The Old in the New.

Earth as we know it is no more. Pollution and war have wiped out most of humanity, now only one community remain.
Jenna lives in the Hotel. After a series of events she finds herself sucked into an adventure, full of things that she could never have imagined.


5. Chapter 4.

The next day passes the same as the previous afternoon. A small yet nutritious meal is brought to me cell for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and I snowball further into boredom. I find myself thinking of Cat and our friends at length, wondering what they’re getting up to now in they’re new jobs and creating various out-of-this-Hotel situations in my head with regards to their futures. Without an obvious clock, it’s like time ceases to exist, the only means of measuring it being my head, and my head being in a state of perpetual numbness. What if we didn’t have clocks? With no lights other than the artificial ones that we have in the Hotel, how can we see whether it’s day or night, or when to go to work? Days would become more subjective and people more free, I guess. At some point though, I decide that I’ve had far too much time awake and that it’s time to go to sleep again, so I clamber back into my sleep pod and go through the same process as yesterday.

    Sometime in the next morning, my over-rested body trudges out of sleep and back into the world of reality. Assuming that it’s sometime in the morning due to the slightly more brightly lit sleep pod, I get up and sit at the low table in the centre of the room. My breakfast has been left on the table for me; is it really that late in the day? Pondering how far into my trial they are, I pour the contents of two plastic bags together and shake them up in a flask provided. Every single food group in a few sips. One of the more disgusting ways the Hotel has come up with for preserving Society, but still a pretty good idea. I take the last gulp of mildly flavoured mush just as the sound of a key card unlocking my door sounds in my ears. Standing up, I turn to face the same two guards from yesterday. The taller one speak first. 

“Come with us now, Jenna. We have to take you to the office.”

“Okay,” I say and walk over between them.

The shorter one wraps an extremely fine chain around my two wrists and snaps the ends together with a magnet so strong that it can only be broken by waving an object of the same opposite strength above it. I get led out of my cell and along to the end of the corridor. Whilst we walk, I can see the other people in their own rooms: some sleeping, some just sitting and some absentmindedly staring at the ceiling. 

    I’m trying to judge the guards’ emotions, but they seem to be practised at keeping an unemotional face and I only worry myself further by thinking that their neutral expression is a bad one. Calming down a bit in order to slow my heavy breathing, I mull over the possible outcomes of this. We walk into what I assume must be the office and they seat me at another chair in front of another table, which turns out to be a desk this time. Opposite me in the other chair, is the head of Holding HQ (holding is just the New term for “jail.”) He straightens when I enter.

“Jenna, your trial finished ten minute ago. I have the outcome here” he said. He pulls out his digibook and gestures to the screen. “I’m afraid that you have been found guilty. The exact charge is, ‘Theft of the truth and manipulation of lies for personal gain.’” 

I make a kind of gurgling voice in my throat. I’d been found guilty? I cough so that I catch my breath, which had started to go into a bit of a hyperventilation mode, and collect my scattered thoughts.

“There must be some way of getting out of this right? I told the truth! How can I make you all see that?” I ask, voice shaking with exasperation and fear. What’s going to happen now? 

“There is no way to do that. The conviction stands.” his voice is normal and assertive. 

“So…” I say, trying to sound braver than I was actually feeling, “What will happen to me?”

“When you leave this room, you will be escorted to a more permanent residence. You will remain there for three years, having some sort of activity to stop you telling lies everyday, and then after those three years have passed you will be allowed to leave.”

Three years? How many ten second periods would that be? Way too many to be of any good.  

    Right then it strikes me. Amongst my wound up thoughts panic-filled mind I realise that I’m going to have to try and escape. I can’t spend three years in the same room - not even one of as good of a standard as the one I was in for the past couple of days. I can’t go that long without seeing Cat. I can’t go that long without seeing my friends or being allowed to do things that normal people do. I need to find a way out. It’ll be risky, and I might even end up with an even longer Holding period, but at least I can definitely say I tried to get out rather than went with it in silence. I block out the man’s droning voice and try and formulate a plan. There are cameras in every orifice of the Hotel…every corner except from in one place. The public toilets. True, there is a camera in the main bit, but still…only one camera. And the main bit isn’t the actual cubicle. If only I could ruin that camera somehow and escape without being picked up by the cameras along the corridors. Suddenly I have an idea. I was so pleased, that I swear if I was in a Before cartoon, a luminous bulb would have appeared over my head. Now just to execute it.

