The Human Resource Preview
Capri, Italy, 9:27 p.m.
The doctor offered a comforting smile. He adjusted his glasses. “I'm Dr. Davidov. Rest, my dear. Answers will come when they are due.”
“How long have I been here?” Vienne asked.
“Ten months,” Dr. Davidov replied with a sympathetic gaze, “in a coma.”
The revelation hit her like a wave.
Ten months had passed like a cruel illusion. What had happened during this time?
Vienne, eyes wide open, took a deep breath.
Twin serpents of fear and confusion slithered through her veins, spitting their poison.
With shallow gasps of breath, she scanned the unfamiliar room. The air was stale, heavy, and oppressive, like a physical weight pressing down on her.
The lavender-scented room was adorned with relics from across Europe, creating a stark contrast with the sterile, clinical bed she found herself confined to.
The faint hum of machinery and occasional whispers of the nurses created a haunting chorus that amplified her isolation.
A gnawing pain throbbed at her temples, bringing her back to reality. Remnants of her clothing clung to her, a chilling reminder of a life-threatening event she barely remembered.
Her mind, riddled with uncertainty, desperately tried to connect the dots—how did she end up on the brink of death in this place?
Where was she?
Dr. Davidov was silent by her side. His presence brought a glimmer of relief to her, although she found herself gripped by a singular concern—where was Keil?
She remembered the dangers they faced together, running from ALTUS corporation.
But now, he was missing.
“I’m afraid the man who brought you here left without saying goodbye,” the physician said, his soft voice piercing through her thoughts.
Vienne’s heart sank.
He had left, but why?
She knew the answer lay in the shadows of the circumstances that had led her here.
Was Keil looking for her, or had he met a worse fate? The gnawing uncertainty was unrelenting.
Trying to sit up, Vienne was hit by a sharp pain, which served as a stark reminder of her fragile condition. Dr. Davidov firmly, yet gently, ushered her back down, “You must take it easy. Your body is still recuperating.”
With her eyes closed, Vienne tried to sift through her murky memories. She and Keil, pursued by ALTUS, running to expose its dark secrets—then, a void. Nothing.
Her mission was clear—find Keil. He was the missing link, the one who could help her make sense of her ordeal. She was resolved to find him at all costs.
Dr. Davidov, offering one last sympathetic smile, left Vienne alone in the dimly lit room. Despite the circumstances, she found solace in his words. Lying back down, she watched him exit, leaving her to contemplate her next moves in solitude.
Ten months in a coma? How could this be?
Vienne defied her body’s protests and pulled herself up. A wave of dizziness washed over her, but she steadied herself, her resolve unwavering.
Scanning the room, she pieced together the faint clues—she was in a high-end private facility. But where was Keil? Had he fled to protect her, or was he in more danger than she was?
Taking a deep breath, Vienne ventured towards the door, ready to face the unknown. In the corridor, she approached a nurse. “Excuse me, can you tell me where I am and how I can find someone, Keil Stone?”
The nurse looked at her, pity and confusion evident in her gaze. “You’re at Dr. Davidov’s private facility in Capri. I’m sorry, but I don’t know who Keil is.”
Vienne felt her heart drop. “He must have brought me here.”
With pain still coursing through her body, she remembered the car chase, the screeching of tires against the asphalt, and Keil’s voice reminding her not to give up. She remembered swerving around sharp turns as they sped away before taking a wrong turn: a cliff and then suddenly nothing.
As realization slowly dawned on Vienne, she came to understand how lucky she was.
Keil had saved her from certain death by pulling her from the wreckage of her car that had tumbled into the sea below Capri. He had brought her here, where doctors were trying their best to mend Vienne’s broken body while struggling against time.
Suddenly, it all made sense - why she was here and what had happened.
Despite a feeling of guilt for having almost cost Keil his life in this whole fiasco, there was also an overwhelming sense of gratitude for his heroic act that day at Capri. Now, it seemed like Keil wasn’t just her friend; he was a lifesaver too.
Her instincts told her that whatever was next instincts would be fraught with peril.
Feeling the icy tendrils of fear attempt to seize her, Vienne steeled herself, keeping her emotions in check. “Could you tell me where Dr. Davidov is? I need to speak with him again.”
“I’m afraid he’s not available at the moment,” the nurse replied with a tinge of unease, “But he will be back to check on you soon.”
Vienne nodded. “Thank you,” she said, her voice barely above a whisper.
As she ventured further down the corridor, Vienne’s mind raced. Keil’s disappearance was a chilling mystery, and the past ten months a void she had yet to fill. The entire situation felt like a daunting puzzle, with Keil as the missing piece.
She thought back on their last moments together before the car chase. They had been on the brink of exposing ALTUS’s dangerous secrets. It was then that they were ambushed, and everything spiraled out of control. A high-speed chase had ensued, ending in a tragic crash into the Capri Sea. Keil, having always been her protector, had saved her from the cold depths, but then he was gone.
Keil, despite his seemingly tough exterior, was a man of compassion. He wouldn’t have left her unless he was left with no other choice. He had to be in hiding. Lost in thought, Vienne barely noticed her feet guiding her back to her room. Once inside, she sank onto the bed, her body heavy with exhaustion. But her mind continued to race.
Suddenly, Vienne’s eyes fell on a sealed envelope lying inconspicuously on her bedside table.
A sudden hope sparked in her heart.
She quickly grabbed it, noticing that it was addressed to her, in what she recognized as Keil’s handwriting.
With shaking hands, she tore open the envelope.
Inside was a short note:
If you’re reading this, I’m sorry I couldn’t be there when you woke up. Trust no one. Find me. I’ll be waiting.
A wave of relief cascaded over Vienne.
Keil had to be alive, and he was waiting for her.
Clutching his note in her hand, she vowed to leave no stone unturned until she found him.
Just as she was readying herself for action, a noise reverberated through the corridor outside her room.
She leaped from the bed and cautiously opened the door, only to be met with a scene plucked straight from a nightmare.
Men swathed in tactical gear were stormed the hallway, their guns aimed, more of them appearing in their wake.
ALTUS. It had to be.
This was their retribution for meddling, their brutal message to silence the truth.
Instantly, Vienne slammed the door shut and sprinted towards the window on the opposite side of the room.
Her mind echoed with the dire consequences if she was caught. They wouldn't just silence her; they'd torture her for what she knew.
She needed to survive, for herself, for Keil, for the truth.
As if moving in a dream, she clambered onto the windowsill, looking out into the vast, inky expanse.
She took a moment, a heartbeat, to breathe, and then, she plunged into the awaiting darkness.
She collided with the earthy ground below, a sharp pain shooting through her. Her skin was slick with sweat.
The cool, dew-kissed grass prickled against her bare feet, sending shivers coursing through her. She looked up at the looming hospital, her once safe haven now a death trap.
A bullet hissed past her, a lethal reminder of the dangerous game of survival she was caught in.
Each moment, each decision, bore the weight of life and death. She had to play it right or pay the ultimate price.