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Author's note: I relly have no idea how this peice came to me, but I hope that you readers will get a good read out of it and look forward to my future work
I wake strapped to a rank, wooden chair. My arms and legs are bound by metal cuffs. I sigh and find a cloth tied firmly around my mouth. This is not good A couple lights flicker on, giving off an orange light. I let out a quite sob and look around to try and figure out where I am. The room is nearly empty except for a white table and a cabinet. There are a bunch of people on one side of the room cluttered around a small window. The window seems to be overseeing a pure white room and I cannot see the bottom from where I sit.
Then one of the men in lab coats looks up at me. I try to make it seem like I am still passed out, but it is no use. He beckons to the other scientists and a few of them rush over. I try to scream, but the cloth is tied tightly over my mouth. I flail as they pick me up and bring me to the nearest table. When they let go, I wiggle off the table and on to the floor, giving me a tinge of hope. It’s no use; they just pick me back up and throw me on the table. This time they pin me down. I stop struggling. I may need my strength later if I plan on escaping.
“Which one is this?” one of them asks.
He gets a reply from a slender man holding a clipboard. “Dathan Sixton. He is part of experiment 931. He’s from the Greenville Orphanage.”
I tense up. How could he know my name and where I live? They took me in my sleep, so maybe they have been planning this. For some reason, the thought infuriates me, as if I could have stopped it, when I obviously could not have.
The first scientist nods slowly. “Well, it better work.”
The scientist with the clipboard leaves momentarily and returns with a huge needle that is filled with a blue, glowing liquid. I try to shake free but I know it is no use. I look up at the man with the needle and stare into his cold eyes. This is what a deer must feel like when the hunter is upon him. I close my eyes as they tilt my head back, exposing my neck. Fear courses through my veins and a shiver goes up my spine. The needle sinks into my neck and they eject the liquid into me. It seems to take forever. They finally pull it out and slap a bandage on the wound. Then they prop me up and pull me off of the table. Without a word, they lead me out of the room and into a white hallway.
I can feel my pulse in my neck and a cold pain starts to develop in my head. What did they inject me with? Some dangerous chemical that will kill me? They must mean to watch me die.
They bring me across the hall and down a flight of stairs to a door. The words 'test chamber' are written on it in red ink. I shiver. So they do mean to test me. They pull the door open to reveal a white room. The same white room that I saw from the lab. The walls and floor are pure white and the room is very tall. I can see the window at the very top. I lower my gaze from the window and see a girl curled up in the corner, her head in her hands. She is crying deeply, but looks up for a moment to see who had entered the room. I get a small glimpse of her face. She has long, blonde hair and a small face. My heart leaps into my throat and I start to cry. It is my best friend, Jess.
The scientists shove me into the room and I collapse onto the floor, my hands shielding my face. I get up as fast as I can and rush over to Jess, who is sitting in the corner, her back to me. I can't let anything happen to her. She is all I have left.
I reach her fairly quickly and turn her around. She seems fine, but her chestnut eyes are gleaming with tears. I swipe her hair aside to see her face. Same small nose and Asian eyes. I let out a sigh of relief and wipe a tear off of her face, but as soon as I touch her skin, my head bursts with pain. I get up and stagger back, tripping over my feet multiple times. I look up and see her clenching her head. She feels the pain as well.
The farther I back up, the less intense it gets. I turn and run into the far corner and huddle up. The pain is just barely less, but now I feel like such a coward. I bailed out on her a little pain. I have a problem.
I try to get back up, but my legs have stopped working. I try hitting them back to health. It doesn't work, it never does. My eyes roll back into my head and everything goes fuzzy. I wish I was back at the great, boring orphanage and not here.
I am in a dream, but this time along with Jess. We are back at the orphanage, sitting on the black metal bench outside and laughing. We did that a lot. The sky is bright blue and the grass is golden green. It’s a perfect day in Houston. We get up and walk to the bus stop and hop on the bus. As soon as the door closes, we notice that that it is full of faceless people. Fear balls up inside me as I realize that they are manikins. All of them, even the driver. Jess and I turn, run out of the bus and sprint back to the orphanage.
