“Congratulations for what?” Daniel whispered.
The voice said nothing.
Suffused light emanated from the ceiling. In the glow, Daniel could see he was standing in a small, empty room with pearlescent walls.
Each wall was bare.
Definitely not hell, he thought. I mean, I guess hell could have white walls and —why do I keep thinking that? I’m not in hell!
Looking down, Daniel was surprised to see that he was now not only wearing shoes—they were white slippers—but also sporting a blue robe with the word ‘Visitor’ embroidered on its left breast.
He saw no sign of his regular clothes.
“Where am I?” he asked.
“We are sure you have many questions,” the voice said. “And you rightly deserve answers, given how hard you’ve trained over the past decade.”
“What?” Daniel said.
“Please follow the blue line on the ground to the Greeting Room, where your tour will begin. Then we will answer your questions.”
“I don’t understand,” Daniel said, though he got the feeling he was listening to a recording.
The voice went silent again.
On the ground in front of him, a line appeared and stretched toward a wall. The wall suddenly grew an opening.
Daniel was not surprised. In a post-cloud society, shifting architecture was common.
He stepped through the newly formed door.
The “Greeting Room” looked the same as the room he had just left — with a single difference.
One entire wall was a rainbow of paint splashes, a massive multi-colored artwork that also happened to spell out a message.
With a little concentration, Daniel saw that the artist’s message was the same as the one the cheery voice had said earlier: “Welcome to Containment Facility One.”
The words would have been easier to read if someone hadn’t scribbled across the entire thing with black ink.
In jagged five-foot tall letters, the vandal had written an unfamiliar two-word phrase that, unfortunately, Daniel would soon become very familiar with.