The Forgotten

It felt like hours before I fell asleep. Outside the room I could hear Meredith pacing about the apartment and, though I did not hear her voice, I was certain she was speaking with someone. Why I should feel this way I could not say, but it was of a piece with the rest of the inexplicable day. Multiple universes. Seekers. Hidden Societies and secret wars. I had no idea who I was, what city, or indeed what world, I was in and each of Meredith’s revelations offered no solid ground on which I could stand.

The crux of the matter, it seemed to me, lay in Meredith’s identity and her relationship with me. Friends of convenience, she had said. Acquaintances. What did these things mean and why did I continually feel she was lying to me? All that she had told me to this point fit the facts as best I understood them and she had saved me from the Seeker. I was under no illusions as to his intent, or his otherworldly nature, after our encounter that afternoon. Still, I could not bring myself to trust her. Who was she and why was she involved in my life?

If I could only remember something of myself. It was strange to me that I knew the fundamental laws of this world and had an understanding of how things should be here, yet I knew nothing of these other universes. Meredith had told me I came from another universe, should I not have the same basic understanding of it, of all of this? Nothing made sense, nothing seemed right, and I had no idea what to believe.

Sleep came to me eventually, but my confused state remained, pursuing me into my dreams. In them I was being hunted by hundreds of insect-eyed men. They were everywhere I turned and no matter where I tried to hide myself they could see me. One moment I was in a forest of dandelion-like flowers, their heads white with long, spindly seeds that rattled in the wind. The next I was deep underground, in a vast empty complex, my footsteps echoing down the metallic corridors. As I scurried through these strange places, twisting and turning, doubling back on my path, the army of Seekers always discovering me regardless, I found myself wondering if these places were real. Were they a part of the other universe that I had been to before?

My endless flight came to an end at my apartment. I went from room to room, rifling through drawers and lifting up furniture, knocking on the walls to see if false panels existed. Soon I was in a frenzy, tearing apart my bed and the cushions on the couch. Nothing was revealed, nor did I have any sense of what it was I was looking for, only that it was somewhere in the apartment. At last, exhausted by my efforts, I collapsed to the floor and began to sob. I had to remember, my very life was at stake, but I could not. What had happened to me?

When I had cried until my eyes ached and my throat was raw, I gathered myself and went to the bathroom. The face, puffy and red from crying, that looked back at me was not the one I had seen this morning. I stared at it, trying to memorize every contour, but the visage dissolved as soon as it took form in my thoughts. Growing frustrated by my inability to remember I looked down at the sink, trying to steady myself, and when I looked up again my true face was gone and the face staring back at me was the false one I had seen that morning.

I reacted to this with fury, slamming my fist into the mirror until it cracked and broke, rendering my countenance into ghoulish carnival forms. A trail of blood flowing into the sink alerted me to the cuts on my hand. When I held it to my eyes I could see the white of bone and nearly fainted. I reached out to steady myself on the sink counter, the pain from my hand bludgeoning me, sending the room spinning. I lost all equilibrium and fell to the floor and into darkness.

A hand, gentle on my shoulder, stirred me awake. For a moment I did not remember where I was but, as I blinked my eyes open, I recognized, in the dim light of the dawn coming through the shades, the bedroom of Meredith’s friend. I rolled over, expecting to see Meredith, only to be brought face to face with the Seeker, his strange eyes two pits of blackness in the shadows.

I tried to scream but no sound came from my throat. The Seeker made no move to seize me, merely considering me, his head cocked to the side. His manner, like a scientist viewing a specimen, left me unable to react as I awaited the scalpel’s edge. When at last he stirred it was to gesture toward the door for me to go. I did not move, still paralyzed by his sudden appearance, and he gestured again, uttering the same phrase he had earlier whispered to the air, while we remained hidden from his sight.

I recognized the words, yet their meaning escaped my conscious thought, dissolving as my true face had dissolved before the form grew solid. They seemed to break the spell I was under though, and I climbed from the bed and went out into the main room, only to find I had somehow returned to my own apartment. I felt confused and thick headed. I was certain that the bed and the room I had just been in belonged to Meredith’s friend, yet here I was in my own place again. The Seeker prodded me into the living room, not giving me time to sort through my confusion. There he gestured for me to sit in a chair facing out to the balcony, while he sat on the couch alongside.

“It is good to see you again.” The voice came from behind me. It was a calm, unemotional voice. A man’s. I tried to turn around, but was unable to. The chair had seized me, holding my neck and arms in a vise, though no bonds were visible to my eyes.

