When she awoke, her head pounded as if someone had beaten her with large, blunt object. The brightness of the room stung her eyes, causing her to squint until they grew accustomed to light. She felt she was held down, although her hands or feet weren't bound. She could barely move her head from side to side when she attempted to raise herself up. She was able to wiggle her fingers and toes, testing her limits, only to discover she did not have much room to stretch. She desperately wanted a glass of water.
All she could hear was silence. She began to wonder if she had become deaf. She tried to speak, but nothing came out. Panic started to consume her. She shut her eyes tightly, taking deep breaths to force herself to calm down. Once the cold fear waned, she opened her eyes and tried to evaluate her situation. She wasn't even sure what day it was, let alone where she was. She struggled against her invisible bonds for a few minutes only to come to the conclusion that it was no use. She was only exhausting herself. Silently, she cursed her lack of strength and the restrictions of mobility in frustration, that and the throbbing pain in her head.
As she lay panting from her efforts, she glanced around at the room. To her right, there was a wall with slats down the middle. She wondered if those were the doors, as she could see nothing else. Lifting her head as far as she could to look over her feet, she could see a panel with levers on a smooth surface marked by square indentations. Above it was a large screen, flashing symbols unfamiliar to her that looked like a cross between Egyptian hieroglyphics and Chinese characters. There was another large viewer wall on her left. This one showed the muscular make up of a small human, a skeleton and a brain. It seemed to be monitoring someone. As she watched the screen, she realized it was her being monitored. Unnerved, she tried to tilt her head up to see what was behind her. All she saw was a silver beam joining the wall and ceiling.
She tried to remember who she was and how she had gotten where she was and couldn't. Her mind frantically reached into a black hole, searching for something that she could hold on to. Everything was blank. She could recall nothing.
It didn't help her pulsating headache.
She turned her thoughts returned to the large screen displaying her structure. She wondered why she was being monitored and why she was held down.
The slats to her right opened with a loud swish like the sound of rushing air into a tight seal. Four silver figures came in. They moved with ease, but she couldn't determine if they were of flesh or metal. They were of human shape and at least six and a half feet in height. Their bodies looked as though they were made of liquid mercury clothed in a thin gauze material. They didn't appear to be of a defined gender. One stood by the door as the other three approached her. She had two on either side of her with the third at her feet. They didn't seem to have any eyes, just little hollow slits with a small speck of light. She couldn't help but wonder what they were.
"We are androids, designed to service and protect the Domain, Sabol," the one nearest her shoulder answered in a smooth but monotone voice.
She couldn't tell if the words had entered her head or were spoken out loud since the android's mouth never moved and she stared at the rectangular opening, puzzled. The android pushed something on the platform she was on. She felt a wave of energy enter her body then whatever held her down, released. She wondered at the name Sabol, if it was in reference to the Domain or her.
She tried to speak, asking for water but her voice was a bare rasp. Her throat felt gritty as though she had swallowed sand. The one who spoke helped her sit up and steady her as she fought off the dizziness over taking her. She sat for a minute or two, fighting a wave of nausea, before attempting to swing her legs over the edge of the metal table.
"There is no need to speak. Your voice will come back. We communicate by thought waves," the android spoke to her mind as he handed her a large glass of water.
She could barely manage getting the glass to her lips as she tried to coordinate her arm and hand muscles. Her brain seemed three steps ahead of her body. The water dribbled down her chin as she tried to control the tipping of the container into her mouth. She wiped it roughly away with the back of her hand, managing to slap herself in the attempt. The cool clear liquid felt good sliding down her throat, taking some of the roughness away. She tried to soothe her hurting head by rubbing her temples with her fingers.
"This will help with the weakness and your pain."
Another android came forward and pressed a metallic tubular item against her arm before she could protest. It released an icy fluid which she felt travel throughout her veins in a matter of seconds. She was amazed at how quickly the medicine took care of her headache. She was grateful the pain was gone as she drank the rest of the water this time with a little more ease.
She wondered what had happened to her. Looking at the silver attendants she questioned where she was.
"We are prohibited from answering your questions." An android stood in front of her. "The Overlord will explain all to you."
She nodded wondering what an overlord was. To her relief the droid moved to a panel and started pushing buttons leaving her unattended for a moment.
