tab My head was groggy as I awoke. I couldn’t remember how I got here, or why I was here. I slowly opened my eyes or at least I thought I did. It was completely dark. Everything was black. I moved my legs slowly afraid of hitting something. I realized that I was lying down and shoved my feet under me, pushing my body slowly up. Having accomplished that with no injury, I stretched my arms outwards, feeling for a wall. Nothing stood in my way, I began stumbling blindly. I was sure I still had my sight, or at least I thought I did. I wasn’t sure of anything any more.
tab I had taken at least fifty steps when I realized it was hopeless. This must be a dream, I told myself. A dark nightmare with no end. I was wrong. My nightmare had just begun.
tab “Well, we’re glad you’re up and about Miss Riddle, now if you could refrain from moving too much, that would be much appreciated. Maybe you could sit back down, make yourself comfortable,” a loud unfamiliar male voice flooded over me from nowhere. It was shocking to have such a sudden and alarming end to the nothingness around me. It was almost as if the sound had taken on a liquid form and had filled the room as if it were flooded with water.
tab “Where am I? And who are you? Why am I here?” I wasn’t sure what direction to speak at so I spun in a circle, spewing my questions in all directions. A laugh filled the room and the liquid sound returned.
tab “Well you definitely are an inquisitive one. I can’t tell you where you are, leave it at you’re in a testing facility. My name is Phil, not that that matters much to you, you’ll never see me. You are here because we believe that you may be infected with a virus that makes those around you disappear. And as preposterous as that sounds, we now have scientific evidence that points to the possibility that this might be the case. That’s why you are here, isolated so that you may not infect others, we’ve had enough people disappear already,” the voice paused here, waiting for the words to sink in. A small sob was all I could utter. My systems were crashing. I felt tears in my eyes, but they stayed there, unable to move by my emotional swing. The voice kept on, not wanting to wait on my tears.
tab “We will have to perform a few tests on you and ask you some questions, they should be easy, so there’s nothing to worry about. We’ll be leaving the lights off, it makes observation easier. We will begin testing tomorrow,” the liquid sound leaked out of the room and I was utterly alone again. I kneeled over stretching my arms out till they touched the cool carpet at my feet. It was comfortable, much to my surprise. I curled into a ball, and closed my eyes. It made no difference whatsoever. I tried to think, but my brain was done, and I could get it to do nothing else. There was no way I could deal with this. It made no sense, how could a virus cause people to disappear? It wasn’t possible. Was it? I had no idea, and my brain was in no shape to think logically. I allowed myself to shut down for repairs and fell into a restless sleep.
tab I didn’t realize that I was awake till the liquid voice returned. Even my dreams rejected this voice and tried to keep him out.
tab “Good to see you awake, we’re behind schedule. Now if you don’t mind I’m going to ask you a few questions and I need your complete cooperation. Can you do that? Answer yes or no please,” it took me a few minutes to regain my senses. I got up sorely, no matter how comfortable the carpet was it was still a poor substitute for a bed. As I stretched, I realized that the voice was still waiting for an answer. I cleared my throat and croaked out a yes.
tab “I hear your voice is a little dry, we placed some water beside you last night, if you will only reach your right hand out about two feet away, you’ll find it. Take a few swigs of water then I’ll start my questions,” the voice said flowing to a stop. I hesitantly reached out with my right hand for the mentioned water bottle, not entirely sure what to expect. My fingers glanced across its cold exterior and I quickly pulled my hand back, my heart accelerating out of control. I reminded myself that it was only a water bottle, not a slimy monster. I reached my hand out again and did not recoil as my fingers grabbed the moist water bottle. After having taken a few loud gulps, the voice returned, bringing with it its eerie water like quality.
tab “Alright, now that you’re hydrated, I’m going to ask you a few questions about those who have disappeared. Please answer them as truthfully as possible, these questions are an attempt to find those who have disappeared if they are still alive and on this planet. Now let’s begin. How attached were you to your parents?” the liquid left, leaving me alone with a new pang of sorrow. I still had not come to grasps with the fact that I may be the reason for my parents and almost everybody I had known’s absence. Tears flooded my eyes, an empty threat, as I thought of them. How could I do this to them? I fought through my new found emotion, now was not the time, I could sort through all this later.
tab “I wasn’t, my father and I were never close, and he was always at work. He worked fifteen hours a day most weekdays, and spent weekends out with his friends golfing or something. My real mother died, and I never liked the other one,” I said to the ground, reasoning that it was probably the best place to speak.
tab “Why didn’t you like your step mom?” asked the voice, emotionless. It was all business with it.
tab “She was mean, and she also drank a lot. My father just married her because she was the only one who would accept him and he didn’t want to left by himself,” I had no idea why I was spilling my guts out about this, but I had nothing to lose, what was the point of lying?
tab “Describe your father and both mothers,” I took another drink of water in preparation.
tab “My dad had dark brown hair, green eyes, large ears and a small nose; he looked kinda funny and was really big. My mom had light brown hair with blue eyes. She was very pretty; people say I get my looks from her. My step mom was blonde, I didn’t think she was very pretty, all her facial features were disproportionate to her face, they were all too big,” my voice cracked as the memories battered my emotions. The voice spared me no sympathy and continued on with the questioning. It asked me to describe my favorite and least favorite memories with each of them and many other things for about an hour.
