All he could see was purple.
Images soaked in the colour floated across his mind; a great flying ship scooping him up, a man made of metal running towards him, the whole world exploding. Then it was all gone and the purple became a deep red as the sunlight tried its damnedest to pry his eyelids open.
His whole body tensed as cold water enveloped him. His balls shrivelled, his throat tightened and his ears found the world to suddenly be a muffled place. He dug his fingers deep into the warm sand as tension revealed pain across his body. Conceding the need to see his surroundings he tried to open his eyes but the rush of bright light was too much. He rolled over and tried again but the ground beneath him seemed just as bright.
Eyes still shut, he tried to recall the images that had stirred him. He tried to place them, tried to give them context, but he couldn’t. Instead he discovered a different problem. He found he was grasping at pieces of a puzzle from a picture he had never seen. How did he end up here? Where was here? Who was he?
What . . . was . . . his . . . name?
That last one made him catch his breath as he began to realise the severity of his situation.
Still laying down in the sand with the waves occasionally washing over him, he found his eyes beginning to cope better with the daylight. Squinting, his hand shading as best it could, he looked around to get his bearings. He was on a beach which, in better circumstances, would be considered close to paradise. Golden sands stretched away to either side and behind him was beautiful blue water. The beach was a bay, the land rising away to the left and right like huge arms trying to hold the water in. Across the beach, up ahead of where he lay, the sand became dirt, became grass, became a tree line. He couldn’t sense the presence of anyone around but he thought it would be safer if he was a little out of sight. The tree line seemed like a good bet until he could remember why he was here and work out how far he’d have to go to find someone who knew him better than he knew himself.
He sunk his hands into the sand and went to push himself to his feet when a sharp pain exploded in his chest. He fell face first back into the sand and cried out loud, the pain so bad that he was no longer concerned with who might hear him. He rolled onto his back as the pain subsided. He sat up slowly, pulled the light chest armour up over his head and lifted his tatty shirt to find something he did not expect.
Embedded in his chest, a little to the left where his heart was, he saw a purple stone the size of his fist. At first he thought it was stuck to him and that the pain was just its movement tearing his skin. But he knew that was not true. This stone wasn’t stuck on him but rather it was stuck in him. Little movements told him that it went in far enough that he should not be alive. Around the edge, his skin was covered in a light purple rash as if the stone was infecting him, as if it was leaking. Tentatively he raised his hand and touched it lightly with a finger. The pain didn’t return as he’d expected, in fact it was almost gone now, but he noticed how cold the stone was.
Now he had more questions and he figured that this stone might just be at the centre of most of the answers.
From the treeline where he’d set up camp the view had changed to a different kind of beauty. The sun had said its farewell while he’d taken a makeshift spear on a hunting trip. Now, as he sat beside his small campfire eating crab, he watched the moon take the stage in front of the diamond covered canvas of the night sky.
His instinct told him not to wander too far for now. The darkness held too many dangers while beyond the cliffs and the trees were mysteries greater than the beach on which he’d woken.
With nothing else to occupy himself with except the last of the crab meat and the view he felt his mind wander again to the stone embedded in his chest. The pain he’d felt earlier was staying away but he remained cautious and only touched it lightly. While it was clear the stone was forced into him, he couldn’t begin to imagine how he was still breathing.
He knew he could ponder this question and a hundred others until the sun rose up and began another day but it was useless. Come morning he would have little choice but to explore further than the beach and hope he was lucky enough to have answers unfurl before him as his world grew larger.
He threw the remains of the crab shells to his left and found they landed at a strangers feet. Instinct sprang him to his feet, his fists clenched ready.
“Who are you?”
Across the fire stood a woman dressed in light armour and wearing a solemn look upon her face.
He glanced at his own roughed up armour that was now piled against a nearby tree. It looked very similar to that worn by the woman. He quickly returned his attention to her knowing that matching dress sense did not mean friendship.
The woman stood still, watching him with sad eyes. Her long red hair hung either side of her pale face while her arms hung that much lower. Like his armour, hers had seen better days. The flames of the campfire danced in those sad eyes.
“Who are you?” he asked again.
Instead of replying the woman sat down. This made him nervous and he looked around then, expecting others to emerge from the shadows among the trees, for the woman to be the bait of a trap. But no one else came. It was only the woman and himself. He was content for the situation to remain calm and see where it went. What else was he going to do other than go to sleep, something made harder by the appearance of the woman.
He pointed at his pile of armour. “We have the same armour,” he said. It was half a statement and half a question. His frustration brewed as it seemed she was refusing to communicate with him. He was about to repeat himself, to make sure it was clearly a question, when she looked up at him and nodded.
He relaxed a little and sat down beside the fire, across from her. “Do you know who I am?” She nodded again. He felt his worries float away then as the burden of not knowing his own identity disappeared. This woman knew him and could fill in the blanks. Earlier that day he’d accepted the tough facts that, if his memory continued to fail him, if he was far from people who knew him, then it could be some time before he felt whole again. But luck favoured him, it seemed, and his situation was far from dire.
He let out a big sigh and smiled at the woman. “You have no idea how happy you’ve made me,” he said. “You see, I’m having a little problem with my memory. I know it sounds crazy but I honestly don’t know who I am or what I’m doing here.” He thought she might open up a little and laugh along with him at the absurdity of his situation but no smile adorned her face. Perhaps she just didn’t have a sense of humour. No matter. “If it’s not too much trouble I’d appreciate it if you’d fill in the blanks.”
Again he was met with silence and a less than thoughtful stare. Although he didn’t know his relationship towards this woman he was beginning to get a good picture of it.
“Please?” he said.
She shook her head, her red hair dancing, and then she disappeared.