A White Room

Photo by Oleg Laptev on Unsplash

White, clean walls everywhere. It looked mostly normal, but a little bit surreal. It wasn’t quite something out of a science fiction movie, but it was close to it. But it wasn’t as cool as that. It was too normal.

But despite this intense scrutiny of my surroundings, truth be told I was freaking out. I wasn’t really thinking about anything of substance but I certainly couldn’t recall what had gotten me to this point. There was nothing familiar around me. I was definitely in a bed in what I would assume was a hospital, but I couldn’t quite be sure. It wasn’t as dire as the hospitals that I had been to. There was a door serving as the single entrance to my well-lit white room. A large window laid opposite the door and to the right of my bed. Warm light was emanating from the window in the form of sunlight and yet more light was coming from strips of light fixtures coming from the top of the walls. I decided it was time to explore.

As I got up I realized that I couldn’t. I could only turn my head. I looked down and saw that I was draped with a single sheet but it seemed to me that I was otherwise only dressed in a loose-fitting white gown. Again, almost like a hospital gown, but not quite. I didn’t really know how to react. I laid my head back on my pillow and waited. Hours went by. More than anything else I just wanted answers. Just as the sun began to set outside of my window, the door creaked a little more; this time revealing a person.

A man walked through the door. He looked to be quite young; he couldn’t have been older than 25, with a slender face and very blonde hair. He looked to me to be of northern European descent. His face lit up with surprise and excitement when he saw me. He called into the other room. “Greta! She is awake!” The man looked back into the room excitedly again. Then went back outside as I heard rushed footsteps from further away. This time when the man entered the room he was shortly followed by a tall, strong woman who also had blonde hair. Like her companion, the woman too seemed to be of northern European descent. They looked like they could almost be siblings. The man excitedly looked back and forth between me and the woman; anticipating her reaction. The woman, Greta, just stared at me as she slowly approached me, her mouth slightly agape.

“Amazing,” She marveled.

There was a long silence where Greta and Hans continued to pour over me. They looked at me as though I was a rare animal of some sort that had been brought into the lab to be studied.

Greta seemed to snap out of it after a while, regaining some assemblance of normal human interaction. “I’m so sorry, you must be so confused!” she said. “But it’s simply amazing to see you here.”

“Well- thank you… But why is that exactly?”

“Do you remember anything at all?” Greta asked. She shared a glance with her partner.

“No… not much at all.”

“You might regain some of your older memories in time. You seem to be cognitively functioning quite well so don’t worry about the confusion, that is completely normal. Hans and I are just happy to see you awake.”

“How are you feeling? Are you able to stand?” Hans asked.

“Well, I can’t move anything. Nothing but my head.”

“That’s fine, that’s fine. Your mobility should fully return in a day or so. We ran some tests and it seems like they restrained you with several chemicals that are known to reduce mobility. They must have really been worried about what you might do to them.”

Hans’ answer only further confused me. I began to feel more faint as the world seemed to spin. I could hear shuffling and murmuring before I finally saw and heard nothing.

I awoke later. It was dark outside now. I could feel a dull headache that seemed to cover the entirety of my head and the middle of my right arm hurt quite a lot. The lights in my room had gone out and the room was illuminated only by the moonlight and the artificial light that was streaming from the gap under my door. I could hear very quiet, muffled voices in the distance. My surroundings seemed otherwise completely quiet.

I woke up again. This time it was clearly daytime as bright sunlight poured through the window. Judging by the sunset from the previous night, I could assume that it was probably the afternoon. The room was empty and the lights were once again illuminated. My head certainly felt better now than it had felt in the night. I could hear more muffled voices this time coming from the wall directly in front of my bed. After a while, the voices became quiet and I heard the sound of squeaking wheels rolling down the hallway. The door was closed now but I decided to test my strength and see if I could reach it. To my surprise, I felt comfortable enough to rise from my bed and even felt strong. I swung my feet off the side of the bed and made my way to the door. Suddenly I felt as though someone had completely drawn all of the energy out of me. I collapsed and the world seemed to fade around me. I could hear a grunt and a loud groan that must have come from my own mouth. A flashing light began going off and I could hear an alarm in the distance. I faded in and out of consciousness as I saw a pair of dress shoes appear next to me. I felt the hard, cold floor be replaced by the comfort and warmth of the bed. I drifted out of consciousness again.

I awoke in the night again to a stronger pain in my arm. My head still hurt and the scene looked as though it had been completely replicated from last night. The moonlight, the crack of warm light coming from under the door, the soft sound of voices that seemed this time to be very far away as well as the sound of the squeaky wheel. I fell asleep again.

I woke up once more, this time in the presence of Hans. He was standing near me with a clipboard. As my eyes opened he put the clipboard down and looked at me. He looked at me for a while before asking how I was feeling.

“Better, thanks.” I replied.

