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Science Fiction Teens & Young Adult Suspense

She laid on the couch, half-asleep, the television's constant sputtering of noise drifting in and out of her consciousness. Staying up much too late poring over her notes the night before, her mind felt devoid of critical thought and her body sagged into the couch. When she finally pushed herself awake, her binders fell off her lap and onto the carpeted floor. 

In the moment of her body and mind slowly starting to awaken, a pang in her gut told her something was wrong. She could not yet place what it was or where it came from, but sometime between the late night and her foggy morning something had changed. 

She continued her morning routine mindlessly, her mind not yet fully recovered from the previous night’s studying. Tossing a couple caffeine mints into her mouth, she was fully awake in minutes, the concepts studied in her free time still making her mind spin. How else would she keep up with her class though? Her grades were by no means stellar, but she worked harder than anyone else she knew.

Slipping on her shoes, she was out the door within minutes of waking. By the time she stepped into her electric vehicle, which detected her as soon as she came within metres of it, she had her binders clutched tightly against her chest.

“Good morning Carolina.” The car welcomed her inside.

Making herself comfortable, the door automatically closed behind her, and the windows were set to show a forest instead of the grey world outside the vehicle. Inside it was a little cocoon, the car already knowing her preference of music and scenery. Except for the initial acceleration, the car kept at a consistent speed and Carolina barely noticed she was moving at all. She was engrossed in the papers in front of her, high level mathematics worksheets she completed for the next class. The university was a little more than a half hour away, and she had already completed her review, but looking over the notes she made would give her a refresh before class started.

Time seemed to pass slowly, and it wasn’t until around 45 minutes later Carolina began to worry. “Do we have traffic?” She asked, the car already listening.

“No.” The woman’s voice through the speaker never lied.

“Why is it taking so long?”

The voice did not respond. Carolina tried again, issues with the microphones were rare, as they were at least twenty within half a metre of her at any given moment. “Why is it taking so long today, if there isn’t any traffic? Is it bad weather?” She wasn’t sure why, but the car’s vague answers made her uneasy.

“The weather today is sunny, with a high of 22 and a low of 18 degrees. Winds will reach up to 5 kilometres per hour.”

“You don’t understand. I want to know why it is taking longer than usual to get to the university.”

An odd crackling sound came from the speaker. “I’m sorry, I do not know how to help you. Please contact Eleccar at their website if you believe there is an issue with my programming.”

Carolina sighed, trying to fight off worry. It was probably something simple, like an accident, and the car was conserving energy until it’s solar panels recharged. Then again, she had an older model, a glitch in the system was possible. 

“Turn the windows to transparency mode.” Carolina ordered.

The forest scene did not disappear. “I’m sorry, I do not know how to help you. Please contact Eleccar at their website if you believe there is an issue with my programming.”

“Fine, what’s their website web address?” Carolina asked, fighting the quiver in her voice. She was okay, she reasoned with herself. There was definitely a glitch, but the car had backups for this sort of thing.

“Their website is down at the moment, would you like me to call the customer service line?”

“Yes please.” Carolina said, clenching her fists to keep from panicking.

The phone rang for less than a second before the windows changed from the cozy forest scene to a glaring, sterile white light. Cringing for a moment before her eyes adjusted, the phone had stopped ringing, without the car announcing whether the call was picked up or not.

“Hello?” Carolina called, trying the car doors and finding they were locked. The car could be swerving wildly through the streets for all she knew. “Is anybody there?”

“Hello Ms. Waters.” A cool man’s voice came through the surround sound, making him appear to be omnipresent.

Carolina was so relieved to hear a voice she pushed away her skepticism of his already tracking her vehicle to find the ownership and her name. “I need help, can you shut down my car remotely? It seems to be glitching, it doesn’t respond to my commands.”

He was silent for a tense moment. “We cannot do that.”

“Why not? Can you at least tell me where I am?”

Another pause. “No.”

“What can you do?” Carolina cried, trying all four doors around her, and unsuccessfully trying to pry open the manual unlock button.

“I can advise you relax. The unlock button would not work even if you managed to get it up.” She thought she heard a smile at the end of the sentence, but the words turned her heart to ice. 

“Why not?”

“Carolina, please settle down, all of your questions will be answered in time.”

