The Voice.

The Voice.
Photo by Joes Valentine / Unsplash
Previously: The Collapse

Neville opens his eyes.

It's daytime, he's not in his apartment. The air he's breathing is fresh and cool.

He surveys his surroundings. It's a small room, not more than twelve feet square. He's in a bed, it's comfortable, but not luxurious. There's a floor-to-ceiling window on one side of the room overlooking what appears to be the ocean. The other three walls are barren. No furniture. No wall art. Nothing.

It's just him, in a bed, with a view of the ocean. It's also eerily silent. He can't hear the ocean outside, no whirl of an HVAC system. It's so silent the only thing he hears is his breathing.

Once he has a moment to acclimate himself to his surroundings he becomes aware of the excruciating headache. Like a vice is squeezing his brain. He closes his eyes and rubs the bridge of his nose. He's having trouble comprehending what is happening to him right now.

Where is he?

He has no idea. This room doesn't look familiar in any way. Next question, more simple this time.

What was the last thing he remembers?

He was so close to figuring out the answer. Andy was at his apartment and wanted to take him out. He was annoyed. Frustrated. He wanted to go back to work.

"Ahhh, Neville. You're awake!" says a voice that appears to come from everywhere and nowhere at the same time.

Startled, Neville opens his eyes and looks around the room again. No one is there. "Where are you? Who are you? Where am I? Wha-"

The room suddenly dissolves around Neville. He's now inside a new space, closed on all four sides. He's now in a hospital bed hooked up to monitoring equipment. There are nurses and doctors in the room talking amongst themselves. No one's looking at him directly, but they're definitely talking about him.

Then a bald nurse looks towards one of the monitors and then directly at Neville, "Hey. He's awake. Get Sandra!"

"Oh my goodness, Neville, you're back! I can't believe it. How was the trip? Did you crack the code?" says a well-dressed clean-shaven man.

"What the fuck is going on? I was. I don't kno-" Neville is completely lost for words.

"It's me, Andy, you're best friend."


The room dissolves.

This time Neville is inside a chamber restrained to a table. There's no one around, no windows, just a single light on the ceiling flickering randomly.

Neville tries to speak. His mouth is gagged.

He hears a door open somewhere outside the cast of light. A moment later a masked person walks up to him holding a clipboard. "Neville, I have some bad news for you." says a female voice. "There's been an investigation and we've determined that you're no longer capable of piloting the device. We're going to have to remove your clearance and release you to the public. Your memory will, of course, be wiped, but we'll make sure to set you up with a nice paying job, and good friends. It'll be a good life."

Neville can't respond. He struggles against the restraints. The room is cold. Very cold. He wants to scream, but all that comes out is a muffled groan.

"I know this is tough news. You were one of the best, but we're just not confident in your ability to keep a clear and impartial mind anymore. Honestly, you're a danger to yourself and the entire project in there. I'm sorry."

The room dissolves.

He's back in the room with a view of the ocean. "Welcome back Neville." says the voice from earlier again sounding very much like it's coming from everywhere and nowhere at the same time.

Neville is completely disorientated and unable to think clearly. He's lost his entire grip on reality. He has a million questions, but nothing comes out of his mouth.

The voice says, "We know you want answers. They will come with time. We're going to send you back into The Vault. Your friend Andy is there, he's very worried about you, please brush your collapse off on some minor thing. Too much Red Bull perhaps? Go to dinner with him. Then, get back to work. You're almost there. You've almost cracked it"

"What are you-"

The room dissolves.