GFD: Lost In Shadow

Lost In Shadow 1

It began with the pounding of a severe headache, throbbing mercilessly behind my eyes. The harsh reality of a pulsating migraine that seemed to come out of nowhere at all. It hurt so badly that I could literally 'taste' the ache of it in the back of my throat. I felt like I was spinning wildly in place, but I knew somehow that I was laying still. Maybe it was the whole world that was spinning like this instead. Disorienting. Bewildering. Where am I? How did I get here? What's going on?

I can't make sense of things right away, but as my consciousness begins to return to me, I can hear the sounds of a fierce struggle coming from the other side of the room that I'm laying in. Grunts and gun shots, hand to hand combat, broken furniture and equipment. It is only then that I become somewhat aware of the cold concrete beneath me, my body stretched out from whatever impact I must have taken to give me this pain in my back and shoulders. I can feel a small pool of drool connecting my mouth to the floor...or is it blood? And, while I want to get back up on my feet, it hurts my brain to send the message to my muscles to move. It sounds like a full blown war is going on all around me, and I'm too worn out to even look up and see what all is happening.

Opening my eyes is like being reborn into the world from scratch. It stings, burns, and my headache seems to get infinitely worse as the first rays of light pass through my retinas for interpretation. It's dark in the room, but I can clearly see a battle happening not more than 20 feet away from me. A blurry one, but I know conflict when I see it. I see a man, fighting for his very life, and doing a damn good job of it. Attacking him is a woman with long sharp blades fanned out from the end of her fingertips, and a man in a mask and cape...swinging a bo staff with the expertise of a well trained master. There are others moving in on him, cornering him, taking multiple swipes at his defenses as he fights back with unbelievable speed. I can't even tell who's side I'm on. Or if I'm involved in this situation at all. As my eyes begin to focus a bit better, I see the dizzying movements of the scuffle before me mor clearly. So fast! Agile, balanced, and powerful. They strike at one another so fiercely that their motions seem impossible to pull off so effortlessly...practically defying the laws of gravity. This isn't right. This isn't human. And it's then that I remember...

They're NOT human. And neither am I...

"EXILE!!! We need you in action!!!" The man in the mask shouts out in the middle of battle. Exile? Is he talking to me? Is that who I am? Why does he need me? What can I do? Unngh...why can't I think straight?

The fight continues, and I struggle to get my bearings on where I am. After rolling slightly to my side, my fingertips numb, I'm able to reach a hand up to feel a giant wet spot on the back of my head. A warm liquid flows freely from a gaping wound there, crawling over my fingers and sliding down over the back of my neck. I pull my hand away, and see...blood. My palm completely covered in crimson. My eyes try desperately to focus, and with a push, I feel my hands lift my face slowly from the ground. My knees carefully slide up underneath me, and I stop for a moment, as the sudden elevation from the floor makes my head pound with more severity. I look down at my hands...I'm 'young'. I don't remember being so young. It's a strange sight, a teenager's hands covered in so much blood. Ahhh...can't focus. Gotta get to my feet.

"We're WORKING here, Exile!!! Little help, 'team leader'?!?!?!" The masked man addresses me again as their fight rages on. I look to the side as he leans way back to avoid an iron bar that was just swung at his face. His retaliation is swift, but his enemy dodges and blocks so efficiently that it almost looks 'rehearsed'. Choreographed and practiced ahead of time for the dance to be pulled off as flawlessly s it was. "Dammit, kid! GET IN HERE!!!" He needs MY help? How can I help him? Who is he fighting? What side am I on?

I can’t remember! What’s going on???

Vampires. What is…? Am I...? Are we all…?

