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This is where you can keep up with Tanner Davis. 
Each day I'm releasing a chapter or two. I hope you enjoy it. 

                                         Tanner Davis And The Wall       

                                                    a story by RCD                                                


Tanner’s eyes parted slightly. The crust that matted his eyelids was like glue as if he had been asleep for a month. The light was normal but glared like the sun to him. His mind was foggy and he struggled to understand where he was and why he was there. The last thing he could remember was walking back to his apartment after dining at La Villa, a restaurant Tanner dined at a lot, sometimes, every day. As his eyes adjusted to the light he pried the thick yellow crust from around his nose and his vision slowly cleared. This was not his apartment, in fact, this room was totally unfamiliar to him. 
The room was small and almost totally void of anything except the small bed he was lying on and a little window that resembled a six-sided porthole. Light projected through the lens and created an array of color patterns on the opposite wall that looked like a psychedelic rainbow. Tanner struggled to get his feet under him and a thin silver veil fell from his body. He saw he was naked and his clothes were nowhere in sight or anything else for that matter. Tanner managed to get to his feet, shaky and wobbly, he stumbled to the wall with the window. The window was wrapped by a small lip that was just wide enough to barely grip with his fingertips. He steadied and peered out the tiny window. The bright light blasted his face like a sun shotgun. He could see nothing except the intense bright white light that hit his face with such force he could feel it.
His mind raced to search for an answer to what was going on. Where was he? Why was he there? Where was there? Was he dreaming? Questions flooded his mind faster than he could process them. Door, he thought! Where’s the door? He became frantic searching the tiny cell-like structure for the door. He felt the smooth surface for any seams, any recesses, anything resembling a door. There was no door. Nothing but the glass-like surface of the walls, the bed, the window, and the thin silver veil.

Hours later, Tanner sat on the floor in the corner with his face in his hands. His hands were wet from tears he didn’t know he’d shed. Tanner couldn’t remember the last time he’d cried. “All right”, Tanner said to himself. “For every problem, there is a solution.” His training in the service had prepared him for unusual situations, he thought anyway. But, this was unlike any situation he had ever been in or even imagined. It was totally beyond his comprehension. Being a veteran Naval Seal for the last six years of his service had prepared him for a lot, but not this. The bright light had dimmed now to a soft blue glow that patterned against the wall like light through a fish tank, or like the soft colors behind your eyes when you close them tightly. Some of Tanner’s strength had returned and his uncontrollable shaking had diminished to an occasional twitch. He had stopped crying and wiped the remaining tears from his face. He again began searching the walls, the floor, and the ceiling for a door a latch, a button, anything other than the smooth cool walls that surrounded him. He searched every inch of his environment, but there was nothing except the window, the bed, and the thin veil that covered him when he woke.
He approached the window again and peered out. The bright white light had faded to a soft pale blue glow. As he peered into the abyss the light faded completely to nothing but black. All he could see when he peered out was a dim reflection of his own image in the lens of the window. "Light," he thought! To have a reflection, there must be light. There was indeed light in the room, but it seemed to be coming from everywhere, or nowhere at the same time. It was as if the air itself was emitting a soft bluish light. Tanner swished his hand through the air in front of him and the light danced between his fingers and swirled with eddies through them like flowing water.
This was like no place Tanner had ever seen or imagined. It was beyond strange, beyond weird, but it was real. Tanner realized he had not tried to yell for help or to say anything.
“HELP” he shouted. The sound was dead, with no reverb, no echo, almost no sound at all. He screamed louder, popping his ears with his fingertips. The louder he yelled the softer and fainter it sounded until he couldn’t hear himself at all. Tanner’s exhaustion was growing by the second. He stumbled and almost fell grabbing the corner of the bed. He managed to pull himself onto the bed and passed out cold.
walking back to his apartment after dining at La Villa, a restaurant Tanner dined at a lot, sometimes, every day. As his eyes adjusted to the light he pried the thick yellow crust from around his nose and his vision slowly cleared. This was not his apartment, in fact, this room was totally unfamiliar to him.

The room was small and almost totally void of anything except the small bed he was lying on and a little window that resembled a six-sided porthole. Light projected through the lens and created an array of color patterns on the opposite wall that looked like a psychedelic rainbow. Tanner struggled to get his feet under him and a thin silver veil fell from his body. He saw he was naked and his clothes were nowhere in sight or anything else for that matter. Tanner managed to get to his feet, shaky and wobbly, he stumbled to the wall with the window. The window was wrapped by a small lip that was just wide enough to barely grip with his fingertips. He steadied and peered out the tiny window. The bright light blasted his face like a sun shotgun. He could see nothing except the intense bright white light that hit his face with such force he could feel it.
His mind raced searching for an answer to what was going on. Where was he? Why was he there? Where was there? Was he dreaming? Questions flooded his mind faster than he could process them. Door, he thought! Where’s the door? He became frantic searching the tiny cell-like structure for the door. He felt the smooth surface for any seams, any recesses, anything resembling a door. There was no door. Nothing but the glass-like surface of the walls, the bed, the window and the thin silver veil.
Hours later, Tanner sat on the floor in the corner with his face in his hands. His hands were wet from tears he didn’t know he’d shed. Tanner couldn’t remember the last time he’d cried. “All right”, Tanner said to himself. “For every problem, there is a solution.” His training in the service had prepared him for unusual situations, he thought anyway. But, this was unlike any situation he had ever been in or even imagined. It was totally beyond his comprehension. Being a veteran Naval Seal for the last six years of his service had prepared him for a lot, but not this. The bright light had dimmed now to a soft blue glow that patterned against the wall like light through a fish tank, or like the soft colors behind your eyes when you close them tightly. Some of Tanner’s strength had returned and his uncontrollable shaking had diminished to an occasional twitch. He had stopped crying and wiped the remaining tears from his face. He again began searching the walls, the floor, and the ceiling for a door a latch, a button, anything other than the smooth cool walls that surrounded him. He searched every inch of his environment, but there was nothing except the window, the bed, and the thin veil that covered him when he woke.
He approached the window again and peered out. The bright white light had faded to a soft pale blue glow. As he peered into the obis the light faded completely to nothing but black. All he could see when he peered out was a dim reflection of his own image in the lens of the window. "Light," he thought! To have a reflection, there must be light. There was indeed light in the room, but it seemed to be coming from everywhere, or nowhere at the same time. It was as if the air itself was emitting a soft bluish light. Tanner swished his hand through the air in front of him and the light danced between his fingers and swirled with eddies through them like flowing water.
This was like no place Tanner had ever seen or imagined. It was beyond strange, beyond weird, but it was real. Tanner realized he had not tried to yell for help, or say anything.
“HELP” he shouted. The sound was dead, with no reverb, no echo, almost no sound at all. He screamed louder, popping his ears with his fingertips. The louder he yelled the softer and fainter it sounded until he couldn’t hear himself at all. Tanner’s exhaustion was growing by the second. He stumbled and almost fell grabbing the corner of the bed. He managed to pull himself on the bed and passed out cold.

                                                       THE SECOND ROOM

Tanner was awakened by a feathery brush across his cheek. It felt like a daddy long legs walking across his face. He instinctively slapped his face, sprung off the bed, and landed several feet away in a fighting stance. There was nothing on his face. He raffled through his hair frantically, but there was nothing there either. As he stood there naked he felt the same feathery touch on his leg, then it brushed across his arm and it tickled as it passed over the hairs on his chest. Tanner began to slap his whole body as he danced around the room trying to escape whatever was touching him. It wasn’t unpleasant but it was invisible which was worse! Tanner sat crouched in the corner again pulling his knees tightly into his chest. He was trembling and began to cry again. He felt like a wild animal in a cage that had passed the walls until it gave out and resorted to a fetal position in desperate frustration. In the 80s, he had spent 6 months in an Iranian Prison camp his squadron had been ambushed. He understood that and had dealt with it. He wondered if he were in another prison. Maybe some super strange top secret government prison, but he could think of nothing he had or knew that could be of any importance. Anything he might have ever known would be so old that no one would need it, or want it. Besides that, he thought "I knew no secrets. I was just a soldier. I just took orders.
The feathery things were still touching him, like thousands of spider webs. Somehow, he gained enough composure to sit still and study the room again. The light was still moving with the air but now he noticed other colors as well interspersed with the pale blue. Several colors were present, but by far the most prevalent was a dark cobalt blue threadlike substance that looked like strings of blue light. Tanner held out his arms and saw that it was the cobalt light threads he was feeling dancing on his skin. He examined them closely. He tried to touch them. They were only light. No mass at all, no structure, no substance, but he could definitely feel them. He waved his hands through the light and it reacted to his movements like dust when sunlight blasted through a window.
The window Tanner thought, he turned to the wall with the little window, but it was not there. The room had also changed. The corners were gone. It didn’t seem round, but there were no corners. Tanner tried yelling again. No sound. Tanner’s frustration and fear were quickly overcome by sleepiness, the way you feel when getting anesthesia for surgery. He fought it with everything he had. He slapped his cheek and yelled, "No dammit, stay awake, stay awake"! He yelled louder and louder, but within seconds darkness overcome him and he was out again.

