You can stop. Just stop. Please.
Have you ever startled awake from a dream deeper than death? Because I have. I was a dream, then, I awoke to the sound of tumultuous noise.
Disorientation wracked my head, sending me to my knees. Tremors lanced through me, running down to the tips of my burning fingers. My hands crashed on the ground and sweat matted hair clung to my face. I may have been having a seizure, which was immediately disconcerting.
Alive, that means I’m alive.
The sound of blood rushing in my ears thumped like drums, the whole world beating to the sound. My eyes affixed on the ground, staring at trembling hands, widened.
I am… I thought but couldn’t find the words to follow. Then I did.
Buck ass naked.
I laughed, long and hard. Tears started to stream down my face, I laughed so much. My stomach began to hurt, I laughed so loudly.
The irony was painful.
In one motion my foot stepped forward to brace my ascent, and I rose and stretched out my aching limbs. My laughing died out and I took in a long breath through my nose. Felt my chest expand, my heart beat and my mind focus. I was standing in the middle of an unlit room, carts and computers littered the space. Two walls were glass, one glowed brightly red, like a burning dusk.
The blaring static silenced.
Stumbling over hot lines on the ground, I made my way over to the tinted wall. I leaned against it and slid down to rest on the cold concrete, head against the hard glass. I pressed my palm to the glass and wished it to would let me see past its haze. But nothing happened, and the fiery sky beyond was muddled, impossible to appreciate.
A couple minutes passed that way and the light turned to a murky twilight outside. So calmly, my senses sharpened and my thoughts cleared up.
Well… this whole thing was rather trippy.
I scooted my butt across the floor until I could reach one of the carts, and I pulled it closer. Opened a drawer and sorted through it. Ceremonial dagger, books, stretchy metal band thing. I took out the stretchy band and bound up my hair. Dreadlocks, which I had a love-hate relationship with. Once my hair was out of my face, I grabbed the robes. They were black and silky.
Cameras in the corners of the room were dead, knocked out by my, manifestation, I assumed. My daze was beginning to subside, and my grasp on the situation was strengthening. I knew what I needed to do.
Technological prowess was obvious, demonstrated by paper-thin computers and small, nigh unnoticeable cameras. The whiteboard in the corner was riddled with sloppy handwriting, notes on philosophical concepts and… law terms. Someone talented but inexperienced was working here, and with the presence of what should have been costly equipment, that indicated a wealthy society or group supporting them.
Running wasn’t an option, I had the sense of a remote location by the vague white shape of an empty landscape and large sunset outside. No, my plan necessitated an indirect escape. Had to prioritize survival over the possibility of getting stuck. Time was something I had.
I didn’t put on the robes, instead, I put them and the hairband back in the drawer. I positioned the cart in its previous placing, then I swaggered back into the center of the room and stood stoically.
The door swung open and little balls rolled in. They flashed bright and jumped off the ground to stick in the air all around the room, providing a healthy bit of light.
“Entity contained,” an angelic voice emanated from the spheres.
I stayed quiet, watched as a shaggy brown haired guy, looking very on edge, entered the room. “Thanks, Aku,” he said. He waved dismissively and the orbs fell out of the air and rolled around him and out the door. The overhead lights flipped on. A girl, short with burns marking her face, poked her head into the doorway, and upon seeing me, panicked and ducked back out.
Yes, the naked.
“Clear out, Aku, I need to secure the binding,” the guy said.
“You need a no tech atmosphere for this?” I supposed the angelic voice belonged to this, Aku. I searched my head for the meaning, finding the word somewhat elusive.
The guy flipped the machine off and started walking around the room lighting candles.
“…I’ll cut power. What about miss Canton?” Aku asked.
“Who?” There were a lot of candles to light. “Oh, the girl. Shut up.”
“Full mute,” Aku said. The guy smirked in reaction. Interesting.
The overhead lights went off along with every computer in the room, the door closed. The amber illumination of the candles beat out the twilight outside and made the world beyond the glass look darker. Making the walls harder to see, as if they’d dropped away and left us two alone at the bottom of a big black pit.
Funny, for reasons I couldn’t articulate. Irony, again, I think.
“I bid you tell me your name, spirit,” the guy said. He sat in a rolling chair which he’d slid to the forefront of the binding circle.
“No,” I said, “let’s start with yours.” I felt out my voice, clarity, and depth. Totally super sexy.
Damn I felt alive.
