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Speculative

Cowards

That's what they are.Cowards.They don’t even dare speak a word against the government. The controlling force behind everything,the ones keeping us under their thumb while forcing us to believe in their reality. The ones dragging me away now,spitting and screaming,to who knows where to torture and humiliate me. And they call me crazy! I know.I can see the fear in their eyes as they lie so openly to me,giving up their only chance to take down those monsters keeping us from the cure,the very ones that made the disease to control humanity! How dare they! How dare they destr….

I was sedated.The evil-

Sedated again?Where are they taking me? A secret facility in the middle of nowhere?Just like them.They would brainwash the people and make us mindless zombies if they could,just to get control.Now,they're leading me away,probably to some barbaric prison where my very sense of self will be destroyed.And I had evidence! Why didn't they listen to me?I had their plans,their blueprints… all lost.And who knows if I'll remember any of this when I next wake up?

I’m glad that guy got taken away by the police. Who knows what danger he would have brought here! My sister died only last month from the plague but even I’m not that desperate! I know that it's hard,especially for those that grew up in the world before, with fresh water,forests,when no-one feared being stolen by disease.Now all that's left is that dry cracked ground and our hope.People like that really believe they’re going to make a difference? I guess some really do need a purpose in life,to feel special,even now,when everyone gets the same food rations no matter what.It's fair,if nothing else.Work is paid fairly.No bias. No stares. The only thing is the disease, and that's out of our control. I stopped believing we would find a cure years ago.The world is as perfect as it can be.

An operating table.I’ve been strapped down,leather digging into my skin for who knows how long.The white blinking lights above me make me squint.What will they do to me?The room is bare.Already I feel so calm,relaxed.A man dressed in a camouflage suit walks in.

“I’m going to make you better.You’ll feel great when you wake up!” he says,but his eyes look hard and soulless.A spark of distrust fogs my mind. “Really?” I say.He sighs and a needle is inserted into my wrist.I realise what is happening and thrash and fight,desperate to get free,but I’m already going under.Too soon…

I stare at the ceiling.Seems such a long time since I’ve been alone.There’s always someone checking in on me.Now that I am alone I don’t know what to do.Read,I guess.

I can’t read.All the books I have are nonsense about conservative water usage.I know we’re in the middle of a desert! So I wander till it's dinner time.When I get to the community hall,I settle,listening to the chatter all around me,the kids screaming and the adults shouting at them to stop running.I laugh.Why would I want to be alone? I eat my stew,still hot,and watch,with a smile on my face,the general merriment.Even though I stopped participating ages ago,I still brings me pleasure watching others enjoy themselves.Sometimes I feel a tingle of jealousy,but I’m only human.The bell rings and it's time to go home.

A man awakes me from my nap on the operating table.He’s come to make everything better,I just know it.Yeeeeesssss. He wiiiilllll make everything better.Clear my muddled thoughts. He’s shouting at another man armed with a gun.Tooo protect meeeeee.Yes. “He’s had too much!” he exclaims. “How am I supposed to do it now?” 

“You could just kill him you know,” the guard says lazily, staring at the bland white walls. “No! the doctor exclaims. “And don’t even think of defying me.I take orders directly from…you know who.” 

“Oh!!! Right.right. Terribly sorry Dr…”

“Alpin.”

“Sorry for being a nuisance!”

He scurries out of the room.I try to say thank you but all that comes out is a gargle.

“He’s worse than I thought…”

Then I realise where I am and what is happening,and it all snaps into perspective.I thrash and thrash,until the needle is lowered and my vision goes black. 

“He must be resistant! Interesting.This one must be investigated!”

In the morning I just stare at the wall for a bit.Then I remember.I have scout duty today!I’m so late! I was supposed to be there at the crack of dawn but it's…6.00!Oh no… I’m a beam of light,dashing around the house frantically,skipping breakfast,running to my post.If one of those lizards get in and maul a poor kid…it’ll be my fault.As I reach it, I see a shape on the horizon.Luckily,someone checked to see if I was there.Or unluckily.I’ll be punished either way,no questions asked.Even if no one was there,I would own up.I deserve it for letting my sector down.

I am in a scanner.Thump,thump,clang,the drills are coming from above.

I come to in a cell.It’s dark and damp,and the walls are too close together.They take me out,but this time I don’t fight.I just walk,tame,until I reach the operating room.Then,my hands start shaking.I think they’ve finally broken me.The walls are bare,but the operating table is full of sharp instruments,gleaming in the steady white light,set dim.The guards shove me on,fastening the metal straps,and leave.I stay there,wishing for the end to come,whatever they’ll do,just make it quick,please,please,please…I don’t want to die alone.I want my Heidi to be here,I want to escape this place intact.Freedom is not worth it if I’m mutilated,humiliated,eye missing,leg gone,slowly sawed away in the pain of torture.No.No.It c-can’t happen.N-not to m-me.

