By Nava Gross

Chapter 1

THE LAB: Don't Get Caught

I was silent as I was dragged to yet another room. I hurt inside, thinking about Misty. Was she safe? Did she call the number I gave her? Horrible nightmares of her being murdered and tossed aside like road kill filled my otherwise sleepless nights. These thoughts were like a thousand thorns piercing my heart again, and again, and again.

I was thrown into a filthy room with machines and wires unknown to me. One looked like a metal casket, already reeking of rotten flesh. Another had a screen on it, much bigger than the computer screens I've seen in ads. The metal table in the middle of the room was meant for the victims, like me, to lie on, that I knew. Cobwebs lined the floor and ceilings. Spiders scuttled by me; 'At least they have each-other,' I thought. Here the only sense of family was sleeping on crowded beds of straw with all the other people that have been robbed of their lives.

I don't know how I got here, but I remember being in a car as it drove along a gravel road. I could feel the pebbles roll around as the tires went over them, the car bouncing, making me nauseous and adding to my already dizzy state. And I couldn't look out the window, because there was something placed over my head that smelled like rotten potatoes.

Even now I can still smell it, taste it. The stench choked me to point where I could barely breathe, almost making wish that I HAD suffocated, rather than being stuck in this place. But then, as usually happens when I think like that, Misty's voice pops into my mind, telling me she loves me, and I hold on just a little bit longer to my willingness to live. The memory stops there though, I must have blacked out, I'm not so sure, the rest is too fuzzy. But that's in the past; all I know, is that right now I'm seventeen, which means I have to be tested for the sickness that seems to be devouring a world I once thought to be close to perfect.

When I landed, a sharp pain shot up my side - I barely noticed; it was just one more thing to add to the countless wounds that covered my exposed skin.

A cold voice broke into my thoughts; "Hello, Miss Galleway, how are you today?" I stayed silent; I don't know why they did that. Always putting on a smile while they held up knives, and scalpels, and needles. I would no longer respond to the pain, my wounds opened and reopened so many times that all I felt was a pinch.

I looked up at the owner of the menacing voice. The back of his clean white coat was facing me; the color didn't matter though, to me it was covered in blood. The man began turning on various machines and laying out tools that I'd never seen, washing a new wave of fear over me. The hum of the machines grew louder, oddly calming me until I could only hear what was in my head.

Thoughts of escape flooded my mind, the words 'I've got to get out, I've got to get out,' repeating like the beat of drums one hears before he dies. People here say that anyone who tries to run away is 'running from the cure, and slamming into a tree', but I disagree, I HAVE to escape, for Misty.

My thoughts switched to my parents. There don't seem to be any adults here. I wonder constantly if they're being kept in a separate place, maybe similar to this one. I wish I knew; it scares me to think of any alternative. When they took me, aside from getting back to Misty, the sole thing that I looked forward to was possibly seeing my parents again. What was that feeling called again? Love? Hope? I don't remember, they took that away too. I was so deep in thought that I didn't notice the white coated man walk over to me with the needle.

Everything went black as I was put under. When I woke, a man was on top of me. His filthy, long, black hair seemed to cover everything. I slowly turned my head as I regained consciousness, only to see that what few clothes I had lay in a ripped pile on the floor... Understanding flashed through me and I started crying, I even screamed. But no one heard. My voice was so little used that my scream was barely audible over the man's loud breathing. I tried to push him off me, but he was too heavy. Was this what things came to? Taking people with lives and happiness and stripping them of it until they became like lab rats?

I gasped, struggling for air under the man's weight. I looked at his face; mouth open, yellow teeth covered in dirt, eyes pushed too far back into his skull, and a nose that must have been broken once and then improperly set. Before I could look for anything else to identify him, his heavy breathing turned into short, quick breaths, and his hands and long, bony fingers made me shiver with revulsion wherever he touched. I knew what was happening, but I wasn't prepared for it. I felt violated and scared.

And then it was done. The weight lifted as the man got off me. I was in a cold sweat and shaking uncontrollably. I located the clean porcelain sink in the corner of the room; it was easy to see, the contrast was drastic. I scrambled off the table toward it and retched, suddenly feeling very sick. I turned slowly to see the man watching me with a twisted smile and crooked teeth. Eyeing him carefully, and covering myself with my arms, I tried to put what clothes I could, back on. But he pulled them away from me and was gone; his laughter echoing off the un-dirty white walls that hid their unlike neighbors. I was left with a few strips of fabric to cover myself; my eyes filled with hatred, tears and disgust. And it was only the first time.

I ran through the door before it could close again, not wanting them to realize that I left the room. The long corridor seemed endless; the brightness of the white walls contrasting to the state of my previous location. As if the cleanliness would make us feel better after being treated like dirt. Even the floor seemed to cover up the guilty footsteps that were scattered across it. I ran along the wall, tears falling a little more freely, trying to find it; the room where everyone agrees with me- this place, is awful.

I inhaled sharply when I heard voices and heavy footsteps from farther down the hallway. Broken from my concentration, I felt around for the closest door and, turning the handle, slowly backed into a room that seemed to be empty, or at least I hoped it was. Closing the door quickly, I crouched down and, with my ear pressed coldly against it, listened as the footsteps faded. When I could no longer hear voices, I let out a shaky breath that I didn't realize I was holding, and collapsed against the door, sighing with relief.