Suddenly, there's a loud CRASH coming from the left of me, and I see a rather large white van come bursting through the wall! Concrete fragments fly everywhere in an explosive tantrum, and I'm showered with debris as I stumble backwards to lean on a stack of boxes for support. As I look back, I can vaguely make out the face of a monstrous looking creature with a bald head and pale white skin, jumping out of the driver's side of the spinning van before it even screeches to a full stop. The creature's arms are almost long enough for its knuckles to scrape the floor, its muscular, overdeveloped shoulders spread wide from the sides of it vein-riddled neck, and it easily clears the distance between itself and its comrades in just two and a half leaps. It is now three against a virtual army of enemies, as the monster joins into battle to assist the other two. The creature was unbelievably strong, brutally so. The masked man had a level of skill and precision that made him nearly impossible to hit. And the woman was a dizzying frenzy of speed and savagery. Together, they slashed and battered their targets without pulling a single punch. Whoever it was that they were fighting against...they were no match for the team’s combined might. The enemy leader was being worn down. His arms tired, his breath gave out, and they eventually pounded him until there was no more fight left in him at all. As he gave his last few desperate swings at his attackers...I hear a blood curdling scream leap out of his throat...as a long silver blade penetrates his heart from behind. The victim howled in agony, accompanied by a loud hiss, his fangs dripping wet with saliva, his eyes open wide in horror at this, now fatal, injury. The masked man had run him completely through, and he twisted the blade sharply to make sure the weapon did its job well.

That's it. That's the checkmate. The final blow. No vampire could survive that.

All goes quiet, as their target passes out from the pain, and defeatedly drops to the floor in a heap. I hear footsteps behind me, as the three warriors approach me. They were all vampires...just like me. But their crossovers must have happened later on in life. They appeared to be in their mid to late twenties. A sight older than myself from the looks of it. Should I be scared? Should I run? Maybe...maybe they're the ones who did this to me. Injured me and left me to bleed alone on this cold floor. Maybe...I'm the next one to be staked through the heart.

"Exile?" The woman asks in a somewhat comforting tone. "Exile?" She says again...and I'm unable to answer, lost in a fog of confusion. "Adam?" Adam...the name rings a bell. Adam. That sounds familiar. That's me. I can feel it. I slowly look over at her and meet her eyes. "Are you alright?"

"I...I don't know." I answer, hardly recognizing my own teenaged voice. "Wh-where am I?"

"You took quite a spill back there, kid. Seems our friend, Kristoff, was a bit more prepared for our attack than we originally thought. He got the jump on you pretty early." The monstrous visage of the pale man in front of me spoke, and I was taken aback by his ghoulish looks. The pupils of his eyes were blood red, and his body seemed to be completely void of any hair at all. Not even eyebrows. His fangs were slightly twisted and stained a combination of yellow and black. His ears were like that of a storybook goblin, and his high pronounced cheekbones pulled his lips back into a demonic grin. But his speech...it seemed as normal as anyone else’s. In fact, his intelligent voice was the most soothing of the whole bunch.

"I don't understand. I think...I mean..."

"You're NOT getting a full credit on this one, halflife!" The masked man said angrily.

"Give it a rest, Tariq. Can't you see the boy is hurt?" The lady answered.

"Hurt or not, he's team leader. Get it? Team leader. THAT means...you lead the team. Does it not?" He snarled. "I told you we shouldn't have agreed to this. This kid is gonna get us all killed."

"Don't mind him." The young lady said. "Are you feeling ok?" She reached out to touch my forehead and I jumped away from her.

"Who are you people? What are we doing here?" I asked, and they all gave me a strange look.

"What do you mean?" The creature asked me. "Are you saying that….you don't remember our mission here tonight?"

"WHAT mission??? I don't remember ANYTHING! What the hell is going on?"

They looked at one another briefly, and I saw the masked man give himself a sarcastic chuckle. "Hehehe, great. This is just fucking great."

It was then that the creature looked at me closely, its eyes examining me with boyish fascination and just a touch of bewilderment. Then, it tilted its head and simply said...."Intriguing development."

The woman said, “Maybe we should get him back to headquarters. Let the doc look him over. He did take a pretty nasty hit.”

The masked man, ‘Tariq’, responded with, “Priceless. This is the last thing we needed right now. The absolute last.”

The next thing I knew, we were all packed up into the van and heading back to...wherever it was that sent us out here. Leaving their enemy behind...with no chance of saving himself now that his heartt had been damaged beyond repair. He had a few weeks left. Tops. Such a shame...I think.

How I got there or how I was involved in any of this chaos, I can't say. But as I sat in silence in the back of that moving van, with the young lady nursing my wound with a cold cloth and some ice, I figured that they could at least be trusted long enough to get me to a place where I could find some answers. I think I must have blacked out a few times, because I had some lapses in time between actually getting into the van, and being on the open expressway. Luckily, the lady made sure to keep me awake as best as she could. I attempted to connect the missing pieces that had obviously been scattered when I was...'attacked'. Trying to somehow trace my steps back far enough to fill in the gaps and find out what I was doing to get me into this mess. But....the more I tried to focus, the more my head hurt. I couldn't zero in on any major details no matter how hard I tried. After a half hour, I just wanted to sleep. Just for a little while. I'll struggle to figure things out later.