He looked pleased. I still wasn’t sure what the hell was going on but I didn’t even know where to begin. I had heard of this sort of amnesia before but it was strange. I didn’t have any memory of the last few years of my life. Over the last few days I seemed to be able to recover more and more of who I was before, but it seemed like all of the important pieces were missing. I had become comfortable in my room by this point which only further fueled my desire to get out of it.

“Could you please tell me what happened to me?” I asked Hans.

“You’re still not remembering?” Hans questioned in return, looking puzzled.

“No,” I said flatly. I was getting tired of all of this. “I remember things from a few years ago, but nothing of consequence. Nothing that helps explain where I am or who you are and why I’m here.”

“Do you remember any of your training?”

My training. What training? I knew I grew up in a closed off setting, but I don’t remember anything rigorous. Nothing I would call training.

“A little bit, yeah.”

“Good, good. That would have been a lot to recover.”

“Would you please just tell me what the hell is going on!”

Hans looked nervous. I startled him with my sudden change in tone. He looked towards the door just as I started to hear hurried footsteps coming from down the hall. Greta strode in.

“Well I’m glad you’re feeling stronger!” She said. “I know this has all been very confusing for you but I promise you’re in good hands now. We have been working for years to get you away from those monsters in the other facility. Believe me, if you had any memory of it you’d be thanking us now.” Greta smiled at me. I wasn’t sure whether I should feel better or worse. “You had trained from a young age to be a warrior. Your family saw your potential and they were lucky enough to have the money and connections necessary to train you properly and place you in the proper organization. Your training had been going superbly well until one night you were sedated and taken by the Tyric Corp. That’s when your family contacted Hans and me to help to try to extract you from your prison. It took us years to locate where you were being held and plan an extraction. Eventually we mounted an extraction and that brings you here, now.”

My head was spinning.

“What matters now is that you’re okay and you’re with us.”

Hans spoke up: “Greta. We should tell her.”

“Not yet. That was enough.”

Hans looked at me, tears started to roll down his face. I began to feel weak again after this deluge of information. I laid back in my bed. I felt sick. I fell asleep.

I woke up the following day. My head was spinning. The room was empty but day was just beginning to break by the looks of things. I wasn’t sure what to think, but I was sure that I needed to know more. I got to my feet and finally felt strong enough to stand. My head was throbbing but I walked towards the door. I was endlessly curious about what had laid beyond this door and I was finally about to get my answer. I pulled the door open to find myself looking down a long corridor. Sharply contrasting the all-white room that I had been kept inside, the hallway looked as though it belonged to a warm mansion. High ceilings stood above tall walls with several identical wooden doors laid on each side. The floor was wooden with a red rug laid upon it, lavishly decorated with golden embroidery. Warm light was flickering from a large room that was open to the rest of the hallway. I crouched down and crept towards the light. I felt uneasy walking through a building that I had no memory of entering. I didn’t know where anything was. I didn’t know how I could escape.

I walked towards the large, open room. I was terrified. As I turned the corner I saw the origin of the light that was dancing on the walls. A large fire was alight in the ostentatious fireplace with Hans fast asleep on the large leather couch facing it. There was a space behind the couch that allowed me to slip past, towards another door. I approached the door and opened it. On the other side, I couldn’t believe my eyes.

It was the middle of the night, not the morning like my room would have me believe. The door opened onto a small entry path that overlooked the rolling planes of the countryside. I started to feel faint once again. How could Greta and Hans have kept me in such a strange room? Why was I being lied to?

I walked along the pathway and further from the house. A large forest laid to the left of the house and the plains spread in every other direction. The region was lit solely by moonlight. I began to walk. To think. I could either run or return as though nothing had happened. They were the only options I had. I began to run. I ran towards the forest. I thought that if Greta and Hans decided to come after me, they would have a harder time finding me amongst all the trees. There was a fair distance between the house and the forest and as I was running I saw the trees and bushes waiver. As I approached it, a man jumped out from the bushes.

My heart was pounding as I stumbled backwards.

“Shh shh!” The man urged. “You must go back! It’s the only chance you have!”

I stared, stunned, and began to scramble away from the man.

“I’m so glad you’re okay! Listen. You mustn’t believe them. Not a word. They’ve brainwashed you.”

“Wh- Who are you?” I managed to stammer out.

“I’m out. I’m lucky. But you must go back! You’re the only chance we have! Here, take this.” The stranger handed me a blade attached to a wooden handle. It looked like he’d fashioned it himself. “Keep this with you. When the time comes, you must do it. You must.”

He looked scraggly. Long hair, a patchy beard. He must have been my age.

“Go. Go now. You can’t be out here for long.”

I listened. I walked back, dagger firmly grasped in my hand. I crept through the moonlight and reentered the front door and scurried back to my room. I noticed that in the long hallway of matching doors, my door was exactly the same. I returned to bed and closed my eyes.

