A Room in a Mountain

He sat on the side of the bed, looking out the window. His hands were next him, resting gently on the crisp white sheets. Occasionally he would forget, and a muscle would twitch or he’d move his neck quickly to catch a strange sound, and the pain would start all over again. Like pins and needles, when a dead limb came back to life, but worse. Immensely worse. Running from his scalp all the way down to the soles of his feet. If he remembered to stay still, though, he could avoid it. After the agony of sitting up and looking, he’d remained sitting at the side of the bed looking out the window for the last two hours.

At least it was a hell of a view.

A mile and a half up, the nurse had said. Somewhere down below was Kansas. Out the window was nothing but blue and white. Light blue. Dark blue. Gray. Nothing else, besides the occasional bird. Gulls, mostly, floating around the perimeter. Even those were white and gray.

He couldn’t remember his name. He couldn’t remember who he was, or what he had left behind before he had fallen out of the hole in the sky. He may as well have been a day old, life only starting when he had dropped to the ground and been immediately surrounded by strange men in covered suits. But he was very sure, wherever he had come from, there hadn’t been cities the size of mountains reaching two miles into the air.

Whatever life had been on the other side of the portal had slipped away from him the same way dreams did, and maybe he could have believed that’s all it had been. Except he had been lying in the dirt, twitching violently from the shooting pains that then did not need movement to fire. Then, they had fired constantly, and with such ferocity that he believed he was being electrocuted. But death hadn’t come. The men had. Surrounded him. Wearing something that looked a little like a hazmat suit. Barking things at him, at each other, over speakers. Telling him to stop moving, to flip onto his stomach, like he could do anything besides twitch and scream. Eventually one of them had knocked him out, somehow, and he’d never been more relieved in his life. At least, he thought he hadn’t.

As he had sat these past two hours, looking into the blue wild, he’d tried to remember what had come before. Something. Anything. A name. A place. He recognized the name Kansas. He knew there were no places like Mount Raygen where he had come from. Nothing else concrete had come back to him. Only the tenuous feeling that being here was…right.

His arm twitched. The pains shot through him, rubbing at his nerves with a cheese grater. How could he know what a cheese grater was and not know his own life? He was tired, anyway, and took the opportunity to lay back in the bed. Once the shooting pains had started he might as well do as much as he could before they stopped.

Some of the room was familiar to him. In certain ways, it looked like a hospital room. His bed was in the middle, the kind with the railings on the side and a head that could raise up. There was a screen next to his bed, showing how his heart and his blood pressure were doing. Another screen hung on the wall near the ceiling across from him, and he was sure that was a television. The blanket was thin and seafoam green, the same kind of blanket he had seen in every hospital he had ever been in.

After that, things got weird.

The screens, for one thing. They were flat, maybe only an inch wide, and the picture was grossly sharp. His heart rate and blood pressure were on the screen, but he didn’t know how because he wasn’t hooked up to anything. The door to the room was big, metallic, and shaped like an airlock. There was a wide window into the next room next to it, and he could see that to get into his room the nurses had been going through an airlock. They were wearing suits like the men were, only the suits from the night before had been uniformly gray, while the nurses had all had different patterns. The first nurse he had seen had worn a pink suit with a green flower print on top, and the last one had a suit covered in Dalmatians. Her kids loved Dalmatians, she had said.

Besides the nurses, no one came in his room. They all stayed in the room next door. None of them tried to communicate. They looked at him plenty, always pointing and then looking at something above the window and then jotting things down on a clipboard. But talking to him wasn’t on the schedule today, apparently. That may have been for the best, seeing as he still couldn’t move his jaw without the pain, but it was still, in his opinion, incredibly rude.

He was, he slowly realized, a prisoner. There was no way to open the door from his side. The window didn’t seem to open, and even if it did he was a mile and a half up. So far no one had given him any reason to be wary, but that alone was starting to make him freak out.

He was going to have to do something. Once he could move without all his nerves shredding.


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