The guy, barely missing a beat, only hesitated for an instant. He course corrected and answered with a simple and sarcastic, “Bob.” He stared intensely at the rune, thinking and avoiding looking at me simultaneously.
He was trying to figure out how to bind me, biding his time while he did.
Alone, said my intuition, unwilling or unable to access power beyond his own.
I stepped out of the circle and Bob instantly reacted, pushing away and sliding across the room to one of his benches. I raised my hands.
“My name is… Doran.” I found the black robes and hairband in the drawer and got to putting them on. “I come in peace.”
No longer in his chair, Bob had a gun in his hand, and he leveled it at me.
I chuckled, fighting back another laughing fit. I was dead as a doorstop if he fired. But, nothing could kill my enthusiasm. Bonus points for seeming confident.
He seemed to actually relax some. “Who are you?”
“I’m Doran,” I said it again.
“No, stop that. What are you?”
I cinched the string on my robes, feeling very fancy. “You didn’t conjure me, did you, Bobby.”
“No, but I got stuck with you, friendly arrangement. So get back in the circle.”
I took a seat on the bench to make my point.
“Back in the circle,” he demanded.
“Let’s get real for a moment,” I spotted a name on the spine of a book, decorating a nearby desk, “Kendall?”
“Kendall it is. You say you’re stuck with me, and you’re being secretive, judging by how you ditched the security system. So let me tell you not how I want this to go, but how it will. I’ll consent to a binding, you’ll ask me a few questions, and both of us will go on our way, all friendly, yes?”
Light as air. And better yet, in control.
He searched my eyes for a trick, but none could be found.
Path of least resistance.
“What are you?”
I didn’t answer at first. My smile faded. “I don’t know,” I said.
“Well, what do you know?”
“I know my name is Doran,” I grinned wryly, smile back on.
“God.” Kendall went over to the wall and flipped a switch. The power came back on, a console rose up out of the floor, on the edge of the circle. He went to the console and tapped out a few things.
The circle was placed directly on a large slab of material which had a seam, between it and the concrete floor. This substance, on which the rune was drawn, suddenly liquefied. The rune dissolved, and the slab re-solidified. On the ceiling, a device projected a laser which scrawled out a new intricate symbol, in rapid strokes of a red hot beam. This symbol featured two clear spaces on opposite sides, surrounded by smaller circles filled with writings.
“Get in,” Kendall said, gesturing to one of the spaces as he stepped into the other. I obliged. “You, Doran, agree to acquiesce to my will, starting with the terms expressed in this written agreement.”
“Are we getting married?” I asked, quickly reading the text.
“I’m taking ownership of you, whatever you are.”
“Mm, sounds kinky.” Still reading, diverting for time to think.
Kendall pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed loudly. Very pleasantly he asked me again. “Do you consent?”
“In full.” I finished reading and looked up at Kendall.
“Then you are hereby under my command. The written rules already apply, such as no harming me, no leaving me, self-preservation, et cetera.”
“Sounds good.” An invisible tether snapped into place between us, a string or rope connecting me to him on a fundamental level. I knew I was imagining it, but it was good to roll with the interpretive sensory input.
We both stepped away and the slab actually sunk into the floor, this time, being replaced by a quick flow of liquid which solidified into a new one.
He was storing it. Neat.
“We’re not done here. I have a lot of questions you’ll be obliged to answer when we follow up on this. But right now I have a lot of crap to deal with,” Kendall said. “Aku, get him and the girl rounded up.”
“I already relocated Anna,” Aku responded.
“What, why the fuck would you do that?”
“You didn’t specify what you wanted to be done with her, so I moved her to the Sanctuary.”
“The one which you need to move your equipment to. Porter specified you were to move your lab to his Sanctuary, as he is quote, ‘unimpressed with the danger presented by your work.'”
“The hell!?” Kendall pulled a phone from his pocket and pointed at me. “Get out.”
The invisible leash tugged.
All according to the hastily constructed plan, I thought.
I exited the building, stepping out to a wonderful view. I was standing among mountains, lower myself to a cloudbank than the peaks, but high in the cold air nonetheless. It was twilight out, and the wind penetrated straight through the dainty fabric of my clothes. Bracing cold.
I waited around for a bit, checking out the big grey monoliths and the numerous structures which dotted them. Taking it all in. Not just the scenery, no. I’d stepped head first into reality, and I was breathing deep the cold air. I was something. With substance. Alive. But I was more.
I was brilliant.