The wheels of a horribly rusty cart quickly squeak through a narrow corridor, lined with slatted openings. Depraved skeletons of men beckon from within some of these cagelike openings. The malnourished man, bound by leather bands to the top of this grotesque cart, cannot move his body, save for his head. It is from this position that he has a clear view of the masked man with pale, ghastly eyes who is escorting the cart to a solid white door, which appears to have been made from steel or some other heavy metal. After a few more minutes of meticulous observation, the thin metal edge of the cart comes to a sharp and abrupt stop at the base of the door. As the strictly silent man reaches around his prisoner of sorts who is bound to the stretcher, he begins to hear the sounds of sharp, and in a sort of way, lonesome screams. These sounds came to be and then ceased to exist just as quickly. The man bound to the cart looked up at the worker escorting him, and for a brief moment, they locked eyes, and both of them understood that whatever lay beyond that door, it spelled something worse than the end for both of them. No later had the worker broken the brief eye contact with this prisoner, a larger, more brutish, giant of a man flung open the door and burst through the doorway. This worker looked different than all the cart bound men had seen before, and it was not due to just the sheer size of this creature that he was hesitant to call a man. It was because his right eye, which glowed with a bright green hue, which focused and spun at whatever it liked. Not now, however. Both eyes of this colossal being were fixated on the man on the cart, peering at him like he was a treasure unlike no other. Because this prisoner indeed was, a treasure that had never appeared before.
The professor sits down at his oak desk, exhausted from a day spent videoconferencing with his students. For him, this is something he prays day in and day out for it to end. Nobody in the world can stand the virus that has spread across the planet, not even him with his seemingly endless patience. Corrupt minds across the world keep switching choices, policies, and sides, while the virus just keeps moving and growing. After a few moments of dwelling on the evils in the world, all he can think about is why and how the world turned cold. How could such a place of freedom, culture, and opportunity turn into something only profitable for those who cut others down? Why do people hate? It only seems to divide the masses, turning them against one another, when we could be spreading hope, and uniting people for a common good. This was one of the many things that had constantly had been picking away at one part of the professor that is always wanting to improve things for everyone, not just him. Many of his students feel the same way, but few of them will ever do anything about it, fears the professor. After continuing to dwell on this, he decides upon having dinner, as he has spent his day at his desk, putting together assignments and grading tests for his students. Because he lives alone, everything is the way that he wishes it, because no one is there to tell or show him any different. As a result, his living area is often messy and cluttered, with the lone bedroom of his apartment seldom looking better. After a small dinner of beef ramen and carrots from a local market, the professor feels much more refreshed and ready to continue on with the little time left in his day before he becomes too exhausted to do much else but sleep or read through one of his old and tattered paperbacks.
The strange, bear-like man grabs the edge of the cart bearing the prisoner with one paw-like hand and drags into a sort of operating room. The walls of the room are the same blinding shade of white as the door was. The prisoner is pulled onto a cold slab of steel that serves as an operating table for whoever runs this compound. The strange man with the green eye becomes the first person to speak to the prisoner that he can ever remember, and at that point, the prisoner has realized that his earliest memories are of waking up in a cold cement cell in the compound. The large man speaking jolts the prisoner into reality. “The operation you are about to undergo is the first of its kind. As of now, you are nothing. I am about to transform you into something.” said the man as he pulled over a rolling desk filled with surgical instruments, along with an orb that bears a sort of resemblance to an eye. “You will be put to sleep now, and wake up in exactly twenty-four hours, and you will wake up a new man”. A thin needle slides into the prisoner’s bicep and at once he begins to feel quite woozy and passes out soon after.
A dark, fall night comes to pass and bears a new fall morning. The professor rises from his crumbling mattress to start another torturous day of trying to teach his students Psychology, the understanding of human emotions and behavior. In all of his years of teaching, he has never seen anything that is a more perfect example of how the mind deteriorates than the virus that has spread across America. The professor walks down his lone hallway to his small kitchen to make himself a meager breakfast of toaster waffles and canned peaches. As he sits at his table, he opens his laptop and begins to look at entries on the latest test. He sighs, realizing that he is going to fail several students if their grade does not change before semesters' end. It seems that nobody in his class understands the fine line of how social activity can tip the balance of the brain for good or for worse. He scoffs, seeing the world around him as an absolutely stellar example of this concept. As the professor walks around his kitchen, he notices a pair of shoes missing from the near edge of the mudroom that intersects the kitchen. With sleep still in his brain and a long day ahead of him, he did not think much of it at that point, even as it was a sure sign of what is to come for him.
Bullets whiz through the air around the prisoner-turned-super soldier. He is in the middle of armed combat training. His semi-automatic rifle is his only defense against his automated enemy. His bullets rip through all of the required targets for this exercise. Drenched in sweat, he sits down on a bench as the drill ends, and clears his rifle by racking it twice. Ever since he woke up from his surgery, he has been a changed man. There seems to be no limit as to how fast he can run, or how much he can lift. The artificial sight device that has replaced his dominant eye shows the world in front of him in either thermal imaging or x-ray imaging, depending on whichever he chooses. The past few weeks have been mostly solo combat drills, small meals, and little sleep. He has not seen a living person since his surgery, and all of his time since then has been dictated by an automated voice. All the prisoner wants is to be seen by the leaders of the compound for who he is, and who he has become. The prisoner sees only one way to do this.
