He opened his eyes and blinked at the hospital room ceiling. The soft humming of the instruments beside him recording what he just realized – he just came to. Looking around at the sterile room, he tried to locate something familiar. He couldn’t. He had the strange sensation of many other things being unfamiliar as well, such as how he got here, where exactly here was, and just exactly who he was.
He brought his arm up and scanned the ID bracelet on his wrist. “John Doe” was all it said, with some information about blood type and no known allergies. No help. Searching around again he noticed a small steel tray on a side table, picked it up and turned towards him. The face that stared back was utterly unrecognizable.
“Well, at least I’m a handsome devil, whoever I am,” he muttered to himself. He set the tray down and lay back down, letting the ceiling spin above him as he tried to sort things out. Fighting off slipping into unconsciousness. Who knew how long he had been this way, and who knew how much longer it would be before he woke up again. If ever.
Footsteps came down the hallway, that tell-tale clicking on the slick floors. Couldn’t be a nurse, they wear comfortable shoes because of all the walking and standing they do. If he could remember that detail, how come he couldn’t remember his own name.
“Hello, Shadoe,” came a man’s voice, gruff but quiet. “They say you’re stable enough to walk now, so let’s get you out of here,” it continued.
“Stable enough? I just woke up,” he croaked out, struggling to sit up.
“You’ve been awake several times before. The amnesia is just recurring – you don’t remember it, that’s all.”
“Amnesia? What—“ He struggled to prop himself up, and did not expect to see what greeted him. There before him were two darkened lenses on an impassive face, not quite focused exactly in his direction. A female figure with oriental features and dress stood just behind and to the left of the male one – a bodyguard’s position he knew instinctively, but it was lost on him how he knew that by just looking.
“Who are you, anyway? What shall I call you? Something tells me you’re not family.”
There was a pause before the blind man answered.
“You can call me Trent. Let’s just say for now that no one else would claim you, and I’m here to protect an investment of mine.”
“Enough questions for now. Now that you’re coherent, you should be able to move. I’ve already taken care of the e-work, as of right now you have been discharged into my care.”
“I can’t believe that you’re a doctor, not a blind one, anyway” he quipped as he stepped out of the bed and nearly dropped to the ground, his legs shaking beneath him.
“I’ve been here numerous times and I am quite familiar with your condition. We’ve also taken some walks together, so I know your legs have strength. You just need to remind your body they can be used.
“How acute is this amnesia?”
“I don’t have time to get into the history of it. We must go, now!”
* * * * *
The three figures walked along the street to the hotel. Not exactly a safe house, but low-key enough that no one would take notice of the new occupants, and savvy enough to know not to ask questions. There is a good market for renting anonymous space.
“Shadoe” noticed the wallflowers from the alley they passed fall in step some distance behind them, and the other city dwellers keeping a casual pace with them across the street. They were being tracked, herded more like, and it looked like the knot of toughs ahead were not going to let them duck into the front door of their hotel without a confrontation. The one with the cockey swagger walked in front, flanked by three enforcers on each side. The stragglers in the back formed into a more cohesive knot, a half dozen strong. Shadoe wanted to reach for a gun either on his hip or his breast holster, but he had neither guns nor holster, though he felt he should.
“You don’t think you can walk down the street without paying a toll, do you?” the one with the swagger sneered. “We own this sidewalk, an’ you’re gonna pay.”
The woman who had been so passively walking down the street with the trio sprang into a flip and landed in a crouch with two short Japanese-style swords in each hand, her eyes surveying the situation in front, beside and behind.
“Oh, little girl wants to play rough, eh?” The leader grinned and pulled out a pistol, as did the others, except those that were concealing short-barreled street shotguns. “Well, here on the street, knives are no match for firepower –“
The blind man named Trent lowered his dark glasses, and Shadoe saw his face contort into a vicous sneer. At the same moment the gun toting thugs in front all screamed in pain, then fell lifeless to the ground. He swung and turned his sightless gaze at the toughs that were closing in behind, and they screamed and dropped as well. Those across the street quickly dispersed, but some of them still were caught in the blind man’s fury, tossed like rag dolls.
“Let’s go,” the blind man walked on impassively. The woman sheathed her swords.
Shadoe stared for a moment.
“I didn’t think Energy Masters could channel if they were blinded.”
“Normally, they can’t,” came Trent’s voice “What you should be thinking about is, how you knew that little known fact.”
“I don’t understand why you have a bodyguard if you can obviously take care of yourself so easily.”
“Normally, I would have let Sinh handle them all,” the man called Trent replied. “Make no mistake, they were all out of their league. But I didn’t feel like dealing with their lip today. Now no more questions. Let’s just get inside the hotel.”