Tumbling through the blackness, Jack’s hands meet something hard, and he stops. He is curled; his intestines are scrunched up inside him like a folded piece of market meat at the back end of a slicer.
As he adjusts himself to the lack of light in whatever he’s in, wherever he is, wood grains ingratiate themselves to his face in little rice splinters of grainy annoyance.
Still, his foot feels warmer than the rest of him, so he pushes out with strangely naked toes against what he assumes is a small wooden door.
He uncollapses backward out of a series of cabinets, in a darkened room smelling of pungent, moth-eaten silk and mold. Beside the recognition of those scents, the deep flavor of decay mixed with simplicity and a spicy hint of opulence floods him instantly.
His current location is an abandoned tatami room.
But he isn’t in Japan.
He isn’t naked, either.
Jack pulls himself to his feet, getting his balance by rolling his shoulders as he notices his surroundings more and more with each needless breath.
“It’s an exercise in futility that has a meaning…” they’d always said such things at the Time Agency training course sessions… “…in order to shield your mind, to train it, you must trick yourself into the realization that you’re no longer in the waking world, and at the same time, provide an anchor there. Breadcrumbs. Use what tools you can. And above all, remember to breathe.”