Then suddenly, the world turns black. I'm not waking up; I am stuck in a void. Without Jess. I turn and look around. I can't lose her; she is all I have left. The panic starts to take over and I sprint forward into the darkness. It's no use. There's no way out, I've lost her.
I hear my name called in the distance and look up to see Jess running toward me. I feel joyous and spring up to my feet. I run straight forward, my arms outstretched. I haven't failed, I still have her. Just as we touch, the world goes black once more and I sit up.
I am back in the testing room, the lights burning my eyes when I open them. I sit up and clench my head, even though it had stopped hurting. At last I can think again. Hopefully Jess can too. If the drug affected me that badly, she must be in pure agony. I look over and expect to see Jess curled up in the corner, but she is standing a few feet in front of me, her hands trembling. “Six, are you alright? You’re shaking.”
I then realize that I am shaking, and I am also curled up. Tears form under my eyes. I can’t believe that affected me so much. “I’m fine,” Lying to her face has never been easy. She can tell whenever I am disturbed.
She looks at me pitifully and shakes her head. “No you’re not.” She grabs my arm and helps me to my feet. How embarrassing. I may have been shaken, but I can tell that she is too. Her brow furrows and she bites her lip. She is holding something back. “Six, did you see us back at the orphanage on the bench?”
My jaw instinctively drops. That can’t be possible. How did we both see the same thing? Did they wire a memory into the drug? No. They can’t know that much about us. Can they?
Before I even have a chance to answer, the doors to the room burst open and huge man holding a metal rod walks in. The rod is attached to a box on his back. It must be electric. This is bad. Jess and I back up against the wall, but it is no use, there is nowhere for us to go. I shudder. Is this how it is going to end?
The man lungs forward and grabs Jess from behind me with his black leather gloves. I try to hold on to her, but he is much stronger than I am. I give in and Jess screams as he lifts her up to his eye level and gags her with a cloth. He brings the rod close to her face and hits a button on the handle. The rod crackles with electricity. For a moment I stare up at his with a look of terror on my face and then I reach for Jess. He bats me to the side with ease and then presses the rod against the back of her head.
I kneel on the ground as the pain returns to my head, this time with a ferocious intensity.
“Six, Help!” I hear someone yell.
It sounds like Jess, so I look up, expecting to see her screaming, but she is gagged. I hear more screaming in my head and clutch it so I regain my balance.
The man pulls the rod off of Jess’s head and then drops her. The pain stops. He then brings his foot back and then it connects with Jess’s skin. I hear a whack and pain fills my head at that moment.
I run at the man, trying to push him away from Jess, but it is no use, he is too strong. He continues to kick Jess and pain stabs through me every time he does. And then I realize it.
The pain, it is Jess’s pain. I feel what she feels. That means I was right. I did hear her screaming. She felt like screaming, but couldn’t, so I heard it. I stop attacking the man and step back. If I can feel her pain, then maybe I can help her.
I concentrate my thoughts on Jess and her pain, and it gets more intense. I ignore it, and give her more aid, take more of the pain. Needless to say, it hurts. I feel the pounding of the man’s boot in my side, like a heartbeat. Thump, thump, thump. I clutch my side and see the man smirk at me, his yellow teeth glistening in the light. I hate him.
Jess gets up; her pain lessened by me, and punches the man square in the face. He looks startled and immediately stops grinning. He turns and leaves the room.
I smile at Jess and she gives a faint smile back. She rushes toward me and put her hands on my shoulders. “Do you feel it?” She asks, bobbing in place. “Do you feel the connection?”
I nod, still unable to speak. Is this really happening? Is it even possible? Instead of responding, I hug her tight. “Yes,” I whisper in her ear. A least we’re in this together.
The door creaks open once more and two men wearing neon blue helmets walk in. They look like neon signs with limbs. They march over to us in unison and grab our arms. I’m getting used to being manhandled. They drag us back up the stairs, but not back to the lab as I expect. We turn down another corridor, this one dotted with doors. As we pass them, I notice that each of them has a single, tinted window and a number written underneath. They also have the word ‘cell’, written in bold letters above the window.
