Chapter Four: The Alpha Academy
John look out of the car window as they drove past the gates and into the Alpha Academy. Unlike the Library Complex, which had been hidden underground, the Alpha Academy was a series of large mansions in the middle of a private estate. John didn’t know anything about the place, so he wondered if this was a private school for the wealthy that didn’t need to be hidden.
The car pulled up to the gates and two Alpha Group members opened the door for John. They led him up the path, decorated with beautiful flower gardens, to the large central mansion. They unlocked the door and gestured for John to walk inside. He did so and the two Alpha Group members closed and locked the door, leaving him alone inside.
John knew that he wasn’t truly alone and suspected that someone would arrive shortly to explain his new living arrangements. He sat down on a bench in the lavish foyer of the main building while waiting for this to occur.
After about ten minutes, John became suspicious. There was no way they had locked him in a giant mansion just to be alone, yet no one had appeared. For the next few hours, John tried to find a way out of the mansion, but all of the doors were locked and so were the windows. He thought about breaking a window open, but he thought that would be too violent and wouldn’t end well for him.
Yes, he had been kidnapped, but he knew nothing about his current situation. On the off-chance that they wanted to do something nice for him, like helping him to adjust to a normal life, then that offer might be retracted the moment he broke an incredibly expensive window.
The concept of the Alpha Group had been a very mysterious idea in his mind while inside the Library Complex and he thought of them as the enemy at that time. Now, after having spoken with James Radcliffe, he suspected there was no directly evil intent. Radcliffe seemed obnoxious, but who was the real enemy of the Library Complex?
It was Program Blue, a creation of the Alpha Group. But the Alpha Group didn’t create an artificial intelligence designed to murder the residents of the facility it controlled. The Alpha Group had locked the scientists inside of the Library Complex, and they didn’t make any attempt to stop the A.I., but that didn’t make them evil. They had just flown John to a lavish mansion and, although they drugged him for the flight, it didn’t seem like an evil act.
John didn’t like James Radcliffe, but Radcliffe said that “our desires are the same”. Based on all of this, John decided to cooperate with them until he understood their intentions. There was no doubt that the vast wealth of the Alpha Group had corrupted the minds of its members, so perhaps there was a chance that their insane methods were their only way of expressing kindness. John debated whether or not this was really the case as he waited for someone to show up.
The sky had now darkened, but luckily the fireplace had already been lit and John was able to rest in its warmth. He was getting hungry, but he was also comfortable enough that he could fall asleep if no one arrived. Before he considered lying down, John heard the opening of a door.
At the top of the stairs was a blonde-haired male who looked to be slightly younger than John. This person descended the stairs and John stood up to greet him.
“Yes. Who are you?”
“I am Acrotorus. I apologize for the wait. I never get visitors and I was just informed that you had arrived.”
That was the name of the god that Program Blue had wanted to become. The person of fourteen or fifteen years of age in front of John did not seem to be a god. The name Acrotorus was also too obscure to be a coincidence.
“Yes. Does that mean something to you?”
“Probably not. I heard that you were a god from an insane artificial intelligence.”
“That’s surprising,” said Acrotorus. “I’m probably not human, but I’ve never considered myself to be a powerful being like a god.”
“Not human?” John asked.
“I’ve lived in this place for as long as I can remember and I’ve heard stories of my existence here for many years. I am told that this is quite an abnormal situation.”
“I’m not sure that I understand,” John said. He was interested in knowing what Acrotorus had experienced, but he didn’t know if it was alright to ask directly.
“We can sit down and I can explain what I know to you.”
John agreed and he sat down on a bench opposite that of Acrotorus. After looking into the fire for a few seconds, Acrotorus turned to John and spoke.
“I woke up two days ago for the first time in 200 years. Well, that’s what they tell me at least. They said that I was originally found here in the 18th century. The Alpha Academy is where they have looked after me while I slept.”
“Two days ago? April 16th?”
“Yes. I forgot the exact time, but it was early in the morning. The sun rose about an hour later, I think. I don’t really keep track of time well…”
John knew it. Just after midnight on April 16th was the time that Cara had entered the Flame and that was the time that Acrotorus had awoken. Due to the time difference between New York and the Alpha Academy, the time he woke up and the time Cara used the Flame were probably the same. John began to wonder if Program Blue wasn’t as crazy as he seemed. Still, Acrotorus wasn’t a god.
Then again, could John say that with confidence? According to Acrotorus, he had slept for 200 years inside of the Alpha Academy.
“So, do you have memories of this time? A lot has changed in 200 years.”
“No. I don’t have any memories from before either. Everything that I know about the world I’ve learned in the span of time from my awakening to this day. The scientists spoke to me and some other people came as well. They asked a lot of questions at first, but then they began to teach me about this world.”
