(Here’s the backstory. All the rest is mine.)

You remember scheduling the appointment to have your wisdom teeth removed. You remember the mask being lowered over your nose and mouth. You remember the world slowly turning black.

You’ve just regained consciousness. You’re on a train. There’s a briefcase handcuffed to your wrist. Searching your pockets, you find a note.

Or, at least, it feels like a note. The pitch black interior of the container car offers not a single beam of light to illuminate the carefully-folded paper. Frustrated, I crumple it and toss it aside. I sit back, resting my head between the ridges of the stiff metal wall. Oddly enough, panic has not yet struck me. But it will. No matter where I’m headed, I can be positive that my anti-anxiety meds will not be traveling with me. Sighing, I lean forward, cupping my face in the palms of my hands, trying to make sense of the situation. A bead of sweat inches down my spine.

I drift off to sleep to the sound of the train’s creaky wheels.

Awakening a long while later — I have no idea exactly how long, since I cannot see outside –, I decide to explore the car. (After all, I could be in here for a while.) Feeling along the walls, I encounter what seems to be a lever. I tug desperately, yet it does not budge. I search the lever with my hands, finding a large padlock. It immediately occurs to me that normal container cars have the locks on the outside, not the inside. Puzzled, I let go of the lock, letting it clang against the door. “Who’s there?” a stranger’s voice trembles. Still tracing the sides of the car with my right hand, I make my way to the source of the voice, and sit down beside her. We speak briefly; I learn that she, too, is from Yuma. “Where do you last remember yourself being?” she inquires, and I reply, “The dentist. I was just going under anesthesia.” “Me too,” she responds. What can this mean? Are we being kidnapped?

My thoughts are interrupted by the screeching of the train’s brakes. Two voices from outside the car pass us by. From what I can gather, the two men are opening up the cars, presumably to let out passengers. Soon our door slides open, and I am immediately blinded by the harsh sunlight. My eyes slowly adjust. I get up off the floor of the car, and follow the woman out. She’s cute, I think to myself, but this is no time to be worrying about that. “Andale!” one of the men shouts, and I fall into line with the other captives. We climb into the back of a truck, bound for god-knows-where, and sit down in the familiar darkness.

Hours must have passed since we left the train. Not a single soul has spoken. I infer that there must be at least a dozen of us, based on the body odor.

The door to the truck lifts, and we step out onto a loading dock. A white man in an even whiter lab coat points us to a hallway. I notice that everyone else has a briefcase cuffed to their wrist, too. Then, the two men who let us off the train start separating us, each into different small, dark rooms. I sit down on a metal table, awaiting my fate.

The man in the lab coat, the doctor, enters the room and switches on the lights, closing the door firmly behind himself. The white light once again blinds me. Before I get the chance to open my mouth, the doctor instructs, “Lie down.” I do. “Welcome to San Ignacio,” he declares with a practiced grin. “Let me see that briefcase of yours.” Lifting my arm, I look around. I see a cabinet, a sink, and a lamp. He sets the briefcase down, removes its contents — paper documents —, and leaves the room.

A few minutes later, he returns with two young men dressed in white scrubs. He sets the papers down next to me, and I read the first page: kidneys, check; lungs, check; liver, check; heart, check; pancreas, check; eyes, check; blood, O-…. My heart pounds. The doctor flips the pages until he reaches one titled “Instructions.” The two men pin me firmly to the table, and the doctor fits a mask over my nose and mouth. The world slowly turns black.


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