The Forgotten (Part Two: The Church of the Regents)

Awareness returned slowly. I was lying upon the table, my body in restraints. I felt distant from myself, as though I were standing in another room viewing the scene through a window. Someone was moving around me, passing from the operating table to the counter and back again. An implement of some sort was picked up or set down, and felt myself wincing in response. I opened my eyes, but I still could not see and when I attempted to move my body did not respond.

“Did he have any ID on him?” The voice sounded very near, just off to the left of my head. It was a man’s voice but I did not recognize the speaker.

“Yes. Joseph Aurellano. I have Aleksandra and Martin looking into it. I doubt they’ll find anything. The Order is very thorough about these things.”

That voice I did recognize. It belonged to the man who had intercepted me in the market. He was standing by the counter doing something with whatever implement he had moved earlier. Desperately I tried to recall what had been lying on the counter when they brought me in, but all I could see was his face looming over me, his eyes on the needle he was inserting into my arm.

“It makes one wonder how we ever found out about him.”

“Too good to be true, you think?” the first man said. He moved from the counter to the operating bed, hovering over me.

“Did you see who he was with?” the stranger said. It seemed clear that he was in command.

“Not really. A woman. Whoever it is, she won’t have her own face.”

“Does he?” As he spoke, he gestured toward my prone body. My awareness seemed to expand a moment later, though I still could not see and only dimly hear. Yet I could visualize both men studying me from above. The first man, the doctor, I thought, was holding something in his hands though I could not quite make it out. As I watched him, bracing myself for whatever was to come, I became aware of the presence of a third person in the room standing off to the side, near the door. It was a woman and she watched the proceedings with a skeptical eye.

“No,” the doctor said. “Near as I can tell he is the man he was when he was born. If anything was done to him it was by someone far better than me.”

“Strange that they would send someone here on their own face.”

The doctor grunted, busy with whatever implement he had at hand. I felt something pierce my spine where it met my buttocks and could feel the doctor’s careful, guiding hand pressing it deeper. I screamed, no sound emerging except in my mind where it echoed loudly until the pain drowned out all my senses and I lost consciousness.

The doctor was speaking when I came to. It felt as though only a few seconds had passed, though I had no way of knowing for certain. Time seemed as distant and mercurial as my body. He had begun to slowly retract whatever had penetrated my spine and the slow burn of agony inflamed my thoughts.

“We’ll know soon enough,” he said. “What do you want done with him in the meantime?”

The other man considered this for a moment. “Let’s wait until the results are in before we do anything. You’ll have to keep him in here or the Seeker will be on us.”

“Yes. I’ll just keep him under.”

“Good. I’m going to let the others know about our progress. Keep me informed.”

A moment later I could hear him entering the code for the door, which opened with a hiss of air. A satisfied beep announced when it had been sealed again. The doctor did not look up from his task, moving from where I lay to the counter where he busied himself with some equipment. He hummed as he worked while I tried again to move. My body still did not respond, though it ached from whatever had been done to me, a throbbing pain that showed no signs of subsiding.

He injected me again, this time in the shoulder, and the void descended for a time. When I emerged from it the doctor was still humming, busy at the counter, though I had the sense a great deal of time had passed and he had left and returned. He paid no attention to me, not even glancing in my direction, his focus solely on the device on the counter. I could see him more clearly than before, though my eyes still would not open. It was the difference between dream and waking, though surely this was some manner of dream, for I was standing watching him intently from the far corner of the room.

“How is that possible?” the doctor said to himself, turning to look at me. As he did my point of view evaporated and I returned to the operating table, my vision reduced to intuition and insinuation.

“Who are you?” he said in a wondering tone.

I had two revelations almost simultaneously after his question. The first was that the words he was speaking, as well as his earlier conversation, had all been in the language the Seeker had whispered his threat in. Yet, somehow, I understood every word. The second was that the woman remained in the room—had she been here all this time?—silent and watchful, awaiting the outcome of whatever tests the doctor was running. She was the key to my predicament, I understood. If I wanted answers I would have to find a way to speak with her.

——–

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

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The Forgotten (Part Two: The Church of the Regents)

“Not a word,” the man said, his breath moist on my ear, as he guided me through the crowd toward the warehouse door. He had removed his hand from my throat, but the gun remained pressed against my back. I craned my head as we went, trying to catch Meredith’s eye before I disappeared. It had only taken an instant for us to be separated and the man to intercept me, though it felt as though minutes were passing with each breath. I caught sight of Meredith as we came to the door, frantically scanning the crowd trying to find me and I opened my mouth to call out to her.

