace was the so-called bullet wound on his head. His hair was long enough to do a sort of comb-over to hide it, but it was still a shaky thing; the clotting that he felt there threatened to give way and leak fresher blood out for all to see.
'I have between ten minutes and thirty five minutes before somebody finds the two people in the pathology lab, or they break out.' The second was a very real possibility, even though he'd made sure to tie them both up, gag them, and jam the door to that closet shut. He remembered a whole bunch of knots as he cut the wires from the electrical equipment, but his hand-to-eye coordination had yet to catch up with his brain. He could easily have botched some loop somewhere.
'I need to find out more about who I am. I need to find better clothing. I need to find out where I am. I need to use what I get from the first three things to find out what to do next.' Well, if he could find his personal effects, that would easily handle needs one and two... provided his original clothing was still wearable. Once he was dressed and with something to remind him of who he was, he could go outside and maybe find landmarks or a phone book, which would give him an idea where he was.
"You feeling okay?"
The man without a name slowly looked up at another man in a white coat. He saw -- even though he was not sure how he recognized it -- concern in the man's face. Not suspicion. The man without a name shrugged.
"I've probably been worse. Can't exactly remember when though."
"I don't even want to think about it."
As he was talking, the amnesiac faux doctor realized that the longer he stayed here pretending to be a doctor, the more likely it would be that a crisis or emergency would erupt and he would be called to display medical skills that he certainly did not remember, if indeed he had them at all. Clothes or not, identity or not, he had to get out.
Something deep down, deeper than memory, maybe even deeper than instinct, recoiled at the idea that others should find out he could not remember more than unrelated fragments of the past.
"Air," he said, standing up suddenly. It hurt his head and sent his balance careening off on a tangent, but he didn't care. "Must have air. Outside. Walls closing in. Left lane must turn left. Excuse me."
He almost ran back out into the hallway, trying to navigate his way back to some sort of entrance. He noticed there were no elevators and no stairwells, and deduced that the hospital was small and single storied, and therefore supported a small community. After moving past a few nurses, a janitor, and one patient leaning on his IV stand for support, he was rewarded with double doors. He sprinted out and almost tripped as his eyes hadn't adjusted to the dimness without.
'Without what?' he thought to himself, and almost laughed. He had no idea who he was, where he had been, or where he was going, but he knew where he was not, and that at least was a starting point.
Plus, he had the pathologist's pants on, and in the pocket of those pants was a wallet.