Atlas breathes again, trying to keep his mind in order but with restraints coiled around his body, it's clearly hard to do so. And the eerie sight of the orange-lit copper room running with machinery with unknown functions, pipelines ruling the walls, and white human-sized bags hanging from the ceiling by only a rusty chain, is not making it better. Wherever he is and how he got here, are all concerning thoughts that nip at his toes as he concludes he is in possible danger. He has to escape. So he clenches his fists and shakes his arms, struggling against the grip of the leather brown straps. It was no use. It has him in its grip and it won't let go. Not without making a creaking fuss.
"I don't know." An unfamiliar voice suddenly whispers beside Atlas from a distance, sounding scrawny and nervous. "He looks like all the others."
Atlas doesn't know who that is but it sounds like they're talking about him. But why? Maybe he was kidnapped and taken to some discrete location by that very voice. If only he can remember how he got here. Maybe I got drunk? No, I don't drink. Drugs? I don't take any or have any friends associated with such things. Owe money? I don't know any mobster or landlord that I owe money to.
The lack of an explanation nerves Atlas, shaking his leg with anxiety. The creaking of the chains holding those human-shaped bags drives his mind mad with impatience. An ounce of him wants to believe that this is a nightmare. But he's living the anxiety and the pain of his scared mind. He's breathing in new territory. No dream can replicate amnesia of recent events. It's as he's living in another world. The thought strikes him when he remembers reading theories about multiple dimensions somewhere in a science article.
Am I living in one? He closes his eyes, recalling his life. The day he was sitting beside his best friend, sharing wonderful smiles with her. Knowing that she's the only thing that made him feel safe, stable, however way you want to call it.
"WAKE UP, BOY!" A voice jolts Atlas's eyes wide open. Despite already having obeyed, he receives a strike to his face. He claws the wood of the chair as the painful warmth wraps around his cheek. With a clenched jaw, the pain gets even worse. The voice is gone and the lights flicker rapidly at a random pace that stings his eyes and confuses heaven out of him. But now he knows that it's only him, the unseen voices, and the stinky machinery around him.
His glance falls to his feet where he squirms in fear at the dirty transparent floor that reveals a hole with no visible end-- just an abyss where all bodies hide. Atlas shakes the alerting voice out of his head as soon as a voice comes back, belonging to someone else this time. Someone bigger than the other.
"This the human Vesawn was expecting? No? Yes?" Silence. "Then go figure it out!! We don't want to have the same situation as last time! Go!!!!" The next few parts are just clashing and banging that cease at a sigh. "Idiot..." Footsteps follow, disappearing farther away from wherever he is.
Atlas lets go of his breath after holding onto it. But he holds it again with a sharp muffle when he feels cold fingers(?) slip up his shirt making its way upwards his spine. He shuts his eyes closed with his back arching inward. Being strapped to a chair that triggers agoraphobia isn't pleasant. When you can't go anywhere due to a simple chair. You realize with a cold sweat that you are in danger. And all you can do is yell, Get away!--but if only he could say that instead of jumbled muffling. He jumps as the fingers suddenly pull away at the sound of a loud bang that rings his ears.
"Atlas Raven! The bag of suppressed emotions. I knew that rat was you we've caught!" The voice of the scrawny person replies in a tune that escapes with half of a whistle. But that voice belongs to no person. It belongs to a thin male figure wearing a strange beaked mask made of a cracked mirror with tiny black dots as eyes. The mirror seems to distort any image that peers in. Atlas learns that his reflection reflects pure black eyes wearing a wide smile that opposes his current feelings toward his situation. He looks away, unable to stand the frightening view.
Mirror face chuckles at Atlas's deep inhales and exhales. The attempt of trying to stay calm doesn't exist when your surroundings are monstrous. "I find silence much more pleasant than the meaningless words of "shit!", or "Fuck you!" But it's funny because such words are invoked like a curse when it is clearly not. Makes me wonder if those naughty words are supposed to emotionally harm me. Because Hell, I have no human emotions! Glad I took psychology class." A quick cough. "But you're quiet and scared out of your mind. It makes me wonder what kind of things you'll say... Oh! My pronouns are he, by the way. Not IT. Everyone seems to mess that up and it's annoying cuz I'm not a monster! Just an unpaid worker." He laughs and draws in, unbuckling half of the straps and the cover over his mouth. His finger tips appear burnt. And a horrible stench fills Atlas's nostrils. A smell he doesn't care to identify. So he distracts his mind by tracing his gaze to mirror face's long arms that are covered in elastic plasters. But that's not able to cover up all the cuts and bruises dwelling on his skin. Everything else is normal. All except for a small wooden cross staked at the top of his head. Or the dry blood-stains on his white apron.
Mirror face catches him looking as soon as he gets to remove the covering over his mouth. "Oh, like my bloody apron?"
Atlas shrugs, unsure, but then he nods.
"Well, you shouldn't!" He barks. "I always thought about getting a black one but nooooo, they say, it doesn't scare humans if they can't see the bloodstains, they say! These humans... you're the only reason why our payless jobs exist." He abruptly stops talking. "Why would you care about some silly apron, anyway?"
Atlas shrugs again which makes mirror face scoff harshly.
"You're an odd kid, Mr. Raven. But what did I expect from someone of your past? Someone...broken."
Atlas releases a soft growl. "You don't know me." To which mirror face laughs.