Everything went black as my eyes sealed themselves shut. I could feel myself being pulled into a slumber beyond my will, and eventually let myself drift off with the current. My body felt at ease. Relaxed, and free from all tension. My mind, however, refused to remain still. It was frantically working out a million equations at once, trying to figure out what had gone wrong. What was real and what wasn't. What it had forgotten, what it could remember clearly, and how they were connected. It was an alien feeling...having a sense of self without knowing exactly who I was. There were huge gaps in areas of my life that had been wiped out completely. And I couldn't be sure if they'd be gone forever or not.

My mind took me to a dream like scenario, where things were hazy, but oh so real. Was this a memory? Or just a dream? My body was too relaxed to struggle its way back to consciousness, so I just let the mental imagery play out however it saw fit. I just wanted to watch. I was stretched out in this large, dimly lit, basement. Apparently...very comfortable. And there were other teens around. Teens...like me. There were maybe four or five of them, vampires as well, and even though my mind couldn't quite recognize them...my emotions felt a certain connection to them all. It was almost like...having a 'family'. Would they be there waiting for me when this van finally got to its destination? Maybe they could help me find myself again. I vaguely remember them calling me by name. Adam. I've got to remember that. My name is Adam.

There was also somebody else there in my vision. An older couple, actually. A man and a woman, that looked to be....maybe 70 years of age. Maybe even older. Not vampires...but humans. Why were theythere? Were they food? No. Not food. I know, because the same affection I felt for the other young vampires in the room...I felt for them as well.

Just as the images were beginning to sink in, I saw a sudden flash of a horrible vision pass in front of my eyes. A split second of a scream, and a small splash of blood. It shocked me at first, as it interrupted what I thought was a pleasant memory, but it came and went so fast that it was hard to acknowledge it. Then...I had another terrifying flash. And another. And another. Different vampires, different ages, different locations. Screaming. Howling in pain. Begging for their lives with tears in their eyes. More flashes, now rapidly filling my dream until all of that comfort and affection was drowned out by the murderous illusions before me. Long metal spikes, piercing the flesh, and muscle, and scraping bone as it brutally ripped through the hearts of my targets.

Wait....'targets'? MY targets? Blood...giant, gushing, splashes of blood. So warm that wisps of steam rose from my arms and chest as they became decorated with their crimson hopes for survival. They were dead, and they didn't even know it yet. But I did. I appear to be very efficient at my job.

"Wakey wakey, handsome! Nap time is over!" Came a voice, jerking me out of my dream and back into reality with a jolt. The door of the van I was riding in noisily slid open, and an ice cold wind seemed to rush in to take a hold of my whole body. I looked up to see the masked man looking down on me. "Come on! MOVE IT! We ain't got all day!"

I struggled a bit to scoot myself off of the back of the van, and the young lady took my hand to help me. I looked into her eyes, her optrix contacts glowing a mix of green and blue. Her short, dyed blue, hair was just long enough to blow with a slight gust of wind, and her slim fingers were the first pleasant sensation that I had felt since waking up a while ago. My head was still pounding, but not as badly as before. Still, I was a bit disoriented as I tried to stand on my own two feet. It felt like I was 50 feet tall, swaying back and forth off balance like a tall stack of dishes in a high wind. The goblin like creature that I had seen before offered me his shoulder to lean on, but I hesitated. His skin was like leather, thick and tough, and his face seemed so chalky white and unnaturally grimaced that the very idea of getting closer to it repelled me. His nightmarish appearance was hard to get past, even with the intelligence of his speech and manner. Finally, unable to walk on my own, I gave in to my handicap and leaned into his shoulder, and allowed him to help me get back on my feet. I looked at my surroundings, and we appeared to be in some kind of suburban forest preserve of some sort. The van was parked outside behind some kind of small shack, and I assumed that that's where we were going to.

