Something cool and moist was touching my face. I tried to move, but couldn't. I swallowed with difficulty.
"It's alright. You're safe," a male voice said.
Somehow that sounded familiar. I vaguely wondered why people kept telling me that.
I opened my eyes. I now saw that someone was wiping my face with a damp cloth, and a male face appeared in my field of vision.
Merran, I thought. The guy's called Merran.
"Do you feel any urge to, you know, kill me?" he asked me. "Kill yourself? Claw your eyes out?"
I considered that. "No", I said. "I don't think so."
"Are you sure?"
"Don't be ridiculous. Of course I'm sure. Now please get me out of this chair, I'm getting cramps in muscles I didn't even know I had."
"I'm not supposed to…"
I took a deep breath. "Merran, get these things off me. I promise you I'm not going to go on some mad killing spree once I'm out of here."
He hesitated. "Well, there doesn't seem to be anything wrong with you."
He unbuckled the strap around my head, and I gratefully moved my head from side to side to loosen my sore neck muscles.
While doing so I happened to catch a glimpse of the door. It was painted bright-blue. I was sure it hadn't been that colour when I last looked at it. On it was the numeral 1175 in white paint. I was sure that hadn't been there either.
"There's something wrong", I said. I told Merran what I was seeing.
He looked thoughtful. "What you're seeing is one of the images that Raynor uses to help people retrieve their memories. That you're seeing it now might mean that you've not completely come back. I'll go try and find her, she should be around somewhere. Just relax, it'll be over in no time."
With that he disappeared, closing the door behind him and sliding the bolts back in place. I took a deep breath and tried to relax.
I was afraid to look at the door. I wondered what other images Raynor had planted in my subconscious. I stared at the ceiling, realising that I was afraid to close my eyes.
I heard footsteps behind the door, and the bolts being moved. A wave of relief washed over me. The door opened.
"Am I glad you're here", I said.
The door was wide open now. Behind it was only darkness.
Outside, a man was singing. I couldn't make out the words, but the tune was cheery and his voice pleasant. I didn't want him to stop. Then I heard him give a joyful little cry, like a small child throwing a ball high up in the air. Something white and round came flying through the dark opening of the door and landed on the floor next to the chair. It was a human skull.
"Don't mind my grandson", a voice to my right said. It belonged to an old woman in a gown that had once been white,on her head a tarnished maiden's crown with the tattered remains of a veil still hanging from it. "He's such a playful little thing."
Another cry could be heard from the outside and a thighbone flew through the air and landed in my lap. I squirmed, but the restraints were keeping me in place.
The old woman became serious. "I died here, you know. My blood's still in the water."
She giggled. Then she moved towards me and whispered in my ear. "Beware of my grandson. He is not what he seems."
The singing stopped. The woman turned towards the door, a frightened look on her face. Then the rushed around me and disappeared through a red door marked 1104 that had suddenly appeared to my left.
Something was moving outside the door in front of me.
I screamed, begging for someone to get me out of there.
Merran and Raynor rushed in and started to unbuckle the straps that kept me in place. Merran was almost crying, apologising profusely for leaving me alone. Raynor picked up the bone and threw it away in disgust. When the restraints were undone Merran helped me up from the chair, and I nearly collapsed in his arms.
"It's alright", he said. "You're safe."
That's what people kept telling me.
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