"Mr. Cross you're awake." A man appeared on the screen as his voice boomed throughout the small room.
"What is this? Why am I here?" Remington said, his voice shaking along with the rest of his body. He was hurting, cold, and wanting answers.
"We were not sure you would wake up at all Mr. Cross." The man on the screen was in his mid fifties, graying hair and dark brown eyes, so dark they were almost black. Only visible from the shoulders up, he seemed to be dressed in a suit. Remington could see the man’s black tie and dark gray coat.
"I'm sorry to say, you are quite the disappointment to our program. We thought with your military background and stamina you would become one of our elite. Hell, you barely made it through the operation, you crashed twice."
Remington remembered his missing hair and reached up to feel his scalp.
"Operation? What operation? What did you do to me? Who the fuck are you and where the fuck am I?" His head was starting to clear of the pounding fog he woke up with earlier, and now he was becoming more pissed than scared.
"Language Mr. Cross, there is no need to be vulgar. You were chosen for this operation because of your extensive military training and impressive performance in the field. Our researchers assured us you would be, shall we say, pliable. Sadly, you were not."
Remington's head was starting to spin again. He was confused and still didn't get what was going on.
"I don't understand what the hell you are talking about, why am I here? What do you want from me?"
"You're here Mr. Cross, because you are one of the best and we only deal with the best. We found a way to make remarkable men like you even more remarkable. We can give you powers you could have only dreamed about. Powers to do things you could never imagine a human being capable of! You can become a type of "Super Soldier" if you will. The experiments have been going swimmingly, until you. For some reason we don't yet understand, the implant almost killed you. In fact, we thought you were not going to wake up at all. I was getting ready to call for clean up when I heard you yelling."
"I don't know who the hell you are Mister, but as you can see, I'm alive. Now let me out of here!"
"I'm sorry Mr. Cross, but you won’t be going anywhere. It's a shame the procedure didn't work on you but until my colleagues decide whether or not they want to try again, you will be staying."
"Let me out of the shit hole!"
"Of course Mr. Cross, we're not animals. I will have someone come and get you and move you to a more suitable room." A vent opened up in the ceiling and white smoke came billowing out quickly enveloping the room. The monitor went black, and so did Remington.
"You knew my grandmother?" Jackie said excitedly. "Sorry, dumb question, I forget how small this town is."
"No, I’m sorry. I didn't mean to come off so surprised; it's just that the resemblance is amazing! You're a lot younger of course, but anyone who knew her could see it. There I go again, sorry. I'm Henry, Henry Miller." He held his hand out and Jackie shook it.
"Jackie Brooks. So did you know my grandmother well? Did she come in here often?" Jackie looked at the man; he was middle aged, he had light brown hair with the sideburns just starting to go gray. His eyes were hazel and he was a bit pudgy for his height, which was about 5'10. The crow’s feet around his eyes made him look tired. He didn't resemble his son's coloring; the kid must take after his mom.
"Oh yes! She was in at least once a week for years, until the last year or two. Then it was just every few months. She seemed to start buying everything she wanted in bulk. I figured it was just because she was getting on in age and didn't want to frequent town as much. I know it was most likely a rough drive for her."
"Well, with the looks of her shed, she seemed to like this place! I think she could have rivaled you if she ever decided to start selling off her tools." Jackie laughed.
"Yes, your grandmother bought something from me every time she came to town. I figured she had a handyman up there working around her place. Some of those tools looked too big for her to handle."
"Did you ever find out? If she had a handyman I mean. The place looks pretty rough, I've actually started to renovate it myself."
"I'm sorry, I don't know for sure. I never asked, just assumed. Well, let me get this paint mixed up for you. It will take about ten minutes if you have anything else you need to do."
" Ok, I guess I'll be back in a bit."
He gave her a nod and walked behind the counter.
Jackie walked back outside and headed for her car. She drove to the other end of town to the grocery store. Walking in, the cold air slammed her in the face feeling quite good. She made it a quick trip grabbing some meat, bread, potatoes, drinks, snacks, and fresh greens and vegetables for a salad. The lines were short, an advantage of shopping in the middle of the day she guessed. She made her way through the line, paid for her groceries and walked back out into the heat to load them in her car. She then made her way back to the hardware store to pick up her paint. She walked in and the bell rang. Carl came from behind the counter. "Hello Ma'am, I'm Carl. Welcome to Miller's Hardware store, can I help you find something?"
Jackie thought either she was having a severe case of déjà vu, or this kid was must have suffered some kind of brain injury. "Uh, it's me. You helped me find paint about twenty minutes ago? Your dad mixed it for me? I'm here to pick it up."
"Oh yea, sorry." He said sheepishly. "C'mon over to the counter and I’ll ring you up.
"Thanks" Jackie said looking at the kid like he had two heads. Is your dad still around?" she asked.
"No, he had to go out for awhile"
"Ok, well, I'll catch him next time."
Carl helped her carry her things to the car. She reached into her purse to get him a tip and by the time she turned around he was back on the porch heading in to the store. "What a weird kid." she said to herself as she climbed into the car and headed for home.
Jackie arrived home about a half an hour before the sun was going to set. Leaving her paint and supplies on the porch, she brought in her groceries. The temperature was starting to drop and it was getting chilly in the house, so she went outside and grabbed a couple of logs from underneath the porch. She started a fire in the wood stove that sat in the corner of the living room. She went back to the kitchen to put the groceries away. While standing at the sink something outside the kitchen window caught her eye. It was a black mist, like the one she had seen that morning, weaving through the trees. "What in the hell is that?" she whispered to herself.