                                                             THE DOME

Tanner awoke feeling groggy and drugged. His eyes would not focus and he could barely move his fingers or toes. He didn't know where he was. The heavy fog that weighed his mind down slowly lifted and his vision began to clear. The blue strings of light were gone. The air, which before was a weird blueish swirl had changed to an equally strange pink. It provided enough light to see that the room had changed again. There were still no clothes. There were no sharp edges. Now the room was round with a dome top. Tanner examined his new environment closely. He thought it was like being in a giant ping-pong ball cut in half. It occurred to him that the room changed every time he fell asleep. It must be different rooms he thought. Someone must be moving me while I sleep. He began pacing the walls like a caged animal. He counted his steps in his mind as he paced attempting to figure out how big the room was. Around and around he went counting his steps, but he quickly realized he had no idea where he started. There were no reference points for him to grab onto. No matter how hard he tried he couldn’t figure out if the room was twenty feet across, or a hundred. There was nothing in the room to mark where he started walking. It dawned on him to spit on the floor next to the wall. He began walking the wall again, counting each step, while closely looking for his white spit puddle. After one hundred steps he had still not seen his mark. It simply wasn’t there. The pale pink light the air emitted made everything look the same. It was useless Tanner thought. Tanner sat in the middle of the room looking around from side to side and up and down. There were no clues to be had. "Is this hell" he whispered under his breath. "Am I dead"? He began to feel sleepy again. It washed over him like a title wave. He fought it with everything he had. He slapped his face hard again in an attempt to stay awake. "This is a dream" he yelled, no, no no" the words slipped through his clenched teeth. He felt torn between trying to wake himself from the nightmare and trying to not fall asleep thinking if he did he might wake in even a weirder dream. He tried to yell and he slapped his face again, but within moments the darkness enveloped him and he lay on the cold floor sound asleep again.

                                                                           THE MOTEL

Tanner awoke with a shock and leaped to his feet. His mind was strangely clear now and his strength had returned. He felt like himself again. For a moment he thought he had woken himself from his strange dream and everything was okay. He felt relieved admitting to himself that it was just a bad dream. He glanced around and realized he once again had no idea where he was. "Dammit," he yelled, "I'm still dreaming"! A blast of adrenaline surged through his body and he began to hyperventilate. Quickly he realized he was no longer in the strange rooms with the dancing light. He steadied himself and surveyed his surroundings still convinced he was caught in his nightmare. The first thing he noticed was he was no longer naked. Just that fact alone calmed him down a lot. He examined his new attire wondering where it came from and when he had put it on. He suddenly realized It was not his clothes and that he had not put it on. It was strange and unlike anything, he would ever wear. It was a one-piece jumpsuit garment. It was the same cobalt blue color as the light strands that danced around the room earlier in his dream. Other than one small patch of bright yellow, the entire garment was blue, even the attached shoes. Shoes? he thought. He started to look at them but it seemed unimportant compared to everything else he was seeing. The suit was so tight he could see his ribs and muscles and he could see his every breath and even his heart beating. It was tight but didn’t hurt, he thought. He pinched some of it from around his chest and pulled it out. It stretched with ease. He pulled it 5 or 6 inches and let go. It snapped back like a rubber band. “Strange,” he said softly. He felt the neckline and it was high and tight. It completely covered his neckline and went to just under his Adam's apple. A round, yellow insignia was on his chest. Sort of a circle with some marks on it. As he examined the suit he began to look around. He was now in what looked like a cheap motel room. Everything looked normal. The air had no strands of color. It smelled like a regular, cheap motel room as well. He ran to the door and swung it open and rushed out. He still had no idea where he was but at least everything looked somewhat normal and even familiar. It looked and felt normal. It looked like any cheap motel you would pass driving through any small town. He knew he had never seen this one though. It was familiar only in the sense that it looked like the thousands of other little motels he had seen in his life. He stood in the parking lot for minutes trying to decide what to do. After all, he was free in the great outdoors now, and if he went back into the room he had no idea what might happen. He thought the door might slam shut behind him and trap him inside like what might happen in a drive-in horror movie. He went back to the door of the room he woke in. He slowly walked in holding the door tight so it could not slam shut behind him. It was indeed a normal-looking cheap motel room. He walked back out and looked around again. The little motel had twelve rooms and an office on the end. Out front was a small two-lane black tar road that extended out of sight in both directions. Tanner ran to the office only to find it vacant. He thought the attendant must be cleaning a room or something. He ran from room to room pounding on each door but there were no answers. He looked at the parking lot, but it was vacant, with no cars, nothing. There was no one on the road either. He stood in the middle of the little road looking in both directions for what seemed like an hour. No cars passed. Nothing in sight in either direction. He also became aware that there were no sounds either. Both sides of the road were lined with dense woods for miles, but no sounds were coming from it. Not even a bird chirp. “HELP” He screamed as loud as he could. The sound pierced the quietness and carried down the road. “HELP!” He yelled again. "Can anyone hear me"? If anyone was within a mile they would hear him, he thought. But there was no reply.
"Telephone”, he thought! He ran to the room and rushed inside. There was no phone. No phone jack. He ran out and looked for the phone lines. There were telephone poles, but there were no wires in them. There were no lines of any kind. Just bare poles lining the street in both directions. "No electricity"! he said scratching his head. At that exact moment, he was overcome with thirst. It was sudden and intense. He had to find something to drink – and fast. He was suddenly so thirsty that he didn't even question it. It was all he could think about. He had to find water and fast! It was as if his mouth was suddenly filled with hot sand and he hadn't drunk anything in days! He ran back into the motel room and to the little sink. He grabbed a paper cup from the sink and turned the faucet. Nothing came out. He hit the faucet with his fist and screamed “DAMMIT”! He dropped to his knees and opened the little door below the sink. There were no pipes, no drain pipe, nothing. Just a bare cabinet. He ran from room to room all of which were unlocked searching for a sink that worked. Each of the rooms was exactly alike. No phone, no water, no power. He ran to the office and tore through the cabinets and every nook and cranny only to find absolutely nothing. No cleaning supplies, no coffee bags, no towels, nothing you would expect to find in a motel office. And no water!
Tanner’s mind was racing in overdrive. Thoughts were hitting him faster than he could process them. His thirst was almost unbearable. Half of the thoughts racing through his mind were trying to understand what was happening to him and the other half were memories of his time as a seal. Mainly the six months he was in the prison camp where he faced thirst, hunger, and even torture. Numerous times he had watched his prison mates be tortured, even executed. He understood all that. It wasn’t at all like this, but he had no control over what happened to him then and it seemed he didn’t now either. There was nothing at the motel that could help him. The road was his only hope. “It must lead somewhere", Tanner thought. Tanner stood in the middle of the road again. Each way he looked he saw the road straight as an arrow until it disappeared into a tiny thread in each direction. He looked up and the sun was directly overhead pounding down on the black tar road. A slight mist of steam was emitting from the hot tar and he could smell the familiar scent of tar in his nose. He could taste it! It must be noon he thought. There was nothing in the motel that could help him. The only thing he could do was walk down the road until he found a place he could get something to drink! “Which way?” he asked himself out loud. There was no way to tell which direction to go. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway since he had no idea where he was. Tanner spit in his hand and slammed his fist into it. It flew in several directions but more one than the others. “That’s it”, he moaned softly.