“Don’t even think about it,” the man said, grabbing my arm and brutally wrenching it, causing me to gasp in pain.

He shoved me out the door just as I thought I saw her catching sight of me with my assailant, a look of horror on her face. That was the last I saw of her, for as we stepped outside the back door to the van was thrown open and two others emerged, seizing my arms and dragging me within. The first assailant shut the door behind them and got into the front passenger seat just as the van started to drive away.

The sudden motion of the van sent me tumbling forward onto my stomach and one of the two kidnappers jumped on top me, pinning me to the floor of the van as the other tightened a plastic zip tie around my wrists. When I was secured to their satisfaction they sat on either side of me watching with some amusement as I struggled to turn myself over. I ended up with my back against the metal divider that separated us from the front of the van, creating a rear compartment sealed entirely from the outside world. There were no windows and the only light was provided by a square bulb at the center of the roof. It was also the only furnishing, the walls and floor bare metal.

The van took a left and then a hard right and began to pick up speed, spilling me onto my side in the process. After I had righted myself again I turned my attention to my captors. One was a woman and the other a man, both blank-faced and nondescript. By the set of their shoulders I guessed they were capable of handling themselves in a way I clearly was not. Neither of them so much as glanced at me, nor did they say anything to each other.

I tried to think of somethingto say to break the silence, perhaps draw them out and determine who they were. I had to assume they were a new entrant to the field of those interested in my lost self. The look on their faces told me that conversation would not be advisable, and nothing came to mind that would lead to any fruitful discussion on the matter of my kidnapping, so I kept my counsel for the moment. The van took some more turns, but I stopped paying attention, having no sense of what direction we were going.

Our journey did not last long, no more than fifteen minutes by my best estimate, each more agonizing than the last. The grim silence and emotionless expressions of my assailants felt more and more ominous as my mind, left to its own devices, began to imagine the increasingly elaborate torture I was about to be subjected to. The woman, perhaps sensing my growing distress, looked at me from the corner of her eyes and smirked, the mocking grin vanishing when the man saw it and glared at her, both resuming their stony countenances. I had a sudden, desperate urge to urinate, my bladder aching and my legs trembling as I fought to keep control of my body and avoid that final humiliation.

I was so focused on my fear of soiling myself I failed to notice the van had come to a halt, until the woman got up to the open the door. The man dragged me from its confines, not caring when I hit my head on the roof. We were parked in an alley outside a bland suburban office building whose windows were dark. I thought about crying out to see if anyone was nearby who might help, but both the man and the woman seized me firmly by the arms and the thought made me cringe, knowing they would not hesitate to inflict some damage upon me. The driver and the man who had taken me from the market fell in behind, no one speaking as we entered via the loading dock, someone inside buzzing us in.

As with the van, the building’s interior had been stripped bare, even the doors had been taken from their hinges, leaving only empty rooms and bare walls. There was the odd bit of refuse inexplicably left behind that hinted at the former life of the place: a pile of keyboards in a corner here, a cubicle wall in the middle of the floor there, and a box full of pens and staplers thrown at random in another room. These accoutrements of a mundane past only added to my growing sense of horror as we moved into the center of the building near the elevators, which stood open-mouthed and leering at our passage.

The wrongness of the place was confirmed as we came to a room that did have a door. It was heavy looking and impenetrable, having clearly been added after the building had been gutted, no doubt by its present occupants. A keypad was mounted on the wall beside the door and the woman punched in a code, the buttons producing odd tones as she pressed them, to unlock it. Air hissed out as the door slid open and I was dragged within.

The atmosphere in the room was of a hospital, arid and sterile. The floor, the walls, even the ceiling, had been covered with what appeared to be a thin plastic sheeting. However, it did not feel thin or plastic as I stepped on it, it felt as though I was stepping on nothing, an absence. That sensation, eerie and indescribable, was soon forgotten as I noticed the operating table at the center of the room. I went stiff at the sight of it and my two keepers had to drag me to it.

They forced me to sit on its edge, holding me there as I tried several times to get up. It was very thin, made from a kind of plastic that was almost translucent, contoured to match the shape of a body. It was designed to be laid upon face down, with metal restraints ready to be snapped in place over the arms, legs, waist and neck. There was a crank mechanism at one end, apparently allowing the table to be flipped so that either side of the patient could be accessed with ease.

