REDEMPTION….

Present Day….

He awoke in the dark. Even when he blinked his eyes open it remained dark.

It was also dank and smelled like stale water. He was covered in three to four inches of standing liquid when he awoke; he hoped it was just water. He didn't know anything, not what day it was, what time it was, where he was or how he got there but the one thing was he did recognize when he saw it was a prison.

He tried to control the panic he felt, he reached for a breathing exercise, but his breaths came in ragged gulps. He couldn't think or remember; his brain was overridden by the gut wrenching, horror-evoking image that he was once again locked in a cage. He closed his eyes forcing out the darkness and imagined bright yellow sunlight until his head hurt and tears fell from his pale blue shuttered eyes.

The cell was small, maybe four feet tall, too small to stand up in, so sitting up was the best he could do. It was about seven feet long, so he could lie down but whatever liquid was in the bottom of the cell made that an unpalatable option. He probed his body for injuries, but could only find rub marks at his wrist where he'd been tied or shackled and a gash on his head he had no memory of. His head was throbbing and he felt achy all over. There was dried and caked blood along his temple, in the contours of his ear and crusted to his short red hair. His watch was gone as was his wallet, keys and knife. His belt and shoes were likewise missing. The suit he was wearing was ruined, but that puzzled him.

Why on earth would he have been wearing a suit?

He reached into his memory for the last thing he could remember and found a blank page. Nothing would come, not his name, not what he was doing, not where he lived – nothing. He ran his hand around the edges of his prison and found it was chain-linked fence. He could hear the sound of running water and noted that the water in the cell was moving, slowly. Beyond that he heard the sound of distant cars on a highway. He shouted but only his echoed voice returned to him in answer. He closed his eyes and sought the escape of sleep because waking was too painful to endure. This part he remembered as the only relief of a life of confinement and privation.

Sleep could bring dreams and his did - of an exotic woman with dark hair and eyes, dressed in black. She appeared in his dream through a layer of glass or obscured in a dense fog or haze that refused to lift. She never spoke and he couldn't name her but he knew her and her smile spoke secrets to him. She was important, maybe all that was important in his world. The rest of his memory faded, but she remained – a question mark in his mind wearing a slight, knowing and yet questioning smile.