All Is Not As It Seems – Chapter Eight

As he walked into the house, Sela screamed “I don’t know who I am!  Do you hear me?  I don’t know who I am!”

Roy walked over and tried to calm her down.  Sela looked at him and asked “who is that man?”  Roy said “he owns this house and these gardens.  He owns everything as far as your eye can see.  This is his kingdom.”

“But who is he?” she asked.

Roy gave just the slightest hint of a smile when he said “we call him the King.”  Sela quipped “the King?  You mean as in the ‘King of his Kingdom’?”

Roy shook his head in affirmation.  “Is he Royalty?” she asked.  Roy laughed and whispered “no, he just thinks he is.”

“You still haven’t told me his name,” she said in an almost pouty voice.

Roy said “if and when the King wants you to know his name, he will be the one who tells you.”

“What is your relationship to him?”  Sela questioned.  Roy said “I work for him.”

“In what capacity?” she asked.

“I am multi-faceted.  I’ve been appointed your guardian.  I’m a liaison and most importantly, I’m a trusted family member who protects the King at all costs.”

“At all costs?” Sela echoed.  “Yes.  At all costs, up to and including sacrificing my life,” he said.

She asked “are you in love with him?”  Roy laughed aloud and said “no, it’s not like that.  It’s more of a loyalty thing.  I protect him but he protects me as well.

“From what?” She asked.  Roy pensively answered “from outsiders.”

Sela said “who are these outsiders and why would they pose a threat to you?”

Roy quickly switched gears and said “don’t you love these gardens?  I see you out here every day and you always seem so relaxed and peaceful.”

“You watch me?” Sela asked.  “Yes,” said Roy.  “I told you that I am your guardian.  I am here to protect you on the orders of the King.”

“You mean you’re a stalker,” she said.  Roy said “no.  Not a stalker.  A guardian.”

Sela said “tell me.  Do you stalk me in my bedroom as well?”  Roy smiled and said “no.  Not in your bedroom.  Only on the grounds, and I’m not a stalker.  I’m your guardian.”

With playful eyes, Sela said “so, does that mean you would sacrifice your life for me as well?”

“I would,” said Roy.

“Do you carry a gun?” asked Sela.  “Yes,” said Roy.  “Is it a big gun?” asked Sela.  “Big enough,” said Roy.  “Can I see it?” asked Sela.  “No,” said Roy.

Sela was flirting with him and knew that he would be flattered.

“Are you in love with me?” she asked.  She could see the flush in Roy’s face as he tried to stumble through a denial.  “I’m here to protect you on the Kings’ orders.”

Sela had exposed Roy’s soft underbelly and she knew that he would be vulnerable.  He was in love with her and she could see a means of escape, if she played him…and her cards right.

Using her feminine wiles, she took Roy’s arm.  Coyly returning to the previous conversation about the gardens, she said “you’re right, you know.  The gardens are lovely and so relaxing and peaceful but I still feel as though I am a prisoner.”

As they slowly walked in silence, suddenly Sela stopped and tightened her grip on Roy’s arm.  She could feel his pulse quicken and see his pupils widen.  She looked at him and said, “would you do something for me if I asked?”

Roy thought Sela had finally noticed him and against his better judgment, said “anything.”

She leaned toward him and whispered into his ear, “would you help me get away from here?”

 

To be continued______________

 

All Is Not As It Seems – Chapter Seven

Weeks passed, and more and more Sela found herself drawn to the feeling of serenity the gardens offered…always under the watchful gaze of the King.

Roy had been appointed her guardian.  He was always close but kept his supervision in the shadows.  He had become enamored with the beautiful, mysterious Sela, who sadly, barely gave him notice.  Their limited conversations were brief and mundane but Roy fought with futility, to spark even a paltry bit of interest from her.

His fight would soon bear fruit, but not for him.  One evening as Sela was coming back to the house, she was startled to see a man standing in front of her.

He was the kind of man you instinctively knew that you shouldn’t look at, but she did.  She was captivated by his striking handsomeness and magnetic eyes but somewhat frightened by his sudden almost ethereal presence.

“Good afternoon.” he said.  “I see that you are admiring my gardens.”

Sela looked around the display as if for the first time and said “yes.  They’re beautiful.  There’s such a sense of peacefulness here, almost like you’re in a different world.  A world of grace and innocence.  Her voice trailed off as she said “a world I think I’d like to belong to.”

