"I wish this didn't happen so much." Jensen James lay silently in his bed, struggling to wake up. "This shit happened less often years ago when I drank all the time, but now, I just don't know. I wake up, and my head hurts. Why don't I remember much?" Remaining silent, he shifts on the mattress. "Oh my god, my fucking face, am I getting sick?" Exhaling, caressing his face. "My sinuses feel really congested, my cheeks are so sore." Stretching and writhing in soreness, he smiles. "I guess that means I had a hell of a night or at least I think I did. I feel like that was all just a dream. I'm not sure, but either way, I know where the medicine cabinet is." Feet dragging along the floor, pushing off the bed, he pauses, letting his body stretch.
A king size bed, and an adjacent crude nightstand are crammed into his tiny, darkened room. The darkness hides the decaying, dilapidated walls. A floor lamp rests near the light switch. He struggles to find the switch. The room casts bleary light onto the unmade bed, hastily duct taped newspaper dangles over the window. Losing his hand on the wall, he traces the shoddy surface until he catches the switch. The room illuminates, Jensen rests his head on the wall; the glowing orange hue from the lamp reveals the unkempt bed, covered loosely by a sheet. The sun strains to break through the newspaper shackles binding it. The darkness of the walls gradually consumes the light as Jensen meanders toward the exit. His hand guides him toward the doorframe; remnants of peeling wallpaper and paint crumble at his touch.
Continuing out of the room to his right, the midnight, and dreary hallway keeps the light at bay, as if a cliff was trying to push the waters of the ocean aside, only to be driven back. Casually pulling himself around another doorframe, he enters the restroom. He fumbles about for the switch, knocking the brass plate loose. The bulbs flicker as the switch clicks to life, illuminating the room. Jensen glances into the cracked, shoddy mirror. Examining himself, he notices his blond hair matted to his head, caked in dirt, sweat and dried crimson flakes. Tirelessly, he carefully examines his slender jawline down each side, then trace back to his, sloping nose. Pausing, he stares at the flaky, dried blood, caked in streaks down his face.
"What the fuck happened to my face." He wonders. "Maybe, I had a bloody nose? That would explain this, maybe it's my bad allergies." He shakes his head. "It can't be my allergies, there's too much blood." He touches the flaky dried crimson streaks. He rubs his sore knuckle under the warm water, the soreness loosening in his fingers. Grimacing he unclenches his fists. "I feel like a God damn geriatric, is this arthritis?" "I don't remember much of anything. My face looks swollen. I don't remember getting hit in the face." Flush rosy splotches dot the landscape of his mouth, his cheeks, slightly enflamed, attempting to detract his focus from the large dark circle is developing around his left eye. "I bet I got sucker punched, but by who?" He traces the circle, examining in wonderment.
Mind racing, he slides the mirror of the medicine cabinet revealing a large collection of pill bottles. He reads the labels tossing some to the side, and gradually gathering others in his hand. Bottles clink and clank, making their way into the trash, finally selecting a yellow bottle. "hrngh" Grunting, struggling to remove the cap, the pain in his hands has grows worse. The lid's seal pops, letting it fall to the floor he grabs two pills and tosses them in his mouth, throwing the bottle down into the sink. He swallows them, each pill scratching its way down his throat "I've never needed a drink to wash them down before, why start now?" "I hope these do the trick." Reading the label, he pauses. "500 nanomites, eh I might need a fungal steroid injection tomorrow. Running his hands through the water once more, splashing the water up against his face, the remaining dried blood loosens, streaming down, ensnaring the drain in its dastardly crimson hue.
Glaring back at him through his stone gray eyes, the mirror portals like a dimension into his soul, his pupils enlarged from the dim light. He pads the towel rack, but it's empty. He thrusts his other hand down into his hamper, retrieving a dirty, blood stained shirt out of his laundry basket and pats his face. Suddenly he drops the shirt, stepping back in a concerned horror. "There's a lot of blood on here."
Stern palpitations raise his heart into his larynx. "I wonder what happened last night. I don't remember anything. It's probably nothing." Shaking his head in disbelief, he tosses the shirt back into the basket. His thoughts flounder as her tries to reassure himself that it is in fact nothing, yet he wonders. He flicks the light switch as he exits the bathroom towards the kitchen, where the windows are also draped in the chic duct taped newspaper.
The dark kitchen's light switch, missing its switch plate, hangs loosely to the left of the fridge. The bulb ignites, chasing the darkness from the room. A strange substance oozes its way across the floor, catching Jensen's attention. The light attempts to reflect off of it. "What the fucking hell is this?" Murmuring, he crouches down to his knee, reaching out to touch the substance with his fingertips. "Oh, what the fuck is this?" Examining the tips of his fingers trying to determine what exactly the strange goo is. Perplexed, he rises back to his feet.
"Where did this come from? Why is this in here? What happened in here? This wasn't here yesterday. What happened last night?" Thoughts flood his mind, heart pounding, trying to escape his chest; he fears what may be in the fridge.
"I need to look." Convincingly heextends his, arm, trembling immensely.
Inhaling deeply as he pulls on the handle, the sealed rubber stripping of the refrigerator pops as it begins to separate from the door and frame. Attempting to peer inside, he's interrupted by a loud, commanding knock at the door, halting his investigation abruptly. Jensen releases the door, the rubberized coating makes a soft sucking sound as it reseals to the frame. Cautiously he maneuvers through the dimly lit kitchen and into the living room. He traces his path lightly, knowing exactly where the furniture in the dark apartment is situated; he carefully heads to the door.