“Breath. Slowly.” the woman said to me and I realized that I was hyperventilating, my whole body shaking in terror. She and the man looked on unconcerned as I struggled to regain my equilibrium, their arms crossed over their chests, ready to respond to any aggression on my part in a moment. Behind them was another man, the driver, or the one who had caught me in the market, the fourth person not joining us in the room. He busied himself at a nearby counter, which I had failed to notice earlier, drawing some fluid into a needle.

“I’ll need you to take your clothes off,” he said, as he tapped at the needle to get an air bubble out. I did not respond, staring straight ahead, hearing the words but not understanding them, a catatonia seizing me.

“Very well,” he said and waved a hand at my two keepers. They took hold of me again, forcing me down on the table. I fought against them, a frenetic energy seizing my body, which still felt numb and distant from my person. They kept me in place as the man injected me, reflexively patting my arm where the needle pierced my skin. I continued to struggle, kicking out blindly, trying to strike one of them, but they avoided my blows with ease until I could feel my body beginning to slow, my control of its functions slipping.

Blackness descended over my eyes, like a blind being drawn across them, and a loud hum rose in my ears. I lost all feeling in my body not long after, though I could still somehow feel the man who held my arms recoiling from me and hear as he said, “Damn it, he’s pissing himself.”

I wanted to laugh, but oblivion seized me.

——–

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

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The Forgotten

The tension did not leave me as the platform disappeared from view, replaced by a checkerboard vista of streets filled with house, stretching on for what seemed an endless distance. The people around me on the train seemed to press closer and closer, especially after the next stop as more passengers got on. I shuddered at their inadvertent touch, wanting to shove back at those whose arms and backs were pressed against mine. My life is in danger, I wanted to cry out. The dull and distant expressions on everyone’s faces told me how that would be received. I would just be another of the train’s discomforts that had to be endured.

My phone vibrated in my hand, a text from Meredith: In the next car. Did you get on alright?

Yes. But the Seeker saw me, I replied.

Her reply, instantaneous, hinted at her anxiety: Did they get on the train?

I told her they had not, my hands shaking as I tapped at the phone. My face felt flush and feverish, my forehead damp with sweat. There was a knot in my stomach, clenching and unclenching. I began to worry that the other passengers were watching me, noticing my distress, and wondering what was wrong with me.

The phone vibrated again. Good, Meredith said. We’re riding to the end of the line. I glanced up at the transit map above the door and counted the stops left—five it appeared—and tried to focus on my breathing. I relaxed, ignoring everyone around me, being pushed and pulled as though I was adrift at sea, without purpose.

My mind would not stay quiet for long, the lingering glance of the Seeker resurfacing in my thoughts. What had he been thinking in that moment? If I had to guess I would have said that he was indifferent to my escape. There was patience there, a knowledge of an inevitable conclusion. In due time he would run me to ground. I felt that inevitability as well. Even if we managed to slip this particular chase, we would have to stop at some point and he would find us again, just as he had this morning. There seemed no point in running, which made me wonder why Meredith was. She would know how hopeless our situation was. Unless there was something she was not telling me.

After the second stop the train dropped from its perch above the streets and entered a tunnel. The closing off of the view only served to deepen my despair, so that by the time the train had reached the end of the line I was prepared to simply wait upon the platform for the Black Robes to come and seize me. Why prolong this misery further? I did not know who I was, could not begin to understand the situation I found myself in, and I had no hope of escape.

Meredith sensed my desperation when she found me in the swirling mass of people entering and exiting the train. She grabbed me by the arm, pulling me forward. “What’s the matter?” she hissed in my ear.

Why run?” I said to her, paying no attention to where she was leading me. “They’re just going to find us again, right?”

Yes,” she said. “But we can’t face them here.”

We can’t do anything to stop them, can we?” I said, shrugging off her arm and stopping. “The men with the Seeker are trained, aren’t they? They can handle us easily. The Seeker too.”

Meredith turned and looked at me and for once I saw her true face, lined with worry and doubt. “Look,” she said, “this is bad. There’s no doubt. I don’t know if we can survive. Maybe if you had your memory back. Maybe. But we can’t do anything here. Our only hope is to keep moving and wait for our chance.”

What chance is that?”

I don’t know,” she said. “But we have to try.”

