The Journey Begins
Restless and unable to fall asleep she had put on some pants and a sweater and strolled outside. It being a warm night, she laid down on the grass and looked up towards the vastness of the universe. Tomorrow she would be leaving this planet for good. Flying across that vast and endless universe she was looking up at now to fulfill her forced destiny. She had never asked for this ‘opportunity’ and she did not want it. As for the rest of the chosen people, it seemed that most of them were honored to have to leave this planet behind. Brainwashed by the government and their screens in every street. “An opportunity to be a pioneer,” they screamed. “To go down in history as the first humans to explore and populate the universe!” It was bullshit; they knew the first group of people probably wouldn’t survive, but the earth was slowly dying and they needed some willing guinea pigs to ensure the survival of the human race. So they had orchestrated a lottery. It was no coincidence then that the people who were chosen happened to be from the lower parts of society. She herself was a lowlife, with no parents she was in and out of foster care until two years ago she finally turned sixteen and nobody cared anymore where she went. She had little to no education apart from the books she had found or stolen over the years. She loved to read and learn, but she never had had the opportunity or the means to actually go to college. It wouldn’t matter anymore anyway; once they arrived at the new planet survival would be her main focus. Her life had always been about survival and it seemed that wouldn’t change in the near future. The chosen people had been trained rigorously the last couple of months, engaging in endurance training and survival skills. They even had to learn how to fight although they kept reassuring them that there shouldn’t be anything hostile on the planet. T4-27 it was called, for now. Once they were settled they would have the honor to rename the place. That is if they survived of course, but nobody mentioned that part.
She must have drifted off because when she opened her eyes she saw a blue sky instead of stars. Hastily she got up and went inside to jump into the shower. The screen in her room lit up. “Good morning Elara,” the mechanical voice roaring through her room. “Your vitamins and breakfast are to be found in the provisions cabinet. It is now 7:30 AM. Departure is scheduled for 10:00 AM. Your caretaker will be with you in approximately 30 minutes to get you into your gear. Have a good day.” She rolled her eyes and turned the shower off. She wondered if he would show up. His name was Adam and from the moment she had met him two months ago he had been hard on her.
During her first weeks, she had tried to talk to him but never got anything more than a short, uninterested answer in return. So after two weeks of talking to a metaphorical wall, she had just stopped trying. Until last week something changed. On Monday he hadn’t shown up for their training together, which was strange and it annoyed her. If she would have been the one to not show up or be late he would flip out. And when on Tuesday he did turn up he had had an anxious look in his eyes. He would stare in the distance and get distracted during training, which resulted in Elara kicking him in his stomach by accident. On Wednesday he had stopped mid-training, had looked at her and said: “I’m sorry.” “For what?” she had responded confused. “For this.” He gestured to the courtyard. “For all of it. I understand if you hate me.” She had not known how to respond, stunned by the number of words that came out of his mouth. “I… I don’t hate you, though you could be a bit less of an annoying prick during the exercises.” she joked, the corner of his mouth went up but dropped again when she said: “I just hate that it wasn’t my choice to be here.” He looked away from her, tightening his jaw. “I know.” She saw something that looked like anger flash across his eyes before he turned abruptly and left without saying another word.
He did not show up anymore after that and she hadn’t been able to shake the feeling that something was off after that.