The punishment was brutal.They came out and I walked with them,into the big grey prison block of a building.They took me past the “dangerous criminal” section.All I could hear were gentle snores.My hands were shaking.Maybe I wasn’t as brave as I thought I was.Of course I wasn’t. I was just a coward,hiding from the disease,not even visiting my own sister during her last days.I walked into the empty room.And then they began the punishment. 3 minutes was all it took for me to regret my decision.At first,I took the punishment stoically.But then my facades began to crumble. I began seeing things in snatches,fleeting images of… something. Not the life I knew,but the life that this reminded me of….somehow.

Me ,wielding a torch,in front of an angry mob.

Me,screaming for justice,justice,justice!

Me,in this very building,in this very room,being punished.

Me,in the “dangerous criminals” section.

I was in a cell.Lying down,though I couldn’t remember how I got there.I couldn’t remember anything after the needle,only a vague feeling that I was forgetting something.They can’t break me like the others. They’ve already taken my memories,what next? But the vague feeling of unease was still there,just below the surface.I heard laboured breathing and heavy steps outside my door.Surely another prisoner.Punished.Just like the others.This was a cruel system made only to benefi-no. I can’t say it. What if they found out? I can’t even remember what they did,but it is there.A stain on my mind like a dirty fingerprint, a barrier,stopping me from going any further.No.I wouldn’t go any further.

The next morning I tried my hardest to shake myself free of the unease creeping up on me.The punishment was expected,but whatever that was wasn’t. I slid out of bed and went for a walk.I really needed to clear my head after that. I explored the barren wastes,wandering wherever my feet took me.My feet took me to the fence.The desert stretched past the horizon,never-ending,inescapable.I had heard of this thing called “the ocean”.Full of water,glimmering,stretching in every direction,just like this wretched desert.The water wasn’t drinkable.I’d drive you insane.What a taunt from the world.The very thing we needed,there,but out of reach.That’s if the rumours were even true.No. The only place with such easy living was the world before.Lost now.There’s no point hoping in something that’ll only destroy you,not when you have something…just fine now.The rumours were only made by the desperate wishing for something to believe in.

The man in the white lab suit is walking by,talking to another guy. 

“I think his test results were very interesting.” he says, writing down something in his notebook. 

“I'll put him in for further testing.”

Is that what they're doing to me? Using me as a guinea pig to test on? Or is it something worse? They’ve already taken my memories. What nex- the barrier is still there. N-n-nevermind. 

“You know,usually they’re fully turned by now.” he says.

“He’s showing a surprising resistance.If my hypothesis is true we’ll have to test the population,and you know how troublesome that would be.”

The man only nodded.

“I’ll make sure to pass the message on to the junior researchers.”

He turns around. My blood runs cold.

“Hey, we’re in front of his cell now.We might as well test him now.”

I shy away,every fiber of my being screaming at me to run now but my brain is warring with my body, a whisper of a parasite saying they’re the ones that will help you,whispering treason.

“Looks like it didn’t work then.”

That must have been the whisper in my brain. They tried to brainwash me and they must have done that to the other rebels. To my friends. To Sam and Ben and… everyone else they captured. Who knows if they would even recognise me anymore? This was unethical, a violation of human ri-

I struggle against the parasite. I have to find a way to bring them back. A way to bring me back. Or else no one would ever know…

I’m still thinking about those flashes of memories I had…because that 's what they were,weren't they. Memories. From a past forgotten. Maybe- red flashed across my vision and a blinding pain ripped through my head. I fell on the floor and groaned in agony. I had to go to the doctors. But they’re part of- I had to go to the doctors. The special doctors at the prison. Maybe they would cure me.

I can hear alarms blaring, screaming out LOCKDOWN. I just run, bare feet slapping on the tiled floor, mouth dry, mind trying to stop me. I pant and keep on going. Corners of black are tinging my vision and the parasites are growing louder. I don’t know what they gave me in that injection but it makes my veins burn and blood flow like fire, vomit covering my shirt. I would get out and find my friends, bring them back, no matter what. Even with my mind screaming refusal, even as the blood and sweat soaked my shirt, I would find them. I stumbled, gasping for air, red warnings in my mind but I had to keep going, running across the prison floor. My legs may feel like they’re about to drop off and I can see black but I had… to keep… going….

A man with emerald eyes and coarse brown hair is holding me. I recognise that curved nose, the slightly wonky ears… but he just keeps walking into the compound. I scream his name but he just stops for a second and goes on,delivering me to death. I scream again, tears streaming my face and pain ripping through my heart. He can’t have forgotten me. I had things to say, dreams of a future with him… 

The man in my arms is screaming. Screaming a name that sparks something in my mind. I can't quite put my finger on it. He screams again. I can’t be. The face is familiar to me…the name…Sam… Pure red-hot agony rips through my bones and fells me and him. The pain was worth it. I know who this is…it's Henry.

February 18, 2024 19:50

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1 comment

Sofia Odumboni
20:45 Feb 19, 2024

Hope you enjoyed the story!

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