The masked man didn't bother to help me at all. He simply stepped out of the van without saying a word, grabbed a duffel bag of our 'equipment', and began walking forward, leaving us behind. His disposition was a grumpy one, but it might have been my fault. Considering he seems to blame me for whatever it was that happened tonight. I couldn't quite tell why his face was covered up that way, hidden by a thin nylon layer of dark navy blue material, except for his eyes...which were covered by a thick pair of black sun-visor glasses. His athletic form was a proud one, and his walk carried with it an air of arrogance. As my eyes followed him forward, I saw him walk into the small fixture and put the bag on the floor next to him. It hardly looked big enough for us to all fit in. Especially with the big creature holding me up on his shoulders. But they dragged me ever closer, and it looked like they were going to try anyway.

"Don't worry, Exile. We'll get you patched up in no time." The lady said. Exile....no...my name is Adam. I've got to remember 'Adam'. I feel better when she calls me Adam.

We all squeezed ourselves into the shack, shoulder to shoulder, and I was propped up against the back wall as the masked man closed the door behind us. "What...what are we doing in here?" I asked, now standing face to face with them in the tiny confined area.

"Geez...you really DID take a ‘brick’ back there, didn't you?" She answered, and at that very moment, I saw a few flashes of light come from the ceiling above us, and heard the door lock shut in front of us. I watched in amazement as the floor detached from the walls of the shack and lowered the four of us down like some kind of secret elevator. My eyes widened with fascination, and I watched anxiously as we took a three minute ride down into an underground facility. It wasn't HUGE, but it was certainly big enough to impress me with its ability to remain hidden like this. About the size of an airplane hangar, maybe a bit bigger. Arrrgh! Why can't I remember this??? What the hell was I DOING here???

A slightly older gentleman came to greet us when the elevator doors opened. He was about 35, I guess, with a mustache and reddish brown hair. He had one of those friendly faces that invited you to think of him as a friend on first sight. He stood a bit taller than me, but not by much. "How did it go?"

"Take a look for yourself." The masked man sneered as he walked out of the elevator first. As his eyes connected with mine, the gentleman looked concerned about the wound on my head.

"Exile? Jesus...what happened?" He asked.

"Our target got the drop on us before we could take him out. It's like he was waiting for us. Exile took some pretty harsh blows." The lady told him.

"Has the target been neutralized?"

The twisted creature pulled out a folder with a few photos from the scene, some paperwork, and the metallic spike that was driven through the vampire's heart back in the warehouse. It was sealed in a plastic bag, and a small vile was contained inside, containing a small blood sample taken from the spike itself. "Target, Jason Kristoff, terminated on June 19th, at 2:34 AM." He said, handing the evidence over for inspection. "A bit more difficult than we expected, but all in all...a definite success."

"Hmmmm..." The mustached gentleman moved closer to me, lifting up a few locks of my dark brown hair, now stained and stuck together with coagulated blood. Then he felt the even bigger wound in the back of my head, whispering, "Damn, boy..." He lightly traced the wound with his finger before letting my hair flop back down again. "Get him into the infirmary. Let Dr. Colby take a look at him." The man took one last look at me, gently touching the bruises on my cheeks. "And here I thought you were damn near untouchable, kid."

"I'm sorry...but...who are you?" I said quietly.

A look of confusion crossed his face. "It's ME. Dutch." The name didn't really spark anything, and he looked over at the other two. "Explanation?"

"Um, yeeeaahhh...he's having a bit of...difficulty remembering a few things right now. But, I'm sure he's gonna be fine. Give it a few sleep cycles." The lady got an even more serious look from this 'Dutch' guy, and she had to reassure him. "It's probably just a trauma induced injury at best. It won't last."

"You were supposed to go in as a TEAM. How is it that HE'S injured, and the rest of you are just fine?"

"It's NOT our fault! I told you, we were ambushed..." She argued back.

The slight raise in the volume of their voices shot through me like a nail, and I just wanted to get away from all this craziness and rest for a bit. "Listen...my head is killing me. I think I just need to sit down for a little bit. Ok?" I said, bringing an end to their conflict before it even began. Everything was spinning so fast, it hurt just to think. Just to speak. It was like having a vice around my brain, squeezing until it was nearly ready to burst.

Dutch stopped for a moment, then gave a frustrated sigh while taking another look at my wounds. "Definitely get Dr. Colby to see him, pronto. And don't let Mistress Katrina know about his memory loss. At least not yet. Let's find out what's wrong with him first. The last thing we need is for her and her 'lackey' to catch wind of this." He said, and watched carefully as they carried me off to another end of the room.