She brushed back a few wisps of hair from her face. Her hair was braided, she discovered, allowing her hand to continue down the dark red hair braid to where the it ended just past her shoulders, bound by a leather tie at the bottom. She looked at her hands and feet as if they might help her adjust to the void in her mind, thinking it was odd that she didn't have anything on her feet. For some strange reason she felt she should have her feet covered.
Taking a deep breath, she slowly lowered herself onto the floor using the table as support. Her legs were rubbery as she put weight on them and her arms were of no use either.
"I ... I ...." She tried using her voice. She clutched the table as she slowly slid to the floor unable to stop herself. Immediately, she had one android on each side supporting her. She was amazed. Their touch was not cool like metal, but warm as a human's. They escorted her out of the room as she tried to gain use of her legs. Her first step was wobbly like a baby just learning to walk. She would have fallen if the androids hadn't been holding her. She wondered at the level of technology that could produce a robot both telepathic and warm to the touch, as they guided her out of the room.
On the other side of the door, she saw a lush, rich jungle domed in glass. She didn't know where she was but she knew it wasn't anywhere that was familiar to her. She bit the side of her cheek, trying to wake herself up from a bad dream. The metallic taste of blood in her mouth proved she was wide awake. She was going to ask if it was morning but held back the question. She didn't know if they would understand. Realizing she had remembered what morning meant, she felt a glimmer of hope that her mind wasn't as blank as she first thought.
The androids escorting her stepped onto a conveyor traveling along the glass walls. Holding her hand up to shield her eyes, she gazed up into the brightness and saw not one, but two suns in the sky. The brightness was blinding as it bounced off the dome's ceiling. It dawned on her then that it was they who were encased, not the jungle.
They came to a large foyer underneath a windowed and beamed dome. Everything was white--the floor, the ceiling beams with the exception of the glass walls.
"So...." She couldn't think of the word to describe the unwelcoming feeling at first. "... clinical," she said out loud. Her escorts stopped and looked at her. When she didn't speak again, they continued guiding her across the foyer.
It reminded her of a place with people in white coats. The word came slowly to her. Hospital.
Her mind grabbed on to that word as she thought about it. She knew what it was, a building for the sick and wounded. Her mind could not get past it. As a woman dressed in white coat hovered over her, a glimmering memory of herself as a child sitting on a white bed entered her mind. She remembered something being placed around her elbow before the memory faded.
She looked down at her elbow. There was no indication of a wound.
One thing at a time she told herself. If she could remember a hospital, then other memories would come back, memories that would help her remember who she was.
Whatever happened to me, she silently surmised, my mind did not want me know about it.
The conveyor hummed as it moved along. Other life forms began to emerge out of nowhere, it seemed. She tried to not to gawk at the tall, thin beings with large black pools for eyes. Their naked, willowy bodies seemed to glide as they moved. Others, with green-tinted skin and about as high as her hips, walked past. They emitted high-pitched shrills that hurt her ears.
They paused and stared at her. She somehow knew the squeals from their oversized lips were laughs as they pointed at her. One figure that scuffled by had four arms, jaundice yellow skin, and one eye in the centre of its forehead. It left a trail of foul smell behind that caused her to gag.
Humans also were about, but they seemed almost unrecognizable as humans. They were taller and paler than most people. She heard a whisper and saw a finger pointing out from a long flowing sleeve. She wanted to know what he was saying about her. It struck her he was pointing to her clothes. She looked down at herself. She suddenly felt very out of date in her jeans and t-shirt, considering the flowing, long garments the people wore.
I'm the one out of place, not these people. She smiled inwardly.
The conveyor stopped just at the edge of a large center dome. Five other conveyors branched out from the rim of the glass sphere. The androids guided her across the foyer to another moving belt. Others moved about, avoiding collision with one another--but she kept apologizing for stepping on everyone's feet. She let out a sigh of relief when she stepped onto the black moving belt. She couldn't step on any toes there.
As the conveyor moved along the steel and glass at an idle speed, she glanced outside. Huge trees with spiked leaves bowed over the transparent ceiling. She passed massive trunks with vines hanging from the thick, low branches. Even the forest outside seemed vaguely familiar, yet mysterious at the same time.
Where am I? she wondered. She rubbed her temples as if she could squeeze forth memories. She tried even harder to recall how she had come to this place but everything remained blank. She searched for something to read to test herself and finally lifted a slender finger poised in the air to write, searching for a word. 'ME' she scrolled out. She tried thinking of another word but the sudden stop of the conveyor brought her out of her thoughts.