My stomach turns at the thought that we will be trapped here and experimented on. Perhaps until we die. Then I hear Jess’s voice in my head one more.
“Six?” She says. “Are you there?”
I roll my eyes. It’s just like her to experiment with something right away, but I should probably follow her. I concentrate my thoughts on Jess and manage spit out a few words. “This is crazy Jess.”
I look over at her and see her smiling at her, as if I had just made a funny joke. There was nothing funny about what I said, but I smile back anyways.
We reach a fork in the hallway and each of the guards turns a different way, dragging us along with them. After walking a few meters, my guard stops in front of a door with the number 931 scribbled on it. He opens it and shoves me in. I turn to face the door, and he slams it on my face. Well I’m stuck in here. I sigh deeply and then turn to look at my cell.
It’s nothing like I expect. I thought there would be grey walls, a dirty floor and an old, moth infested bed, but it the exact opposite. I am greeted by a neatly made blue bed, clean floor and sky blue walls. There is also a pile of orange jumpsuits sitting on the bed.
I look down at myself and realize that I am wearing one too. It’s just like me to be oblivious to such things. The jumpsuit has 931; the same number that was on the door, written on it in bold lettering.
I jump as a small crackling voice fills the room. “Welcome to The Laboratories, I hope you enjoy your stay!” I shudder at the voice. It and this room seem out of place to me. Why should they care for our comfort? We’re just lab rats to them. It must be to make us cooperate. I immediately dismiss the idea, but then realize that it makes perfect sense. Make it feel like home, and we’ll do whatever they want.
Jess immediately springs to my mind. I can still contact her! We’re in this together. At least I’ll have some real comfort with her. I reach out with my mind and feel the tug of Jess’s consciousness. I immediately embrace it.
“Jess, are you alright?” I ask, accompanied by a feeling of intense worry.
“Relax, I’m fine,” she says, obviously annoyed at my concern.
I sigh in relief and then turn my attention to more urgent matters. “We have got to get out of here. Can you find any way out of your room?”
“No,” she says sadly. “But there is a way out. Back in the lab, when they gave me the drug, I noticed a fire exit tucked into the back corner of the room. That’s our ticket out.”
I’m hesitant to respond as the idea seems a bit foolish. She quickly senses my negativity. Maybe this connection isn’t so great after all.
Anger swells up inside her like a hot air balloon. “Can you find any other way out?!” I don’t respond. “I didn’t think so. Next time they bring us to the lab, we’re busting out. Got it?”
“Yes,” I reply shyly. She is never usually this fussy. This place must be getting to her too. “We’ll go for it next time,”
As always, our conversation is interrupted. A guard flings the door open and shoves in a plate of food before slamming it shut once more. Pizza. These guys are really going far to give us comfort. I walk over pick it up and sit back on my bed. I pick up a slice and take a huge, messy bite.
“Hey Jess, I can’t believe they actually gave us food!” I joke, but there is no response. “Jess, are you there?”
It then hits me. Those tricksters had drugged the food, cutting off my connection with Jess! I knew all of this luxury wasn’t just for comfort. They are making us do whatever they want. I can’t believe they already got me.
I put my head in my hands. I know that she would laugh, everyone would. I fell for such an obvious trap. I can only hope the effects are temporary, or else I may be stuck in here forever.
I try to stay awake for the night, but cannot. I must not be as strong as I thought, but I guess I already found that out earlier. I sit on my bed and stare at the ceiling until I drift off into a deep sleep.
I see my family standing in front of me. My mother, her hair swaying freely around her favorite black dress. My father, wearing a suit like always, and my little brother with a smug little smile on his face. They beckon me over, so I embrace them tightly, just like I used to. Tears soon come to my eyes. I wish for that life back.
My mother looks up and frowns, so I turn to see what she is looking at. It’s Jess standing alone in the darkness. I beckon her over, but she does not budge, so I walk over to her. She smiles at me like she always did, and then she points back to my family.
