You can read episode one here.
You can read episode two here.
The Door Opens.
I blink back tears, not wanting to cry in front of Tamara. Her excitement fell away when mine did. When we both realized all we could remember was our name, age, birthday and favourite colour. It isn’t enough. I need to know more. I need to know everything.
I want to remember who my mother is, my father, my sister, my brother, my best friend, my cousin, anyone. I need to be connected to someone.
Tamara lies on her bed, staring up at the roof. Her fingers glide across her stomach, drawing figure eights. I sit on my bed against the wall, my knees up to my chin. My stomach is in knots. Why hasn’t our captor shown up? What do they want with us? When will they come?
A flicker of movement catches my eye. I turn to see a rectangle of shimmering light on the wall across from me, just before the table. I scamper backwards into the corner, my eyes wide. A door materializes, opening with a whoosh, causing Tamara to bolt upright.
My breathing is too loud as I gasp at the air. This is it.
A girl saunters in. She is tall and big-hipped. Early twenties maybe. Her hands are in her pockets and her hair is in a messy bun atop her head.
She grins at me. “Hey, y’all.”
I blink. I did not expect my captor to be someone barely older than I am.
“So what did you two get in your trunks?” She kneels down and pulls a grey create-sized box out from under the bed. That was not there before.
I look between her and the open door. I wonder if I can get around her, out run her? She doesn’t look like the athletic type. She pulls another box out from under Tamara’s bed and then looks up at me.
“Just CL why don’t you? I’m not gonna hurt you.”
How can I possibly chillax in a situation like this?
“What do you want with us?” My voice comes out small.
“I don’t want anything with you. I didn’t put you here.”
I find it hard to believe her.
“There are hundreds of us here,” she tells me.
My eyebrows shoot up. “What?”
“You thought it was just you two, right? No way. Beyond these walls,” she points at the door over her shoulder with her thumb, “are four hundred other people, give or take.”
I make a choked sound. What would anyone want with that many people?
“You sound Aussie,” she says. I nod. She turns to Tamara. “Where are you from?”
“Swick. As you can tell, I’m American. We’ve got some English here too. And Kiwi’s, that’s what you call them, right? People from New Zealand?”
“Enough small talk.” She rubs her hands together. “Let’s open your trunks. I wanna see what’s inside.”
“Where did they come from?” I ask. “They weren’t there before.”
She shrugs. “Beats me.”
“Do you know who put us here?” I ask. “Or why we are here? Or what’s going on?”
“Nope. I’m as clueless as you.”
“How long have you been here?” I ask.
My jaw drops. There’s no way I want to be stuck here for six months, or longer.
“Let’s look in your trunks,” she presses. “Then we can go get you some food. I’m sure you girls are starving.”
Tamara leans over and pulls the lid off her trunk. She slides off the bed onto the floor when she sees what’s inside. There is a pair of ballet slippers on top. A ballerina outfit lies underneath them, and there are regular clothes underneath that.
She picks up the shoes, staring down at them. “How did they get this?”
American girl shrugs.
“What’s your name?” I ask.
“Alyssa, but everyone calls me Lyssa. What’s yours?”
“Nice to meet you both.” She puts her hands on top of my trunk. “C’mon, Amberly, open your trunk.”
I lean forward and pull off the lid. There is a silver bracelet sitting on top with 8 charms dangling from it. I hold the dolphin charm between my fingers. I’m pretty sure this is my favourite animal. There is also a heart, a movie reel, a book, a microphone, an A, a cross and a butterfly.
I slip it on my wrist. It feels right, like it always sits there. The rest of the trunk is filled with clothes.
“Damn,” Lissa says. “I was hoping one of you girls would read paperbacks.”
Tamara curls her nose. “Only people over 40 read paperbacks. They’re for oldies.”
“Well I love them.” She heaves herself up. “Come one you two, there’s a meal in the kitchen for you.”
Tamara jumps up and followers her. I’m a lot slower in getting off my bed.
We walk out into the hallway. The floor, walls and roof are made of metal. There are rows of doors, but no windows that I can see. The hallway is long, and I count forty doors all up. At the end is an elevator and we get inside it. There are no buttons, just a digital list of floors on a screen. There are twelve floors listed – including four labelled sleeping quarters. I don’t see the roof on the list.