The front door, outlined by exterior light trying to force its way inside the dreary apartment, stands in front of him. Jensen peers out through the glass peephole, an outline of a man, a gregarious man, fills the fish-eyed frame. The sun's rays cast down over the man, rendering his features unnoticeable.
"What do you want?" Jensen's, hoarse voice deepens; he clears his throat, attempting a mild intimidation tactic.
"My name is Hector Luna. I was sent here to look after you Jensen. Someone wanted to make sure you're okay. We've been looking for you for a couple weeks." He responds, apathetic, in a veiled attempt to conceal the reason why he stands alone outside.
"Who? Look, I don't know you or anyone that would be concerned with my well-being." Jensen replied, his voice filling with concern.
"Jensen, just let me in. I need to make sure you're okay. You have a lot of people looking for you. I'm one of two people that don't want to see you get hurt. Just open the door for a minute so we can talk."Hector, impatient, calmly motions to the side, catching Jensen's attention.
"Why did you do that with your hand? Who are you motioning to?" He slinks back from the door, overwhelmed with mistrust. He retreats through the apartment, rushing his steps and avoid furniture in his path. His mind begins to fill with images of a tunnel, a pathway and a gorgeous red eyed woman smiling. Quickly it's replaced with the knowledge a hidden staircase underneath his bed. He tosses the mattress to the side, pushing on the bed. It lurches against the wooden floor, scratching the surface as he pushes with all of his might. He pushes it far enough to reveal the entrance to the secret staircase. "Goddamn time rift memory floods." Muttering as he tumbles down the stairway, crashing down onto the muddied tunnel floor below. More memories flood through his neurons; he shakes his head hoping to organize the information coming back to him. He pauses as a barrage of knocking echoes through the apartment. Sighing heavily, he proceeds down the creaking and moaning steps.
Two larger men burst through the door, crashing the wooden barrier to pieces. Their frames fill the doorway. Hector Luna walks in behind them, similar in build to the first two men, he barks out commands.
"Find him! I didn't hear or see him leave. He is in this apartment. Check everywhere!" He commands out to the others. Frantically, they search through the apartment. Chairs, sofas and small end tables fly through the air. The men make quick work of the living room, making a brief pause into the kitchenette before moving onward through the apartment. One of the men dives into the bathroom, thrashing about at the shower door, revealing no one. The other begins in the bedroom tossing the mattress set to the side. He begins kicking and smashing the bedframe until there is just a pile of broken, debilitated shards lying on the floor in front of him. He slides pieces out of the way, revealing the scuffed floor, but he sees no staircase, no escape route, nothing. The other man joins him. "Closet." They state, nodding in agreement. Clothes and boxes fly from the closet outward across the bedroom floor. Rubbing their jaws while they browse through the mess they've created, they wait for Hector.
"Fuck!" He shouts. The loud echo of profanity reverberates through the building.
"James, Jeff, let's go, we've got to go make a phone call. I'm assuming he's not anywhere to be found right?" Hector continues to shout through the apartment. "Yeah, no sign of him, just like always." Jeff, the blonde haired one, responds. Jeff and James begin trudging their way back through the ransacked apartment, carelessly tossing and kicking anything out of their way.
"Where am I going? Who put those stairs there? Where does this tunnel lead to?" Jensen pants aloud as his legs pump feverishly, carrying him through the damp and muddied tunnel.
"Maybe I should have stayed, or maybe I can stop now. I can't trust them." He contemplates pausing, resting for a moment, but he convinces himself that this is one of those moments where if you stop, then you die. "What was in the fridge? Who were those guys? What the hell happened last night? Last night, more like what happened the last few weeks. Come to think of it, I can't remember the last month. I don't even know what today is or even where I was at. Well, I don't think I knew where I was at, but how did I know where those stairs were? Are they still after me? Those stairs should have been easily found. I need to keep running." He continues along. The ambience around him grows darker, colder. "Oh, man, where the fuck is this tunnel taking me? There's got to be a way out soon, it's getting cold." As he runs, he becomes alarmed at the gradually decreasing temperature, and where the tunnel may be leading.
"Is it winter right now?" Thoughts of the current season begin to course through his brain. "It was warm in the apartment wasn't it? I didn't see snow around Hector, right, that was his name, Hector Luna. What is going on?" Questions with no answers begin to overtake his thought process.
Just as miraculously as it had appeared, the tunnel begins to dissipate, fading into particulates of dust. Suddenly the muddied tunnel matriculates with gray slate walls streaking by him on either side. "Well this seems a little more reassuring." He mutters as the development of the tunnel seems to progress into a sound structure. He emerges through the mysterious particle cloud. The muddied ground solidifies under his feet.
"Concrete," he mutters, slowing to a brisk walk. His chest pounds as he gasps for air. An overwhelming familiarity strikes a chord deep inside him. He clutches his sides as he turns his focus upward. Bright lights reveal a massive door reaching skyward; it stands at least twenty feet high. He surveys the door continually looking over his shoulder back through the tunnel, but nothing seems to be clear on the other side of the particle encased fog.
"I hope I'm not stuck." He ponders as he turns back to the door, looking for a way to open it. A glowing red light hangs to the left massive door, it emits a digitized beeping noise before a loud clunk radiates through the space around Jensen. The light flashes yellow and then to green. Metallic screeching and egregious thuds echo as large latches release the door from its frame. The metal door moans as it opens. Bright lights shoot into the area around him. He squints, peering through the light. A clear path into a city alley rests in front of him. He steps into the alley way. Buildings reach towards the stratosphere. Hover cars zoom and whir, flying above him in the air, eluding other vehicles and ducking and diving in between buildings.