I feel as though I’ve just had the best sleep that I’ve ever had in my entire life. But why today? I groan my usual wake-up groan, but I immediately know something is wrong. The surface I’m lying on certainly doesn’t feel like my own bed. If anything, it’s even softer. My eyes now snap open, and as I predicted, I am not safe at home in my bed. I’m in a completely white room. Fluorescent lights line the ceiling. There’s a night table beside the bed I’m lying on. I look through the drawers and find nothing but one book, a copy of JD Salinger’s Franny and Zooey.
I leave the book for now and examine the room more closely. There’s what seems to be a door, except there’s no knob. I decide to get up from bed now and walk over to the door. It’s not an automatic door. I try to move it, but it doesn’t budge. My impulse is telling me to pound on the door and demand to be let out, but I restrain myself. Who knows what could be on the other side? And also, I don’t want to make a bad impression on my potential captors. Perhaps I might live a little longer if I behave.
There’s a TV screen in my room, with a remote sitting on top. I turn on the TV and see if I can find anything that might tell me what day it is or what’s happened while I’ve been asleep, however long that’s been. I sigh as I realize that there’s not a single news channel available on this set, just specialty channels like HBO, FX and Showtime. I fight off the urge to begin watching an episode of Game of Thrones and continue looking around the room.
Just when I think I’ve caught everything in the room I notice a small bit of writing above the door. It says CORNELIUS LABORATORIES followed by what I presume to be its logo. So I’m in Cornelius Laboratories. That teaches me… nothing. I have never heard of the place and I don’t know why I’m here now.
Despite my being imprisoned, I feel remarkably calm. Maybe I was drugged or something, and it’s only a matter of time before the shock of my situation catches up to me. I try to be productive and remember back to my last available memory. I remember coming back from a class at the University of Toronto. It was a psychology class, one of my electives.
I remember walking into my apartment, throwing my backpack on the floor, microwaving some leftovers and then wasting a couple of minutes on Facebook before falling asleep. Nothing comes after that. I’m a fairly light sleeper, so I feel like I would have heard the sound of someone breaking in, wouldn’t I?
I am apparently so lost in my own thoughts that I don’t notice the door to my room has opened. Standing in front of me now is a middle-aged man who, despite the tired look in his eyes and the messiness of his attire, has a smile on his face. It’s not a malevolent “I am in complete control of you and there’s nothing you can do to stop me” kind of smile, but a look of genuine kindness.
“So sorry we had to keep you like this,” the man says. “But we had to be sure you’d be safe.”
“I’m sorry, who are you?” I ask. I again try to be as polite as possible, because for all I know his kind smile could be a total ruse.
“Ah yes, I should have introduced myself first. My name is Dr. Abraham Marks. I’m one of the researchers here at Cornelius Laboratories.” I can’t help but notice that he speaks in a very professorial manor, as if he’s delivering a lecture as opposed to filling me in on where the hell I am.
“Why haven’t i ever heard about Cornelius Laboratories until now?” I ask.
“Not many people have, admittedly,” Marks says. “It’s a top-secret collaboration between some of Canada’s scientists and the federal government.” His response gives me a bit of relief. So they’re (probably) not a terrorist organization or something.
“Okay then,” I say, and pause before asking him the next question. “So, why did you kidnap me?” I decide I’m through being polite. If he’s on the government payroll I’m probably not in any danger of being whacked.
“Goodness! I didn’t kidnap you,” Marks responds. “That was our collection team, actually. You’re pretty important to us.”
“But why?” I ask. I’m now really frustrated with how vague Marks is being about the details here.
“We’ll get to that in a minute. But before I tell you that, are you familiar with the touch plague?”