They are gone. I rush over and try to find them, but they’re nowhere to be found. A feeling of emptiness and guilt fills me and then my old house appears in front of me. The old black bricks and doors are all still intact, just like they used to be. Then smoke starts to rise from the house as it is engulfed in flames. I can hear my family inside, screaming, pleading me for help, but I stay put. I want to, I need to, go and help them but my legs won’t move. Tears stream down my face as I call their names, but they have fallen silent. The house burns until it is a pile of rubble, and I can see the charred corpses of my family. It’s my entire fault. I let them die.
I spring up, panting for air. I’m back in the room, but tears are still streaming down my cheeks and I am drenched in sweat. It was just a dream. It’s not going to happen again, I won’t allow it. But I let them die when it really mattered. I just stood there and watched the house burn. It’s my fault they’re dead.
“No it wasn’t,” Jess’s voice fills my head once more. The drug must have worn off.
“Leave me alone Jess,” I murmur.
“At least you had a family,” she retorts. She knows that was a mistake, but I don't care.
“You think that’s worse? I yell. “I saw my family die! You wouldn’t care if your parents died. You didn’t know them.”
I instantly feel a stab of regret. I really am a monster if I am treating my only family like this.
“Jess, I’m sorry,”
“No, I deserved it,” she replied. “After all, I did bring it up,”
“At least you didn’t eat the food.”
“How did you know that?”
“Because you’re not as stupid as I am.” We both start laughing at the comment. Laughter is exactly what we need to lift the grim mood, but I still long to see her again.
I get my wish as a guard burst into the room once more.
“It’s time for another test,” he grunts. He pulls me out of the room and down the hall. We soon meet up again with Jess. She smiles at me reassuringly and then nods. It’s time to bust out of this place. My eyes dart back and forth as I try to do anything to get my mind away from the thought of escaping. I can’t help it. What if we fail? What king of torture will we be put through? I try to wave away the thought once more. All that matters now is getting out.
To my surprise, we are soon joined by another boy. He looks sullen and pale, like he has had all the hope sucked out of him. He probably did. I will do anything to not become like him. Jess and I are busting out no matter what.
My heart feels as if it is going to leap from its chest as we approach the lab. The side we are entering from has a pure glass wall, so the scientists can see us coming. Fear builds up inside of me as I see the fire exit at the far side of the room. I have to do this. For freedom. For Jess.
I hear one of the guards shout and turn to see the pale boy sprinting down the hall in a frenzy, streams of guards and scientists in pursuit.
Jess and I take advantage of this moment of hesitation and break free, making a bee line toward the exit. Luckily, most of the guards are in pursuit of the other boy, and only a few of the scientists stand in our way. I sprint forward and shove one of the scientists out of the way, sending him into the path of the guards. I continue toward the door, but it seems so far away and my lungs are on fire, my legs ache and my knees are giving out. I should have never quit soccer. Jess grabs my arm and we push through the pain together until we are upon the door.
I shield my eyes from the blinding sun as we burst through the doors. We emerge on a cliff overlooking a small community of houses. I look down and jump back, shocked at the sight. Down in the community is the remains of a burned down house. My house. Jess strokes my back in an attempt to comfort me, but I pull away. This can’t be possible, but then I look back at the lab. From the outside it looks like a small abandoned shack. The same shack that my friends and I used to make ghost stories about. How ironic.
Guards then burst through the exit, guns raised. We have nowhere to run, so we just stand there, hand in hand. One of them steps forward with a tranquilizer in hand. I close my eyes and take a deep breath. I feel the dart sink into my leg and quickly black out.
My eyes spring open and I bolt upright. I blew it. We could have escaped, but because of me we didn’t.
I look around and expect to see the dull blue walls of the lab, but I do not. Instead I see the grey of the orphanage. I glance around the room and see bunks full of kids, all in a deep sleep. What had just happened? Was it all a dream? It couldn’t have been. It was too vivid, too real. But here I am, back at the orphanage.
Jess springs to my mind. I can find out if it was real! I can contact her! I try not to keep my hopes up, but cannot help it.
I send out a string of thought, no words, just thought and emotion so I could tell if it was real. I wait for an answer, but none comes. All I get is silence and I start to cry. It was so real…
Then a feeling of confusion overcomes me. “Six, where are we?”