                                                                    The Journey

Tanner began to walk down the road in the direction his spit compass directed. He walked for what seemed like hours. Time meant nothing to him except for getting to water. The more he walked, the more his war memories took over his mind. He tried not to think about it. They were memories he thought he'd dealt with years before but in his mind It was like it all happened yesterday. He didn't want to have these thoughts but, at least it took his mind a little bit off of his intense thirst. As a Seal, he had taken the lives of more enemy soldiers than he could remember. Most of which he thought he’d forgotten. One by one their faces popped into his head. Even though he had not actually seen many of the faces of his war kills, he was seeing them now. Tanner flew a chopper with mounted machine guns and grenadine launchers on it and shot many of his enemies as he scrapped over them. He pounded his forehead with his fist as if to knock the images away, but it was no use. The more he pounded, the stronger they became. He dropped to his hands and knees on the hot tar road. It burned his hands, but he hardly noticed it. His lips were dry and cracked and his face was blood red with sunburn. He dropped and fell on his side and passed out.
Sometime later Tanner woke in a panic and began to touch his body just to make sure he was all there. He slapped his legs and his abdomen then he slapped his chest and without realizing it he touched the yellow symbol on his suit. His thirst was so intense now he thought he might die if he didn't find water fast. As he patted his chest he yelled "Please God, if you are up there I need water now"! No sooner than the words came from his mouth he felt raindrops hitting his burnt face. He rolled on his back thinking he was dreaming again, but the sprinkles turned into a hard rain. With his hands cupped around his mouth, he was able to funnel in enough water to drink. He drank until his stomach hurt from the sudden influx of water. He wiped his hand off on his new blue garment only to find it bone dry. “Of course, “ he said shaking his head.
He worked his way to his feet again and felt his face. One side was road burned and the other was sunburned so bad it felt like hot crispy patches of plastic rather than skin. He had no way of knowing how much time had passed since he woke up in the first room, it could have been hours or even days. He rubbed his chin and found his facial hair to be short stubble. "Maybe a day, or two", he whispered under his breath. He looked up and the sun was still directly overhead. "Strange" he sighed as he again rubbed his facial hair. He thought he must have laid on the road for a full day and night. His thirst was gone and the hot steam from the rain on the road was thick. He looked back from where he came from. All he could see was the road. Had he walked that far, he wondered? He saw no trees. Both sides of the road were just sand as far as he could see. Sand? He wondered. Where am I that there would be desert sand like this? It was unlike anywhere he had been in America before. It wasn't like the deserts of New Mexico, but more like some of the countries, he had been stationed in during his deployment in the middle east. No matter what, he thought, I’m going on. He began walking again down the center of the road. He walked for what seemed like several more hours studying his situation. From time to time he saw his shadow and glanced up at the sun, its position never changed. And from time to time he would sigh under his breath that this must all be a dream.
Tanner was a logical man, known for the discipline and sternness he’d developed in the service. That was the same sternness that had cost him three wives and any resemblance of a relationship with his two children, both of whom were born while he was deployed. Tanner wasn’t a man of regrets, but his mind became consumed with thoughts of his family. His three wives and the good times they had, and the bad. How he had met each of them and their time together and the nasty divorces with two of them both of whom wiped him out of everything he owned. His first wife Cony was the only one who he still talked to him. They were together longer than the others and even though they could not get along as husband and wife anymore they still had deep feelings for each other. She was his first love!
“Stop this” he yelled! He turned his attention back to his situation. Tanner had spent very little time trying to figure out what was happening to him as he walked. Each time he thought about it he became very sleepy and the next thing he knew he was waking up in another strange place. It was like whatever was going on didn’t want to think about it. Still, he knew he had to focus, had to think, and had to stay awake! As he walked thinking of his family, he realized that in the recesses of his mind, like off in the distance, he could also think about what was happening to him without passing out. He concentrated on images of his wives and kids while asking himself questions. “Am I dreaming?” If so, it wasn’t like any dream he’d ever had before. He knew he had become lucid in dreams before, but he always woke up the second he asks the question “am I dreaming?”. He decided this was not a dream even though it was the only thing that made any kind of rational sense. It was just too real to be a dream. And dreams are not this long, he told himself. Not this detailed. Not that vivid. The color in dreams is not like in reality either he thought. If this was a dream it was unlike any dream he had ever had before, of that much he was sure. “Was he in a coma?” He wondered. Perhaps he had been in an accident and was lying in a hospital bed surrounded by machines and doctors trying to save his life. This was something he could neither prove nor disprove and since he had never been in a coma before he could not know. Still, it just didn't seem like an answer he really believed. “Perhaps I've been abducted by aliens who are doing some alien experiment on me with some bizarre alien machine". He laughed out loud as the said it. Tanner was way too down to earth to consider this a real possibility. He always thought people who believed in such nonsense were nuts. A shell or two shy of being full clip as he'd say! On the other hand, he thought, this was all weird enough that he could not totally discount it altogether. He chuckled as he thought through the possibility of being abducted by some big green-eyed aliens in a UFO. He had seen a few alien movies and had a mental image of what they might look like if it were them. He decided he was not in a UFO being examined and probed by green-skinned aliens.
He began to feel himself falling asleep again and quickly thought of his family. He steadied his stance and walked on. “Could he have been drugged?” he wondered. Perhaps that could account for the hallucinations if that's what this was. Everything sure felt and looked real enough. The thirst that almost killed him, the constant burning of his face, it sure all seemed real. He thought for a moment and said under his breath, “this is real”. He realized anything he could come up with could neither be proven nor disproved. All he had was the here and now, wherever that was. It was counterintuitive for Tanner to think this way. He was normally a person who at least thought he had a plan. He was making no headway asking these questions, even if they were in the back of his mind. He stopped and gazed down the long road that stretched out in front of him. He saw something in the distance, so faint it might not really be there. "A mirage," he said out loud. "Sure, why not, that's no weirder than anything that been happening. It's a mirage." He gazed left, then right, and could see nothing but sand. No trees like back at the motel. Tanner thought, “Nothing else at the motel was real, maybe the trees were fake, too.” He turned back around and peered back down the road. Nothing, just the road, and sand. Millions and millions of acres of white sand! “I’ve been there.” He said out loud. He turned and started walking again down the middle of the road to nowhere. As his steps passed, he realized there was indeed something in the distance ahead. Something big. It looked flat and shiny while somehow appearing dull at the same time. A mirage, he thought. It appeared to lay for miles in each direction and sort of looked like a mirror with the sun shining on it. "Definitely a mirage" he muttered.​
He continued walking and the mirage got closer and closer. Quite suddenly he found himself standing next to his mirage. It was a wall, a very tall wall. It extended as far as he could see in both directions. Tanner had never seen anything like it before. It appeared to be one piece of something. There were no lines, no creases, no sign of construction, very slick like polished marble, or metal, but it didn’t appear to be either. It was cool to the touch. Tanner backed up 20 or 30 yards and examined the height of the structure. It seemed to be 25 feet at least, maybe more. Whatever it was, he could not go around it, or through it, or over it. Not without a really tall ladder, he thought. He sat with his back against the wall for what seemed like hours. His thoughts were an overlapping mess of memories that seemed to have no pattern or continuity. He had quit trying to figure out what was happening to him. He realized whatever it was it was beyond his ability to comprehend, yet anyway. But for reasons, he didn't understand he wanted to get to the side of the wall. In reality, he didn't know if it would be better for him than the side he was on, but it couldn't be much stranger, he thought.
Thoughts of his family and his war experiences had left his mind. Now all he could see was flat sand, a perfectly straight road, and the wall that stretched into the sky and in each direction as far as his eyes could see. He thought about picking a direction and walking down the wall in hopes to find something, anything that was familiar to him. As time passed that increasingly seemed more and more unlikely though. He thought if he left the road it might disappear never to be found again. Not that the road held any promise of helping him, but it was the only thing that looked familiar in any way and he thought he knew that there was at least the ‘not real’ motel on it where he had come from, even if it would take days to get back to it. He also wondered what he might have found if he had just walked in the other direction. He thought how stupid he was for allowing his spit compass to make such an important decision like that. He realized it probably made no difference anyway. Nothing made any rational sense anymore. If he had of went the other direction he might still be walking. His mind kept circling back to wondering if somehow this was all just a dream. And the longer he thought about it the more he wondered if he was in hell. It was sure hot enough to be hell he thought. He wondered why he would be in hell, but all the lives he had taken in the war might explain it. Before this, he had never really believed in hell, or heaven, or God, and the Devil for that matter. It wasn't that he didn't believe in it, it was just not the way his mind worked. He had always just believed in what he could see, not what he couldn't. But now all he could see was the wall, the sand, and the road. And the one thing he knew for sure was he wanted desperately to get to the other side of the thing. Somehow he thought if he could just get there everything might become normal again. Rationally he knew there was no promise of that though.

                                                                       The Wall

The only thing impressive about the wall was its size. It was a dull gray, but somehow reflective. As he sat there leaning against it, he said out loud “What a boring color.” He laughed at himself as he said it knowing no one was there to hear him. But, somehow talking out loud brought him back to reality, whatever that was. His mind had cleared and the panic he felt since he woke in the first room had lifted. He felt a calmness that he didn't understand but welcomed. He looked up at the sun and yelled louder “What a stupid, boring color"! He jumped to his feet and kicked the wall and screamed again “What a hideous, stupid, boring color!” Over and over he hit and kicked the wall and told it how ugly it was. He realized that his knuckles were bloody from hitting it and his toes were throbbing from kicking it. He realized that it was doing no good anyway, so he stopped, but he continued chastising it for its boring color. 
As a Seal and pilot, he developed a discipline that followed him throughout his life. He had seen a great many things and done a great many things that had sculpted him into somewhat of a wall himself. He left a lot of his emotions and very soul in that desert. Now emotions he hadn't felt since then were crashing against the banks of his mind like a title wave. He was feeling many emotions he hadn't felt since he was a child. Fear of the unknown, of the monsters, hiding under his bed, and the uncertainty of reality itself. He was feeling all those things now! “For every problem, there is a solution” he yelled out loud. The image of his sergeant screaming that in his face popped into his head as he said it. He had been on the receiving end of those words too many times to count. 


                                                    For Every Problem, there is a solution

Sergeant Sterner was a big, thick, black man and when he yelled something at you with his nose a quarter inch from yours, you didn’t easily forget it, even if it only happened once, much less every morning at 5:00 AM. But that statement had always served him well and had saved his life more times than he could remember. It had become the guiding light of his life. His moto. His military training had come back to him and was guiding him and his actions now.
Tanner found himself wondering not only what was on the other side of the wall, but why he wanted to get there so badly. “Now that’s a good question,” he said out loud. "Why do I want to know what's on the other side of this mother anyway?". He realized it might be worse than anything he had experienced since this crazy roller coaster ride had begun. “If I’m asking a question like that I must be Okay.” He said with a smile remembering something he had once heard. “Crazy people don’t know they're crazy.” Just saying it somehow centered him. A strange sense of rationality floated across him. Up until this moment, he had been like a rat in a maze, driven only by survival.
He sat with his back against the wall in the middle of the road again. "What in the Sam Hill is happening to me?”, he said softly. “Let's see,” he said. “I woke up in the room with the window.” He lifted his hand and extended one finger. “I was naked,” he said with a weird shudder, the second finger went up. “Oh yeah, blue strands of light that I could feel". His third finger. "The weird thin Silver veil" fourth finger, “And the ping pong ball room,” he said softly as he extended his thumb. "And don't forget the not real motel" he chuckled and shook his head and raised a finger on his other hand. “The road”, he said raising another. “The woods and the wall,” he said as he looked up the wall. The sun still sat at high noon. “And oh yeah, this stupid blue suit.” And time had stopped he sighed looking at the sun. Perhaps time really had stopped, he thought. “And I am alone,” he said softly, "and out of fingers" he added with an unsettling smile.

He sat there trying to put together the pieces to his puzzle and grabbed his head on each side. A brief moment of despair swept over him, “What’s the use?” he said under his breath.
"I don't understand" he yelled! "And why didn't this stupid blue suit get wet in the rain"? Whatever the reason, it was all part of the weirdness that he was experiencing. Tanner started trying to get it off again. He struggled, but it was futile. He pulled it from every direction. There were no buttons, no zipper, no snaps. He pulled the collar with his teeth until they almost broke. There was just no way to remove the thing. He looked everywhere for a tool, a rock anything to help him tear the suit off, but there was nothing except the road, the sand the sun, and the wall. He quit struggling with his suit. "It's no use" he sighed.

