Victor found himself standing in a white room. There was a single table and a pair of chairs in the middle, no conceivable door or windows, and no lights that he could discern, yet the room was so bright he almost had to shield his eyes. He couldn't remember the events leading up to being in this room, or really anything at all about the past. All he had was a loose grip on who he was.
"Hello Victor," a soothing voice called out to him, "it's so good to see you."
Victor looked about the small room, but didn't notice anyone there, until he turned back to the table again. There was an older man, maybe late fifties, sitting in one of the chairs and smiling at him. Victor couldn't help but smile back. He felt like he had known the man all of his life.
"Hi," Victor said, "I'm so glad to be here." In truth, he didn't know why he was so happy, but he knew that he was.
"Good," said the man, his face ever joyful. He motioned to the seat across from himself. "Please, take a seat."
Victor complied and for a time the two men just sat and gazed at each other, Victor drinking in the other man's presence. He was sure he knew this man from somewhere, he just couldn't place it. There was a teacher that he was quite fond of, or was there? It was before this, but what was before this? Was there a time before this room? Perhaps this was his entire existence, here in this white box. Either way, it didn't bother him, he was delighted to simply be sitting across from the man.
"You have done well, Victor. You have brought joy and honor, and should be proud of your life. However, this is only the beginning." The man folded his hands in front of him, the smile still on his face. His expression was all warmth and joy, as if there was no sorrow in him at all.
Victor's heart began to race at the thought of a beginning. He knew that this was something he had been looking forward to, something he desperately wanted. He just couldn't remember when or why he wanted these things. Beginnings meant change, but change for the good this time.
"You have done well with what you were given, so you will be put in charge of much here. You are well equipped, though you might not know it yet, you soon will."
"What will I be put in charge of?" Victor asked. "What lies ahead of this place?"
"From here, you enter training, with the others."
"Yes, to master your new body. There is a lot that you must learn, Victor, but there is time." The way he said the word *time* stuck in Victor's mind, like it was joke or an oversimplified explanation meant for someone who would not understand the whole truth. The man rose from the table, and Victor followed suit.
Victor smiled again as beams of light radiated from the man before him.
"Welcome to paradise, Victor."
Victor felt good. He didn't remember feeling old, he didn't remember much about before, other than that there was a before, but he knew now that he was young and vibrant again. He felt his lungs fully inflate with beautiful oxygen, bringing a rush to his head, a feeling of euphoria that flew high above all that he had felt in the last hour or so.
After the interview, he had fallen into a deep, dreamless sleep. When he woke again he was lying in bed, listening to waves roll in off of the ocean. He let himself lie there, motionless, eyes closed, ears open drinking in the beauty of the sound. Again, he didn't remember much about before, but he knew he had never really lived. He had never appreciated the small moments like this one.
Eventually he rose, to take in the remainder of his surroundings. He was in a small bamboo hut, modestly furnished. The bed was comfortable, with plenty of blankets and pillows, there was a simple chair and desk in the corner of the room, and a single door led out onto a patio. There were windows all around and above him, letting in the pure, wonderful light of morning.
Waves continued their crashing on the shore in the distance as Victor took a few tentative steps around the room. He discovered that he was dressed in a loose, white tunic. It was, like everything else he had encountered, simple and functional. It allowed him to move freely while still covering the important bits, and was just enough fabric to keep him warm and comfortable.
Victor made his way out to the patio through the door, and lost the rest of his breath. The small hut and stone patio stood at the top of an impossibly green hill that rolled down into white sands and crystal blue water. The beach stretched out in a crescent from where he stood almost, but not quite, reaching itself again on the other side of the water. Through the break in the land, the sea stretched out to the horizon.
The sun was still coming up, bathing the entire sky in bright yellows, oranges, and the faintest of pink. Victor felt like his senses had been turned up to eleven; the colors seemed brighter, more vibrant, the sound of water crashing against the sand deafening yet beautifully soothing, his nose entertaining sweet scents of water, flowers, and grass. His feet left the cold stone patio, crossed the soft carpet of grass, and squeaked through the perfectly white silica. He picked up speed as he approached the water, hitting it at a full run, a run that was much faster than any he had experienced before, if he could have remembered it.
He laughed as he splashed through the shallows and dove into the clear, warm water. It was salty against his skin and lips, slightly stinging his eyes as he came up for air. The gap of water was wide, but for some reason he desired to make the crossing. It would have been an absurd thought, but seemed natural to him, he could cross over and it might only take an hour or two of swimming. He was about to begin when he heard someone call to him from the shore.
Victor turned around in the water to see another man, tall, dark skin tone, short black hair, standing just shy of the water. He was dressed as Victor was.
"I thought I was the only one here, but saw you swimming, and thought I would introduce myself," the man said.
"I thought I was the only one too," Victor called back, turning his head to look over the beach. There were a few huts lining the shore, but he couldn't see that many of them. For some reason he expected that there would be more. "Hold on, I'll come back in."
Victor made the quick swim back to the beach and grasped the man's hand.
"The name's Julius," the man said, then hesitated, "I guess just Julius. For some reason it felt like something should come after that, but there it is."
Victor smiled and gave his name, feeling the same awkward exclusion of something *else* after 'Victor.'
"Glad to meet you, Victor," Julius said. "I just woke up here, have you been here long?"
"No, I just woke up as well. There was a man that I met before, but I don't quite remember his name. I knew who he was though." Victor furrowed his brow as he tried to call up the name, and failed. He realized that the man never gave his name. Victor had just taken it for granted that he knew him.
"Same here," Julius said, "I knew him too."
They stood there looking around the beach, and at each other, in silence, neither of them able to come up with something to talk about. It seemed a strange place, yet familiar in some sense. Everything about it was relaxing and that relaxation dimmed the feeling of desire to understand their situation. Eventually, Victor decided that the view out to the ocean was best, and turned his attention there.
"Do you remember anything from before?" Victor asked, using the word very carefully.
"Before," Julius repeated, thinking hard. "No, I just remember the man. Nothing before that."
"There must have been something before that right?"
Julius nodded cautiously, "That would make sense, but does it matter?"
"Why wouldn't it matter?" Victor asked. "We can't remember who we were before this place. Shouldn't that be alarming?" He certainly didn't feel alarmed. The alarming thing was that he wasn't alarmed at all.
"I don't feel alarmed," Julius said, finally. "Whatever we were before could not possibly compare to this, could it? I feel strong, young, vibrant. That should be a given, but I know that I haven't always felt this way. I feel as though I am walking on a cloud, and I don't care what or who I was before, only that I am here now. This is what matters. I feel connected to something much bigger and better."
Victor nodded in silent agreement. He had felt all these things himself, and was just now discovering how truly rich this place was. They stood for a long while, looking out at the ocean, breathing in the cool sea air and feeling warm, soft sand under their toes. They stood, lost in thought, in feeling, as the light grew dim and starlight replaced the brightness of day.
"I think I'll head back to my hut now," Julius announced.
"Me too," Victor said and turned to shake the man's hand once more. It felt like the right thing to do, but he wasn't sure why. "Perhaps I will see you in the morning."
They parted ways, each walking up the beach at different angles to their own dwellings. Victor found his little green hill, his stone patio, and his quaint, cozy hut atop it. While he didn't feel particularly tired, he laid down in his bed, atop silken sheets and powder soft pillows, and fell fast asleep.
This sleep brought dreams; the kind of dreams that felt so very real.