“Have you seen the pond?” he asked.  Sela said “no, I haven’t.”

“Come with me,” he said.

They walked along the flower-laden pathway to a huge pond whose beauty rivaled the gardens.

“It’s fully stocked with the finest Nishikigoi, better known as Koi,” he said.  “They are symbolic of luck, prosperity and good fortune.  They also represent perseverance in adversity and strength of purpose.  Most importantly, they are symbolic of loyalty, and loyalty is very important.”  Then he turned and looked as though he knew the exact spot where Roy was standing.

Sela gazed at the playful Koi, who came to the surface begging for food.  “May I feed them?” she asked.

His answer was sharp and succinct.  “No.  I have people for that.”

As if nothing had been asked or denied, he continued.  “Many people erroneously believe that these creatures originated from Japan, when in reality they are thought to be native to China.”

Sela’s eyes were fixated on the massive, brightly colored fish and the over sized pond lilies.  Pink lotus plants seemed to dance on the surface, disturbed only by an occasional beetle looking for the sweet nectar of pollen.

A large, concrete angel with wings spread, held an urn with a never-ending flow of water, which lent the sound of a gentle cascading waterfall.  “If Utopia exists,” thought Sela, “surely this must be it.”

“It’s easy to feel like you can lose yourself here, isn’t it?” he asked.

“Yes it is,” she said.

He turned as if to walk away and Sela said “wait.  Who are you?”

He looked at her with his intense, beguiling eyes and said “I might ask you the same question.”

 

To be continued________________

All Is Not As It Seems – Chapter Six

A week later, Sela was presented with a wardrobe fit for a queen.  As she slipped into a soft, white gauzy summer dress, she wondered “did I wear this kind of clothing?”

With a little trepidation, she opened the door and slowly walked out of the room.  She made her way over to the grand staircase, that seemed to float in mid-air.  Looking down on the immense marble floor of the foyer, she began her descent.

Halfway down, she met a maid who stopped and asked “can I get you anything ma’am?”  Sela asked her name.  “My name is Charlotte, ma’am.”  Sela said “hello Charlotte.  Can you tell me how to get outside?”

Charlotte said “yes ma’am.  I’ll take you to the gardens.  It’s just this way.”

Sela walked out and took a deep breath of fresh air that she had smelled only from the window of her room.  The perfume of row after row of flowers that lined the brick walkways compelled her to pick a rose from a nearby bush.  The grounds looked like a painting you would expect to see at the Louvre.  Saying that she found herself surrounded by overwhelming beauty would have been an understatement.

A large, vine-covered gazebo stood at the end of the path and boasted an inviting swing.  Sela walked over, slid onto the swing and felt free as she pushed herself back and forth.  She laughed like a school girl and let her long hair down, so that it flowed freely as if feeling freedom as well.

She didn’t notice the King watching her from the window high above, nor could she hear the conversation he was having with Roy.

In his usual manner of talking with his back turned, the King said “she’s been here for almost two months and we still know nothing?”

Roy said “we have searched and searched.  Nothing.  It’s like she’s a ghost.”

“Don’t we have somebody at the Police Department?”  Roy answered “yes, but he came up with zip.  There have been no missing persons bulletins, no inquiries, no calls.  Like I said, we have nothing.”

The King, clearly annoyed said “everyone has a past.  No one just magically appears as though they materialized out of thin air.”  He raised his voice and said “just find out who she is!  I don’t believe in coincidence or happenstance or serendipity.  I’m a suspicious man and I believe that she’s here for a reason and I want to know what that reason is.”

Roy cautiously said “begging your pardon sir.  Dr. Burt says she feels like a prisoner here.  If you had some interaction with her, it might help.  You may be able to gain her trust.”

The King was silent for a moment, then slightly shook his head up and down and said “yes.  Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”

Roy said “you believe she’s an enemy, sir?”  The King said “it’s your job to find out.  Getting information that I request is what pays your salary and it’s a very nice salary, if I recall.”

As Roy was leaving the room, the King turned his back once more and said “I’ll consider your suggestion.  In the meantime, I don’t care what you have to do.  I don’t care who you have to threaten.  I don’t care who you have to buy.  I don’t care who you have to kill.  Just do what you’re being paid for.  Find out who she is.”

 

To be continued_______________

 

All Is Not As It Seems – Chapter Five

With the unspoken approval of the King, Dr. Burt had Sela moved to one of the elegant rooms in the mansion.  When she walked in, she said “is this to be my room?”  Dr. Burt said “yes it is.”

