Chapter 3 *
word count 2115
Consciousness returns. Slowly, moment by moment. Awareness takes longer. What happened? There’s no conceivable explanation as to why this happened. Or why I’m now strapped to a chair in total darkness. I can open my eyes, but there’s nothing to see. Wiggling my fingers and toes are possible, but I’m held in place by tape, or something. I know I’m alone. Well, given the revelations of this day, I believe I’m alone. That guy was HUGE. Big, BIG, bigger than anyone I’ve ever seen. I was like a rag doll in his arm. He wasn’t an empath, I felt his presence.
There’s knowledge that Mr. MacGyver knew this was happening. That apology. 'I'm sorry,' said to me. WHY? Is this some form of weird test? Or perhaps I somehow failed. This could be the beginning of the end.
“I’m awake.” I call out. No answer.
I wait. What else is there?
Minutes, hours pass. I have to pee. “I have to pee, can someone help me!” The plaintive call is unanswered.
I make the attempt, wriggling my arms, flexing and unflexing my muscles. Pulling, pushing, an attempt to break the arms of the chair. Nothing. I pee. Warmth the only alteration in my environment. That soon fades. The smell remains for a time, then my senses blot it out.
Why am I here? There are no answers.
So I sleep.
There are no limits to sleeping. Or so I think. Awake, thirst now occupies a large part of my awareness. Escape. With great concentration, I can dissociate myself from my physical body. Astral projection? Shit, I don’t know. Sometimes in great stress, I leave my physical self and view my circumstances as being elsewhere. Outside of me. I guess that’s Astral Projection. It’s not like I go anywhere, I just leave the problems 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 surf.
Eating baby size bananas, lying next to my board on that ever so wondrous Honokohua Beach, I’m awakened. Reality. Light. I can see my circumstances. Tied to a chair with medical bandages. As if I’ve sprained my body. Not tape. Thankfully. Tape would suck.
I smell. Piss and shit. Well, I’ve been tied to a chair for two days. Light gives no illumination to the situation. I’m still in the dark.
I now determine how small the room is. The door behind me opens. I’m no longer alone. Mr. MacGyver and another man come and sit in front of me in chairs that all this time, faced me empty. Now, those seats hold my tormentors. What now?
The stranger, smallish, dressed in an odd suit, full beard. Eyeing me with that curiosity that so many do in my life. He’s the first to speak. “Etot chelovek empatom”
Mr. MacGyver speaks. I’m not ready to process what’s said. “Da, he speaks no Russian. He knows what he be.”
There’s no reference, no point which to correlate data that has incurred until now. “I’m sorry, who are you?” Is the best I can muster, it’s barely audible.
The man stands and offers a glass of water from the table behind him. I drink from the glass. He sits back down. “Sorry, my friend Mac here believe in sensory deprivation shit. I, not so much. But he wait couple days tell me has you.” Said in heavily accented English. Or what I believe a movie Russian sounds like. It’s convincing.
“Sensory deprivation?” I croak.
“Da, first step in breaking down your sense of you. So, man boy, you feel like self?” he asks in all seriousness.
Then, all the wits I can muster, all I can believe, all that allows me to realize that this man, in front of me asking that one question is real; I respond. “I am me, there is no other that I can be.”
Now this stranger looks over at the man I had believed in. His brow furrows. The Russian asks what I cannot know. “Vy uvereny, chto on odin”
My mentor, well recent mentor, responds. “Yeah, he’s the one, Look past his appearance, look at what he be. He feels Sergey, he be the one.”
Sergey. Now we have some point with which to begin. Gasping, a croak, compared to my voice as I remember, “Sergey, listen to him.” Is all I can grunt. I hope it’s enough.
What do 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 two days. And now a Russian, told by that same mentor that I, am the one. Not a lot to go on. Perhaps I 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 full shit. Sensory deprivation not work." He brings the glass toward me again and I drain it as he tilts it upward.
Mac, MacGyver? Now speaks. "It work on most Sergey. I believe he’s open to suggestions. Another day, he’d believe you’re his father."
"Da, sure. Me. Okay man boy, you belong me now. If you want think me as father, okay. Maybe Mac right once. Clean up, we go."
