This is not right, this is not right at all the man thought to himself. Last night he had gone to sleep in a large comfy bed, in his nicely furnished room, with his beautiful wife by his side and feeling great. Yet today he had awoken to a splitting headache, on a torn up mattress on the floor, alone, in what seemed to be a rundown apartment of some kind.
The man sat up slowly, trying to keep the world from spinning around him. His stomach was nauseous and he was freezing. Though he remembered going to bed in flannel pajamas and a robe, he was now dressed in a dirty wife beater and some simple boxers. He struggled to his feet and shuffled around the apartment looking for a bathroom. A look in the mirror reflected back a pale, sunken face. “What happened?” the man asked his own reflection out loud. Could this possibly be some sort of bad dream? If so, why couldn't he force himself to wake up? He ran the sink and splashed some water on his face. His body shook violently and he forced himself over to the filthy toilet where he proceeded to vomit. What was happening? Why did he feel so sick? To an outsider he must have looked like some junkie in the middle of detox.
The man made his way back to the mattress and sat on its edge with his head in his hands. He felt so empty and sad…and alone. Alone. He was alone yet he had not gone to bed alone. “Bonnie?” he called out for his wife, a new sense of unease rising inside him. Where was his wife? Could she possibly explain to him what was happening? I have to find Bonnie the man thought to himself as he looked at his dirty surroundings. He hoped there would be a telephone he could use but didn't see one. What he did spot were some torn up jeans and an old T-shirt on the floor and put them on. Near the door were some work boots that he slipped on as well.
Keys, he thought to himself as he started heading out the door. He sometimes left his keys and wallet in his pants and a quick search of his pockets revealed this was one of those instances. At least something is somewhat normal today he thought as he closed the door behind him. He made his way down a long hallway and then followed some stairs leading downwards. To his right was a door with an exit sign above it and the man decided to use it.
Now outside he realized where exactly he was. Westbrook. For whatever reason the man was in Westbrook, the poor part of the city. He knew because he had grown up in Westbrook before his career took off and he moved to the much nicer Eastbrook across the bridge. He looked up at the building he had just exited for a name and saw the big flashing sign, Rekal Inn. An inn? Why would he be at an inn? Had he perhaps drank too much and decided to spend the night here? That still didn't explain how he had gotten from falling asleep at home to waking up here. The man groaned as his head pulsated from trying to piece things together. The office is not too far from here the man thought massaging his temple, I will just go to the office, call Bonnie, and get this all figured out.
He took the 20 minute walk to the office, his condition worsening the closer he got. On top of the headache, nausea, and shivers he had felt before, he now also felt as if bugs were running around under his skin. No matter how much he scratched he could not make the itch go away. Once I find Bonnie I might want to visit a hospital the man thought. He made his way across the bridge and he could see his office building not too far in the distance.
Feeling exhausted he reached the large skyscraper a few minutes later. “Welcome to Omni Corp,” the receptionist said in a monotone voice, not bothering to look up as the man entered the building. “Hello,” the man said a bit out of breath, “Just heading up to my office really quick.” At this the receptionist looked up and looked at the man’s clothes with obvious disgust. “Do you have an ID card?” she asked him. The man dug through his pockets but found nothing. “Um no,” the man said feeling embarrassed, “But I do work here really. I work on the 7th floor.”
He grabbed a business card and a pen lying on her desk, wrote some of his information, and handed it to her. She gave the man a bored look and began typing into her computer. “I’m not finding you in the system sir,” she told the man handing back the business card. “Please, check again,” the man pleaded beginning to feel the need to vomit rising, “There must be some mistake.” The receptionist sighed and turned back to her computer screen.
This must be some bad dream; it has to be the man thought as he began scratching at his arm. He knew what he must look like doing it but he could not resist the urge. It literally felt as if he had roaches crawling around under his skin and looking down he was surprised to not see any. “You are not in our system,” the receptionist said again, this time a bit harsher, “I am going to have to ask you to leave.” The man felt as if he was having a mental break down. “Look I really just need to contact my wife,” the man said as calmly as he could manage, “I think I may have drank too much or something and if I could just call her I would get out of your hair.”
