Bonus chapter: Few Are Refusing
I wake up and everything around me is darkness. I try to move my arms and nothing happens. I try to turn my head to the right. I don’t feel the kink in my neck from baseball. It’s like I am dead. This darkness is overwhelming. I could taste it if I could move my tongue. The more I sit here in the dark, the more I feel afraid. I should be...hyperventilating. But I’m not. I don’t feel my heartbeat, my hands. Am I...dead? If this is death, where is the bright white light? Where is the shiny gold gate and the old guy with the book, like in the movies? Why am I here, in the dark?
I feel like I’m moving. Is someone moving me? “HELLO?? HELLO??” I’m shouting but I don’t hear my voice This feeling continues for a while. I feel a sudden jolt, like I’ve been put onto something. Maybe I’m stuck in a jar, or pipe? Some time passes. How do I measure time in this place? Then, I feel a bunch of shakes? Earthquake? No, this is going on too long. It’s like I’m in a car or truck. I’m being taken somewhere.
I can’t move, speak, or eat. So I try to sleep, or something like it. I just turn off my thoughts and the darkness smothers around me. It’s difficult to describe. Imagine being wrapped into a blanket and the blanket covers your entire head. Then imagine everything moving slowly around you. After a while of this, I feel scared, like my sense of self is fading away. I think of a memory- that of my sister and I playing as kids. The memory floods in. It’s like I am back there, in full color. It’s the opposite of a dream and like a documentary. I’m playing hopscotch with her, jumping on the squares, hearing the tapping of my feet on the pavement. It’s a peaceful memory. This is such a curious feeling, being about to remember everything with clarity. OK, focus Craig. Miami Vice, Season 2…
I feel something ‘touching’ me. I feeling ‘it’ moving. It is ‘warm’. I hear something! It’s very faint. I hear it again and it’s a little louder. I hear it again. It’s a voice! “HELLO!” I scream.
“I can hear you now,” the voice says to me. It sounds like a man, but still pretty faint.
“Who are you? What am I doing here?” I say to this voice.
“What is your name?” it asks me. This time, the voice is louder and has a deep tone to it.
“Craig! Craig Poste! Nothing about this makes sense!”
“Mr. Poste, my name is Clyde Irons. I have some bad news for you. Something terrible has happened. But first, you are going to have to see it to believe it.”
Light fades in. I can see! I’m looking at a mirror. I’m wearing a red trench coat, a brown t-shirt, and I’m black. Wait...I’m not black!
“You are looking at me through my eyes. I am showing you what I see,” the man says to me. His mouth is not moving, which is weird. The eyes move down, to where his hand is. It’s in a round vat of silver-colored water. “This is you. To be more precise, you were put in here.”
“But how? I don’t understand!!” I scream. I am beyond scared now. The liquid spins a bit around his hand. Am I doing...oh it stopped now.
“What is the last thing you remember before you wound up in here?”
The memory floods through me like a fire hydrant opened full blast on a hot summer day. I explain the events to the man as I see them. “I was walking home from the gym. This white van pulled up and these 4 guys ran out and grabbed me. I tried to fight them, but there were too many of them and I couldn’t get free. I woke up in a large room with short rafters and this guy in a white scientist coat says ‘You will do.’ He grabs my head and…” I can’t talk anymore. It’s like I am too afraid to speak. The memory fades away and I’m back to looking at the vat.
“Yes, that is what happened to many others like you, including the people who grabbed you,” says Clyde. “You were kidnapped by a scientist who called himself Doctor Deceit. He was a member of the League of Bold Individuals.”
“Oh my God! Those guys!” I almost scream. I’ve seen these supervillains on TV and the Internet. “What did he do to me?!”
“He transferred your mind into this tub of liquid metal. He planned on using your mind to control the metal. A superhero heard about Doctor Deceit and went to my students for help. My students found him and killed him before he could succeed. Unfortunately, your body is dead,” the man tells me. He looks up, away from ‘me’. He’s looking at tubs lined up against a wall, stacked up like wine barrels.
“My students determined how to control your new body. Let me demonstrate.” I feel a tingle run through my body. An image appears to me, overtaking my vision. It is of a long thin pole. The tingle becomes stronger, and I feel it in the center of me. I feel myself...shifting. The vision changes and I find myself looking at myself, only now I’m in the shape of a pole.
“Now this next step is going to sound weird,” he tells me.
I immediately chime in with “How much weirder can it get?”
“Make a face appear on the pole about where I’m looking at.” I picture a face and then I feel a tingle. I ‘push’ the tingle up the pole and stop it about where he is looking at me. Then I focus on making the tingle into a face. A blob of silver appears on the pole, then a smudge, and finally it becomes a face.
“Nice to meet you face to face,” he jokes.
“Har har har, a comedian. Can you get me out of this tub?”
“Yes...for a price.”
“Do you take Visa or Mastercard?”
“Now who’s the comedian?” I feel a tingle on my face, around the holes for eyes that I made. I feel his hand slide out of the liquid. Now I’m looking at him. He turns around and takes three steps away from me. Then he turns around.
“You can only hold a form as long as a super, like myself, provides you with energy to hold a shape. Therefore, you are to be teamed up with other supers. You will be their partners, their tools, their weapons.” He holds his arms out. The coat splits in half. The fabric flows like liquid down his arms to his hands and forms two large Chinese-style swords.
“This is but a small sample of the things that you are capable of. But remember, your old life is lost to you. I’m offering you a chance at a new and more interesting life,” he tells me.
I feel my ‘face’ crinkle.“A new life as a weapon of war?” I say to him. “Doesn’t sound like my idea of a good time. What if I say ‘no’?”
“Then you will remain in the vat until my students and I find a way to return to you to human form. Assuming that we can, of course.” I see him point at the vat behind me with his sword. “I have no way of knowing how long your mind will last in the tub without processed dark energy.”
“So, it sounds like I don’t have a choice,” I tell him. If I still had a body, I would be shaking with rage.
“Yes you do. But you should know; few are refusing my offer.”