The Subtle Mage

Three things I knew for certain:

First, that my captors had gone to great lengths to make me comfortable.
Second, that my stay was going to be a long one.
Third, that I may possibly have some superpowers.

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4. Captive

The sound of an engine cut through the blackness of my unconsciousness and drew me back to the world. The rhythmic jostling of my head against whatever it was banging on made me warily open my eyes.

 

I was sat in a van, at first guess. My hands were tied together firmly behind my back. As I glanced around I realised I was held in some sort of perspex box. I tried kicking the wall facing me, but my legs were bolted at the ankle to the chair on which I sat. Down at the front of the van, two of the soldiers sat, chatting idly as they drove. I tried to make out what they were saying but the box obscured my hearing.

 

Without warning, pain flared through my temples. I groaned to myself and braced my head against the back wall of the box. My head felt as though it was stuffed with cotton wool, whilst throbbing simultaneously. In an attempt to calm myself, I drew in a long breath through my nose. The entire box smelt sterile, like a hospital. Too clean. I jolt brought me back to my senses. Where was I going? Where was Fabian? And more importantly, how could I get out? Trying my best to remain inconspicuous, I strained against the bonds that kept me on the chair. No use. No goddamn use.

 

A second bump in the road caused me to strike my head against the back wall. That motion alone was enough to make me black out a second time.

 

*** *** ***

 

Rough hands seized me and pulled me to my feet. I hadn’t even opened my eyes before I was struggling against the grasp. Before I had a chance to break free a hood was pulled down over my head and my cries were muffled by the sour-smelling fabric. With my vision gone, all of the fight went out of me. What was the point? I’d struggle, maybe get punished, and my fate would be the same. Call me a coward, but in the end it was the smart thing to do.

 

Arms seized my own and I was lead in one direction or other. The ground beneath my feet was soft and springy. Grass. But it quickly gave way to the unmistakable crunch of gravel. A path, then?

 

With my sight impaired, I relied on my smell and sound. My surroundings smelt clean and natural, and the wind on my skin (Not to mention the birdsong) told me I was still outside, but gravel in turn gave way to some sort of stone, and the distinctive sound of an automatic door closing behind me indicated that I was now indoors. My captors took a sharp left turn and another door closed behind me.

 

Left.

 

Right.

 

Left.

 

Left.

 

Right.

 

I tried to the best of my efforts to memorise the order of turns I took, but my plan was thwarted as the ground beneath me dropped; I’d just gone into a lift. Crap, I had no way of knowing which floor I was being taken to, all I knew was that I was descending.

 

The elevator slowed to a stop and the doors opened in front of me. Here I was, groping with every sense I had left, for any possible indication of where I was or where I was going.

 

Without warning, my head was jerked sideways sharply and I felt the sharp sting of a needle into my neck. I struggled feebly, before my vision swam again, and for the dozenth time I passed out.

 

*** *** ***

 

“Mr. Kersey… Mr. Kersey? Can you hear me?”

 

The voice echoed through my brain and alleviated the fog that clouded my mind.

 

My eyes opened slowly, and the scene in front of me drifted into focus.

 

Harsh, strip lighting indicated I was lying on my back. My first breath brought a sterile, hospital scent.

 

“Mr. Kersey. I understand you are experiencing some unpleasant feelings right now. If you can hear and understand me, please nod your head.”

 

He was definitely male.

 

I obliged, wincing and noticing the restraints around my wrists and ankles.

 

“Excellent. I am going to say a series of statements. If you agree with any of the following statements, please raise your right hand from the bed.”

 

“Your full name is Aaron Mordecai Kersey.”

 

I raised my hand.

 

“You live at eleven Birch Street.”

 

Again, I raised my hand.

 

“Your foster-father is Fabian McGregor.”

 

My eyes snapped open.

 

“Fabian!” I croaked.

 

I struggled against the restraints, ignoring the pain in my head. Without warning, my arms ceased to obey me, and simply fell limp on the table. I tried to speak, but felt myself incapable.

 

“Mr. Kersey, I haven’t finished asking you those questions,” the voice scolded me, just a hint of amusement in his voice. He sounded like a school teacher.

 

The voice asked me a series of questions, seemingly innocent, but nonetheless I hated myself for giving him the answers. The light in the room was getting to me, making my head throb and my eyes sting. There was no way of telling how long I’d been in the room, yet it felt like hours. Then, seemingly abruptly, the questions stopped. The voice cleared its throat.

 

“Thank you, Mr. Kersey, that will be all for now.”

