I was woken, this morning, by a man’s voice.
“Time to get up, son,” is what I heard, over and over. So I opened my eyes and saw him. He was sitting on the bed, staring down at me.
“You sleep okay?” he asked.
And he smiled and placed a hand on my shoulder.
“My little prince,” he continued. “You sleep okay?”
I didn’t know how to answer him. Because I didn’t know this man. I’d never seen him before in my life.
He had black hair and a mustache and light blue eyes. His skin was very pale. Almost pinkish, like he’d just taken a bath. He had big hands and long arms.
“You sleep okay?” he asked me again.
“I think so,” I told him.
“Well, time to get up. You and your brother both.”
And he looked across the room, so I looked there too. I saw another bed with a boy about my age. He wore blue pajamas, and was laying on his stomach; but his eyes were on me. His head was shaved all around the bottom, leaving a brown clump on top. And I didn’t know him either.
“Where am I?” I asked the man.
“Home, of course,” the man said. “Where else?”
I didn’t have an answer for him. I wanted to panic. Am I crazy? Or was he? What if he was? I better just play along, I decided.
“Let me know if you start feeling faint or dizzy, Henry,” the man said.
Henry. I’m pretty sure that that’s my name.
“You’ve been ill,” he said. “Anyway, I’m making breakfast and you’re gonna like it.”
He rose, and I saw that he was tall. He sighed and smiled at the same time, then left the room.
The boy stared at me and I stared at him. It was weird. We just looked at each other for like a whole minute. Then he got up and walked out too.
I looked around at the room. The walls are a light blue, and there’s a map of the world, another of the universe, and a Periodic Table. There’s also a picture of a sword and a shield. A round window hangs above the boy’s bed. The glass is blurred, so you can’t really see anything outside. You can only tell that there’s sunlight. Aside from our two beds, there’re two desks.
I didn’t know this room.
I tried to remember what my room should be like. What my dad should look like. And my brother – the man had said the boy was my brother. When did I have a brother? I couldn’t remember. It was all blank.
I wanted to scream: where in the world am I??
I made a decision to not freak out. Really I just needed to think about this rationally.
I didn’t want to go outside. At the same time I did. To find out what was happening to me. Was I in a dream? I quickly sat up and pinched myself hard. Then I shook my head like crazy. Deep down I knew this doesn’t get you out of a dream. But I had to do something.
And I was still here.
I lay back down. There had to be an explanation. The man did say I was sick. Some weird sickness had made me kinda go blank on some important things. But it would go away, I told myself. And my memory would return. I just had to wait.
My mouth tasted bitter. Like I’d not brushed for ever. I got up. My brain felt flooded suddenly, with pain, so I sat back down. I waited for it to go away. It only lessened after a few minutes, so I got up again.
My legs felt tingly and wobbly and strange, like I’d not used them in years. Slowly I walked to the door and held it for support. I wanted to go brush my teeth. I could see the germs in my mouth. Millions of them, multiplying by the second.
I peeked out. There was a long hallway that didn’t seem to have a light. The only light came from a corridor all the way down at the end. In the dimness I could make out many doors.
So I started slowly, leaning on the wall to steady myself. I tried the first door and it opened. I felt for the light, flicked it on and found a small room packed with old toys. I moved on. The next door opened to a room that had exercise equipment. The next room had boxes and food stuff stacked in shelves. I reached out and held a fourth door when another opened behind me.
The boy came out, and I saw that this was the bathroom. This time we didn’t do the staring. He kept his eyes low and just walked off.
When I looked in the bathroom mirror I saw myself. Sounds crazy but I thought I’d see someone else. But it was me for sure. Me, but bald. There’s just spiky brown fuzz like one tenth of an inch on my head. And that felt odd. I feel like my face comes with long curly brown hair that falls over my ears. But this me in the mirror had fuzz so short you could see my scalp, which was white like paper.
I didn’t know which of the three toothbrushes was mine. So I just put paste on my finger and rubbed hard at my teeth. Not taking a chance on the wrong brush.
I returned to this bedroom. The boy wasn’t here, for which I was glad. I closed the door, and opened the closet by my bed. Didn’t recognize any of the clothes in there. Could not remember ever wearing them.
I sat on the desk closest to my bed. I went through a dictionary; then looked through a cup that held pencils, an eraser and a ruler. These were used but I didn’t remember using them. Wouldn’t you remember your dictionary? Wouldn’t you know how your eraser’s getting worn? I’m the type that would remember. I think.
I got more panicked thinking this. Until I reminded myself I hadn’t even known the man and the boy. That’s a little bigger. I’m pretty sure.