Eve grabbed my arm, leading me out of the door to reveal an empty hallway. The area was grey and made of a kind of concrete material – but at the same time the walls didn’t quiet look solid enough to lean on or even touch.
Simple rectangular lights filled most of the area with light, but there were a few pockets of the hallway where one of the lights had blown where there was complete darkness.
I took a step in the direction of the darkness, but Eve made a disgruntled noise and I quickly turned away from it, turning back to her with a sheepish smile.
Eve took my hand in hers, and I analysed it quickly – a slight mark was left on her ring finger but she wore no obvious jewellery. I looked over her features, trying to find the distinguishable marks of age but found none – either she was truly my age, or she had some seriously amazing concealer.
We stopped in front of a door and Eve put on her presentation smile – as though I was some honoured guest receiving the official tour.
“Through this door Haven begins. We keep most newbie’s in Initiation for a few days, but you’ve recovered a lot quicker than we had expected.” Eve pursed her lips, as though I had done something wrong by recovering in the first place.
“How long does it usually take?” I asked quickly, before she could go on to explain any further – but the glare she gave me told me that asking questions was not permitted.
“After the adults disappeared we moved underground and since then no-one has disappeared. It is our theory that something in the air activated a gene in the blood stream which allowed off-Earth transportation.” Eve finished with a flourish, producing a golden key chain from her pocket, the number of keys she had was astounding – the most interesting was a bright red one, and it made me wonder; what does it open?
Eve fit one of the keys into the door, and the light above it flashed red, yellow, before finally turning a dull green and the key pad next to the door slid out from some secret compartment.
She pressed in a set of several numbers – all eliciting different tones of noises and I almost tried to memorize them – but found it impossible.
The door swung inwards, revealing a smaller concrete domed looking hallway, with torches strung up on the sides every few metres so that no space was left unlit. There were no people, though the sounds of them filled the area, and I almost expected to see children lining the halls playing their games – like hopscotch.
I stopped for a moment, lamenting on the idea of this foreign game that was stored somewhere in the recesses of my mind.
Eve led us down the hall constantly sticking to the main passageway, which seemed to be almost twice the side of the smaller alleyways.
“We found roughly seventeen children under the age of twelve, all of which are in school – the same grade unfortunately, but what can you do.” Eve smiled pleasantly - but why were there such small numbers of children?
We walked straight through an alleyway that seemed to open into a massive round dining room that was closer to the surface considering there where windows every few metres. People sat in groups of three to four but no larger, there was no chatter except for the occasional person asking for salt or pepper to be passed down.
I stopped at the intricately carved wooden door – names and symbols of what I presumed to be lost loved ones littered it, so much so that some where carved over one another; names in names.
Eve came to stand beside me, staring at the same dismal scene, though it seemed she had a much better outlook on it. A memory nagged at the back of my mind. A single rectangular table with people gathered all around it, incessant chatter that increased in tempo every minute while music played in the background.
“Isn’t it lovely?” Eve asked in awe. “It took weeks to form this sort of order.”
I turned away from the room, indicating that Eve should continue on our tour. She flattened out her skirt again, though from what I could see it hadn’t risen or become crinkled at all.
As I followed Eve round yet another corner, I began to wonder if we would ever reach the end of the underground system they had built. I looked to the left side – but there wasn’t one. In that, they had begun putting the structures in to support a new hallway to the left, but they had only gotten one hundred or so metres.
“This will eventually be where the under five’s will sleep with around the clock nannies which will cater to their every need.” I nodded slowly in agreement though honestly, I had no idea what was going on.
Eve smiled as I yawned, taking my hand and patting it lightly before leading me to the right of the soon to be new corridor, showing me where all people over the age of sixteen apparently slept for the time being.
Every person had their own single bed with common grey sheets and pillow cases – half of the room was neatly folded while the other half was slightly messier, though I could hardly be sure.
Eve led me to the end of the room, indicating the left side of the room.
“We’ve split the area into boys and girls – right and left sequentially. We hope to move the men into a separate common room in a few months, but right now we don’t have the man power to do all the building we want to.” Eve gave me a brief smile and I sat on the bed with a huff.
