I woke up caked in blood, my ears ringing incessantly. The cold unforgiving floor gives no mercy. I could hear my thoughts ricocheting off the impenetrable walls. Skeptical, I peeled myself off the floor. My elongated shoulder-length jet black hair poured over my face, like a shield of armor. As my vision began clearing up, I stretched across the room for my journal. Feeling as if I was beat on the head with a club, I started walking down the cobweb infested hallway with circumspect.
I crept around the halls of the building, in search of anything living. Every step I took drew another formidable chill up my spine. The feeling of loneliness pumped through my veins, filling every void, piercing every nerve. I stopped before what looked like a testing room. I pulled my journal and pen out from the waistband of my pants. There, I wrote:
January 20th, 2017
My eyes ache, my heart is numb. I don’t know what they’ve done to me. I think I’m the only one left on the inside of these walls. The beep from the MTAG in my arm gives me the constant reminder of who I am. I’m no longer Jesse Ryder from Manhattan. I am number 007431, test subject.
I tucked the pen and notebook back into my pants, powering forward into the darkness. All I could hear was my heart racing and my feet scraping the debris covered floor. Filled with trepidation, I looked around the corner into Building C. She was sitting there, strapped to a stainless steel chair. Her rose golden hair was blinding, although there was barely any light at all. The white floral hospital gown showered over her body, with no signs of dirt or grime. Examining her at a closer distance, I could tell she was unconscious. As I grabbed her hand, she looked up, opened her mouth and screamed so loud it sounded like she ripped her larynx.
“Are you okay?!” I yelled, feeling as if I’m about to drown.
She was inept to answer. I heard a man coming towards the room. He sounded as if he were just as scared as us. For a moment, the stress inundated me, leaving me paralyzed. Analyzing the room, I ran over to the metal closet and shut myself in it. Dr. Thornton surreptitiously made his way into the room.
“Ah, well look what we have here,” he said while itching his goatee. “Number 007432, looks like it’s your turn.
Dr. Thornton unstrapped her from the chair. Her ankles are all black and blue. With ease, he scooped her up and put her over his shoulder. I stood in the closet helplessly, trying to evade whatever sadistic events are waiting for me outside this door. He stood there for a moment, as if he knew my presence was lingering. The blue light on my MTAG made my arm glow incessantly. While I observed my arm, Dr. Thornton walked out the door and slammed it shut. I knew I had to find 007432.
I stumbled around the closet, looking for my notebook and pen. Reticently, I began writing:
I am in the city where the birds never stop chirping. Where the flowers never stop blooming. Where the people never seem to care.
Please come find me.
The ink on the paper appeared blood red. Staining my words into the journal that may or may not ever be seen. Slowly, I crept open both metal doors and slipped out into the hall.
Something about this hall didn’t feel right. The surreal paintings, broken light fixtures, remains of broken glass. Everything about this place felt like a nightmare. But, I never woke up. I shivered after every step I took. Turning the corner, I saw the one person I could always recognize. The hard light behind me imprinted my shadow on the prison esque walls. I was able to stand up straight now, knowing I’m still a human being.
Below me was a fluffy white cat, her aura reminded me of home. Soft, gentle and plentiful. I longed for the feeling of connection with another benevolent creature. Impetuously, I reached down to pet her. Her claws dug deep into my arm, ripping my MTAG out. I barely even reacted to the pain. The dark red blood stained her snow like fur. As she scurried off, I stared at the MTAG on the ground, ambiguous of what just happened.
Proceeding into Building D, I found the girl. She was strapped and pinned against the wall. Fickle, I ran into the testing room where she was. The ambience of the room was haunting. She had tubes & needles inserted ubiquitously on her body. Bone crushing sadness crashed over me like a tsunami. She woke up once again. I took off all straps quickly. Moving freely, she rips the needles out of her arm. I cringed while watching, she seemed to be used to the pain.
“What’s your name?” I asked.
“Demy,” she said, “how about you?”
“Jesse,” I said ambivalently, “he installed your MTAG?”
