Being knocked out by a stranger wasn’t one of my best moments, but in my defense I hadn’t expected to be attacked by a man in black. By the time I had come around I was in the back of a van, the windows had been covered which meant all the light was blocked out. I couldn’t see anything, but I could feel the presence of another body in the van and putting two and two together I guessed it was Ruby.
Before I could think of anything else my mind was running to try and get a step ahead of the guys driving the van… Questions bubbled into my head but I had no answers, I just hoped that whatever it was we were taken for, it didn’t involve death. The van stopped and the doors were opened, I shielded my eyes from the sudden light, I was pulled out the van by my feet and I complied, I didn’t want to make immediate enemies. I was lead into a hospital ward, a doctor inspected my burns and cuts and told me it was nothing serious, wherever I was I knew it couldn’t be totally bad if we were being treated for injury.
“Where am I?” I asked the doctor,
“In hospital,” he replied, “this will sting a bit,” he applied some disinfectant onto the cuts on my hands; I took the pain like a man but cowered away when three men in bulletproof vests marched into the ward. This wasn’t a normal hospital, that was for sure, a man had hushed words with the doctor and then he came over to me,
“Name?” he asked,
“Seventeen,” I muttered, I didn’t know if I should tell the truth or not,
“Perfect,” he smiled, his eyes remained hard, “welcome to our establishment,” I stared back into his eyes, they were almost black and his hair was shaved closely to his head, he looked about thirty.
“What establishment?” I asked carefully,
“The Vortex,” said another man, he stood by the door with a machine gun in his clutches,
“What’s The Vortex?” I questioned,
“We’ll deal with that later,” said the doctor, “you can go and see your friend now,” I got off the bed and followed the doctor next door to Ruby’s ward. She didn’t look so good, her face was burnt and she had a bandage around her stomach, her eyes were closed but as I took her hand she stirred.
“Hey there,” I smiled kindly, her eyelids fluttered open and she blinked for a few seconds adjusting to the light,
“Jackson?” she asked,
“Yeah, it’s me,” I muttered trying to sound confident and not scared,
“Where are we? Where’s Mom?”
“I honestly don’t know Ruby, I don’t like what’s going on,” I whispered, I didn’t think I could trust the nurse who just crossed passed the door,
“We were in a crash, you saved my life,” she recalled,
“I know that,” I whispered, my heart rate was picking up as I realized the scale of this problem “but what are we doing here?” I wanted to know if she knew anything,
“I don’t know, I’m freaking out!” she said, I had obviously worried her; I concentrated on relaxing and looking calm,
“Don’t freak out, I’ve got it under control,” I lied,
“Jackson, you’re wanted,” said the thirty-year-old man, I turned to him,
“What for? I haven’t got any money to pay for the treatment, you’ll have to ring up my insurance company or my…”
“Come,” the man interrupted, I shrugged at Ruby trying to look nonchalant and followed the man through the door. We travelled down the ward and through some automatic doors into another corridor, this lead to a reception-like room. The man led me up to the desk and leaned over the counter,
“Jackson Knight,” he smiled,
“Hang on, how do you know my name?” I asked the worry in my voice showing, I had only told them my Christian name.
“Don’t underestimate the work of The Vortex,” he replied,
“Alexander will see him now,” the receptionist said without any emotion, the man led me towards another door, he placed his finger on a pad and it scanned his fingerprint, the door then slid open and I was pushed through the threshold into an office. Inside there was a desk, an important looking computer which had a huge mainframe, a potted plant and a running machine.
“Jackson Knight, 17, Riverside California, came from a family of five, gained a sporting scholarship for his martial arts, maintained a 3.9 GPA and stands at six foot two.” I clenched my teeth together as the man placed the sheet of paper on his desk, I strode up to it and tried to pick it up but Alexander was too fast for me and he snatched it away.
“How do you know about me?!” I demanded throwing my hands onto his desk,
“May I just say I have been waiting for someone like you to roll up, it was about time, the last five recruits have been vastly disappointing to say the least, we’ve had to cancel all five of them. Now your martial arts background should play a good part in your career here, I’m Alexander, nice to finally meet you Jackson,”
“I didn’t sign up for anything! I’m no recruit; I think you’ve got the wrong guy!” I told him ignoring his hand; I didn’t want to shake it,
“We never make mistakes,” Alexander said placing the sheet he’d snatched away into a filing cabinet, “how’s Ruby? I didn’t really want two new recruits but the guys said you came together and I couldn’t cancel her straight away, got to give everyone a chance,” he smiled, again it didn’t meet his eyes,
“You didn’t answer my first question, how do you know who I am?”
“It’s a quick background check we take up of all new recruits, you could call it routine, but we like to know we’ve got the right man for the job,”
“What job?” I spat,
“All in good time Jackson, first let’s run some physical tests,” Alexander stood up quickly and smiled, “why don’t we go into the lab?”