Death isn't so bad. It doesn't hurt anymore, worries flutter away, and the body relaxes. There is a peace is nothingness.
And then you wake up.
The room is dark, there's no light on to see, but the air is cool and the bed is quite comfortable.
Where are you?
Trauma. Pain. Fire. All gone, and suddenly she is awake again. A sharp intake of breath as there's life, and she's sitting up quickly. Seconds tick by as she looks about, struggling to process the very drastic shift in her surroundings. Hospital? No, there'd be lights. Noises. Something other than darkness. She clutches at the covers, holding them to her chest as she peers into the black. How long has it been? Her memories are a mess, and the name Madison Wellson, while familiar, seems somehow so distant as well. Confused, the woman sits there, staring into the darkness as minutes creep by.
Sitting up so suddenly trigers the lights a few seconds later, perhaps due to the motion. A room. There's the bed that she sits in, a nightstand that has nothing on it, a closet that's closed, and a single door that ostensibly leads out. There is art on the walls, all very moody and solemn, and no windows. A vanity is stationed next to the closet door. The floor is black and white checkered linoleum, the walls and ceiling are white. The lights overhead are tucked up into recesses.
Madison Wellson. Was that her name? She remembers things in fragments through a fog. Mostly the explosion. Fire. Death.
Blinking several times at the sudden light, she sits in thought for some time, peering around the room slowly. Studying the artwork, the door. The vanity. The nightsand. Who knows how long she waits. Did she ... survive? Survive what exactly? Fire. Burning. Choking. A sudden breath, her legs swing out and she stands, shaky at first, but gaining her balance. Every motion is slow. Thoughtful, but eventually, she makes her way to over to open the closet.
She wears a simple, black nightgown, and when she makes her tentative way to the closet and opens it, it is filled with clothes, all tasteful and conservative, all somber colors. The closet is part of a short hallway to a bathroom.
Like everything else, the clothes are studied for far too long, and she looks down the hallway too. It's all very strange. She closes it without another thought, content with the nightgown, apparently. One last sweep over the room. No doubt she'll search it thoroughly, later, but next is to try the door that apparently leads ... somewhere.
The closet light goes off behind her, suggesting the lights are motion-activated. Back through the room she goes, to that door. She finds it unlocked.
A hallway. The tile, walls and ceilings are the same, but the halway lights are already on. Doors line each side in both directions, evenly spaced, suggesting more rooms like her own. No light shines out from under their doors.
To one side, the hallway eventually ends. A dead end. At the other, it opens into a larger room. A communal room of some sort.
She follows the hallway to the end, and then turns about. Her steps become more certain and her motions somewhat quicker. "He ... hello?" She calls out, hesitant. She stops before a random door, just before reaching that larger space. She tries one of the doors, finding that it opens and peers within for a few moments. She turns about to remember which door she came from. Her features crease in a frown. What is going on?
As she passes the doors, each has a subtle picture within the wood, the grain making an image that marks each door, and each door is different. Her own door has a woman sitting on a cliff, her face in her hands, a village burning in the distance. The one she stops at has a woman standing with her arms above her head, crossed languidly at the wrists. She's nude, covered in tattoos, piercings and other alterations, and around her are bones and skulls. The door opens. Darkness inside.
Darkness. She doesn't step within. Instead she turns about. "Hello?" She calls out again, turning towards the end of the hallway, towards that larger room. Everything suggests she should not be alone here. That being the case ... where is everyone? Where is she? Who is she? She pauses just a moment at the threshold for just a moment before entering the larger room proper.
The room is like a large parlor or lounge, the furniture comfortable and modern. There are armchairs, couches and sofas, coffee tables and end tables. One wall is filled with bookshelves and hundreds of books. Another has games of all kinds. There's even a baby grand piano.
What there is not? Windows. A television or radio.
An archway separates the room from another, a large dining room with multiple tables and lots of chairs.
It seems so unreal, like some weird dream as she wanders through the lounger. Her hand trails along the furniture, on the arm of a chair, the back of a couch, over the piano. She examines the bookshelf with an idle curiosity, staring at the volumes like they don't really mean anything, wandering through the archway, moving through the dining room, hands drifting over the tables as she glances around in wonder.
There's one more room that's here, off the dining room. It's strange compared to the others, a considerable bit smaller, and has several touch-screen monitors along the wide wall and nothing else.
She approaches the monitors, turning about as she walks through the room, glancing behind her, beside her. Stepping into that small room to stare at the monitors. A hand reaches out touch one of them.
The monitor comes to life. It has a menu, with just about any type of cuisine she can imagine, dozens of dishes in each, and a wide assortment of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Pretty much anything she can think of is there as she flips from scren to screen, switches menus, and so on.
Some time is spent flicking through the menus, looking at the options. The temptation to try things is there. There are so many options. In the end she goes for the simplest thing she can find. Water.
"Processing..." appears across the screen. A few seconds later, a panel slides open seamlessly, and within the cubby is a glass of water. Other than a small recess for a light, there's no panels, holes, vents, or other markings inside.
She takes the glass and considers it for a time, and the small space in which it is provided. Another frown. "What is this?" She speaks out loud, at least somewhat comforted by the sound of her own voice. She even sips from the glass before making her way out again, back through the dining hall to stare around the parlor in confusion, holding that glass of water. "What is this place?" She says again, her voice rising with the growing confusion.
Once she removes the water, the panel slides closed again, like it never opened at all. The water is lightly cool, and tastes crisp and clean.
She's quickly coming to realize that she's the only one present, her voice the only sound. No one answers her questions.
"Someone had to have built this and put me here somehow," she reasons out loud, "But why are there so many rooms? Where is everyone? Where is ..." she frowns as she can't quite get a grip on those memories. Instead, she drinks the water, emptying the glass quickly and setting it down on a coffee table without a thought as she wanders back down the hallway to the rooms. The room she came from, the other room that opened for her before, the door left open and presumably, still open.
The more she tries to remember, a funny thing happens: things come back. Things from the island, at least. Those memories become more and more vivid with time, but everything before that? Not so much. She remembers things, like her name, her family, her childhood - but it's all just 'things she knows' and not actual memories. She remembers her senior prom in as much as she can see the dress she wore, the guy she went with, the car they had sex in, after, but it's almost like snapshots. Postcards and sticky notes. She knows, but can't remember.
But everything from the island, she remembers in full detail.The Penitent