The fog was oppressive. It suffocated all light that tried to reach the small town and left everything shrouded in darkness. But Lucien was drawn to it, as evidenced by his decision to take a mid-afternoon stroll.
As he wandered down Carrier Avenue, he could see the silhouettes of people walking past; present, but far away enough that the fog reduced them to shadows. The fog seemed to muffle all noise, too, for when he reached Only Way Street, he didn’t hear the woman in red calling his name until she grabbed him forcefully on the shoulder.
“Mr. Marr!” she said. “Are you lost?”
He stopped, poised to remove her hand from his shoulder. “Not particularly,” he replied, irritated that she had disturbed the silence.
“You seem lost,” she whispered. Her eyes, which were made bigger by the round spectacles perched on her nose, peered into his. “Your mind, much like this town, is filled with fog. You think you know where you are going, but you do not. You are lost. Perhaps it is time to clear that fog.”
“No thank you, I’m doing just fine,” he said through gritted teeth. Relieving his shoulder of her tight grip, he strode into the park next to One Way Street, hoping to lose the woman in the fog. After only walking a short distance, he heard an old man call out his name.
“Go, boy, bring Lucien over to me, I must tell him something.”
Lucien paused as a young boy, whose mouth was covered with duct tape, emerged from the fog and gestured him to follow him. Cautiously, he did. When they reached a large oak tree, he saw an old man sitting in the grass beneath it.
“Ah, Lucien, there you are. I see you’ve met the woman in red. What was it that she told you?”
He answered, unsure of how the man knew this. “Something about my mind being filled with fog. I’m not quite sure what she meant, though.”
The old man let out a laugh. “Oh, Lucien, but aren’t you the best man alive at solving riddles?”
Lucien, sufficiently disturbed, began to run. He couldn’t see where he was going through the fog, but it didn’t matter; he just wanted to get as far away from the old man and the woman in red as possible.
When he reached Grave Street, he paused to catch his breath and get his bearings. Except he couldn’t breathe. The fog was so thick that it was like drowning; every breath was empty, and every cry for help was silent. Panicked, he stumbled through the fog into the graveyard, hoping to reach St. Cecilia’s church on the other side. Before he could, however, he felt himself fall.
Everything went black.
When he awoke some time later, he was lying on the ground, a paramedic shining a light into his eyes.
“Sir! Sir! Can you hear me?”
He let out a groan. What happened? Why are there so many flashing lights?
“Sir, what’s your name? Can you tell me your name?”
Yeah, my name is...wait. What’s my name? I have a name, but what is it? Why can’t I remember my name?!
“Sir, you had an accident. You fell and hit your head on a gravestone. Do you remember this?”
No, but that explains the pain. He slowly reached up and touched where he had hit his head. Bringing his hand in front of his eyes, he could see something running down his hand. Blood.
“Sir, I need you to respond! You may be concussed and we need to take you in to run some more tests!”