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Masked

Chapter Text

Put your hands down, Henry.

Take it like a man.

Get up,

Stop crying,

Look at me—

Look at me when I ’m talking to you.

And put.  Your hands.  DOWN.

***

I wake in slow spurts, my consciousness struggling forward one step at a time until I’m fully in the light of cognizance.  Following my head comes my body, realization seeping in.  I’m… lying on something with a give to it, but… with a hardness underneath?  Perplexing.  And the dream… it's already leaving me even as I grasp for it.  I let it go—the dream and the soft-hardness both are a conundrum that I’m reluctant to untangle.  My head hurts.  Aches.  Pounds.  Intense mental computation seems like such an arduous task at the moment.  It’s an obstacle, certainly.  

Unfortunately for me, such a task seems unavoidable.  Whatever it is I’m lying on is not very comfortable, and I need to organize my limbs in order to sit up properly, which, as you might have guessed, also requires quite a bit of mental computation.  I manage to get my hands underneath me and push myself up into a sit, perched on my folded legs.  My head pounds worse for a second once I’m there—ugh—but closing my eyes and putting a hand to the painful spot helps.  I manage to blink my eyes open just a moment later, looking down at the carpet under me. 

Ah.  That would explain the hardness.  Floorboards are not generally used for bedding material for a reason, and a rather good one at that.  I squint my eyes, staring down.  There’s something on the carpet.  Is that… a spot? 

I lean closer, despite my aching head telling me to be still.  Whatever it is, it’s dark, reddish in the dim light.  It has an odd scent to it, something metallic that I struggle to place.  And it’s right where my head was just resting.

I lower my hand from my head, slow and careful.  Ah.  Okay.  Again, an explanation—there’s blood, some fresh and some not-so-fresh.  It’s coming from me.

I… it would seem as if I’m in need of some assistance.  I push myself up to my feet, wincing against a whorl of dizziness, and…

It’s here that I discover my second obstacle.  I realize it when my vision clears and I’m left blinking at an unfamiliar room.  It’s large, a sitting room if I’m not mistaken.  The furnishings are nice, all meticulously kept except for that spot on the floor.  There isn’t a mote of dust to be seen.  The window to my left is covered by a thick curtain.  When I pull it back, careful to use the clean hand, I wince at the intrusion of early morning light.  As my eyes adjust, I look out, down to the ground and across the lawn and on and on and on, all the way to the tall fence and the street in the distance, and to rows of buildings far beyond them.

I haven’t the slightest clue where I am.

Okay.  Okay.  That’s okay.  I step back, letting the curtain fall back into place.  It’s not so strange, is it?  Waking in a foreign place bleeding from the head?  It seems a nice place, after all—so neat and tidy—so—

It’s here I pause, discovering my third obstacle.  Because while the thought came so swiftly that I didn’t have time to think about it until after it had made its merry way across my mind, I’ve now stopped and thought about it and I… I haven’t a single solid reason to think that it’s not so strange.  Because I can’t—and I cannot stress this enough—I can’t remember ever being in such a situation.  Because I cannot remember anything at all.