I don’t know how many of us there were total, but we were moving. Walking in groups of thirty or forty and unevenly spaced. The place we were in was a cavern or a bunker and very wide and dark. I couldn’t see the edges or the ceiling but I had a feeling it was lower than I thought. The negligent light came from little strips on the ground. I couldn’t remember why I was there and I was beginning to wonder why I didn’t have an urge to get out of there. I remember something about not liking crowds. Nothing else came to mind.
The people around me seemed like they were in a trance of some kind. They didn’t look at each other and didn’t notice me looking at them. It seemed as though we were all close to the same height. I saw the other groups through spaces between the others in my little group. They behaved the same way. A steady rhythmic shuffle, following the little dim lights on the floor. I realized we were all wearing the same clothing, or at least the same color clothing, like a uniform I guess. I knew what a uniform was, but I couldn’t remember ever seeing one. I couldn’t remember my name. I knew I was human. I knew that.
I couldn’t say how long I observed all of this taking place. I couldn’t be sure any of it was taking place at all. It was like waking up to darkness. The strangeness of it didn’t reach me, only the gloom. I had nothing to compare it to. I was starting to feel frightened.
There were mostly men in my group but I saw some women. Maybe five or so. They all looked about my age. But I didn’t remember what my age was. I felt blank and tired. I felt like I had to keep moving.
I craned my neck to try to see ahead of us and I saw a man in the center of another group hopping up and down every few steps. He was looking too. He’d woken up as well I guess.
We both hopped up at the same time and he was looking at my group. He saw me. We both jumped again and I heard him faintly calling.
It hadn’t occurred to me that I could barely hear anything and that the people walking next to me made no noise. That’s when I noticed the earplugs. I reached up and touched my right ear and immediately felt a searing pain rush through my body. I wanted to stop, but my body kept moving. I looked through the forest of shoulders over where I thought the jumping guy’s group was.
I had a sense of something moving over head. I felt a vibration in the floor. And I swear I saw something moving on the ceiling. Some sort of mass about 15 feet above me moved very fast and hovered near the jumper’s group. I thought I heard him. I jumped and tried to look.
I saw tendrils from the ceiling envelope the group, which continued to ignore the man and still managed to keep pace with ours. The tendrils made no noise and I somehow felt no fear, like all of this was meant to be. I looked around at my group and no one seemed to be paying any attention. They were asleep or something.
The tendrils coiled back up into the ceiling. I think that I saw a body go up with them. I can’t be sure.