First off, imagine you're asleep. The deepest kind of sleep imaginable, the sort where a bomb could go off next door and you'd sleep right through it, the sort where you see the most fanciful dreams any human could ever hope to come up with.
Next, I want you to imagine waking up. When you went to sleep, it was the early morning hours after a particularly enjoyable Mardi Gras. Now you're waking up and you have no idea where you are. Not all that odd, perhaps, if you ignore the fact you drew the short straw and were made designated driver this year, but you can overlook that one since you're pretty sure that guy in the crowd next to you was smoking something other than tobacco. Who knows, with all they say about second-hand smoke these days?
But wherever you are now is most definitely not New Orleans. How do you know that? It's way too cold for starters. There is a certain humidity and sweet smell missing from the air; it's too crisp- and clean-smelling to be New Orleans and especially not New Orleans at Mardi Gras.
No, where you are, you reflect as you glance out a window, is a place entirely covered with snow. It's probably been snowing a while since all the tree branches you can see are loaded in the white stuff.
Now normally you wouldn't consider yourself a very curious person, but you're willing to make an exception to that rule. You climb out of bed, taking a long moment to stare down at yourself in shock. There is no way in all the hells you'd normally wear something like this willingly. A glance in the closet and dresser don't provide many better options, and you finally just go with a pair of jeans and a long-sleeved tee-shirt, opting to ignore the fine-pressed creases on both. Great, you've been kidnapped by an obsessive neat freak, you complain to yourself as you hurriedly dress. After all, the sooner you get to the bottom of all this, the better.
You would never admit it aloud, but there is hesitation in your body as you push the bedroom door open. The way your day seems to be going, who knows what could be on the other side, short of -- or maybe no -- a fire-breathing dragon. So perhaps a little caution isn't too bad a thing. And in this case, it proves a wise decision; it's like a freeway outside your door, with people whizzing back and forth, a few slowing to greet you, though it is with a name you've never heard before nor do you think you'll ever be able to repeat it -- or even attempt to spell it. For a long moment, all you're able to think is, God, isn't there a sane person in this entire place?
There is new uncertainty in your steps as you leave the semi-safe haven of the bedroom. More people greet you, again with that strange name or some derivative of it, some going so far as to slap you on the back familiarly, like they've known you for years, only you've never seen them before in your life.
And just when you're starting to think things can't possibly get any weirder without a member of the Lollipop or Lullaby Guild showing up and dancing a cancan on top of your head, you turn a corner to see... yourself. Well, more or less. You were always told that even for identical twins, you and your brother look amazingly alike. He, at least, looks better than he has since you were young: so relaxed and carefree; and in turn, it helps to set you at ease. If your brother is here, then surely everything will be okay; he's never let anything happen to you. Surely, surely this wave of madness must have passed him by.
Finally, he catches sight of you and abandons the person he's talking to (even from this distance, you can't tell if it's a man or a woman) and rushes over to embrace you tightly. He always has been the more affectionate of the two of you. This time, though, you can't help holding on to him too.
He leans back to look at you and frowns. "What's wrong?" he asks.
For a moment, you can only stand there, a bit flabbergasted. I mean, how do you explain something like this to the other half of yourself without sounding like a complete and total dumbass? Finally words fall unchecked from you lips: "What's my name?"
Your brother laughs, then seeing you're not joking, the frown returns with a vengeance. He starts feeling through your hair. "Did you hit your head or something?"
You grab his hands and pull them away from your head, though you can't quite bring yourself to release them; you can't make yourself let go of the one familiar thing here. You feel your eyes fill with as much of the fear as you can possibly let yourself show, though only to him. "Just... humor me, please. What's my name?"
The frown is growing, but you can tell he's going to say something. He takes a breath in preparation to speak -- and then the word that comes out of his mouth is that name.
You shake your head in vehement denial. "No! It's not!"
He blinks. "But it is. It has been for --"
He raises an eyebrow. "Are you sure you didn't hit your head or anything?" His eyes go wide, and his hands tighten, gripping your own in a strong grip. "God, did something go wrong with the healing?"
You shake your head to clear it. "Healing? What are you talking about?"
You get another strange look. "You don't remember getting shot?"
"Shot?" For a split second, your mind flashes back to New Orleans, standing on a crowded street cheering as a float goes by. Something catches your attention from the corner of your eye, and you turn towards it -- to see a man with a gun. There is a loud banging sound that you can barely hear over the parade and the crowd, a burst of pain in your chest, then the pavement beneath your knees, followed finally by a bright flash of light. Again, you shake your head. "Yeah, at Mardi Gras."
Your brother shakes his hands free and grips you shoulder tightly. "That was fifteen hundred years ago."
Confused yet? Welcome to the first day of the rest of my life.
2 January 2004
So here we have the prologue for Lost Faith, the newest bit of original fiction from Angel Maxwell/Eternal SailorM. Hope you enjoy.