Consciousness returned. Slowly, moment by moment. Awareness took longer. What happened? There was no conceivable explanation as to what happened. Or why I was now strapped to a chair in total darkness. I could open my eyes, but there was nothing to see. Wiggling my fingers and toes was possible, but I was held in place by tape, or in some other restrictive manner. And I knew I was alone. Well, given the revelations of the last day, I believed I was alone. And that guy was HUGE. Big, BIG, bigger than anyone I’ve ever seen. I was like a rag doll in his arm.
There was the knowledge that Mr. MacGyver knew this was happening. There was that apology. 'I'm sorry.' he had said to me. WHY? Was this some form of weird test? Or perhaps I had somehow failed. This could be the beginning of the end.
“I’m awake.” I called out. No answer.
I waited. What else was there?
Hours, minutes, days passed. I had no idea. I had to pee. “I have to pee, can someone come help me!” The plaintive call was unanswered.
I made the attempt, wriggling my arms, flexing and unflexing my muscles. Pulling, pushing, an attempt to break the arms of the chair. Nothing. I peed. Warmth was the only alteration in the environment now. And that soon faded.
How long had I been here? And there were no answers.
So I slept.
Days, hours. Minutes maybe. I had nothing to compare this new continuation of my journey. No markers, no daylight, night time, only this nothingness. So I slept.
There were no limits to sleeping. Or so I thought. Thirst now occupied a large part of my awareness. Thirst. With great concentration, I can disassociate myself from my physical body. Astral projection? Shit, I don’t know. Sometimes in great stress, I leave my physical self and view my corporeal circumstances elsewhere. Outside of me. I guess that’s Astral Projection. It’s not like I go anywhere, I just leave the problems that are plaguing my physical self and go, well, to my happy place.
There is no specific place, it’s just A PLACE. Somewhere nice. Now, the beach in Hawaii. The Big Island. I surfed.
Eating baby size bananas, lying next to my board on that ever so wondrous Honokohua Beach, I was awakened. Reality. Light. I could see my circumstances. I was tied to a chair with medical bandages. As if I had sprained my body. Not tape. Thankfully, I have hairy arms. And legs. Tape would suck.
I smelled. Piss and shit. Well, I had been tied to a chair for an indeterminate time. Light gave no illumination to the situation. I was still in the dark.
The room was small, I now could determine. The door behind me opened. I was no longer alone. Mr. MacGyver and another man came and sat in front of me in chairs that all this time, faced me empty. Now, those seats held my tormentors. Why else?
The stranger, smallish, dressed in an odd suit, full beard. Eyeing me with that curiosity that so many did in my life. He was the first to speak. “Этот человек эмпатом?” < Etot chelovek empatom>
Mr. MacGyver then spoke. And I was not ready to process what was said. “Da, he speaks no Russian. He knows what he is.”
There was no reference, no point for which to correlate data that had incurred, until now. “I’m sorry, who are you?” was the best I could muster, and it was barely audible.
The man stood, and offered a glass of water from the table to me. I drank from the glass. He sat back down. “Sorry, my friend Mac here believes in this sensory deprivation shit. I, not so much. But he waited couple days to tell me he had you here.” All in heavily accented English. Or what I was led to believe movie Russian should sound like. It was convincing.
“Sensory deprivation?” I croaked out.
“Da, The first step in breaking down your sense of you. So, man boy, you feel like self?” he asked in all seriousness.
Then, all the wits I could muster, all I could believe, all that allowed me to realize that this man, now, in front of me asking that one question, was real, I responded. “I am me, there is no other that I could be.”
Now this stranger looked over at the man I had believed in. His brow furrowed. He asked what I could not know. “Вы уверены, что он один?” <Vy uvereny, chto on odin>
My mentor, well recent mentor, responded. “Yeah, he’s the one, Look past the appearance, look at what he is. He feels Sergey, he is the one.”
Sergey. Now we had some point with which to begin. Gasping, a croak, compared to my voice as I remembered, “Sergey, listen to him.” Was all I could croak. I hoped it was enough.
What did I know? I was sought out, offered a place to stay at some mystery facility, not unlike a resort. Dried out, brought to this place and told I was gifted. Then crushed to unconsciousness and left alone for what I think was a very long time. And now a Russian, I think, has been told by that same mentor that I, am the one. Not a lot to go on. Perhaps I had agreed too readily to way too many things. Hindsight, always perfect. Always useless.
Croaking again, "May I have some more water please?"
"Da, da, da. Sergey apologize for treatment. If know, would come two days ago. Mac is full shit. Sensory deprivation not work." And then he brought the glass toward me again and I drained it as he tilted upward.
Mac, MacGyver? Now spoke up. "It works on most people Sergey. I believe he's open to suggestions now. Another day, he would believe you're his father."
"Da, sure. Me. Okay man boy, you belong to me now. If you want to think of me as father, okay. Maybe Mac right once. Clean up, we go."
"What?" Not much else was going to come out.
"Easy. Mac find you. Mac owe me. I take you. Simple, da?" The Russian explained.
"What?" That provided even less explanation. I was lost.
Mac now tried to explain. "Look Dennis, the world is a mysterious place. If Americans knew what was really going on they would be shocked. The Soviets and we as well, have been working on some rather sensitive and secret things. ESP, eugenics, even germ warfare and chemical weapons. We all publicly agreed not to, but there are those, higher than me, that want those things. So they get them. Both sides. And in some things, we share."