“No!” Carolina yelled, sounding childish, but in her desperation she didn’t care. As time passed, the four walls of the vehicle grew more stifling, claustrophobia she didn’t know she had surfacing. “I need to get out, I-” anxiety clutched at her chest, and Carolina was struggling to breathe through the panic.

“Open the windows.” Carolina intended to speak to the car, absentmindedly remembering there was a silent person on the phone. As her emotions increased independently of rational thought, she grabbed her shoe and began to hit it against the window repeatedly. 

“Carolina, please calm down. You are safe.”

“I don’t feel safe!” She grunted, pulling up the seat to get to the wrench she stored in case of a flat tire, courtesy of her dad. “End call.” She said, and instead of silence, there was a chuckle on the other side of the phone.

The laughter stopped when upon the fifth swing at the window-screen with the wrench, the white pixels began to glitch. “Stop, immediately.” The voice was no longer one of reason, but instead an aggressive one sounding like her father many years ago.

She did not stop. She could hear a crack in the glass, which was promising. If the man on the phone would discourage her escape from a glitching vehicle, she wouldn’t listen to him. His orders turned to pleas for her to stop. The window screens turned a deep red, the light flooding the car before gone. She paused in fear for a moment, and her mind caught up with her. 

“This isn’t a glitch, is it.”

She could hear a sharp inhale on the other end. “Answer me!” She yelled, picking up the wrench. 

“No, this is not a glitch.” The man rushed his words. 

Carolina almost dropped the wrench in surprise at his quick admission. “Why?”

“I can’t tell you.” She swung the wrench again, making a clang against the glass. “Wait!”

“I’m listening, if you don’t explain everything within the next minute I am smashing out of this thing, one hit at a time.” She threatened. 

“You’re going to jump out of a moving vehicle, at potentially hundreds of kilometres per hour?” A new voice, a crueler woman, came through the car’s speakers. 

“Yes.”

A humourless laugh. “We cannot tell you until you have no access to communication with the outside world.”

“What the hell? Who are you?”

The silence was deafening for a few tense moments, before Carolina picked up the wrench and continued smashing, more motivated than ever.

“I can tell you if you ruin your phone, computer, and earphones.”

Carolina glared at the red glow of the window screen, unsure of where the cameras were in the vehicle. “They cost thousands, I’m not destroying them for you.”

“Whether you cooperate or not does not determine the outcome of those devices. You will have no use for them after today.” The woman paused frequently throughout, as if deciding what is allowed to be said.

Carolina kept hitting the window, finally a crack splintered through the whole window pane. The voice on the phone laughed.

“I don’t know why this is funny to you!” Carolina grunted through swings.

“Even if you did manage to smash through the window, where would you go? You do not know where you are, you’re over a hundred kilometres from home, and even if you managed to get a ride back it would be only temporary. We have control over every electric vehicle produced. You cannot fight us.”

Carolina unconsciously loosened her grip on the wrench. “You’re lying.” She said, even though the words were hollow, rang no truth inside her. And in a moment of desperation, she swung the wrench down onto her cell phone. Followed by her computer, shattered glass and warped metal littered the floor of the car. “Explain, now.”

The woman began speaking without pausing. “You have been selected for a highly prestigious program for young adults. This is no small feat, it is competitive, young men and women are chosen from all over the world. Each semester 100 students are chosen to be admitted into the program. The aim is to create a group of bright minds and train them to be the world's next leaders, scientists, and engineers.”

“What about the kidnapping part? The undercover hacking? And we would already become those things, what is the purpose except for unnecessary-” Carolina trailed off in her sentence, her mind answering her questions before the final one left her lips. Control of the brightest minds means control of the world's science, and other branches society needs to function. The company could theoretically grow into its own system and either peacefully or violently overthrow the current incompetent government in time.

“I see I do not need to explain it to you.”

“How are you not caught? The government or police can surely track the vehicles, or at least investigate how we were taken. They wouldn’t like the idea of such a thing.”

“You underestimate our control of the current technology. And if any investigative trail occurs, police are easily bribed.” She seemed unconcerned with the idea of manipulating the authorities to do illegal activities. “You see how no matter your actions, we are in control.”

Carolina’s shoulders sagged, and she sat against the cushioned seats of the electric car. The window screen had faded to a more peaceful blue. “Now, it is nothing to be upset about. You should be honoured you were chosen.”

“Chosen to be enslaved against my will?”

The woman went quiet for a moment. “When we arrive you will see this is a great opportunity. We just got off on the wrong foot.”

