Who: Brian and the wonderful people inside his head What: Operation Sunburn (i.e. why Brian could dominate fmylife.com) Where: The Sahara Desert When: Midday on July 17, 1789 Warnings: Whining and some mild language.
As he hit the ground, Brian realized two things. The first was that he was going to go to his computer the second he stood up and cancel his lease at Bellum Letale. The second was that his mouth was full of sand. Spitting it out, he stood, looking around with wide eyes. "Oh, no," he mumbled, reaching up to press both hands to the sides of his head. "No, no, no!" He stared at the hills of sand, already beginning to melt under the sun's harsh eye, and staggered to his feet as he adjusted his hat. "Oh, God," he whispered, covering his mouth. "I'm never getting back," he mumbled, taking a few numb steps forward. "I'm...I'm going to die here."
"Don't say that, Brian," Harry warned. "You survived France, which clearly lends credence to your ability to persevere," he said with a bit of superiority. "Just begin walking. You can't be the only one here. If the others were transported to Paris, they will surely be here as well."
For some reason, this was a comfort. Swallowing hard, Brian nodded. "Okay," he said out loud, not bothering to reply in his mind. "Okay, we'll see what lies ahead."
The sun was excruciating in its intensity, and Brian found himself trudging through the loose sand while simultaneously hoping that he would just collapse and die to save himself the agony. "Don't think that way," said Harry. "We'll get out of this."
"How are we getting out of this, Harry?" Brian demanded, pausing to glare and wave his arms about as if he were talking to the man face-to-face. "Because I would like to be privy to some of the confidential information you seem to have tucked away!" He stomped, sending small shockwaves of sand flying. "How can you be so fucking calm about this? I don't even know who you are! I don't know what I'm doing here, I don't know how I got here, I don't know..." He trailed off, voice dissolving into an angry growl as he kicked at the sand around him, sending little waves over the nearby dunes.
While Brian raged, Harry was quiet. "It will be okay."
"Oh yeah? Prove it!" he shouted, arms at his sides and waving. "I want some goddamn proof, Harry. And I want it now." Falling to a whimper, he dragged a hand over his face, falling to his knees. "I lose time. I can't remember what happened when I got to Paris, I didn't even remember those people's names. I-I move around at night, I wake up strange places." He sighed pathetically, burying his face in his hands. "I woke up looking like Rocky Balboa's punching bag. I hit my wife, and I can't even remember that." Feeling his insides clench, he bit the inside of his cheek. "I am a shitty human being," he concluded. "I'm a nutjob, and I'm going to die out here, and nobody will ever know."
"Pull yourself together, Brian," Harry said patiently. "I have been inside your mind for this past 24 hours, have I not?" Brian made a small sound of agreement. "And that gives me privy to a few of your memories. I assure you, you are not despicable." This was small comfort from a man who wouldn't reveal his last name. "You're simply tired." His voice became more caring, almost affectionate. "You need to relax." His tone became more and more calculating as he went, as if he were being more careful about his word choices. "Letting go can help that."
Dragging his palms over his hair, Brian sighed. "Letting go? What do you mean by that?"
Harry's voice was comforting, entreating. "Just lay down."
Brian paused, raising a brow. "Why?"
"I believe that I can take control," he said. "And you'll be able to rest. I will walk onward, trying to find another resident of your apartment building. Meanwhile, you won't be tasked with the discomfort of this journey."
He considered this. He wasn't sure how comfortable he was with the idea of somebody else taking over his body, but he was exhausted. And it would definitely be nice to not have to witness this madness. After a few minutes of struggling with the thought, he resigned. "Okay. I'll do it." He sat down on a dune, carefully choosing one that was casting a bit of a shadow. Removing his hat, he placed it beside himself as he laid down, closing his eyes. "Okay. Now what?"
