I wasn’t expecting to wake up in a straitjacket. So, when I did, I hope it’s not too difficult to understand my panic. I rolled out of bed and landed with my cheek pressed up hard against cold tile.
Have you ever tried to stand without using your arms? It took me a full minute. By the time I was on my feet, I’d started to register a few important notes about my surroundings:
- The walls were all white.
- The little window in the door had bars across it.
- This was not my goddamn apartment.
I heard footsteps in the hall outside and threw myself against the door. “Who’s out there?” I shouted, voice hoarse. “Where am I?”
A little arc of electricity sparked between the bars and landed on my cheek. A few seconds later, after all the work I put into standing up in the first place, I was flat on my back.
“You know not to touch the door, Mr. Harrier.” The voice was calm, quiet, and yet I could still hear it echoing down the hall. “We’re coming in for your morning review.”
The space behind my eyes fizzled with electricity and I was still a little dazed, hazy enough so I could do little but lie back and watch as two men in blue robes opened the door and stepped over my body. They took seats on the bed and I tried to shake myself awake, pushing up so I could sit facing them with my back against the wall.
One was bigger, bald, carrying a little gray rod with two crackling prongs on the end. Probably the one that shocked me. The other was short, also bald, but carrying a clipboard instead. He settled himself and cleared his throat. “Alright, you know the drill. What’s your name?”
I was still too stunned to do anything but respond. “Hal Barrister.”
“And what’s your– Wait, what?”
“Hal Barrister. My name.”
He rubbed his temples and said, “Listen, Mr. Harrier, this doesn’t have to be a hassle.”
“Who the hell is this Harrier? I don’t even know where I am!” I shouted, some of my confusion melting into anger. “Listen, I went to bed in my apartment and I JUST woke up here and I don’t-”
And I was on the floor again. Green flecks of lightning did figure-eights across my eyes and I could just see the big guy bending over above me. He pointed a finger down at my face and said, “Just answer the questions.”
My tongue slapped against the roof of my mouth. “NNnnghhheaaaaa.”
The big guy shook his head and sat down on the bed again. “Okay, let’s try it again,” Clipboard said. “What’s your name?”
I blinked rapidly, shock and, well, possibly the repeated electrocution bringing tears to my eyes. “I’m Hal Barrister, I swear, I don’t know what the hell is going on and-”
“Hold on,” Big guy said. He leaned forward. “Doesn’t he have green eyes?”
“Yes, why-” Clipboard stopped and leaned forward too. “Oh.” He frowned. “Why are your eyes red?”