Title: Through The Looking Glass, Darkly
Rating: T (for mild language and suggestive themes)
Plot: He awakens alone in a strange room - naked - and unsure of whom he truly is. Little does he know that this is the start of an amazing journey of self-discovery, taking risks, and understanding what it means to be human. One-shot.
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters of Dark City, but I'm sure that's obvious if you're reading this.
Author's Note: Yet another unintentional one-shot, yet this one is nothing quite as sexual as Casual Indiscretions. This came out of me feeling terrible and not being able to write anything even related to Porcelain or The Theory in the Conspiracy (yes, I am working on that as well). Guess this came out of a desire to attempt writing in the second person and explore what it would be like to be John Murdock as he discovered who he was in the fantastic film Dark City. If you've not seen it - and I'm sure there are a lot of you out there who have yet to see it or hear of it - do yourself the favor and rent it. You won't regret it.
Through The Looking Glass, Darkly
"How seldom we recognize the sound when the bolt of our fate slides home…" - Thomas Harris
You awake with a fright. You can feel your heart-rate quickening as you shift your weight. Glancing down you see that you're in a bathtub, filled with a strange lavender liquid, and your mind races through the hundreds of possibilities to explain your current quandary. You reach down, the lavender liquid sloshes around in the tub softly, checking to make sure there's nothing missing. Satisfied that you're not the intended victim of an organ harvesting, you climb out of the tub. The cold air seems to consume the area, drawing you close, and causing reactions both unintentional and unexpected.
The room around you is difficult to make out, a stream of light swaying from left to right, casting ominous shadows across the darkened room. Looking around you can ascertain that you're in a bathroom; yet one unlike any you've been in before. You cringe as the light overhead swings towards you, bathing you in an intensity of light that makes it difficult to visualize beyond what you've already seen. The light, as if bored with you, swings back to the other end of the room, casting it's intensity in another corner.
The tiles on the floor seem to be strange sepia-tone hue of olive and white. Confused, you lurch forward, but find it difficult to balance yourself and you slip on the wet floor. Reaching out you managed to rescue yourself before you find yourself on the strange tiles, however, a pungent aroma fills your nostrils as you continue to explore the bathroom. Battling the instinctive reflex to vomit, you come across what might be the single mirror in the room.
As you stare at the mirror you find yourself face-to-face with an absolute stranger. The man, who seems to be in his mid-thirties, stares back at you with the same burning intensity you offer him. You blink, trying to clear the visage of the strange man, but as you do you acknowledge the veracity that the man in the mirror and you are one in the same. Upon further examination you notice that there is a streak of blood running down from your forehead, tracing along the edge of your eyes, and adjacent to your nose. Out of instinct you check to make sure the blood is your own, which it is.
With the fresh blood covering your index and middle fingers, you examine it closer. A wave of confusion rushes down your spine sending shivers along your nervous system. Unsure of the exact reason, you find yourself drawn to a single chair resting against a wall behind you. On the chair you notice what looks like a dress shirt, underwear, and boots. You make an intuitive leap and decide that the clothing belongs to you. Moving towards the isolated chair you reach out and bring the shirt to you, inhaling its owner's scent, upon which the synapses in your brain fire off and the first connection is made: these do belong to you, whoever you might be.
Once dressed you grope around for an exit. After several false assumptions you locate the actual exit and rest your hand on the handle. The door creaks open to reveal another darkened room; a lonely room. You start to have the feeling that you're at home in what could be assumed to be the master bedroom. Your concentration, however, is broken as you continue through the doorway and hear the sudden cascade of glass fling itself across your floor. Shaken, you look around. Several feet away you catch out of the corner of your eye the remnants of a fishbowl, the fish flailing about, attempting without much success to inhale the oxygen rich environment it finds itself in.
Feeling remorse for the dying fish, you take pity upon it and shuffle into the cold bathroom where you awoke. Careful not to harm the delicate being, you lower it in the tub you found yourself in. Glancing back at the chair you notice you've left the boots alone. Remembering that you were not wearing any type of footwear you examine the boots. Clean, meticulously so, but something informs you that, like everything else in the bathroom, it belongs to you as well.
Satisfied with yourself, you continue your search of the new room. As you exit the bathroom your eyes drift to the strange cabinet style closet. Under the continual belief that this is your room, you open the closet and discover you own several suits and a coat. You reach out for the coat, instinctively understanding that if the room you occupied was cold, it would make logical sense that it would be cold outside as well. As you turn to close the closet, you catch the reflection of a suitcase hidden behind the spare clothing.