After a few moments, I stood up and looked around, backing up against the door again when I realized I wasn't alone. Using the door as a sort of refuge, I slowly took in my surroundings; the medium-high ceilings, more of the mocking white walls, the beds of straw... I was in the sleeping quarters, right where I wanted to be, after... THAT. Once again I sighed with relief. Few were there, as, one by one, everyone was taken for inspection and experimentation.

One girl was about my age. Her raven black hair reached the bottom of her back, and her eyes reflected the unnatural light, revealing flecks of brown and green within their blue depths. In height she was almost at my shoulder, but she didn't seem to be the type to cower from a fight.

She saw me covered with practically nothing and handed me spare clothes that she had hidden in the straw -also known as "the bed"- in case of emergencies. It was very risky; if someone was caught hiding something they would really be in for it. But most of the guards didn't care and people could often get away with things if they avoided them or gave them bribes.

"Thank you," I said, my voice raw from crying and disuse. I put the clothes on gratefully. They were as cold as the stone floors, but to me it felt like sunshine streaming through a window. 'I can't remember the last time I saw the sun,' I thought.

"What's Your name?," asked the girl, obvious concern showing in her voice.

"Carla," I said, barely getting my name out. "Carla Galleway." I attempted to clear my throat, but I coughed instead. Somehow I managed to say, "and your's?"


She stopped, gasping, a look of fear on her face. I felt a hand on my shoulder and I turned to see a guard with a beater, ready to strike. The gaurd wore a an old, dusty, blue uniform, too small for him. The gold colored buttons were dull compared to his amber eyes filled with evil laughter.

"You shouldn't have snuck out of the room," he said, smirking, as if he enjoyed the idea of being able to hurt me.

He grabbed my arm and raised the beater. My eyes closed and I turned my face away, waiting to feel the pain. But it didn't come, instead I heard a horrible crunching sound; I looked up. The guard's eyes widened in shock; he grasped his head in pain, letting out a wail before unconsciousness took over and he fell. A small puddle of blood began to form from a gash on the back of his head, spreading out on the white floor. If not for the situation, I could've laughed at the irony of the color, and the person it came from. But even so, here, the laughter would be disregarded as nothing more than a petty noise.

I looked up to see the raven haired girl standing there with a broken piece of stone from the floor; her expression unreadable.

I gave a wordless sign of thanks and she nodded. Bending down, she placed two fingers on the guard's neck. "He's alive," she said standing up again, "let's get him out of here before anything else happens."

"But where will we put him?," I asked gingerly, "There's nowhere to hide him without getting caught!" I was nervous. So far my 'record' was clean and I didn't want that to change.

Then one of the other people in the room walked over to us. I had forgotten that it wasn't just me and- what was her name? I turned to the girl again.

"You never finished saying your name," I said.

"Rochelle Morrison," she said, offering her hand with a small smile. I welcomed the gesture.

The person who walked over cleared his throat loudly, announcing his presence. "I'm Jack Tenselle," he said, extending a hand professionally. I took it shyly. He ignored my awkward gesture and began to speak authoritatively. "I'm 19, you don't bother me, I don't bother you. Simple. Got it?" I nodded meekly. Without hesitation he continued.

"I know how to get HIM out of here," he said, pointing at the unconscious guard. His dirty-blonde hair fell over his green eyes and he tucked it behind his ear. "You see that window up there? It leads to the dump. If we can get someone up there, we can pass him up, get him through the window, a--"

"And have that person put him in the dumpster!" Rochelle exclaimed. "I'll go," she said, "I'm small enough, I know how to climb, and I'm strong enough to lift the guard through the window."

She looked around. There was a bed close to where the sunlight was streaming in. She used the wooden beams used to support the bed as footholds and was able to grab the window ledge. She gave a big push with her legs and pulled herself onto the ledge, heaving from the effort. She found her breath and Jack and I picked up the guard, passing him up to Rochelle. It was difficult but worth the effort. She got him onto the ledge which luckily was big enough for both of them. She turned toward the window itself. "No..." she murmured, "NO!" she said a little louder.

"What's wrong?!" Jack and I said, alarmed.

"I can't get the window open! Does anyone here have a bobby pin?"

"I have a thin clip," a frail girl said, "will that work?"

"That's perfect."

Jack took the clip and passed it up to Rochelle.

I looked at the girl. She was slightly older than me, probably 18. She had blonde hair, about shoulder length. Her eyes were a pale shade of brown.

"What's your name?" I asked her.

"Cassey Sorento. Nice to meet you," she said, nervously looking away.

The room was silent for a few moments when Rochelle happily exclaimed, "I got it!"

I heard the sound of the window creaking open, and Rochelle pulled the guard through. She walked toward the dumpsters and temporarily disappeared from view. Suddenly there was a scream for help that was cut off, like a recording that comes to an abrupt halt.

My heart beat fast as I climbed up to the window without a second thought. "Rochelle!!!"

Go To Top