She watched it glide through the woods and then
! It was gone again.
"Has to be shadows from the trees, mixed with fog or something." She reassured herself. Feeling a little spooked by what she had seen and not really believing her own explanation, she walked through the entire house locking all the doors and windows, and closing the curtains. A few minutes later she went through again and double-checked, just to be sure.
After making herself dinner and watching a little television Jackie began to relax. The more she thought about it the more stupid she was feeling about getting scared over nothing. She cleaned up her dishes, took a quick shower, and settled into her bed with a book she got off her grandmothers bookshelf. It was a small romance novel. She didn't really have a thing for romance novels; in fact they made her quite jealous. Why couldn't she find a gorgeous, rich, sexy man to cater to her every need? She thought. "Because they don't exist,” she said out loud. It seemed like an easy read though, and if nothing else, maybe it would bore her to sleep.
A few hours later Jackie was awakened by a loud sound. Sitting up with the book laid open, still resting on her chest, she wasn't quite sure if it had been real or she was dreaming. The lamp she was reading by was still burning dimly on her bedside table; casting an eerie shadow on the far wall in the corner of her bedroom. Her heart started to pound, and her mouth went dry. "Hello?" She said aloud, knowing how ridiculous she sounded talking to nothing. She sat there staring at the shadow for what felt like an hour but couldn't have been more than a couple of minutes. It didn't move, it did shift, or fade away. It was just a shadow. "You're losing it Jack." She told herself and got up to go to the bathroom. A few minutes later she returned to her bedroom and settled herself under the blankets again. She looked to the corner where she had seen the shadow; it was gone.
Remington woke up to a pounding headache and a burning pain in his lungs. He lay there on his back trying to take a deep breath, but the searing pain in his chest was making it hard. That fucker gassed him! He was lying on a mattress, although not a comfortable one, it was a step up from the cold concrete floor he woke up on before. He looked around the room and saw nothing but the bed he was on that sat in the middle of the floor, and two doors; one on either side of the room. He hoped one led to a bathroom. His throat felt like it had been rubbed raw with sandpaper. He was starving for water and couldn't remember the last time he ate or drank anything. He sat up and realized he was naked. He cupped himself and made his way to the first door. Trying the knob, the door opened and instead of a bathroom there was another door except this one had bars; just like a jail door. All he could see beyond that was an empty hallway.
Remington pushed against the bars but the door wouldn't budge. Listening hard for any sign of the people that held him here, he grabbed the bars and leaned his head against them. His head was running wild with scenarios of how he could escape. He was starting to panic. He tightened his hands around the bars and began to pull. He felt a surge of adrenaline like he had never felt before, and the bars began to move. It was slight, but they did move. "What the hell?" he said to himself. He had no idea if what he just saw was real. Remington tightened his grip and tried again. The bars moved a little farther this time. "Holy Shit!" he realized he wasn't seeing things, he was moving these bars, these steel bars! He felt moisture on his top lip, and when he went to wipe it away he noticed it wasn't sweat, it was blood. He heard movement coming down the hall. Remington grabbed the bars again and with the same shot of adrenaline he moved the bars back into place. His nose began to bleed even heavier. He softly closed the wood door in front of the bars and made his way to the other side of the room. Opening up the other door, it
a bathroom. It had a toilet, with a pair of sweats and a white T-Shirt folded up on the tank, a shower stall, and a sink with a bar of soap resting on one side and a towel on the other. His legs were like rubber. He had expended an incredible amount of energy. Using the sides of the sink to brace himself he quickly turned on the cold water and wiped the blood from his face and neck. Not wanting to stain the towel and let his captors know that they didn't fail at making him something else, they didn't fail at giving him a power that they would want to control.
Jackie woke up to birds chirping outside. She was exhausted, not getting much sleep the night before with her imagination clearly running wild. What else could it be but her mind playing tricks on her? With the move and the sadness she'd been feeling since her grandmother died it was only a matter of time before those emotions caught up with her and manifested themselves in some strange way. She decided to put it aside and concentrate on finishing the shutters she'd started the day before. After having her coffee and a light breakfast of eggs and toast, she went outside to get the tools and paint she left on the porch the previous night. They were gone.
Maybe she didn't leave them there after all? She walked to the back of the house to her grandmother’s shed and when she walked in, the light was on. She was almost positive she didn't leave it on, but with everything else happening to her she couldn't be sure. She looked to the workbench and there they were. "What is wrong with me?" she said to herself. She went to grab the drill, a brush, and a paint can; when she noticed a small drop of yellow paint on the workbench. Had that been there before? She couldn't remember. She stood there and looked around the shed, something was off. She looked up at the shelves and everything seemed to be in its place until her eyes landed on the high shelf, the one that held the food her grandmother canned. Were a couple of those jars missing? It was hard to be sure; it wasn't like she counted them or anything. It just seemed to her that she remembered there being a few more than what she saw now.
. Stop looking for more shit to freak yourself out about!
She turned out the light and made her way back to the side of the house she was going to work on today. Jackie thought she was going to faint, the shudders were hanging straight and freshly painted. "What the fuck is going on?" she said aloud. She knew she didn't do it, unless she did it in the middle of the night, sleepwalking or something. No, she knew better than that, this was just starting to get creepy now. She spun around to the tree line, looking around for something, anything! Tire tracks, footprints; she couldn't see anything coming from the woods and she would have heard someone drive up the gravel driveway. Still freaked out she went back to the shed to put away the supplies.