20. Not a dream, a nightmare
~~I rise slowly from my dark cold sleep into the silvery reality. I blink and try to make it go away but as my eyes take in my surroundings I realise I’m in a metal cell. Everything is made from shiny silver metal, the floor, the walls and the bed that I’m lying in. I stand up and clutch my head for a second realising it still aches a little. After taking a few shaky breaths I try to remember how I got here. We were running and the guards came in then the bombs went off. I smirk a little to myself at the memory. Then I realise that I’m alone, where is everyone else. Are they dead? I can’t bear to think about my friends lying lifeless on the floor of the corridor we were running down or anywhere else’s. I try to swallow away the pain that stabbing through me.
I try to distract myself by thinking of a way to escape. That doesn’t last long though because after trying to kick the huge metal door down 100 times I give up and limp over to the bed to sit and stare at the wall. Do they plan to leave me hear? To make me slowly die of starvation as punishment for betraying the government. This theory is crossed off later when a hole appears in the wall in front of me and a bowl of soup and a glass of water is slid through it. The hole then slams shut but I walk over and grab the bowl from the shelf and gulp the hot soup down ravenously then drain the cup as well. The last thing I ate was that disgusting sand which back at the school. That seems years ago now after everything that’s happened. I suddenly realise that the belt where my gun is supposed to be is gone and I moan as the last bit of hope I held onto is snatched away from me.
I continue to sit in the cell staring at the wall for I don’t know how long before the metal door is opened and two burly guards appear in front of me holding sleek black guns. “Come with us” One of them says and I slowly rise from the metal bed and walk towards them. Outside of the cell I see there’s a corridor of metal doors like the one leading to my cell. Are my friends behind them? I want to call out to them but it will probably only lead to a bullet in my head. They won’t hear me the metal is the thick.
The guards lead me away from the corridor of cells and into an elevator. “Where are we going?” I ask but neither of them give me an answer, they just stare a head at the wall with blank expressions on their faces. When the doors open I consider running but I know it’s pointless they’ll catch me easily. The corridor we step out onto is very grand and the walls are made of glass so I can see the labs beneath me. I stare at the remains of the labs I’d toured earlier and satisfaction fills me up for a second but it leaves me as we reach the end of the corridor and the guards knock on a wooden door. Sudden terror starts to wash over me; I don’t want to go into this room. I hear a cold voice say ‘Enter’ and one of the guards opens the door then pushes me inside then they slam the door behind me. I turn to meet a pair of dark eyes that stare back at me with greed and anticipation. “Ashlyn how nice it is to finally meet you” He says and I take a step back. How does he know my name? The man laughs and it makes me shiver. “Don’t you know me? Probably not, I get my Carlos to make my speeches for Zone 3.” Well allow me to introduce myself, my name is Igneous Bane I’m the leader of this world. I stare at him in shock, I’ve heard his name hundreds of times before but I’ve never see his face before now. What does he want with me?
“I’ve been waiting a long time for this moment Miss Jones but you’re very good at slipping through my fingers. That sneaky mother of yours didn’t want to give you up easily; she paid her the price for that mistake though.”He says coldly
“What have you done with her?” I demand staring at his black eyes with hatred, he’s the reason people in Zone 3 starve and don’t even have the freedom to dream. He shakes his head “All in good time my girl, I think you have a few other questions you need answering first. For instance why you still dream when everyone else doesn’t and why they are the normal kind of dreams people would have.” His words hit me like a brick wall, he knows everything, how does he know everything. My first thought is someone told him but the only people who know would never tell him, not willingly anyway.
“How do you know?” I spit at him.
“You see Ashlyn, the government don’t make mistakes. We could have taken your dreams when we wanted to but we decided to do something else instead. At the age of 4 your brain showed us a lot of...” He pauses to think of the word and I scowl at him. “...potential” He continues and I narrow my eyes at him. “We injected a serum that would affect your brain so of course it hurt. That’s why you responded so badly to it. We’d tried it on several other potential people but they all went insane, you however went home with a head ache and a sour tummy.” I scoff at this, the feeling I had after my injection was defiantly not a ‘sour tummy’ I was in agony for a week. He raises his bushy eyebrows at me then continues “We let you live your life like normal, see the serum had to develop along with your brain so you wouldn’t be ready until your 16. You showed no signs of acting negatively to the treatment and were perfectly normal apart from being a little disruptive at school and having outstanding test results.” I frown at him, they’d been watching me my whole life and I’d been completely oblivious. “The serum we gave you is the reason you have visions of dangers in the future and helps you with things you’re worried about. It connects to your brain and works with it to protect you so it gives you visions in your sleep. It also makes you already well developed brain even faster, though this may not affect you so much. That part is only activated when it is required.” When he mentions this I think back to the scout I did and how fast I was able to decode the computer screen.
“So what you’re saying is that I’m an experiment?” I ask him and surprise myself with the amount of venom in my voice. “If that’s how you want to see it, but don’t worry we won’t hurt you. You’re our first and only successful one so far so you’re perfectly safe.”
“Then what do you want me for?” I demand frustration filling me as so many questions only he can answer run through my head. A sly smile spreads across his face “You’ve already proved yourself very useful to us”
“What...What do you mean? I would never help you.” I say.
