Macks eyes opened briefly, his chapped lips opening to emit a small groan for help as a man passed by his crumpled form in a misty alleyway.
The man turned, his eyes widening. He walked over and picked Mack up, his brown curly hair and mustachioed face seeming oddly familiar.
Mack drifted again into unconsciousness. After what felt like a couple of seconds he opened his eyes again. This time in a brightly lit hospital. His head swimming, he looked around noticing a nurse call button on a controller lying in his bed. Mac pressed the button as he looked around some more. He was wired to an IV, and there was a TV on the far wall, playing the news.
Suddenly the door to his room opened, revealing a nurse hurrying toward him.
But as the nurse walked into the room, his mind jumped into overdrive, overpowered by centuries of memories that weren’t created by him. In his mind's eye he saw a spiritweb overlaying her; his eyes conditioned by the eons of unwanted memories trapped in his skull to find the points where a well placed spike would heal his current ailments. His hands immediately started drifting to the nearest metal object he could find, trained by a lifetime of murder and stabbing, he was stuck with despite it not being his life. But before he could stop moving and start to push the memories away, as he usually did when they overpowered him, he felt something else come into his mind. This uninvited companion however wasn’t a person however, instead it was something more primal, a force, it seemed.
Mmmmmmmm it hummed. Without warning dozens or hundreds of vignettes rushed through his head. Images of well dressed men standing in alleys, silhouetted by the light of a fire that Mack could tell wasn’t quite an accident. Images of piles of corpses, constantly growing in the name of science. An image of a large spike, covered in carvings dedicated to a new world. These weren’t his memories, or the other man’s memories, but they weren’t just pictures either. Mack could understand things about them that weren’t obvious from a single glance.
Mmmmmmmm the force hummed again.
Welcome back. It communicated. Not through telepathy or sound, but through meaning? He could tell that this thing, whatever it was, was pleased that he was here.
We have won. Again without language, Mack felt unadulterated elation both from the thing and from himself. Yet there was no reason he should feel this happy right now, almost as if the force was commanding him to feel that, and so his did. Again vignettes flashed through his mind, of two worlds. One torn apart by hate and danger and conflict, and another perfect. Free from those things that distracted and annoyed the forces ... creator? Mack saw images of this world, and the people inside that were happy, and peaceful. Without a history that was meaningful. Yet the thing didn’t care about the history. In fact it didn’t care about much of anything, except for accomplishing its purpose. It didn’t need context or meaning, all it cared about was doing what it was made too. At this revelation however, Mack furrowed his brow, wondering what its purpose was.
Immediately the force changed, first with confusion, as it thought that he should clearly understand what was happening, then immediately switching to more vignettes to try to explain the situation. These new vignettes showed a tall imposing blonde man enjoyed a long earned break, relaxing with his daughter. They showed a man, or demon, who was finally able to escape the legends and myth, and enjoy the freedom of anonymity. And they showed a hemalurgy dressed as a gentleman lying in a hospital bed?
Mack’s eyes widened as he suddenly realized what was happening. He had recognized Voidus, the Stranger, and the Gentleman Hemalurgist himself, who the force thought Mack was.
NO. He mentally exclaimed. Fury rising inside him as his, Mack’s, memories of the so called Gentleman of Hemalurgy bubbled to the surface. I am NOT him. The things recoiled.
Oh, it seemed to say, thats od…
Mack looked up at the nurse as she approached his bed, she was saying something he realized.
“I’m sorry,” He interrupted, trying to smile, “Can you say that again? I zoned out for a sec,”
The nurse looked at him apologetically, “Sorry! I was asking if you were ok?”
Mack glanced down, noticing that he was gripping the metal rim of his bed and that for some reason his heart was pumping, as if he were angry. He tried to relax himself. Why was he angry? He tried to think, yet couldn’t remember anything.
“Yeah, I think I’m fine,” He mumbled, “Err do you know how I got here? All I remember is a well dressed man carrying me in an alley.” How did he get into the alley? His mind started running, trying to remember something with the urgency of a gazelle fleeing a hunting tiger. He quickly glimpsed a memory of him stumbling away from a ruined hellscape after freeing... a god? Voidus! Thats right he had been trapp...
No, that didn’t happen. Weird destroyed cities, gods, wars, that would be crazy. Who was Voidus? Probably a character in a story. Must have been a story or a film. Immediately Mack felt a sense of satisfaction. Yes, a story, or a film, or something else. The thought came to his head suddenly, and yet he knew it was true, to some degree or another. The alternative was crazy and weird.
Mack thought back to the last thing he could remember, he had been running his shop, the craftsmen. In the nalthis location, when he had been pushed into an alley? That must have been it. And then the oddly familiar man must have carried him to a surprisingly modern hospital for nalthis.
The nurse checked a clipboard, “it says here that you were picked up outside an alley by the ambulance, and have been unresponsive for a couple days.”
That’s odd, the well dressed man must have just dropped him at the end of the alley for some reason, not taking him to the hospital. Why would he do… ehh it probably wasn’t important. The man might have been in a hurry. Mack’s nagging suspicion was squashed. No need to question it. That’s what happened. He remembered it after all, his memory wouldn’t lie.
Mack smiled at the nurse, “Thank you, could you uh bring me a glass of water? I’m parched,”
As the nurse left the room, he closed his eyes again. Everything was fine, he was being taken care of and nothing was out of the ordinary, and yet for some reason his mind was still turning. He couldn’t quite recall what it was thinking about, but his unconscious mind seemed to be running at 100 mph. Oh well he thought. It’s probably not that important.