“Usually people would prefer to discuss opportunities,” she did air quotes with her fingers, sure the woman was somehow watching her, “with their family and friends first.”

“You will forget about them soon enough.” 

“I think I know why you didn’t give me a choice. Because you knew I would say no, I would stick to my instincts and live my life free of meddling. You’re a coward, and couldn’t face the idea of my rejection.” Carolina’s voice grew angry.

“Well, I reject you. I reject this.” She picked up the wrench and smashed at the window, uncaring of the soreness and pain vibrating through her arm as she did so. The voice told her in a condescending tone to stop before she hurt herself, but escape was the only thought she had in her mind.

When the wrench broke through the glass, sunlight streamed through, the fresh air filling Carolina with relief. Pushing out the remainder of the glass was easy, and soon the whole pane was gone. The major issue, as pointed out by the woman on the phone, was the car’s extreme speed.

“Sit down Carolina.”

“No.”

“You’re only going to hurt yourself. You are overreacting.” The voice sounded so calm, but Carolina could not force herself to believe the words. The road beneath her raced back quickly, but the strip was completely empty.

Taking a few deep breaths, she began to climb out of the vehicle. It sped up in response, and over the wind she could no longer hear the protesting woman. 

Heart pounding, her hands clutched the sides of the window, and her feet balanced precariously on a ridge in the car door. It was less than a metre down, but as soon as her foot hit the ground it would grip. She could imagine herself flying through the air, then skidding on the pavement. She looked nervously back inside the car.

“That’s right. Now, settle down, you have nothing to worry about.”

“Liar.” Carolina spat, and she pushed herself off the side of the car.

For a moment there was a feeling of falling, like the drop of a roller coaster, except she wasn’t strapped into a padded seat. She hit the ground hard, jaw slamming into the pavement, a strong stinging sensation everywhere. Her knee was bent at an awkward angle, and head throbbing, but the pain didn’t last long. Before she knew it, she mentally detached from the scene, and everything went black.

-

Carolina awoke to beeping and unforgiving white light being shined in her eyes. “She’s waking up.” A kind voice said distantly, and somebody got up from one of the visitation chairs.

Carolina groaned. “Too. Bright.” She said, her voice croaky and dry. The nurse moved the light out of her eyes and began fiddling with controls next to Carolina’s bed. “Are you in any pain?” She shook her head. After focussing her eyes, she noticed the nurse looked unusually young. 

“Hello Carolina.” A familiar female voice spoke beside her, and Carolina’s heart raced. The monitor beeped in protest, and Carolina didn’t hide her anxiety.

“I warned you of what would happen.”

Carolina couldn’t muster up the energy to argue, instead trying in vain to distance herself from the woman. 

“Well then. Without further ado, welcome to the Academy.”

February 24, 2021 20:42

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5 comments

Daniel R. Hayes
00:29 Mar 02, 2021

Hi Lara, I thought this was an excellent story. I really enjoyed reading it, and I thought you did an amazing job writing it. I look forward to reading more of your work :)

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Natalie Dafoe
00:56 Mar 02, 2021

Thank you!!

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Janey Finch
02:29 Mar 13, 2021

Wow! I loved this! It honestly should be lengthened to a novel or movie because wow! This was amazing and I would totally read it. I love how you had an explanation for everything like, "Control of the brightest minds means control of the world's science, and other branches society needs to function. The company could theoretically grow into its own system and either peacefully or violently overthrow the current incompetent government in time." I know you'll probably think I'm dumb for this but I didn't even think of that! I was just like, ...

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Natalie Dafoe
12:29 Mar 16, 2021

Thank you!! I was actually thinking about lengthening it into a novel or something. Just another project to start but not finish haha. And I'm glad the explanations helped, at the beginning I thought about leaving it fill-in the blanks but I tried something different this time :) I'm glad it was original, I was afraid everyone would think of the self-driving car. And your story was amazing, I have read it I swear! I have just been swamped with school and other writing. I'll actually hop on over there now. Happy writing!

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Janey Finch
00:10 Mar 17, 2021

Yes, you should!! I would totally love to read it!! And it's about time you write a novel!! I will be the first to buy a copy I assure you! And hahha lolll, I just saw- thank you for the suuuper sweet comment :))) Of course, you have tough school, all I did yesterday was make cinnamon buns XD and no I'm not kidding (sorry not sorry XD) And thank youuuu!!

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