His mind went back to getting to the other side of the wall. In his training, Tanner had learned to improvise. But there was nothing to improvise with. Perhaps he thought I can move enough sand and pile it up against the wall and walk over it. He reached down and scooped up a handful and looked at it. "Yep that would take about a million years" he laughed. All he had was his stupid cobalt blue jumpsuit, which he was getting more and more annoyed with by the minute, he could feel it pressing against every inch of his body. Tanner was not prone to being claustrophobic, but he was feeling closed in, even controlled somehow. He couldn't get it off. "This is enough to cause any sane man to go nuts" he yelled. Crazy ideas were coming faster than he could catch them. Maybe if he could remove the thing he could fill it with sand. It was insanely stretchy, he knew that much. Perhaps he could put enough sand in it and hold one sleeve and throw the thing over the top of the wall and scale it with the sleeve. Maybe, if he could get it off that is.

The only thing he knew about his strange suit for sure was it was the exact color as the cobalt blue light swirls that danced on his body like spiderwebs and it was waterproof. "When did they put this thing on me," he asked out loud. "Whomever they are"? Knowing he would have never put it on willingly. "Maybe they grew it on me," he thought. Maybe when I was sleeping they grew it on me. His ideas were getting less and less likely by the moment. Maybe somehow the blue light that covered his body wove itself in the garment he thought. As he questioned these things he continued to wonder if any of those things happened to him at all.

Tanner became aware some time back that he needed to pee, but the one-piece suit that wouldn't come off had made him hold it. He wasn't going to be able to hold much longer. He hit his chest in frustration and hit the yellow emblem by accident. A slit opened where his fly should be. Tanner stood facing the wall and peeing on it. "How do you like that"! He yelled at the wall. He stood urinating on the wall and swinging from side to side covering as much of it as possible. "How do you like that you big, stupid, Grey mother"? He yelled and laughed at the same time. When he finished the slit closed as fast as it opened. He pinched it and pulled it a foot from his body and saw there was no fly. Nothing, just smooth blue fabric. He released it and it snapped back and racked him and it hurt a lot. It hurt but somehow was funny to him at the same time. He spun and sat back down against the wall again laughing so hard he almost forgot about everything happening to him for a moment. As his laughing died out he sighed realizing he felt better. He laid down in the sand and closed his eyes and in an instant, he was asleep again.



                                                                               THE GIRL

Tanner opened his eyes slowly. He was foggy and it took him a moment to take in his surroundings. He lay on the most beautiful bed, covered with real blue silk sheets and pillows. He had no idea how he got there. Before he could start to process everything the sheet next to him raised in the air and almost scared him to death. He jumped and instinctively pulled his sheet up around him. The other sheet continued to move and the top of a blonde head popped out. Suddenly she was laying on top of him. He couldn't believe his eyes. She was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Her big deep blue eyes were unbelievable. Her smile was staggeringly cute and her lips turned down on the corners when she smiled. He jumped out from under her but, she reached out and grabbed his hand and pulled him back on the bed. He could feel her perfect body sliding across his as she sat up on his abdomen. The sheet fell from her shoulders and she giggled as she sat up on him. She was just perfect.

"Morning baby", she sighed with the tone of the first words of the day. She leaned down and kissed him on the forehead then jumped up and wrapped the sheet around her front as she ran to another room. "Be right back T" she giggled. He watched her walk off and through the door with her absolutely perfect backside glowing from the morning sun coming in the window. Tanner rubbed his eyes wondering if he was dreaming again.
Who is she? He asked himself, he had never seen a woman that magical looking, much less wake up naked with one. She wasn't that kind of beauty like pageant queens and models, She had a simple clean, cute, girl next door look. She seemed sassy and fun. She seemed impulsive and like she had a wild streak that ran deep. Tanner couldn't know all that then, but somehow he did. And why was she in bed with him he wondered? And based on her cuddly body language and the way she was looking at him over her shoulder as she entered the bathroom he was pretty sure that the night before had probably been amazing. He couldn’t have known that either, but somehow he did, or maybe he hoped he did. He knew he had never met her before, but he also felt like he knew her. He was no longer scared or wanting to get away from the situation as he had been with everything else he had experienced. He didn't want to go anywhere.

"Wait Tanner, what is the last thing that you can remember," he said out loud. "I remember eating at the restaurant and walking home. No, I don't remember getting home, I must have, but I don't remember. I know I left the restaurant. I remember it was starting to rain. Why can't I remember getting home"? He leaped to his feet and almost instantly into his pants and shirt. He stepped into his shoes and quickly surveyed the room. "This is my house," he said not understanding why he said it. He slapped at his wallet, it was there. he yanked it out and gave a quick glance. His cash and cards were there. He had everything. He headed to the door and she stepped out of the bathroom in front of him and they bumped into each other. It stopped Tanner cold in his tracks. He was still on guard, but it was quickly fading and being replaced by a feeling of being home. But this wasn't his home! He could feel the last memories of the wall and the road and the weird rooms leaving his mind. He was home. He was with the love of his life, but he didn't know her at all. He was happy and it made no sense of any kind and he did not care.

Her dress was modest, while also being very sexy. Where you headed big boy? She sounded surprised. "It's your day off, relax". She gently put her hands on his shoulders and turned him around. She walked him back to the bed, set him down, and handed him the TV remote, turning it on as she did. "Your show's on all day baby, I have to run I'm late". She bent down and kissed him on the lips. It was a kiss that said " I Love you". "There's food in the fridge, it's your fave! Love you"! She vanished out the door. Tanner leaned back against the headboard and touched his lips.

                                                    Hotter Than Hades

"What in the heck is going on" he muttered. A loud gunshot sounded and startled him! He looked up at the big screen at the end of the bed and saw James Garner. It was Gun Smoke. Every hour-long episode of Gun Smoke started with a loud gunshot, followed by an amorous voice saying "GUNSMOKE". It was Tanner's favorite show. He hit the button and it was on all day. "My God" he sighed. He got up and walked to the kitchen and open the refrigerator. Sitting on the top shelf was a pizza box with a pink note on it. It read "your fave my love". He opened the lid it was pepperoni, ham, bacon, hamburger, and jalapenos. His favorite. Next to the box was a bottle of hot sauce. He picked it up and read the label 'Hotter Than Hades". "My God." he said loudly. Tanner was a total hot sauce freak. He had been since he was a small child. He was raised by his grandfather as a child. As far back as he could remember. He would help his 'Pa'. as he called him in the garden. Pa would always pick the biggest jalapeno or chili pepper and eat it in front of Tanner. Pa would never look at Tanner when he popped it in his mouth, but Tanner knew he was watching him. Tanner had to eat one too. There was nothing more important to Tanner as a child than impressing his Pa, so he would eat a hot pepper, or do anything else he watched Pa do. When he was really young, it was more than Tanner could stand and he would run to the house holding his mouth and hunting water. But, by the time he was ten, it was no big deal. And not only could he eat a whole hot pepper. He enjoyed them. Sometimes they would eat so many together that their eyes would water and they would laugh and cry at the same time. Pa always hollered "now that's hotter than hades!"

Tanner took the bottle and popped a splash in his mouth. "My God", he said again as the familiar heat burned his lips and rushed through his body. He instinctively grabbed the box and bottle and return to the bed. An hour later the pizza was gone, the bottle was empty and another Gun Smoke was on. Tanner laid propped on the headboard, covered in crumbs. He hadn't noticed how hungry he was. He must've been starving because he devoured the large pizza and hardly thought about anything else. "Wait", Tanner yelled. "Wait this is, this is, is this real?" All at once a million questions flooded his mind. "Who is that girl? It seemed like he knew her, but he knew he didn't. Why is everything here my favorite and why, rather how is there a bottle of Pa's secret hot sauce when he had been dead for 30 years? Why can't I remember he said under his breath." Tanner walked into the bathroom. The smell of the woman's perfume still hung in the air. "Why is she so young?" He asked himself. He didn't know how old she was, but he guessed she was around 22, no more than 25. He washed his face and when he looked up and saw himself in the mirror. His face was clean-shaven and fresh looking. He examined his clothing. Nice, casual, and definitely expensive. He looked back into the mirror. It was a beautiful octagon shape. Tanner's attention was drawn to the reflection of the light above his head. He became transfixed as the light in the mirror became all he saw. There was something about it that reminded him of something. Suddenly it was all his mind was focused on. "What is that?" He muttered. The memory so was close he could almost taste it, but he couldn't wrap his mind around it, it was there, but it wasn’t there.

Tanner slapped his face. "Focus, dammit." He yelled! "Where am I?" He ran to the front door and out to the street. He didn't recognize anything. Nice houses lined the street. Some had nice cars in the driveway. A dog walked across the street near the corner. The sides of the street were lined with sycamore trees, some shedding and some in bloom. It was a clean middle-class neighborhood. Tanner walked back into the house. The phone book he thought! He started searching, but couldn't find one. No computer either. He grabbed the phone and dialed zero. "Operator", the voice answered. "Can you tell me where I am?" Tanner pleaded.
'Where you are?" The voice responded. "This is the operator may I help you, Sir?" "Where am I?" Tanner asked again a little calmer. "Sir, this is the operator, may," Tanner cut her off. "Look ma'am, all I want to know is where in the heck I'm calling from! What city where am I." He was almost screaming at this point. There was a brief moment of silence. The operator said softly, "Mr. Davis, your home." The line went dead. Tanner dropped the receiver back on the hook and fell back on the bed. 'Bang Gun Smoke' the TV said. Tanner's mind was scrambled, he couldn't think, or focus. Nothing made sense. That mirror with the light, why can't I remember what that means he thought. "Bang Gun Smoke," the TV said.
"The police!" Tanner yelled. He reached for the phone. He stopped and asked himself, "what if, what if." He took his hand off the phone. He had no idea what he was worried about, but something stopped him. He stood again in front of the mirror staring at the reflection of the overhead light.
"I know this, he said "I know this", I know I know this", he said louder. Stop it", he yelled. "Assess your situation." He said sternly. He straightened and tugged his shirt down in a military fashion. "For every problem, there is a solution." He said softly and not convincingly at all. He said it again louder and with more confidence.