She dried her hair and put it up in a ponytail, took her underwear from the clothing cabinet and sat down on her bed after putting them on. She looked at the screen, 8:35 AM. Guess he is not coming today as well, she thought. Just as she was thinking about going to put the gear on herself Adam came barging in through the door. “What is...” she started. “Get up,” he said whilst taking her gear from the life-sized dummy who was wearing it now. “Get up, I said. Come on, hurry!” She got up and he started pulling at her leg to get the pants on. “Adam… what’s going… ouch!” she yelped as he yanked the top part of her suit over her head. “Stand still,” he reprimanded “We don’t have much time.” “What are you on about? Departure is in more than an hour we have plenty of time.” She tried looking at him directly but he kept avoiding her gaze. He started checking her suit and securing all the straps. “They can’t know I’m here with you so I have to be fast,” he announced. “Of course they know you are here you are my caretaker. Seriously Adam, what is going on! Where were you the last couple of days?” He grabbed her arm and shoved her against the wall, out of sight of the camera in the screen. “What the…!” “Shhh!” he interrupted her by putting his hand over her mouth. “I need you to be quiet and listen to me very carefully Elara,” He looked behind him at the screen and then back at her, “You are in danger” With his hand still over her mouth she looked at him. She had never seen him this scared and, to be honest, it terrified her. “They are sending you to that planet for a different reason than you think.” He kept looking behind him to the screen. “When you get there you have to be very careful and you can not trust anybody. Do you understand me?” She wanted to say that no, she did not understand him at all and what the hell was he talking about, but his hand was still covering her mouth so she just nodded at him. Footsteps sounded in the hallway and he held her gaze, “I am very sorry for what I am going to do now, but they can’t have any suspicions about what I was doing here… I hope I can see you again.” He paused. A strange sadness came across his eyes, then the door opened and before Elara realized what he was doing he put his arms around her waist and kissed her. She was shocked, to say the least, but before she could kick him and yell at him the commander stepped into her room. He cleared his throat, “Adam… I thought we were clear about relationships between caretakers and their subjects.” Adam released her and turned to the commander, “My apologies sir, I should’ve known better, but...” “You should’ve, yes, now step away from subject 14 and make your way to the launch pad already,” he commanded, “I will escort 14 there myself.” “Yes, sir.” Adam replied and started making his way towards the door. He looked back over his shoulder at her when he exited. Horrified, she looked from the now empty doorframe to the commander.
She found him smiling at her, which made her feel even more uncomfortable than she already felt after Adam’s stunt. “I’m glad I get to talk to you alone for a bit before you leave.” He took one too many steps towards her and automatically she wanted to take a step backward but, thanks to Adam, she was against the wall and stuck with the commander in her comfort zone. He looked at her suit towards a loose strap. “I see Adam got distracted whilst helping you into your suit, may I?” Before she could reply his hands were already on her side, fastening the strap, and lingering a bit too long after he was finished. “Thank you,” she said, not knowing what else to say or do. He stared at her as if he was looking for something. “No problem, how are you feeling? Ready for the journey?” “I think so,” she replied. “Good.” He smiled at her. “It is very important to us that you all are very healthy and in good condition. We don’t want anything to happen to you when you’re there of course. Especially you, Elara, we are all looking very forward to seeing how you will fare on T4-27.” Puzzled she looked up at him, “Why especially me?” “Well, I don’t want to give too much away Elara, that would spoil the fun. Let’s just say that we believe you are more talented than the others.” This doesn’t make any sense, she thought, has everyone gone mad today? “Talented? What do…” “Enough talk, it is almost time for departure. Everything will be clear to you in due time. I will show you to the ship. Follow me.” He turned around and walked out of her room. Elara let out a sigh of relief and followed him.
On their way to the launch area, a few other subjects from her group joined them. Among them was Josie, her only sort of friend here. They had met a couple of times during the two months of training and Elara had thought she was nice enough. Now, she heard Adam’s warning in her mind when she saw her. She was still in shock after all the events of this morning and she didn’t know who to trust anymore. “Hey!” Josie smirked at her. “Ready?” Elara looked at the ground. “Sure,” she replied. “As ready as I’ll ever be.” Josie looked at her quizzically “Is there anything you want to talk about?” she asked. Elara looked at her, “No, thanks. I’m fine.” Josie looked at her as if she suspected that Elara wasn’t telling the truth, but she didn’t say anything more about it. She didn’t want this feeling of not trusting Josie. It had been nice having a friendly face around. Everything was fine until Adam came bursting in this morning. Still, she couldn’t shake the feeling that maybe he was right. She didn’t even know what she could tell Josie now anyway. Adam wasn’t exactly clear and the commander had been even vaguer. She was more talented? What the hell was he talking about?
They arrived at the launch pad and were directed onto the ship. Before she entered, she turned around and saw Adam watching her from a distance. “Be careful” he mouthed. She nodded and went inside. What a strange turn of events she thought. If someone had told her two weeks ago that Adam would suddenly start talking to her, let alone kiss her, she would’ve laughed in their face. “Please step into your pods!” the commander bellowed. She stepped inside and strapped herself in. The commander came by to put the infusion into her arm. All of a sudden he leaned over to her and whispered in her ear. “I trust that you won’t tell anybody about our little conversation before? We don’t want anybody getting jealous and take it out on your friend over there.” He nodded towards the pod Josie had just stepped in. Just as she turned her face to follow his gaze he jammed the syringe into her arm. She gasped and looked in horror at the smiling commander. “Safe journey.” she heard him say sweetly before falling into a dreamless sleep.
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