The pounding in his head woke Elliot up. It felt like his brain was swelling and on the verge of exploding. Elliot whimpered and started to cradle his head—
Only to find that he couldn’t move his arms. Heart racing, he curled his fingers, and once assured those worked, he concentrated on the rest of his body. There wasn’t a sound to be heard other than his own breathing, and the thrumming of his pulse in his ears.
Elliot still didn’t trust that he was alone, or he wasn’t being watched somehow. Cameras, at the very least. He’d had too many dreams of abduction, and of other, scary things, to not realize he what had happened.
Someone had taken him, and now he was strapped down, wrists, upper arms, ankles, calves, thighs—two bands went across his chest and right above his groin. He’d be lucky if he could even wiggle.
But who had taken him? And why? Elliot remembered the man with the creepy eyes. There’d been such a lack of emotion in them. As much as he’d like to say it was an inhuman look, he didn’t, because he knew, from his years in psychiatric hospitals and under the care of ‘specialists’, just how inhumane humans could be.
It made him wonder if, whatever life forms existed outside of his world, they weren’t at least kinder than his own species.
Elliot listened for several minutes, keeping his breathing slow and steady. He’d learned long ago how to mimic sleep patterns, and could fool most people even when he was hooked up to machines that registered and recorded his sleep.
Again, he heard nothing but his own sounds, not even the hiss of air conditioning flowing through vents, nor the beeps and burrs of machines, medical or otherwise.
What the hell happened to me? No, he knew that part. The cold-eyed man had abducted him. But why?
Elliot waited, and waited, then he began to count the minutes off in his head. After an hour, he was still alone. He was so thirsty he started coughing, which in turn made his head hurt more.
And still no one came. Gradually, Elliot opened his eyes just a slit. Everything was blurry for a moment, then he saw the camera directly in front of him. Fear spiraled through him, even as a sense of resignation hit. He’d always known he was going to finally lose his mind. This had to be some colossal hallucination, because there was no reason for anyone to take him. Unless it’d been under orders from Dr. DelVecchio, and Elliot was in a psych ward.
Though, he’d never been in a place with a camera like the one he now saw.
Tired of it all, the worry, the fear, the pain and judgment, Elliot opened both eyes. Whatever was going to happen, he wanted it over with. He stared right at the camera. “Well? What are you waiting for?” he demanded.
It took several minutes, but eventually, he heard a sound to his left. Elliot turned his head, grateful it, too, wasn’t strapped in place, and saw a door slide open into the wall. A white-coated woman walked in, glasses on, red hair slicked back into a bun. She was very tall and imposing, with eyes as creepy as the man who’d taken him.
She had the same flat expression, as if her emotions had long since ceased functioning.
Elliot’s blood ran cold as she stopped and stared down at him.
After several long moments of silence, he couldn’t take it any longer. “Why am I here?”
The woman didn’t answer. She tapped out something on her tablet, then set it down. She pushed up Elliot’s left eyelid and shined a penlight in his eye.
Elliot’s stomach roiled as his pain intensified.
The right eye was next, then she proceeded to look in his nose, ears, and mouth.
Elliot didn’t even try to refrain from coughing when she was doing that last task.
It didn’t faze her. She merely gripped his jaw and pressed on one side of it, forcing him to keep his mouth open. She watched dispassionately as he coughed, as if he were a bug in a jar.
She released him then used a stethoscope to listen to his heart and lungs. At that point, he was fairly certain she was human, at least. Surely aliens would have more advanced medical tools.
“Can I—can I have some water?” Elliot rasped as she palpitated his abdomen. “Please?”
She cocked her head and felt his throat, her fingers icy cold.
“I need a drink,” he said. “I--“
The door opened again, having closed behind his examiner after she entered. This time, it was the same man who’d kidnapped him. At least, Elliot thought it was. For all he knew, there was an army of emotionless drones—
Images flashed through his mind, bits and pieces of things he’d seen in dreams and nightmares. None of it had made sense, but he knew with a certainty, he’d seen eyes like those, that expressionless beings had haunted him before.
But had it been in nightmares, or in reality? Elliot squeezed his eyes shut. Something prodded at his lips. He parted them, recognizing the familiar sensation of a straw, and he drank deeply, deciding it didn’t much matter if the water contained drugs or worse. He wasn’t in any situation to fight back, and dying of thirst would be a horrible way to go.
Finally, a third person joined them, and this one, an older man with thick white hair and—thankfully—brown eyes. He was wearing a white lab coat just as the other two were, but his expression wasn’t flat. In fact, he looked intently at Elliot, as if he were a person, not a thing, then sent the other two people away.
“I’m Dr. Morgan. I suppose you’re wondering why you’re here,” he began. “I’m afraid that’s an answer you won’t be given, at least not yet.”
“Where’s here?” Elliot asked.
Dr. Morgan clicked his tongue. “Another question that should have remained unspoken. However.” He arched his brows at Elliot. “I suppose there’s really no harm in answering. You will never leave this facility alive, and therefore will not be sharing the information with anyone. Your full-body scan showed you to be free of any tracking devices, monitors, or anything else that could lead anyone to your location.”
Elliot raised his head up enough to see that he was wearing a hospital gown. For a moment, he’d worried that he was nude and hadn’t noticed. Trusting yourself was difficult when you thought you were losing it.
“You haven’t been molested, I assure you,” Dr. Morgan said. “There will be some examinations that will be very uncomfortable, but they are necessary.”
“Necessary? Why? For whom? And you didn’t tell me where I am.” Elliot frowned. Maybe he shouldn’t poke at Morgan, but he couldn’t help it. Fear didn’t always make him wise.
Dr. Morgan smiled at him then. “Elliot, you poor boy. All these years, you and everyone who knows you have believed you to be mentally ill. You dream of stars moving and turning into something else, you see things, hear things, think things that others do not. You dream—“ He bent until he was nearly nose to nose with Elliot. “Of aliens.”
Elliot didn’t deny it. Whoever Morgan was, he clearly had access to Elliot’s medical records.
Morgan stood up straight again. “No one believes you, not even yourself, but that’s because your whole life has been a lie.”
He swept one arm around in an exaggerated manner. “Welcome, dear boy, to where you belong. You are now a guest at Area 51.” This time, his smile sent a shiver down Elliot’s spine. “It’s where we bring all the aliens once we’ve captured them.”