The back of the Elmo doll was split open at the seam, and bits of stuffing dangled out of the gaping hole. The man in the dark suit reached his spindly fingers into the doll and removed a small metallic cube. Light glanced off of the cube and glinted in Josiah’s face. The man brought the cube near his face as he peered at it and slowly rolled it between his index finger and thumb. “Information…,” the man said, “is power.” After a long pause the man continued in a monotone drone,
“It’s hard to imagine…such a small object contains so many secrets – the details of so many lives. Not a man has lived in the past 100 years who does not have a record within this cube. With such information one could ravage lives…destroy families…topple governments. You thought you would bury it…do society a favor…very noble of you. But it couldn’t end that way. Mankind’s lust for power is too strong. You knew we would find it. You seem to have borrowed something else from us as well. Something we would like to have back. And you are going to tell us. Where…is the reader?”
“I’ll never tell you,” Josiah muttered through clenched teeth. The man in the dark suit broke into a knowing chuckle. “Oh yes you will,” the man said. The man removed a small device from his pocket and flipped a switch on top. An orange glow lit up the face of the device and Josiah felt a warm buzzing sensation inside his head. Suddenly the man was engulfed in a white speckled mist which rose and swirled around his face like flames licking a log. “You will tell us indeed.”
Josiah found himself standing in a dark wood. Giant trees stretched to the sky and penetrated a thick fog above. As he looked about himself to get his bearings, a dark cloaked figure whisked out from behind a tree and darted into the distance. Josiah took chase. The figure floated over the terrain silently from tree to tree. Josiah called out to the figure, who returned a maniacal cackle. Suddenly stiffness shot through Josiah’s body, and he toppled over into a pile of branches. He was completely paralyzed, but could still see out through the tangle of branches. The figure, faceless, peered from behind a tree and let forth another peel of laughter.
Josiah was sitting on a quilt in the middle of a field. He was surrounded by what appeared to be a picnic feast. Across the quilt sat a pudgy woman who glanced at him with a smile and said, “Aren’t you going to eat your lunch?” Josiah couldn’t have been prepared for what happened next. She lifted her hands from her lap. He had not noticed before, but her hands were twice normal size. With a start she began grabbing fistfuls of food and cramming them into her mouth. Food squeezed out around her hands and between her fingers and dropped onto her dress.
Josiah found himself swimming in a stormy sea. As each massive wave swept by he plunged into the next trough. He reached the apex of the next wave and saw a red light atop a tall metal-framed tower. The tower disappeared as he fell into another trough. He was lifted up and once again could see the tower. It stood defiantly on a small rocky island. The tower seemed strangely familiar. Josiah felt a tug on his feet and was suddenly pulled beneath the waves. The cold dark fury of the sea surrounded him as he drifted out of consciousness.
Josiah awoke. The room was dark, but he could feel the straps still holding him to the table. He pulled with all his strength and the strap around his shoulders slipped slightly higher. Again he pulled and this time met greater success as the strap slid off of his shoulders and onto his neck. In a moment he was free. In the palpable darkness he groped for the door handle. Leaning against the door, he turned the knob and stumbled into the stiff rain outside. The door was at the base of a lighthouse. The lamp slowly rotated above and beamed a sharp column of white into the rain and fog. “Did I tell them where it was?” he thought to himself. “I must get to the tower.”