“I know it is been a long day with a lot of information but just try to sleep. I’ll be back in the morning to Initiate you into class or work depending on your testing.”
Eve gave a surprisingly girly wave before turning with military style precision making quick work of the room despite her outrageously high heeled shoes.
I slid onto the bed, placed my blue sneakers with black glittered stars by the end of the bed and lay down, staring at the flicking light above me.
How did I get here?
The thought flittered through my mind unbidden and I scrunched my face in thought but no memory came to me – only a dull throbbing in the back of my skull where I thought the memory would be stored.
I closed my eyes, counting to ten slowly the way I had been taught by….
I sat up in a single motion, the pain forgotten as a brief memory of a woman with greying hair and warm caring blue eyes that mirrored my own.
The word filled my mind, but was gone soon after, and no matter how hard I tried I cold reform that image, I couldn’t make myself remember the name for the woman that I know loved me more than anything else in the world.
A single tear streaked down my face, and I lifted my hand to dab at the watery streak.
Muffled sounds came from the hallway, and I was almost tempted to turn my head away, but I needed to see. I wanted to see these children, the last of a species almost. A line of girls entered, from smallest to tallest, each stopping at their respective beds. After, a line of boys following the exact same order entered, stopping at their beds.
The girl next to me didn’t stop at her bed, instead coming to sit by the head of my bed, staring at me with incredibly sad, deep brown eyes.
“It’ll be okay you know.” She stated simply, and I simply had to smile and nod my head, she was only a year or so younger than me but she still had that hope in her eyes that revealed she was still young at heart.
Someone else who’s had to grow up too fast…
The girl stood, scurrying into her bed just in time for the lights to dim dramatically until they were barely glowing.
“Good night L.” She whispered from the darkness beside me.
I closed my eyes, listening to the sounds of the people around me get comfortable in their beds, and after a few minutes there was silence except for the soft sound of one of the boys snoring and the occasional person rolling in their sleep.
I felt the tiredness come n quickly, and though I tried to fight it, I quickly succumbed to sleep.
Brightness filled my field of vision, before clearing to reveal a small grassy hill where a single, dead tree sat untouched. I felt the presence of someone beside me, and a quick look in my peripheral confirmed that an older woman stood beside me. She smiled in my direction before motioning to the tree.
“All things in this world come and go Lillyanna.”
I nodded slowly, and the woman grabbed my hand, patting it lightly before beginning the journey to the top of the tree. I almost had the feeling I had made this journey before – that this woman and I had been to this place many times during our lives.
I followed close behind her, taking the time to observe what was on the bottom of the hill every few metres. On the bottom a row of houses sat with large backyards facing towards the hill. Even from on top of the tree I could tell which house was mine – after all there was a giant smiley face painted onto the back wall, something mum and I did when I was younger.
We finally made it to the top of the hill, and the woman lay out a checkered blanket, before placing her wicker basket in the middle, sitting in a single, graceful movement which I longed to be able to replicate.
I sat opposite her, waiting as she ruffled through the basket to produce my favourite kind of sandwich – blackberry jam. I smiled and unwrapped it from its cling wrap package taking a bite and smiling at the woman.
“You know Lilly, if there ever comes a time where I’m not here, all you have to do is remember this tree – our tree, and everything will be ok in the end.”
I gave a short laugh in response to the womans words – as if a tree would make everything suddenly A-OK. That wasn’t how the world worked – things got hard and tough, and not everything got better.
“Don’t worry Gran, I know. I love you.”
The old woman smiled shyly, patting my hand in a soft soothing motion that eventually became a violent shake that pulled me from the sweet memory.
My eyes opened quickly, and the girl from the night before shrunk away, giving a brief smile.
“You were talking in your sleep, and I couldn’t wake you up.” She whispered the words, as though it were a secret.
I groaned, throwing an arm over my face, trying to block out the lights which were beginning to brighten periodically.
“Do you remember?” The words were barely even a whisper they were so quiet and I lifted my arm from my face.