     “Ready Jenna?” the guards are next to me in no time, heave me onto my feet and march me out of the room and into the main corridor. 

I spit out my next words that will start my whole escape plan, “No! I need the toilet quickly!”

They look at one and other. “Don’t say you’re serious.”

I try and feign the look of someone who is desperate, gaining me two very annoyed faces. One of them sends a message to a female guard, so that she can accompany me into the toilet. A moment later she arrives, grabs my arm and pulls me into the nearest toilet block. The two other guards turn around and leave. My arm has been grabbed far too many times in the last few days for me to be comfortable with.

“Thanks!” I say and stroll into the nearest room. The actual toilet is situated in a small room with a fully closing, opaque door that leads off from the room with the sanitisation area in. I mentally hit myself for being so foolish as to think that I could pull this off, but I go on anyway - after all, it would make a good story. Shutting the door behind me, I press the lock button and move back into the reasonably big room. A minute passes and then I decide to make my move. Starting to fake a coughing fit, I swing round to bash into the door, and then throw myself on the floor so that my hand whacks the toilet in order to create a noise like my head whacked it. I lay towards the back of the room, silent and eyes closed.

    Urgent footsteps from the other side of the door bring a quick grin to my face. I hear the guard walk up and press her ear against the door.

“What’s happening in there?” she shouts.

I make sure not to answer, and start to draw out my breaths.

“If you don’t answer within the next ten seconds, I’m coming in!”

Suitably pleased with how the plan has gone so far, I remain silent. The door opens, the guard steps in, and it swings shut again. She must have a master key card. I push the thoughts out of my mind as she walks over and kicks me with her foot. I had better check for a bruise there later.


Her clothes rustle as she crouches down over my wrist and picks it up in her coarse hand. Her hair brushes my hand tentatively as she tilts her head in concentration. Ha. Pushing a tonne of strength into my arm, I thrust upwards with my fist and feel the knuckle connect with the bone of her forehead. A curse flies from her mouth and I open my eyes in time to see her fall backwards against the side of the room. I stumble to my feet and freeze, poised to rush to the door in case she gets up. She doesn’t. Carefully, I walk over and bend down next to her unmoving body. Apart from a small bruise on her temple she’s fine. Fingers steady, I pull back the neck of her shirt to find a grey t-shirt underneath. I unbutton the shirt and pull it off, then taken off her shoes, then gently remove her hat. Luckily my trousers are the same as hers, so I won’t have to steal them. The clothes fit me easily, and I look at myself in the mirror on the left wall of the room. Reassured by how realistic I look, I go back to the woman and rearrange her into a more comfortable position, taking off her belt with all the gadgets on and the walkie-talkie which I click to the pocket of the shirt.

    I leave her with my digibook and type a quick sorry message onto the screen. When I come back, I’ll repay her if she wants. Taking a deep breath, I open the door of the cubicle and then leave the main toilets. The guards are still away and the corridor is empty. My breath whistles out from between my lips and I start down towards the exit at a fast yet comfortable walking pace. When I turn the corner to the gate, my head is tilted downwards, and I run right into the body of another guard. 

“Sorry” I mutter and walk away, trying to calm the racing beat of my heart.

“Wait” I hear from behind me. Freezing, I turn around, willing him not to be one of the guards who will recognise me. His eyes meet mine and then they flick down the name badge on my chest. 

“You’re not in the right area.” 

I try not to look too relieved.

“Yes, I’m sorry. I’ve been told to leave my position for a while to visit someone in the main Hotel.”

Suspicion flitters across his face, however he just nods and turns to walk back down the corridor.

