First of all, this is a very, very, VERY rough draft. I just kind of felt like writing and seeing where I could possibly take this story. I kind of just wanted to get the general idea across, so there are probably grammatical errors, and definitely places where I would like to go into much more detail later on. But I thought I’d share it with you. I realize I don’t have chapter 2 to this story yet (well, I do, I just haven’t posted it) but I thought it would be interesting to alternate every chapter. The odd chapters will be how it started, with Jonah in The Unknown, but then the even chapters will be the 24 hours before he arrived there. Eventually leading up to how he got there, which will make more sense when you read this chapter. Anywho, I know it’s a little all over the place, but I’m trying to see if I can even commit to this idea and if the general plot I’m creating is something people would enjoy reading. So don’t judge too harshly, I know it’s nowhere near done. Enjoy!
Jonah stared at the woman standing in front of him, curiosity and confusion painted across his face.
“Where am I? Who are you?”
The corners of Beverly Blanke’s clenched mouth rose slightly, once again barely passing as a gentle smirk.
“You don’t listen very well, do you, Mr. Stark?” she said, pushing her pen under the clamp of her clipboard and resting them both on the side of her hip. “As I just said, I am Beverly Blanke and you are in The Unknown. Well, more specifically, you are in what is known as The Hive in Zone One. I’m sure you have many questions and I will be happy to answer of all them, but first I will ask you to please come with me. Everything will be explained in due time.”
Jonah wasn’t satisfied with this answer. He had woken up in a strange place with no recollection of how he had gotten there and now was standing face-to face (well, more accurately face-to-chest) with a mysterious woman. He couldn’t the exact emotion he was feeling, but it was somewhere in between scared and intrigued.
“Can you at least tell me how I got here? All I remember is walking home from work. Then I woke up in this room.”
Beverly Blanke looked at him with an amused, yet impatient twinkle in her eyes. She did not respond, but simply spun around on her five-inch heel and started walking away.
“Unless you’d like to stay in there forever, my dear, I suggest you come with me,” she said.
Although Jonah had a deeply unsettling feeling about this place and Beverly Blanke, he didn’t want to be trapped in that room any longer. With so much going on, it wasn’t until he stood up that he realized what he was wearing. Far off from his usual frayed jeans and graphic hoodie, he was dressed in all white. Jonah massaged the fabric in-between his thumb and pointer fingers, noticing it was incredibly soft, almost like silk. While moving his hand up toward his neck, he felt a small chain. Pulling it out from underneath his shirt, he noticed that it, too, was white. On it, it read:
What does this mean? Jonah thought, inspecting the smooth white pendant. It resembled the dog tags you see given to soldiers in the Army, but instead of having rounded edges like them, it was a perfect square. A perfectly mysterious square that only filled Jonah’s head with more unanswered questions.
Jonah looked up and realized that Beverly Blanke was no longer standing there.
Maybe she doesn’t even realize I’m not behind her. If I go the other way, maybe I could find a way out of this place, he thought. His eyes were darting back and forth, frantically looking for something that could be used as a weapon in case he ran into trouble. But he had no luck. The had nothing in it but the four walls and the door that Beverly Blanke had walked in and out of.
Jonah slowly peered his head out of the doorway, looking down the hall to see if the woman was standing there, waiting for him. She wasn’t. As he turned his head to the other direction, his gaze was met with a white wall.
“Great. A dead end,” he said softly.
Jonah turned around and slowly made his way down the narrow white hallway. There were no other doors and no windows. In fact, there was nothing except blank walls and a blank tiled floor. He approached a left turn, and once again slowly peeked his head over the corner. There he saw the woman, standing, with her back to him. She was saying something, but so softly that Jonah couldn’t hear.
What is she saying? He thought.
Just as Jonah finished his thought, Beverly Blanke whipped her body around to face him. Jonah flew his head back behind the wall, hoping she didn’t see him.
“I said, hurry up. You don’t want to be late, now, do you? Wouldn’t that be ironic.”
She seemed to amuse herself saying this, letting out a quick chuckle. But it didn’t make a lick of sense to Jonah. He thought about it, and decided he would play along until he could find some sort of exit or come up with a plan of escape.
“Coming!” he shouted, lightly running towards her.
“Ah, there you are. Jonah, my dear, I feel it is my responsibility to warn you, that if you do try to escape, there will be severe consequences. I promise you, you are in no danger here. In fact, it is my entire job is to make sure you get registered, are kept safe, and are given an orientation before being let out into The Unknown. So please, for both our sakes, don’t make this any more difficult than it has to be.”
