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       Eldnium, p.14

           Enoch Pyle, Jr

  The vehicle slowed and stopped. Jackson felt it rock back and forth, and while he couldn’t hear anything over the siren, he knew the masked individuals were getting out of the car. He felt the dull thud of doors closing as it resonated through the vehicle. A few moments later, the rear hatch was opened, and a gust of cold wind filled the compartment, a rush of winter streaming through his clothes.

  They dragged him toward the edge of the vehicle, and Jackson felt one of them cut the string binding his hands and feet, followed by the severing of the ties securing his feet one to the other. As they pulled him out of the vehicle, he felt a hand grab each of his arms, just under the shoulder, and they began leading him along, his eyes still blinded by the pillowcase.

  He hobbled, his leg still aching as it pounded across what seemed to be pavement, but they were surprisingly patient, allowing him to stop and take brief rests as they continued to march him in an unknown direction. With each break, Jackson attempted to find the hole in the pillowcase. He’d pause, turn his head a little, and search for the pinhole of light. When he found it, he began trying to shift the pillowcase so that he could see through the hole, which he managed to do, just as they were nearing their destination.

  They approached a fair-sized building, Jackson could see, though he couldn't recognize it through the hole in the pillowcase. The building seemed new and could have been new construction, Jackson suspected, because he really had no idea how many days he’d slept away in the cabin. The pavement he thought he was walking on was actually a rough and cracked stretch of road that led right up to the building's front doors, where it was abruptly terminated by the building itself. It appeared that the building had been erected right in the middle of what may have once been a busy street.

  As they approached the front door, he heard one of the men speak for the first time. “Option 3-5-9 for transmission.”

  Transmission? Jackson thought. What does that mean?

  He heard the door open, and the men continued leading along, into the building.

  Inside smelled strongly of fresh paint. He’d lost the hole in the pillow case when being shuffled through the door and couldn’t see anything around him. They walked for a few more minutes, making various turns, Jackson mindful of the tap-tap-tap of his feet against the tile floor, until they suddenly stopped, and Jackson heard another door open.

  He felt one of the men cut the ties on his wrists and was relieved to have control back in his arms. The pillowcase was ripped from his head, and he was shoved to the floor of a cold and brightly lit room, his eyes unable to adjust to the lights before the door was slammed shut and its latch thrown with a clank.

  The cold floor felt good against Jackson’s aching leg, and as his eyes began to adjust to the bright lights, he was able to better survey his new surroundings.

  The room was something from a movie. An interrogation cell. The walls were built of gray cement blocks, and on one of them a mirror was mounted. (Jackson felt certain this was a two-way mirror.) In the center of the room stood a long metal table with two unwelcoming metal chairs on each long side. The corners of the ceiling were fitted with large lamps, blasting unforgiving light onto every inch of the room. The heat the lamps put off had already started pulling sweat from Jackson’s flesh.

  He pushed himself up from the floor and walked to the far corner of the room—the corner adjacent to the mirrored wall—and sat with his back snuggled into the corner and his knees to his chest. There, he fell asleep.

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