I woke up to find myself strapped to a table.
I struggled to get up which brought the other occupant of the room running.
“Whoa! Whoa, whoa! Don’t try to get up!”
I looked at him, confused. For some reason all I could think of was Doc Brown from the Back to the Future movies.
“What…?” I managed to get out. I hadn’t recovered from the blow to the head yet and everything was still fuzzy. “Who…?”
The man laughed. “Just relax. You’re feeling the effects of the neurochemicals we’ve pumped into you.”
“Neuro… what!” I struggled to get up again.
“Calm down!” the man said. “I’m a doctor. You’re completely safe. Probably. I think.” He stopped long enough to take a breath from an inhaler he carried and shook his head. “Whoa! This is exciting!”
My head was still fuzzy but I took a deep breath and tried again. “Where am I?” I got out finally. “And what is going on? Who are you?”
The man nodded. “Good. Good.” He looked over his shoulder at a console of some kind. “Patient is responding.” He then looked back at me.
“You’re in the Eye. Illuminati HQ. You’re lucky; most people who wander in here don’t get to leave. Well, not the same way they entered. Anyway, you are very lucky. You have been given an Anima infusion. Not many people can say that.”
His eyes focused on the distance for a moment. “If only we’d had people like you around back in MK Ultra. Wow. Imagine what we could have done then.”
He looked back at me. “Did you know that if you dose chimpanzees with LSD they can pick up human gestures and body language up to 20 times faster?” Again he looked into the distance and sighed. “Man, those were exciting times…”
He turned his attention back to me again. “Oh yeah, right. Zurn. Doctor Zurn. I’m a doctor. Really. I’m just unappreciated!” He turned and glared at the console again. “They don’t appreciate my genius…”
“Zurn!” a woman’s voice came from the console followed by a sigh. There was a pause. “Leave the discussions of your ‘unappreciated talent’ to HR. Or Q&A. In the meantime, do you think you can get back to the orientation?”
Zurn suddenly straightened up. “Yes, Ms. Geary!” he said, suddenly sounding more nervous. “I’m on it!” He turned back to me. “Management.” he said with a shrug.
The sound of a throat clearing came from the console. “I’m still here.” said Geary in a sing-song voice.
“Yes, Ms. Geary!” Zurn said over his shoulder. “Right! Orientation!”
“Doc…” I tried again.
“Yeah, right.” Zurn turned his attention back to me. “We don’t have time to run you through a proper training schedule. Espionage, firearms, thaumaturgy, that sort of thing. Fortunately, you’ve been given a massive Anima infusion which means you’ll be able to soak up new skills like a squid soaks up ink.” He paused. “Squirts ink. That doesn’t work, does it?”
He shook his head. “Anyway, we’ve set up a computer simulation of the incident in Tokyo two weeks ago. We’re going to run you through that scenario and let you pick up everything you need to know through osmosis. Or telepathy. Magic. Like magic. But it isn’t. Not really.”
The more Zurn explained things the less sense they were making. “Look…” I tried again. “Can you please tell me what is going on?”
He sighed and looked at me the way one might look at a small child. “OK” he said with a sigh. “Let’s try to start from the beginning. Or near there anyway. Do you ever watch those weird monsters and aliens shows on The History Channel? Or read the headliners on the tabloids at the checkout?”
I looked at him. “Not really, no.”
He shrugged. “You should. They’re all true. Most of them. Well, at least half. OK, some of them anyway.”
“What?” I said, wondering what I had gotten myself into.
He laughed. “Yeah, we get that reaction a lot. But yeah, it’s all true. Everything. Every legend about ghosts and monsters and things that go ‘bump in the night’. All true. We call it ‘The Secret World’. And it’s my job… well, our job to keep it a secret. By fighting the things that don’t want us to be here and who want to see us driven back to the trees. Or further.”
Zurn had lost some of his manic edge. What he was saying sounded insane but I could somehow tell that he believed what he was saying. My head was starting to feel foggy again and I was having trouble focusing.
“OK” I got out finally. “So why me?”
Zurn laughed at that. “Been stung by a bee lately? Or maybe you swallowed one?”
I started to reply then remembered my dream from a week ago, remembered feeling as if I was swallowing bees and flies and how I woke up coughing. And throwing fireballs.
Zurn nodded. “We call them ‘The Buzzing’. We don’t know what they are exactly, but they aren’t bees. And they seem to have humanity’s interest in mind. We think.”
He took another hit off of his inhaler. “Anyway, it appears that they have chosen you! And not just you, people like you are suddenly popping up everywhere. Wow!” He leaned closer. “That is exciting! So many people being infused with Anima, all at once. Something big must be about to happen. And we’re right in the middle of it! Isn’t that exciting!”
It was becoming harder to think. Despite my position I was having trouble staying awake. “What?” I got out finally. “What is happening?”
“We don’t know.” Zurn said, suddenly serious again. “We think it has something to do with what happened in Tokyo two weeks ago. That’s why we’re running you through the scenario.”
“The.. what?” I couldn’t hold my head up anymore and fell backwards onto the table, closing my eyes as I did.
I heard Zurn talking as from a great distance. “Oh yeah! The briefing! You need to…” His words faded out. The last I heard was his distant voice saying “The patient has left the building.”