The Institute

After waking up from his two-year coma, Axel finds himself in a world where he can't find his family, where nobody will help him, and where the entire country has been taken over by a corporation called the Institute.

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June 8
4:45 PM
New Land Hospital

Waking up, I don’t open my eyes but clench my fists. They clench, tightly. I move my leg, and it rises and falls. And lastly, I said, "Pandemonium." Every syllable was correct. Yes! It was all a drea--
     But my surroundings tell me otherwise. Yeah, I am strong and healthy again, but I am still in a cot in the midst of other cots, with unconscious patients occupying them.
     I’m also strip naked.
This disturbing thought exits my brain as fast as it entered as the door to the room was opening. Quickly I got back into my covers. I need to get out of here, now, but that obviously won't happen unless...
     Footsteps move around the room. I peek and see it’s a male nurse. An idea sparks up in my mind. Just as he passes by my cot, I jump up and pounce on him. He lets out a yelp, and I cover his mouth, punching him until he’s knocked out with a bloody nose.
     I gaze at my fists. I’m a lot stronger than I remember…I strip the man of his clothes. Not something you do every day. By the time I was done, the shirt was too tight, the pants were too short, and I was barefoot, but it was short better than nothing.
     I could only hope it would be an okay disguise as I exited the room I was being held in, but before I could turn a corner, there was a tug on my shoulder.
     My body turned, freaked, but it was just a brunette nurse. And guess what? She was smiling. “A little dizzy, aren’t cha, newbie?” Deciding to turn my confusion into embarrassment, I said, “Oh…I’m so embarrassed you noticed.” I noted faintly that my voice while talking was deeper than my voice while thinking.
     She offered me a change of clothes and directed me to the changing room. I walked in and almost screamed at my reflection in the mirror. I couldn’t believe my eyes. There was a guy, looking at me with the same face I wore, who had the same vague Axel features, like my amber curls and brown eyes, but this guy’s hair was longer, and he was more muscular and bigger than the Axel I knew.
     I already knew something was really not right here, but this was too much. I felt my abs. “Dang,” I whispered. “There is no way in heck…”
     I shook my head and tried to think of other things. That reminds me. How did I get here? What happened to me exactly? When I first woke up, when I was weak and couldn’t talk, the nurse had said I would be as strong as I was 2 years ago…2 years ago I was a freshman in high school. I’m 17 now…at least my mind is…and what happened to my kid brother and parents, aren’t they supposed to be here?
     As soon as I finished dressing and got out of the changing room, I asked the brunette nurse (who was waiting for me), “Hey,” I pointed to the room where I was held. “The patients there—what are they suffering from?”

She followed my finger. “Oh, them? All of them fell into comas long ago.”
     “C-comas?” I asked, eyes widening.
“Yes, all of them for about two years now. Back then it would’ve seemed like something incredibly out of the ordinary, but ever since the Institute took over, anything seems possible…”
     My mind was racing. I was in a coma…I was in a coma…a coma… “Ma’am,” I say nervously. “Ma’am…these…coma patients, what happened to their family? Is there a room in this hospital for them to stay in? The younger victims’ family, I mean.”
     She thought for moment. “Honestly, boy, I have no idea. Who knows what the Institute’s had them do?”
     “The Institute?”
But instead of explaining, she erupts into laughter. “Oh, you foolish boy, you’re too much!” At that, I asked for the exit, went down to the first floor and out the door hoping to find answers.

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