Home Sweet Home
Greg couldn’t explain what had happened to him. One moment he was in the presence of a terrible monster fearing for his life. The next he was sitting in a spacious old library from his childhood. Greg pushed himself away from the hard oak table he was sitting at and stood up quickly. He looked down at his body and patted himself on the chest. He was really here… somehow he had been transported through time and space to this old building.
Was I daydreaming? Thought Greg as his eyes jumped across all the bookshelves. They were loaded with all sorts of information. From somewhere in the distance a music box was playing a familiar song from his childhood. It sounded ghostly; not because the tune itself was ghostly, but because of the feelings it invoked in him. How could anyone else know the significant of this song but him? He had repressed it years ago with the death of his father. Greg had a sudden paradigm shift as each note faded into the air around him. Maybe this wasn’t a daydream like he had at first perceived it to be. Maybe this was something a little more sinister and creepy? Who could really know the thoughts and intents of his heart but God himself?
“Hello?” said Greg. “Is anyone there?”
“I know what you are probably thinking,” said a deep and indulgent voice from behind.
Greg turned to see a man with dark blue eyes approaching him from one of the aisles of the library. His short blond hair was combed neatly into a sharp part. His nose was broad and his jawline well defined. He couldn’t have been older than 30, and yet he looked wise beyond his years. As if the soul inside the body had aged faster.
“What did you say?” asked Greg
The man stopped 6 feet in front of Greg. “I said, I know what you’re probably thinking right now. You’re probably thinking that you have somehow died and gone to heaven.”
Greg was quiet as he studied the man in front of him. He hadn’t really been thinking that at all, but for the sake of getting his questions answered he nodded his head. “What is this place?”
“This…” said the strange man as he indicated to the rustic library around them. “Is called the grand index, and it will be your new home for the foreseeable future.”
Greg wasn’t sure what the stranger meant by this place being his new home. While it was true it reminded him of his childhood in Maine, there was no way in heck this guy was going to keep him here. He had a cat to find and a life to live. “And who are you?”
“My name is Issyk,” said the man as he pointed to the logo on his suit coat. It depicted a ‘P’ with an ‘L’ passing through the opening of the letter ‘P’. Both initials were encircled about by two olive branches. “I was the one that created and constructed the grand index from the beginning. I will be the one that deconstructs it at the end once all humanity is gathered safely in.”
Greg studied the logo on the man’s suit coat. He recognized the thing from Bob Orton’s book, ‘A Guide to Knowing If Your Friends and Family Are a Bunch of Nightshades in Disguise’. He continued cautiously. Something inside was telling him this man wasn’t really his friend. “You are with Prewitt Labs? Aren’t you guys working with the government to clean up the Nightshade issues in America? I want you to know you are doing a terrible job! Your government office is likely infested with these Nightshades.”
“Oh we are definitely trying to control the nightshade issues. These Daughters of the Black Forest can be crafty at times… especially as you feed them more and more knowledge. But they are deserving of rights and privileges,” said Issyk with a smile. He leaned against one of the hard oak tables in the room and stared down at the ground. “The way the humans treat the nightshades is unfair…”
“What the hell are you talking about?!” erupted Greg. Their society had been turned upside down with the introduction of these monsters. Who knew how many humans had been devoured by them. Who knew how many lives had been stolen and repurposed. Greg had nearly lost his life before coming to this strange place. “I was just tricked by one of these things before coming here! It was pretending to be human while evaluating me in a government office!” Greg paused and lifted his hand to his neck. The data disc that had been installed by the Nightshade was still pulsating at his spine. He suddenly knew that this thing was going to be a permanent feature of his body from here on out. He didn’t care what his Alcoholics Anonymous group leader said about sociological perspectives. This was a time for yelling. “What have you done to me!?”
Greg tried to pull the data disc off his neck but couldn’t. It was liked a big tick that had gotten too far under the skin to remove. It would take a crazy surgery to get the thing out.
“We have improved your human condition,” said Issyk firmly. He was staring Greg down now. “All this information you see here is part of your Hippocampus. I plan to add to this library of yours and take away some volumes of unconscious biases you might have for the Nightshade race. It will all be a catalyst to building a better you in the future, both physically and spiritually.”
Greg was taken aback by this. “What the hell does that mean?”
“You’re a Nightshade too, Greg,” said Issyk with a confident smile. “You just don’t know it yet. These things you call bleachers are really your kinfolk… only a few thousand generations removed. In time you will see what I mean.”
“Okay I am done with this crazy conversation,” said Greg as he turned from the man and walked away. He couldn’t believe he was being filed under the same category as these demented bleachers. What was this Issyk character actually trying to say? That he was a distant relative of these abominations based solely on the color of his skin. He was still human! At least when he left his house this morning he was still human.
Greg’s footfalls thudded loudly on the industrial carpet as he passed by the hard oak tables on his way to the exit. He marched into one of the aisles of the bookshelves swearing to himself as he went along. Greg exited the other side and found himself right back where he started; in the main hall with all the stupid tables. The creepy man in the business suit was still leaning against one of the tables. He looked over to Greg and waved to him.
Greg was gob smacked by this! His brain felt like it had just done a somersault.
