He knew it well, having lived his ‘After’ life as a Dream Taker. Men came to his village when he was ten, tested all the children. He was the only one taken from his family, his world, to a cold place on the far side of the planet. Later, he learned the building was once a slaughter-house, but it made no difference. Nothing made much difference anymore.
No happiness dwelt there, nor any sign of care and kindness. He lived hardship and pain, lived where fragile bodies broke. His body stood against the torment, but he knew it would not last forever. Someday, some time soon, he would break, too.
Each day, he struggled to remember the broken fragments of his life ‘Before,’ as if somebody had taken a sponge and wiped away parts of his memory. There was nothing left. It was too late for him. If they remembered him at all, they would draw away in fear. If they didn’t, it would be as if he’d never existed.
Maybe he hadn’t existed ‘Before’ they took him away, ‘Before’ they changed him into something so unlike himself he could never go back. Each day, he tortured himself, no longer knowing why.
His alarm buzzed and he rose, gathering his midnight dream-coat and heading to the Commander’s office.