My, my head really hurts. I squint through a mental fog and realize, I am not where I was. Large glass panes, inches thick, with steel at the seams. Designed vaguely like a submarine. Except I notice the water outside is unformed. Its blue as one expects water to be, but it was void of movement, fish, or lighting.
I gingerly walk up to one of the doors. The headache starts to fade though the fog persists. Why am I here. Wait, no. A coldness grips my heart. Where was I previously? A frantic search of my memories reveals, nothing. I knew things, objects, people, friends, where I lived. But it seemed so distant, the memories peeking out over the brain fog like jagged mountains.
The door is locked, though I wouldn’t want to try opening it. Not for fear of drowning, but something about this place just didn’t want me to open the door. The urge to move overtakes me. I start moving with a nervous pace through many rooms and hatchways without doors.
Suddenly I find myself in a, well I don’t know. It feels like a banquet hall but the word hall grates my mind, like the very idea harms where I am. A banquet, I decide, people standing around dressed nice. It isn’t clear if they ever were talking, just staring at each other, drinks in hand, not-quite-frozen mid-pose. I awkwardly walk along the edge of the space.
As I reach the next doorway-with-no-door, my chest suddenly sinks with fear: they are watching me. Just barely. Their perception registered something of keen interest, but hadn’t quite won over their full attention. As my focus fell on the next room, a pristine and empty fine-dining establishment, a single waiter strolls out with alarming speed towards no one.
All at once he notices me, turns his head before his body and locks eyes with me, and then alters his hurried pace to intercept me. I have been trying my best to avoid any interaction while I look for. Look for. I don’t know why I am looking. My mind is spinning, fear nearly gripping me wholesale and about to rob me of all thinking.
“Sir, welcome, please sit down”, the all-too-polite waiter says with far too much insistence. I can’t stay here, I knew that much, but I finally noticed I had been speaking and caught the second half of what I was saying, “- so if, uh, you’d excuse me, I just need a uh, restroom, I think. For a minute”.
“Restr-no, please, sit down and you’ll be seen to immediately”, the waiter showed no emotion on their face at all. My fear was approaching panic. This place isn’t natural, It’s not right. Not this restaurant, no, everything, everywhere. I blurt out, “Apologies I need to be elsewhere please, no harm meant.” and I move towards an ostentatious archway. An out.
The waiter seems mollified, or perhaps stunned. Their look changed at the end of my panicked utterance. Too much focus, too much focus. Another spike of fear stabs at me, though I can barely feel them anymore, as I realize what that gaze is, only now seeing it for the first time: a predator’s.
I whirlwind through more rooms, no “adjoining spaces” ever exist. It’s always rooms connected to rooms. The attention of others in their weirdly perfect places becomes greater, and faster.
I am not wanted here, or maybe I am but I certainly don’t want to know what it would mean if I was wanted. I am nearly running, but a small part of my barely functioning higher-order thoughts know politeness and presentation are paramount. I walk with a speed just short of rude. I faintly smile lest anyone think I am in fear, but also not a big smile and thus be seen as not genuine.
The realization of no sound being anywhere of any kind is like a weight on my shoulders. I can sense every person perfectly. The lighting of the rooms doesn’t come from the fixtures, and also no where specific. It just is, like the water from before.
Scenes become a blur as I move through uncountably many rooms. When I enter a room, heads whip towards me with fierce focus. I have no time left. I must find, something. I know I can’t hide. No, worse, hiding would begin the chase, the hunt, I would become prey before this unblinking gaze of well-dressed stares.
I stumble into a new space, and I really do mean space. There is nothing here at all. No lighting, no walls, nothing. I can feel where more doorways ought to be though nothing is there. It’s mine, this space.
I don’t know why I know that, my heart is racing, fear sweat running down my body chilling me to my bones. I have lost all pretense of maintaining composure. They are moving now, towards this space. Towards me. I have to think of something. Claim this space, shape it. This thought screams through the fog, the fear, the confusion. I grab hold of it and imagine the space, fill it full of the first thing I think of.
It’s been, well I don’t know how long. Years I guess. I workout every day, almost never leaving. The gym equipment is familiar. It’s nice; the space, the room, the equipment. Those who visit are perfectly polite. They use the equipment without me needing say anything. I know them, but I also don’t. They are just people who belong here. I like them.
This is shattered, one day, by another who enters my space. They are Lost, and I feel it. They don’t move right, their smile I know all to well isn’t real. All the right words and movements but none of the real.
It occurred to me, I had not moved in weeks or more. I just exist here in my space. But this new entrant, they violate it. I watch them grab a weight. The comfort of thinking they might use it for its purpose calms me slightly. But they don’t, they wave it wildly, without thinking of the consequences. They can’t do that, it’s not how this place is, it isn’t proper. Their time is lost.
The last shreds of humanity within me mourn this newcomer. If only they had gone through one more doorway, to where there isn’t. But no. That humanity is lost.
The hunt begins.