She turned and walked away, heading toward the harbor front where a small ferry was docked. “Come on,” she said, not even bothering to look back to see if I was coming. Her bluff had the desired effect and I set off after her. What else could I do after all, but try and hope that my memory returned to me in time?

The ferry took us across the bay to the north side of the city. We disembarked at a busy pier, filled with restaurants, bars and tourist shops all housed in a single complex that looked out across the water at downtown. Meredith led me through the complex, glancing at the various food stands as though she were deciding what she wanted to eat. Behind the dockside building was a former warehouse that had been converted into a farmer’s market, crammed with produce stands. Even though it was early in the morning the place was filled with people.

We joined the flow of people as they moved through the stalls, Meredith seeming to be in no rush, which I found strange given we had only a five to ten minute lead on the Seeker, assuming he had taken the next train. She glanced at her phone as we went, nodding to herself, and said to me, “There might be someone here who can help us. Keep your eyes out for the glassworks. His place is beside it.”

I nodded, joining her in looking from side to side. We came to end of the warehouse and turned to go down the next aisle. There was a door open to the street and a grey van was parked at an odd angle outside, hazard lights blinking. Something about it seemed out of place to me and I stopped for a moment to study it. A busy cafe occupied that corner of the warehouse and people crowded around, as they waited for their coffee and pastries, or deciphered the handwritten menu on the chalkboard above the stand.

Just as I started forward, pushing the van from my mind, a large group of people came around the corner, cutting into the flow of traffic and separating me further from Meredith, who had her eyes on her phone. She hadn’t noticed that I stopped, and I was about to call out to her, when a hand was clenched around my throat and what felt like the barrel of a gun was pressed against my back.

You’re coming with me,” a man said.

——–

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

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The Forgotten

I lay still for several moments as I tried to judge whether I was still in the midst of a dream or truly awake. My utter exhaustion, and my sense that I had not slept at all, decided it for me. It was impossible, I thought, to be this tired in a dream. The smell of instant oatmeal and coffee reached my nostrils, stirring my stomach and driving me from bed. I found Meredith in the kitchen, sitting at the small table eating the oatmeal she had prepared.

 

“Coffee’s on and there’s more porridge. Might be cereal too, if that’s more your thing. Eat quick, we don’t have much time.”

 

I nodded, not bothering to reply, my mind still mired in a fog. After I had finished with my breakfast she handed me a toothbrush and toothpaste, still in their packaging. I stared at, wondering how she could have known to bring it with her yesterday.

 

“I picked it up first thing this morning,” she said, by way of explanation. “If you want a shower be quick. I want to be out of here in the next half hour.”

 

We were out the door before eight, Meredith alert and watchful as we went down the stairs, while I still felt groggy and unable to fully awaken. We arrived at the Ivanhoe’s entrance just as a vehicle pulled to a stop in the loading zone out front. Even in the dim morning light, clouds heavy with rain obscuring the sky above, I could see the stern faced Black Robes. I gasped aloud, the fog in my mind lifting in an instant, though it was replaced by a terrified paralysis that left me standing exposed in the foyer.

 

The arrival of our hunters had not escaped Meredith’s notice; she shoved me against the wall as she dug into her jacket, pulling out the two buttons we had used yesterday. I reached out to take one from her, but she brushed my hand away and set them on the floor by our feet. We stood by them for several agonizing seconds as I watched the Black Robes get out of their silver car, before fleeing back down the hallway to the building’s rear entrance and into the alley. With Meredith in lead, we ran to the narrow lane that cut between the buildings opposite the Ivanhoe, crossed the street, and cut through two more apartment complexes.

 

The ground sloped sharply as we went and I nearly tumbled headlong into Meredith, catching myself just in time. There was a wooden slat fence behind the apartments, running alongside the alley atop a retaining wall, leaving a steep drop to a pathway below. Meredith did not break from her loping pace as she came to the fence, pulling herself up and over in one smooth motion. She dropped down to the pathway below, disappearing from my sight. I stopped as I came to fence, which rose up well above my head, unsure of how to get myself over it in this body which felt so unfamiliar.

 

“Come on,” Meredith hissed to me from where she crouched, the urgency in her voice doing nothing to alleviate my anxiety.

 

I glanced over my shoulder to assure myself that no pursuit had arrived and saw only a woman, in a faded pare of pajamas, watching me with some curiosity from her balcony. That spurred me to action; I clambered up the side of the fence, awkwardly swinging one leg after the other over and sliding down so only my fingertips were touching its top. At that point I let go, landing heavily on the ground and stumbling backwards, wrenching my ankle in the process. Meredith stared at me, amazed at my clumsiness, and shook her head before starting down the alley at a trot.