Curious, you retrieve the suitcase. The first thing you notice is the initials "K.H." seems to be engraved on the latch. Synapses in your mind fire again and you wonder if these are your own initials. You wonder what they might stand for, "Kevin Hart" and "Karl Hanson", even "Kris Hanover" float through your mind. Further exploration yields a set of keys, likely your own, but you remain unsure of the origins. Interested in finding out what is in the suitcase, you turn on the nearest light.
The suitcase flips open with a satisfying click. Inside you notice another set of clothes. You start to wonder if this is home or not. Selecting one of the shirts, you bring it to your chest and discover that it would fit if you were to remove your current shirt and replace it with the one in your hands. As you rest the shirt on the bed, you notice a small postcard. Curious, you reach down and fondle the card. It shows an idyllic beach with the name "Shell Beach" emblazoned upon it. Moments later you find yourself transported to Shell Beach, childhood memories maybe, but as quickly as the memories arose they vanish, lingering just out of reach.
Your thoughts are interrupted by the annoying ring of a phone. Scanning the room you spot the source of the noise. Wary, you lift the receiver. "You are confused, and frightened, aren't you?" an unstable male voice echoes through the receiver. "It's alright, I can help you," the man continues, :I'm a doctor. Now, you must listen to me. You have lost your memory, there was an experiment - something went wrong - your memory was erased. Do you understand me?" he asks, sounding more frantic with each syllable.
You feel yourself becoming anxious and confused as you listen to the unstable man talking. "No, I don't understand you. What the hell is going on?" you demand of him. You feel yourself becoming tense, waiting for his response, feeling as if each second is an hour, becoming longer with each passing click of the clock on the wall across from you.
"Just listen, there are people coming for you even as we speak," the man continues causing you more and more distress, "you must not let them find you. You must leave now." he echoes through the receiver. You feel the fear rush through you, wondering who these people are coming for you, and without much thought you drop the line. "Hello? Are you there?" the man begs.
You feel yourself becoming more and more like a cornered cat, tense and uncertain of your options. Glancing around you stumble across the semi-naked figure of a woman resting on the floor. A wave of uncontrollable nausea courses through you as your eyes dance across her cadaver. Desperate to avert your sight from the morbid spectacle inches from you, you notice that all across her ample breasts, down her stomach, and along her side someone has drawn what seems to be spirals. Disgusted you force yourself to back away, catching a knife resting on the vanity near the body. A slight check of the blade reveals that there is blood covering it. Was this something you have done, unsure of who you are, drawing upon the information before you, concluding that you're a killer? Or was this staged to make it look like something you had done? If so, who would have done this to you and more important, for what reason?
Moving with an urgency you were unaware of minutes before you rush to the next door. Once outside you notice it's a hallway, long and narrow. You realize you must be living in an apartment complex or a hotel of some sort. Not wanting to wait around and find out, you continue to the stairs ahead of you. As you rush along you hear the faint sound of an elevator ping and notice several men in hats moving in your direction. You don't know the exact reason these strange men are moving towards you, but you can't help but recall what the disturbed man on the line said to you moments before: "even as we speak, people are coming for you, you must escape."
Desperate, you continue your way down the stairs. Satisfied that you've lost the shadowy men whom were following you, you take a moment to catch your breath. Looking around it becomes clear that you're in a hotel of some kind. Taking in the stale tasting oxygen of the foyer, you notice a woman standing still in a booth. Moving closer, you see that she looks as if she is resting. Strange, considering she's standing. Reaching for the door, you open the booth and the sleeping woman tumbles out. Spooked, you continue to main foyer now. As you head for the exit/entrance you catch a man sleeping. Seconds later, he awakes and shouts to you.
"Mr. Murdoch, the automat called and said you left your wallet there. I suggest you retrieve since you only paid for three weeks and they was up ten minutes ago." the man said, echoing through the foyer. Looking at the man behind the counter you have the strangest sensation that you've seen him before that this man is someone you might know, but no matter how much you attempt to connect the dots it lingers on the tip of your tongue.
Drawing closer you find yourself confused and relieved. You're last name, it would seem, is Murdoch. This answers one of the many lingering questions. "I've been here three weeks?" you ask unsure of yourself as you draw closer to the man. He slides a book across the desk to you, indicating where your name is and the date. It reads "J. Murdoch." Another lingering question mark resolved, but many still remained.
"It's right there in black and white, Mr. Murdoch. Day and date. We make our books like we make our beds - all neat and tidy." the man continues. Relieved to know something concrete about yourself you inform the man that you'll handle it once you've returned. "See that you do, the only thing that makes you a guest here is cash on the barrel-head!" the man shouts to you as you drift through the foyer. Beyond you is the answers you seek, riddles within riddles, and you sense that something isn't quite right, but as you exit the building you force those feelings down and trudge along. Somewhere out there, in the cold city, someone knows who you are, Mr. Murdoch.