Chapter 14: Familiar Faces

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Don slowly became aware of his surroundings. He could hear voices but couldn’t make out what they were saying. Every few words, he thought he recognized his name. Don looked around. A soft blue light surrounded him; it was as though the walls and floor were glowing.  A familiar face looked down at him and adjusted the drip. He drifted off to sleep again.

When Don regained consciousness, he could hear voices. The voices grew fainter and after lying motionless for quite a long time, Don gathered up the courage to raise himself up and take in his surroundings. He seemed to be in a hospital or lab of some sort. This was not a place he wanted to stay. Don carefully removed the IV and climbed out of the be, quietly heading toward the doorway.

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A few feet away stood two chambers with bubbling liquid and, Don realized with a start, a skeleton was in the chamber further away.

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Nobody seemed to be in the room, so Don entered. Chills ran down his spine when Don recognized the sim in the second tube — it was the Director.  He was an odd color, frozen almost, standing inside the tube of bubbling liquid. Don remembered seeming similar tanks at the Labs, they were called “stasis” tanks and kept the plants they were hybridizing dormant until needed. Don began to form a plan; he needed to escape. And quickly. He listened, straining his ears for voices or footsteps. Every sound seemed amplified; even his breathing echoed throughout the room. The only thing he could hear was the humming and gurgling from the tanks. Don pushed open the door, relieved it was unlocked.

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He found himself in another room, this was large and open with operating tables and equipment he didn’t recognize. It was empty except for two creatures who appeared absorbed in silent conversation. Something about them seemed familiar. If this were a laboratory, it certainly wasn’t part of Future Sims Labs. His heart raced as he slowly walked as close to the wall as possible. He turned the corner and found himself in a small hallway — there, only a few steps ahead of him, was a double door. He quickly went through.

The doors led into a large hospital ward.  Not a good hospital, Don concluded as he wound his way around hospital beds with unconscious patients, stopping when he came to an exit. He couldn’t be out of there soon enough. He made his way down a long corridor, searching for a way out while avoiding encountering anyone.

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Finally, he saw a double door that led to a utility room. He could see daylight filtering through. He was almost there!“Wait!” Don heard a soft voice call out to him. “I’m going with you.”

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Don motioned “come on” and pushed on the door. The heavy metal door slid open into an empty hallway, and Don saw a door leading to the outdoors. He only hoped it was unlocked. “Let’s go,” the woman said.“Looks like we’re on the roof — about four stories up I don’t see any stairs,” the woman told Don. “We can climb down though if you think you’re able.”

Don nodded, he figured he could climb down the building. He’d had his share of sneaking out of places, and those experiences were going to be helpful right now. Before he leaped (or climbed), he need to get a good look and plan the escape route.

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“I think we can –” the woman began, but before she could continue, blue lights pulsed on and off, “We’re caught. They’ve sounded the alarm.”

Don looked for a place to hide, “Over here!” The woman didn’t move. She just looked at him.

“Don? Don Lothario? Are you Don Lothario?”

“Yes, but now’s not the time — ” her face was familiar to him, but they could figure it out later. “Come on.”

“No, we have a minute.” She stood still. “We’ve met. Windenburg. I want you to know I wasn’t myself that night.”

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Don remembered. “It’s okay. That was a long time ago, and I blame the experimental drinks.” The woman smiled sadly.”We need to go now,” Don turned to the the archway, “It’s either go in here or back in there.”

“Bella — I’m Bella Goth, Cassandra’s mom,” she answered. Don’s face blanched. “Do you remember where you were before you ended up in that bed?”

Don thought hard. Fleeting memories passed by. “I was,” he tried to remember.

“This is important,” Bella said. “We have to make the correct decision, Don.”

“I think . . . I was trying a serum.” It flashed clearly. “Yes, we were working on a solution for the stalkers.” His face clouded. “Wait a minute, I was getting on the train to go to Myshuno Meadows. Or was that a dream?”

Bella opened her mouth to speak as the doors opened. “They have Sim Rays!” Don called out, “get in.” He saw Bella’s frightened face as she raced to Don.

“You go first,” she said, tossing something at the doorway. Don stepped into the archway. The humming was unbearably loud, and then all went quiet.

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