 

We emerged onto another sleepy street and Meredith slowed her pace to a brisk walk, pulling me up alongside her so that we looked like a couple out for morning stroll. I felt as though people were watching us from every window and balcony, each parked car filled with black robes waiting to signal to the Seeker. I could not resist looking around to confirm my suspicions.

 

Meredith squeezed my hand hard, causing me to grimace. “Stop it,” she said with a glare. “Just look straight ahead.”

 

I forced myself to follow her orders, keeping my head down and my eyes upon the square of concrete just ahead of my feet. We walked to the end of the block and turned the corner onto another innocuous street, this one ending at a large apartment complex that ran for most of the block on the street that ran perpendicular to the one we were one. There were no cars or people about, the only sound reaching my ears the hum of traffic somewhere in the distance, but the calm seemed deceptive, a trick of nature designed to ensnare me.

 

Meredith seemed unconcerned and she led me by the arm down the gravel driveway leading to the complex’s car park at the same easy, maddening pace, my whole being crying out that we should be running, though where I couldn’t say.

 

Sensing my distress, Meredith said, “They don’t know what we look like and they didn’t get a good look at us yesterday. So just don’t draw attention and we’ll be fine.”

 

How this could be possible when the Seeker had, as befitted his name, unerringly found us, after we had lost the Black Robes in our mad dash yesterday, I could not say. But I forced myself to relax, I had no choice but to trust her for now. The driveway curved around the building, alongside it was a patch of indifferently cared for grass extending to some overgrown bushes and trees that crowded over a thin path, worn by many feet. It was that path we set upon, turning from the driveway, passing through the natural gateway provided by the shrubbery.

 

On the other side we found ourselves at a stairway that descended to a busy street below. Two stone Victorian lions looked out on the passing cars at the bottom of the staircase, their visages worn away by the passing years. I ran my hand along the nearest as we passed by, wondering what magnificent building had once sat atop the staircase, of which no remaining signs could be seen. It felt as though we had passed from one world into another.

 

At the end of the block there was a bus stop with a large shelter to provide cover from the rain and it was here that Meredith went, ducking within and handing me some change, saying, “Make sure you ask for two zones.”

 

I stared at the coins in my hand dumbfounded. “What are we doing?” I said.

 

Meredith pulled a cell phone from her jacket, glancing at the display. “We have time.”

 

“How do you know?” I said, nonplussed. “What if the bus is late?”

 

“It won’t matter,” she said. “We have time.”

 

Before I could interrogate her further an elderly woman stepped into the shelter, nodding at both of us. Meredith smiled in return and turned her attention to the road, watching for the bus, glancing every now and again down at her phone. I caught a glimpse of the display and saw the outlines of what I thought was a map, the gridlines of the city apparent. The colors and outlines on it were strange and it seemed as though there was a map imposed on another map, a city upon the city in effect, which I could make no sense of.

 

The minutes ticked by as we waited for the arrival of the bus, traffic ebbing and flowing on the road, a few more people trickling into our shelter. Though Meredith continued to exude calm, it had no effect on me. I kept waiting for the arrival of the Black Robes, for the Seeker to appear behind me as in my dream, and the voice, mocking and precise, to cut into me. None of that occurred. The day remained ordinary and we appeared ordinary within it.

 

When the bus pulled up, lurching to a stop, I felt no relief, my agitation blossoming within me as we started on the next leg of our journey. This was no way to escape a dire threat, it seemed to me. Meredith looked unconcerned, staring at the road ahead, the phone returned to her pocket. When I felt as though I couldn’t breath any longer, I turned to her and said, “How are we supposed to get away from these people taking a bus if they can find us wherever we go?”

 

She considered the question, her eyes darting around to see if anyone was paying attention. “They will find us, but it takes time. Remember, they haven’t got a good look at us yet, they don’t know our names, or anything about our lives here. They have to rely on the Seeker and he is an imprecise tool.”

 

“How do they not know what we look like?”

 

“They don’t. They never do. That is why they have the Seeker.”

 

“But they saw us yesterday,” I said, my voice going louder than I had intended.

 

Meredith glared at me. “But how good of a look did they get? We were running, so it was obvious who they should be chasing. But could they pick us out of a crowd again if we were acting normally? I don’t think so.”

