"Can you see now?" Came the gentle voice again. Dan grimaced, he felt bloated and sluggish but not violently ill.
"I can't see anything. I can. . . I sense or feel things."
"Tell me what you sense."
"I hear voices that come unbidden. I don't know where they come from. Like radio waves from far away. I can see outlines on rare occasions of people in red light halos. The people in these halos frighten me for some reason. Don't know why."
"Do these sensations cause you pain?"
"Sometimes. More fatigue than pain. Where am I? Who are you? I was. . .I was in the hospital-"
"You are home now. You were rescued some weeks ago from the river. These sensations, the "sickness" are the start of a power developing inside you, Dan. A power to discern the light from the darkness. You are one of the first ones that I have seen that has this ability out in the wild."
"In the wild?"
"By yourself in the world with no one to guide you. Of the few I've seen with the power of discernment the power itself destroys them or they are destroyed before they are powerful enough to wield it." Dan shifted in alarm. He tried to remove his blindfold but his hands felt numb and weak.
"What do you mean destroyed?"
"Relax. Relax Dan. I will not harm you." The voice soothed. He felt it like a breeze caressing his raw nerves and he settled down. Whoever it was, the Voice they wielded had some sort of power.
"I mean, that there are others who do not want you to see them. The ones in red. Your power was released under stress. That is usually how it happens. By accident. when I look at you Dan I see a halo around you too. A blue light. The light of humans. The Others, they are not. . . .human. They look, act and behave like humans. They are very good at it because they have been here on earth for a very long time. But they are a cancer and that cancer looks like red halo light. You can now see them and you will be able to sense them more often. There are other levels to this ability Dan."
"Fighting. All will come in time. Just rest your mind and continue sensing and feeling your way through the darkness with the blindfold on. Your eyes are important but I want you to learn how to see with more than just your eyes. The whole world is lost and blind because they ONLY see with their eyes." He heard footsteps falling softly away as whoever it was - his captor or helper - left the room.
Dan did not know what to say or how to proceed. He still wasn't entirely sure he was not dreaming. He obeyed and tried again, sensing. Suddenly a siren blared out of the background noise of the day - he guessed it was day from all the ambient background noise sifting through - and it disrupted his concentration. He put his hands to his ears and blocked it out with difficulty until the siren died away and then tried again. He sensed immediately someone beside him and jumped.
"Good. Good. You knew I was here. I was looking for that. You can take the blindfold off for now." Dan hesitated at first, then tore it off. There was a tall man standing by the bed. His bed. With deep gray eyes, impossibly pale with a wide-set mouth and white hair. He wore a long black coat.
"My bones, they were broken. My back!" Dan grabbed it but there was no pain. "I remember someone. Red-Rag." The man nodded.
"Yes. They tried to break you, those hoodlums. Thralls of the red-shifters. The real danger, believe it or not is not them. It is what has been done to them. They were once men, like you and for all intents and purposes, they still are on the outside. But those fellows have been turned into thralls. That is the intent of the red-shifters for some of humankind. To take over in every way." Dan stared at him intensely until he began to sweat. There was no sense in questioning the strangeness in this situation and the fact that he had no real idea who this man was because life had radically changed when he was thrown into the river. He proceeded on.
"What are red-shifters?"
"The ones who have infiltrated human culture and populations. The Others. The ones who want to change, consume and destroy humanity for their own purposes. The problem is that we do not know what their ultimate purpose is and why they want to do what they want to do. I and others are still discovering this as we go. We only know that they mean you great harm."
"And. . . who are you?" Dan asked, sitting back and watching him closely.
"A helper. I will tell you more later when you meet the others on the team I am putting together."
"The one I told you about?"
"Ah. Right. Other people like me." Dan scanned the man again. He felt no sinister vibe or danger from this man at all and he had scanned and studied his feelings around him for some days now. He looked outside. The day was overcast and cast a pall gray over everything.
"Well, if I am to meet with your team-"
"You are to be the leader of this team. If you wish."
"Oh. Well. I think I can find a way to handle that if I have this great power, as you say. But if I am to meet this team of people you put together and lead them, it seems I need to at least know your name." The man gazed serenely at him before answering.
"I will be meeting with some of the others later this week, to gather them together. Then I must find a safe haven for you all to meet. I think I may have found such a place. And my name is Trillion."