Enigma

Part 1

"I must keep moving," he muttered. "If I do not, they will surely find me."

He did not know who they were, but some part of his subconscious remembered. When he stepped on his left foot, his ankle protested with pain. He could not remember how he had gotten the injury.

He stood in a doorway at the end of a hallway. Beyond was light. It shone beneath the door like a thin blade slicing the hallway in half. In the shiny metal doorknob, he glimpsed his face. Frightened blue eyes stared back at him. His blond hair was unkempt but clean. He looked to be in his twenties. His skin was pale, as though he had not been outside for quite some time. He hesitated to open the door.

The hallway was white: stark, hospital-room white. No, it was cleaner than that. He shivered. There was something wrong with a floor so clean he dared not take a step further, and with walls that he shuddered to touch. Yet the door beckoned like an escape hatch. But where did it lead?

Was this a prison? Was he a criminal of some sort? What if someone learned of his escape? To what lengths would they go to find him? What if his imprisonment was unjustified? Why could he not remember anything about himself?

He opened the door cautiously. There was no trap, no electrical shock, nothing of the sort. He had subconsciously expected punishment, though he couldn't remember why. Brilliant sunlight nearly blinded him. He staggered backwards and shielded his eyes instinctively, expecting something else. What? To implode like a vampire, disintegrating into ashes and dust, until some maintenance worker swept him up and unceremoniously dumped his remains into a garbage can? He didn't know. Yet, he was relieved that there was no pain.

He stepped into the sunlight and onto a grassy plain. It was an emerald cloak draped across the shoulders of the earth, flowing and cascading past the horizon. Vague purple shadows on the horizon suggested mountains in the distance. He could not determine their numbers or height.

"I must survive at all costs," he said.

That was instinctual. Perhaps, deep down, part of him remembered who he was and what he was doing there. He could not recall his name. He was simply himself.

Enigma was the word that came to his mind. That was who he was, and currently, what he was.

"I am Enigma," he said, savoring the phrase. At least, it was a start.

After what seemed like several hours of walking, he saw a small town in the distance. The sun was just beginning to set. Smoke curled like dragon tails, ascending into the sky. Lights twinkled like gems in a treasure hoard. Civilization beckoned, but Enigma was wary. For starters, he still didn't know what had happened to him.

He had too many questions and no answers at all. Perhaps the answers could be found within that town. There must be somebody there who recognized him. Besides, he needed food, water, and a place to rest. The answers could wait a little longer. His decision made, Enigma hiked towards the town.

From a distance, he saw two men guarding the town's entrance. He wondered how they would see him. His clothes were white but clean, which ought to look odd, given the fact that the guards couldn't know how far he had traveled. He hadn't seen any villages along the way. He had no bags, but he knew how exhausted he must have looked, as if his journey had been long. His skin was now pink with sunburn.

"Who are you?" the guard on the left asked. "Where'd you come from?"

"My name is Enigma. I came from out there," he said, pointing.

The guard looked puzzled. "There's nothing that way. The nearest town is over 100 miles from here."

He shrugged. "I need food and water."

"So does everyone else, but fresh water is scarce and good food is hard to come by unless you know a Technocrat. I'll let you in, but you're on your own. If we find you sleeping on the streets tonight, you'll be sent to a retraining center."

Enigma nodded, wondering what that meant, but decided it was better not to ask. "What's the name of this place?"

"Silver Cove," the guard on the right replied, giving him a puzzled look.

"Thank you," he responded.

The guards let him pass. As he left, he overheard them whispering.

"That was strange, wasn't it?" the first guard asked.

"Yeah. I wonder if we should notify the boss," the second replied.

"The boss isn't going to care about some newcomer. He has enough on his plate right now, what with the murders in the East District."

"I'm telling you, that guy must have come from the free towns or something."

"Where'd he get those white clothes from then? They must have cost quite a bit. Maybe he stole them."

"From who? Nobody around here is that rich, except the mayor, but he doesn't walk around wearing all white. And what's with the weird name?"

"Good question," said the other guard.

They fell quiet then, so Enigma decided that it was safe to stop eavesdropping.