Two – Awake
I’ve never stared directly at the sun. My mom always told me not to, and I figured that this was probably a good bit of advice. My eyes were open at the moment, and the light was bright enough that I decided my mom was probably right. Light pierced me and stabbed into my head with a force no narcotics could abate.
My eyes began to adjust slowly, and I soon found myself staring at a very boring looking ceiling. It was white. Turning my eyes as far over as I could, I spied a very boring looking wall. It was also white. Turning my eyes in the other direction, I saw a 6-armed monster that looked entirely too much like an octopus with a human head for me to deal with, so I didn’t. Out again!
When I woke up, I could actually move my head. I snapped my gaze to where the… thing… was and there was another boring wall in its place. With relief, I turned my gaze back to the right. There it was again. I wanted to pass right back out, but my overwhelming panic seemed to disagree and so there I was, fully conscious.
My eyes wouldn’t close. I could only stare at this thing standing there and staring back at me. Wordlessly, it (he?) glided closer to me and leaned its weirdly human face into mine.
“Mr. Jansen, I presume?”
“…. Yes… “ my voice came out as a vague croak.
“Good. You’ll never believe the crap I have to go through when we grab the wrong guy. Last week, I grab this guy, right? Pull him out of his house, right out of his bed next to his sleeping wife. Get him here, he wakes up. I confirm his name… and it’s not freakin’ him! Turns out this lady’s sleeping around on her husband, right? This boyfriend’s sleeping next to her, and I grabbed him instead of the husband, who was off on a business trip to some godforsaken corner of the country. I had to eliminate this guy immediately.” He leaned in confidentially, “Can’t afford even a few moments of extra oxygen, you know. The buyers are getting tighter and tighter every trip.”
I struggled to not spiral off into giggling hysteria from the absolutely authentic-sounding Italian accent. “Buyers,” I asked, “what, precisely, do you mean… buyers?”
“Oh, you don’t know what’s going on yet, do you? Sorry 'bout that. Well, here’s the deal,” he moved back a bit, settling on his tentacles, “you are now the property of Alpha-Omega, Inc. You are a fighter in the games. You'll fight, and you'll live or die by your fighting. You will be trained, and you will be given every opportunity to survive, to become a Legend. Does that all make sense?”
“Uh… no,” I said, “It honestly makes no sense. I have to be up for work in just a few hours, and I have a monster of a network rollout to do in a branch office later this week involving hundreds of systems and users that I haven’t even begun to plan… so if you would be so kind as to turn this spaceship, or whatever, right the hell around and take me home so I could catch a catnap before work, I would really appreciate it.”
The monster chuckled and shook its head. “Mr. Jansen, I am afraid that you are not going home. You are not going to be, uh, ‘rolling’ anything out this week. You will, however, be laying here and assimilating some basic knowledge about the origins of the Games and your role in them while you recuperate and I get you to our destination in one piece.”
I took a deep breath, coughed, and closed my eyes. “Alright.” To my ears, I sounded like a lost little boy. All I wanted was my bed, damn it all, with my nice new alarm clock shining its LED at the side of my head and my bowl of corn flakes only a few hours away.
“By the way,” it said as it turned and glided toward the door, “for lack of a better, more pronounceable name, you may call me… Frankie.”
The door slid shut behind Frankie, leaving me alone in the light.