The cell itself had no light source but the bright lights in the corridor illuminated the chamber through the glass well. I looked around. My thoughts were interrupted by a voice. “Hey, guys, I think she’s awake”. It was a boy’s voice. Young. I looked through the glass, my eyes adjusting to the light. I could see him sat there in his own cell. He wasn’t smiling but he wasn’t really frowning either. “What’s your name”, he said, nodding to me. I sat up, rubbing my head. Name? I hadn’t thought about that.
“I- I can’t remember”, I said, racking my brain for what it could be.
“You what?”, the boy asked.
“I don’t know. I can’t remember”, I said with slightly more confidence.
“Yes, I heard you the first time. I’m just trying to figure out why. I know they used the memory stuff but you should still remember your name”, he said, looking puzzled.
“Memory stuff?”, I asked, confused now. “Why would someone give me memory serum? I’m a soldier, aren’t I?”
“No. You’re not. That’s what they want you to think. You got out. You’re no soldier”, the boy said abruptly.
“Okay, so I’m not a soldier. What do you mean by ‘got out’?”
“You escaped the city. They caught you, gave you memory erasing stuff and told you were a soldier. Seems they messed it up with you though. Stand up.”
“Stand up”, he repeated. I stood up. “That’s what I thought”, he said. He nodded at me to sit down again. I followed.
“What did you think?”, I asked.
“That they overdosed you. You’re pretty short and skinny. They must’ve not thought about it, probably were in a hurry to take your memory. Probably means you were dangerous.” When he said ‘were’, things started to hit me. I couldn’t remember who I was. A question sprang to mind.
“How come you can remember?”, I asked.
“Stuff didn’t work on me. Not sure why but I made sure that I used it to help the others. All of them were like you until I explained everything to them.”
“So, before, you said I escaped from the city? What city?”
“Doesn’t really have a name. Didn’t need to I guess, nobody leaves, or at least, nobody leaves and remembers it. Anyway, the city’s split into quarters. Four sections. By the looks of things, you’re from Section 1. Can’t imagine why you’d leave. You’re the first from Section 1 here.”
“How do you know I’m from Section 1?”
“Eyes. Yours are purple. See mine? Amber. That’s Section 3. Probably the worst Section. That’s why I left. I still can’t understand why you’d leave. Section 1 is nice.”
“Well, why didn’t you move to Section 1?”, I asked.
“There’s no moving Sections. You stick in the one you’re born in. End of story. It’s easier to get out of the city than get into another Section. You should have stayed. Like I said, Section 1 is a good place. Nice people, enough resources. Either you were crazy or something really bad happened to you. You wouldn’t have left if it weren’t for one of those two options.”
“Alright”, I said sighing. “So, where are we now?”
“Outside the city. It’s easier to keep us here than put us back in. Besides, they think we’re useful. They don’t come down here, no guards, no cameras. As far as they know, we all think we’re their soldiers, put in the best accommodation they could find, given the best they could offer. They’re wrong of course. We aren’t their loyal soldiers, we’re their prisoners and pissed off ones at that.” I heard a few cheers, presumably from other people down the hall.
“How many people are here?”, I asked, beginning to get the grasp of it all.
“Sixteen including you and I. No one except me knows their real age but I’ve helped most people figure it out roughly. You look like the youngest. Fifteen-ish, I’d say. I guess we range from about fifteen to nineteen. I’m sixteen. Majority of us are male. There are two other girls, both seventeen, both from Section 4. They probably escaped together. They still remember their names though, they’re much taller and stronger than you. Speaking of which, you need a name. Just make one up.”
“I can’t remember any names”, I said. I looked at the boy, waiting for him to speak.
“Okay then, I don’t know any Section 1 names but a lot of the girls in my Section were named after animals. Can you remember any types of bird?”, he said. He didn’t sound patronising which seemed odd. He was genuinely trying to help.
“Hmm, dove, swan, lark…”, I said, trying to think of more. The boy laughed slightly.
“Definitely Section 1. The girls in my Section were more birds of prey. Although, my mother was named Phoenix. She had really bright amber eyes. I know your eyes are purple, but they’re not like the Section 1 purple, they have amber bits in them, I can see it when you move. Strange. Anyway, what do you think of Phoenix?”, he said.
“I- I really like it”, I said, taken slightly aback. The boy was very open, although, perhaps I would be if I could remember about myself.
“Okay then”, he raised his voice. “We have a new member. Phoenix!” The entire corridor cheered loudly. I saw the boy smile across from me. “You gave them hope”, he said.