Part 1: Chapter 10: Freedom?

Was I free?

I’d hit the ground, hard. I was not where I had expected to be. I’d expected to come out of Stasis in the familiar surroundings of the soothing luxury prison cell that I had been kept in on my previous transition back to reality.

Instead, I was lying face down on the outfield of a cricket pitch and was seemingly the centre of attention for a stunned crown, some confused players and some yellow coated stewards that were currently rushing towards me. I decided that it would not be wise to try to run away from them as it would have been wasted energy. At least I was free from the tests and intrusive bodily examinations this time.

As I was being led away, I thought that to the crowd of people in the ground and possibly a nation watching on TV that this would have looked exceedingly odd. To them, I would have just appeared without any warning This would be all over the newspapers and television in no time at all. My captors would surely know that something had gone wrong by now.

I was taken into the belly of the stadium and locked inside a room and told to wait. I assumed that I would be subjected to a police interview soon. Thoughts danced through my mind. If this game was on TV, then surely someone would recognise me as a missing man, presumed dead, from two years earlier. If not now, but surely when the picture of a man that came out of thin air was inevitably published in the morning papers would a member of my family alert authorities and I would be reunited.

Time passed achingly slowly alone in this nondescript room. As time ebbed on, I began to realise that perhaps my captors had somehow tracked me down. This thought was confirmed after a couple of hours when the door was kicked down. Two stocky people, a man and a woman, burst into the room behind the remains of the flimsy door and proceeded to put a hood over my head, tied my hands behind my back and roughly led me out of the room.

I eventually found myself in the boot of a car, and was driven away to a screech of tyres and the sound of a police siren in the vicinity. It appeared that my captors would do anything it took to get me back.

As the vehicle dodged and swerved, my body was buffeted around in the claustrophobic confines of the boot. With my hands tied, I could not even begin to protect myself from each jolt and bump. I hoped that this journey would be over very soon.

I would not get my wish for another half an hour, the car finally coming to a stop in a less than fluid power slide. The boot was opened almost immediately and I was hauled out by what could only be two different people. I heard the boot slam as soon as I was clear and the car charged off in a similar fashion as it had half an hour earlier from outside the cricket ground.

I was pushed through a set of doors into a building and it was there that I felt a needle enter my the side of my neck and everything suddenly went hazy.

When I came too an indeterminate period of time later, the hood had been removed and my hands untied. Even before I had refocussed by vision, I could tell that I was back in the room that I had returned to a little over a year ago. A couple of seconds later, a voice that I had not heard the previous year started speaking.

Mr. Deacon, I must apologise for your experiences on this transition. We are still trying to work out what went wrong this time. I should also apologise for your rough treatment. As you can imagine, your transition has created something of a media frenzy already. We had to act fast to return you to this safe haven and unfortunately had to cut corners in the private security stakes and turn to people less salubrious and able to work to our time-scale We were somewhat fortunate that the police had yet to question you.”

I sighed, fortunate for them perhaps, but not for me. “So, you have no idea what happened then?”

No. We are absolutely clueless on this. What we do know is that had you not been in the confines of this room then the transition would have failed and more than likely you would have been torn apart and de-constructed within Stasis with no ability to reform yourself.”

I guess I should be thanking you for rescuing me then,” I replied with more than a hint of sarcasm in my voice.

Quite,” replied the reintroduced voice, “Now, we must once again perform the same tests on you as we subjected you to last year and put you through another social readjustment.

I sighed, but at least this voice was using terminology that suggested that what I was about to experience was not considered pleasant amongst my captors. I reluctantly agreed and the tests began.


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