“Fifth floor,” Lyssa tells it, and it starts to move upwards. “So the set up here is pretty fierce. We don’t know what this place is called, but we call it Paradise because there are no parents here, and basically no rules. Someone feed us, and you can basically do what you’re passionate about all day, every day. Pretty fierce, right?”
I can’t believe she thinks being held captive is fierce. I mean, it doesn’t matter if you can do all those things, you still can’t get out. Can’t be with the people you love.
“Who feeds you?” I ask.
She shrugs again; it’s really starting to get on my nerves.
“I don’t know? There’s food for snacks and stuff all the time, but the three main meals just appear every day at breakfast, lunch and dinner time. The kitchen is locked for an hour before each time, and when the doors open again, there’s enough meals for everyone set out.”
So whoever is imprisoning us doesn’t want us near potential weapons.
“There’s this robot that walks around,” she goes on. “It keeps the peace, a kind of security guard. It makes sure that everyone is in their room and at their meals, stuff like that. We call it Botcop.”
I scowl at her. “And that’s okay with you?”
She shrugs and I let out a shriek.
She throws up her hands. “Whoa, someone is a little uptight.”
“We are being held against our will, I have the right to be uptight,” I screech.
“You get used to it here.”
I hate how resigned she is. “What about your family?”
“I don’t remember them so how can I miss them?”
Am I the only one thinking normal here? Maybe there is something in the food that is making her comply this way – there has to be.
The elevator doors open and we step out into a large area. Grey couches of various sizes fill the space, each one facing a screen on the wall, and there are large, clear panels between them.
She leads us through the maze of couches, into the kitchen. It’s all metal as well. There is an island bench in the middle with two plates sitting on the end of it. The plates are covered with a silver lid, hiding the contents.
“Everyone has had breakfast,” Lyssa says. “The newbies still get fed even though they arrive outside regular eating times. When I saw the kitchen was locked, I knew someone was coming and went straight up to the sleeping quarters.”
“Where is everyone?” I ask.
“We’ll get to that soon. Eat first.”
Tamara sits on one of the stools in front of the plates and pulls the lid off. There are two eggs, some bread, a hashbrown, mini tomatoes and mushrooms. No bacon.
Tamara shovels a spoonful of food in her mouth.
I am so so hungry, but how can I trust this food?
Lyssa smirks at me. “You can go on a hunger strike if you want, plenty of people have, but you are going to cave eventually so why not just eat now?”
“If you’re not working for them, why are you trying to force me to eat?” I accuse.
She shrugs. “I don’t care if you eat or not, I’m just trying to be helpful. I’m one of the originals so people sort of look up to me, and I try and make sure everyone is okay.”
“You ate that chocolate bar and that didn’t hurt you,” Tamara says around a mouth full of food.
She’s right, but that was before Lyssa turned up acting all weird. I have a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach and I can’t bring myself to eat. I push the plate away.
“I’m right for now.”
Lyssa grabs it. “Well if you’re not going to.” She shoves a forkful of eggs into her mouth.
I tap my fingers on the metal bench top. “So is there a roof?”
Lyssa nods. “Yeah, but we don’t have access to it, or the other levels.”
I pause my tapping. “There are more levels?”
“Yeah. Full of people,” she explains. “But from other countries. There’s a level for the French, Italians, Chinese and every other language on the planet.”
“How do you know that but nothing else?”
“A super genius kid that hacked into the computers and found the layout of the building,” she tells me, eyes on her food the whole time. “That’s as far as he got before he disappeared. Before Botcop took him away.”
I swallow hard. “So we are locked in a building with who knows how many people, they feed us, let us do what we want, but don’t let us out, and if we get caught doing something they don’t like we get taken away?”
I gape at her.
She finishes the meal and jumps to her feet, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand.
“Let me give you the tour.”
This I’m eager for. Maybe I can finally find a way out of here. Tamara shoves the last bite into her mouth and stands.
We head toward the door. Lyssa pauses, swiveling around to face us. She looks at Tamara. “I take it you dance?”
Lyrissa’s eyes land on me. “Do you have a talent?”
“Cause if you don’t, you won’t be here for very long.”
©Rochelle Sharpe 2014.