I woke up to a strange message on my computer. An unknown user sent me an instant message with the words, "Come outside."
In a daze, I rubbed my eyes and glanced over at the clock. 2:33 AM. Calm moonlight bathed my messy room as the piercing light from my computer, as well as the faint glow from my alarm clock, were the only other sources of illumination I had. Confused as to why anybody would need anything from me at this hour, as well as irritated at being woken up, I quickly got dressed. In my haste, I tripped a few times over various knick knacks strewn across the floor hidden by the dancing shadows of tossed clothing, my twirling arms, and my twisting head.
After finally getting ready, I rushed down the stairs. My mind was racing with unrelated thoughts. I was annoyed at being stirred from my dream, which, for once, was a pleasant one; I was running down Palm Beach with Kate Upton, staring at the sight of her bouncing wildly in a bathing suit in all its wonderful and beautiful glory. I was planning the exact time I would begin cleaning my room the next day, the precise amount of time it would take, and yet listing every excuse I had to put off my housekeeping.
I also realized how terrible I looked, and if this were some sort of magical wonderland and I was meeting a girl, how repulsed she would be. Even with the plethora of thoughts on my mind, I had no concern or worry about the unusual circumstance I was rushing into. I was more concerned about dealing with the issue as quickly as possible in order to return to sleep and, hopefully, to my semi-erotic dream run with Kate Upton.
Upon exiting my building, I stumbled upon a well dressed man. He had an expensive, fully tailored suit on. Heavily built, but not overweight, he was around 6'5 and appeared very muscular. He had dark skin, a shaved head, no facial hair, fancy black shoes, an expensive silver watch, and icy blue eyes surrounded by circular gold rimmed glasses.
He caught eyes with me instantly. Beckoning me over with a nod, I walked over to him. Without a word, he offered out his hand. I grasped it for a handshake and immediately I noticed how intensely firm his grip was. He stared at me for a moment with a completely blank expression. At this moment I realized that I was cold and began shaking. The silence continued for a few more moments until he smiled, nodded again, and finally spoke.
"You must be wondering who I am," he said in a firm, low voice.
I simply nodded. At this point, I really wanted to go back inside. While I was beginning to get apprehensive, I was moreso uncomfortable due to the temperature and wanted to go back to sleep.
"They call me Lawrence. Not many people know me. I like to keep it that way."
I nodded again, hoping that all I had to do was gently move my head every minute or so until this was over. Realizing that the silence was taking a bit too long, I answered him.
"My name... My name is... Anthony..." I shuddered. My shaking was getting worse; I didn't dress appropriately for this weather.
Lawrence nodded again. "And so I've heard. I can see you're cold."
"How do yo-"
Lawrence raised his hand. "Do not worry, all of your questions will be answered. I am going to cut to the chase. You are in a lot of danger. Why? I am not sure yet. Maybe you know too much. Maybe you are too powerful. It remains to be seen."
I shook my head and waved my hands in front of my face. The cold no longer bothered me and I was fully awake at this point. "No, you must have the wrong guy. Listen, I'm just a college stu-"
Lawrence interrupted again, "A college student at Harvard with a 3.9 grade point average studying a business major. You had a minor drug problem in your freshman year but you got help and now you're on the right track. However, you are worried about your younger brother. Your frustration is building because it seems your sister doesn't care and that is affecting your performance there," Lawrence pointed to the pizzeria across the street, "and you feel like, although you have been given a second chance at life and blessed with many gifts, you believe you have no direction and there is, nor ever was, any purpose for you."
My jaw dropped. Despite the cold, I could feel my face growing warmer as tears began flowing over my cheeks. I could see myself in his eyes; a gentle shade of rose washed over my skin. My lips shuddered and I shook to and fro, side to side, as I remembered just what it was like to feel... No... Be a human being again.
Lawrence lowered his head for a moment. Bringing it back up again, he placed his hand on my shoulder as a gesture of empathy. He let out a sigh, followed by one brief laugh as if to tell me that everything was going to be okay Anthony...I've been down this path before Anthony...I'm here for you Anthony...I'm not going to walk away from you like everyone and everything else Anthony...destiny brought us together Anthony...we'll get through this together Anthony...
"I have answers for you. And a solution."
The tears stopped. I was excited. I felt a euphoria. I felt a high. Maybe the pain can stop. Maybe I'll be okay. Maybe this will all be okay. Maybe I can survive. Please save me. Please. Please! God damn it, tell me!
"Okay," I calmly replied.
Lawrence looked up at the sky. I followed his eyes. He then told me, "Do you think I look up at these stars like the next person? With wonder and desire in my eyes, longing in my heart? To be honest, I used to."
He looked down at me. His face looked far more serious at this point.
"Until I learned the truth."
I tilted my head in both confusion and excitement.
Lawrence continued. "You see Anthony, they want you to believe that the other worlds lie orbiting those bright little points of light. That there may be alien life on huge balls of rock, just like this one, circling giant balls of fire just like you see on a bright sunny day."
Lawrence laughed and smiled, looking at the ground. I asked, "Are those ideas real?"
Lawrence laughed harder. "I like your sense of wonder child. But, unfortunately, no. That is the truth I am talking about. A veil has been pulled over your eyes and your desperation has come to a point where you may have realized the truth on your own. That is, without my help. It was unlikely, but possible. You're smart enough. Which is why you were in danger."
