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2- Midnight Haze

I climbed into my bed, laying down on my back and closed my eyes. After a while I drifted into what I thought would be a restful sleep. It wasn’t. I never dreamed when slept. Or at least, I never remembered dreaming when I woke up. But that night, I dreamed. I was taken to a place that seemed familiar, but I knew it couldn’t be.

It seemed that I was in a building with two comfortable couches, perpendicular to each other. In front of them was a short table with strange books on them. The childish characters on them seemed to indicate they were for children. A doorway in on the edge of the wall across from the couches lead into a room I couldn’t quite see, and a bit away from it was a strange, large screen. On the last remaining wall, there was a staircase leading somewhere. Beside it, were pictures of a strangely familiar family, though I didn’t remember ever seeing them in Sector 2.

But the unfamiliarity wasn’t what was confusing me. It was the colors. The couches were brown, the walls were a pale purple, the books had greens and yellows and oranges and reds. In fact, everything had so many colors, that I couldn’t believe it. But the pictures confused me the most. In one, a man with brown hair held two children, on each arm. They were all smiling. The man wore a white shirt, and strange blue pants. The little girl wore a purple dress with little pink ruffles. her hair was in pigtails, each with a pink bow. The young boy wore a green shirt and tan shorts. None of them had shoes, and they were in a strange place; the ground looked white and grainy, but soft. Beyond it, there was a strange blue grey mass that reminded me of water, but with strange waves that had odd white foam on them.

Before I could analyze any other pictures, I heard young voices.

“Hey!” It was the voice of a young girl, it it pulled at my mind. There was something about it that seemed like I should recognize it. A boy ran in holding a stuffed pink bunny wearing a pink tulle skirt. It was a tutu, I realized in surprise. Was the rabbit supposed to resemble a dancer? Looking back at the boy, I saw he had dirty blonde hair and grey eyes, they same color as my own. He seemed to be about 10 or 11 years old. Behind him ran in a smaller girl, who must’ve been around 6 or 7.

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The little girl had her warm brown hair tied in a ponytail. I saw her tanned skin and grey eyes.She wore a yellow shirt with a daisy on it, and green shorts. She looked like me. This wasn’t possible. No matter how hard I looked for differences between this girl and the younger me I remembered, I saw none. How could this little girl, in this strange place be me. What on earth was I dreaming?

“Oh come on, Little Sis, you asked me to hold onto Bunnybee,” the boy said to the girl.

“I didn’t mean forever, Keke!” She replied in a frustrated tone, stamping her tiny foot. Her strange shoes lit up when she did. “Please give me back my Bunnybee, Keke,” she asked, voice quavering. The boy threw his head back and groaned.

“Alright, alright. Here you go.” He handed her the toy and she took it and hugged it tight.

“Thank you,” she sniffed. The boy just shook his head, looking defeated. They both went and sat on one of the couches, and the girl snuggled into her brother. They sat smiling at each other for a moment, and I felt a strange feeling in my heart. If this girl really was me, did that mean I had a brother? No, that was impossible. I was an orphan, and an only child. Dr. Lucy had told me that. This was just a strange dream, it wasn’t real.

“Zeke, Lee, time to get ready!” A woman shouted. A moment later, the owner of the voice came in. She had a small smile on her gentle face. She had the boys dirty blonde hair, but alarmingly, that was the only thing, outside of an age difference, that separated her from me. She looked exactly like I did, just older. I was now even more confused. Who was this stranger?

“Is it time for ballet, Mom?” The young girl sounded hopeful. Ballet. She wanted to go to ballet class. I fought back the part of me that was screaming. It couldn’t be. It just couldn’t. There was no way that girl was me. I had been in the colony my whole life, so this place, these people, couldn’t be real. But a part of me seemed to say something else; it insisted that this was more than a dream, it was an impossible truth.

“It is, Sweet Girl! And Zeke is going to go get ready for Karate,” the woman said. The girl squealed and popped up for the couch, and began jumping around. The lady she’d called her mother laughed. It was a warm sound, which soothed me, though I couldn’t explain why. “You really love dance, don’t you Lee?” the boy asked with a smile.

“Of course Keke! And Mrs. St. Clair said I’ll start learning a solo today! She said I get to perform is at the spring recital,” she replied still jumping.

“That’s awesome! And guess what?” the boy said.

“What?” she replied.

“Mr. Dean said I get to start competing soon!” he said grinning.

“Yeah! Keke’s gonna kick some booty!” she cheered. She ran over to him and gave him a hug. Her brother laughed and put his arms around her. Then he leaned back, picking her up and making her giggle. The mother smiled at them.

This was all so bizarre. I didn’t want to believe it. This place couldn’t be familiar, that girl couldn’t be me. I had no brother, and my mother died when I was born. I never wore yellow or green, I had never seen this place. This was dream, it wasn’t a memory. There was no way I could’ve ever been here. No place like this existed. Blue was the only color people used, and that meant this was all false.

Then the woman spoke. “You are the happiest girl I have ever met, my sweet Leonora.”