Sela asked “am I to be a prisoner in this room?”  Dr. Burt said “no.  As soon as you have some suitable clothing, you will be free to roam about.  I have summoned a wardrobe specialist to come take measurements and she will fashion a complete wardrobe for you.  You’ll like her.  Her name is Greta.”

Sela surprised Dr. Burt when she said “long dresses with long sleeves.”

“Why?” he said.

Sela looked down at her arms and said “scars.  I have these scars.  I don’t know how I got them but they are there and they need to be hidden.”

Dr. Burt looked at her and said “you are a lovely woman and you have been wounded but remember, you carry the name of a great warrior.  You have battle scars.  Wear them with pride.  They are not shameful things but rather badges of survival.”

Sela looked at Dr. Burt and said “do you know how I got them?”  Dr. Burt shook his head.

Then Sela, with a never before seen vulnerability asked “hasn’t anyone tried to find me?  I mean, I must have belonged to someone.”

Dr. Burt said “I’m sure someone is trying to find you.  Sometimes, these things take time.”

Sela walked around the grand room, running her hands across the backs of luxurious chairs and along the edges of fine, handcrafted tables as if trying to get them to speak to her.  Without turning, she said “I hope so too.”

Her back still turned to Dr. Burt, she asked “might I be allowed to take a walk?”  Dr. Burt laughed and said “we can’t having you walking around in that hospital gown and robe.  Greta will be here in a few minutes and she will have you looking like a movie star.”

“When I get some clothes, can I leave?”  Dr. Burt said “Sela, you don’t know who you are.  You have no memory.  Where would you go?  Would you have me just drop you off somewhere, hoping that someone would recognize you?  Let’s give it some time.  I’ll continue working with you and in the meantime, everything you need will be provided for you.  You’re under my care and I really believe that I can help you.  Like I said, sometimes these things take time.”

Sela looked at Dr. Burt and softly said “okay.”

A knock on the door let Dr. Burt know that Greta had arrived.

She was a diminutive woman who wore her hair in a loose bun right on top of her head.  Her fingers had those tell-tale knobby knuckles and her sun-weathered skin lent a leathery look to her face.   She walked in the room and said “okay, doll.  Let’s see what we’ve got here.”

She began taking measurements and notes, saying nothing but an occasional “um hum.”  She finished and said “okay, we’ll get you some lingerie, casual wear and some formal wear.  I’m not one to stand on ceremony but most here do, if you know what I mean.”

Sela looked at her and said “no, I don’t know what you mean.  I know nothing about the people here.”

Greta said “well doll, put it this way.  You won’t be wearing cut-off blue jeans, loose T-shirts or flannel pajamas.”

After Greta left, Dr. Burt came back into the room.  Sela sat down and stared out the window.  As she sat, she wondered aloud.  “I’m not a prisoner but I’m not allowed to leave.  I don’t know who I am but I have been given a name.  I have no idea how I got here.  I don’t even know where I am but I’m being fawned over and given clothes and rooms.”

Dr. Burt put his hand on her shoulder and said “patience, Sela.  Patience.”

 

 

To be continued______________

 

 

All Is Not As It Seems – Chapter Four

With x-rays and the daily report in hand, Dr. Burt knocked on the King’s door.

The King’s most trusted ally, Lucius, also known as the King’s right hand, answered the door.  “Yes?”  he said as he carefully scrutinized Dr. Burt.

“I know this is a bit irregular but I wanted to give the King this information personally,” Dr. Burt said.

The King was standing in front of a large window, with his hands in the pockets of his casual Armani suit.  A face to face with the King was indeed irregular and would have never been allowed, had it not been for the unusual circumstances.  It was said that he was more protected than the President of the United States.

Not much was known about him and only those within the family had ever seen him but the word on the street was that he was a remarkably handsome man.  A man’s opinion might differ from a woman’s but even his soldiers commented about his striking looks.

He didn’t turn as Dr. Burt began.

“Sir, I haven’t much in the way of new information but I wanted to give you what I have.  I believe Roy has informed you that we ran fingerprints and found no record on file.  Of course, unless she has a criminal record, was in law enforcement or had a concealed permit, nothing would.”

Dr. Burt didn’t know that Foy was a step ahead and had already erased all records of her fingerprints from the data bases.

There was no response from the King.

Dr. Burt continued.

