I wake up, suddenly, my torso propelled upwards in an explosion of panic, my lungs heaving in oxygen I couldn't seem to get enough of. Leaning back on my hands, I struggle to regulate my breathing, my heartbeat, my emotions. I struggle to gain control of myself.
Something is wrong.
I manage to steady my breathing, but my heart still hammers, my mind still races, races with the knowledge that something is wrong, that something has happened, and that it's very, very bad.
What is it?
I focus on the rhythm of my still pounding heart, and try to remember. I try to think of what happened before I woke up, try to think of the reason I'm in this room, why I'm here, what's happened, who brought me here, I try to think of something, anything.
Nothing comes to me.
And it's in that moment that I realize I know what's wrong.
I remember nothing.
My mind is a blank slate, an empty, endless void, a black hole of nothingness.
I'm not even sure I actually exist. Am I the manifestation of someone else's nightmare? Am I a sentient simulation of some situation that came from the mind of a person who isn't me?
I shake my head, slowly, to clear the frantic and unhelpful postulations that are little more than a hindrance to me.
There's a slight tug on the nape of my neck, just below the bottom of my head. Like there is something there.
I shift my weight so I can reach back with my hand and touch whatever is in the back of my head, to try and figure out what it is. To give me some kind of information, some kind of clue, anything, as to what happened.
I touch a healing wound. There's a healing wound at the base of my skull. This raises more questions, and gives me no answers. I notice that my hair is short, the back of it shaved, and I assume the reason for that is so whoever put the wound at the base of my skull could easily access the base of my skull.
I had one answer: the wound was intentional, purposeful. Someone had planned it. Someone had prepared me for it. It was no injury, it was a part of a medical procedure.
When you know nothing, being able to figure something out, being able to theorize, to rationalize, to deduce, brings you strength. It brings you confidence. You begin to realize you can handle the void of nothingness that is your own mind, because you begin to realize that though you have no information available to recall to memory, you still have the ability to think, to reason.
My memory is gone, but my mind is still there.
I slowly look over the rest of my body, pulling back the sheets that cover me.
I am wearing a hospital gown. My legs are pale, and long. Not slender. Not shapely. They are strong, powerful. My arms, the same. I notice that I am female. And I notice that my body is large. I slowly start to move my legs off the bed, and my body feels strange and unfamiliar. It doesn't feel as though it belongs to me.
Has my muscle memory left as well? Or has my body been altered?
I slowly, shakily, stand up. I am not dizzy. I am not weak. The only difficulty I have with moving is the awkwardness that comes from using a body that isn't mine. I know how to walk. I know how to move. But my brain and my muscles aren't sure how to work together to make that happen.
I look around as I take small, shaky steps. The room I am in seems less of a hospital room and more of a prison cell converted into a hospital room.
Was it a prison cell? Was I a criminal?
I notice there are restraints on the bed I have just left.
Who was I when I came to this room?
I don't like where my thoughts are headed.
I reach a large metal door.
I take my fist and pound on the door, hard, with purpose. Three times. No more.
I want to communicate that I am awake, aware, on my feet. I don't want to seem a threat. The look of this room and the restraints on the bed have given me the concern that perhaps someone considers me some kind of threat.
My body is powerful, built well enough to be a threat, but my mind wants answers, not a fight.
I place my ear to the door, attempting to hear someone, anyone, outside.
I do. I hear a voice, then another. One of the voices sounds slightly panicked. The other sounds mildly concerned, and seems to be calling to someone. I can't make out what the voices are saying.
I stand back from the door, and put my hands in the air. They know I'm awake. They know I've reached the door. I want them to know I am no threat.
My heart begins to pound again.
The door makes a noise, and there is the hissing of airlocks. How I know what airlocks sound like is a mystery to me, but I know.
Perhaps my mind isn't as much of a black hole as I think it is.
The door slides open, and as it does, I step back again, raising my hands higher.
A man stands in the doorway, in bulky armor, a weapon in his hands. It isn't pointed at me, not yet. He's tall, a bit taller than I am, with dark hair, light colored eyes and a scar through one of his eyebrows. His eyes hold a myriad of emotions. Concern, caution, suspicion, and what seems to be a shade of tenderness.
"How are you feeling?" He asks. He is no medical professional, this I know, so I decide not to raise any of my concerns with him.
"I feel fine. No pain. Everything works." I lie, my voice hoarse, like it hasn't been used in a long, long time. My body works, yes. But I have realized by now that my mind is beyond repair.
He looks me over, slowly, purposefully. "Okay. Good." He looks back up at my face, into my eyes. "I asked them to let me know as soon as you were awake. We weren't expecting you to wake up for another couple of days, at the earliest."
He steps forward and reaches a hand out towards my head, and the movement startles me, so I jerk out of the way, my hands automatically coming up to a position of hostility.
His light eyes widen, and he looks equal parts shocked and worried. "I'm so sorry, Cal. I didn't mean to-I'm sorry." He pulls back his hand and runs it through his hair.
I stare at him.
He stares back, a dark shadow slowly edging its way into his gaze. "Callie." He says, stepping forward again, his voice holding a note of urgency.
I have no recognition for that name, nor for the familiar way the man addresses me.
He knows me, but I do not know him.
We stare at each other, the tension thick, my body language hostile, his body language pleading.
He shakes his head. "No."
I continue to stare at him, still bound by confusion.
He closes his eyes and steps back, still shaking his head. "Dear god, no."
In this moment, I pity him. He knows me. I am someone familiar to him, someone who means something. And I have no recollection of who he is. And he is beginning to realize that.
"I don't know you." I say, softly, as he puts a hand over his face in a gesture of distress. "I don't even know myself."
He starts to speak, then stops as his voice catches. There's a strange light in his eyes. A shimmer. Is it tears? I can't tell.
He whirls around and leaves the room abruptly, the door closing behind him.
I am alone again.
I am alone again, but I know my name.