"Da, we share. Mac good to find people like you. He finds. We do research in Vladivostok. We have, uh, uh, what you call him Mac?" Sergey turned to look at Mac now.
"Gifted, he's gifted Sergey."
"Da, he be empath. Gift or not. We work. We test. You like Russia. You Communist."
Now I was a bit shocked. "I'm not a communist. Why would you assume that?
Mac now continued, "Dennis, in 1970 you registered as a communist."
Clearing my throat took a moment. "I was in high school. My senior year. This girl, I wanted her, she was a commie, I joined. That was ten years ago. I registered as a Republican right after I graduated. I'm not a communist."
The two looked at each other a moment. Sergey shrugged his shoulders. "No matter. I take you to Russia. We do research. You like. We have women there. You mate. We raise smart babies. Who knows, maybe you mate with Ivan's sister. You meet Ivan?"
Now Mac clarified what his Russian friend asked. "Ivan was that large man who picked you up. Sergey gave him to me. He's the product of eugenics. Selective breeding. He's also gifted as well. He has, several sisters I believe. Sergey has been looking for someone such as yourself. A better world through selective breeding. Not such a bad concept really."
"Da. Da. Is good. We learn many things doing this. We learn emotions in brain. Amygdala. Man boy, you amygdala bigger than normal. This we know. All empath have big amygdala. Ivan and sisters all smart. Mac say you smart too. Da, good match."
Crazy thoughts went through my head. Am I still dreaming? Is this craziness a result of sensory deprivation? Why does he smell like garlic? Finally I had to stop this madness. "No. I don't want to go to Russia. If I can't stay here, then let me go home."
With a frown and a surly growl, Sergey turned on me and nearly yelled his response. "You not understand man boy. You now belong to me. Mac decide you one to pay debt for Ivan. I liked Ivan. He is funny guy. And big. There be nothing from you. No crying. Nothing. Understand!"
The old man sighed softly. Mr. MacGyver, now Mac looked at me sadly. "I had hopes for you Dennis, but sadly my debt to Sergey is one I need to repay. Working with the enemy is not uncommon. We both learn. And it prevents what could be disastrous attempts at theft of information. That never works out well. We also never need to repeat things. It's fortuitous for both parties. It's worked well some fifteen years now. I wouldn't worry, you'll have a good time there."
"I'm not going to Russia." I stated emphatically. It wasn't going to happen.
Sergey now looked at me, part amusement, part anger. "Man boy, you not have choice. You come, we do research. We learn, you make babies. Other plan, we use brain to study. You not survive that one. Either way we get you man boy, we learn."
That wasn't an option I had planned on. Thinking back to my arrival, that thought about not having an escape plan, nor even knowing if one was possible crossed my mind again. Deja vue. A warning? I needed to listen to my inner self more. Always a problem in the past, that hindsight thing again. "Um, so if I understand you, then if I don't cooperate, you'll dissect me."
"Da. Man boy, not worry. I not barbarian, we make you unconscious first."
I think that comment there scared me more than anything I had heard up until now. Coldly, matter of factly, he told me my fate. Thinking on my feet had failed me in the past, I needed to do what I could now. "Well, it seems I have little choice in the matter. I don't want to die."
Looking quite happy now, Sergey was nodding and smiling. "Da. Da. you like Russia, we have hamburgers. You Americans eat hamburgers no?"
"Yes, hamburgers. Can I clean up, I must stink pretty bad."
"Da, shower. Clothes. Then we leave." The small Russian started to unwrap the bindings. Then Ivan entered the room carrying towels and a stack of clothes. He must have been outside listening either directly, or via a microphone. So much for my calls for help to relieve myself.
Once released from the chair, I stood, rather unsteadily. The stink now was quite strong. Fortifying myself for what I needed to do, I stood straight. Forcing myself to make my body come alive, I reached over and grasped the clothes from Ivan. Then I pushed the man, kicking his left foot out from under him as I did so. He fell over and I dived for the door. Hoping with every imaginable neuron in my brain that there was a lock on the outside of the door, I was rewarded. Slamming the door shut, I locked it. Running down the hallway toward what seemed as the longer hallway, I came to doors that when thrown open, led me into the classroom where this nightmare had begun.
Thankfully it was empty. Back from the direction I had come I could hear the pounding on the door from those I had locked inside. Running to the door where we had entered, I saw the number pad on the wall. I slammed against the doors, nothing. They were locked. Needing my gifts now more than ever, I passed my hand over the keypad and willed the door to unlock. Nothing. I did it again. Nothing. I cleared my head of thoughts, fear, anger, retribution. I became the door lock. It clicked. I opened the door. With a swift kick, I knocked the keypad off the wall and sparks flew from the disconnecting wires. I walked into the garage and closed the doors behind me, making sure they locked.
Common sense told me there must be another means of egress other than the elevator. It was a matter of safety. Even a top secret facility needed an escape route for emergencies. I looked. Toward the north, where I thought the dilapidated house stood. There, off in the distance I could see a ladder attached to one of the support columns. Just then, with an audible click, the fluorescent lights above me all went black. They knew I was in the garage and were working to hamper my escape attempt. Knowing where the ladder was, even though it was a good fifty or sixty feet away was no problem, It was pitch black, no lights from anywhere. I ran toward where I knew the ladder to be, avoiding all of the cars, the parking blocks and waste cans in the path. Once there, I grasped the clothes and towel in one arm and began to climb. At the top, a simple handle opened the trap door and I moved up into the light streaming through the windows and roof of the old house.
I was free.