Abandoned | Invulnerable pt 2 ch 4

I quit trying to bring the Gift to them.


Part 2 - A Believer's Visitation

Chapter 4 - Abandoned

I was lying on something soft. I blinked. The lights came up. A flood of memories, great waves of nausea and aching pain all over. Dry heaving over the toilet. Lying on the floor. It didn't all still really hurt, but it was like the memory of all that pain would remain, and never, ever be any less.

I quit trying to bring the Gift to them. I no longer had it.

More days of eating, sleeping, sometimes to the gym, but not as often. Doctor Bluewings was not around. Some other person in a haz-mat suit came by a few times, seemed to be taking some kinds of readings from me, and then would leave.

On the way back from the gym, as Zach had a careless moment, I quietly picked his pocket for his screen-device. I was amazed I got away with it. Also, I realized, I had never in my life, not even my unremembered life, taken anything that didn't belong to me. Now I had.

I didn't suppose they thought I took it, because they didn't search my cell.

But after that, I had two new guards. I felt sad, and hoped Zach and Ike were safe.

Only at night, or anyway after the lights went out, did I pull the screen out from my closet and begin recording my diary.

There were no more tests. There was no more study. I thought, they're done with me.

Coming back from the gym one day, I tried something. I just slipped my houseslippers off when I came in the cell, and as the guards turned to leave and the door was shutting, I grabbed one shoe and set the flat heel sideways at the bottom of the doors. The doors closed. I could hear my guards moving away, down the hall.

Then my door opened again.

I picked up my shoe.

And the door closed.



I felt dumb. But it had worked. I realized, started to realize, I had never before had to do anything sneaky like this. It felt like lying.

Many days went by, and there was no gym trip, no "maid service," as I'd called it, no doctor visits. As the food got low, I began to wonder, had they forgotten me?

What if the war was over, and I was in an abandoned spaceship, doomed?

I felt so lonely. So lonely!

I wondered, what had happened in their big war? What happened back on Earth to our community?

We weren't safe, I thought. We should all be terrified!

Then, my guards showed up. New, different ones. They marched me out the door, down the hall, past the first examination lab, and for once the door was open, as we went past it to the gym. The lab was empty.

I didn't have much heart for exercise. My guards didn't seem to care, seemed indifferent, distracted.

When we got back to my cell, I jambed my slipper between the doors. I heard my guards move away, briskly chirruping.

The door opened. I adjusted the slipper and as the door closed again, I didn't hear that electric click of the lock. The door was unlocked!

I waited until the lights went out.

I had no plan.

I was scared.

I had to do it anyway.

That felt sort-of good.

The doors were apart, slightly ajar at the bottom, a gap with my slipper stuck in it. At the top, though, closed, and they weren't sliding open this time.

Before his kidnapping, Paul didn't think much about — anything, except the Gift, and sharing it. Now, he'd had time to reflect, had flashes of memory of his old life, challenges and experiences that made him, finally, start thinking about his situation, evaluating his odds, all new and unfamiliar to this amnesiac man-child.

Yet now, he was afraid. Panicking.

So he was a little slow trying to figure out anything to do to get the door open further.

There wasn't much to work with, he saw. Fur. Objects all fixed or too large to be of use.

He looked though the few tools and utensils he'd been allowed. In one cabinet, all the many cans of soup. They hadn't known he would need an opener. A spork … how economical of them. And the never really needed dull knife.

A canny, paranoid thought occurred: Are they watching now? Don't they have sensors on the doors and cameras behind the mirrors and ways of seeing and knowing what he was up to, with all their fantastic telepathic technology, so advanced beyond anything on earth?

Well, if they were watching, he hadn't seen any sign of it yet.

I wedged the knife in between the doors. I worked it up the crack from the base as far as it would go.

I edge the spork in under the knife and pry, carefully, not to bend the cheap metal. The doors pull apart just a bit. I move the knife up just a bit more, and repeat the process, prying with the spork, wedging with the knife, inching my way up, until, nearly half-way up from my shoe to the top of the door, a gentle release, like two magnets pulled apart.

Still the doors do not slide open as usual. I test one. It is loose, slides aside effortlessly. The other also moves easily. I close them slowly, carefully, not to get them close enough to lock again.

Suddenly, I feel utterly vulnerable, realizing I'm a small, small creature in a galactic conflict -- truly hopeless in my insignificance.

What am I going to do, commandeer a space taxi and demand to go back to Earth, wherever in heaven that might be?

I have no idea what's beyond the two corridors I've been allowed to see. No idea how many lie beyond my door, what I'll be facing.

I stand and look around my cell of the past few... months? My cage.

Suddenly, strangely, I am so angry that they would do this to me, to anyone.

And then, I thought, what happened to the Community? Are they still safe?

It wasn't really possible to remember what fearlessness and liberty, security and invulnerability felt like. The reassurance wasn't there anymore.

All the horrible possible outcomes for all the family of fearlessness!

But we were safe. Weren't we? Were we?

Were they? When it mattered, were they safe?

That's what kind of thinking drove me as I prepared to escape. The impossibility of my situation overcame the enormous burdens of doubt, dread, and doom with an ironic humor. It was hilarious. I just had to get home. And I didn't doubt I would.

I began to gird myself for battle. The thickest hides and furs, I threw over my shoulders, over my head, tied around my waist. I rolled up the diary-screen and hid it in my tunic.

For defense and weaponry beyond that, I had… nothing. I stuffed as many cans of soup as I could carry into the folds of my robes. What I could not eat I could at least throw. And I had a spork. And a dull, round dinner knife.

Spork in one hand, dinner knife in the other, wrapped in fur, lumpy with cans, I stood before the door.

Somewhere a line from some forgotten movie or video echoed in my mind: "Earthlings are superior!"

It was so absurd, I was so absurd, I started laughing.

I was about to move to slide the doors open, adjusted the utensils to one hand, reaching toward the crack between the doors, when, the door shuddered, my shoe fell away, the doors closed quickly, and I could hear them click locked.

I felt so disappointed!

Then I heard them unlock. Before I could move, or take a less threatening (or absurd) stance, the doors whipped open. Three figures, back-lit from the hallway. The excitement of escape, which had become the disappointment of frustration, was now suddenly replaced by terror.

Caught! Trying to escape! What would they do?

Two moved forward, pushing me back into the room. Here come the beatings, I imagined, cringing.

They entered and the door closed.

The two who had come in first were my original guards, Zach and Ike! They were, as far as I could make out their expressions, smiling like idiots. I realized I'd never seen that expression on any of them before.

The third one to come in was Doctor Bluewings! She was also smiling.

She spoke aloud, in her chirping, lilting English.

"There is so much we should talk about, but there is no time, no time at all. You must get ready to go… What… What are you wearing?"