“Aside from what you have already been told, there has been a development.  It is my opinion that this woman has had plastic surgery to alter her looks at some point and it’s also my belief that the reason is from suffering unbelievable brutality of some sort.

I would guess her age to be in her early thirties and just from my point of view, she is exquisitely beautiful.”

There was silence from the King, who still hadn’t turned to look at Dr. Burt.

Clearing his throat, Dr. Burt said “I believe the blow to her head has caused total amnesia and in my medical opinion, I’m not sure she will recover any memories but I will continue to work with her, if that is your wish.  Of course, there’s always the possibility that she’s a very good thespian but as I said, I believe her loss of memory is genuine.”

“I’ve seen a lot in my day and I usually know when I’m being played but I believe her when she says she has no memory of who she is or how she came to be on the yacht.  I’ve used different tactics to try to ‘trip her up’ as it were but she has remained steadfast in that she remembers nothing.

There seems to be a great mystery surrounding her…who she is…why she was where she was…what happened to the companion she obviously had, but I just don’t have the answers right now.  As I said, if it is your wish, I will continue to work with her and I have a suggestion.”

Dr. Burt suggested that she be allowed to leave her room and co-mingle with some of the staff.  “You never know.  She might form a bond with one of them and possibly confide in them.  As I said.  It’s just a suggestion.”

The King slightly turned his head and said “just find out who she is.”

 

To be continued________________

All Is Not As It Seems – Chapter Three

Dr. Burt was clearly puzzled when the only word that seemed to register with Adeline was “yacht.”  Nothing about memories or storms or injuries or even a man’s clothing gave her pause.

There was no “hmm,” or “what are you talking about?”  He hoped that he had triggered something but he didn’t want to push her.  He waited for questions or comments but none came.  She seemed almost robotically uninterested.

“Okay,” he said.  “I’ll be back later and we’ll talk some more.”

Adeline turned her back, walked over to the window and casually dismissed him as she said “I’m sure you will.”

Dr. Burt ordered a full body x-ray before he readied the usual daily report for Roy.  He expected everything to be unremarkable but thought should it show anything remarkable, it might be useful to coax Adeline’s memory if it revealed something such as a previous broken arm or leg.

While the x-rays were being read, Dr. Burt went back to visit Adeline.

He tried an old psychiatrist’s trick when he casually asked “what shall I call you?”

Many times, the mind will instantly react and the memories will suddenly come back as if a light switch had just been turned back on.

It didn’t work with Adeline.  She looked at him and said “what do you mean, what shall you call me?  How the hell am I supposed to know what you should call me?  Haven’t we danced this dance before?

I don’t know what you should call me.  I don’t know what I should call myself.  How about ‘the woman with no name’?  Or ‘nobody’?  Or ‘the foundling’?  Or ‘whatever the hell you want to call me’?

A knock on the door put a halt to her rant.  Sam, the radiologist peeped in and told Dr. Burt “you need to see this.”

Dr. Burt waved him off but Sam was insistent.  It annoyed Dr. Burt but he excused himself and walked over to the door.  Holding the x-rays to the light, his only response was “my God.  What happened to this woman?”

He told Sam to hold on to it. “Tell the King that I will be delivering the report personally.”

He knew he worked for a drug lord but he had never forsaken his duty to act nor had he abandoned his empathy.

He had never been commanded or even asked to kill.  He had made it clear from the beginning that he would turn a blind eye to the “business” but his medical skills were for healing, not ending lives.

Something terrible had happened to this woman.  He had already suspected that at some point in her life she had undergone plastic surgery.  Only a discerning eye could see the tiny tell-tale traces of scarring in the right places but the injuries shown in the x-rays were the result of something horrendous and he felt overwhelming compassion for her.

Back in the room, Dr. Burt starting seeing Adeline in a somewhat different light.  Whoever she was and wherever she came from, this woman had been to Hell and back.

What’s wrong?” Adeline asked, reading his face.

“I was just wondering…about your name.  How about for now, I call you Sela,” he said.

“Sela?” she asked.  “Yes,” he said.  “You look like a warrior to me.”

She smirked and said “you think I look like a warrior?”

Dr. Burt said “yes and let me tell you why I chose that name.”

“This woman named Sela, was a fifth century warrior princess who was the sister of Koller, the King of Norway.  She fought with him against King Horwendil and made her mark as one of the bravest warriors in history.”

Adeline said “are you a historian as well as a doctor?”

