Her head swam as she sat up. The room tilted precariously for a moment before settling in the horizontal. She had dreamt, that was certain. But this time, there was nothing she could recall or remember. Maybe her subconscious was hiding something from her. She slowly, carefully climbed the stairs. He sat at the kitchen table, facing away from her. “You’ve made your way this far,” he said not kindly, and not unkindly. “You must be hungry.”
She sat to his right, facing him. There was a plate of cold meats and cheeses set in front of her – and a glass of water. She ate slowly as he watched. She swallowed a bite and looked up at him. “You never answered me. Am I dead?”
He looked straight ahead. “As I said, there may be questions I will not be able to answer.”
She went back to the food, occasionally glancing at him as he stared out the window at… something. The rain had stopped. It was the light gray atmosphere that follows a long rain – the smell of life, of home. “There are things you need to discover on your own.”
“I can’t feel.” It came blurting out. She would have been embarrassed if she could.
“I know,” he said, in a tone more gentle and comforting than even her father or mother had mustered at her most frightened as a child. “Neither can I.”
Something suddenly fell into place in her thoughts. “You didn’t bring me here.”
He shook his head. “I am only a collector.”
“Then who?” It was then that she made a startling realization. It was something that should have overwhelmed her, should have made her curl up in the fetal position and wail. She had no memory of anything that happened before she woke up here. Nothing.
“No memories in there.” Dear God, it was like he was inside her head. Was he?
“I’m empty. There are no memories, yes. But… there’s nothing else, either. No fear, no hate, no joy.” It was as alien as anything she had ever experienced, she guessed.
He stood up, picked up her plate and glass and walked to the sink. He quickly rinsed off the remains of her meal and set the plate and glass on the counter. He never seemed to tell her what she needed to know.
“What did you do to me?” She asked clinically, unemotionally.
He turned and faced her. “I told you. I am a collector.”
“Yes, but you said you did not collect me. You did not bring me here.” It was at that moment that her hands drifted to the scar on her chest. And slowly – slowly, she began to see.
Where do the passions lie? Where do emotions reside? Everyone knows that there are chemical and neurological reactions that combine to create the physical manifestations of emotion. But where do they come from? What makes them such an inseparable part of you – a part of who you are – a guide for where you will go? What could possibly store all those possibilities and keep them so close to you?
“You collect… souls?” It sounded laughable, even as she said it. So gothic. So horror movie cliche’. But she knew. Somehow, she could actually feel this truth.
“You have a very strong sense of who you are,” he said. “That will help.”
Obviously there was more to discover. More to know.
He walked over to her and held out his hand. “Take a walk with me.”