Suddenly I woke up strapped to a chair.
“What . . . ?” I whispered.
Dazed, I looked around me. I was in a room with a concrete floor and cinder block walls. A single bare light-bulb hung glaring from a wire above me. Against the wall across from me was a set of white metal drawers. A try was attached to it. There were instruments on the try-awful instruments-blades and pincers and something that looked like a miniature version of those acetylene torches welders use. The instrument lay on a white cloth. The white cloth was stained with blood.
The sight of the blood jolted me into full con. I tried to move my arms and legs. I couldn't. Thats when I saw the straps. One on each wrist holding me to the chair's metal arms. One on each ankle holding me to its metal legs. And there was blood here too. More blood. On the floor at my feet. On my white shirt, on my black slacks, on my arms. And there were bruises on my arms, dark purple bruises. And there were oozing burn marks on the back of my hands.
I hurt. I kinda of just realized it all at once. My whole body ached and stung inside and out. My shirt was soaking wet. My skin felt clammy with sweat. My mouth tasted like dirt. I smelled like garbage.
Have you ever had a nightmare, a really bad one, where you woke up and you could feel your heart hammering against the bed and you couldn't catch your breath? Then, as you started to understand that the nightmare wasn't real, and that it was all a dream, your heart slowed down again and your breathing got deeper and you relaxed and thought, Whew, that sure seemed real.
Well, this was exactly opposite, I opened my eyes expecting to see my bedroom at home, my black-belt certificate, my trophies, my poster of The Lord of the Rings. Instead, I was in what should have been a nightmare, but wasn't. It was real. And with every second, my heart beat harder. My breath came shorter. Panic flared up in me like a living flame.
Where was I? Where was my room? Where were my parents? What was happening to me? How did I get here?
Terrified, I racked my brain, trying to think, trying to figure it out, asking myself in the depths of my confusion and fear: what was the last thing I remembered . . . ?