“You have a good grasp of the English language for someone with no memories.”
“Yes, the scientists were also surprised. I learned about everything very quickly and they said… um, what was it? …something about me absorbing information while my body slept. That was what they theorized about in front of me like I was a lab rat. Even if it’s not true, human beings don’t get to sleep for 200 years. So it’s not surprising that I have some other strange talents as well. Despite all that, do you know why they brought you here?”
John was surprised to have the conversation turn toward him. He had forgotten about all of his questions and become invested in Acrotorus’ story and how it related to Program Blue, the Flame, and the Library Complex.
“…uh, no. They didn’t tell me why they brought me here.”
“I was hoping that you knew. They only told me that you would be arriving and they didn’t answer any of my questions. From what I understand, it’s strange for people to visit this place. Especially someone like you who isn’t an expert in any scientific field.”
“So what happens now?”
“I assume you’re going to be staying here. They prepared a room for you and there’s food in the dining room. I tasted the food here for the first time yesterday and it seems to be of high quality. The rooms are also extravagant. That’s what my instinct tells me. You can tell me whether or not I’m wrong.”
“This is a mansion and most people don’t live in those,” John said. “I can imagine that everything about this place is like you say.”
“You can follow me to the dining room.”
“I am hungry, but I think I’d rather sleep.”
“Well, I’ll show you to the dining room anyway in case you want anything before morning.”
“The food will be cold by then and they’ll probably throw it out.”
“Does less expensive food get cold?”
“All food gets cold, or room temperature I guess, eventually.”
John was interested so Acrotorus guided him to the dining room. The room appeared to be just like any fancy dining room that one might imagine with the sole difference being what should have been the dining table. There, in the middle of the room, was a feast covered by a glass case embedded in a metal table. Inside of the case there were dim green lights that resembled circuitry lining the walls.
“This must be Alpha Group technology,” said John. “I’ve never seen anything like this before.”
“Doesn’t everyone have access to Alpha Group technology? They’re everywhere.”
“They do seem to be everywhere but they’re a complete secret. No one knows why they exist and they have incredible technology that normal people can only dream of.”
“That’s interesting. What sort of things do people not have?”
“Well, I don’t know. If you told me about things in this mansion then I would be able to tell you whether or not normal people have them. This thing definitely only exists in the Alpha Group.”
Acrotorus and John began to have a conversation about the difference between ‘the world of humans’ and ‘the world of the Alpha Group’. After becoming more relaxed by the conversation, John gave into his hunger and began to eat the exquisite food that had been provided for him. There seemed to be several sections containing breakfast, lunch, dinner, and desserts, so John and Acrotorus sat by the section containing dinner food.
With food preserved in such an advanced way, there was no need to cook individual meals. All the meals for a day, even a week or more, were prepared beforehand and placed into the structure. It was like a refrigerator that would only need to be restocked once it ran out of certain foods.
Half of an hour passed and Acrotorus then guided John to the second floor and showed him his room. The size of it was incredible. There was a bed, a fireplace, a television, a workstation containing what John assumed to be a computer with advanced capabilities, a private bathroom, and a small private library. The room was like a merging of two distinct time periods and John actually liked the style. Even with the technology that they had, the Alpha Group still enjoyed a nostalgic atmosphere according to the evidence in the Alpha Academy.
Either that or they kept the rooms like this in order to keep themselves integrated with current society. Stepping between ‘the world of humans’ and ‘the world of the Alpha Group’ would be incredibly difficult if they had nothing in common with one another so it was possible that the place was designed to allow people to hold onto reality.
These were the kind of wild ideas that John had.
“Do you need anything else?” Acrotorus asked.
“No, I’m fine. I’m not sure how long I’m going to be here, but I’m glad there’s at least one normal person.”
Acrotorus laughed. “Good night, John.”
John would have plenty of time to explore the technology in his room so he decided that could wait and that he should go to sleep. He locked the door, changed into nightwear provided by the Alpha Group, turned off the lights, and climbed into the unnecessarily large bed.
The Alpha Academy was the strangest thing he had ever experienced, but it was strange in a good way. Compared to the ordeal in the Library Complex, it was as if he was being rewarded for his troubles. As he fell asleep, John knew that everything wasn’t as simple as he was thinking, but he knew that he was tired and so he let himself fall asleep without any further thought.
The loss of his friends troubled his subconscious mind, but not even that could reach him in his dreams. The completely new environment of the Alpha Academy and the new people that he had met, James Radcliffe and Acrotorus, were forces strong enough to delay the reality of April 16th, 2011.
While John had started to deal with his emotions after the funeral in the Great Library, he had only just begun the process of letting go when James Radcliffe had captured him. He hadn’t yet accepted what had happened due to all of the distractions around him, but it wouldn’t be long before he would be forced to confront his new reality.