They continued to walk down the hall for what seemed like thirty minutes. Then, after making countless left turns, Jonah saw the first pop of color other than the woman’s hair and lips since waking up in this strange place. At the end of the hallway was a gold-colored elevator. It had the bars placed in front of the doors like the old elevators you’d see in a black and white movie. As they approached it, Jonah realized it was bigger than a normal elevator. It looked to be about twenty feet in height and fifteen feet across, just under the size of an average freight elevator.
The golden bars separated slowly, along with the shimmering doors that hid beneath them. Inside, the earthy tones of browns and greens and golds and oranges flooded Jonah’s vision. It was almost as if he had forgotten what colors looked like, being trapped in a sea of white for the past few hours. Beverly Blanke stepped into the elevator and Jonah followed behind her. Looking around, Jonah was overwhelmed by the amount of detail along the railings of the structure. They had incredibly, impossibly intricate details of flowers and abstract designs, covering every square inch of the ethereal box.
The doors closed when Jonah noticed there were no buttons like in a normal elevator.
“Where are the buttons?” he asked.
The tall woman didn’t look or acknowledge Jonah. Just as the doors shut, a loud whirring sound, similar to the one Jonah heard when he first woke up there, began filling the small space with its deafeningly loud sound.
“Hold on to the railing, my dear. We don’t want you getting hurt on your first day, now do we?” she said, gripping the golden bar herself, wrapping her freshly-manicured fingers tightly around it. Jonah grabbed the bar to his left and instinctively closed his eyes, fearing what was about to happen.
The whirring of the elevator grew louder and louder, its frantic pattern becoming faster with every increase of volume. Just as the hysterical sound couldn’t possibly get any louder, an incredibly strong force pushed Jonah’s body down. He felt as if gravity was stepping on him as the elevator hurdled through the air at a speed incomprehensible to the human body.
Jonah pinned to the floor, Beverly Blanke didn’t move her eyes even one centimeter towards him. She calmly stood there, proper and poised, impatiently checking her diamond-encrusted silver watch, as if she had somewhere to be.
The elevator came to a sudden halt and a short, loud ding sounded. As the doors began to slowly open, Jonah picked himself off the tiled floor, his heart still fluttering in a frenzy, trying to re-center his equilibrium. As the doors opened, Jonah’s eyes shifted from scared and confused to complete awe and amazement. Behind the doors were no longer series of blank, white walls, plain and windowless. The space was open and enormous. Tall buildings peered over the horizon, all gold and bronze in color, but with geometric architecture Jonah had never seen before. Vehicles with six wheels whizzed past, the open roof displaying a dozen eyes looking around with as much curiosity as Jonah’s.
People were walking with a quick pace in every direction, some happily conversing with the ones by their side, and others quickly rushing, checking their watch incessantly, the same way Beverly Blanke had.
“What is this place?” Jonah asked. Beverly Blanke finally looked down at him, with the same disconcerting grin on her face, almost as if she was amused by the question.
“This, my dear, is The Unknown.” She said, motioning for him to follow her as she cut her way through the busy crowd. Her strides were fast and long, and Jonah found he had to almost jog to keep up with her. “Now, I know you have a lot of questions, and as I promised you earlier, they will all be answered in due time. For now, you are going to meet your Placement Counselor. You have been assigned to Ronald Roober. Very nice man. He will answer any and all questions you most certainly have.”
Jonah continued to follow the peculiar woman, looking around at the frantic bustling of people who surrounded him. He saw a woman in a long, tightly fitted wedding gown atop one of the open vehicles, sobbing into her perfectly-manicured hands. Behind her, standing in front of a large, clear tube was a man dressed in nothing but sandals and a bathing suit. Jonah watched as the man stood there, staring straight at the tube, wondering what he was looking at. And in that instant, a rectangular section of the tube slid open and the man in the flip-flops walked in. The door shut and Jonah’s jaw dropped open as he saw the man get sucked up the tube and catapulted away in less than a second.
Jonah and Beverly Blanke approached a tall, triangle-shaped building, resembling a sleek, golden, modern pyramid, made entirely out of glass and what appeared to be painted gold. Jonah stopped.
“You keep saying that. That I’m in The Unknown. But how did I get here? What is this place? Some sort of secret underground government facility? Are you going to do tests on me?” Jonah’s heart race began to increase again and Beverly Blanke could see the look of terror that swept over his face.