By this time a security guard from nearby had noticed the commotion and made his way over. “Is there some kind of problem here?” the security official asked the receptionist. “Yeah,” she replied, “This guy keeps saying he works here but he has no documentation, I don't remember having ever seen him before, and just look at him. He even mentioned something about drinking too much earlier.” The security official turned to the man, “I’m going to have to ask you to come with me, sir.” The security official began to walk towards the man with his hand outreached but the man stepped back. “Hold on a minute!” the man cried out,“Look I know what this looks like but you have to believe me. I’m just a normal guy going through some very strange things today and if I could just call my wife I am sure we could get this all figured out.”
No sooner had the man finished saying this when he saw his wife walking towards him. “See there she is,” said the man gesturing over to her, “That’s my wife, Bonnie.” The security guard and the receptionist looked at each other and then looked back at the man. “That’s your wife?” the security asked amused, “Ms. Ellie Sandberg the CEO?” The man looked at the security guard and the receptionist laughing at him. “Ellie Sandberg? CEO? No, no that is my wife Bonnie just her.” As the woman approached them the security official gestured her over. “I hate to waste your time Ms. Sandberg,” the security said, “But this man claims that he is your husband.” She looked at the man with a puzzled look and said, “I don’t know what he is talking about. I am not married nor have I ever even seen this man.” At this the man could no longer take it and he proceeded to vomit all over his own shoes. Then everything got blurry and he collapsed to the floor before passing out.
What followed were flashes of images as he passed in and out of consciousness. First he could see the security official standing above him and could hear him calling for an ambulance. Then he could feel himself being loaded onto a stretcher as some paramedics took him out of a building. This was followed at some point by him glancing around and being aware that he was being pushed through some sort of hospital or medical facility and he could hear medical jargon all around him.
When he opened his eyes again there was a smiling man in a white lab coat and a syringe full of a pale blue liquid. “Don't you worry,” the man said grinning down at him, “You performed very well. Let’s get some more Lacuna in your system, shall we?” The man struggled to talk as the grinning man in the lab coat injected him with the fluid, “What’s L-L-Lacuna?” But it was too late for an answer as the blackness overtook him once more. “Only dreams now,” was the last thing he heard the smiling man say.
October 12, 20XX
We have been working on the experiment for well over a year now and it seems that we are finally ready to proceed. Up to now we have been administering the drug and using the equipment successfully but were curious of the outcomes if we allowed a subject to wake up and explore the world around them. We already know that the drug, codename Lacuna, puts subjects into a coma-like state for days on end. We also know through extensive tests that while in this state they are extremely suggestible to memory manipulation which is where the equipment comes in. However, what we were curious about was what will happen once we tamper with the subjects memories, stop the flow of Lacuna, and release them to the world. That is why today we allowed subject 1-2332-01 to wake up and everything went as expected. Test subject 1-2332-01, a lone steel mill worker from Westbrook, had been picked up off the streets, introduced to Lacuna in the months prior, and had his memories altered. Today when he awoke he was disoriented and proceeded to try and live the life we had fabricated for him, making his way to the office he thought he worked at and trying to contact the woman he thought was his wife. It seems that the treatments are working just as well as we had hoped. Not only do they make the subject appear to be a deranged madman living in a reality that makes sense to him alone but Lacuna is extremely addicting making any subject who is away from it for too long go through symptoms of withdrawal: Headache, nausea, shivers, crawling skin, etc. This means that anyone who sees an individual who has gone through procedures will simply think that they are viewing an insane person, a drug user in the middle of withdrawal, or both. This will make it quite easy to do our bidding under everyone’s noses. Brilliant if I do say so myself! The superiors will be very pleased with the progress we have made and we shall soon be ready to release our work upon the population.