Startled, I exclaimed, "What?!"
Lawrence patted my shoulder, "Listen, you're fine now. I'm protecting you. See, society doesn't like new thinkers. Nor does society like the truth being exposed. Look at all the people who preached peace. John Lennon and Martin Luther King for example."
Lawrence made a shooting gesture with his hand. I nodded in agreement. Wanting further knowledge, I asked, "So what's the truth?"
Lawrence got closer to my face and looked deep into my eyes. His icy blue eyes glared right through my pupils and began gazing into my very mind and soul, seeing every event of my past. It seemed that, at that very moment, he knew every aspect of my character, every action I could ever commit, every potential outcome of my decisions, and every second of every minute of my future.
"You are controlled, Anthony. None of this is real. You are a puppet."
Confused, I tilted my head again.
Lawrence's face grew more intense. His eyes darkened. Crinkles grew around the corners of his nose, mouth, and eyes. "Think about all of the bad things that have happened to you. All of the bad things that have happened to your family. All of the blessings. All of the occurrences that are simply unexplained. Your mind is being examined. Your faith is being tested."
I shook my head in utter disbelief. None of this made any sense, but something motivated me to believe him. It seemed like he truly cared about me, almost like he loved me as one of his own. Like a brother...
Lawrence took a deep breath. "They are called The Cataclysm, Anthony. They are watching your every move. Your life is not real. Your life is nothing but a test."
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, attempting to establish some sort of basis in reality. After opening my eyes, I responded, "How do I escape?"
Lawrence smiled. He reached into both pockets of his coat and pulled out two small boxes. "This is the answer." He opened the boxes. Inside one box was a lime green capsule. Inside the other one was a dark purple capsule. Lawrence continued, "the purple capsule is a memory nulling agent. Upon ingestion, you will forget everything that has happened within the past twelve hours as well as the next two hours; in addition, you will fall asleep within thirty minutes. If you choose this capsule, I will lead you to your bed and have no further contact with you. However, keep in mind that the leaders of the experiment are aware of our meeting at this point."
Lawrence gestured to his other hand. "The green capsule is a healing agent. I'm not sure exactly what tests have been done on you so far. However, if you are in this mental state, you must not be very healthy. In addition, this capsule will jam and remove any internal tracking devices, radars, and the like."
I nodded again.
Lawrence looked into my eyes and smiled. "You can take the purple capsule and forget about me. You can continue your life as it is and try to fix it yourself without any help. Or, you can take the green capsule and I can help you. Together, we can fight the system and achieve a life of peace and serenity."
I smiled. "Are you sure this will work?"
Lawrence nodded. "You are not my first. Believe me." He chuckled.
I nodded, satisfied with the information I had received. I think I'm going to be okay. He's going to help me. I took the green capsule and swallowed it.
Lawrence grinned, this time showing his glowing white teeth. "Welcome to the rebellion. I'll take you to the others. Follow me."
I followed Lawrence into his car. It was rather luxurious; a 2006 Mercedes CLS sedan in black, fully loaded. He drove rather quickly to our destination, as we needed to avoid any scientists following us. We arrived at a nightclub...
"Oh my god, he's awake!"
Startled, I jerked my head up and noticed that I was chained down to a hospital bed. Despite the bright lights blinding me, I could make out the outline of my mother, my father, my sister, my brother, all of my friends, many doctors, and a horde of police officers. Terrified, I started screaming. One doctor quickly injected me with medicine as a police officer escorted my loved ones out of the room. Most of them were in tears. Woozy from the shot, I observed the doctor leave and the police officer enter. He was about 5'9, pale white skin, overweight, blonde hair, mustache, brown eyes, and little muscle tone.
"Anthony, do you have any idea what you have just done?"
I lazily shook my head no as the medicine gradually continued taking effect.
"Son..." The officer sighed, "From what we understand, you were dropped off at a nightclub in a black car. You were heavily armed. You walked in and began shooting everybody there. Once you were out of ammunition, you broke open bottles of alcohol and used the sharp edges to slice the throats of any remaining survivors. You tortured any who were not instantly killed by pouring alcohol onto the wounds, then laughing hysterically as they screamed in pain. You then proceeded to run into the street, screaming something about how the scientists will never take you alive."
I stared at the officer with a blank expression.
The officer sighed once again. "I know the story son. Somebody told you that you would be free. His name is Lawrence. We are tracking him now. What he actually gave you was a very heavy dose of phencyclidine, or PCP. His stories are enormous, sick lies."
I laughed heartily.
The officer rolled his face in his hands. "Son. The man is a psychopath. He drugged you so that you would go on a murder spree for him. You're not the first person this has happened to. In fa-"
"GET OUT!" I screamed. "I DON'T WANT TO TALK TO YOU!"
The officer raised his hands in defeat and left. I stared at the clock and watched the second hand tick, amazed at how fast time flies when you're having fun. I'm really not sure how much time actually had passed, nor do I trust the concept of time, but a nurse eventually came in with a letter for me. I opened it and read the contents.
Sorry kid, that was a new guy. He gave you the wrong pill. It was supposed to be orange. I'll be in shortly.