“You’re in a nested subroutine, Greg. They can be very complicated to navigate out of. Believe me, I spent most of my career in the United States Air Force trying to get out of these nested routines. All of which were created by humans, mind you,” said Issyk as he looked around at the architecture. “There is no escaping this mental library unless I let you out. You were placed here by Hera shortly after your evaluation went south. She told me all about the purple fire and the vomiting.”
Issyk turned to face Greg now and pointed to the floor with his index fingers. “This is going to be the new norm from here on out. Humans have been wasting so much time sleeping their lives away. There is no productivity in sleeping your lives away… but in the index, your body can become rested and your mind given more knowledge.” He cleared his throat. “It will be like jumping from one reality to another. This is my gift to all the Nightshades in the Earthen Kingdom. This is my gift to you, Greg, because you are one of them.”
Greg’s soul plunged into despair at the words Issyk was saying. He hated the thought of being one of them. There was no way he was one of these bloody bleachers. He had been human his whole life; he just had to keep telling himself that and not get off course. He wasn’t born one of these creatures and he sure as hell wasn’t eating people around his neighborhood. His thoughts turned quickly to Gregory the 3rd of Canterbury. He was absolutely convinced that he was dead now. Eaten alive by a society overrun with these Nightshades.
Greg cleared the knot forming in his throat. Tears were welling up in his eyes for his feline friend. “So I am trapped in this endless hell?”
“You’re not trapped here, Greg. That is not the point of you being here,” said Issyk reassuringly. He was actually trying to calm the man down. “And this is nowhere near what hell is like. I could make it hell for you, but that won’t be necessary. By the end I plan to be a better creator for both the Nightshades and the Human race. I have been reading the Bible and found a few places that need correcting… but all that can come later at the grand circumspection.”
Greg wasn’t a very religious man, but even he felt oddly disgusted by this notion.
Issyk turned away from him and looked down one aisle of the bookshelves. He held out a hand and beckoned someone to come, “I want you to meet your new assistant in the index. She will be helping you clear out the archives of your hippocampus. There is obvious a lot of work to do and not a lot of time to do it in.”
Greg watched quietly as a beautiful brown haired woman came marching down the row and into the main hall. Her dark blue eyes were the same shade as Issyk’s and her nose had the same broad structure. They could have been related somehow. It wasn’t until the woman got closers that Greg realized her mouth was missing from off her face; replaced by painted red lips. It was disturbing to look at.
“This…” said Issyk delightedly as he pushed off the table and stood next to the woman in the aisle. He place his hands on the woman’s shoulders and squeezed them slightly. “Is Miss Evelyne Prewitt herself. Founder of Prewitt Laboratories and the great key holder to the bottomless pit. She was the one that unleashed these plagues upon the world.”
Greg watched in horror as the woman’s expression changed from fear of Issyk to a profound sadness. Her dark blue eyes shifted from Greg to the ground and her body was slightly shaking in the presence of the strange man. These two individuals were not friends. There definitely was a history there that Greg could sense, but just was not seeing.
“What have you done to her?” asked Greg.
“Anything I want, now,” said Issyk as he leaned in and kissed her on the cheek. The woman flinched at his touch. She looked on the verge of falling apart. Issyk whispered into her ear so that all in the room could hear. “Anything I want, now.”
Greg didn’t know Evelyne Prewitt very well, but he was dead sure that no one deserved this harsh treatment. His blood felt like it was boiling. The light in the library grew red and dark as his anger mounted. He clenched his fists and walked slowly over to Issyk.
Issyk looked up at the ceiling as the lighting changed in the main hall of the index. The sound of a strong wind blowing from somewhere outside the library picked up louder and louder. Issyk pulled away from Evelyne and looked over to Greg with a knowing smile. Human’s made most of their decisions based on raw emotion nowadays; it was one of the easiest ways to control them. Issyk’s voice seemed unfazed by the change in atmosphere, “Hold it right there, Greg. You’re getting the situation all wrong between me and Evelyne here. There is no need for violence in the library.”
“What have you done to her?” Demanded Greg. “Is this what you plan to do to me?”
Issyk held his hands up and retreated a little bit. He wanted Greg to know there was nothing up his sleeves. “All I wanted to say is that Evelyne is here to help you arrange the mental furniture. Maybe even clear out the cobwebs on some of these shelves,” Issyk turned and started walking away from the group. “While you’re in the real world getting re-educated in the new American system. I just want you to know she’s inside your head cleaning up the mess you made…and believe me you got lucky with this particular helper. She’s a Harvard Graduate of Business with an obsessions for organization,” He pointed to the books on all the shelves. Issyk settled on one of them and opened it. It was full of cat videos of Gregory the 3rd of Canterbury. All of it was completely and utterly useless.
“Everything must go!” said Issyk as he dropped the memories on the floor.
Greg didn’t like the sound of everything going.
“We will be in touch periodically.” Said Issyk as he held up a remote. It looked like the one that Dr. Banes had used back in the government office. “We will definitely be in touch! You are way too important for us not to stay in touch.”
Greg turned to Evelyne. There was definitely a deeper history there between the two of them. He could only see the terror in her eyes before everything went dark again.