"Problem, I don't know where I am," he said.  He thought for a moment and looked around. "This ain't bad though" he admitted." "There's a beautiful young girl who calls me baby and there's no telling what we did together". He smiled as he tried to imagine. I'll call Connie. He said fast and loud. Connie was his first wife and the only one that he even liked anymore. She was the only only one who would even speak to him. It was always a mystery to both of them why they couldn't get along. It just wasn't meant to be, and they both knew it. He grabbed the phone and dialed her number. "Hello, how's it going," she answered.
"Connie, it's me" was all he got out before was cut off.
"Ha ha gotcha, I'm off somewhere living life, leave a message, maybe I'll call you back if you're lucky," she said with a giggle. The machine beeped, and Tanner hung up the phone without saying a word. Whatever was happening could not be described on an answering machine. Besides that, what would he say if she did answer? That he was in a strange house that he somehow felt at home in. That he woke up in bed naked with a beautiful young woman that somehow he felt like he knew, but didn't. That she knew everything about him, even about his Pa's hot sauce and his favorite pizza. Connie would have thought he'd gone nuts and probably called the cops. "She might be right too" he muttered under his breath.

                                                           THE WEDDING

Tanner walked to the bedroom and looked around. He walked over to the small desk by the window and slid open the top drawer. What he saw hit him like a steamroller! There was a picture of him with the mystery girl. They were hugging. He looked closer, she was wearing a long white dress and he was in a tux., "Oh God," he said, it was a wedding dress. "We're married?" He asked himself puzzled. He picked the picture up to find a small pile of wedding pictures under it. He looked through them. It appeared to be them together and it looked like a wedding. Then he saw a passport. He grabbed it and opened it, it was hers. "Shelby Samara Davis." he read slowly. "We are married." He stuttered in disbelief. "But how? When? No, no, no I'm not married. This is not happening, not real, not real." He covered his eyes and rubbed them. But each time he opened his eyes he was still there.
"Bang, Gun Smoke" came from the bedroom again. He walked to the bed and sat down. 'I've gone nuts." He said to himself. "No other explanation. Maybe I should call the police and turn myself in. Or, the mental hospital" He sighed. "There is no solution for this problem. Seargent., no solution" he whispered. He sat motionless on the edge of the bed, his eyes were glazed and pupils huge and fixed.
"Bang, Gun Smoke". "I'm nuts. I've simply gone nuts!" He said again.
"Bang, Gun Smoke". Tanner didn't move.
"Bang, Gun Smoke".
"Bang, Gun Smoke".

"Baby, I'm home" carried through the house and the door opened and Shelby came in and drop her keys and bag by the door while kicking off her shoes. She walked to the bedroom stretching and yawning. "Right where I left you I see," she laughed. "Good. You needed your rest. Did you and Marshall Dillon clean up Dodge City? she said as she pushed him back on the bed and fell across him. It snapped Tanner out of his hours-long fog in an instant. She pulled up next to his face and kissed him on the cheek. She put her lips next to his ear. "T. how did I get so lucky to find you?" Tanner felt himself becoming aroused, which wasn't an occurrence that happen as much over the past years. Partly because he was just getting older and because he had had no reason present itself, and after three wives, he really didn't think about sex much anymore anyway. "I have to get some sleep," she said as she yawned, tomorrow is a big day" She popped back up and said, "by the way, remember the folks are coming for dinner tomorrow. So wear that dark blue shirt I like so much. The one I bought you." "Folks?" Tanner replied trying not to act too shocked. He knew it wasn't his folks since they had both been dead for years. Tanner stuttered, "okay dear." "Dear? Did you just call me dear?" She snapped. "Don't you start with me! I swear if you embarrass me in front of my folks again I'll kill you, dead Mister!" She wagged her finger in his face and punched him in his chest with her finger. "Got it mister?" she snapped with a smile."
"Yes, Mam," Tanner replied.
"Mam,?" Boy, am I going to get you now!" She started tickling him and he started laughing. Tanner didn't like being tickled, but she was so cute, so cuddly, so soft, he started laughing and for a moment it just seemed natural. There was also a feeling slowly moving over him. It was a familiar feeling, he felt like he knew her more and more by the moment. It was growing into a feeling that he loved her. The feelings were so thick they melted away the cold, icy feeling of apprehension that he had felt before. It made no sense to him, but it felt good and was good. Better than good. It was right.

"T. you gonna stay around awhile this time?" She asked tenderly.
'This time, he thought. Have I been here before? He wondered. She glanced at him with a look of understanding in her eyes. Like she knew something she could not know.
"Now go get cleaned up and find that blue shirt". she snapped as she jumped off the bed. Tanner walked back to the bathroom and turned on the shower. He wasn't sure why he was doing it but it felt right. The steam filled the room and the mirror turned white with fog. He glanced up and saw the light in the mirror again with the fog. He couldn’t see himself, only the reflection of the light in the mirror. 'I know that he said again. Suddenly, flashes and flickers of memories flooded his mind. Broken images that made no sense. Feelings of claustrophobia hit him hard!." Blue suit?" he said as he ran out of the bathroom and into the bedroom. "Blue suit," he said not knowing why he said it running into the closet. He slammed the door open and frantically began raffling through the hanging clothes trying to find the blue shirt or blue suit. He remembered it was a birthday present she had bought him somehow but couldn't remember the birthday itself.
"No, no, no", he said as he combed through each hanger. Then he saw it hanging behind a big coat. A cobalt blue jumpsuit with a bit of yellow on the chest.

A feeling of terror moved through him as he removed it from the closet. Suddenly all of the memories buried in his mind bubbled to the surface. He remembered everything. The weird rooms. The 'not real' motel. The road, sand, and the wall! It frightened him for an instant. He could feel it pulling him back. "No, no," he said under his breath. "No, I don't want to go back"!
"Don't!" Shelby yelled trying to grab it from his hands. Memories of the room. The motel, the road, the thirst, the frustration was hitting him like a tsunami washing over his brain.
"T. don't!" He heard her again, but the sound was distant and faint.
"Don't leave again", he heard her pleading voice fade off to nothing.

                                                                  Back at the wall


The brightness of the light hitting his eyelids was like a giant spotlight inch from his face. He tried to open his eyes. The light was so bright it made them water and he couldn't focus. He wiped the tears away and squinted through the intense light. It was the sun. It was directly overhead. He suddenly realized he was not standing anymore. He was lying on his back. He bent his head up and looked down the length of his body and beyond. All he could see was the road stretched out as far as his eyes could see. He jumped to his feet and turned around. He was inches from the wall. He spread his arms and fell against the wall with both palms of his hands. "No! No! No solution this time." Tanner cried out over and over again. He fell and spun into a sitting position against the wall. He could remember everything now. He could even remember that when he was with Shelby he couldn't remember the road, the rooms, or the wall. "It was a dream" He sighed, sadly. But, it seems so real. "She was so real. Too real." He said to himself repeatedly. The feeling of loss covered him like a heavy wet blanket. It didn't make sense, the loss he was feeling was for Shelby. it didn't matter that rationally he knew he had just met her if he really had. He could still smell her, feel her body against his. "Just too real," he said to himself again as he reached up and stroked his face. It was rough and burned to a crisp with short stubble. He lay there against the wall for a while. The memory of Shelby and the house and Gun Smoke and pizza dominated his thoughts so strong he only barely saw the flicker in the sun from above. He looked up at the sun which was directly overhead. Looking straight up the wall obscured half of it.  It was hard to look at. It was so bright. He saw it again, a flicker, or shadow in the sun. It looked like the sun was split in half with a slightly moving image in the middle. For an instant, it looked like a body or at least the head and arms of a person. "What?" Tanner whispered to himself. He got to his feet and began to run down the road. He ran about half a football field from the wall and whirled around and looked up at the sun again. It was normal-looking. Big, bright, no split, no person. Then his eyes dropped to the top of the wall. There was something moving. With the bright sun above it blinded most of his view, but it was there. There was definitely a shape there, a shape of a person standing on the edge of the wall. "Hey! You on the wall!" Tanner yelled! The figures seem to be gazing off into the distance, or down the road. "Hey! Help! Who are you?" Tanner begged for a reply. The figure turned and appeared to walk away and vanish. Tanner dropped to the road again and began to sob on his knees and palms. He wiped the tears and noticed he was back in his blue jumpsuit again. "God, I know I don't know how to do this, you know that but I'm praying here, I'm praying!" Tanner looked up to the sky with one eye. "Are you there God? Are you punishing me? Can you hear me? Do you care? Is this just a mean God joke?" He began to laugh and cry at the same time. He howled, he laughed so hard and balled like a baby at the same time. "I give up God, just take me." He looked up again with one eye." Just as I thought", he said disparagingly. "No one can prove that they were not created a millisecond ago with a built-in memory," Tanner said softly through the tears. He couldn't remember where he had heard that saying. He knew he had heard it somewhere as a child and it always stuck with him, but he hadn't thought of it in years and until that moment didn't know what it meant. "Maybe none of this is real?" He said to himself. "Maybe I'm not real," he admitted to himself softly. "I can't prove it either way," he said a little louder. Maybe I was just created and none of this is real at all he thought. He had read in some book once that we can't prove that we're not all in a computer program. Maybe I'm caught in some insane video game he thought. This was just not the way Tanner thought, but he was not thinking like Tanner anymore. Every few seconds a hard pain hit him in the pit of his stomach remembering Shelby. Feeling the loss for her. "But she’s not real," he said to himself. "Dammit she has to be" he replied to himself! "She just has to be"!  His brain felt on fire and all he wanted was for everything to stop and be back with Shelby. "I don't care if it is a computer game" he yelled! " I don't care! I just want Shelby"! He could still smell her and feel her body against his. "I want Shelby he cried! "I want my Shelby"! "Tanner", he yelled at himself, "stop it. Focus, you are real, with a real pass and a real life. You are real. Stop thinking about her," he demanded of himself! "But I can't, he shouted. I love her!"  "Love her? You don't even know her! Earth to Tanner, earth to Tanner, are you listening to me?" "Stop thinking about things you don't understand and focus on the here and now" he ordered himself. "I love her! I do, I'm in love with her! I am married to her! She loves me! She always has! Suddenly he remembered their wedding in hot flashes of the pictures he had found.  "I love her. I don't want to lose her! Please, God, don't do this to me! Take me back! I’ll do anything you want! I will, I swear I will" he plead with the God he didn't believe in"You don't even know her." He proclaimed again!" I don't care. I love her," he said softly again. Hours passed as he knelled in the sand crying into his hands. Tears ran off his palms and stained the sand. Time meant nothing now. He felt like his life was over. He didn't care if he lived or died. "Please God, just take me! I don't want to live anymore. Send me to hell" he yelled! Just end it".  He pulled himself to his feet and tried to compose himself. He felt like a rung-out dish rag.  "Focus on the here and now Tanner, love her don't love her. Who cares who was on the wall?" He didn't believe what he was saying at all, but he was where he was, Shelby was gone and for all, he knew she never was anyway.His attention was drawn back to the wall.  "Gotta find a way, gotta find a way to get over that wall," he said as he got back on his feet. Somehow and for some reason he thought maybe Shelby was on the other side. That if he could just get to the other side she would be there and he would forget all about the wall and everything else. It made no sense, but he thought it anyway.  So many things had happened so fast to him that Tanner's mind was completely frazzled.  "I can't take much more of this", he sighed to himself. "Wait"! He snapped, "sleep! All I have to do is sleep! And I can go back then."  Tanner closed his eyes. "Okay, sleep" he opened one eye to see he was still on the road. He closed his eyes again. "Sleep dammit. Just go to sleep," he ordered himself. After some time he opened his eyes and sat up. "Okay," he said under his breath. "Okay."                                          

