A Work In Progress
by Andrew Hall

Blurring. Mass confusion fills my eyes, as I rise. I cannot see, adequetly. I pan, I focus. A mix of darkness, and slight beams of grey. Focus more. Wipe the confusion away. Shapes, then edges, come to view. Still dark, still dangerous. Still uncertain, still native, still unfamiliar, still dangerous. Coldness runs through the closed space that is the broken room, that is my body, that is my heart. Still dangerous.

Nothing stinks. Nothing offends my senses, apart from the chill, apart from the barely present, yet fading, visual blurring. Nothing stinks. Nothing shrieks. Nothing gags my throat, offends my tongue. Nothing hurts. No omnipresent, unnatural pain. No injury, no wound, no scar, no break. Just cold.

The chill within the damaged room is missed as I step out of a doorless frame. A harsher cold, a blustery, biting wind takes to my skin, burning in its own way. I turn, returning to the room. I saw, yet again, a mix of light and darkness. The wind shattered my concentration, redirected it to the harshest of pain. It awoke my eyes to proper usage. I can see as need be. I can see steel boxes, wooden crates, chairs, a cot which I no doubt laid upon not minutes ago. Rusted bedframe, damaged springs. Thin, rotting mattress. Small prices to pay for much needed rest. Minor discomforts outvoted by the much prioritized requirements of relief from walking.

Walking where? Fear overcomes discomfort as I struggle to reacquire past memories. Past recollections do not surface. My journeys. My destinations. My goals. My name.

Who am I? Fear overcomes fear as I struggle to retain identity. I need answers. I have none to offer. This room provides but one clue; I have been travelling long enough to consider this broken hole a home. Minimum requirements for what it takes to move on. Rest. Discard the pain of monotimy, the pain of endless trekking. Discard the pain of loneliness.

Too much has been discarded. I have no memory in my possession. Such loss can barely be comforted by the fact that some degree of luck has found me shelter. A bed. Warmth. Said warmth can be taken with me. But, where?

I know no destination. I know no journey. No previous goals, anyways. New destinations lay in the form of answers. I know nothing of where I am. Where I was. Where I was going. The need to discover answers takes me outside the room. I wrap myself in the torn, yet mercifully thick, blankets I once slept amongst. Thinner cloth protects my ears, my face. I am faced with the need to learn. I am faced with a most ominous structure.

Its size, its enormity, meant so much to me minutes ago. All that was taken over by the thought that this monster of an industrial complex, this towering, metallic beast... it looks nigh uninhabitable. Black and grey towers, tubes, steel mesh, reaching so high. A factory? It is so quiet. No grinding, no churning, no processing, no billowing smoke. Is it, was it, maintained by man? Machine? Itself? Is this but the dawn of a new work day, this behemoth awaiting its master's touch, a single command to start a day of progress anew? An automated time clock, counting down the last seconds before computers reflexively work independently?

Is this complex the only one of its kind? I sweep about. No. Another, not far off. So different in shape, yet so fearfully similar in nature. A brother. Do they produce the same material? Do they serve the same function? And what of the third, even further in the distance? I turn, I see two more. All slightly different, all chillingly the same. I pray for something different. A different color in paint. Some wood, some plastic. I pray for something inhabitable, for I pray for an inhabitant.

Where do I start? Do I explore the black beast before me? Do I trek beyond its brethren, in hopes of something alien to this industrial coldness? Do I dare to come upon a hilltop, to peer over, to see endless tracks of land with scattered plantings of dozens, hundreds more of these structures... and nothing more?

Do I seek an entrance? I feel I have nothing but time. I feel no hunger, as of yet. I do not look forward to that pain. I begin a walk towards the factory before me. The ground is hard, barely cracked. No snow, despite the harsh cold. No grass. No weeds. No life. Before I continue, I pan about again. Is there no sign of plantlife? No weeds jutting out from the sides of the factories? No dead bushes? No broken tree branches? I doubt I shall see mammal. Not at this juncture, at any rate.

The wind is not constant. It varies in speed, in temperature, although cold enough to always hurt unprotected flesh. I continue forward. I see some manner of opening, its full nature hidden by its placement in a corner. I approach, and find merely an empty, sealed space. I scan the black walls. I see no openings, no windows, no ventilation shafts that one could reach from this point. I return my attention to what I know can be accessed. I see doors.

(to be continued, obviously)

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