“Still looking, I see,” the voice said, with a hint of amusement, and I followed his unseen gesture and saw my apartment in ruins from my earlier futile excavations. Where had I heard him before? Try as I might I could not picture his face.

“You should have known you could not defy me,” he said, and I imagined him shaking his head, almost in sorrow. “A price must be incurred.”

This infuriated me for some reason and I fought against the invisible bonds in a frenzy. I had my mouth open to reply when I awoke to find myself in the bed I had gone to sleep in, the sheets tangled about me.

——–

This is the seventh part of The Forgotten, a science fiction thriller. A new section will be published here every Thursday.

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The Forgotten

My words hung in the air, the silence growing uncomfortable as we both avoided each other’s gaze, unsure of how to proceed. After the momentary relief of my confession, the need to carry on with the poor charade I had attempted now obviated, my unease returned in full force. My future was now tied to Meredith, and a precarious future it was with the specter of the Seeker looming on every horizon, and I had no way to tell whether the trust I had given her was earned.

I’m going to make some tea,” she said. “Would you like some? This could take awhile.”

Sure,” I said, glad for the distraction. It was good to have something in my hands, something to do, otherwise I kept twitching my fingers, touching them together in weird patterns to get the feel and sense of them. Nothing about them felt like my own. While Meredith was making the tea I wandered about the apartment, picking up books off the shelves and glancing at them. All of them were about various religions, origins and histories, anthropologies and comparative studies. The words became a blur after a time.

When the tea was ready we sat beside each other on the couch again, Meredith curling her legs underneath her and wrapping both hands around the steaming cup. We were near enough to touch one another and her closeness felt deliberate, an attempt to establish a rapport with me. I told myself I was being unfair, that it was just my own discomfort, the totality of my confusion, which made me suspect her of manipulating me.

This isn’t the first time this has happened,” Meredith said, blowing on her tea. I felt my hands tremble at her words, my whole body seeming to go cold.

When was the first time?”

Meredith thought a moment. “Around eight months ago. And a year before that, right when you met Laila.”

The name felt familiar in a way Meredith’s never had. “Laila,” I said, savoring the sound of the name.

Yes,” Meredith said darkly, watching my reaction. “She was trouble.”

I looked at her, a question in my eyes and she waved her hand. “It’s not my place. I shouldn’t have said anything.”

Okay,” I said, my voice sounding higher than I would have liked. “So if this has happened before, I should get my memory back.”

Yes,” Meredith said, though she didn’t sound convinced. “You did before,” she added, when she saw my face fall. “But it wasn’t a simple thing and it didn’t all come back. Less each time actually.”

What did I do to get it back?” I said, trying not to let my desperation show.

We tried a lot of things. I’m not sure any of them worked. Time I think is the only thing and we don’t have any right now.”

Because of the Seeker?”

Yes,” Meredith said. She seemed to go very still at the word, watching me carefully to gauge my reactions.

Do we know what caused it?” I said.

We were never sure what the cause was,” she said, hesitating for a moment before continuing, “Look, you should know that you and I were never close. We were not friends here. We were colleagues. So you may have known better than I do what caused it and how to fix it. But you didn’t tell me.”

Colleagues?”

In a manner of speaking. Friends of convenience. Is that better? I don’t know.” Meredith said. I shrugged my shoulders and Meredith got up and began to pace a cramped path through the living room. I watched her, unsure what to say or do. She stopped, as if realizing what she was doing, and forced herself to sit down.

I’m sorry, I can’t deal with this right now,” she said, waving her hands in my direction. “If we had more time…But we need to figure out what we’re doing.

I don’t know how to explain it,” she said, anticipating my questions. “The world is not as it seems.”

Evidently,” I said, wondering why she was so nervous now, after all that had happened. “Why don’t we start with the men who found us. How did they and why were they looking in the first place?”

Right. Okay.” She took a deep breath. “The Seeker found us. Some call them Finders. They have a Society, like a guild, you know. People hire them when they want someone found.”

Doubt filled my thoughts and I’m sure was marked plainly on my face. The limited knowledge I had of the world in my current state did not include men like the Seeker or artifacts like the button. It was a world of certain laws, and though I had witnessed these things in action, still my mind rebelled against their very existence. My thoughts compelled me to another explanation and my instinctive mistrust of Meredith lead me to suspect her of orchestrating the entire situation, the better to control me. But to what end? It made no sense, I realized, and yet I could not stop myself from considering it.

