The bloody red light he opened his eyes to seemed to match the agonizing pain making a slow burn through his skull. His heart stopped in his chest for a painful, terrifying few seconds. He thought he'd been blinded somehow. The crimson radiance lessened and he saw it for what it was: emergency lighting.
He blinked as the world faded in and out of focus. As he tried to move, he realized it wasn't just his skull that hurt, but most of his body. His limbs were stiff and his back ached. This chorus of suffering was accompanied by a collection of stinging cuts. He was sweating profusely. Opening his mouth, he tried to say something, but found his throat to be incredibly dry. A coughing fit struck him, sending more waves of agony through his body.
Rolling over, he made twin revelations. The first: he was inside a small vessel. The second: he wasn't alone. A face, broken by death, stared at him from mere inches away. An involuntary gasp escaped his throat and he shoved himself back in surprise. He bumped into something, rolled over, and found himself staring into a similarly dead, pale face. Desperate to be away from the corpses, he lurched to his feet.
His head swam and he crashed back to the floor. The pain was terrible and hot lances of sick agony shot through his body. His stomach twitched and convulsed. Dry heaves wracked him in waves, but he had nothing to give. Coughing, he lurched to his feet and dropped into one of the seats lining the walls of the small craft.
Recognition sent a wave of startling tension through him.
He looked up and around, attempting to study the tiny ship's interior through the scarlet haze. The metallic smell of blood was a miasma in the confines of the ship. He stared at the bodies on the floor, the dents in the metal. A word bubbled to the surface of his mind, through the maelstrom of thoughts and fear that represented his psyche at that moment.
He said it aloud, surprised at the sound of his own voice. It was hoarse and thick with pain, but also...unfamiliar. He coughed and tried again.
"I was in a crash."
It made sense, to him at least. All at once, with a fresh wave of raw-edged terror, he realized that he didn't know his own name. His gaze jerked around in primal fear, hunting for anything that might give him a clue about his missing identity. There was nothing. No hints, no evidence, nothing. He fought the surge of panic that came screaming through his head. His heart rate spiked, his breath came short and fast.
He touched his chest, was he having a panic attack or even a heart attack? His hand brushed against something hard and metal. Glancing down, he realized his palm was pressed over a nametag. In a fit of excitement he tore it off, ripping the fabric of the garment he wore, and stared at it. The thing had been dented in the crash, making the first part unreadable, but there was enough left to give him a name, first and last.
It made him feel better, but it wasn't the magic key to his memories. Staring from the tag to the broken, fresh necropolis surrounding him, he still couldn't recall anything. He had no idea where he was, where he'd been, where he was going, or what had gone wrong.
His eyes caught on the exposed neck of one of the others, and, dropping the nametag, he stood. Greg had the urge to check for a pulse, so he did. There wasn't one, but at least he had something to do in this crimson-lit tomb. He spent the next few moments shuffling around, attempting to ignore the smell of death and blood. Greg counted six bodies. They were all dead, and for some reason, he had the inclination that they'd been that way for at least a few hours. Some of them, he noted with interest, wore armor.
He studied the armor for a couple seconds, but from the combination of poor lighting, blood, and damage, he couldn't make out the insignias. Greg stood there for a moment, stymied by his predicament.
YOU ARE READING
The first novel in The Shadow Wars. How terrifying would it be to wake up with no memories? How much worse would it get if you happened to be in a crashed vessel full of corpses? For Greg Bishop, this nightmare has just become a reality. With nothin...