                                                        ON THE ROAD AGAIN

Tanner had been walking for hours. The wall was far behind him and out of sight. The road was hot, but his shoes kept his feet cool. Weird, he thought as he watched them walk beneath him. He looked up, the sun still burned hot at high noon. "Naturally", he said as he staggered forward. He walked for hours. He had no idea how long. There was no way to tell time. It mushed together in the thousands of footsteps. In the distance, he could see something, foggy, hazy, but there. His feet kept moving one step after the other, like an automatic walking machine. "Oh God, another wall", he said, looking at the fuzzy huge image in the distance. Nevertheless, there was nothing behind him except the wall. He had decided that the only way to get back to Shelby was to get past that wall. With every step, he became more and more convinced he had to get past that wall. The few short minutes he had had with her were the most love Tanner had ever felt. It was more than all the love that he had felt in his entire life. All of his marriages combined paled in comparison. it was just perfect.  There was no question about it. He didn't have to make sense of it, he was in love and it seemed to become more intense with each step and every breath.                                                           

                                                                            THE PLAN


Quite suddenly he found himself standing in front of the little fake motel again. The image in the distance he had seen was the wall of woods that surrounded the motel. He looked around and laughed at the fact he had been on such cruise control and almost passed it all together. And that he had no idea why he had come back. He didn't have a plan. Somehow he thought if he could just return he would figure out something. He would find the answer to getting past that wall. When he was a kid his mom would tell him he would jump off a cliff and try to figure out a way not to kill himself on the way down. It was true. Tanner was disciplined, but impulsive at the same time. As he stood there, he realized that his military training had not let him down, that a plan had been formulated in the back of his mind as he walked. Standing in the parking lot and looking at the motel it all came together in an instant and he ran into one of the rooms. A quick glance around and he ran to the bed and flipped it over. Yes, he said as he kicked it apart, throwing the pieces and the sheets out the door. He ran to the next room and did the same thing. One by one, he tore up the beds and threw them in the parking lot. He was focused and determined now. He was feeling like Tanner again. Standing in the last of the room he grabbed a heavy glass ashtray and hurled it at the mirror. It shattered everywhere. He grabbed a pointed hand size dagger shape piece from the pile and ran out of the room. Standing in the middle of his pieces of wood and sheets he grabbed a sheet and cut it into strips with his new glass knife. He wrapped the cloth around the end of the dagger and made a handle. He sat in the middle of the mess of wood and sheets and cut all of the sheets into strips as fast as he could. He tied three to the end of a heavy piece of wood and wove it into a rope. He sat for some time until he had made ropes of all the sheet strips. From time to time he would mutter something about the wall. About how it thought it was so smart. About Shelby and that he would teach that wall a thing or two and get back to her even he didn't want him to. It didn't matter anymore that nothing made sense. He fought that battle of logic with himself and lost. When he got all the sheets cut he begin to lay out the wood runners from the bed. The long ones were about seven feet and the cross slates were about four. "Okay, Tanner. You've done this before." He said confidently. He remembered building a skid to pull a fellow soldier to safety in the war. As Tanner mumbled a rough sled came together. He used the sheets strips to tie it all together. It had two rails and all of the other wood was tied crossways across it. Finally, it was finished. He slipped his shoulders into the sheet rope harness he built and started pulling. It was heavy and the screeching sound was almost unbearable, but he was getting a newfound strength along with his focus. He managed to crack a smile across his burnt face as he leaned forward and almost broke into a run. "Yes, Yes, Yes! He yelled. It was heavy indeed. Tanner had to lean forward at almost a 45° angle and put all of his weight behind it to get it to move at all. "Come on, you monster." The sound of the wood screeching across the top of the pavement cut through his ears like a chain saw. The sound was high pitch and obnoxiously loud. "I wished I had some earplugs", he sighed. He stopped and drew his mirror dagger again and cut two small pieces from the sheet harness. He put one in his mouth and chewed it for a minute. He pulled out a wet ball and stuck it in his left ear. Suddenly half of the horrible screech was gone. He made another one and put it in his other ear and begin to drag again. It was so quiet he could hardly hear anything. He lean forward and gave his new device a solid tug again. It was heavy as steel, but it moved. As long as he didn't stop moving he was able to keep going. The sled worked. It followed right behind him and the rails polished down from pointed to smooth from the sandpaper effect on the road. The pulling became considerably easier with every few steps. "Yes". Tanner yelled. " I can do this. I will do this. I am doing this." He kept repeating those lines and broke into a tune." "Shelby my dear I'm coming home - yes I'm coming home!"

"Put that little black dress on, put that little dress on".

"Put me a pizza in the microwave my dear I'm coming home".

"Shelby my dear I'm a coming home - yes I'm coming home! " 

                                                                                   THE CHALLENGE

Standing at the wall Tanner dumped the pile of ropes and wood on the ground. He began to tie it together in a long overlapping manor with the sheet ropes.  He used the short slats from the beds to make the steps and the long ones for the uprights. He was building a ladder. It was only a ladder in the strictest sense of the word. It was very rickety and dangerous looking and there was a lot of distance between the rungs. 
When Tanner tied off the last piece he carefully positioned himself so his back was against the wall with some 25 feet of homemade latter sprawled out in front of him.  It took almost everything he had to lift the end of his contraption above his head. He heaved and dropped it against the wall about six foot high. With a huge heave, he both lifted and pulled the ladder towards him then up. Inch by inch until it was as high as he could get it. Only about halfway. 

He ran to the foot of the ladder and grabbed the end of a long piece of sheet rope that was connected to the top. He repeatedly jerked the rope and kicked the bottom of the ladder.  Each time it slowly rose on the wall a few inches. Soon it was high enough that he was able to pull the ladder away from the wall and for a moment it balanced almost perfectly still. With every bit of energy, he had left he lifted and heaved forward once more and the foot of the latter flew several feet. It slammed against the wall and almost reached the top.  

Tanner fell to the sand and rolled on his back. He was exhausted, out of breath, and close to losing consciousness. He lifted his head and looked up the ladder. It seemed to stretch to the heavens. He struggled to get to his feet, wobbly and unbalanced he made his way to the bottom of his genius creation, his salvation. His ticket to the other side of the wall. His ticket to Shelby. Exhausted and out of breath he smirked "you think you're so smart, don't you? Don't you!"  

Tanner's homemade ladder stretched some 25 feet into the air and almost reached the top. It was unsteady and rickety, but it seemed to be solid enough, he thought anyway. He took a breath and started up. He had to lay against the latter or he would fall backward bringing it crashing down on him. It reminded him of a game he had played as a kid, Jack-ups Latter. A latter-like contraption made of rope and wood was attached to a tree with the other end staked to the ground. It came to a point at both the top and bottom so it could spin in the air. It was very hard to climb without it spinning and throwing you off. If you got to the top and rang the bell you won a prize.  As a kid, he remembered being good at it, but that was over fifty years ago. He slowly placed his right foot on the bottom rung and applied a little weight. The whole latter began to feel as if it were going to spin in that direction. He quickly moved his body far to the left and steadied. Then the left foot up one rung with the right hand at the same time. The entire structure bowed in the middle and Tanner felt like it was going to collapse. Quickly he lay as still as he could. Then he took one more step and balanced again, then another.  As he got higher the center of gravity changed and it became even harder to traverse. The sun blasting at high noon had his hands sweating so much he could hardly hang on. 

He stood on the top rung of his ladder with his chest pressed firmly against the wall and his hands above him reaching with everything he had for the edge. He knew he had to find it and get a grip, or he would fall. He knew when he went for it he would only get one chance. His fingertips of one hand just barely caught the edge of the wall, which was quite angular and clean and sharp.