“Look,” Meredith said, reaching out to put a hand on my knee. “I know this sounds incredible. There’s no way I can prove anything to you, you’ll just have to trust me. You have to trust someone, and I did save us from the Seeker.”

“Then try to explain it to me. Those people, whoever they are, where did they come from?”

“Like I said, the world is not what it seems. There’s more than one. And the Seeker and the people who hired them came from another world.”

“And we come from that world too,” I said. The button she had used, as well as the fact that on some level I knew the language the men had spoken—and she did as well—told me as much.

“It’s more complicated than that,” Meredith said, “but yes, we do. Like I said, there are many worlds—universes–and we’ve ended up in this one. And now someone is looking for us.”

“Do you know who?”

“I can guess. We’re not here by choice, you and I. We’re living in exile, I guess you could say. You see all the worlds, the universes, are the same, but different, and there are an infinite number.”

“Parallel universes,” I said to her, the words materializing from somewhere.

“Yes. Exactly. There are versions of you and I in each of them, with different lives, different histories. The worlds in them are different as well. In some, life isn’t even possible and we never existed. Some are more or less the same as this, where people aren’t even aware of the other worlds. Some have advanced tech, like the Seekers, and have figured out how to travel between the universes. There was a battle over that, over who should be able to travel between. Our side lost and we were trapped here.”

I nodded as though I understood, but I just felt dizzy. It all felt so unbelievable and the way Meredith told it, so hesitant, choosing her words with such care, made me think that whatever truth might be there was only a part of the whole, the rest still to be revealed. One part did ring true though, that I was not of this place. Maybe that accounted for my sense of dislocation, the itch that worked at my being, the wound that was my flesh. Meredith, I saw, was watching me, a guarded expression on her face, waiting to see if I would accept all that she told me.

“Why are these people after us now?”

Something like a sigh of relief escaped her lips. “I don’t know. They call themselves the Society of Travelers. They were a guild, like the Seekers, but now they are much more powerful. They essentially rule the world we come from.”

“Because they control the gateways between the universes?”

“Yes,” Meredith said. “None but them shall pass. The penalty is death for people, like us, who’ve gone through without their authority. What I don’t understand is how they could know we’re here now. It makes no sense. Something must have happened, but I can’t imagine what.”

“So they’ll kill us once they find us.” The words, the thought itself, should have invoked terror in me, but I felt nothing.

“Eventually. They’ll want to find out why we’re here and what we know first.”

“And what do we know?”

Meredith shrugged. “Nothing that would be of interest to them.” Something about the way she said that gave me pause and for some reason I recalled the Seeker’s whispered threat.

“But there must be something we know, something about us that makes us a threat. They can’t just kill us for no reason.”

This sparked something within her and she responded vehemently. “No, you don’t know them. They don’t need a reason. They will hunt us down until none of us is left. And there’s nothing you or I can do. They won’t stop, and we can’t expect any help. We’ve been forgotten by the people who sent us here.”

I was taken aback by the bitterness in her voice and was left unsure as to how to respond. Meredith did not give me a chance to, standing up and saying, “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t be putting my burdens on you. Not when you’re in this state. We should go to bed. We can talk more in the morning and figure out what we’re going to do.”

I nodded my agreement and offered to sleep on the couch, but she pointed to the bedroom. “No, you’ve been through more than me today. Besides, this is more my size anyway.”

I did not offer any more protest, for as soon as she mentioned sleep the exhaustion I had been struggling to hold at bay overwhelmed me. I threw myself upon the bed, not even bothering to take off my clothes or crawl beneath the covers. In spite of how tired I was, my thoughts would not allow me to sleep, my mind continuing to reflect upon all that Meredith had said. Every expression, every pause she had taken, seemed a portent of some deeper truth that, as yet, eluded me.

The thought that kept returning to me was about our having been forgotten by those who had sent us here. Something about that didn’t ring true. How had she known the Seeker had arrived if someone hadn’t sent her a message? There were explanations she could offer, no doubt, but I suspected I would find them no more convincing than anything else she had said. I was the only forgotten one here, cast adrift from my person, without any bearings, and nothing to hold onto in a world that grew more turbulent by the moment.

——–

This is the sixth part of The Forgotten, a science fiction thriller. A new section will be published here every Thursday.

