Each morning of his captivity Edward A James examined the silver-framed photo of his wife Kathleen, and then checked the nickel-plated 45 Caliber pistol on the right-side night table. He stuck to the same schedule every single day. He kept the faith.
His imprisonment was a mystery. But, THEY were incapable of breaking him. It was never going to happen.
Physical survival so far was a given. On schedule the dumbwaiter in the kitchen area brought him food, bottled water, coffee, and even vitamins. The deliveries were entirely automated; there was no user interface or choices to be made. Edward was limber enough and squeezed inside it one day. Where would it take him? He panicked and jumped out.
However, Edward James belonged to The One Percent. Indomitable. William Blake the nineteenth century artist and writer defined the One Percent as someone who ‘perceives more than sense (though ever so acute) can discover.’ But so far, Edward James’s ‘acuity’ had gotten him nowhere. He ‘discovered’ he didn’t even know where nowhere was.
Keep it together. Figure who did this to him. And why. He’d get out. He’d get even.
He constantly replayed the moment the dark mist took him from Kathleen. They were piloting their tandem bicycle, and the mist was responsible. How did it happen? Where was here? Was he even ON EARTH?
They’d stopped and rested at the Skyhaven State Ocean Park. Paused at The Seashell, with its dark wood paneling and peculiar warm reddish tungsten lighting. Its plump circular form-factor made it look like a giant people-filled pumpkin when they came in the evening for the free music concerts.
But it was daytime, and bright; and the band began playing oldies just after sunset, so they headed down towards the edge of the world. The Ocean.
She had a digital camera and used it a lot. They walked south. They were just a few miles North of the Massachusetts border. The attractive plump gray and white gulls, Edward believed they were ‘larus argentatus,’ seemed to be getting fewer in number. There were new birds showing up, a gang of different birds, that were scaring the local gulls away.
The new birds were surly, much larger than the locals, and moved awkwardly, jerking around like re-animated dead things. “Zombie Birds,” Kathleen called them. Their eyes kept changing from electric blue, to diabolical red, to soft black emptiness.
Kathleen told Edward about Angelique Fraser’s visitors with eyes like the zombie birds. “They went to her place, The Arielle Facility. One day the strange visitors showed up, acted very intimidating. Surly… Angelique said surly… They threatened them… Left two coins… ‘Platinum Coins…’ Two days afterwards Angelique’s husband, my brother… also named Edward, like you… went permanently missing. They think he jumped off the Bay Bridge.”
Kathleen noticed the Zombie Birds did not eat. They merely watched.
“Edward, the tide’s coming!” Kathleen already had about five hundred tide pictures, but that didn’t matter to either of them. That fractal arrangement of swells, crests, breakers, never dull. They never tired of this friendly giant, the Atlantic Sea.
Edward Engineer studied the water density, interpreted the colors showing him where the deep places were that particular time of day. He sniffed scents iodine, algae, and sea-beasts. The Ocean was never the same, but it was always felt the same. Always good to be there with Kathleen. Complexity in nature, knew Edward A James, was a constant.
“Edward, the doggy!” Kathleen loved doggies, particularly Labrador Retrievers. This one was a Golden Lab, the color of sunshine on a perfect day; which it was so far. Edward had studied Labradors. He studied everything, especially dogs. Labs descended from a breed from New Foundland called the Saint John’s Water Dog. They had webbed paws, which made them great swimmers.
Kathleen James only knew that Labrador Retrievers love to play, and have souls at least as large as The Atlantic. Fittingly, the dog and his keeper were playing catch and retrieve. The man threw a tennis ball, and somehow the Lab would be able to find it in the foamy water and bring it back, racing the waves to shore. The Lab kept turning and looking behind him. The Lab was smiling and racing the waves to shore.
“Kathleen, can dogs wag their tails hard so hard they can wag them right off?”
“Edward, you’re a silly goose, you know,” she told him the day before the mists later came.
Back in his octagonal prison suite, Edward began the daily coffee ritual he’d adhered to for two solid weeks. “Kathleen, yes…” he replied to his fading memory Kathleen.
Second, reconnaissance. A new search for the same non-existent entries and exits.
Third, air quality check. Today he detected faint traces of flowery perfume and something like paint thinner. Also a first, there were tiny black flies in his white kitchen.