"He speaks! And yes, I know you. You're Atlas Raven from Arizona. Boss has kept a close eye on you ever since you've arrived. Hoping that you're not another impostor..."
Atlas pokes his head up in striking curiosity and fear. "An imposter?" He whispers. Never having thought of such a thing. Being an imposter this whole time? Imitating the exact life of the real Atlas Raven? Who am I?
"Ahhh! I'm just pulling your leg, kid!" Bob laughs before turning dead quiet. "But who really knows. Which is why we're here!" He springs his arms out at the room. Turning into a circle before facing Atlas once again.
"Where is 'here'?" He asks softly. His arms becoming overwhelmingly heavy with pain and his head spiraling in confusion and from mesmerization due to the hanging body bags and his loss of identity. It causes him to recall his most guilty sins and pleasurable memories.
Mirror face lowers his head down a little. "You know where you are and how you got here but you just don't remember. This world does that to you." He only replies.
"Look, all you need to know is that you killed her," an unknown voice points out. "I will not give you her blood to drink or sell. Do not ask me to feed your hunger. It's a dangerous thing to ask for."
Atlas attempts to search for the voice, eyes darting around. Mirror face quickly grabs his face, forcing his attention. "I wouldn't listen to them if I were you." He tuts softly. If mirror face could grin, this is the moment where he would.
"Who?" Atlas asks.
"Memory-eating-chitter-chatters. But we call 'em Mockers. They're just annoying pests that only come if..." Mirror face looks down and huffs. "Speak of the devil...!" He suddenly lifts its grey leg and stomps loudly. "Stop messing with our guest blood hag-" He stops and with a grunt, he positions Atlas to face the floor, allowing him to see what he's referring to-- a creature down below floating quite close to the barrier of the floor. It has red skin, long black hair, and a bare female torso with a centipede lower half that disappears into the dark bottom of the well-looking hole. She--it(??) sends him a bone-chilling smile and waves its normal human hand.
"Red really likes new people, you see. So she brings out her ugly babies to play with your mind. Don't look her in the eyes though..." Mirror face whispers but sees that it's already too late as Atlas gets trapped in Red's gaze. At that moment, mirror face gives in to the extreme curiosity of what might happen next.
Red places a hand against the floor with eyes that never peel off of Atlas's. They stare for a while as the machinery in the background whisks and puffs with great lungs that'll never die. At that moment, it draws its hand back, leaving behind a bloody handprint. Whatever is going on--sucks Atlas into a whirlpool. A whirlpool where he sees himself in this same place surrounded by many figures with no defined shape but perfectly smooth human skin. The room around him flickers and crumbles. Female screeching erupts into the air. The number one is carved onto a meaty door in front of him with a waving arm coming out of it.
"To a friendship that'll never die..." Atlas feels himself sink further. The walls crumbling into darkness and the floor being a dark pool of water that reflects the galaxy. "She's like a siren with eyes as red as the sea. With a voice as soft as the surface of a heart. She is the everlasting ticking of time and the one who carries the world's blood!" Atlas feels the urge to laugh clench at his throat and his chest.
Mirror face heaves Atlas to his original spot. "Snap out of it, boy!" He draws little blood from his cheek. "Come back."
Atlas shakes his head and breathes as if he's got hit with cold water. "What was that?!" He watches Red crawl away into the darkness. His ears ring and his senses come back to life. "I-I-It felt as if I saw the entire universe and its secrets, in her eyes..."
"Red is a blood siren. Sings a song to her victim's blood and sucks away at their life. Like drugs." He backs up with two fingers pointing up and two fingers pointing down. "Welcome to The Heart."
Atlas can't help but glance down. Despite the monster being gone, she still leaves a pit in his stomach. An awful feeling that squirms around inside his stomach--eating up anything valuable in its sight. "The Heart?"
Mirror face inhales sharply, "Nevermind History class, kid. This is anatomy!" He leans next to Atlas and the air suddenly reaks of the smell of blood. Mirror face turns to Atlas, staring at his cheek that ran with blood. He jabs his finger into the wound with his head cocked in curiosity. Atlas winces in pain but is careful to swallow his own tongue.
For a moment he feels something. A wave of unfamiliar memories flood into his mind. A large shadow of a winged humanoid covers the entire world with a candle in one hand and an eye on the other. The fire on the candle falls, dripping down like water. Engulfing everything in its way. Another memory comes into mind. The air is full of smoke. Right in front of Atlas is a large rusty gate with symbols carved on the vertical bars. Symbols that are eerily glowing an orange color. If you peer in you can see a dark burning mansion with a man watching the flames...
"What did you do?!" Mirror face cries holding his now burnt finger. "You're not him! What are you?!"
Atlas frowns. "I'm--"
"You're not Atlas Raven...you're full of death and bad omen...you're someone else, but also not... Do you know who you are?"
Atlas averts his eyes with a shaky sigh. Unable to form the proper words to describe how he's feeling. "I...I..." He repeats in a gust frustration.
Mirror face backs away with his hands held firm to his sides. "Guess we have ourselves another one of them."
Atlas shakes his head furiously. Confused out of his mind as the orange lights blur above his head until he stops at the sight of a larger version of mirror face standing before him in heavy puffs. The only difference is that it has a spear sticking out from the top of its head and its black heart visible-- sitting behind a clear, thin layer of skin in its bare chest.
"Night night" Mirror face sings. Revealing itself as the second voice who was barking orders at mirror face. Before Atlas could even react his consciousness is smacked right out of his body.