 "Summons the strength Tanner," he said as he lifted his feet from the ladder and swung free of the top rung and it crumbled in a pile of sticks and rags beneath him. He began to swing to one side, then to the other, each time getting a slightly better grip with each hand. Then back again until after five or six swings he caught the edge with the tip of his shoe and locked his ankle and it held him.  "Yes, yes, yes.", he screamed as he rolled up on the edge of the wall. He steadied himself longways on the edge and tried to drop an arm on each side, but he could only drop it down one side. The side he just climbed. The other arm slammed into the ground so hard it almost knocked him back off the wall. Then he turned his head to look over the wall and see his prize. 

                                                      Meeting The Blues

The blue twinkles in the distance were all he could see. It was the same cobalt blue as the light strands in the room. The same as his suit. They moved in and out of each other like vertical slits in reality. The heat from the sun made waves of distortion in his eyes and it was impossible to know what he was seeing. "Oh God," he said with hardly enough breath to get the words out. He got to his feet. There was no other side of the wall in sight. From somewhere, he got enough energy to stagger towards the blue twinkles and away from the wall's edge. They seemed far away to him, but after several seconds he realized he was there, with the blue vertical slits.  Almost instantly, they came into focus. Hundreds, thousands of humanoid figures, all wearing the same cobalt blue jumpsuit as his. Some in groups and some just walking aimlessly, and calmly, seemingly with no purpose at all. 

One of these entities stood closest and Tanner assumed him to be the one he saw earlier on the wall. "Hey," Tanner yelled and put up his hands in a hello motion. The figure stood still and smiled. Tanner walked closer. He waved his hand in front of the small figure's face. "Do you understand me?" Tanner asked. "I understand you." The man said as he took a few steps forward. They examined each other for a minute. Tanner surveyed the landscape and pointed out at the sea of blue people. "What is this place"? He asked.  "This is here." The figure answered with a shy smile. "No," Tanner shouted. "Where am I? "You are here." The man answered. "Who are you"? Tanner snapped. "I am me," The figure said as he pat his palms against his chest. Tanner dropped and put his hands on his knees. "Man, I'm thirsty!" he said desperately.  It hit him as fast and hard as it did at the motel. No sooner than the words had left his lips he looked up and the second man in blue handed him a large container of water. Tanner grabbed it and slammed it back in one big gulp. "Who did you guys say you were again," Tanner asked wiping his chin with his blue sleeve.  "More, please"!  He added rather directly.  As the man took the container he handed Tanner another.  "We are us." The first figure said with a wide smile.  Tanner stepped up to the figure and poked him in the chest with his finger. "You, what is your name"? Tanner demanded. The two figures looked at each other confused.   Tanner patted his chest,  "Me Tanner" he declared. Then he pointed at the figure.  "So who are you," Tanner asked again.  The figure smiled and touched his chest.  "Me Tanner," he said looking at the other figure with a shrug.  His mind raced to find a way to communicate with the two figures.  "Dang, I'm hungry." Tanner's sighed. He looked up and a third figure appeared holding a tray of food. Tanner took it. It looks strange, but it smelled great. Tanner dropped to his knees and began to devour the feast. He had no idea what he was eating. It could've been fried June bugs for all he knew, but it was good. In fact, it was great. He ate fast like a man in prison. Within minutes the tray was empty and Tanner was full and feeling a little more like himself again.  "Thank you," Tanner said as he wiped the crumbs from his beard.  It was longer than it was the last time he'd checked. It was an inch long. "Hair grows a half inch a month. Could I have been here a month or two?" He thought.  "Would you like anything else," the figure asked. Tanner snapped back. "Yeah, you can tell me when exactly I lost my mind"?  "Your mind? You lost your mind" The figure asked.  "Look, just take me to your leader. You do have a leader, don't you"? Tanner said in a forceful but softer voice like you would use telling a kid something. The three figures looked at each other. The one doing all the talking finally spoke. "Yes, we have a leader," He said with somewhat of a serious tone.  "Well take me to him then," Tanner demanded. "Are you sure?" the figure asked.  "Yes, I'm sure. Take me to your leader" Tanner demanded again.
The three figures turned and started walking away from the wall's edge and Tanner followed. The blue crowd parted as they walked and merged behind them again as they passed.  There was a mist of fog in the air that made it hard to see what everything was.  As they walked through the crowd Tanner continued asking questions. 
 "Where is this place? " Who are you, people?" They just kept walking through the fog which thickened as they proceeded. It sort of cloaked the blue crowd. They seemed to be so close Tanner was feeling claustrophobic. He could feel them even though they were not touching him. It reminded him of the cobalt light threads from the room. They touched him and didn't touch him at the same time. "Wait," Tanner shouted. "Where are you taking me"? Tanner poised himself with an 'I'm not moving another foot' stance. Hundreds of blue figures concealed by the fog begin to slowly converge around them. Almost suddenly he was surrounded by them. They didn't seem to notice him, and this frightened him even more. He began stopping random figures. "Can you help me" he pleaded. "Please, I am looking for your leader". The figures only stared at him. No expression of any kind. Tanner was surrounded by thousands of of them, but he had never felt so alone. He became dizzy and began to stumble and the feeling he was falling swept over him. Everything began to blur and Tanner felt himself begin to lose consciousness and everything went black. He felt a hand slap down on his shoulder.  "Me Tanner" a voice said, "you must stay with us! You almost got lost there. If you get lost, you might not get found, ever.  The figure spoke and shook his head and made a face of clearly remembering losing someone, or perhaps he got lost himself.  "For Ever" Tanned muttered under his breath".  "Or longer" snapped the blue man.  The blue man reached his hand out to Tanner. Tanner took his hand slowly and not firmly at all. He had no idea how strong these guys were. He didn't want to start out this crazy relationship by hurting him with a firm handshake. "Take my hand Me Tanner and don't let go until we get there."!  Tanner's mind cleared and he regained his stance. He turned and looked at the figure. It was the man from the wall.  The crowd parted and they began to walk again. 

"Almost there." The blue man said. The fog slowly began to dissipate in front of them.  They were standing in front of a massive cathedral-type building. It was enormous. It was beautiful, unlike anything Tanner had ever seen before.  "Oh my" Tanner sighed as he stood in front of the structure that seemed to appear from nowhere.  The building's architecture was unlike anything he had ever seen, It was magnificent. It was un-earthly.  The building was the same cobalt blue as the jumpsuit and light threads. It was shiny and highly reflective, while somehow appearing dull at the same time. Tanner saw his reflection in it. It was like looking at a beautiful pond of blue water on a perfectly calm day. Tanner looked up slowly and surveyed the height of the structure. 
"It must go on for miles," he said softly.  

                                                                         The Grand Hall

The building twisted upward in a helix shape like a strand of DNA. It looked like one smooth piece of material like it had been molded from something. There were no seams, no bolts, rivets, windows, or doors. Blue Man placed his hand on the structure and a door opened. It seemed to dissolve to his touch. "This way," the figure said with a smile. They slowly entered the strange structure. As soon as they passed the threshold the door reappeared as suddenly as it had melted away. The hall was huge, beyond huge, simply massive. He looked up and saw the twisted walls soaring almost out of sight. They were standing in a round hall that seemed thousands of feet wide. The inside was the same smooth shiny cobalt blue, but it seemed to somehow emit light that illuminated the structure with an even blue hue that Tanner found somehow soothing. He felt his fears and anxiety melt away. His mind cleared and he felt more like himself again. All of the urgent questions he had so vigorously saute seem to lose some of their importance. What he was looking at was so grand, so advanced, and so amazing it took all of his attention just to take in a tiny portion of it.  The inner walls of the building were covered with ledges that protruded slightly from the wall's edge about every 30 feet all the way up and out of sight. Thousands of blue figures lined the railings of the ledges all looking down at Tanner. Unlike the figures outside who didn't notice him at all, now thousands of eyes were focused on him. "Where is your leader" Tanner whispered as he pulled his hand away from the figure.  "Over there Me Tanner" Blu Man answered as he pointed to the middle of the hall.  They reached an insignia on the shiny cobalt floor. It was a bright yellow circle exactly like the mark on the suit, only bigger. It glowed against the cobalt floor.  The figure guided him to the edge of the ring.   "Are you sure you want to meet the leader"? He asked with a serious tone. It was like the figure was saying, "Man, if you knew what you were in for. You might want to rethink that". "Yes, yes I do," Tanner responded in a less demanding voice. "Stand in the circle then." The figure said as he pointed. "You're coming too," Tanner asked.  "No, absolutely not, not me, no sir", the figure snapped. He caught himself and smiled again.  "In the circle, then," he said as he waved one hand at waist height over the circle.  Tanner looked at the figure, looked at the circle, and stepped in with one foot. Nothing happened. He slowly put his other foot in and walked to the middle of the symbol. "Now what," he said. The figure pointed up. Tanner looked up and at that moment felt a blast of ice cold air hit him and a wave of sickness moved over him for a second. Everything felt like it was spinning. He felt like he was going to fall. Then quickly as it started, it stopped. Tanner was standing alone in a small room. His first thought was oh no, I'm back.

