Chapter 0:



Thursday, 3 p.m. The same question is asked. "How do you feel Rick?"

My response is the same. "The same as usual, doctor."

He goes on to ask. "Do you remember anything new?"

I always respond "Nothing" for a year now. Nine years lost to me, and I don't know where they went. Nobody knows where I went. All I remember is what happened till the point I went missing and the weird feeling I got when I woke up on the same street I disappeared on. Aside from that, everything is there. I remember my name - Rick Tyler. I remember where I live - Gun Hill, Bronx, New York City. I remember my family - my mom and my dad. I remember the last school I went to - Bronx Park Middle, 8th grade. And that's where it stops. I never went to high school.

That day I disappeared was nothing special. I was just walking around town. I don't even remember being taken or grabbed. It just ends. Next thing I know, I wake up on the same street having grown nine years wearing strange clothes that looked like potato sacks. I looked around and saw that the street I knew had changed a bit and that my reflection was no longer the young teenager going through acne, but a young adult who needed a shave.

When I returned home, my parents were shocked to see me. I was gone so long that they had given up searching for me. My parents were in a troubled spot. My mom had slipped into depression. My dad had switched jobs twice and was recently laid off. They were just glad I came home. They asked where I was, but I couldn't answer. My mind felt like it was in a cloud. In the hopes of uncovering what happened, I started going to a psychiatrist in the same place my mom was being treated. It's been a year since then.

Being an adult with little education, I had to find a job. I started working at a convenience store with an old friend from my childhood. We worked separate shifts, and I ended up working with a girl named Taylor. After 11 months, I had saved enough to move out. It wasn't much, a small one-room apartment on the back side, but it was a start. I moved out because my dad said I needed to figure things out for myself. He stills pays for my therapy sessions, but after a year I think this might be my last. I told my psychiatrist goodbye. He told me his door was always open.

I don't know where most of my friends are. The one who helped me get a job quit & started touring with a band. The only person I could find was the nerd of my class, Ted Sanders. He works at a comic bookstore not too far from my apartment. He is a very heavy nerd, but he better than nobody. He even had a lot of theories as to what might have happened to me. They sounded absurd, but at this point, I'd buy being abducted. A guy taken without a trace left behind is perfect for any strange, bizarre tale.

I grew close with Ted. As for Taylor, she's asked if I wanted to hang out a couple of times, but I always turned her down. I don't know why. She's pretty. I wouldn't mind being with her, but whenever I go to answer, there's an ache in my heart that keeps me from joining her. That was one thing new that wasn't there before the disappearance. I wondered why for a while. The only thing I could think of was that I might have another girl.

The answer soon came faster than I expected and surely out of nowhere. After a few days from my last therapy session, I came home to find it was not empty. The door was picked or busted open. The windows aren't that good. There wasn't any glass on the floor. So tell me how a girl, in what I could only assume be a mint-green battle maid outfit, was doing in my apartment holding a baby?

Syed Al Wasee