The entire facility was buzzing with the sounds of machinery and bright fluorescent lights, everything alive with a mechanical precision. The gleaming white tile beneath my feet became painful to look at, and I was forced to shut my eyes while they guided me to a room in the corner of the area. They sat me down on what looked like a doctors bed, and leaned me up against the wall. "'Freak'...get him some pillows." The lady said, and I saw the pale, ugly, creature beside me do what he could to make me comfortable.

I stared at him for a second, and then mumbled, "Freak?" Hoping that he would respond.

"Yes?" Sure enough...it was a name that he was willing to answer to, and without offense.

"Thank you." I told him, and a wide smile spread across his curled back lips.

"Sure thing, chief. You just get yourself some rest. We'll see to it that Dr. Colby comes to check you out as soon as possible." He patted me on the shoulder, the skin on his hands almost as rough as crocodile skin, and then he left the room.

"Do you need anything else, Adam?" The lady asked. Just hearing her voice seemed to give me some comfort. And I felt at ease almost instantly.

Adam...she called me Adam. "I'm fine...um...uhhh..."

"Widow." She told me. Then, thinking about it a bit more, she ditched the codename entirely. "Rachael." She smiled, a small set of dimples showing on the sides of her cheeks, and I couldn't help but smile back. To see her with a grin made her look so much younger than her 21 years. She had short, feather-soft hair, dyed blue to set off her bright green eyes. And a slim and dainty build to her that would never give you reason to suspect that she was as infinitely dangerous as she really was. How Rachael was able to maintain such a sweetened presence after the murderous fever that I had witnessed earlier tonight, is a mystery. I was just thankful to be on her 'brighter' side. She lightly touched my arm, "I'll dim the lights for you a bit. I'm sure they're wrecking havoc on your headache."

"Thank you, Rachael." I said, and she almost seemed infatuated with the idea of me calling her by her real name. I suppose it gave her the same relief as her calling me Adam did. She turned the lights down a bit, and then left the room as well, giving me a moment of silence at last. There was a lingering affection for her in the back of my mind, my emotions trying to work through a haze of mixed up memories and lost information. But it wasn't love. Not in the normal sense. I couldn't quite tell what it was. I couldn't figure out anything at all.

I leaned my head back against the wall for a moment, and closed my eyes. I felt like so much of myself was in tact, perfectly so. I felt like I should know who I was and what I was doing...but...for some strange reason, everything that I've experienced since I woke up on that cold concrete floor has been a confusing mystery to me. Nothing matched. It was like being uncontrollably submerged in a nightmare against my will. Something so real, so detailed, that I was beginning to wonder if the person I thought I was....ever existed at all.

As my mind flipped through soft images of a forgotten childhood, I struggled to focus more on the teenagers that entered my mind back in the van. Them and the old couple. Even though the images were distorted and backwards at best, it was the most pleasing series of memories that my brain would allow me to have. There was a giant basement for all of us...and laughs...and games where we teased and wrestled with one another. Delightful moments that seemed so oddly parallel to a world of darkness. I could also see a huge theater. A movie house of some sort, with a gigantic screen and huge, thick, red curtains that opened and closed before each feature film. We were there...in the balcony watching. The old couple was running the projector. And beneath us...an entire crowd of humans, enjoying old black and white movies in the darkness of the theater. It was so real. The images were beginning to clear up, and I mentally began to 'push' through the haze to see if I could recognize something important. ANYTHING to enhance this image and find out what it means. Or if it's even real. But the harder I pushed, the more the memories began to warp and fade away, vanishing like bubbles in a handful of soapsuds. I couldn't hold on to them. They were so very fragile.

But...as I fought to keep the comforting thoughts in my head...the 'other' images returned. The screams. The tears. And a growing lake of blood beneath my feet as I saw my own hands stabbing downward to penetrate the hearts of those that I could only guess were my enemies. But, if they were my enemies...then why didn't I feel anything? Why didn't I care? There was no anger, no satisfaction, no release from emotional anguish....no previous connection to these other vampires at all. Just a blank expression, and the methodical collection of 'evidence' as proof of what I had done. Was I one of them? Was I one of the people from that van? 'Exile'...'team leader'...'targets'? The fight. I was supposed to help in the fight.

