| Prologue |
| Fears |
The Institute phobiologist closes the metal door softly and turns to the girl, sitting quietly in a chair. She looks at him warily.
“What is your name, dear?” the man asks.
The girl mumbles, “Ruby.”
“Your full name, please.”
She takes a deep breath. “My name is Ruby Grace Flanagan.”
“And why are you here, Ruby?”
“Shouldn’t you know that?” Ruby asks the phobiologist.
“Yes, I suppose I should. Now, I’m going to read the file that we have on you carefully. I want you to tell me if everything is correct.”
Ruby nods her head.
“Okay. So, your full name is Ruby Grace Flanagan. You are fourteen years old and your birthday is on November third. Am I correct so far?” She nods again, and so does he. “It says here that you have no known living family members. Your parents and older sister died in a skydiving accident. You used to babysit for children in your neighborhood. And you do not like hospitals. Hmm. Is all of this true?”
“Y-yes. It is.”
“What are you afraid of, Ruby?”
A flash of the accident comes across her mind. “Falling.”
The time she was left alone at home by the accident. “Being forgotten.”
The hospital room her mother, father, and older sister died in. “Heart monitors.”
“I see. Unique, indeed,” the phobiologist marvels.
“Okay, Miss Flanagan. You’ll be staying in the west wing, Dormitory 126 along with a couple of other girls that will be coming in today.”
“Let the next patient in,” says another phobiologist in another room.
A girl with a small build walks in. She looked relieved to see that the phobiologist that she was seeing was a woman.
“Hello, Lakota. I’ve read your file and it seems that you haven’t improved much since our last session. What happened?”
“I don’t know. I guess I haven’t been very motivated lately,” Lakota answers dully.
“Well, that’ll hopefully be fixed, because you’re moving to a new dorm room with two new girls. Maybe you can help each other out. You could show them around and help them get started. They could help motivate you with your fears. I heard that one of the girls was quite a good babysitter. She could help calm down your fear of the night.”
“Calm down?” Lakota asks.
The woman leans in and puts her elbows on the desk in front of her. “How much sleep have you been getting recently, Lakota?”
Lakota looks at her. “Not much, I suppose.”
“Well, that is how Ruby can help. Also, she may need some… condolences.”
The phobiologist purses her lips before answering. “Her family died in an accident recently. Each of her fears are associated with the accident.”
“Oh… What about the other girl?”
“Her name is Kathleen. She’s not that perceptive to her fears, as they’re typically common and are taken care of regularly in the building. She is two years younger than you, so I simply wish that you look after her. You and Ruby, both.”
Lakota nods in agreement.
“Okay, then. It seems that time is up for you today. You will be sent to room 126 shortly.” The phobiologist stands and shakes hands with Lakota before walking out of the room.
“So, your fears are only common, but you cannot live outside of security,” says yet another Institute employee with a heavy German accent. “When you feel your fears, you become uncontrollable, and you are quite noisy in general.”
The pink-haired thirteen year-old answered, “What’s that supposed to mean?”
The man looks at her incredulously. “You’re kidding.”
“Well,” she says to the man, “You're rude, your breath obviously stinks, and you, sir, are quite a nuisance in general. Now, if we're almost done here, I would like to go to my room.”
The phobiologist grunts, “Fine. Here’s the key.”
“Thank you,” she says, taking the key and walking briskly out into the hallway.