I continue to cry, but now they are tears of joy and not sorrow. I wipe them from my eyes and turn my attention to Jess. “We’re back at the orphanage.”
“No, that’s not possible. We’re still connected…”
“I know,” I say. “Meet me in the dining hall.”
I wait in the hall, sitting at one of the many round, wooden tables. The hall is just as big as I remember, with glass chandeliers and golden walls. I hate this place so much. It reminds me that I don’t have a family anymore. Yet, eating and laughing here with my friends seems inviting, like coming home after a long vacation. We used to sit here and laugh for hours as the supervisors stuffed us with food. I let out a laugh; I’ll never look at that the same way again. Not after what I’ve been through.
The door creaks open and Jess enters, her nightgown swaying as she walks. “It took you long enough,” I say.
She rolls her eyes and sits down beside me. “I know, but I was trying to make sense of this. I mean how do we still have the connection?”
I feel a gush of air at my back and turn around to see Elizabeth, one of our supervisors. She was giving me a concerned look. “You’ve forgotten again, haven’t you?” she says. “You two have always had a connection, since the day you came here.”
I want to believe her, but I cannot. It just doesn’t seem right. It feels like I’m being set up. But when I look over at Jess my priorities change. She is smiling giddily and has a look of great relief in her eye. Causing her anymore grief wouldn’t be right, so I smile too. “Thank you,”
Days, weeks and months pass and I try to live like I used to, but the world seems too unreal. Jess is happy and gets back into the routine of our old life fairly quickly. She doesn’t talk much about the lab much anymore. Just the occasional remark like “This food is better than back there, right Six?” or “Look Six, it’s a fire exit.” Although she has come down with a fear of needles.
Eventually, my paranoia seems to get the better of me. I start seeing things like cameras following me or a scientist hiding in an ally. I try to shake them off, but they keep coming back. For weeks I see them until one day, they start seeming real to me. I try to run away and hide down in stores, but I see them where ever I go. I try to talk to Jess about it, but she just thinks I’m still paranoid and refuses to talk about it anymore. This all gets me to wonder one thing; are they still following me?
Then one day, the illusion comes crashing down. I sit on my bed, reading a comic that I had picked up earlier today. I expect to be alone, but Elizabeth soon comes marching in. She quickly tells me that a doctor has come to give me a checkup. That’s strange; usually I go to his office just like everyone else.
He slowly walks in, briefcase in hand. He is slender, lean and dressed in a white lab coat. I look up at his face, gasp and step back. It is him. The one from the lab who gave me the drug. They must have thought I had forgotten, but I haven’t. I never will.
“Six, are you alright?”He asks in a monotonous voice. “I’m here to give you your injection.”
Fire stirs in my eyes as I look up at the monster of a doctor. “Get away from me.”
He reaches for my arm, but I quickly pull away. He can’t control me. He pulls the needle out of his bag and inches closer. He closes in and I draw back my fist and punch him. My fist connects with his jaw and makes a satisfying thump. He screams in pain and I rush past him and the confused Elizabeth. I rapidly make my way through the building and soon emerge on the street.
I look up and down the street, trying to decide where to go. It doesn’t matter, so I turn right and speed down the road. I hardly notice my panting and the burning in my lungs. I just have to get away. Jess will have to take care of herself for now; I cannot stand to stay any longer. I run past the city and into the urban farmlands. The quietness is eerie out here, but I would prefer it too the racket of the orphanage. I look to my right as a train passes, and I fantasize about hopping on it and leaving this place. I could travel the country and see marvelous sights, all while being free from the lab. But I am not that brave and I could never leave Jess. I will have to return to her.
I stop running and sit down on the side of the road. They set us up and have been testing us this whole time. It seems right that it should be real, but Jess just wants a normal life, devoid of all this strangeness. The worst part is that she doesn’t even know it is real, and if I return, she probably never will.
I know what I have to do. This is going to be the toughest thing yet, but anything else would be too painful. I have to return to her, even if it means lying to her. I can never let her know what’s really going on, because if she does, it will endanger her life.