When it was done questioning me, I allowed my emotions to emerge. All the memories had made me realize I loved them. I loved every single one of them, even my step mom. How could I do this to them? How could I be the reason for their sudden absence, that didn’t even make sense scientifically. Well, I had never been one for biology, I didn’t care to know the difference between bacteria and viruses apart from that I didn’t want either of them. Maybe it was an extremely morphed mega ultra virus that kicked the other cells around so much that they just exploded into oblivion. I shuddered as that horrible imagery came into my mind. My imagination was constantly going overboard. I shuddered again, it was getting rather cold in here, maybe I wasn’t wear warm enough clothes, I couldn’t remember. I curled in on myself, wrapping my arms around my knees, trying to make myself as small as possible. It was then that I let my emotions come out with a flood of memories of those I loved. For the first time, I cried.
Caterpillars and Oceans
tab Boredom. Just plain, flat out boredom was all I had. After I was done crying, there was absolutely nothing to do. I couldn’t find random patterns in the walls or ceiling, I couldn’t even play rock paper scissors against myself. There was absolutely nothing. I tried to make stories up in my head, but they all ended in darkness. Either the hero died or he lost everything he was living for. I realized that no light could come out of this darkness. I then tried to think of happy memories. I remembered my dog when I was a kid, but that story ended sad too. He ran off when I was seven.
tab I tried to remember some of my childhood memories, just to pass the time. Flashes of memories where my mother would play make-believe with me. I was always the princess and she would be the evil dragon that kept me locked in a dungeon. I closed my eyes tightly, trying to forget the painful memories. I instead remembered climbing trees and playing with bugs. I loved bugs, but only butterflies, rolly pollies, and ladybugs. I would always capture caterpillars and place them in glass jars and try to force them to turn into butterflies. Not a single one did. They all died no matter how much grass I shoved in there. They all decided to die instead of escape or eating. No matter how much I manipulated the environment, by adding leaves, twigs and even dirt, they would never take the bait.
tab Another memory flooded my mind. I could almost feel the cool salty breeze wash over my face like the waves at my feet on the beach. I used to gaze out as far as I could see across the ocean, trying to see Europe on the other side. I told my dad this and he just laughed, telling me that I would hurt my eyes if I kept that up. I never gave up though. I loved to wade out as far as I could and pretend I was swimming to Europe, my father always caught me before I got too far. He always ruined my fun. Out of the thousands of times we had gone to the beach I had never once succeeded in reaching Europe and I had made it my life goal to reach it before I died no matter how ridiculous that sounded.
tab I wasn’t sure when my memories changed into dreams, but soon I was flying across great bodies of water on large, brightly colored butterflies. I was free at last.
tab “Well, we have no more questions or tests to run on you, so if you would just sit still for a minute, we’ll start turning on the lights,” the voice who had become my only companion these past terrible weeks said. I wasn’t sure exactly how long I had been here. I just knew that these days had been the longest I had ever had. Days of everlasting night. They all melded into one and I was never really sure when I was awake or asleep. I longed to go outside and see the sun. I had forgotten what it was like to see. Colors began to leak out of my head as even my memories were penetrated by this blackness.
tab After a while the black began to lessen. It was no longer the black of nightmares, but the black of a moonless night. My heart raced as I realized that I was getting out of here at last. I was sick of this, sick of all the tests. I was frightened to go to sleep, that’s when they did their tests. Tests that I had scarcely any memories of, people dressed in white, holding syringes were all that I could remember.
tab “Before the lights come completely on, we will have to sedate you again, its nothing to worry about, we just want to keep this place secret in case somebody wants to steal you guys and use you as weapons. I’m sure you’ll be glad to know, that we have rendered you clean and virus free. We found the cure last night and administered it to you. You’re safe to go out among people again,” and that was the last I heard of the voice, though it continued to haunt my dreams. I had no memory of such administering, but I didn’t care to contradict the voice. I looked around, hoping my eyes would start to adjust to the new light. It was still dark, and I couldn’t make out a single thing. I heard movement behind and wheeled around as I realized I was not alone. It was too late when I saw the person was right in front of me. I was out in seconds.
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