 

The lights in the room dimmed to a warmer shade, playing off of the ceramic tiles. To my left, the sound of a door sliding smoothly open. I turned what little the restraints would allow to see two figures garbed in pristine white lab coats and face masks enter and release the straps that held me down. I tried my best to stand, but found myself surprisingly weak. So shocked, in fact, that I slumped to the floor, only to be helped up by the masked men, hoisting me by my upper arms. The feeling of sickness swept over me again like a wave before my vision swam and I blacked out for the millionth time withing twenty-four hours.

 

***

 

When I awoke it was not to the harsh strip lighting of the interrogation chamber, but to warm overhead lamps. Instead of an icy metal table, I lay on a bed softer than my one at home. A duvet was draped over me that, despite weighing little, I couldn’t lift; apparently the drugs they pumped into me hadn’t worn off. However, my head felt clear, as though the cotton balls it had been stuffed with had emptied out over the time it’d taken for me to rest. Speaking of rest, how long had I been out? I wasn’t strong enough to turn my head, but the room seemed filled with natural light, perhaps a window would give some inclination as to what time it was and where I was.

 

It was selfish, I know, but in that time, I had completely forgotten about Fabian. I hated myself for it, but at that precise point in time I was more concerned with finding out where I was.

 

And why I was there.

 

My memory was fuzzy, but I remember some weird dream I’d had. Nathan punching me… Like I said, my memory was fuzzy.

 

Of the dozen questions that clouded my mind, one was answered when the drugs wore off and I gathered a modicum of strength to hoist the duvet from my body and get out of bed.

 

As the covers fell off me, it revealed a charcoal grey hooded jacket, and not a cheap one either. It was lined with black fur in the interior, and the material felt strong and soft. In tiny, stenciled letters over the left breast was my name: A. Kersey, and beneath it, a tiny emblem shaped like a wisp of smoke. I brushed to fingers across it, receiving chills that were certainly not from the room; the hoodie was plenty warm enough.

 

The bedroom was possibly five times bigger than the one in the shop. My bed was twice the size (interestingly enough, the sheets and duvet were grey and bore the same emblem as the one on my jacket.) of my old one. The floor was paneled wood, maybe birch, which would’ve chilled my feet were it not for the fact that I was now wearing socks. The walls were creamy white and unblemished, punctuated occasionally by simplistic modern works of art. My assumption about the lighting was correct, because one of the walls was entirely glass, smooth, and providing a view of a lush forest. It stretched on seemingly forever, before I could see no further. The occasional amber leaf drifted in front of me, reminding me of home.

 

Inhaling deeply, I caught a clean scent. Not artificial clean, like hospitals, just… well, clean. It was a cool smell, like a crisp spring morning.

 

My new bedroom was furnished amply, with a writing desk and high-backed chair. A stack of paper and a chair lay inviting in the light, but I made no move toward it. The bedside table next to me was taken up by a rather angular lamp and a glass of water, which I drained without thinking to quench my thirst.

 

The bedroom door opposite me was closed, and adorned with six rectangles of various sizes beveled into the wood. The handle, cool aluminium, seemed to beckon me, and I obliged, tentatively grasping it and opening the door.

 

I could think of no better word to describe the room which lay in front of me than stylish. The wooden panels continued through to this room, stretching to the bulky door at the far end. The majority of this room was furnished in various shades of grey, ranging from almost pale white to deep slate. The glass wall that had appeared in my room was a theme which recurred in this one too, revealing more of my forest vista. One corner of the room was dominated by a kitchen: counter tops of unmarred grey marble which gave way seamlessly to a sink. An empty knife block (how bizarre), tea and coffee making facilities, and a towering fridge that hummed faintly, confirming that the power was on. Goody. In another corner of the room was a stack of exercise mats and various pieces of gym equipment. I’d never been very sporty and I wasn’t about to start now.

 

Twin sofas in an ‘l’ shape sat in front of a Tv that probably cost more than our old house. A sleek glass coffee table stood nestled where the sofas joined, and in the crook behind them was another square table with a lamp, perfect for reading next to.

 

This room was probably the nicest place I’d ever been, and from my guess, it was now all mine.

 

Wow.

 

Stomach growling, I wandered over to the fridge and pulled it open. The sight of at least a week’s worth of food made my mouth water, and the smell that flooded from the tower was nothing short of heavenly. I plucked a yoghurt from the top shelf, standing on my tip-toes to do so (which gives you a decent scale to just how big the fridge was; I’m easily six foot.)

 

A quick search of the draws in the kitchen found me a spoon which I put to use instantly, as I inspected the living room. I slumped down on the sofa and let out a quiet sigh.

 

Sure this place was luxury, but I still had no idea who it was that held me here. I strode to the bulky door that blocked my escape and tried to slide it across, but to no avail. I wasn’t going anywhere unless they wanted me to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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