"Just relax," Harry said. "Let your consciousness drift away." The sand began to feel less scratchy, less bumpy beneath him. Even the hot air began to fade, turning into a scrambled landscape of colors and sounds that echoed softly in his head. After a few minutes, Harry's voice was gone, replaced by a blanket quiet that secluded him from any kind of pain. And then there was nothing at all. Rolling over onto his side, Max grunted, lapping up a mouthful of sand. Sputtering, he violently lurched into a sitting position, dragging his hands over his tongue. "Oh gross!" he hissed, prying little clumps of sand from his mouth. After a few moments, he paused, looking about him. The desert was totally vacant save for the presence of a hat with a tricolour cockade fastened to its left side. He recognized it as the hat he had stolen on his second night in Paris and chuckled as he put it on. "Always knew you were smarter than you looked, Brian," he murmured, glad that he had kept it this whole time.
With a groan, he stood, squinting as he held a hand up to shield his eyes. "Shit, man," he grumbled, looking out over the dunes. "This sucks." He sighed, starting off in a random direction. How the hell did this happen? How did people end up in the French Revolution or sand dunes or any of that other bullshit? He called shenanigans on the whole lot. When he got back to Bellum Letale, he and Vlad were having a serious discussion about this. He had to wonder if his dear friend was in a similar situation. Perhaps they could exchange survival tips for the next time everything went to hell. The only problem was that he knew Brian was suspicious, and with the presence of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, he'd have every reason to be.
"Jekyll wants me," Hyde said, his voice thick and uneducated. "He created me. Slaved to make me."
Max rubbed the side of his head. "It's not the same thing," he replied, climbing a nearby dune. "Brian didn't make me of his own free will. His mind made me."
"Isn't he his mind?"
This was an annoying conversation topic. Max hated getting philosophical. Because when he did, he got existential, and right now, he was not feeling so secure in that field. "Yes and no, okay, can we drop this?" He huffed, standing atop a dune and looking down. "We need to figure out how to get back, so can you offer a little bit of help?"
Hyde seemed confused by this notion and stayed silent as Max slid down the dune, feeling almost like a snowboarder as a plume of sand followed his feet as he skidded down to the bottom. "I don't know," he finally said. "I know the streets of London. I've never left them."
Rolling his eyes, Max rubbed his temple. "I didn't expect you to know the layout of this fucking desert, you imbecile." Max never used words like "imbecile," but Mr. Hyde seemed to bring them out of him. "Okay, you know what? Just shut up for now. We need to get out of here, and I need to make a plan for keeping this from Brian." He paused. "Can you and Jekyll communicate?"
"No." Of course not. "But we are one. What I see, he sees. What he sees, I see." Now that was more promising.
"Okay. So this is for Jekyll." He cleared his throat internally. "Do not let Brian know who you are. Don't let him know about me. He needs to be kept in the dark. You got that?"
Though Hyde knew that none of this was addressed to him, he considered the instructions. "But how can he enjoy you if he doesn't know?"
Something about that made the hair on the back of Max's neck stand on end. "Enjoy?" he asked, sneering. "Do you think I enjoy being that man's toxic waste dump for negative emotions? Do you think I enjoy this half-assed existence that's only on this planet because one guy can't handle reality?" He stopped thinking and started yelling, pointing accusingly at the air. "I don't enjoy any of this. I'm a fucking plastic doll created for the sole purpose of serving someone else. He doesn't enjoy it, and I don't. Not one fucking bit."
Stuffing his hands into his pockets bitterly, he continued to walk. After a few moments, Hyde spoke up. "I enjoy existing for Jekyll."
Honestly, Max was close to finding a way to stab himself in the face just to hurt Hyde. Unfortunately, he didn't have anything sharp on his person, and he doubted that a knife shop would open up ten feet away. Fortunately, he was saved having to come up with a witty retort when a wave of nausea and pain overtook him. It was just like the night he got to Paris. Clutching his stomach, he folded over, groaning in pain as he felt everything twist and shift and lock into place.
Suddenly, he was left with only sand in his shoes as a memory.