by Lindsay Warner, Age 17, United Kingdom
The fiction prompt for February required that the submission begin with this line: “The minute my eyelids fluttered open, I was aware that I was not in my own room.”
The minute my eyelids fluttered open, I was aware that I was not in my own room. It was a strange sensation, to wake in a place I had no recollection of. There was something oddly thrilling about it, about the unknown, but at the same time, it was terrifying.
My body tensed, as if preparing for an attack. Warily, my eyes darted around, assessing, trying to piece together the events that had led me here, to this strange place.
The most striking thing about my surroundings was that they were utterly white. The walls, the ceiling, the floor. Everything. The only exception was the little circular window in the door, which I assumed was one-way glass, since I couldn’t see out of it. Even I was wearing baggy white trousers and a tight-fitting white t-shirt, an outfit I didn’t remember putting on.
The second thing that struck me was that there was absolutely no furniture. I was the only thing in the room.
Baffled, I moved to sit up, but groaned at the series of clicks my body emitted, aches and pains assaulting me from every angle. Since stretching didn’t help, I remained as I was on the floor, content to explore with just my eyes.
It was only a small room, shaped in a perfect square. There was a musty quality to the air, probably due to the lack of windows, a fact I hadn’t registered until now. It left a funny taste in my mouth, like I’d eaten mouldy bread and not washed away the taste.
I don’t know how long I sat there, gazing around in bewilderment. It could have been hours for all I knew.
How did I get here? How long have I been here for? But more crucially…
Why can’t I remember anything?
No matter how much I probed my memory, nothing surfaced. I was a complete blank. I could conjure no familiar faces, no family holidays, no house where I grew up. No family pets, no TV shows or movies.
There was just nothing.
“Subject is awake,” boomed a loud voice. I shrieked, flinching back into the wall and banging my head in the process. I moaned, cradling it in my hands as I slowly rose to my feet.
No one had entered the room, so I was at a loss as to where this voice originated from. My eyes flitted everywhere, trying to locate another source of life.
“And appears confused,” the voice added, sounding amused. There was the faint sound of what I thought to be the scribbling of a pen on paper. It was then that I noticed the little white speaker camouflaged in the top corner of the room.
“Hello?” I called hesitantly. I felt stupid, like I was talking to myself. “Is anybody there?” My voice was croaky and faint, as if I’d been screaming for hours on end.
Slowly, I edged into the centre of the room, turning to take it all in. Looking at it triggered the first stirrings of panic in my gut. It grew with alarming speed until the terror drowned me in wave after wave of blind emotion, forcing what semblance of reality I’d managed to retain from my grasp.
“Subject attempts to interact,” the voice noted.
“Stop calling me that!” I shouted. “Tell me where I am. Tell me right now!”
I could feel tears rushing down my face but I didn’t care. I needed answers. I hated not knowing who I was. Where I was.
“Subject growing increasingly agitated.”
“Shut up!” I yelled. “Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!”
I strode forward and banged on the door repeatedly, when I found no handle. I was desperate to escape this nightmare I’d awoken in. I dimly registered scars marring the paleness of my arms, their horror obscured by my tears.
“Subject’s stress levels are too high. Releasing sleeping gas now. Readying experimentation room for her arrival.”
By the time I realized what they’d said, there was already a horrible stench in the air. My vision began to blur. The room spun.
I fell to my knees, my mind a mess of chaotic thoughts as the strength disappeared from my body.
As I drifted into an unwelcome sleep, one thought rose like a phoenix in my mind, set afire from its desperation as much the realization that it was the first grasp of a memory I’d had since I’d woken.
Lindsay writes, “I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of writing, with the way language can be manipulated for purpose and effect; so I just thought, if other people can do it, why can’t I?”