I am Special Agent Taryn Holding. I am… or was… a secret agent working for the military. My missions were top-secret in nature and a matter of national security.
That is all I remember about myself. I have no recollection of how old I am, where I grew up, if I have family or friends somewhere, or how and why I woke up here… wherever here is. It’s obviously a desert but which one? There are hundreds of deserts. There is nothing here. No one is here as far as I can tell. I am stranded in the middle of a barren, unknown desert landscape with no money, no supplies and no memory of my past beyond my occupation and my name.
There are thousands of questions I need answered. Why did I end up here? Who put me here? What were the events leading up to this? What mission was I working on before I woke up stranded here without my memory? Was this the work of those I was assigned to investigate or was this an inside job? Had I gotten too close to sensitive information that important people didn’t want me to uncover? Did the military decide I was more of a liability than an asset?
Those questions are the biggest ones but not the most practical ones at the present time. I doubt I’ll find an answer to any of those questions anytime soon. The only important question right now is how do I survive? If I don’t survive here, then all the other questions are pointless. I’ll never find the answers to them, anyway.
I take a deep breath and close my eyes, concentrating on what little memories I have left intact. If I can remember my occupation, then I can remember my training and my survival skills. I can apply them to my situation to survive.
Water is the first priority. The desert is hot during the day. I’ll become dehydrated quickly. I need to find a source of fresh water. The second priority is heat. The temperature drops quickly at night in the desert, it’s easy to freeze to death overnight. Once I have water and heat, I’ll be in a better position to look for food and anything else that might help me last another day out here, maybe even find my way out and back to… wherever I’m from.
Without water, time is precious so I head off in search of water. While I’m walking, I survey my surroundings. My confusion only grows the more information I collect about the environment. There are sidewalks and paved roads for cars but I haven’t seen a single vehicle go by. The sand blows over the asphalt, half-covering it, completely untouched by tire tracks. The only buildings I see are far off in the distance and they are… hazy, like a mirage. Something shimmers in front of them. A force field of some kind? Are there invisible barriers keeping me trapped and isolated here?
I’ll need to investigate that disturbing possibility later. Nothing can distract me from finding water right now. I head to the highest vantage point I can see to get a better view of the landscape. If there are canyons or valleys nearby, they will likely have water running through them. I keep an eye out for vegetation and wildlife. They both need water to survive and usually stay close to water sources.
Aha! Just as I reach the highest point of the cliff, a few birds circling over a canyon not far away alert me to a fresh water source and I hastily make my way down there. The sooner I can stave off dehydration, the better.
Dehydration must have set in quicker than I thought because I fall to my knees at the side of the flowing stream, put my lips to the cool liquid and drink like I haven’t seen water in days. Maybe I haven’t. I don’t know how long I’ve been here. I’m careful not to drink too quickly and only drink until my thirst is quenched. I decide to stake out a spot for myself to camp out close to the water source so that I can find it again whenever I need to. It’s the most precious resource I have.
Movement from the corner of my eye and the sound of a splash make me whirl around, every muscle tense and ready to defend myself against attack, but there is no wild animal or enemy agent after me. My eyes widen when I realise there are fish leaping out of the stream I just discovered! Food! I just need to catch one. I’m sure I can make a crude fishing rod.
One of the small trees near the stream has a dead branch hanging loosely from it. I break it off to serve as my rod. I just need a string and a hook, both of which I have on me. Sort of. I tear the stitching out of my shirt and tie it to the end of the rod then bend a bobby pin from my hair into the shape of a hook and tie it to the end of the string. It’s a very rough fishing rod, but it’s a fishing rod. That’s all I need.
After many failed attempts, I am just about to give up and toss my useless piece of garbage fishing rod into the stream when I feel a sharp tug on the string. I quickly pull the rod back, eager to fill my growling stomach. I am rewarded for my patience with a small cichlid. Not long after, I manage to catch a goldfish. They may not fill me completely but it’s something with protein to keep me going.
I start heading back to my “camp,” wanting to reach the closest thing I can find to safety before nightfall but I get distracted by a strange rock that appears to have something glittering inside it. I’m not sure if what’s inside is any use to me but I won’t know unless I check. I dig out a rock with a sharp edge and start hacking at the deposit.
That’s when I notice I’m wearing a ring.
I frown and take a closer look at it. It’s gold with a modest diamond in the centre and it’s on my left ring finger. Am I… married? If I am, who is my spouse and why don’t I remember him or her?
I consider taking the ring off and using it for something but honestly, it has no practical use right now. I can’t sell it, there’s no one to sell it to and nowhere to buy anything I need even if I did have money. I might as well keep it for now. It might help trigger memories of my past later.
The rock yields what looks like amethyst. Also useless to me. I decide not to waste any more effort digging for gems and metals. I can’t use them for anything right now. If they end up serving a purpose later, I know where to find them.
As I’m making my way back to camp, I notice a large building in the distance, much larger than the others. It seems… familiar to me somehow but I don’t have any memories of ever seeing this place before. It looks like some kind of factory or base. Maybe a headquarters of some kind? I can’t tell from this distance and it’s getting too dark to risk venturing into the unknown. I have water and food. I don’t want to stray far from it without being prepared but the mysterious building is worth investigating at a later time.
My eyes narrow as they fall upon yet another sign of some civilization that was here once but left suddenly without any warning. Picnic tables and a grill with a nearby garden. Are these for whoever works at that building? The plants look tended to and they’re bearing fruit and vegetables. The more I discover about this bizarre no-man’s-land, the less I understand it. I can’t be sure since I don’t know what I was like as a person before all of this but I think I’m the type of person who strongly dislikes not understanding things.
I grill up the fish I caught and gather the fruits and vegetables to take back to camp with me. Now that I have water and food in me, my head is clearer, but I’m dirty and smelly from sweating out in the desert sun all day. I can rinse off in the stream but I don’t know how much good it will do. The dirt and stench seem too strong to wash away easily and I’m too tired to make the trek back down the canyon.
The cold is setting in and I’m not dressed warmly but there is a lot of dry, brittle wood, brush and stones around. I use that to produce a fire and curl up on an abandoned bench near the place I staked out as my camp.
I should sleep with one eye open until I find out what’s happened here.