~Chapter 1~ Part 1
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BEEEP-BEEEP-BEEEP-BEEP!!!

As far as mornings are concerned, this particular one wasn't so bad… once you overlooked the splitting headache, the whirling nausea and the loud screaming of my alarm clock apparently hell-bent on waking the entire neighborhood. Aside from those things, everything was just peachy.

For a few seconds I only grumbled, but then I actually woke up properly and I hit the -OFF- button with a swipe of hand fueled by the righteous fury of the sleep-deprived. After a long yawn I groggily sat up in my bed. Then I promptly fell back down with a soft thud.

“Goddammit, what the hell was I doing last night...?” I mumbled while cradling my aching skull, and for a moment or two I almost felt relieved that I couldn't remember a thing. At least it spared me from the unavoidable onslaught of shame I knew was coming the moment my memory decided to start working properly, though I could make some educated guesses. It probably involved booze, and based on the white-hot axe of agony planted between by lobes, a lot of it.

In the end, I just lied on my bed for the next five or so minutes. I buried my steadily pounding head deep into the wildflower-scented pillows and delighted in whatever momentary relief a stray cynical thought could offer. After a while, conscious thought finally reasserted itself into the driving seat of my grey matter and my mind’s eye was soon flashing with warning lights like my brain was a misshapen Christmas tree.

I somehow managed to get myself back into a sitting position through sheer force of bafflement and began to gently massage my temples, if only to keep the steadily rising sense of panic in my belly in check. I couldn't remember a thing. Not just last night, I couldn't remember the day; or the previous one if we were at that. I could feel the cold sweat trickling down my back like miniature icebergs.

“What the...?” I mumbled and then shuddered as the aforementioned panic began worming its way into my head all the same. Whatever happened to me had to be drastic, as for a split-second I had a hard time recognizing my own voice. That was a sensation I could definitely live without ever experiencing.  It might not have been the creepiest thing ever, but it was definitely up there.

I forcefully shook my head and sprang to my feet.

“Right, I must still be half asleep or something. Let's wait about half an hour, then I will have a reason to panic.”

Following that rationale, I decided to get a cold shower. If that wouldn’t wake me up, nothing would. I threw the door of my room open and rushed towards the bathroom. I quickly realized, to my considerable relief, that I could find my way around the spacious family home with the utmost familiarity. If nothing else, my functional memory seemed to be in order.

With that in mind, I opened the bathroom door and looked at my surroundings. A modest shower, a sink, and a shiny white washing machine tucked away in the corner surrounded by blue tiled walls and floor. It was a simple and fairly typical setup as far as bathrooms were concerned, but at the same time, it felt distinctly odd. I let my brain wrack itself over the source of the abnormality while I peeled myself out of my fancy blue pajamas. By the way, I do mean fancy. It seemed like they were made of silk or something just as smooth and they fit me like they were tailor-made. Hell, they might as well have been as far as I knew (which, considering my memory-deficit, wasn’t particularly far). They also seemed brand new, a tiny bit of observation that finally jogged the rusted cogs of my brain just as I was about to take off my briefs.

It just didn’t feel lived-in. The bathroom, I mean, not my briefs. Everything was squeaky clean. No, what is even cleaner than ‘squeaky’? Whatever it was, the bathroom was it. There wasn’t even a speck of dust on the floor or a hint of scaling on the sink. It was like a daily cleaned room of a high-class hotel suite. It simply didn’t agree with the homey atmosphere of the rest of the house. Or… did it?

I pulled my underpants back up and tentatively glanced back into the corridor from whence I came. It wasn’t as readily apparent, but on closer inspection, it appeared to be just as disturbingly clean as the bathroom… Oh well, there must be some kind of rational explanation for that; I concluded with much less of a solid logical foundation than I would have liked. But back on track; I was supposed to get a cold shower. I could think all about the quality of the house service once I shook off my current confusion over the huge empty plot where my memories were supposed to be.

So I stepped through the door again, turned right and then promptly froze dead on my tracks. There was a face I didn’t recognize staring back at me from the mirror over the sink. It was that of a teenager, a high-school student at best. His face was reasonably attractive, though I am the first to admit I am not a good judge of these things, and the short brown bed-hair on his head was sticking out in so many different and altogether unlikely directions it brought an Escher-painting to mind. I instinctively reached to the top of my scalp to comb through it with my fingers, only to freeze mid-motion as the realization finally sank in: It was me. Me. I was looking at my own bloody reflection and I couldn’t even recognize it!

I stood there dumbfounded for the next couple of seconds. “All right…” I finally muttered as I let my hand down. “I am going to freak out now…”

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