A serialised novel
Maybe O’Donnel isn’t quite the man-in-control I thought he was….”Produced?” I interrupt. “Like, as in made?” There it goes again, that little creature running around my guts, tearing up my insides. Something nasty is on its way yet again. Don’t ask me how I know these things right, but I know there’s another smack in the kisser heading my way fast… All these rows of jars are the protocol system. Man, I just wish I could be wrong about things like this. Just once. Just for once let me be wrong about all this… “I still think I’m being kept in the dark about this…but like, I know that when you say ‘Harry was‘, you’re talking in the past. Past as in gone. As in dead. Am I right?”
“Yes, Shem, I killed Harry.” It sounds like a confession. But I’m in no mood to play the part of the forgiving priest, or whatever… For who knows how long I can’t see or hear anything except my own grief and the tearing, choking and spluttering coming from my chest and throat…I hear the door click open and a pair of heels coming across the crisp floor towards me. Not more than a few steps and I know it’s Felicity…But Felicity isn’t smiling. She’s holding some kind of a steel tube in her hand. She points it at me. There’s a bright flash and I’m in darkness…
Silence. For a few moments I’m not even sure I’m awake. There are no sounds to tell me any different from my dreams. Just the black against my eyelids. Slowly I take in the sound of my own breath and the motion of my chest; my back against something hard and the slight pressure against my heels. I’m lying down.
Too scared to open my eyes just yet I stretch out my fingertips. I’m on something soft and tight. I press down with my fingertips and feel the material push back at me. Opening my eyes I see white. The surface is dimpled but clean. I sit up and almost without thinking swing my legs over the side of what turns out to be a slim white sofa.
So I sit for a few moments and stroke my brow trying to think of where I might be. And how I came to be here. Nothing. Not a thing. I’m just here. The room doesn’t surprise or threaten me for some reason, even though it holds no connection to me. It, like me, is just…here.
I recognise the basic things in the room. Well, at least I recognise what they are. A sofa, windows, a desk and chair, a small chest of drawers and the door. But they are not my things. They are not my sofa, desk, chair etc. I don’t recall ever seeing them before but I can tell what they are.
So that must imply that I have some of my own, somewhere. Just not here. But as I think on this I find I have no recollection of just where my own chair or desk or door might be. A feeling of panic jumps in my stomach. Just what is going on?
I stand up slowly, testing my legs’ reaction to what seems like a natural movement. They seem fine. Have I been ill? Is this some sort of a hospital? I walk to the door, thinking I could see if there is anyone outside who could help me but I stop before I ‘ve reached it.
No handle. No keyhole. Nothing. Only the thin grey oblong crack all the way around shows me there is an opening there at all. I take a deep breath and take the last few steps toward the opening. I stand and rest my ear against it, listening for sounds from outside. Nothing. Turning, I run my hands around that should be the frame of the door but there are none of the indentations or catches I am hoping to uncover.
I stand back and turn to consider the rest of the room. There is a window. Walking over to it I’m relieved to see more familiar sights, namely other buildings, a blue sky and clouds. Perhaps I will recognise my location now, if not this room.
Again there is the strange feeling of familiarity and newness. The styles of architecture, the mixture of rooftops, the colours of brick and stone are familiar. But exactly how I have recollection of these I have no idea. They are buildings. They look like buildings I have seen a hundred times and a part of me accepts that there is nothing unusual about them. But I have no memory of where I have seen these before.
My gaze drops quickly to the street. More blind recognition. There are no people. Shouldn’t there be people? What time is it? The sun is high in the sky so there should be people around. I’m not quite sure just how it is that I know this but it seems that I do. It is a firm expectation within me that there should be people outside in the street.
I’m just about to turn away, determined to sit down quietly and think really hard. I’ve decided I am going to remember. Perhaps I just need to sit down and take a moment. I’m sure something will come to me. When I see someone. A woman. She is quite a distance away, towards the end of the street. Leaning against a lamppost, looking as though she is waiting for someone. I can’t make out her face but from here I can make out a sharp outline and full shoulder length hair.
I consider knocking on the window but refrain. It would seem wrong somehow. Again I recognise that just why this would be wrong is beyond me. I’ll sit down. Something will come to me. I just need one thing. One memory. Then I can work my way back and find out why I’m here.
There is no clock in the room and I have no watch of my own. How long I have been sat here trying to bring a memory to mind I have no idea. It seems a long time. But there is nothing. Well, not quite. I can remember waking up here. I can remember walking to the door. I can remember looking out of the window and I remember the woman. But nothing else.
Then I see the notebook on the table. It has been left open and for some reason I jump up excitedly and practically run across the room to it. I know I’m behaving like a bit of an imbecile. The notebook is blank. I flick the pages from beginning to end to make sure. Nothing. Also on the table is a yellow pencil.
Has someone left this for me? Am I supposed to write in here? What should I write? I can’t remember anything, I have no idea what I’m doing here. perhaps I am supposed to write. perhaps someone wants me to talk about how I’m feeling. Given my lack of memory it seems more appropriate to leave the notebook blank.
I sit down and close my eyes again, trying to not acknowledge the slowly encroaching sense of panic by letting my mind wander freely. It only seems to want to wander through the things I’ve done since I came here.
The knock at the door makes me jump like a startled cat. It may sound silly but I wait for a long moment, not entirely sure that I really did hear a knock at the door. It comes a second time and this time I stand up and walk over.
“Hello?” I ask, tentatively, my head bent forward, listening. My voice sounds like everything else in here – familiar and alien to me all at once. “Hello? Is there someone there?”
“Hello Shem. It’s me, Harry. Open up would you?”
“I’m sorry, who?
“Harry! Come on, you’re food’s getting cold.”
I don’t open the door. I’m frozen. Still. “Who?” Who indeed. I have no recollection of anyone by the name of Harry, which is not too worrying, given my current situation. At least he is out there, wanting to come in. He may be able to shed some much needed light on my predicament. But Shem? Me? Is that me? I’m struck still because at that moment I realise I don’t actually know my own name.
If he had shouted through the door ‘Who are you?’ I wouldn’t have said Shem. But what would I have said instead? I really don’t know. I debate whether to tell the caller that I don’t know him and risk him going away or to ask him to explain how he knows me and have to deal with his disappointment that I’m not who he thinks I am.
But there is a clicking noise, the door opens without my touching anything and the person I assume must be ‘Harry’ enters the room.
To be continued…
(If you think this is too Sci-Fi have a look at this article –
Dear reader – do you have a suggestion for the next chapter? Perhaps a plot idea? Or maybe you just want to tell me to stop! Whatever, drop me a comment! You may find it used in the next chapter!
‘Til next time,
- The Room #16 (rattledrum.wordpress.com)