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The Forgotten

Meredith was the first to move, releasing her grip on my arms and plucking the button from my neck. She returned it and the one she wore to her jacket pocket while I rubbed my throat, the cold gradually receding from my skin. I was giddy with relief at our apparent escape and had a thousand questions, but Meredith’s face was marked by a coiled sort of anger that warned me from asking any of them just now.

Nightfall approached, the sun low in the sky and the shadows long, by the time we left the apartment building, slipping out the back into a taxi Meredith had called. She sent the driver on a circuitous route, watching out the back window for the entire trip, with the same grim expression on her face. When she was satisfied we had not been followed she directed him to an apartment building called the Ivanhoe, an older brick building in a neighborhood I thought was close to where I lived. Each floor, I noted as we ascended up the stairs to the fifth, had a slightly unpleasant odor in its hallway, all of them distinct from the others somehow.

The apartment that Meredith brought me to was cramped and narrow, filled with ornate antique furniture too large for its rooms, forcing us to navigate with care in order to move about the place. There were shelves heavy with books, some of them very old, and the air was heavy with the smell of them. Everything here seemed to run counter to the person I had met that afternoon, it had none of Meredith’s care or precision.

Seeing the look on my face, Meredith said, “It’s a friends. Someone they couldn’t possibly know, so it should take them awhile to find us again.”

How long?”

We can spend the night.” What would happen after that she left unsaid. She told me to sit and make myself comfortable while she got us something to eat, which I tried to do, though I was seized by a restlessness that would not quiet. All the tension and fear of the day, which at times had seemed remote, even when the Seeker had been staring directly at me and our discovery seemed imminent, fell upon me now that the danger was past. As smells of the meal Meredith was preparing wafted over to me, I tried to steady myself by staring out the window to watch the sun descend, bathing the city’s downtown in fiery purples and reds.

A sense of hopelessness seized me as I sat there, the little that I knew, and the vast ocean of all I did not, overwhelming me. The wrongness of myself, of this body, resurfaced now that I was left alone with my thoughts and I wanted nothing more than to lie on the couch and sob. I knew I could not though, not while Meredith was here. Until I had better sense of what was happening and of who I was, I could not trust her or anyone. There were too many mysteries and, to this point, no answers, beyond the fact that my life was in danger.

Though I could remember nothing of my past the world seemed to me no longer the one I had known. Men with insect eyes who could find me seemingly at will. Buttons that hid people in plain sight. Languages and symbols unlike anything I had seen or heard. It was all too much to process, on top of everything else I was dealing with. And yet from moment to moment I had the sense that it was all there, all the understanding and knowledge I needed was somewhere in my mind, always slipping just beyond my grasp.

Meredith brought me our supper—mushroom soup and toast—and we ate in silence, both of us uneasy in the other’s presence. I could not even begin to think of what I might say, where to begin with all that had occurred. The food pushed aside all such worries, for I was ravenous beyond belief, unsurprising given that I had no idea when I had last eaten. When we were both done I did the dishes, enjoying the simplicity of the task and the distraction it provided.

I returned to the living room when I was done where Meredith sat on the couch, her legs curled up underneath her, a book on her lap. “It’s about religion,” she said, noticing my interest, “My friend studies it.”

All religion. Or a religion?”

Well, he’s interested in the philosophy, I guess, and the history of them.”

Trying to find the right one,” I said, trying and failing to sound lighthearted.

Meredith shrugged. “Aren’t we all.” She set the book aside and motioned for me to sit down. “How are you feeling? I know it was probably not the day you were expecting.”

No,” I said, “I guess not.”

She looked away from me, hesitating again, staring at the darkness beyond the window. “How much do you remember?”

What do you mean?” I said, smiling, even as my heart began to race and sweat gathered on my palms. What could I tell her that might make some sense.

No,” she said. “I need to know for sure. The Seeker will not stop, he will find us, and we’ll need to be prepared. Do you remember anything at all?”

She looked at me, concern etched upon her face, yet all I could think was that she had known what the Seeker had whispered in the apartment. She had the buttons. None of the day’s events proved that she was any more trustworthy than the Seeker and his minions. There was something about her that made me question her motives. The concern on her face, the emotion in her eyes, it all felt false somehow. But I had no other choice.

No,” I said, “I don’t remember anything before this afternoon.”

——–

This is the fifth part of The Forgotten, a science fiction thriller. A new section will be published here every Thursday.