“Remember what?” I questioned, using the same quiet tone she did, noticing how every person was woken up one after another. There were no alarms or any other reason for them to be waking up in such an order and I found it fascinating.
The girl gave me a strange look as I watched a row of boys wake up barely thirty seconds after the one before.
“Remember stuff from before. You know, when there were adults” The last word barely made it out of her mouth, and she shot a quick look to the door, were Eve was standing looking in our direction with a slight frown on her face.
The girl stood in a motion, moving back to her bed and straightening it to utter perfection before coming to stand beside the end of the bed, as though she was in the military and Eve was doing a bed check.
Eve gave a brief smile as the children stood by their beds, walking through the middle stopping every few metres to fix someone’s folding or neaten someone’s pillows. Finally she came to stand before me with an expectant look on her face. Reluctantly I stood, fixing the bed as best I could before standing next to the bed the way everybody else was.
“Good job L.” Eve complimented, and I felt all eyes turn to me in shock as though a compliment was a foreign device never used.
“If you would kindly follow me.” Eve turned away, and I waited five seconds before I began to follow, knowing I needed to be a respectable distance from someone so high up in the chain of command.
“Today you will undergo testing to determine where in our little community you will fit in. There are many jobs available, including teacher, nurse, engineer, and builder. You name it we have a job for it.” Eve smiled, leading me to the left of the main hall where I had never been before.
“What if I’m none of these?” I asked quietly, honestly afraid that I wouldn’t fit in.
Eve pursed her lips; as though she was taking the question very seriously though I had a feeling she didn’t think much of me.
“You will be. We always find jobs for all who join us.” Eve smiled, coming to stop in front of large metal doors with no indication of what was behind them.
Eve took out her golden key chain yet again – finding a small silver key that fit into the key hole perfectly, swinging the door open to reveal a kind of laboratory, where most of the older children I had seen where working on making some kind of green chemical mixture.
“Just go through to that door there.” Eve pointed to the back of the room where a dark wooden door was hidden in the wall.
I gave her a brief smile in thanks and quickly made my way through the room, keeping my eyes on the floor and being sure not to take any deep breaths on the off chance that whatever the science kids were doing was dangerous to my health.
The door swung open before I had even reached it, and a young female stood there in what appeared to be doctor’s robes. The woman – for surely she was older than twenty gave me the once over, dark black eye shadow showed just above her eyes and I wondered where she got it from and whether I could have some. She motioned for me to enter the room and I obliged with a sigh.
This is going to be fun.
I thought sarcastically, as she sat me down opposite her, placing a test paper and a blank piece of paper on my side of the desk.
“L, I am Fee, the resident doctor here in Haven. Today you will be taking an aptitude test to determine which jobs you are best suited for. After that, the Head of whatever career you are suited for will show you to your work area and your first day of work will begin.”
I took a deep breath and Fee smiled.
“Don’t worry; we have something to suit every person here at Haven.” The words were almost forced, as though she was relying on a script to determine what she should say.
She turned the test paper face up and my eyes were swamped with random questions – somewhere maths related, and there were even a few grammatical questions. But it was the first question I was having trouble with.
I quickly started answering questions, using my previous knowledge to answer some of the easier maths questions, but most of them I couldn’t even begin to attempt without a calculator. I found that the English, history and chemistry questions where the easiest.
Once I finished I turned back to the front page, simply putting my identification letter as my name. I smiled before going all the answers, making sure they were right to the best of my knowledge before handing it back to Fee.
She picked it up, turning through the pages slowly, making marks on a pad of paper hidden in her lap. I searched the room for a clock, but found none, and it occurred to me suddenly that in the whole compound I had yet to see a clock.
How do they know the time? I questioned myself, but found no real answer.
“Alright L. It seems you have a choice.” Fee seemed confused by this – as though she wished she had been given the choice when she had come here.
“What are my choices?” I asked nervously, hoping that they were good.
Fee looked up from her notepad with a slight frown on her face. “Scientist or teacher.”
I felt my face go pale; they were certainly very different career choices.
“Do I have to choose now?” I questioned her, and she nodded vigorously.
