'Of the Rising Sun'
It was as though whole days––perhaps even decades––had passed within the confining prison of Bray's mind. He had grown catatonic from being there for what seemed like an eternity, but a sudden unfamiliar noise roused him. He painstakingly lifted himself up off the black floor and struggled to get upright. He then peered into the darkness around him in hopes of locating the source of the sound. An unsettling feeling grew when he realized that the noise seemed to somehow be coming from within him.
Bray only managed a few clumsy steps forward before he had to pause and regain his balance. Blinking repeatedly, he placed the palms of his hands over his chest and then intensely focused––as if trying to sense something.
After several long moments of listening to this strange sound he realized with a start that it was simply the vibrations of his own heart beating in his chest.
He breathed a sigh of relief, and not a moment later a loud electronic whirring noise quickly became audible as well. Bray spun around frantically, trying to locate the source of the new unidentifiable sound. Unable to pinpoint it, he sighed in defeat, peering out into the void of nothingness that surrounded him.
As he looked out into the dark, vast world, he was overcome with loneliness.
Bray sat down on the black ground and tried to ignore the tormenting speculations that filled his head. Occasionally the thoughts swelled up like tidal waves and threatened to consume him, but he soon found that if he forced himself to remain calm he was able to withstand them.
Time crept on at a painfully slow pace.
As he sat with his head slumped forwards––arms folded in his lap—a slow, pulsing tone edged into his world.
Since Bray had been trapped in that dark limbo for so long, he had become accustomed to all of its various haunting noises. With this new, unfamiliar sound, he knew instinctively that something critical had changed about his environment. He continued to sit there in a meditative state, clearing his mind, in his best attempt to shut all external stimulus out––determined to figure out what was going on.
The more he focused, the more Bray realized he could make out the sound of a woman's voice. It was ever-so-faint, but it was definitely there. Suddenly, a flash of light burned his retina. Bray let out a loud, painful scream as his eyes blistered under the intense glow.
Bray wasted no time in running forward as the light quickly faded away. He attempted to call out in order to ask someone for help, but discovered his mouth was far too parched and his jaw muscles had deteriorated from not being in use for so long.
Before Bray could react, another burst of light flooded his entire field of vision. The images of the white flashes strained his pupils for several moments before they faded away again. Bray spun around, doing a full 360, and then squinted in painful anticipation of the blinding light's return. He continued to breathe laboriously, desperate to understand the reason for all these sudden changes. Bray dug his heels into the black floor below him, trying to prepare himself for whatever was about to happen next.
Suddenly a shockwave of pain slammed into his body, causing every muscle inside of him to twitch. As Bray was beginning to fear that the pain would never relent, it finally subdued. He gasped for air as he fell to his knees, his lungs burning.
Before he had time to contemplate why he was being so cruelly tortured, another wave of electricity shot through him. Bray clenched his fists tightly, and struggled to breathe again through the pain.
When the third wave passed through him, he rolled over onto his back to handle the impact of the agony. As the pain reached its climax, a bright white light illuminated the space around him.
Bray struggled to inhale, it felt as if a heavy boulder was crushing his chest. As he laid there, paralyzed from the painful current coursing through his veins, Bray finally gave in. The bright white light intensified and he allowed his body and mind to be taken over by it, no longer having the strength to resist.
A halo of light appeared suddenly in the distance and Bray felt his body being drawn towards it. As the glowing orb moved closer to his position, small metal fittings became visible in the center of the bright ring of light, which hung directly in front of his eyes.
Bray squinted and was surprised to discover that his vision changed drastically when he did so. The sounds of automated whirring and a female voice filled his ears yet again. In the distance, there was a slow, methodical beeping that sounded in rhythm with the beat of his heart.
He continued to gasp for air, but it didn't take him long to realize that the more paranoid he became the more difficult it was for him to breathe. Forcing himself to remain calm, he was able to inhale a small amount of air into his lungs, which he sucked up with desperation.
As his chest rose and fell Bray realized he could feel his skin compress and expand with each inhale and exhale. The odd sensation was difficult for him to wrap his mind around. When he attempted to wiggle his toes he found that he could feel the resistance of his own tendons.
Bray continued his experimenting, moving on to test his thumbs. He felt his bones move under the surface of his skin––like the tectonic plates that shift ever-so-slightly beneath the surface of the world below him.
The inside of his mouth was parched from dehydration, making it difficult for Bray to attempt speech. After taking one last breath––the deepest he could manage––Bray parted his lips in preparation to speak. Before he managed to get a single word out, a huge wave of pain shot into his nervous system from his efforts, and a small wail escaped his lungs.