The professor sits down at his cluttered desk as the sun takes its place in the sky. As soon as he opens his laptop, new messages pop up in the middle of the screen. Parents of students are upset at how hard the class is. The professor laughs almost immediately. First off, these are college-age men and women, and their parents should be letting them deal with their own problems. Furthermore, this is a college-level course on a topic that is complex to even those who are experts in it. Why have people turned from smart and eager to learn, to angry, and seeking knowledge without putting work in? Questions for another time theorizes the professor. Questions for another time.
As the prisoner lays down in his bunk, he begins to have thoughts of the outside world. There could be more to this, there could be more for me, and I could make more for others! I could be doing something other than shooting at targets that look like men. All this, and more floated through the prisoners’ head that night, and he resolved to take action on a small plan he had chalked up in his mind.
The professor jolts out of bed upon hearing the sound of his door slamming. He knows that nobody but him has the key to the apartment. He runs to the kitchen, ready to confront whoever is there, but whoever it was has come and gone already. Upon further and careful inspection of his apartment, he found that not only was his REAL ID stolen (the professor was truly mad about this, as he had to find an absurd amount of identification that he was indeed him), his social security card was gone, as was his birth certificate. It dawns on the professor that right now, he has no way to identify himself. His identity has been stolen from him. He is nothing now.
The prisoner fills a pack with multiple magazines full of ammunition, some extra ammunition, some food, and two types of water filters. It is all that he needs to carry out his plan. He walks down a long hallway to the operating room that he began his transformation at, and carefully sets a small tub of plastic explosives down by a few tanks that he thinks may contain something to set of a large explosion. He arms them and walks briskly out the white door and out into the hallway. This time, the small concrete cells have nobody in them. He continues walking until he reaches a heavy door at the end of the hallway. He takes a deep breath, and grunting, pushes the door open and steps into the outside world.
The professor is so panicked that he has now completely forgotten about anything related to school. There is no longer any way for him to prove that he is himself. He proceeds to tear apart his whole apartment, looking for any sign of anyone still being in his area. Once he confirms that he is as safe as he could be at that moment, he sits down on the lone couch in the apartment with his head in his hands. What is he going to do? Without any way to show that he is himself, it is only a matter of time before he is unable to travel anywhere, unable to pay for anything, and soon after, he would be dead to the government.
The prisoner pauses a moment after opening the door to experience fresh air for the first time in his short memory. The compound is in the middle of a small clearing in a forest, and the tree species cause the prisoner to think that the forest is somewhere in northern Wisconsin. The prisoner lingers at the edge of the treeline for a moment, and then disappears into the forest and does not turn back.
The professor hears a knock at his door. Well, it was not really a knock. It was a harsh pounding that refused to stop. The professor stands slowly, and carefully walks over to the door. As soon as he is about ten feet away, the door bursts open with a small explosion. A man wearing American Navy BDU pants and a plate carrier bearing an armor plate on his chest and back steps through and points a modern-looking rifle directly at him.
The prisoner stared at the man lying on the ground before him and glanced around the apartment around him. Clothes were strewn everywhere, and the whole area reeked of body odor. “Whatever has happened, I have nothing to do with it!” says the man on the ground before him. “Do you remember when you saw that man stabbed at the subway station?” asks the blank-faced prisoner.
“I couldn’t do anything about it, I swear!” answers the professor. “He would have come for me!”. “You were the only one who saw what happened” continues the man with the rifle. “You watched as someone else was killed, and then watched as the killer carried the body away, leaving you alone on the station.”. The professor pauses for this moment, knowing that the man standing over him is right. Now, what is to become of him? The man with the rifle could shoot him right now, and nobody would be able to tell. There was no way to identify him. “Please sir, I was only looking out for my own safety!”.
The prisoner tosses an envelope to the man on the ground. “Here is all of your identification. Take it and leave, before I change my mind” he says. The man on the ground looks hopeful for a second but hesitant. “Go, while you still can!” whispers the prisoner.
Not one to waste time, the professor takes the envelope and walks out of his apartment door, closes it, and opens the envelope. The professor takes out his documents, feeling refreshed now that he had his life back. He made sure that everything was undamaged, and that everything was there. As he removes everything from the envelope, but as he removes his social security card, he sees an index card with some writing on it. He removes the card and reads it. “For all those who let others come to harm because of their own neglect, let this be a lesson to you. For if you are the next one to commit an act as this man, fear me, for I shall come for you too. You will know me as the whisper.”. The professor turns around to look at the wooden door, and to his sheer terror, hears the bolt of a rifle being slammed back to load a round into the chamber.
The prisoner shouldered his rifle and fired a single, powerful bullet through the door and into the man. He heard a body fall on the other side. He waited for about a minute before opening the door. The prisoner had to force it open a bit, due to the legs of the body blocking the door closed. After opening the door, he closed it again and then took the card bearing the warning, and set it to the side. With a bit of effort, he put the body into what can best be described as the coffin position. The body’s legs were straight, with his back to the ground and hands crossed over his chest. The prisoner lifted the hand of the body and slid the card with the warning into its palm. The prisoner pulled on civilian clothing over himself and walked out of the hotel. He would now begin operating under the title of “The Whisper”. Within time, the world would fear him. For now, he slipped into the woods and did not turn back.