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The Forgotten

Meredith dragged me along as she ran, pulling my arm so violently I feared my shoulder might fly from my socket. Behind us I heard a cry in a strange accent, a word I thought I knew, though I could not place it. I whispered it to myself as I tried to keep up to Meredith and she glared at me furiously, yanking even harder upon my arm. The sounds of pursuit grew nearer as we ducked around a corner and into a broad alley, weaving around trash dumpsters. One of the pursuers—the man with the goggles, I was certain—uttered a command and somehow I knew they were splitting up to cut off our avenues of escape.

I began to say something, but Meredith silenced me with a glance. Directly in our path were two cooks in stained white jackets outside having a smoke break and Meredith headed for them with me in tow. They glanced up in surprise at our rapid approach, their astonishment soon replaced by fear as they saw the man behind us in pursuit. Their conversation silenced they watched us, open-mouthed and frozen in place, as Meredith blew past them, carrying me with her. She threw open the door leading into the kitchen, with such violence it almost rebounded off the wall to hit us, and we plunged within before either cook had time to recover and do anything.

Inside we were met by a shout of anger from another cook and a stunned shriek from the waitress we bowled over as we dodged through the galleys. By the time I noticed the scalding heat hitting my face, we were already out of kitchen, emerging to find ourselves near a bar. A couple, with their arms slung over each other as they leaned against the counter, glanced up at our sudden entrance. Again I noted the long delay before the surprise registered on their faces. Was time moving slower for me, each instant fuller than the last?

I had no time to think about that for Meredith did not pause, flying around the bar, shoving aside anyone who came near our path, and it was all I could do to keep up with her. The staff was slow to react as well, only moving in our direction when we reached the entrance to the place. By then shouts and cries began to arise again from the kitchen and a low murmur of consternation erupted, cut silent by the door swinging shut behind me as we returned to the street. Here Meredith paused for a second to get her bearings, glancing left and right. My face felt hot and my pulse echoed loudly in my temple. I could not seem to get enough air into my lungs.

We both saw him at the same moment, the dark robe and the flash of scarlet at the shoulder, coming toward us from down the street. Meredith did not hesitate, grabbing me by the arm again and leaping into the midst of the traffic passing by in front of us. Instinctively I resisted, but she proved surprisingly strong for someone so slight and easily overpowered me. Once we were in the middle of the street I surrendered to her will, trusting she knew what she was doing.

We darted across the rest of the lanes of traffic, the whoosh of air from a passing bus the only blow either of us sustained, and headed through the first door we found. The place was a magazine shop, called News of the Day, and we sprinted down the narrow aisles teeming with glossy covers. The proprietor did not even look up from where he sat behind the register, his focus entirely on the book he was reading. When we reached the back of the store, near the pornography section, Meredith shoved open the door leading to the back did and the man finally realized something was amiss. He stood up, calling after us as we went, “Excuse me.”

Meredith ignored him, slamming the door shut and, after noticing the deadbolt, locking it behind us. She led me through the dingy back of the store, out into another alley that strangely backed onto another street. There were no storefronts on this avenue, only some parking spaces and, on the far side, an apartment building on one corner, with the rest of the block filled by a park and a lawn bowling club. She headed for the apartment building, angling across the empty street as she went, moving with ease even as I began to labor, my lungs burning and sweat streaking my face.

At the door to the apartment building she produced what looked like an uncut key, flat and rectangular, with no grooves carved into it. In spite of its unfinished look it slid easily into the lock, opening the door. Before we entered the building we both, by instinct, looked behind to see if anyone was behind us. The street was empty, except for a lone car that passed slowly by, heading in the direction opposite ours. Meredith did not give it more than a glance, before pulling me inside and starting toward the stairs.

I think we lost them,” I ventured tentatively.

No,” was her blunt reply, not even bothering to turn to look at me, or slowing her pace whatsoever. I followed behind, my every breath now sounding like a smoker’s dying gasp.

At the door to the third floor Meredith stopped and turned to me, holding a finger to her lips. While I tried valiantly to quiet my breathing, she led the way forward, going from door to door, holding her head against each one to listen for a moment before moving on. Five apartments in she came to one to her liking and, slipping the flat key from her pocket again, she unlocked the door leading me within. Inside was a spacious apartment, made less so by the two leather couches and a massive flat screen television in the main room, all too large for the space. That alone told me, and a quick glance at the rest of the place confirmed, that the apartment was not hers. This was a man’s place, there was no doubt in my mind.

