Relapse Excerpt #1

The man puts his hand up in the air making a stop gesture and tilts his head towards the soldier on his right. The guards lower their rifles and ease their stance.
“I am Colonel Demir.”, he said in a calm voice.
“Where are you from?”
“Not here”, I said, regretting it immediately after it left my stupid sarcastic mouth. He wasn’t happy but he simply smiled, and asked again. “Who are you? Where are you from?”
“Where am I now?”, I asked sincerely. I knew I wasn’t answering his questions but it didn’t matter because I knew he wouldn’t be satisfied with my answers anyway. In a flash his hand came up from his side and flew across my right cheek with enough power to release some air from joints in my neck in a loud snap. I reach up to wipe the blood from my mouth.
“I have little patience for this, boy”, he spoke lightly but firmly into my ear, “You will tell me what I need to know.”
“Look, I ended up here, I think I blacked out. I’m not sure where I am or how I got here. I’m just as confused as you are. Please…”, I stammered through my words, in an effort to beg for my existence, which clearly wasn’t worth much to Colonel Demir.
He paced back and forth for what seemed like an eternity and finally spoke again. “You are in the glorious desert of An Nafud, Arabia.”
Hang on. I knew enough at my job to know that there wasn’t a region called “Arabia” since before the 1930s.
“What year is it?”, I asked sincerely. Colonel Demir and the other soldiers started laughing. I think I could have asked that question any way I wanted, and it still would have garnered that same response.
“How is it that do you not know? Hah, I think the sun has baked his brain!”, he said looking at his soldiers, mocking me.
“I will play your game, boy. It is the year 1817. You have entered the territory of The Eternal State of Mahmud the Second!”, There was a sense of glory in his speech. “We are at war, and you do not belong!”, he said pointing his finger at me to reiterate the statement.
1817? No… no… that’s just not possible.
“If I didn’t know any better I would think that was a very convincing face of shock and surprise, fear even!”, he said sarcastically, “However, I do know better, and there is definitely something you’re not telling me, boy.”
Of course I wasn’t telling him everything, I can’t. Would I even if I could? Probably not. The fact is, I’m two-hundred and eight years in the past, my past. Under the sheer strain of this enormous realization I feel another blackout coming on, my brain isn’t able to handle the thought of what is going on and the mental block my brain has made in an effort to cope with this nightmare. I’m trapped, alone, about to be imprisoned, maybe killed, yet all I can keep thinking about is the phrase from that note before all of this happened, “You’re not really here. Wake up.”
Just as I begin to feel that familiar sensation in the back of my head, and my eyes wince and I start to cringe… I hear a loud blast come from behind outside, around the back of this shed. Also the sound of gunfire, but something is off, this doesn’t sound like any gun from this time period… or mine. What the hell is going on here? I hear some orders come through from Demir, “Flank around the right, don’t let the lapsers escape!” Lapser? What the hell is a lapser? Does it somehow have to do with how I go here? Maybe these invaders could give me some answers, or perhaps they’re here to kill me too.
Over in the corner of the shed I see a rapier close enough to my feet. I attempt to stretch my legs far enough over to drag it over so I can loosen the rope bindings on my wrist. After enough limb stretching I’m able to bring the machete over to my body. I grab it with my hands from behind my back and start to rub the rapier against the rope bindings. As I do the bladed edge cuts slowly and not cleanly into my skin, a necessary evil to resist if I’m to get the bindings off.
As soon as I’m about to free myself from captivity the door blows off and someone steps through. Through the wake of the shrapnel, a woman comes through and says “We need to move. NOW!”
“Well, beautiful, I would but I’m quite tied up at the moment, no pun intended.” I said, casually… okay I’m flirting, give me a break!
“Ah we have a joker do we? Well you can die here or you can come with me and have a small chance at living? What’s your choice, you have a few seconds to make it.” she said sarcastically, yet with this complete sense of warrior-like seriousness. She’s battle-hardened, wonderfully evident by the numerous scars and shot wounds across her arms and the symbolic tattoo across her neck, one I do not seem to recognize from where I’m from.
“With you it is! Got a weapon for me?” I said coyly, not like I’d even know how to use it but I’d still like to have one just incase someone wants to point another gun at my ass, a lovely feature I’d like to keep thank-you-very-much.
“Here’s this,” she throws me a sort of pistol-like weapon, glowing blue from the side with no visible moving parts, “it’s a particle-accelerator pistol, I doubt you’d know how to recharge it so for now you’ve got maybe five or six shots tops before it runs out, so make it count.” she said with clear orders.
“I’m Range, by the way.” she added in.
“I’m Nat…,” I attempted to get in before…
“No, you’re Joker… for now. We don’t use real names around here. Just trust me for now, you have to, or you won’t survive the night.”
“Joker it is.” I said, fitting I suppose given my sarcastic nature. “Range” though… I thought to myself, what kind of symbology exists behind a name like that? And then I see her shoot a hostile turk about 300 yards coming over the sand dune. “Yep, that’s why.” I said out loud.
“What’s why?” she asked.
“Oh, nothing.” I said back laughing under my breath.
“Strap up, Joker, you’re in for a long, long night.”
Unfortunately, given the circumstances and Demir who clearly didn’t belong, I didn’t belong, and Range also did not belong, yet she is the only one so far who has helped me so I’ve got no choice. Trust her…

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