I woke to the alarm bell. I sat up quickly, giving myself a head rush. With a deep breath I tried to clear my mind. With the memory, no, the dream still stuck in my brain, I began to get out of bed. I made my way to the closet, and selected a blue dress. It was a loose dress which went just past my knees, and had both a thin strap, and a thick strap off the shoulder. I went to the bathroom and turned on the shower.

With the warm water flowing down my back, I thought about the vivid dream. That girl who seemed to be me, the boy who was her brother, and their mother. I never remembered what I dreamt when I woke up, but I couldn’t get this out of my head. What was happening? I stepped out of my shower, steam flowing around me, beginning to dissipate. It somehow echoed the haze in my mind that a part of me felt was clearing. As soon as I was dressed and leaving the bathroom, the intercom buzzed.

“Attention, Sector 2. Unfortunately, the residual effects of the leak are still being fixed. All meals, including breakfast, will be delivered, and the day’s schedule is on hold. We’re so sad not to see you, but the issue should be under control soon. Residents can spend today in leisure activities, though work spaces will be closed. The garden and library will be open. Thank you, and have a beautiful day.”

As if enough chaos wasn’t already taking me over, a new feeling emerged- suspicion. What was happening? A construction error suddenly didn’t seem likely. No mistake could cause all this. Something was happening, something big. And despite my best efforts I couldn’t believe what I was told.

Breakfast was delivered, and my mind raced while I ate. I had a feeling that if I revealed my suspicion bad things would happen. I had to pretend nothing was wrong, behave as if I was exactly the same. That was the only way I’d ever be able to satisfy why curiosity burning in my brain, was to act normal.

I sat in bed, reading a my favorite book again. As I read, I noticed things I’d never payed attention to before. In the beginning, the woman was sitting under a tree, thinking about her life. An image of the girl from my dream chasing the boy around a space enclosed with uniform wood panels appeared. They were laughing, and the sun shone down on the warm grass they played on. A young tree stood in the corner or the yard, beginning to find its way towards the sky. Even though I didn’t know what these things were 24 hours ago, I knew what they were now.

The story continued, with a dark figure appearing and capturing the girl, taking her to a dark place. Another image appeared. The girl was being carried away by a man in a blue armored uniform. She was crying and reaching out towards her mother, who was screaming and being held back by another uniformed man. The man from the picture was held by two of the girls kidnappers, but he was fighting to escape them. The boy was laying unconscious on the ground beside the woman. They were all older now. I felt a pain in my heart.

Then, after becoming unwillingly accustomed to the strange new place the woman in the story was taken, someone tried to take her away. Her captor responding by giving her a fruit, which would forced her to stay in the new place. Again, an image appeared. The girl from my dream, about 14 now, was restrained in a chair, sobbing. Then I saw Dr. Lucy, emotionless, approaching the girl with a syringe. There were two men in blue watching. One in the military uniform the Colony’s soldiers wore, and the other in a leaders outfit.

It suddenly hit me. These were memories. The first was when I was ten. I had been playing tag with Zeke in the backyard. Our family had planted the tree the summer before. Though I didn’t see them in the memory, Mom and Dad had been sitting on the porch drinking iced tea and talking. Dad was an engineer, and Mom worked as a receptionist at my dance studio. Zeke had started competing in karate a few years before, and now he was working towards his black belt, which he almost had. Soon he’d start Jiu Jitsu. I had started competing in dance last year, and I won every competition I was in. I’d never gotten lower then second, and my seconds were all in group numbers.

The second was when I was thirteen, though my birthday was in a week. A few months before, strange things began happening. I didn’t really understand at the time, but some of the wealthy had been trying to do something the news said was bad. They had quickly taken over, and a few weeks prior, they started taking the extremely talented, people of all ages. My family had tried to hide me but it was too late. The Colony’s founders already knew about me. They broke into our hide out and took me. Zeke was guarding me, while Mom and Dad slept. He’d tried to fight them, but he was outnumbered, and they’d knocked him out a grabbed me. At that point my parents had run in, and the men restrained them. I had be fighting my captor, so he simply picked me up. and took me away from my family. I didn’t know what happened to them afterwards, but I had a horrible suspicion.

And the final one was from my 14th birthday. They’d been going through the prisoners, starting with the adults and working their way back to the kids, and injecting them with something that would make them submissive, something that would make them forget the truth and remember a false reality. It was the immune booster, the weekly shot, I realized. I had spent the week in a cell, below the Colony, with two other girls- Sasha and Aliyah. Aliyah had been taken to the room where they injected you first, fighting and cursing the whole time. Then I’d been taken, following in Aliyah’s foot steps. Sasha was crying in fear as I was dragged toward that accursed room. She knew what was coming. Dr. Lucy told me that if I didn’t cooperate they’d force me to. I spit in her face, and she had the men shove me in the chair with the restraints.

The rest was fairly obvious. I’d been injected, and they fed me the story about my past. I choked back my tears, remembering what I’d told myself earlier- act normal. But I knew, I had to get out of this prison, one way or another.

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