Suddenly, a voice that wasn't his own filled the room around him. “He’s awake! Get over here now!” a stern female ordered.
Shocked to clearly hear the words of another person in what he had feared to be an eternal isolation, he struggled to open his eyes wider, hoping to catch a glimpse of the woman who'd just spoken.
Bray tried in vain to open his eyes further, as the ring of light continued to shine above him. The muscles in his neck had grown too weak to move his head around, so he had no choice but to continue staring straight ahead. After a moment, the silhouette of a woman's head finally appeared between him and the halo of light.
The bright ring that hovered above him dimmed somewhat, allowing Bray's pupils to adjust to the light in the room. Blinking repeatedly, he was able to see the face of the woman looming overhead––her blonde hair tightly pulled back into a sleek knot. Her eyebrows were furrowed as she gazed down at him intently. Bray barely had enough time to take in the details of the woman's face before she disappeared from view. Instantly, the bright ring of light returned, blinding Bray and causing his eyes to water.
Before Bray could recover from the glowing beam, another face came into his view. This time it was the face of a brunette woman.
Bray attempted to reach up and grab the sleeve of her white lab coat, but he couldn't quite reach far enough. He leaned back, breathless and disheartened from his futile attempts to regain control of his motor skills.
“You need to relax,” the second woman spoke softly. “Focus on your breathing. You have been unconscious for a very, very long time.”
The second woman sounded much friendlier than the first woman had, and her words had a soothing effect on Bray.
Bray heard the voice of the first woman as she spoke again from somewhere behind him. “Coming in live to check his vitals, slide over.”
The second woman then disappeared from his view, replaced by the sterner first woman, who reached out and deftly pinched each of Bray's eyelids to lift them up. She shoved a small, light-emitting device directly in front of his pupils before letting his eyelids go.
Bray felt her hands tugging at his clothing as well, as she placed a cold metal disk on his now exposed chest. “All signs are good and growing stronger. I do believe we did it. I guess you actually might still be useful here, Dr. Willow,” the blonde woman uttered mockingly, before removing the disk from Bray's body.
“Yes, this is very good news,” she repeated to herself, under her breath. “Get over here and double check everything Dr. Willow!” she called out. “I expect a full read out on his previous and present conditions later on.”
Again, Bray attempted to raise his arms and move his body, but despite his best efforts, he was unable to move more than a few inches in any direction. The distinct sound of the motor-driven electronics filled his ears again, and it felt as though the contraption he was laying on had begun lifting him up into the air. Bray's body was slowly moved into a more upright position.
The room around him was entirely white except for where the wall was scorched in a few spots near the entrance. Directly before him was a wall, with a single purple door and small keypad to the right of it. The words “Test Lab 504” were visible, carved into a sign next to the door.
After blinking repeatedly, he gazed out at the two women in the room with him. His vision was much clearer now, and he saw the stern blonde woman standing beside the nicer brunette one, whom he recognized as Dr. Willow.
Dr. Willow wore a standard white lab coat with purple lettering on the lapel, while the stern blonde woman wore a professional, fitted, white collared shirt.
As his eyes adjusted to the light in the room he was finally able to glance down and recognize the white padded device that he laid upon. His wrists and ankles were restrained by dark leather straps that kept him bound to the large machine in the center of the room. Bray’s nostrils flared as he realized there was an additional leather strap keeping him hostage––this one fastened tightly around his neck. When he struggled to free himself from it however, it merely constricted the air flow to his throat and made it that much more difficult to breathe.
“Do you have anything to say for yourself?” the blonde woman asked snidely. “I’d advise you to voluntarily share your side of the story. The other option is a lot more… painful.”
Bray's eyes narrowed in anger towards the woman, as he stared straight ahead at the purple doorway. He was summoning all his strength in hopes of finally being able to speak.
“Having a little trouble?” the blonde woman mocked his pathetic efforts to communicate.
“Well then, if you have nothing to say about the matter, then I suppose we'll have to do this the hard way. Don't say I didn't warn you!” the blonde woman exclaimed, as a cruel smile formed on her lips.
Bray clenched his teeth and with all his might he managed to get out a single word, but he spoke so quietly that the blonde woman was unable to hear him.
“What was that?” she asked, cupping her hand over her ear and leaning down towards him.
Groaning at the prospect of doing it all over again, Bray took several moments to catch his breath before repeating himself. “Obsidia,” he managed to get out, but his hoarse voice was barely audible. That time, however, it was drowned out by the sound of another device whirring to life on the other side of the room.
The blonde woman flashed Bray a sinister smile as she tucked the machine's remote control back into her pocket.
“Too late,” the blonde woman said with a smirk.