Great. One minute to choose what I’ll do for probably the rest of my life. No pressure or anything.
“Uh…scientist?” The choice came out as more of a question, and Fee raised a delicate eyebrow. “I mean, I choose being a scientist I guess.”
Fee nodded once, standing in a swift motion and exiting the room, leaving me to wait for the Head of the science division to come and show me where I’ll be working.
It barely took more than what I assumed to be a few minutes for a boy with thick framed black glasses to stick his head through the door, his eyes widened briefly before he fully entered the room, closing the door behind him.
“Hello L?” He questioned, as though he didn’t believe I was meant to be his new recruit.
“Yes, I’m L.” I answered, giving him a brief smile. He looked down to his clipboard, rubbing the back of his neck in confusion.
“Right. I’m J. Come with me.” He pushed his glasses up, though I didn’t think they had moved at all.
I stood; scraping the chair against the ground and making him wince.
“Sorry.” I apologized quickly, moving the chair back to its place and following him from the room making brief eye contact with Fee before moving away from the secret room.
J ignored the area with the kids playing with chemicals and made a quick turn into the main hallway, beckoning me to follow him as he lead me down back to the beginning of where Haven started. As we came closer to the door Eve and I had entered through only yesterday he turned left into a sparsely lit corridor, almost disappearing into the darkness.
I placed a hand on the wall and kept the over in front of me, wondering whether I would run into him or the wall first. I saw J pass through the light up ahead, and I saw that he needed no assistance from the wall to guide him and I scowled.
He could help.
I thought to myself bitterly, hearing a door opening in front of me. I hurried my pace until I could finally see the giant door that marked the beginning of what I assumed to be the science area of Haven.
J stood at the door waiting with an impatient look on his face. I stood beside him, looking into the rectangular room. There were six long tables all facing the front of the room where a professor stood writing equations on the board.
“This is where our junior associates learn the basics.”
We waited a few moments while one of the children answered a question, which the professor exclaimed was precisely the correct answer.
“We strive for perfection, and nothing less.” J stated, as the child’s classmates congratulated him on the perfection of his answer.
J turned away, moving towards the left side of the hall where yet another door stood.
“How many doors are there?” I wondered aloud, and J shot me a small smile.
“Don’t worry; you’ll get the hang of it. I knew this place back to front in two days.” He seemed proud of this accomplishment, and I had to smile back.
J opened the second door, revealing a type of lounge where a few people who I assumed where close to my age sat around a table discussing what looked like a plan for some kind of plane.
“We’re working on aerodynamics right now.” J beamed and I gave a shaky smile back.
J laughed, heading into the room and waving at the people at the table before pulling over two chairs, motioning for me to join him.
I slowly made my way to the chair, looking over the plan for the air craft. I scrunched my brow – it didn’t look anything like what it should. I sat next to J, leaning forward on my knees to get a better look. While they had the right idea, the wing shape was totally wrong.
“You need to change the wings.” I said quietly, more to J than to myself. His eyebrows rose and the others around the table gave me a strange look.
“They need to look more like this” I pointed at the paper, drawing what I remembered being the general design of a wing from a plane.
They turned and looked at one another, before beginning talking over one another very quickly, arguing about the aerodynamics and the formulas required for making such a change. But none of them questioned my idea, or asked where it had come from, which was a relief considering I didn’t really know myself.
J stood suddenly, grabbing my arm and leading me from the room and up the stairs at the back which I hadn’t noticed before since they were practically see through.
Once up the stairs J pulled me into what looked like a mini kitchen with an oven, stove, and dishes.
“How did you know that?” He asked, a hint fear coursing through his tone.
“I don’t know.” I answered truthfully.
“Damn it Lilly answer me!” J slammed his fist on the table, making me jump and tears swam in my eyes.
“I said I don’t know!” I answered, my voice rising with every word.
J seemed to finally believe me and I finally came to understand what he had said.
“Lilly?” My voice was quiet again, and J seemed aghast and what he had said.
“You need to leave.” Was all J would say.
“J, please?” I asked, but he wouldn’t look at me, he simply showed me to the door, telling me to come back tomorrow to begin work.