The screams in my head got louder and louder all of a sudden, and I felt a growing pressure on top of my chest. The rapid montage of images got to be so violent, so increasingly disgusting and full of savagery, that I struggled to be free of them. They haunted me, violently crying out in agony as they vengefully showed me what I had done to them. Refusing to let me wake. Refusing to let me ignore. My head began to throb and pound madly, and just when I couldn't take anymore, I felt a tiny thumb pry my right eye open and shine a light into it.

I jumped up with a sudden jolt, and before I even knew what I was doing, I had taken the small flashlight out of my eyes and thrown it across the room, wrapping my hand around the throat of whoever it was that was in front of me. I could feel my fingers squeeze, almost beyond my control, and then tried to come to my senses. The neck beneath my fingertips was smooth. So smooth. And small. Way too small. My eyes fluttered open all the way and I fought to focus. In front of me, prying my fingers away from his neck, was a young boy. Eight, maybe nine years of age at the most. With short blond hair, a pair of thin, wire rimmed, glasses, and a small button nose usually reserved for cute and cuddly cartoon characters. "Do you mind?" He said, his tiny voice almost girlish in its youth, with an extremely faint hint of a boyish lisp. I instantly let go of his throat as I realized that I was now laying down on my back, and he was straddling my chest. "Thank you. Geez." He said calmly, rubbing the sore spot on his neck from where I had manhandled him.

"What the hell are you doing?" I said.

"I'm TRYING to figure out how bad off you are. Which is pretty hard to do with you squirming about and mumbling in your sleep." He said, his brown eyes dull with a seriousness that I'd think was impossible for a boy his age. His lisp becoming more pronounced, he said, "Now, if you think that, maybe, you can calm down for a few seconds, I'll just walk waaaaay over there and get my flashlight back so I can finish my examination. Provided that you didn't BREAK it, that is." The boy swung his leg over my chest and stepped down onto a little footstool near the side of the bed. He was wearing a lab coat that looked way too big for him, and the tail of it was dragging on the floor behind him like an oversized bathrobe. He picked up the flashlight, testing it out to make sure it worked, and walked back over to stand on the footstool again.

As soon he put his hand up to my face, I backed away from it. "What are you doing? Knock it off."

"Ugh! Exile...please, don't make this difficult. Just sit there and be a good boy, and maybe when this is all over I'll give you a freakin' lollipop, ok?" He reached for me again, and I swatted his hand away.

"Don't you have somebody else to play with, junior?" I said. "I'm not really in the mood for this right now."

"Are YOU gonna let me do this, or am I gonna have to tranquilize your ass???" He yelled in frustration. But with the voice of a nine year old, it was about as intimidating as a sack of jellybeans.

Just then, I saw Widow...Rachael...walking in to see what was going on. "What's with all the shouting?"

I said, "Rachael, can you PLEASE get this kid the hell out of here? I just wanna rest and he wants to play doctor."

"'KID'??? Did YOU just call me a fucking 'kid'??? Did HE just call me a 'kid'? Call me a 'kid', again, tough guy! Come on...do it! I DARE ya!" The little pup was throwing such a tantrum that I thought he was going to spin himself right into a nap.

"Wait, wait...hold on..." She said, putting a hand on the boy's shoulder to relax him a bit. "...There's obviously been some kind of misunderstanding here."

"THANK YOU!" I said. "I wake up, and he's sitting on my chest with a damn flashlight in my eyes."

"Adam...THIS...is Dr. Colby. He's supposed to be taking a look at your injuries. Remember?" She said, and I stopped, mid sentence. I looked over at the little boy again, his small face twisted up in a proud little scowl, and couldn't believe my eyes.

His lisp got thicker as he got more frustrated. "I CAN'T be expected to work like this. If he's gonna be a problem, then I say we sedate the shit out of him until he has no CHOICE but to sit still!" The boy pouted. "I've got better things to do, you know?"

"I know, Doctor. I know. Just...make sure there's no permanent damage, ok? Please?" She asked. "Katrina is going to want a full report in an hour and we're going to need something 'positive' to tell her about this whole situation..."

"Well then you better tell your little 'comrade' here to show me some goddamn respect, and let me do my fuckin’ job before sunrise." He grumbled. “Calling me a ‘kid’. The nerve of some people! I’m a DOCTOR!!!”

"Ok. It's ok. No problems. We're all fine here. Right, Adam?" She looked at me, trying to change the expression on my face from confusion to one of fake normalcy. "Right, Adam?"