What are we doing here?” I said, as I watched her go from room to room, confirming that the apartment was empty.

Quiet,” Meredith said, when she had finished her search. “We don’t have much time. Take this.”

She handed me, what I initially thought was, an overlarge square button. It was cold to the touch and had a weight out of proportion to its size. Studying it more closely I saw that, what I had thought was a black color, was in fact no color at all. The thing seemed to repel light, much as the man’s goggles had. There were no markings on it, no sign of what purpose it might have. Seeing the perplexed look on my face, Meredith sighed in exasperation and took the button from me and pressed it to the hollow of my neck. To my surprise it stuck to my skin, the cold from it spreading across my throat.

Not a word,” Meredith said, pointing at me. “Not a damn word. Don’t move. Don’t even breathe.”

I did as she said, though I could not begin to understand why. A few minutes later it became all too clear. Down the hall came the voices, those foreign, yet familiar, accents and words, moving nearer. Soon I could hear their heavy footsteps on the hallway carpet, coming to a halt right before the door to the apartment we had taken refuge in. I took a step back, away from the door and them, not even realizing I had done so. Meredith, her expression colored with fury, clamped her hands on my shoulders and held me still.

I could almost sense the men pausing on the other side of the door, the moment stretching on and seeming to slow until time went absolutely still. No one seemed to breath as we all waited for something to break the impasse. One of the pursuers, the man with the goggles if I had to guess, uttered a phrase and I felt Meredith slump a bit in defeat, the air going from her chest in a sigh. The doorknob jiggled and someone fumbled with the lock, while Meredith pressed her fingers even more insistently into my arms. The air burned in my lungs and I was afraid to even blink.

A small grunt of triumph was followed by the door swinging open and the man with the goggles stepped into the apartment. He barely glanced at the kitchen, moving immediately to the living room where Meredith and I stood. One of the black robes followed him part way down the hall, the other staying to keep watch on the corridor. The Seeker, for there seemed no doubt who this was, studied the room with a careful disdain. My every instinct cried out for me to find somewhere to hide, but Meredith held me even tighter, while remaining absolutely still herself.

Though it was impossible, my mind could not even begin to comprehend it, neither the Seeker nor the black robe saw us as we stood before them in plain sight. It looked to me as though both of them were staring right at us, yet they noticed nothing. How was such a feat achieved? It was the button, I knew, but how it could work to render us invisible I could not say. All I knew for certain was that the cold from its heavy substance was spreading from my throat up my cheeks and down to my chest.

The Seeker appeared to be as confused as I was. He muttered something to himself as he glanced around, looking for all the world like someone who had misplaced his keys. Each time he cast his gaze about the room he would return to stare directly at me, as though he somehow knew that we were there in spite of what his eyes told him. As I watched him I realized that he was not staring at the two of us, but at the place I had been standing before my inadvertent step. He studied that space for what seemed minutes, not moving at all.

The spreading cold from the button made me want to shiver and it soon became an irresistible sensation that took all my will not to give in to. I took half breaths through my nose, terrified that even that slight stirring of the air would attract the Seeker’s attention. His eyes were even more fearsome to look at up close, for they were not quite like the aviator goggles I had in my head, but more like an insect’s eyes viewed up close with a thousand tiny hexagons linked together to form those opaque and impenetrable circles. From a distance they had looked constructed, a clumsy addition made to human flesh, but now I was certain they organic, as the rest of him was, cell placed upon cell forming this monstrous whole.

The black robe in the hallway shifted his weight and the Seeker glanced toward him and nodded, as though acknowledging the search had come to its end. He turned back to where Meredith I stood and whispered something, his voice pitched so that only someone very near him, as we were, could hear it. The hairs stood on the back of my neck at the phrase, whether from the tone of his voice or some innate understanding of what they meant. But, try as I might, I could not recall what they meant. Meredith, I noticed with some curiosity, stiffened at them, as though fighting the urge to reply in kind.

The Seeker’s words seemed to hang in the air like a threat, until he shook his head and turned away from where we stood, heading out of the apartment. The black robes followed behind, one of them shutting the door. As the sound of their footsteps down the hall disappeared, both of us exhaled at the same moment, Meredith’s breath warm on my ear. I could feel her hands trembling on my arms and neither of us dared to move for a long while.

——–

This is the fourth part of The Forgotten, a science fiction thriller. A new section will be published here every Thursday.

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