My heart was pounding. The window in my room was now displaying broad daylight. I was immensely confused and could barely stay still in my bed but I waited. I waited. Hours went by. I sat and thought about everything that had happened. My heart was racing and I wasn’t even sure what I was to do. I felt comfortable with the dagger, but I didn’t quite know why I needed it so desperately.

Finally my display showed the sun setting. Who knows what that really meant. Suddenly I heard the door creak open. My palms immediately became sweaty. I gripped the dagger intensely and my heart began to pound so hard that I was worried it could be seen through the sheets. I kept my eyes closed as I heard footsteps enter my room. I could only hear one pair of feet.

“How are you feeling today?” I heard Hans ask, not softly.

Doing my best to look as drowsy as possible, I opened my eyes and said, “I’m feeling better thanks.” My hand was still firmly on the dagger but he needed to come closer.

“I’ve brought you a little treat.” Hans turned back to the hallway and stored his clipboard under his arm. He backed into the room and wheeled in a dinner cart with warm soup and bread. “I didn’t want to bring anything that might give you any trouble so it’s nothing fancy. But I hope you like it.”

I looked at the cart and every lesson about not taking food from mysterious sources was washed away by the aroma that the food was producing and my immense appetite for it. I thanked Hans and took the food. I looked down, wondering what his motivation might be for this ‘nice treat’. He waited for a moment, looking at me, expecting me to eat. But then he swiftly left, leaving me to stare at the food I had been given.

What reason did I have to believe this random person in the forest? What reason did I have to not trust the couple who I had woken up next to? And in any case, even if they did have ill intent, what could Hans have done to this soup that would really do anything bad? Still, with all of these thoughts, I simply couldn’t put the spoon to my mouth. I couldn’t risk it. I slid the food under my bead and felt more comfortable as I once again held onto my dagger.

I relaxed a little more as my night wore on. I still couldn’t fall back asleep, but I became more relaxed. I didn’t want to move again for fear of the consequences, but maybe the stranger had been lying after all. Or maybe he was just a figment of my imagination. I stared at the ceiling as the moonlight swept over the plains outside my window. As curious as I was about my window, I did not dare rise from my bed for fear of what might happen to me. I stayed. I waited.

I closed my eyes once again and eventually heard the familiar sound of the squeaking wheels on the cart coming down the hallway. This time, the squeaking stopped outside of my door. I tensed up. The door creaked open and I heard footsteps coming into my room with the squeaky sound of the cart getting closer and closer. The entrant came all the way around to the right side of my bed and stopped. I could hear some metallic noises, like the sound of needles being hit against each other. I realized my heart was pounding and I was breathing heavily. I tried to suppress it but it was too late. My visitor leaned over me, I could feel his breath getting closer. I was terrified. The breath became more concentrated; I could feel it on my neck. One breath. Two breaths. Now.

I leapt up and plunged the dagger into Hans’ chest. My hand went straight over his mouth. His eyes widened as I saw the fear, surprise, and pain all hit him at once. I could feel him struggling and I could barely contain the noises from escaping his mouth. The struggle lasted an eternity. Eventually he calmed and I released him as he rolled over, dead on the bed. My heart continued to race as I suddenly realized what I had done but there wasn’t any time. I could hear more footsteps from outside, hurrying down the hallway. I quickly got up from the bed and hid around the corner from the door. The entrant would see the bed before they saw me.

The footsteps approached and I heard a sudden gasp and a wail. Greta had seen Hans. She fell to her knees and I attacked. She struggled and where Hans looked surprised, Greta looked more expectant. She did not struggle like Hans struggled, but instead she simply closed her eyes and laid still. She could not hide the pain that she was in, but she went quietly and swiftly into darkness.

I kneeled, panting next to Greta on the ground. I waited, thinking about what I had just done. I tried to remember everything but it just seemed to be a blur. I felt faint again, but did not succumb. I wiped the blade of the dagger off on Greta’s slacks and rose to my feet. The sound of the wheel was coming from a cart that carried a needle and several bags of liquid. I wasn’t sure what it all meant, but I hoped that it wasn’t for my benefit. I left my prison cell and walked down the hallway of matching doors, opening them one by one and standing just long enough in front of each to see the same scene that had been displayed on my false window displayed on each other screen, each at a different time in the day. I could hear feet hitting the ground in a couple of the rooms as I doubled back down the hallway and made my way to the exit once more. I hoped I was doing them a favor. I hoped I was right.

I exited the house just after the sun had risen. Unsure of where to go, I decided to simply walk straight ahead into the rolling hills, far away from all that had happened. I held on to my dagger and walked.

(Mostly) tech writer based in NYC. Other interests include movies, games, music, soccer, and traveling. You’ll find a little bit of all of that here.

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