Darkness. Swirls of color...echoes of voices. What’s happening? I feel a tight grip on my upper arm, and light blares down on me as I open my eyes.
“Silence! What’s the last thing you remember?”
I try to focus my mind, or merely just see through the blinding, white glow. Finally, words come to my lips, almost against my own accord.
“I was turning to face the Head Inspector...he was to tell me if I was to live or die.”
A short laugh emerges from the light. “Good! Her memories were correctly wiped. I was afraid you might not even remember who you were.” Another laugh echoes through the air.
“Who are you? Why can’t I see?”
I know that in this moment of time, people might think I’d ask more substantial questions like why they wiped my memories (and yes that does freak me out), but at this point, I don’t really put anything past the government. I just hope there isn’t anything too vitally important in those memories. If, however, the wiped memories are anything like the ones I remember...well, I don’t really mind that a few of them got erased.
I hear the squeaky grate of stubborn metal, and then the light begins to fade. I’m lying on my back, white ceiling above me. I feel like I’m in a hospital. The face bending down over me is nearly indiscernible, covered with a mask, but it is distinctly feminine. A lamp is turned to the side, its sharp rays now glaring onto the floor.
“Don’t worry, Olivia. Everything is ok.”
“Yeah, that’s not on my top ten things I’m ever going to believe. You can’t promise me everything will be ok because there sure is a lot of messed up stuff in my past that you will never be able to make right.”
“Well, I suppose you are right, but you have the opportunity to decide for yourself what you want your future to be. You get to decide what ‘ok’ is for you.”
“What do you mean?”
Reaching out her hand, the lady lifts me from my bed. I definitely am in a hospital. She leads me to an elevator and brings us to the main lobby. It is packed full of all sorts of people, yet the place is incredibly quiet. The lady’s shoes make a click, click, click that seems like gunshots in the still room. A few people glance up with those same blank faces, but most keep their eyes glued to the floor.
After going through enough halls to make me dizzy, we stop at a door that is different than all the rest. Most of the doors, like the halls themselves, are painted white. This door, however, is made of wood. She knocks three times and after a brief pause enters the room.
The room is much like the one I last remember, the same cluttered office feel: lots of books, dim lights, and a large desk. The clear difference is on either side of the desk are two different doors, both open. On the right, I see through the doorway a white room with bright fluorescent lights. On the left, the door seems to lead to an elevator.
I jump in surprise to see the Head Inspector sitting at the desk. I inwardly groan. How many times will I have to go through this exact same experience?
“I’m sorry, Olivia. I know this must be very confusing. I give you my word we will play with your mind no more. I hope that you will allow yourself to find the answers to all your questions.”
“Yes!” The Head Inspector stands up, seeming much excited, “Indeed! That is the offer I wish to make to you. I want you to be trained as an Inspector. I want you to be a part of running the system you were once a member of.”
I stand there, shocked beyond belief. He pauses, and seeing my confusion, hurries on.
“You will receive the answers to all your hardest questions.”
“Why is this system in place? Why are most killed, yet some allowed to live? What memories did we wipe from you and why? Even the reasons for this offer, or the fate of your family and friends...all you have to do is accept my offer. We are honored to have you on our team. You will be an amazing Inspector.”
“What would happen if I didn’t accept your offer?”
He gives me a bewildered look, but then merely shrugs his shoulders.
“Oh, you’d have to be killed.”
I feel my cheeks go white, my eyes lighting up with fire.
“You’re giving me an ultimatum?”
“Well...that wasn’t really the intention but-“
“What sort of person do you think I am? I of all people have seen and experienced the horrors of this system, and yet you think the next moment I’m going to turn around and join it?”
“It’s not that bad-”
“Not that bad! It only systematically kills five people a day, separating families and crushing out the very humanity out of the hearts of its members. I’m sorry, sir, but there is still something other than a cold hunger for survival in my heart. I will have no part of that which killed my dearest friends and destroyed their lives.”
The Head Inspector grits his teeth, letting a grunt of frustration escape.
“Must we wipe her memory again?”
“Sir, I’m sorry, but as I told you, wiping her memory will not make her give a different answer.” the lady interrupts.
“It was worth the try, though, Doctor. Please, I implore you one last time...for your life...even for your pure curiosity...will you join us? How can you judge our actions when you don’t know our motives?”
I realize that this is possibly the last decision I will ever have to make (considering I highly doubt they’ll let me pick my coffin.) I take a deep breath. I see Quinlyn’s sweet smile...Madison’s cheerful laugh...Meg’s warm hugs...Shelly’s desperate loyalty...and Blonde Beard’s sacrifice. I bite my lip willing myself not to cry. I take a step forward, pulling myself up to my full height and glaring into the Head Inspector’s eyes.
Anger and disappointment rival in his eyes for a moment.
“So be it.”
He snaps his fingers and two guards come out of the doorway on the right. Flanking me, they pull me inside with them. Three other guards are inside, each with a gun. They set me against the wall before lining themselves in front. I’m not afraid. This isn’t being forced upon me anymore. This is my decision.
“Any second thoughts?” I hear a small flicker of hope in the Head Inspector’s voice. I don’t even bother answering. He gives one last sigh.
“Very well then, 73125A. Congratulations on completing the system. Fire!”
End of Part 1
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