Paradise WIP – Chapter 4
I felt the ground rumble beneath me but I was so tired I didn’t want to open my eyes. Then the ground rumbled again, more violently.
“Roman, we’ve got to move, now!” It was a woman’s voice. I couldn’t identify it but I knew it was familiar.
“In a minute,” I grumbled, my eyes still closed. I had never been so tired.
“Roman, now!” I felt the sting as she slapped my face and bolted upright.
I was alone in my room. My white sheets were wrapped around me. It was still dark but the view from my window to the East showed the first glimpses of light behind the mountains.
“Hello?” I whispered. I felt foolish as I said it but the dream had been so real. Surely there had been someone in this room with me.
I looked around for several minutes but there was no answer and no one with me. I laid back down so I could look out the window. “I’m losing what little of a mind I have,” I told myself and I drifted back to sleep.
In the morning I went off to the vineyard without having morning meal. I was eager to see Paul, or Peadar, again. I had so many questions. Were there others we knew in the compound? Where were we really? If the sky on Earth had been destroyed, did someone find a way to clean it or were we on a different planet? That seemed preposterous, but everything else was already so crazy that I did not want to miscount any possibility.
A section of the vineyard was ready to be harvested. I worked quickly snipping bunches from the vines and placing them in baskets. Every time a basket was almost full, someone would appear next to me and haul it off. There were no words between us, and I was happy for that.
It seemed an eternity before the noon bells rang. I sprinted to the large oak. Paul was not there. I supposed I had beaten him there. I got my plate of food and sat at our table. I ate slowly an anxiously ready to get some answers. Paul did not show. I surveyed the crowd and saw several of the men that Paul worked with. They were all here. I decided to get up and approach the man that seemed to be the supervisor of the wood workers. Dave popped in front of me just two steps from the table.
“Where are you off to?” he asked me.
“I was going to go ask someone a question.”
“And who might that be?” Dave was smiling, but I sensed a bit of warning in his tone.
I looked toward the man I wanted to talk to, but could not remember his name. I had given so little effort to paying attention to names that now I could not remember the one I needed. Instead, I pointed.
“You want to talk to Jack.”
“Yes,” I replied.
“Jack has had a busy morning. He probably needs to relax during noon break. Perhaps I could answer your question.”
I felt a rage building up inside me. The more Dave smiled, the more I felt the desire to hit him.
“It is a wood working question,” I told him. I tried to move around him, but he kept moving into my path.
“I used to work with the wood workers,” Dave said coolly. “I’m sure I could answer your question.”
Something in his stance told me I was fighting a losing battle. He still smiled, but his face had grown cold and hard.
“It’s not that important,” I told him. I sat back down at the table.
Paul did not appear again for many days. I only saw the wood workers at noon break. Each time I tried to approach one of them, someone stepped in my way. I kept sitting at the same table, but now only vineyard workers sat at the table with me.
Finally, sprinted to the oak one afternoon, I caught a glimpse of Paul in the distance. Even from afar I could tell that something was different. Paul looked very relaxed with soft features and a somewhat slouching posture.
I ran up to him and touched his arm. “Paul, where have you been?”
He turned and was smiling ear to ear. “Hello, my friend. I was working at the barns this morning.”
“No,” I growled as low as I could. “Where have you been the last few weeks?”
“You must have me confused.” His tone was jolly and relaxed. “I only arrived at the compound last night.”
From his eyes I could see that Paul fully believed what he was saying.
“Soldier,” I whispered, “I command you to tell me where you have been.”
“What’s a soldier?” he asked me.
Paul was helping me remember some of my memories. I decided I would have to do the same for him.
“Come, let us sit at our table and I will explain it to you.”
“Wood workers usually eat with wood workers,” he told me. “I am sure you would prefer to each with the vineyard workers.”
I did not know what had happened, but my Paul, my only link to my past, was gone.
I watched him closely throughout the noon break. He appeared to be a completely different person. He was laughing and relaxed and having a full share in the conversations at his table.
As I worked that afternoon I tried to make sense of things. Paul had told me a little about reconditioning, though I did not really understand what it meant. He had said something about them messing with our brains. His brain worked differently, though, so his memories should be reachable. I just had to figure out a way to access the backup he told me about.
In the days of Paul’s absence I had been having dream almost every night. I was so tired and could not even open my eyes but a woman was telling me we had to go. The woman would strike me and I would wake up covered in sweat. The dream made no sense. I tried to push it from my mind.
The night after Paul returned, though, the dream was very different.
It started the same way. I felt entirely exhausted. The woman’s voice was speaking to me, and the whole world seemed to be shaking. I concentrated all my energy on opening my eyes. For a fraction of a second I was able to. I was in a white room with bright white lights shining down at me.
“Roman,” the woman was very close to me. “Roman, please, we need you. Please come back to us.”
The room rumbled again. Even through my closed eyes I could see the lights were flickering.
“Roman, there isn’t much time,” the woman pleaded with me. “Please.”
There was a deafening explosion and I woke to find myself on the floor. My heart was racing. For the first time I realized that it was no dream but a memory I was having.
Author’s Note: I hope you enjoyed this week’s chapter. Be sure to come back next Tuesday to read the next chapter.
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