Dr. Burt smiled and said “I enjoy history as well as medicine.  I particularly enjoy tales of feudalism.”

“Hmm.  So you want to call me Sela?” Adeline asked.

She repeated it.  “Sela.  Sela.  Okay.  I don’t really care for the princess part but I do like the idea of a strong female warrior.”

In that moment, Holly, who had become Adeline, had now become Sela.

 

To be continued_______________

 

 

All Is Not As It Seems – Chapter Two

A still groggy Adeline awoke the next morning and discovered that she was alone.  She held onto the bed as she tried to steady herself enough to walk over to the window.

Looking down from the second floor, she scanned the meticulously kept grounds.  Honeysuckle bushes were boldly climbing up the brick wall on the side of the house.  She smiled as she watched a tiny hummingbird flitting from flower to flower.

In the distance a Gazebo, heavy laden with Wisteria lent a romantic view one would expect from a story such as Romeo and Juliet.

As she was thinking “this is incredibly beautiful,” her thoughts were interrupted by a slight tap on the door.

“Ah.  I see you’re awake,” said Dr. Burt.  “How are we feeling today?”  As her eyes cut to him, he caught himself, cleared his throat and said “I mean.  How are you feeling today?”

Adeline said “I’m a little groggy from whatever it was you gave me yesterday but other than that, I feel okay, I guess, but I feel like I’ve been put through a ringer.  Do you know what I mean?”

Dr. Burt said “I do indeed know what you mean.  You’ve certainly been through an ordeal.  I’ll order some x-rays to see if there is anything going that we may have missed.”

Adeline continued. “I still don’t know what happened.  I still don’t know where I am.  I still don’t know why I’m here.”

“And, have you remembered who you are?” asked Dr. Burt.  Adeline looked down as if ashamed and said “no.  I don’t remember who I am.”

Dr. Burt began his questioning:  “What’s the last thing you remember?

Adeline said “I think I remember someone pulling me or something.  I think I remember being wet and cold.  I know I remember waking up here and I was in this hospital gown.  Do you know what happened to my clothes?  Did you take them off?”

Dr. Burt said “I helped.”

Adeline’s lips tightened as she wrapped the furnished bathrobe around herself like a cocoon as if to hide what had already been seen.  “I’d like to get out of here, if you don’t mind.  Could you call me a taxi?”

Dr. Burt asked her where she thought she was going.  “Somewhere.  Anywhere.  I don’t know.  I just know that I want to get out of here.”

“You don’t know where you are.   You don’t even know who you are,” Dr. Burt said.

Glaring at him she said “Right now, I don’t care where I am but I’ll find out who I am.  Surely someone is looking for me.  Could you find my clothes please?”

Dr. Burt explained to her that she wasn’t going anywhere in her present state.  “So I really am a prisoner.” she said.  “No, you are not a prisoner but I would like for you to calm down and talk to me.”

He took a fatherly approach as he said “amnesia is strange and sometimes, misunderstood.  Memories that have been lost can be restored in a matter of minutes or months but in some cases, they may never be recovered.  You need to understand that but before we admit defeat, I’d like for you to try to remember as much as you can.  Even something as simple as a smell can trigger a memory that will ultimately result in total recall.”

Adeline sat down and said “I honestly don’t remember anything.  Maybe if you showed me the clothes I was wearing, I might remember them.  Or if you told me where you found me.  Or if you told me how you found me.  Or if you told me any fucking thing!”

She was clearly becoming agitated again.  “Dr. Burt smiled and said “obviously, you remember how to curse.”

Adeline gave a weak apology and said “I just don’t understand.  Why can’t I remember anything?  How long am I going to be trapped in this anonymous world, with people like you asking me questions and refusing to let me leave?”

Dr. Burt said “I’m going to go against protocol a bit.  Normally we like for the patient to use their own devices to try to recover their memory but I am going to give you a few bits of information, if you like.”

“Please,” said Adeline.

Dr. Burt began.  “You were found on a yacht.  You had obviously weathered some sort of storm that threw you off course.  We found you unconscious and near death from a pretty severe head injury, possibly from being tossed around but that can’t be accurately determined.”

He hesitated and made sure to look for any reaction in her face when he said “we also found some men’s clothing aboard.  As far as any identifying items, such as drivers’ licenses’ or passports, none were found for either of you.”

Dr. Burt was surprised by her response when all she said was “a yacht?”

 

To be continued________________