“Who am I?”
He repeated the question to everyone who walked by, often followed by a plea for help. All he received in return were blank stares from the blackened depths of large almond-shaped eyes. Many of them stared back at him. If they had expressions on their emotionless faces, he guessed they would show curiosity or maybe fear.
All he could do was wander the streets paved with textured glass. That seemed unfamiliar to him. Something inside of him was trying to tell him that streets weren’t supposed to look like that. The buildings towered around him, glistening like crystal under a white sun. He stopped to rub his fingers over the leaf of a nearby plant and marveled in the way it recoiled at his touch, as though he was molesting it. None of this felt right to him.
He focused his attention on his hands and glanced around at the people walking by. His flesh had a pink hue. His fingers were shorter and fatter. He had fingernails. Fingernails. He knew what the smooth, hard bits at the tips of his fingers were called, even though nobody else there had them. Why couldn’t he remember his name?
When he came across a wall of glossy metal, polished to a mirror finish, he jumped back at his reflection. He looked nothing like anyone else. His height easily towered over them, but his body was slender. He ran his fingers through the sandy hair that hung over his ears. While everyone else wore a tidy one-piece suit in muted colours, his shirt was bright, wrinkled, and slightly too big for his frame. His blue jeans had a tear in one knee.
Images began to flash in his mind. Pictures of a different world that had a more familiar feeling seemed to take precedence, but they were interspersed with memories of things that must have happened only recently. The pictures were displaced in time. He had memories of being very young, then suddenly he was older than he looked now. Occurrences of the past weren’t happening on a timeline. He recalled faces not unlike his own that felt natural, but they had no names that he could give. Between those thoughts, he would see the same brightly lit room and distorted faces peering down at him.
Where was he?
He headed back to the building he left only minutes ago, seeking a small semblance of comfort there. He had a bed to lie in and food to eat. For someone who was misplaced, it was the best place to go.
The door slid open automatically with a sound like escaping air and he stepped inside, almost knocking over a figure in a long grey coat. He thought he might know him. Or her. Its gender was unclear, but something suggested that this being was known to him even though they all looked alike.
“Can you help me?” he begged the figure. “Can you tell me who I am? Where I am?”
The small being cocked its large bald head and gestured him to follow. They entered a room much like the one in his fractured memory and sat down. Three other beings stood off to one side and watched silently.
The figure spoke. Its words were coherent, though heavily broken and inflected. “Your name is Toby Chambers. Does that sound known to you?”
Toby rolled the words around in his mouth. Something did light up in the back of his mind. He nodded curtly.
“My name is Dix’opt. We are on the planet Snevonus,” the creature continued. “We brought you here to study your kind and learn more about you.”
“So, you abducted me? Toby snarled.
“Well, yes, but we do plan to put you back. Ideally our subjects don’t lose more than a day or two from the time we pick them up. Once you are returned home, your regular memories will come back to you. You shouldn’t remember us at all.”
“So then, bring me home. What are we wasting time here for?” Toby stood up, making his eagerness to leave obvious.
Dix’opt glanced at his colleagues who shrugged back. “That’s actually been a bit of an issue. You see, we are doing everything in our power to get you home as quickly as possible, but we’ve hit a bit of a snag.”
“A snag?” Toby repeated, gritting his teeth. His anger bubbled to the surface and he struggled not to grab the alien by the pencil-like neck and shake him. “Why don’t you enlighten me?”
“It so happens,” Dix’opt looked back at the group standing by the wall once again for reassurance, “that we’ve forgotten where we took you from. So, you see, just a small problem.”
Dix’opt held his hands out apologetically but Toby replied with a well-placed fist between the alien’s eyes. Turning to the group of panicked figures quickly shifting toward the door, Toby smiled maniacally. “Now, that, I’m going to remember.”