My body was lateral, facing towards the sky. Or roof. Or whatever was above me at the moment., I couldn’t see anything and my head was pounding so hard that my eyes felt the pain. I couldn’t even open my eyes. The blood on my face must’ve dried leaving a crust over my eyelids. My body was cold. Streams of sweat ran down my face and pools of blood flooded the rest of my body. My muscles were sore and my bones ached. My throat was dry and every inhale of oxygen through my nose burned. To make it worse, the stench in the air was repulsive and I was moving too fast. Nausea increased with each second but I had to fight it mentally. If I puked in the position I was currently in, I would definitely choke instantly. I couldn’t let it get to that point. I would be too weak to go against it physically.
I took all of my available focus and put it in my ears. They were the part of my body that hurt the least. The light ringing was tolerable compared to anything else I was feeling. From all directions except below, warped and awry voices asked rushed questions, yelled instructions and muttered worries.
Everyone sounded so far, yet I somehow knew that they were so close. I let their muffled voices fill my ears. I was so uncomfortable. I couldn’t convince myself I wasn’t. I tried to push the feeling away multiple times, but failed each time.
A quick turn left was all it took to finally break my focus. I felt the blood on my torso shift and spill, drenching everywhere from the left side of my stomach to my thigh. The blood was warm but the atmosphere of wherever I was, was still cold.
I clenched my teeth together because my throat was too dry for me to complain to anyone. And I doubted they would even be able to hear me over the resonance of their own voices. I closed my eyes tighter. Every movement griped at my attention but I did my best trying to pay it no mind. I had ignored pain in the past. Dislocated and broken fingers, nonlethal knife gashes, bruises from repeated hits, punches and kicks. None of those had been a struggle for me to temporarily disregard for over a year. It was part of my life’s normal endeavors by now. But for some reason, now I was going through pain I couldn’t bear.
What happened to me?
I heard the loud voice above everything else.
“Sir!” It said now closer.
It was still distorted but I heard it. It was almost as if I felt the words physically touching me.
“Alright sir.” The voice said from what felt like above me.”It’ll literally just last a second.”
All the agony in the world smothered me and my body jolted. I screamed at the top of my lungs and realized nothing came out of my mouth.
I closed my mouth and realized that the pain literally lasted for a second as the voice told me it would
Then the voices. The smells. Every physical thing I felt. My own thoughts. All faded simultaneously.
All of a sudden, my eyes opened and I saw nothing but a bright light yet my retinas adjusted and I didn’t feel the need to squint. Eyes wide open, I noticed a man rushing towards me. He didn’t run or even jog, but there was a very clear haste in his step. He walked with a sense of urgency, yet I stood and waited very calmly.
Everything was so strange. I still hadn’t even blinked. I couldn’t even turn my head yet, somehow, I knew that everything around me was just as bright and white as in front of me. In fact, the only color I spotted was the man still approaching me.
He began getting closer but didn’t slow down.
Then he stopped. Suddenly. It was as if he just glitched. He stood about ten feet away from me with his hands to his sides and serious eyes staring at me.
A Black man in a velvet green suit with shoes to match. He stood at a height a little taller than me. Six-foot-three, maybe? A low and professional cut and sturdy but subtle stance led me to assume he was a man of power and influence.
“Sir, we don’t have any time.” He said. “I injected you with a syringe and now your heart rate is flatlining. The doctor’s are panicking and I have five minutes to tell you everything you need to know. However, we are in a place that is between your and my subconscious so there’s no way to tell time here. And we can’t guess or estimate because it doesn’t exist here where we are. We just have to be quick and get back to consciousness before the anticipated time.”
I still couldn’t move.
“So to get you up to date and debrief you at the same time, you accomplished infiltrating the Tramp Agency successfully. You were able to get us all the information we need to legally shut down the agency and potentially get Mr. Tramp arrested indefinitely for what was just thought of as conspiracies. Good job, sir.”
I still couldn’t talk.
He was rushing when he spoke but was somehow able to look placid even as the importance of time running out was bound to be imminent at any given moment. He was definitely used to this.
“I have bad news.” He continued. “In your altercation while trying to leave the Tramp building, a man attempted to bomb you and your partner. Your partner is OK, however you lost most of your right forearm. The rest of your body was penetrated by debris and shrapnel but isn’t a big issue.”
I was able to move. My eyes went down and my arm came up. When they met, the sight was treacherous.
Before I was able to take it all in, the man began speaking again.
“Your body will be taken care of by the doctors but your arm will be lost.” He said with a pause. “However, with your permission we can move you into a program we’ve been waiting to induct you in for a while now. Along with the new benefits and opportunities, your arm will be taken care of. And we’ll do it better than any other place in the world can. I’m sorry but I have to rush you for an answer. I need to know right now, do you accept?”
I was able to speak.
“What?” That was all I could manage to say.
“Sir, I need an answer right. I don’t know how long we’ve been here. Answer the question sir.”
“I can’t think. Are you limiting my thoughts like you did my movements and voice?”
“Your opinions distort your real answer. Whatever answer you choose right now, you’ll love at the end. Without a doubt.”
“This is such a big decision.”
“Sir, you need to answer the question.”
“This is a life decision and I’m being told I can’t use my brain?”
“No, you’re being told you can’t use your heart. It’s bound to blemish and sway your answer. What’s your decision sir?”
“I’m impaired right now. Let me think about this.”
“I understand. But you’ll be impaired forever without an immediate answer. You have an answer in your head. It’s been there and you haven’t second guessed it once during this conversation. Verbalize it right now!” He said in one breath before calming back down. “Must I remind you that your physical body’s heart rate is currently flatlining.”
I suddenly realized everything.
My speech and movements were hindered here so my conscious body wouldn’t be moving. And with my heart not beating, it would be seen as dead or dying. And with my heart in such an unstable condition, it wasn’t able to have an influence over my decision. However, I needed to answer soon before the doctors thought I was dead.
And that lucid green suit. Due to prior knowledge, I knew that green represented growth, peace and can cause an overwhelming feeling of safety.
He was right. I had my answer. And I hadn’t second guessed it at all. Why was it so hard saying it? Nothing was stopping me from saying it except that I didn’t want to say it.
“Sir, what’s your--”
“I accept.”I replied.
His lips parted into a bright smile.
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