A Knife In the Dark – 1

“The Mars Institute”

The dark is where everything begins. No matter what we make of ourselves, darkness remains a part of us, and is ever familiar.

“Do you know what year it is?” a clear voice asked.

A ridiculous question — of course, I knew! — but the answer was not coming to me.

“Did you hear what I asked?”

“Nineteen…” I started to answer, stopping when it felt wrong — because I felt wrong. Fighting grogginess, I opened my eyes, looking toward the cold spot on my arm, noticing the tube squeezing something into it. I realized just then I was in a bed; a chemical scent hung in the air, cool and clean… sterile. Was this an infirmary?

“Twenty nineteen?” the irritating voice continued. “Why would you say that?”

I found where the voice had come from, eyeing the man standing in a doorway, whom I assumed had spoken with such disdain. White wisps of hair fought for their side of a shiny head adorned with the silver-rimmed glasses of a self-styled intellectual. His lab coat was open in the front like a frock coat, too clean for a working man. Was he wearing blue pajamas beneath it?

“Did you hear what I asked?” His tone was sharp.

Mine would be more so as I glared. “Shall I tie you to a bed, pump your arm full of poison, and ask you insolent questions from a cowardly distance?”

That seemed to do it. He couldn’t escape my sight quickly enough.

“Did you hear what I asked?” I called after him with a chuckle.

Other than a moment’s peace from my long-distance heckler, my reward was a pair of previously unseen hands injecting something into my arm’s tube. The needle used was impossibly thin and yet translucent, and I was momentarily transfixed upon how useful that could be. When it was discarded into a bright red bag hung upon the wall, I marveled that such a thing was safely disposable.

An instant afterward, my sweet darkness returned to swallow me whole again.

“Mr. *********?”

The name roused me, but it was as if I hadn’t heard it right. She was addressing me, I knew, yet the name wasn’t familiar… at least I didn’t believe it should be. Her voice had a sweet tone with a hint of an accent, pronounced with the grace of a normal school graduate.

“Your neurologist asked me to check on you. He said you seemed angry.”

“Correct,” I said. “He was curt and I was having none of it.”

I opened my eyes again. The woman wasn’t at all how I had imagined her; the anticipated kind eyes were there, but she was older… and of African descent? Interesting.

“How are you feeling now?” she asked.

“A bit like a Yankee.” In King Arthur’s Court.

“Is that a good thing?” Her tone took on a deliberate Southern charm. I couldn’t tell if she was being clever or not, but it amused me.

“It must be.” I smiled, but I must have looked a fright. She didn’t seem to mind.

After watching her write green numbers onto a shiny white board, I could no loner assure myself something was wrong with my eyes. As I peered around the room at various cabled devices and furniture on wheels, a realization came upon me: I wasn’t a Yankee; I was John Carter. What a tale in All-Story Magazine this would make.

“If you need anything,” she instructed, “push that little button in your right hand. Want me to turn on the TV for you?”

I followed her pointing finger to an empty black picture frame suspended from a bar in the ceiling, and I was consumed with curiosity. “By all means, work your wondrous magic.”

Her face lit up brightly. Stepping around my railed bed, she touched a colorful control box by my side, causing the empty frame to illuminate with moving pictures and an orchestra of sound. Possibilities raced through my mind. I could scarcely wait until I was free of this institution, able to procure a fine sword, and seek out a princess in need of rescue.

To pass the time, of course, deviling the neurologist wasn’t out of the question.

Continue Reading In Chapter 2

Or start from the Beginning

. . .

10 thoughts on “A Knife In the Dark – 1

  1. This seems to be a very interesting place to begin, although I do not know much yet. Is the narrator’s name supposed to remain secret? I do have one question, however: where did you get the idea for this title?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. From the narrator’s viewpoint, the name “Mr. *********” is a blank spot whenever he hears it spoken, a rejection of it even to himself: “That’s not me.” In retrospect, it’s not unlike “The Bride” from Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Kill Bill’ in that acknowledgement of the name (read: acceptance) may have hidden repercussions and a change in their state of mind.

    As for the title, a significant clue is offered at the end of Chapter 3.


Leave a Reply - SAY IT!

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s