 

“So why did we run yesterday?”

 

“Because you looked back,” Meredith said, standing up to get off the bus. As we disembarked she glanced at her phone and a small grimace passed across her face, vanishing by the time we were on the sidewalk. A metro line crossed directly overhead of the bus stop and Meredith headed for the stairway that led to the station.

 

“Why not use the buttons again?” I said as we went up the stairs.

 

Meredith glanced at me. “You mean the crevice? They were expecting us too. That’s why I left them in the hallway. It should take them awhile to figure out that we weren’t in the half universe.”

 

“But it didn’t,” I said, my voice catching.

 

“No,” she said, glancing at her phone again as we came up into the station. “They’re very close now.”

 

The metro station consisted of a long platform, raised above the street, with tracks running on either side. It was filled with morning commuters, bleary eyed and grim faced, peering at their phones or staring off at nothing. Nobody gave us so much as a glance as we weaved through the crowd, finding some empty space toward the middle of the platform. Meredith pulled out her phone and winced at what she saw there.

 

“Take out your phone,” she said under her breath, not even glancing over at me. “Act like you’re doing something with it.”

 

I did as she said, scrolling through my text messages, pretending I was looking for something. A name caught my eye as I went. Laila. Meredith had mentioned her. I opened her thread and began to read.

 

“Now, pay attention,” Meredith said, moving behind me and turning so our backs faced. “Whatever you do, don’t stop looking at your screen. They’re going to be here in a second, so if you notice them, don’t stare and don’t run. Just keep looking at your phone, and when the train comes get on it.”

 

I nodded and felt myself go flush, for she could not see me with our backs to each other. My palms were sweaty and the phone felt heavy in my hand. I stared blankly, uncomprehending at the words that had passed between myself and Laila.

 

“It’s better if we’re not together,” Meredith continued. “So I’m going to go stand farther down the platform. It will take them longer to find us that way. Don’t look for me. Don’t worry about me. Just get on the train when it comes.”

 

I let out an unsteady breath as I felt her slip away from behind me, moving down the platform to my left. A train arrived behind me and, by reflex, I glanced up as the line and destination were announced. The crowd swirled around me as people got on and off the train. I tried not to look at anyone as they brushed past, a blur of faces, all without expression. Somehow they all seemed sinister for it, malevolent in their ignorance. It was an effort to force myself to breathe.

 

A low murmur, passing along the platform like a wave approaching the shore, alerted me to the arrival of the Black Robes and the Seeker. I closed my eyes and bit my tongue, anything to distract me from the overwhelming urge to turn and see where they were. The screen to my phone had gone dark and I turned it on again, going back to Laila’s messages, forcing myself to read them, to think about what they said. I forgot the words as soon as I read them, the murmur growing closer, until it was very near, right around me.

 

My every instinct was to look up and see the threat I knew was approaching, but I did not, keeping my eyes trained just above the display of my phone, so that I could see to the platform’s edge. The Seeker passed in front of me a moment later, drawing stares from many in the crowd. He went slowly, glancing from face to face, meeting all the stares that he drew. Just as I thought he was going to pass by, to keep going down the platform, he stopped, lifting his head, as though testing the air for a scent.

 

Where, I wondered, was the damn train? The Seeker stayed where he was, glancing around, his head cocked expectantly. Though I wanted to look around myself, to see where the Black Robes were, to see where Meredith was, I forced myself to stay as I was, utterly still. I did not even look at the Seeker, staring intently at my phone, only his legs visible in my sight line. He took a step forward and I nearly sagged with relief, until he stopped again. I thought I saw him raise his hand, as though to beckon someone to him, but I dared not look up to confirm.

 

Two trains arrived, almost simultaneously, and the platform became a mass of confusion, people pouring off and on both lines at once. The train in front of me was full already and I pushed my way forward, panicked that I wouldn’t be able to make it on. I did not even look to see if the Seeker, the Black Robes or Meredith joined me as I shoved my way on, drawing a few looks of ire from my fellow passengers.

 

When I was safely on I allowed myself a glance out at the platform and saw the Seeker in the midst of the crowd looking at the train, at the very car I was in. My heart went still and I tried to will the doors shut and start the train moving. For an agonizing moment our eyes met and lingered, the door still open and the train still. An announcement broke the spell, both of us glancing toward the speaker at the sound. The doors hissed and slid close and the train lurched forward, carrying me on and leaving the Seeker behind.

——–

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

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