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I’d been curled up here for hours. My joints were beginning to get stiff and my muscles taunt and sore. I carefully lift my head from my knees. I sigh and purse my lips in annoyance. I have to pee; I can feel the pain in my lower back and abdomen. I rock back and forth rhythmically, trying not to urinate on myself. That would be bad, considering I’m confined to the small space of what feels like a nutshell. My back is straight up against the wall, my knees to my chest, and yet I still find myself having to press the balls of my feet up against the door. My toes are spread out along the sides of the natural oak. (They’re freezing.)
I don’t know what the hell oak is.
I’m upset so I don’t care if I use bad words.
I bring down another one of the white sheets from the shelves way above me that Carter takes into her lab and wrap it around me. They aren’t very warm. Which is fabulous. I’m stuck in a freezing cold miniature closet in my night clothes (an oversized t-shirt and underwear) with thin linen sheets that don’t keep any heat in. I grimace at the conditions I am in. Where was Carter?
A tiny beep makes me jump and the bracelet on my left wrist begins to blink rapidly. I ball my fists and glare into the black in front of me. Except now I see the pulsating red reflect off the door, the blankets and myself. I reposition myself, deciding I’m ready to venture out. I get onto my knees and press my chest and arms into the door, trying to see if there are any small signs of light coming through the cracks of the door I sit protected behind. I see nothing. Professor Carter still hasn’t returned for me. I’ve been waiting for so long…
I reach out to touch the door gingerly with the pads of my finger tips. It’s cool, and I can feel every wrinkle and grain in the wood as my fingers graze across it, searching for the door handle. This is even colder and seems to stick to the warmth of my hand. Slowly, very, very slowly I begin to turn the knob. I lean forward slightly, pushing the door ajar just a sliver so I can peek out.
I see absolutely nothing. I don’t see the door in front of me, or even my outstretched hand; I don’t see the puff of warm air that exits my lips as it mixes with the freezing atmosphere about me. I slide my other hand down along the door frame and find the floor, where I continue to lead myself out. I stay crouched low to the ground, careful to keep my breathing from getting out of hand. My heart is beating rapidly though, and I can hear each quick and heavy beat through my ears. I take a deep breath through my nose. I put my boney knees to the hardwood floor bellow. It’s also cold; why? Professor Carter never lets the temperature get bellow sixty in our house. She says it’s too dangerous for me. I don’t ever question what Carter has to say, especially about my health.
On the floor I slide easily due to the fresh wax coating. I go as stealthily as I can manage. Sometimes my skin catches on a dry spot and it squeaks, so I pause, listening to see if I have caught the attention of anything.
I hear nothing and keep going.
I’ve been in this house my whole life- literally.
I’ve never been outside, let alone seen it. Carter says I am allergic to the sunlight, so I am kept inside, where artificial light and vitamins provide me with what I need to survive. I never question it. I never question Carter, she knows what is best for me; she will always know.
From my previous hiding spot- a small hallway closet down a ways from Carter’s room- I am able to find my way along the walls to the stair way. This is where I last saw Professor Carter.
“Go! Hide somewhere!” she hissed at me, frantically waving her hands.
“Don’t leave until I come back for you! Don’t make a sound! Go! Hurry!” and she descended down the stairs, never to return to me. At least not for several hours.
I know it has been this long because every several hours the metal bracelet connected to my wrist beeps- warning me that it is close to feeding time. If I don’t eat, I die. Simple as that. But Carter has not come back, and she knows I must be taken care of. So I must find her.
When I finally reach the landing of the stairs I position myself to slide down on my rear step by step. I am careful to not cause a serious racket. I set myself gently on each step as I go.
Everything is so dark it’s like a thick black jell, easy to move through, has filled in all the empty space of the house. As if I were possibly blind. But I know I am not, because I saw the red light pulsate on my bracelet when it beeped. I am not blind, but I might as well be.
When I reach the bottom of the stairs I crouch down again onto the wooden floor, flattening my hands and knees and slide silently across it. I keep one hand outstretched always to determine if there’s anything in front of me. I slowly make my way across the landing into the kitchen and down the hallway to where I know the stairs to Carter’s lab are. That’s the only place I can think of that she would be. The house is still silent. Not even the hum of the heater or the refrigerator or the air purifier. But I too am silent in the unnatural darkness. I slide my hands to find the lab door. I stop. My hand is about to the middle of the door and there’s a shocking discovery- it’s incredibly warm. I scramble to move my body closer to the warmth of it and relish it before I notice I’m sitting in something wet. I look down, which is pointless since I can’t see. I steady myself against the door and stand up, and can feel what ever it is slide down my bare legs. I shiver, slightly freaked out. I turn my attention to finding the door handle, and when I do I twist it and yank on it. It’s always been a heavy door, and I’ve always had to put force into it, but this time it was like any other door in the house and flew open. Behind it, it was a bright white, and I closed my eyes to protect them. Only… the light didn’t hurt. I opened my eyes again and I could see the light- but it wasn’t illuminating anything outside of it. The door frame was still covered in darkness- I couldn’t even see my hands in front of me.
I step closer and stick my hands through the light, curious-
And suddenly something grabs a hold of my wrist-
And yanks me through.