Consciousness came gradually. He first became aware of a loud whirring sound – a sound he knew was unfamiliar, even though he couldn’t remember his name. That realization alone made him shoot upright in bed.
And, he now saw, he didn’t know where he was either.
The room was small – no bigger than a bathroom – its walls made of cinderblock painted white. He couldn’t see a window, but the room was awash in natural light. He twisted in bed and found its source – a long, narrow window high on the wall and set with bars.
Bars. Why am I in a room with bars?
As his gaze moved to a heavy steel door to his left, his eye caught something on a bedside table – a small book. It fit wholly within his palm. On the cover – typed in official, old-fashioned type – was the following: WELCOME TO THE COMPOUND.
With a shaking hand, he opened the soft paper cover. The first page began, “WE ARE VERY HAPPY TO HAVE YOU WITH US, XAVIER.”
Is that my name?
He thumbed through the remaining pages – they were filled with widely-spaced, tiny letters, organized in numbered lists.
Rules. Dozens of them.
Before he could read the first one, someone knocked on the door and its knob creaked as it turned.