Flicking the key card across the hologram, I leave and start to jog along the corridors. I need to have a chat to Cat and my friends before I do anything else. I can’t exactly stay in my rooms now, so it’s a bit difficult. 

    I reach the door and knock twice quickly. It opens and Cat jumps when she recognises the uniform, then jumps again when she sees that it’s me. 

“Jenna, what-”

I make a shushing motion and usher her inside and into a small cut-out in the corner of her room. 

She begins again. “I heard that they’d put you in Holding! I’ve been messaging back and forth for ages to try and get to see you!” 

“They did, but I got out. I borrowed a uniform and just walked out.”

Her bright eyes widened.

“But Jenna…they’re going to find you!”

As if the cameras suddenly grew microphones, there was a knock at the door. We freeze. Cat goes to open it. Her posture visibly deflates when she sees who’s standing outside. A smile spread across her face and she steps back, followed by a boy who looks very tired.

“Harry!” I yelp, running over to give the boy a quick hug before pushing the two of them back into the small crevice.

“Hiya Jenna! I haven’t seen you in a while…Cat told me about the Justice Room thing.”

I look at her and laugh. She smiles apologetically.

“I’m glad. It’s been way too crazy and I didn’t have time to go and visit you all!” 

It’s getting a bit warm with the three of us squished into the corner.

“So, what’s happening now?” Harry said.

“Yeah. It’s not like you can stay here, Jenna…” Cat said. “Maybe you should have waited a year, then got out.”

I probably should have.

    I begin to talk, but then shut my mouth with a clunk. What am I going to do? Every corner of the Hotel (apart from this one apparently) is watched by cameras 24/7. It’s not like I can go back to living like normal now that they’re probably going to start looking for me on the system soon. 

“Erm…I guess I’ll have to find somewhere really out of the way to hide out for a while…” I say, the indecision in my voice clear even to me.

“Where though?” Cat asks, her face twisted with concern.

“I’ll work that out. We probably have a bit before they start searching for me properly.”

Harry’s face lights up. “ I have an idea!”

He walks back out into the open plan room and over to a camera which surveys the little kitchen. Picking up a mug and filling it with water, he takes a sip and places it down so that it blocks the camera’s view of the room.

“Yes!” Cat laughs, and goes to join him.

After only about five minutes, they’ve located every camera in the room and managed to block them off. When people do this, the Watchers only notice after about a day, so we’ll be okay for half an hour. All three of us sitting on the sofa, we talk and laugh without the fear of being seen. It’s strange in a good way to see Harry again - the last I saw of him was the night before the Ceremony…it seems like so long has passed since then. He has a job in Electronics now, and specific position is one in which he visits part of the Hotel that are having trouble with any technology and sorts it out for them. We chat for what seems like ages, but is only about twenty minutes.

“Hey, sorry Cat, Jenna; I need to get back.” Harry says, pointing towards his digibook which has a flashing red light, indicating that he’s received a message.

We hug him tightly.

“I’ll see you sometime soon, okay?” I ask, squeezing his shoulder as he stands up to leave.

“Definitely” he says. With that, he answers his message and leaves out of the door, making sure not to open it too far so that the cameras from the corridor can’t see inside.

I turn to Cat.

“Promise me that I’ll see you soon. I don’t want to be away for long and I don’t have my digibook anymore to keep contact with you…I left it by the guard in the toilets.”

“I promise” she says, twisting her fingers amongst my fingers and leaning her forehead against my head. I give her nose a quick peck. She pauses for a second, thinking, and then she leans her head in and begins to kiss me. We lay back on the sofa, intertwined and kissing for several minutes until the alarm that we set starts to bleep, yelling that I should leave now.

Cat starts to pull away, but I deepen the kiss for a few seconds, before finally sitting up. We hug.

“I’ll make sure I come back when it’s safe.” I whisper, my lips brushing against her ear.

“I you don’t, I’ll join the guard search party looking for you!” she jokes.

    We rise and say goodbye to each other. 

“Wait a second!” Cat says, pulling away from my arms and jogging to the other side of the room. When she returns she has in her hand a digibook. “Here, take it. It’s my spare!” 

