I’m standing in an unfamiliar room, alone, except for the tiny figure. She’s been curled up on a pile of blankets in the corner since I got here a while ago. Time doesn’t quite seem to work here.
The space I’m in can hardly be called a room. It’s as small as a closet. There’s no windows, no warmth, and no furniture except the blankets, which are just starting to stir. Then the silhouette sits up and looks around blearily. After a while, she leaves her cupboard through a hidden door and walks around an empty house until some other shadowy people appear. The figure I’m following hides quickly, but close enough that she can overhear their conversation. For the first time, there’s fragments of voices in the dream.
“Shhh!!! She’ll hear!”
Then the dream fades away, depositing me back on my bed.
“Gabby! Are you okay?” It’s Ella’s voice.
The only thing that I can say it, “Wha...who...whe..?” Jina- where did she come from?- just laughs and makes me take some medicine. Then she explains.
“You’ve been delirious, dreaming, thrashing around in your sleep,” Jina says.
“It was kind of scary,” Ella admits. “Oh, and before you ask, all the Grandmothers are in for some kind of update or something. Everyone’s supposed to be in their room, but they asked us to watch you. Well, asked me, anyways,” she finishes with a pointed look at Jina, who laughs.
“Who cares? They’ll never find out,” she gets out before she’s interrupted by a knock. “Spoke too soon,” Jina adds, sliding underneath the bed quickly. Then the door opens to reveal my Grandmother.
“Hello, Gabriela. Hello, Ella. Thank you for taking care of her,” Nana nods robotically. “Jina, your Grandmother wants you to meet her in hall.” The girl crawls out.
“How’d you know I was there?” Nana ignores that, and points. Jina slinks out, and Ella, Nana, and I follow her at a distance.
Out in the hall, Jina’s Grandmother is scolding her. “That was immature of you, Jina. You should have been in your room.” Then they’re interrupted by two bots grabbing hold of Jina’s arms.
“Hey, what’re you doing?” she cries indignantly.
“This is standard procedure,” one says. “You disobeyed orders from Castle. You have nothing to fear if this is an isolated incident,” it adds in a very computerized voice. But I barely notice that- I’m too busy staring at Jina. From the look on her face, it’s not an ‘isolated incident.’ When the robots rotate around and start to wheel towards a door, she drags her feet.
“No. I was visiting my friend, that’s not fair! Aren’t you trying to make us into kind and loyal citizens?” Jina pauses, waiting for a response that never comes. “At least let me walk on my own?” But the bots just keep ignoring her struggles to free herself.
“Let her go! Please!” I hear myself cry.
“Gabriela, calm down-” Nana starts in a calming voice. I don’t pay any attention to her. Instead, I run towards Jina and start pulling on the cuff-like hands of the bots.
“Jina!” I shriek. My tugging is useless, and all too suddenly, they pull her through the door, and my friend is gone. I sink to the floor. “Nana,” I sob quietly. “Nana, what are they going to do to her?”
“Nothing. That is just standard procedure, Gabriela,” she answers mechanically, and I tune her out again. Because I know that something bad is happening to Jina, and I won’t see her for a long time. I’m so occupied by that thought, that she’s gone, that the only things I’m conscious of is Ella pounding on the door and a little ticklish sensation at the back of my neck.
I put my hand up to rub at it, but it doesn’t go away. I shiver. It almost feels like someone’s watching me… I whip around and instantly see that I’m right. The person watching me looks familiar and shadowy. The figure from my ‘hallucinations’ looks at me for an instant, and then she’s gone, back into whatever dreamworld she came from, leaving me to crumple on the hard, cold floor.
I’m in a lightly lit hall. There’s three girls talking and what sounds like having a normal conversation. When robots suddenly appear out of nowhere and grab her, as she struggles, the other girls try to help. One of the girls is blurred around the edges but I can see her from the back of the hall. The girls run trying to help, when one of them suddenly glances back hurriedly. In that split second I see her face, I recognize the chestnut brown eyes and the dark brown hair….. It’s me.
The world is flipped upside down and I’m being shaken back and forth. As my eyes adjust to the darkness and the shaking stops. My dad is leaning over me with a terrified look on his face. I stare at him dumbfounded for a moment before he interrupts the silence.
“ You can tell me what’s on your mind if you whisper,” A surprised look appears on my face. I haven’t talked since I was five years old, out of fear of my mother yelling at me. “ It’s ok,” he says, “no one knows about this room.” My dad always makes me feel better.
“It was just a bad dream,” I say, surprised by the sound of my voice
“ You’ve been thrashing around like that for the past couple nights, are you sure it wasn’t something else?”
“ Yes, Dad, I’m fine. Just go back to bed before Mom finds out we’ve been talking,” he slowly gets up and walked sadly out of the room. I fall back asleep quite fast and don’t have any more dreams that night.
My parents come into my room very early in the morning saying we have to talk.
My dad starts, “ your mother and I recently got a letter, saying that your cousin who recently turned thirteen is coming for a visit to choose her life career. Because her parents died when she was little.”
“Because there will be security along we would like you to stay in your room until it is over,” my mother finishes. I stare at them.
“ Are you really trying to lie to me?”
“Why would we lie to you?”
“ You’re lying to me about my sister, the one that the message bot told you two about. How could you not tell me that I have a sister!” I say, raising my voice.
“ We are only trying to protect you, and don’t raise your voice like that!”
“ Protect me from what? Having to stay hidden my whole life with no friends. Being forced in a small, cramped room where no one understands and I can’t even speak!” I’m shouting now. “What if I want to be found just so I can get away from this boring life!”
“Gwen Lenson! Don’t you shout, now the police are gonna come and search this house, and you are going to be a good little girl and not be found.” I try to grab the door as she slams it behind me, leaving me sobbing. I hear the bots search the house. Sadly, they don’t hear me as I cry myself to sleep.