Looking at her cut up arm. “Yes,” she responded. “Memory, Time and Guidance.”
“That’s what it stands for?” I asked with a hint of fear in my voice. I heard footsteps rapidly crunching down the hall.
“We need to go.” I whispered. Grabbing her arm, I guided her out the door. Demy’s legs began to shake, growing weaker and weaker after every lunge she takes. Her golden hair blows back past her head, leaving a trail of sparkles as we run. We ran down the hall and over to the confinement unit. There must’ve been hundreds of more test subjects.
“Wait here.” I told her.
“Just let me–”
“Wait.” I proclaimed.
I made my way into the unit, searching for any signs of an escape. At the end of the unit, there’s a stairway. Above the doorway was the word “exit”. I turned back to inform Demy, she was gone. The whole 14th floor was silent, no guards.
“Demy?!” I begged, hoping that she would bounce around the corner like nothing happened.
“Demy?!” I cried for her even louder, the pain caused a sore spot in my throat. I was losing my voice. It feels like a trail of fire is following every sound I make. Making my way around the surrounding area, there was Demy, sitting out an office window, dangling her feet.
“Do people ever think for themselves?” she asked, sobbing after every word.
“I don’t think so.” I said, with a sign.
“People wake up every day without questioning anything. I don’t even feel human anymore. These chips in our arms, they control us. I can’t think for myself, I’ve become a robot. Doing exactly what they tell me to do. Doesn’t it bother you that we’re left alone in these walls to rot away like we’re supposed to?”
That sob turned into a heavy loud cry, driving away any remaining person, besides me. I drew closer to her, holding her hand as it presses the ledge with much force. Her legs still swinging, her pretty smile faded away forever. Tears fall off her face, landing on her arm, burning the cuts as she whimpers.
“I love you,” I stated, with salty tears pouring out of my own eyes. “You’re so beautiful and dark.”
The complement only made her cry more. Her voice is full of pity and regret. One of Thornton’s men walked nonchalantly into the room with the doctor himself.
“I remember when I could be myself. In a world where it was okay to be yourself. Now all I am is the offspring of conformists, scared to be unique. Given a number by the government. You need to escape, Jesse.”
Dr. Thornton, laughing hysterically, “You won’t make it out.”
“We have to go!” I screamed, tearing my vocal chords even more.
“No.” she stated, “I’m tired of fighting.”
She reached in her pocket and pulls out a book of matches. Looking back at all the files in the office, she strikes a match and throws it onto the paperwork.
“No!” said Thornton’s guard. All the files, shelves, and tables turn into ash before my eyes. Hands on his head, he rushes over to reprimand Demy. As she closes her eyes, she clinches onto my left hand, unwilling to let go.
“Come here, 007432!” the guard said.
Under her breath, Demy said hesitantly, “Throw me to the flames.”
She leans forward off the ledge of the 22 story building, eyes still closed, and falls. Her hand slipping out of mine as she falls. I turned my head before I could see her hit the ground. I collapsed to the floor, crying. My chest felt like it was caving in. Dr. Thornton’s arms grasped me, knocking all the wind out of me. I was able to break free.
I ran across the office into the confinement unit and down the stairs.
“Thornton! We got a runner! Get backup!” the guard screeched. 14 floors never went by so slow. I made it to the front door, trying to get it unlocked. The thick steel doors served as a mouse trap, leaving me stranded in a pit of despair. As I unlocked the door, I heard Dr. Thornton yell, “there’s no escaping me.” I turned back for one last look, and I never looked back.
Chaotically, I ran down the streets of Harlem, trying to get anyone’s attention. Something was following me, a cloud of darkness, formidably made it’s way towards me. Flailing my arms everywhere, nobody would help me. They walked with their heads down, looking for something. I screamed in people’s faces, begging for them to save me.
Exhausted, I pulled out my notebook and pen. Covered in blood, I wrote:
January 20th, 2017
I should’ve jumped, too.
I placed my notebook back and began running again. I hoped that this was all a nightmare. But, I never woke up.