A World of New

Page 9


“Yes… that is all. That is…” His eyes returned to me. And then he gazed for the first time around the room that he had woken up in. “Where am I? Who are you?”
“You’re safe,” I assured him. “Far away from those men in black uniform. You’re on an island called The Shade. Have you ever heard of it?” Or perhaps a better question would have been, Can you remember ever hearing of it?
He shook his head, causing a deep crinkle in his forehand as he frowned. “I don’t know.” Then he ran his hands over his face, covering his eyes. His Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed hard. “God,” he whispered. “What happened to me?”
“I’m guessing that you were kidnapped,” Shayla replied. “From where, I was hoping you’d be able to tell us. Going by your accent, you’re not from America. You were taken to a room where you were locked up and apparently served as the object for some kind of experimentation… I’m hoping to nurse you back to health so that you can remember everything you have forgotten.” She reached for his arms and held his palms in her hands, studying them. She flexed his fingers and then his wrists. “Mobility seems okay in your arms and the upper portion of your body. Are you able to move your legs?”
Panic flashed across the man’s face as his eyes shot down to his legs. As he winced, I realized that he was trying to move them. They didn’t budge.
He exhaled a breath. “I can’t,” he rasped, his brown eyes shining with alarm.
Shayla moved to his feet and began examining them. Then she moved up to his knees, feeling them through the fabric of his pants. “Do you feel any sensation at all?” she asked.
She pursed her lips. “Yes. As I feared, your legs have been paralyzed.”
His breath hitched.
“It should not be anything that we can’t fix, however,” Shayla said, giving him a warm smile. “I’m going to leave you with Grace here while I go fetch you something to eat. You’re terribly weak.”
With that, Shayla marched out of the room. I noted how she had not been using her magic to leave and arrive. I guessed she didn’t want to lay too much on the man at once. His head was already in a tailspin. I wondered if he had ever encountered witches before.
“Why would they have taken me?” he asked me. “And who were they anyway? Why would they paralyze me? Why do I feel so cold?”
I let out a slow sigh. Where do I even begin? He was still in such a daze right now, I doubted he could handle all the answers—and of course, I didn’t know all the answers anyway.
“I’m not sure why they took you or why they paralyzed you. But those people are part of a, um, kind of research organization. A very ruthless one.”
I was glad when Shayla returned to the room before I could make further headway in my response. She emerged in the doorway, holding a tray filled with a plate of sandwiches, a jug of water and a glass.
Shayla first gave him some water to drink, which he downed readily. Then she handed him the sandwiches. He raised a slice to his lips and took a bite, chewing slowly. He finished the first sandwich, then reached for the next, but as he was halfway through this one, he retched and upchucked all over himself.
“Oh, dear,” Shayla said, hurrying to take away the sandwich plate and clean him up.
I wondered when the last time he’d ingested solid food was.
“All right,” Shayla said, after she had finished cleaning him. She walked over to a closet and returned with a syringe. “I’m going to take a blood sample from you, if that’s okay. I need to begin a full diagnosis. We will try to feed you something again later. Sandwiches were too much of a shock to your system.”
Looking weaker than ever, he allowed her to take his arm. She inserted the needle and filled up the syringe halfway with his blood. Then she left the room again.
He appeared too worn out even to talk after vomiting his guts out. He had a pained expression on his face as he sank back against his pillow. His eyelids drooped. I thought that he might be on the verge of falling asleep, but then he murmured in a low voice, his eyes still closed, “I need more answers.”
I thought back to the questions he had asked me before Shayla entered. I guessed that I could give him a brief overview and try not to go into too many details. And so I began to explain more about the IBSI, as well as supernaturals in general and the state of the world today.
He did not speak a word the whole time, and by the time I was finished with my brief overview, he looked shell shocked.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
He stared blankly at the opposite wall, not acknowledging my question. I hoped I had not just blown his fragile mind. Of course the truth of the world around us was so much to take in, even a watered-down version.
Then Shayla returned to the room again. I wondered whether she had had time to inspect the blood sample yet, but since she did not offer information, I didn’t ask. She took a look at the young man and leaned over to take his temperature and pulse again before turning to me. “I think we should let our guest rest for a while,” she said to me. “Give him some time on his own.”
I nodded before grabbing another blanket, since he was still feeling ever so cold, and placing it over him.
“I’ll be back to check in on you soon,” Shayla said as the two of us headed for the door. “For now, get some rest.”
He didn’t respond.