The Guardians

By , Nowhere, OR
I sit at the long dining table with all the other teens my age and make small talk as we wait for the guardians to allow us to eat. The guardians are the group of 5 adults that watch over us, all of us who have lost our parents in the village. I watch them as they whisper in a circle. I can hear them say names of some of our siblings that died with our parents, followed by a number. I don’t think much of it until I hear her name. “Molly...seven” I hear one of the guardians say.

After we eat and return to our rooms I lay awake in my bed thinking about what else they could be talking about and what the numbers mean ‘Molly…seven’ I repeat in my head. I wait for the guardians to check on each room and turn out the light (mine is always the last). After they peek in and close the door I wait a few seconds for them to make it far enough down the hallway and I decide to follow them. I keep a distance so they don't see me and I keep following them down a hallway they then disappear down a spiral staircase I have never seen before. I step slowly down the concrete stairs and stop at the last step. It brought me to a similar hallway directly beneath the one by my door.

I step carefully down the dark hallway with only a small lamp to guide my way. The walls are bare with no doors or windows for as far as I can see. My feet are pale, slowly dropping to the freezing temperature of the cold hard concrete floors beneath my bare feet. I try to follow the faint voices and know they belong to the guardians, the hallway seems as if it grows longer the farther I walk. I wrap my big blanket tighter around my shoulders shivering as I continue down the unfamiliar hallway for what seems like hours. I finally find the end of the hallway which is a plain door. The door is similar to mine and all the others upstairs but it has a unfamiliar lock on it. I press my ear against the door and the faint voices disappear quickly all at once. I step into the corner covering myself with the blanket, trying to blend into the walls. One of the guardians unlock the door and a man emerges I stand still holding my breath, maybe he won’t see or hear me. The man pauses next to me and continues down the hallway; I remain unnoticed.

I press my ear to the door again and everything is quiet other than the gentle breathing of what sounds like a little girl behind the door. I can feel a pit grow in my stomach ‘what if the little girl is Molly!’ I slowly push the door open and see an empty room but I can still hear the breathing. There is a card table and four chairs set up in the middle of the room. On all sides of the large bare room are more doors just like mine. Each door has a number on it. I spin around the room looking for the number seven. Since the numbers are in no consecutive order and they range from 3 to 46 it takes a few minutes. I finally find door number seven and take a few steps closer. The closer I get the louder the breathing grows. I hear the door I came in open and I quickly slip behind ‘door number seven’.

Inside the room it looks identical to mine upstairs; a small twin bed, a dresser, a bedside table and a desk. Under the blanket lies a little girl the about same age as molly would be with golden blonde hair breathing heavily. I step over to her bed and place my hand on her shoulder to make sure I'm not dreaming this. The little girls eyes flutter open and she smiles at me. It takes everything I have to not yell her name and hug her and instead I sit down next to her and scoop her up onto my lap.

I have no idea what to do next. “are you okay?” I ask her, she nods her head visibly not sure what to do either. I put her back down onto her bed and peer out a small crack of the door. There are now four of the guardians sitting around the card table.





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