“Relax, my dear. Everything will be explained very shortly. I know it’s a lot to process, but Mr. Roober will take great care of you. He is the best we have, in fact.” Jonah’s face did not change from the expression of curiosity and fear.
There were two large golden doors in front of them, probably each standing a towering twenty feet or so. The doors slowly opened and Beverly Blanche once again signaled Jonah to follow her. Jonah looked around at the enormous placed he had stepped inside of, the ceilings being three times as high as the doorway, accented with hanging chandeliers the size of a buffalo, decorated with swirling golden designs and beneath it hung hundreds of tiny crystals, shimmering in the light. The floor was splashed with black and gold tiles, each perfectly placed, creating patters of triangles, both large and small.
They proceeded up a stairwell covered in a carpet with the same black and gold patterns as the tiles before it. Jonah looked at the walls, plastered with gold and brown wallpaper. On it, hung dozens of pictures of men and women posing in extravagant clothing, with rectangular gold plaques beneath that had names engraved into them.
“Who are all of these people?” Jonah asked, reaching out to touch one of the plaques. Beverly Blanke whipped her torso around and flung out her arm, slapping Jonah’s hand.
“Now, dear. It isn’t proper etiquette to come in to a place and start touching everything you see, now is it?” She said with a huff, turned back around, and continued walking.
At the end of the hallway was a door, standing about ten feet high. It’s frame had a wooden finish and the doorknob was the same gold placed around the rest of the humungous structure. In the center was a translucent glass square with gold letters on it reading:
Placement Counselor D.C.
It reminded Jonah of the doors in the murder mystery TV shows, where the detective’s office is. Other than it’s size and impeccably-detailed border, it looked just like them.
Beverly Blanke knocked on the door.
“Ronald, it’s Beverly. I have a new one for you.”
A loud, baritone voice roared from the other side of the door.
“Oh, good, good. I was just finishing up some paperwork. Come on in.”
Beverly Blanke opened the door and Jonah curiously followed behind her. Inside sat a man behind an old-looking brown desk. He had snow-white hair atop his head, each strand wildly out of place. His circular, blue glasses almost looked comical placed upon such a large nose and tiny brown eyes. His large frame was wearing a grey, poorly-tailored suit. His discombobulated appearance resembled the scattered stacks of paper strewn across the desk.
“Hello, Beverly-“ he said, presenting a mouth full of crooked white teeth as he grinned. “-It’s been quite a while. I hope you’re well.”
“Yes, thank you. This is Mr. Starke, Ronald. He was in the East Wing at The Hive” she said, emphasizing the word “east” as if it had significance. Ronald’s bushy left eyebrow rose with curiosity.
“Well, then, isn’t that something. I can take it from here, Ms. Blanke. Thank you.”
Beverly shot a quick smile in the peculiar-looking man’s direction, completely avoiding any eye contact with Jonah. She nodded her head slightly, turned, and walked out the door, her heels clacking as she walked down the hallway. Jonah stood nervously awaiting the man with the funny spectacles to say something.
“Please, Mr. Starke, have a seat. I bet you have lots of questions. I will be your Placement Advisor here in The Unknown. And I hope you will come to think of me as someone you can eventually confide in. So, the first order of business is explaining why you’re here and, well, what here is.”
Finally, Jonah thought. Finally I’ll find out what the hell I’m doing here. Jonah sat down in one of the worn-looking orange stools that sat precariously in front of Ronald’s desk. They did not have legs, but only a long, orange rod that went down into a sharp point, touching the ground. It looked as though it shouldn’t be able to stand upright, and as if when sat on, it would topple over. But it didn’t.
Ronald looked Jonah in the eyes, and Jonah felt almost as if the small, burly man was peering into his very soul.
“Do you know why you’re here, Jonah?”
Jonah’s eyes looked straight at the man’s, feeling almost as if looking away would somehow be rude.
“No. I asked that woman if this was some sort of government facility, because my brother used to work for the government. He told me about these types of places where people get abducted and get all these experiments done on them. But the lady said I’d have all my questions answered in time. And by you, I’m assuming. So tell it to me straight, man. Where am I? How did I get here?”
Ronald Roober’s hands cupped together on top of his desk. His eyes looked down for a second and then met Jonah’s once again. He let out a soft breath, and a grin formed on his face that was much more authentic and comforting than Beverly Blanke’s had been.
“Well, Mr. Starke. As you know by now, this place is called The Unknown. And you’re here because, well…” He paused, looking like he had said this exact sentence a million times, but yet still somehow eeming simultaneously apathetic and nervous. “…well, Mr. Starke…you died.”