He felt every muscle in his body. Every strand, every fiber. Whatever cocktail they pumped in him was doing something that surprised even them. At least from what he could tell from their movements. His eyes were covered and he was strapped to a table. Gagged so only grunts and primal sounds could escape his lips. He only made these sounds when the pain became too much. He felt another wave coming on.
He heard the lab technicians scuttling through the room. Everyone was in a hurry. A needle was jabbed into his arm and he expected another injection, but they could be taking blood. It didn’t matter. The wave came crashing down and his body jerked involuntarily on the table straining every strap that held him there. He heard himself yelling in anger but also a plea to make it stop. He just wanted everything to stop. No one said a word to him, but he could hear muttering across the room. He couldn’t make out any words, but they were hurried and caused the room to grow louder with activity.
The wave passed and his body relaxed. The overexerted muscles now felt like strands of a spider’s web. He could still feel every single one, but for now he couldn’t move them despite how hard he tried. He laid there. Unable to see. Only the sounds of his tormentors moving around the room. Eventually even they became quiet.
There was no way of knowing how long he had been there or how long it had been since they last injected him. He assumed he was being fed intravenously. There were always two sets of needles in him at any given time. His body was not his for he could not use it. It was a test subject and he was trapped inside it.
Some time had passed since the room had fallen still. Minutes? Hours? Days? He couldn’t tell. He could no longer tell if he was even human anymore. He heard a door open. Footsteps approached. A single person had entered the room.
“How are we, Ethan?”
Was he Ethan? He couldn’t remember. It had been so long since anyone spoke to him that he couldn’t be sure if Ethan was perhaps someone else in the room.
“Ah, forgive me,” the voice said. Hands slowly removed the gag from his mouth. His jaw was unfamiliar with the ability to relax so remained open for some time, but the voice continued.
“Ethan. How do you feel?”
His lips finally met and he realized he could move them freely.
“I…” he started. His voice seemed frightened of itself. It felt strange to speak. “I feel weak,” he finished.
“You may feel weak now, but you are stronger than ever. Stronger than any man in fact. I’m going to remove your mask. You may want to close your eyes.”
He attempted to close them but was unsure if they were already. The weight lifted from his face and he felt the air kiss his skin. His eyelids slowly raised and the dark room hurt his eyes.
“It’s okay. You can keep them closed. It will take some time to adjust even in a darkened room.”
“Where am I?” he asked.
“Hmm. Tell me, Ethan, what do you last remember?”
He tried to recall a memory before the darkness. “I don’t remember anything from before this.”
“Interesting. Do you remember why you are here?”
He tried to remember but couldn’t so he remained silent.
“Do you remember why you volunteered for this program?” His visitor continued.
“I remember nothing.”
“What if I told you that you volunteered for this because you felt responsible for the deaths of four people? People who were close to you.”
“Derek, Molly, Carter, and Greg.”
Faces flashed before his eyes as the names were said. He tried to shake his head, but the strap across his neck and forehead prevented it. He opened his eyes a small amount to let them adjust to the soft light.
“What happened to them?”
“They were killed. In an accident.”
A truck. Fire and screams.
“A bomb, actually.”
Gunshots. Clouds of smoke. Bodies. He opened his eyes a little further. The light was less painful and he could see a grey ceiling half in focus.
“What is this?”
“What do you mean?”
“What do you see?”
“A truck. It’s on fire. Dust is everywhere. Bodies lay scattered on dirt roads. There were gunshots…”
“Good. Good. You are remembering why you are here.”
He opened his eyes fully and looked around. It was a medical facility. He could see the face hovering over him. A face that was familiar. His body reacted instantly. The strap holding his right arm snapped and latched out at the man’s throat. His left side broke free and released the straps on his head. He sat up, lifting the man off the ground.
“I remember you.”
“Im…pos…sible,” the man choked.
“You thought you could give me false memories, Doctor?”
The sound of the doctor’s spine shattering cut off any more words.
Ethan stood alone in the room. He wasn’t sure if his name was actually Ethan or if it was given to him by an enemy. He couldn’t sort the truth from what little memories he could pull from the depths of his mind. It didn’t matter. He would forge his own path. The next step was through the door in front of him.