It was harder than Brian thought it would be to ignore the fact that he knew he was under constant observation. He sat on the couch in his apartment acting like living in a box with no windows was perfectly normal. The television was on but he wasn’t watching what was on the screen. He was sure that if he did pay attention to the images being shown his mind would be altered. He started to whistle a Backstreet tune trying to keep his mind off of trying to get out. He needed to make whoever was watching believe that he had forgotten Isabelle, that he believed he was Brian from The Backstreet Boys and that at some point he would be going on tour with the rest of his friends.
Thoughts of the guys made him think about Howie. Should he be mourning his death? Should he still view him as a friend? Will they replace him in the group with another guy who will go by Howie? How will that be explained to the other guys? Why was he worried about the other guys? Their minds would simply be altered so that they believed what The Corporation would want them to believe.
Thousands of questions floated through his mind as he stared blankly at the television. He stopped whistling when the thought crossed his mind that maybe they had already tried to alter his memory and that he wasn’t a Backstreet Boy any longer, maybe he wasn’t supposed to know that song anymore.
Remembering that he was in an observation room had helped his mind with a breakthrough. He understood a lot of what happened but he still did not have all his memories. When he pulled up memories from his wedding the images flickered between the wedding with Leighanne and the wedding with Isabelle and he had a hard time convincing himself that the Leighanne memory was false. He no longer denied that his life with Leighanne was not real so why wouldn’t his mind remember everything? He started to worry that the injections that he’d been given to keep his memories of Isabelle suppressed mixed with meeting Isabelle had somehow messed up his brain.
He was contemplating this when a portion of the wall opened and a door slid away to reveal Dr. Smith and Leighanne walking into the room. Leighanne had her usual vibrant smile but it did not reach to her eyes. He knew something was wrong but he would play along, he had to.
Brian sat waiting for them to enter the rest of the way inside. He watched the door slide shut and appear seamless with the wall once again. They continued to approach him, he stood, unsure how to greet them.
“Brian,” the doctor spoke sticking out his hand in greeting.
Brian took the other man’s hand and shook it lightly. He still kept his mouth closed. He wanted the other two to speak first. Was he supposed to remember Leighanne? He didn’t know he felt it would be safe to remain mute until he knew.
He sighed with relief when the doctor spoke next and let him know what he needed. “Your wife is here to see you,” Dr. Smith turned towards Leighanne and stepped aside so Leighanne could step forward. Her hands were folded in front of her; she thanked the doctor and moved closer to Brian. Brian pulled her into a hug, he felt her relax a little.
“How are you feeling?” Leighanne asked as they broke their hug and sat down.
Brian noticed that Dr. Smith sat down too. He had hoped that the doctor would leave him alone to talk to Leighanne. He supposed that was too much to hope for so soon.
“I’m feeling okay,” he said reaching her hands. She pulled her right hand closer to her body but allowed Brian to take a hold of her left. He rubbed his thumb over the back of her hand hoping to calm her down more. He could tell that she was trying to hold herself together and he was sure it was because the doctor was there. She had said Baylee was still safe, but for how long. He wondered how long his son would be safe if Leighanne had been caught. Brian watched Leighanne’s face intently. Maybe she could give away something by looking at him, but she was keeping her eyes cast down at their hands.
She looked as if she wanted to say something but before he could prod her Dr. Smith spoke up. “We’ve been worried about you Brian. We’ve,” He indicated himself and Leighanne, “been talking and we are concerned about your mental break after waking up. Your mind created a very strong world that we think might still be affecting you. We understand that Howie’s death was a lot to take in but your break with reality is really concerning. We’ve talked about it and decided that we should treat you. We are afraid if left untreated you will completely break from reality and live in this world your mind has created to cope with Howie’s death.”
Brian shook his head. “I don’t understand. What treatment?” Brian looked at Leighanne but her eyes were cast down, he noticed that she pulled her right hand even closer to her body. Brian wondered what that was about. He wanted to rip it away from her body; did he hurt her to cooperate?
“Just something to help you cope.” The Dr. smiled as he stood.
“I feel fine now though. I’d like to go home with Leighanne.” Leighanne’s left hand was still clinging to his but she was not standing. He knew something was seriously wrong with her but he also knew she wasn’t going to talk about it with the Dr. in the room. “I just want to go home with my wife to grieve. I also think spending time with the rest of the guys will help. Where are Kevin, Nick and AJ?”
“Leighanne and I still think the treatment will be the best but I will see what I can do about contacting your friends.” The doctor looked down at Leighanne and back at Brian. “I will leave you two to talk about it for a little while. I will be back in five minutes.”
Brian was just thinking that five minutes wasn’t enough to discuss anything as the door slid open and let the doctor out.
Brian turned his attention back to Leighanne. “Babe, we don’t have a lot of time. What is wrong?”
Leighanne, still clinging to his hand, pulled him down and brought her right hand forward grabbing hold of him. He wondered why all of a sudden she was using her right hand when he felt a piece of paper being pressed into his hand.
“Brian, I want you to know that I love you so much. You have been a blessing in my life.”
“Leighanne, what are you getting at. We are going to leave here and go home.” He dropped his voice to a whisper. “We can forget this whole thing; I will live with you and Baylee and forget that other woman. I won’t cause trouble; I just want you and Baylee.”
Tears were starting to form in Leighanne’s eyes though he could tell she was fighting them back. “I will always be with you.” She pressed her now empty hands to his chest holding his eye contact.
Brian leaned closer to her pressing his lips to hers. He could taste the salt from her tears on his lips. The sound of footsteps entering the room caused them to break, too soon for Brian.
“Leighanne, we should get going. Brian will need time to rest before the treatment.” Dr. Smith placed his hand on the small of Leighanne’s back as she stood and helped to steer her out of the room. She looked back at Brian and smiled weakly at him.
The door slid shut and he wanted to rush at it and find a way to open it. He wanted to get to Leighanne. He knew something was wrong, he had to save her. He was upset that their five minutes had seemed more like two. He wanted to throw the chairs and cause of fit. He wanted his wife back. It wasn’t until he calmed down that he remembered the paper that she had passed him. He clenched his fist around it and glared up at the camera. He moved towards the bathroom and closed the door. It was the only room he hadn’t seen a camera.
Putting the seat to the toilet down he sat and opened the paper that Leighanne had given him.
Brian, my love, I don’t have much time left. They allowed me one final time to say good-bye. Though I wasn’t allowed to tell you that it was the last time I would see you. They are going to wipe my memory and assign me elsewhere. You will also be going through a memory wipe to remove me from your memories, or hopefully simply alter them so you believe I died. Baylee is still safe; I would not tell them where he is. If there is a chance you will remember him, I hope you find him before they do and keep him safe. I want to reassure you that I loved both of you. You were my world even though you were never really mine to love.
Brian sat looking at the words longer than he probably should have. He ripped up the letter and flushed the papers. He watched as Leighanne’s words were washed down the drain. Tears would not fall through the anger he felt at The Corporation and what they had done to him. They tore him away from Isabelle and put him with another woman he couldn’t help but love. They gave them a child to solidify that they had been together now they were tearing down that world. He wondered briefly what they had planned for him as he exited the bathroom.
He turned into the living space to find Dr. Smith standing there waiting for him with a smirk on his face, two men in suits standing next to him.