“You already have. Do you remember the mission you went on? Well our agent had you solve a problem we had, one that even our best scientists couldn’t do. You’ve already seen your handy work but for some reason you didn’t react very well to it.” He says then a picture of the machine where I heard the screams flashes onto a screen in front of me. “You heard their screams didn’t you?” He says and I just stare at the screen as I piece what he is telling me together. I don’t know how but I caused those screams. “How did they get there?” My voice sounds hoarse and my throat feels like sandpaper as I talk. “That machine was very expensive to run; the dreams require a lot of energy to convert into liquids we can use, one of our scientists made a very important discovery in one of his experiments. He discovered that the human essence, or what you people like to call soul, contains a lot of energy. Our problem was we had this great new source of energy but we didn’t know how to harvest it, that’s what you solved for us”
The words slowly sink into my head and I start to shake as I realise what he’s telling me, I told them how to harvest a human soul. He doesn’t give me much time to digest this news though he jumps straight back into is horror story. “Now I can answer the question about your mother, and you father as well. Anyone who disobeys the government automatically loses the right to being a citizen so they become our lab rats. Your mother and father were the first to donate their souls to the machine.”
I stand stock still with shock; he sucked my parent’s souls away from them. “You bastard” I shout at him and charge towards him. I raise my fist and aim at his chubby face. He grabs hold of my arms to restrain me “Guards!” He shouts and the two men who brought me here burst through the door and pull me away from him but I still managed to hit him and he stands pinching his bleeding nos.
His calm composure goes and he looks at me with lethal black eyes. “You’re going to have to learn to cooperate. We may not be able to hurt you but we’re lucky enough to be playing host to a lot of your new friends and I won’t hesitate to shoot every single one of them” This stops me from struggling with the guards. “They’re alive?” I ask desperately.
“Yes but not for long if you pull a stunt like that again” He says then nods at the guards “Carlos can handle her for now” He says then the guards drag me through the door way. I’m too stunned to struggle, they have my friends, they have Ethan locked away here somewhere. This bit of information gives me small spark of hope for escaping. The guards take me into a dark room and strap me to a long sliver chair, like the one I sat in at the dentist. I hated the dentist. I man walks over to me with familiar curly brown hair and hansom features, this is the face that made all the speeches on the POD transmissions I was forced to watch. Carlos Jenton stares at me with fascination as I struggle with the metal bands binding me to the chair. “So you’re finally here” He mumbles and runs a rough hand over my face and I flinch away from it. He doesn’t seem to care he just runs his calculating eyes over my body. “I do apologise for what I’m about to allow to happen to you but we’ll make it up to you afterwards.” He says.
“What are you going to do to me” I ask and I start to tremble as a cold feeling runs through me.
“The serum reacts best when it’s trying to protect you; I need to run some tests to see how it does this so we can increase chances of success of creating more people like you in the future.” He explains calmly then starts to wrap a head band round my for head then puts similar bands on my wrists. He then produces a syringe full of yellow liquid. “This contains impure dream dust so you may experience some nasty visions, but don’t worry you won’t get addicted to it we’ve taken that substance out of it” My eyes widen as he raises the syringe and places it on my neck. I flinch and start struggling again. Carlos tuts “Remember what will happen if you’re uncooperative” He reminds me and I freeze “Try to relax” He says then pushes the needle into my neck.
I gasp as the cold liquid pulses through me and my vision is swallowed by darkness. I feel ice take over me and pain. I scream as it takes over my body and it’s all I can think about, the ice and the pain and the darkness. Distorted images flash in front of my eyes of blood and my ears fill with the sounds of Harpers screams followed by the screams of my parents. I hear Ethan’s voice call my name and I turn to find him but all I see is the darkness. I fun forward and trip over something. I see him lying on the ground with his eyes open with all the life drained out of them. I turn to see my mother’s body behind me and my father’s as well. I stand up and see I’m surrounded by the bodies of my loved ones. ‘It’s your fault’ I hear a voice hiss behind me and I turn to try and find it but there’s nobody there. The voice keeps coming though whispering the same thing over and over again. I scream and scream trying to escape this, it’s not real I tell myself but the pain is. The pain is real and I can feel my heart being ripped through my chest. I’m overwhelmed by the pain and it takes over me forcing me into blackness, I welcome it, death is better than this.
My eyelids slowly flutter open and I wake up back on the cold metal bed in my cell. I shiver and pull my arms around me and hug my legs to my chest. I shake as I remember the pain and endless terror. I let the tears stream down my cheeks and rock back and forth trying to get the visions out of my head. I take shaky breaths and try to tell myself I’m stronger than this. I know I’m not though; the strongest person in the world wouldn’t be able to handle this.
Eventually the tears stop coming and I just stare at the wall feeling numb and exhausted but I don’t want to go to sleep because I know those images will haunt me again. Food comes in through the hold in the wall but I don’t touch it I just continue trying not to feel anything.
The hours drag by and after I don’t know how long the guards enter the room and I follow them back to Carlos’s room. They strap me into the chair again and I stare silently at the ceiling. “Hello again, I do have to apologise but if it helps the results have been very useful. May I also congratulate you as well, not many people have been able to survive this form of the dream dust, you’re very strong. I nod but continue staring at the ceiling. He places the syringe by my neck and injects the liquid into me and the visions begin again.