The story so far:
A throbbing skull awakens the man from the nightmare, panting and shivering in chill darkness. He is lying in what he can only imagine to be a bed, drenched in sweat, a crisp white sheet covering him to just below his chin. He attempts to sit up, but a straitjacket hugs his arms to his body tightly, the sleeve ends chained to the bed frame. The effort brings forth a new explosion of agony and the blackness of unconsciousness threatens to overwhelm him again.
He lowers himself back to the mattress, closes his eyes and waits for the pain to subside. His brain is sluggish, wading through a hazy quagmire of elusive and discordant memories, always seemingly just within his grasp. The accompanying nausea eventually abates to a tolerable level and he permits his eyelids to very slowly reopen. As he scans the room, his eyes are barely able to tease details from the weak ambient moonlight entering through what seem to be tall windows. He is only able to see a wooden chair sitting in a corner next to a utilitarian metal table, and a ceiling so high that it seems to stretch up into forever. The gnarled shadow of a tree branch twitches across the wall, drawing his attention to the room’s only door with a tiny recessed window.
He hears footsteps echoing down the hallway, growing louder until they come to a stop outside his door. The jingle of a key ring precedes the scrape of metal against metal as the door squeaks open on un-oiled hinges. A pair of burly men in white uniforms enters and unclasps the straitjacket from the frame arms, which are then folded down to the sides. The sheet is drawn down to his ankles and strong hands guide him into an upright position. His head lolls back, the sudden shift causing the blood to drain from his head, unconsciousness kept at bay only by sheer determination.
With hands firmly clamped under his shoulders, the men raise him to a standing position. His head dips forward as he is led out of the room and down a long corridor, heedless of where he is being taken or of how much time has elapsed, the tips of his toes occasionally dragging on the checkerboard tile hall.
The trio enters a small, windowless room scarcely larger than a utility closet and the man is deposited into a creaky wooden chair across from a man conducting himself in the manner of a doctor. Folders and documents, some of which he studies or scribbles notes on, cover an ancient wooden table which nearly bisects the room, a glass and a water pitcher dripping beads of condensation sits in its center. Silently, the massive orderlies exit the room, shutting the door behind them with a sharp clang.
Behind him sits a third man with a palpable air of impatience and authority holding a stack of folders, and he can almost imagine how an ordinary, law-abiding citizen could find his silent gaze to be intimidating.
The doctorly man seems to suddenly notice the arrival of his interviewee and hastily tries to bring the array of papers and folders into some semblance of organization. He cocks his head and leans forward slightly to determine if the man is still cognizant of his surroundings, “Do you know where you are?”
The shake of the head is barely perceptible.
The doctor continues, “Can you tell me who you are?”
For a moment, the doctor is unsure whether he was heard. Just as he is about to repeat the question, spoken nearly in a whisper comes the reply: “My name is Gideon Angel. I am an agent for the Secret Service. I help protect the President of the United States.”