My mouth stretches wide into a smile, “Thank you!”

With that, I walk out of the door, turning back to blow a kiss at Cat before pulling the hat down over my head and dashing to my rooms.

    At a run, the corridors blur into one and it reminds me again of just after I’d left the Priods’ room. The darker shades of grey blend into the lighter ones, which blend into the lighter ones until it’s just like one big merging colour, like in the old pieces of art that are in the museum of Before. I flash the keycard before the activation hologram and run into my room, not pausing for breath, but instead getting a large rucksack and filling it with stuff I might need until I find somewhere in the Hotel to stay. Even though I get a couple of really useful things like a blanket and a few pairs of clean clothes, the majority of the stuff that takes up the insides of the rucksack in the end are packets of food. It’s made sure of that in the Hotel, in case of an emergency, every room is to be provided with a supply of food packets (kind of like the food that I got given in the Holding). They’re so flat and compact that I can easily fit enough to last me a long time in. At a last consideration, I shove some tokens in just in case. 

    I take a last look at my room for who knows how long, lock the door and start off at a jog down the corridor. My aim is to use the more empty corridors and just keep going down. A few boarders zoom past me, and I try to act as natural as possible - a guard with a huge rucksack on her back who is running is normal, right? As an afterthought, I should have really bought a board…it would have been quicker to get away. The new versions hover higher off the ground and have small jets at the back for racing - much better than the one I had 5 years ago which kept breaking after every trip out. Getting into a lift, I press the button to go down to floor 50. I hardly ever use this one and I can tell why. It has a slightly stale smell about it, and every time we pass another floor it rattles as if it doesn’t quite fit the chute and it’s having to squeeze through the too small gaps in the floors. Eventually, the doors reopen and I step outside into one of the main corridors. It’s wider that my room and swimming with people, transpods and boards. Slowing to a leisurely walk, I join a main throng of shoppers in the hope that the cameras won’t pick me up if I’m amongst a crowd. You’d expect a busy place to be loud usually, but in the main corridor’s case, nothing but steady footsteps are heard. There is an eerie feel blanketing the area, born from the lack of chattering people and the laughter of children. The overhead speakers turn on and the radio starts to play; nothing interesting, just the Leaders reiterating the rules of the Society and various warnings. My ears strain to hear if they mention my name at all, putting me down for an escapee, but nothing is mentioned.

    Increasing my pace, I turn off into one of the side corridors and get into another lift. The weird atmosphere is one of the reasons why my friends and I never go into the major corridors of the Hotel. I press the button for floor twenty, the lowest this one will take me, and stand in silence in the empty lift. Soon, the Leaders will start issuing notices about my escape, giving basic descriptors and telling the citizens where I might be found; that is if they can track me on the cameras. Until then, I just need to keep moving. I get out and this time I run straight into the nearest lift in order to waste as little time as possible. I’m starting to realise how stupid my decision to escape was. I could have just waited out the year in reasonable boredom and then been released without going through all this trouble of finding a place to hide and the figuring out what to do for the rest of my life. Oh well, wishing I made a different choice won’t do me any good now.

    In the next lift, the doors close and it awaits my command. The keypad is different this time, and I take a second to understand it as I’ve never been down this far in the Hotel before. I decide to try typing in ‘-4’ to see what happens. If it does accept my request, it must be and underground level of some type. The words ‘ENTER PASSWORD’ flash up on the screen. My stomach sinks, I don’t know the password. Sorting through my brain, I remember how to hack into these type of keypads. In a matter of minutes, my brain hurting and my fingers tired, the lift is taking me down to whatever and wherever floor -4 is. My ears make tiny popping noises the lower and faster the lift descends, lights flickering and framework shaking. It’s a bit unnerving really, I don’t think I trust this one. With a bit more force that was meant to happen, the lift stops at floor -4, the loose railings shuddering with the jerk of the halt. The doors hiss open.

Join MovellasFind out what all the buzz is about. Join now to start sharing your creativity and passion
Loading ...