                                                                   THE SERGEANT

The door swung open and a large square man walked in. The light behind him was bright and it blinded Tanner.  He smelled a familiar odor from long ago. The figure stepped across the room and into Tanner's face fast. "For every problem, there is a solution." The voice said loudly. It was Sergeant Sterner. Smoke from his cigar filled the room and he bit the short stub tight between his teeth.  "Did you hear me"? This time he screamed it. Tanner stood instinctively at attention and didn't move.  "No, it can't be" the words slipped out of Tanner's mouth. "But your," - "Dead"? The Sergeant cut him off.  Tanner had watched his Sergeant die. He saw him take his last breath  His Sargent was dead. Of this he was sure.  "What kind of sick joke is this."? Tanner yelled.  "You are dead, you are not real, you are not you. None of this is real"! Tanner cried. He hit the figure in the chest with both palms hard, but it was like hitting a brick wall.  "You died damn it, I saw you die. I felt you die!" Tanner's eyes screamed louder than his voice.
He bit down so hard he bit in half and it fell to the floor.  "Set down" the figure ordered as he pointed at a chair Tanner had not seen before. Tanner started to say no, the figure raised his finger and pointed at the chair as he stooped over and picked up his cigar. Tanner slowly sat down and the man pulled up another chair.   The Sargeant turned his chair around and sat facing the back with his arms crossed, resting his huge barrel chest on the back of the chair.  "So Tanner, how can I help you."? Tanner had never heard his Sarge speak in a normal voice before and it caught him off guard. Somehow it relaxed him a little.  "You're not my Sergeant, so who are you"?  The large man grinned widely. His whole body seemed to smile. "I don't guess I am me would suffice would it?" The Sergeant dropped his chair back on the floor hard and leaned his head down. He looked directly into Tanner's eyes. The smile on his face turned into a deadly serious, ice cold, how can I make you understand expression?  "Look Tanner, I know you're all full of questions. I know you don't understand what's happening to you.  I am the person you asked for. To someone else, I would be someone else, but for you I am me."  "Where are we and don't answer here" Tanner Demanded.  The first thing you should know is very few people make it here. Very few and".  "How do I get home." Tanner cut him off.  "You can't go back, Tanner". The one big constant in the universe, hell all of the universes and those beyond those, you can never go back! At least no one ever has".

"Why am I here?" Begged Tanner.  The Sergeant stared at him.  Let me ask you this, how did you find your way here in the first place"? Tanner fell back and looked at the figure in total, mouth-dropping shock.  "I thought you would know the answers to that," Tanner said desperately.  "Yes, yes, yes, what was the last thing you saw Tanner? What was the last thing that you remember before you came here"?  "You mean," Tanner started to answer," you mean the wall"? Spit out of his mouth. "The wall," Sarge said with a vacant look on his face.  "That huge mother of all walls out there. That huge, ugly gray wall that's what wall"!  Serge's face lit up. "Oh, you must mean the great ledge"!   "Ledge"? Tanner asked himself confused.  "Yes." The figure said again "The Great Ledge".    "I suppose from the other side. It might appear to be a wall, but that's impossible."  "Impossible" Serge snapped shaking his wide head.  "Well, here I am. I am here" replied Tanner.   "But you could not have come from there, no one ever comes from there". The large figure smiled at him again with a grin that clearly said you have to be kidding me. "Now where did you come from my boy?"  "You're asking me?" The words jumped out of Tanner's mouth. "I came from the wall. I climbed it. I climbed the wall and I am here. " Tanner said as he slapped both hands against his chest awaiting an answer. The figure busted out laughing! Climbed the wall," he said as he slapped his leg laughing. He looked at Tanner again.  Tanner could tell the laughter was for real. Sargent pulled a rag from his pocket and wiped the tears of laughter from his eyes.  "The Great Ledge is too high, too straight, too smooth. You couldn't climb it. No one has ever climbed the ledge. Impossible."! The Sgt. said with that same 'you have to be kidding me grin. Tanner sat there, confused and frustrated.  "Hey," Tanner yelled." I'm asking the questions here." The Sgt. threw his hands out palms up aiming toward Tanner. "Then ask away". He calmly replied, smiling again.  "Okay," Tanner said. "Who are you really?  Where is this place?  How do I leave this place?  Why was I brought to this place?"  The questions poured out of Tanner's mouth so fast it all melted into a mush of words soup. "And what's with this stupid blue suit"?    And why was I stuck in those rooms."?   Tanner became silent for a moment, the large figure started to respond, but Tanner stuck his finger up stopping him.  "And why can't I quit thinking about Shelby and why do I, why am I, why do I love her so much."? Tanner asked under his breath. "Maybe you just do." The man answered. "Who is Shelby anyway." He continued. Tanner stood silent again for a moment, looking at the Sarge. "You don't know the answer to any of my questions do you? I thought you were the leader" Tanner sighed.   "I don't understand, I don't understand any of this," Tanner said softly. "For every problem, there is a solution." The figure said softly. Then he repeated it a little louder. Then he yelled it right in Tanner's face. Didn't I teach you, anything son? He grabbed Tanner by both shoulders and shook him.  "Hey," the Sergeant yelled, "You in there boy"?   "You're not my Sarge," Tanner yelled. Without any forethought, he swung his right arm and planted a blow across the Sargant's chin. The Sergeant stumbled back and fell against the wall. Before he could react Tanner leaned in and started pounding him repeatedly in the gut. The figure slid down the wall holding his abdomen. Tanner screamed and kicked him hard in the ribs.  "Who are you? Another kick, "Where am I?" Another kick. "How did I get here? Two more kicks. "Why is this happening to me and how do I go home to Shelby?"  He caught himself in mid-word. "I mean, how do I get home, he began to stutter, how do I get home.".   He started to take a step away, but at the last moment, he turned back and kicked him once again very hard.  "And what's the deal with this stupid blue suit?" The Sgt. worked his way up to set with his back against the wall, holding his belly with one hand and his ribs with the other. He wiped the blood from his lips and looked at it.  "Not bad. My boy, not bad at all. I would've thought you would've slowed down in your old age, but," he said as he struggled to his feet.   "I guess you're not that old right now, are you?  Okay Tanner, okay."  He held his hand up in a no more fashion.   "Son, I can't answer all of your questions. No one can. You are here because you wanted to be here, or needed to. No one ever comes here unless they need to be here".  "But" Tanner broke in. The Sergeant  Just continued talking as if he didn't hear Tanner.  "I don't know why you are here. I don't know how you got here. I don't know who this Shelby person is.  All I know for sure is you did not come here from the great ledge, or wall, or whatever you choose to call it." He said as he shook his head from side to side.  "How do you know that"? Tanner asked softly.  "No one ever comes from there. You couldn't climb it. There is nothing beyond the ledge anyway.". The figure assured.  Tanner stood searching his mind for a question the leader could answer.  "So, doesn't anyone ever fall off of the ledge."?   "Oh sure, it happens."  "So what happens to them"?  Tanner asked. "They die". The figure said in a matter-of-fact dismissive tone.  "How do you know they die"? Tanner snapped back.  "The Sarge stop for a moment before he answered. "When they get up they try and try to climb their way back, but they cannot. They wander around for a while, then they disappear down that line into oblivion. They die". The Sarge said again.  The line Tanner thought? "The line" this time he asked out loud.  "The line, you mean the road, you're talking about the road aren’t you"? Tanner asked as he grabbed him by his shoulders.  "Road? The figure asked with a vacant look on his face.  "No, no road. Just a line in the sand". He said".  "It's a road Sergeant. Trust me, I was there it's a freaking road. I walked it several times. "Well, if it's a road where does it go? Roads go somewhere, don't they? The Sergeant questioned.  "It goes to a motel" Tanner answered knowing he sounded silly. "Well if there's a motel down there who stays in it.? Was it full of blues he laughed?  "Blues"? Tanner questioned.  "Yes blues, like me, like us," he said as he touched his cobalt garment. "Like you.   "The motel. no, no one was there. The place wasn't even real". Tanner responded.  "See I told you if there was a motel down the line, the poor blues who fell off of the ledge would be in it. As I said, no motel, nothing there, nothing there at all, and no road. And We will have no more of that nonsense" ordered the Sergeant.  "Now as Far as this Shelby person, I don't know. If you think she's real, who am I to say she's not"?   "She's real" Tanner replied. "She has to be".  I know it doesn't make any sense, but I love her. I have a craving, a yearning unlike anything that I've ever felt in my life it's eating me up inside. I tell you It hurts."  "Why, why is this happening to me"? Tanner said under his breath again.  "If you're here, it's because you asked to be here, or because you need to be here".  "You are not my Sergeant, who are you really"? Tanner demanded!
The figure smiled, and his features began to change, to morph into another face altogether. It was the blue man who guided him into the room.  "Hi again," he said with a shy smile. 
"You"? Tanner yell. "What kind of games are you playing here ?". Tanner begin to get upset, his breathing raised sharply and he began to hyperventilate. Stars flickered around his head as everything went black. Tanner felt himself losing balance and falling.  Just as the last tiny speck of consciousness began to fade away. He felt an electric shock surge through his body so strong it hurt all over.  "Ouch" Tanner grabbed his head and sat up. He looked around to find himself laying on a cobalt blue bed.  He looked around and saw that he lay in a row of beds that stretched in each direction at least 20 beds before they curved out of sight. "That was close, you almost faded." The blue man said.  "What in the heck did you do to me"?  "I had to zap you," the figure said with a grimace and a smile at the same time.  "Why" Tanner demanded.   "You almost faded," the blue man said.  "What the heck is faded anyway?" Tanner asked frantically.  "it's what it sounds like, to fade, to disappear, the act of fading, the". Tanner grabbed him, "okay, okay I got it." "Fade where"?  The figure looked at him, "well," he said with a long pause.  "I don't know Tanner, I've never faded."  "Right," Tanner said sarcastically. You don't know any more than I do." "Why did you pretend to be my Sergeant." Tanner demanded.  Finally, the figure turned to him and said, "it was you who picked him, not me."
They walked down the gently curved hall, lined by cobalt beds on each side, some with figures on them, and some empty.  The figure turned and led Tanner out a door.  They were back in the Great Hall again. "My God". Tanner whispered. 

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