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“Where am I?” I screamed just before lights flickered on, illuminating the otherwise pitch black room. I observed my surroundings carefully, not missing a single detail. My arms were bound together behind my back by twine, and I was slumped in a black, foldable chair. The tile floors were slightly damp, suggesting we were somewhere warm and humid. The shelf in the corner of the room had one picture of me and my best friend, my brother. It was when we went to the fair that previous summer and had our picture taken from one of the insisting photographers gathered at the entrance. We had not ordered the picture I remember, though, we had discarded the ticket just as we reached the closest garbage can. There were no windows, and a single steel door that looked reinforced with several layers of metal. The lone light fixture dangle slightly from the ceiling and looked like it had been bought from Wal-Mart. The last object the room possessed was a video camera mounted in the upper left corner of the room, red light flashing on and off repeatedly. My every move was being recorded and I was being watched, studied. Who knows what else?
Something behind the door creaked and then the steel fame shuddered open. I gazed out into the vast jungle, and memories flooded back into my head like a tsunami. I sprung out of the chair and brought my arms under my thighs. I pulled as hard as I could until the thin twine snapped and I was free. I sprinted towards the door and flung myself into the safety of the trees. My legs carried me away from the dark room and towards the place I remember all too well. But to explain that we would have to go back… to the fair.
Chapter 1: The Fair
'Come on Nolan!' I shouted as we ran towards the Ferris wheel. I tugged on his arm and drug him towards his greatest fear. Heights. Even though he hated heights, he would do anything to make me happy, and I would do the same. We were not the kind of siblings who get in fights and hate each other, we were best friends. Which was strange, he was a genius, all A’s in school and star of the football team. Then there was me, I struggled in school so he tutored me every night; but I would much rather read a book and escape to another world than be trapped in this boring one. We ran towards the gates and raced through the line towards the first open car. Nolan carefully climbed in and inspected the car shaking it back and forth. After he felt assured that it wouldn't fall while he was in it, he stepped in. The car jerked forward as the bored, stereotypical fair worker impatiently tried to keep the ride moving. The car climbed up and up and the cool breeze felt good on this hot summer day.
Nolan and I were joking around when we the car lurched to a creaky stop in the middle of the ride. I looked down to find that the worker had disappeared from his post. I looked at Nolan in confusion as to why the ride had jerked to a stop. He was frozen, the fear in his eyes was unclear, his gaze locked on something behind me. I slowly turned around to see a huge man climbing out of the car behind us and scaling the metal hundreds of feet above the ground. He wasn’t fat; each of his defined muscles looked as if it would burst through his skin, the veins in his forehead popping out as he swung back and forth. At first I was scared for him, what if he falls? Then I realized the obvious. He was climbing towards us.
I grabbed Nolan's arm. "What do we do?" I asked frantically.
"Run!" he yelled.
"Where?" I asked frantically. The man was getting closer and I caught a glimpse of a shiny, silver dagger in his pocket. Nolan grabbed the bars and started climbing towards the next car, and I followed him. If we weren’t running for our lives, I would’ve been impressed with the speed Nolan climbed through the cars. He didn’t even like the monkey bars at the playground. The metal creaked as we swung back and forth across the bars. My hands were sweaty against the rusty metal; I paused for a quick breath and my hands started slipping. I wish I didn’t make my mom make a fake not saying a sprained my ankle in the rope climbing unit of gym. My hand slipped off of the bar, I screamed a terrified scream. I didn’t look down; I didn’t want to know how far it was till I would splat like a raindrop. My other hand was sliding further and further, my muscles ached from trying to hold on. I was too tired to hang on any longer, I let go. I screamed and my feet hit the pavement with a thwap. A rush of relief swept over me as I realized I was only three feet from the ground when I released my grip on the bars.
I scanned for my brother and spotted him sprinting towards the exit of the fair. I raced after him using all my remaining energy. Through the parking lot I received many honk from impatient drivers, usually I would apologize with a hand wave and an apologetic smile, but right now I didn’t care. When I reached the 1999 Pontiac Bonneville, Nolan was sitting inside, with his hands on the steering wheel. “Get in.” he commanded without looking at me. I looked behind us and Muscle Man was standing at the gates, scanning the parking lot for us. Our gazes met and without hesitation he started leaping over cars in our direction. I jumped in the car and we speed away, not looking back.
We didn't say a word to each other on the ride home. Finally I couldn't stand the silence anymore. "What the hell just happened?" I asked carefully. He pulled the car over into the parking lot of a deserted baseball field. The dugouts were covered with the vines of weeds, and the bases sat lonely in the fields. Nolan burst into tears, something that I had never witnessed before. He didn’t cry at our great grandma’s funeral, he didn’t cry when he broke his leg, but he was crying now. He cried for what seemed like an eternity, and I sat there comforting him. He was my big brother, what else was I supposed to do in this situation? As the sobs started to secede, he finally he gained enough control to speak.
"It started a couple months ago, and at first it was just for some extra cash but it has turned into much more. I started writing computer games for a secret organization called STAR" He hesitated, but continued. "I didn’t know much about them, so I did some research on the internet and found a guy who used to work for them. When I went to his house to talk to him about it, I overheard a conversation he was having with that man we saw at the fair. I found out that they were turning the games into more than just your regular computer games, they were actually virtual lives people would live in."
I stared at him blankly while he searched my face for any comprehension. "They were sending real live people into the games. Don't you get it? They were creating a society where everyone could be tracked and, if needed, controlled."
Was he trying to tell me that he was accidentally helping a bunch of insane computer geniuses take over the world? "But what do they want with you now?" I slowly asked, but I already knew the answer.
"I know too much now," he took a deep breath; "they are hunting me. It would cost them too much money to silence me any other way. I don't know what to do anymore; they are going to kill me!" I had never been more scared for my brother’s life until this day. All this information hit me like a wall of bricks. The world began to spin around me and I clutched the seat to keep from passing out. The silence of being in the middle of nowhere was getting to me; I hastily turned the music up to full blast and shut my eyes. When I opened them Nolan looked at me sympathetically. “I’m sorry.” He mouthed. But I was too busy trying to comprehend the black SUV coming straight at us to see his apology. He turned around just in time to understand that the car was not driving by us, but rather at us. Nolan fumbled for the keys in his pocket and stuck it in the ignition. The SUV was getting dangerously close; our car roared and screeched forward, but a second too late. The SUV struck the back half of the Bonneville and we flew through the sky and rolled into the ditch.