"What?" Not much else is going to come out.
"Easy. Mac find you. Mac owe me. I take you. Simple, da?" The Russian explains.
"What?" That provides even less explanation. I’m lost.
Mac now tries. "Look Dennis, the world’s a mysterious place. If Americans knew what’s really going on, they’d be shocked. The Soviets, been working on some rather sensitive and secret things. ESP, eugenics, even germ warfare and chemical weapons. All publicly agree not to, but there be those, higher up than me, wanting those things. So they get em. Both sides. 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 turns 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."
I’m a bit shocked. "I'm not a communist. Why would you assume that?”
Mac now continues, "Dennis, in 1970 you registered as a communist."
Clearing my throat takes a moment. "I was in high school. Senior year. This girl, she was a commie, so I joined. That was ten years ago. I registered as a Republican right after I graduated. I'm not a communist."
The two look at each other a moment. Sergey shrugs 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?"
Mac clarifies what his Russian friend asked. "Ivan’s that large man picked you up. Sergey gave him to me. The product of eugenics. Selective breeding. He’s got, several sisters I believe. Sergey been looking for someone like you. A better world through selective breeding. Not a bad concept."
"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 go through my head. Am I still dreaming? Is this craziness a result of sensory deprivation? Why does he smell like garlic? I have 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 turns on me and nearly yells his response. "You not understand man boy. You belong me. Mac decide you one pay debt for Ivan. I like Ivan. He funny guy. And big. There be nothing from you. No crying. Nothing. Understand!"
The old man sighs softly. Mr. MacGyver, now Mac, looks at me sadly. "I had hopes for you Dennis, but sadly a debt to Sergey is one I have got to repay. Workin with the enemy ain’t uncommon. We both learn. It prevents what could be disastrous attempts at theft of information. That ain’t worked out well. We don’t repeat things. It's good for both parties. Worked well some dozen years now. I wouldn’t worry, you’ll have a good time there."
"I'm not going to Russia." I state emphatically. It isn't going to happen.
Sergey now looks 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 isn't an option I want to think about. Reviewing my arrival, the thought about not having an escape plan, nor even knowing if one was possible, crosses my mind again. Deja vue. A warning? I need 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 this comment scares me more than anything I’ve heard up until now. Coldly, matter of factly, he tells me my fate. Thinking on my feet has failed me in the past, I need to do what I can now. "Well, it seems I have little choice in the matter. I don't want to die."
Looking quite happy now, Sergey is 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 starts to unwrap the bindings. Ivan enters 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 stand, rather unsteadily. The stink now is quite strong. Fortifying myself for what I need to do, I stand straight. Forcing myself to make my body come alive, I reach over and grasp the bundle from Ivan. Then I push the man, kicking his left foot out from under him as I do so. He falls over and I dive for the door. Hoping with every imaginable neuron in my brain that there’s a lock on the outside, I’m rewarded. Slamming the door shut, I lock it. Running down the shorter hallway, I come to double doors, throw them open. I’m in the classroom where this nightmare had begun.
Thankfully it’s empty. Back from the direction I had run, I can hear the pounding on the door from those I had locked inside. Running to the doors we entered, I slam against them, nothing. They’re locked. Needing my gifts now more than ever, I pass my hand over the keypad and will the door to unlock. Nothing. I do it again. Nothing. I clear my head of thoughts, fear, anger, retribution. I become the door lock. It clicks. I open it. With a swift kick, I knock the keypad off the wall and sparks fly from the disconnecting wires. I walk into the garage and close the doors behind me, making sure they lock.
Common sense tells me there must be another means of egress other than the elevator. It’s a matter of safety. Even a top secret facility needs an escape route for emergencies. I look. Toward the north, in the distance I see a ladder attached to one of the support columns. Just then, with an audible click, the fluorescent lights above me all go black. They know I’m in the garage and are working to hamper my escape. It’s pitch black, no lights from anywhere. I run to where I know the ladder is, avoiding all the cars, the parking blocks and waste cans in the path. Once there, I grasp the clothes and towel in one arm and begin to climb. At the top, I feel around. A simple handle opens the trap door. I move up into the light streaming through the windows and roof of the old house.