"Um...yeah. Sure." I said, but it didn't seem to be good enough. "Sure thing...Doctor." I added, a hint of sarcasm in my voice. With a roll of his big brown eyes, he moved back over to me and stood up on his footstool, taking the flashlight to my eyes again and roughly grabbing the back of my head. "Ahhh! Take it easy!"

"Quiet! Ya big baby." He said.

How in the hell can this midget be my doctor? "OWWW!!! Jesus!" I winced again as he touched the most sensitive spot on my head.

"Hold still! I'm not gonna tell you again!" He said, and examined me closer, as though he wanted to hurt me on purpose. For a pint sized doctor, his bedside manner left a LOT to be desired. A few moments went by in silence, and he then turned off his little light and stepped down. "Alright...how much do you remember from before the accident?"

I hesitated. I still couldn't believe I was talking to this kid like some kind of an adult. "I don't...I don't remember anything. Nothing at all."

"You don't recognize this place, or any of the faces you've seen here tonight?" He asked, grabbing a clipboard and jotting down a few notes as he adjusted his glasses on his nose.

"No. Not at all."

"Have you experienced any dizziness, nausea, loss of balance...?"

"All of the above, yes." I said. He took a few quiet seconds to write down everything on his little worksheet, and then asked me...

"Have you had any dreams, or flashbacks? Anything important that might mean something to you?"

"A couple, yeah. I keep...having visions of this big theater, you know? A theater, and these...other vampires. It's not really clear, it's just..." I stopped as I saw the look on their faces change. Dr. Colby and Rachael exchanged a concerned silence between them, and then looked back at me. They didn't really address it.

"Go on." He said, waiting with pen in hand. "Is there anything else?"

Something about the vibe in that room had changed. Darkened. It was a completely different feeling from what it was when we first started, and the sudden shift warned me not to go too deep into what I was thinking lately. "No...no, that's it." I told them. "So...am I totally screwed up in the head, or what?"

Dr. Colby put down his clipboard and said, "Luckily for you, you were screwed up in the head long before this happened. But your motor skills seem to be in tact. You're walking and talking just fine. And from the way you jumped on me when you woke up, I'd say that your hand eye coordination is pretty functional." He pushed his glasses up again, after constantly having them fall down on his little snub nose. "After a few sleep cycles, your outer wounds should heal up fine. But I'm going to give you a few antibiotics anyway to prevent any nasty infections within the next few hours before your hibernation period. A problem like this could put you out of commission for weeks. And we need you back in the field as soon as possible. We've got a quota to keep, and as much as I hate to admit it...you're one of the best weapons we've got out there."

"What about his memory, Doctor?" Rachael asked.

"Sighhh....well, that's a tricky one. Physically he checks out fine. He took a nasty blow to the head, but it's not enough to cause this type of selective memory loss. I'd say he's suffering from some sort of severe emotional trauma. And I don't think he got it from this particular assignment either." The boy said. "It goes back before the accident. So whatever it is he's been suppressing and bottling up during his time with us...it looks like it's trying to take 'center stage' in order to force him to deal with it. And frankly, I don't know how good, bad, or ugly, that emotional outburst is gonna be when it works its way back to the surface. So hopefully it'll come slowly over time. You might wanna send him to get a psyche evaluation to find out what the malfunction is, just in case."

"Who's my therapist? A six year old girl with a Barbie doll?" I asked.

"Cute. Real cute. Keep it up, 'head case'." He replied.

"Listen...am I gonna get my memory back or not?" I said.

"Perhaps. Perhaps not. And even if you do, there's no telling when that'll happen. It could be a couple of days...it could be a couple of months. It could come back little by little, or you could wake up one evening with total recall of everything you forgot. It's nearly impossible to say right now. But whatever 'issues' you've got that caused you to wipe out certain parts of your memory like this, you're gonna have to confront them one way or the other before you can even think of getting back to normal." The kid turned to Rachael and said, "I recommend a few days of reality immersion. Get him familiar with things again, see if it sparks something. Other than that, it's just a matter of getting some rest until those scars heal. There's nothing else I can do for him." And with that, he packed up his little kit of goodies and grabbed his clipboard to leave. But before opening the door, he said, "You know...to be totally honest...I hope you NEVER get your memory back, Exile. I always thought of you as somewhat of a prick." He scoffed. "See if you can remember THAT tomorrow. Jerk ass!"