Beep. Beep. Beep.
The alarm clock rang out in the darkness.
Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.
A hand reached out and suppressed the noise, hitting the stop button on the top of the alarm. The girl sat up and rubbed the sleep out of her eyes. She swung her legs off side of the bed, pushing back the covers, and focused on the green light that seeped through the crack underneath the door, signaling the start of another day. Once her eyesight adjusted, she rose up out of her bed and headed for the bathroom.
Upon entering the tiny space, a dim light automatically flickered on above the mirror. She opened the magnetic cabinet against the wall, and retrieved a toothbrush with a small white tube of toothpaste. She gazed at her cream colored complexion as she robotically brushed her teeth, using as little water as was possible. Next she picked up a brush on the shelf and combed through her golden brown hair that fell just past her shoulders. Finally, she dressed herself in jeans and a blue shirt.
The light in the bathroom went off as soon as the girl crossed back into her bedroom, but no other lights turned on from her movement across the floor. A bell rang in the hallway outside, a reminder that it was time to leave. The girl zipped up a black jacket, stopping at the nape of her neck. She grabbed a beige messenger bag and slung it over her head, checking to make sure her books were snugly inside. Fastening the button, she grabbed a smaller black bag that hung on the wall of the door, of which she stuffed with sealed bottles of water and packaged nutrition bars from a brown cabinet nearby.
Slinging the black pack over the same shoulder the messenger bag rested on, she opened the door and stepped into the hallway. The green light above her door changed to orange, as soon as it closed behind her. The hallway was filled with doors, just like hers with lights above each one. Some of the lights were already colored orange, while some were still green, but one door stood out among the others. This door had a red light above it, on the right side, at the end of the hallway. She didn’t pause for this uniqueness even though she noticed the change, but turned in the opposite direction and made her way down the hall to the nearest stairwell. As she passed the green lights, some of her neighbors appeared from their rooms, dressed in the same manner as she. They didn’t say a word to one another as they followed the same path.
The stairwell was dimly lit, and bleak in color. There weren’t any windows or art décor. Some of the others nodded hasty greetings, but still no words were spoken. The only sound was that of feet, pattering down the tiled stairs. They all carried books and bags, all of which were the same colors and designs. The pack headed in the same direction, down into the lower levels of the building they lived in.
The girl reached the main hallway from which traffic between the interconnected stairwells and buildings converged. This particular walkway stood out among the other halls in her dorm, mostly because of its characteristic white walls and the pristine black marble floor that separated the building from the residential units. Flat screen panels lined either side of the main juncture. They were mounted side by side, and each one was designated for a particular news station. Some among the crowd stopped and listened to the broadcasts, while others continued onward. The girl continued on past the electric news boards, not bothering to look up and acknowledge the automatic presence. Despite the lack of attention she gave the media, she still heard the broadcasts blaring from the displays.
“The New Regulatory Commission announced their candidate for President this morning, confirming a push to make blood typing mandatory for all citizens. Merrick Hall was all smiles as he waved to the crowd…” one news lady reported.
“It has been confirmed that disease plagues Asia and the Indies. We have reports of the virus taking on new biological changes. How will these changes affect us? We can only hope to stop the spreading pandemic that has swept the world…” an anchorman spoke from another television.
“The Vampire Council seized control of the government early this morning, demanding that the remaining humans follow a set of strict rules. Everyone must report to the blood centers for aid in the search of finding a cure for the mutated genome. All students within agency owned laboratories are exempt from this rule…” another news lady announced.
The girl swallowed her tension and hurried on down the hallway, in order to escape the news briefs. She turned down another hall that branched off the main one. This hall was lined with small teal and green tiles on the walls. The ceiling too was green, albeit a sickly green, but the floor kept its shiny black. Dark blue metal doors, with tiny windows set into the middle, were scattered along the walls. Cameras dotted the ceiling, at every corner and every juncture, focusing on every part of the hallway, the rooms, and the exits.
The girl opened one of the doors labeled 6J, and hurried on into the room. Several students were already seated at the blacktop tables. She sat next to a boy who looked near her age. A black beanie covered the top of his semi-short blond hair, but it didn’t do a good job as tufts of straw stuck out from underneath the hat. His arms were crossed as he leaned on the table top, covered by his long sleeved grey shirt. The frayed ends of his light blue jeans met a worn pair of running shoes. His boyish face glanced at the girl as she sat down.
“Did you hear the news?” he whispered.
Her green eyes glanced at him sharply. She didn’t respond to his question. Instead she nodded her head slightly by tilting it upwards.
The boy bobbed his head in understanding her gesture, knowing it wasn’t the appropriate time to talk.
The classroom slowly filled up with people. Several minutes later another bell chimed in the hallway and everyone broke into hurried chatter.
The girl began before he could speak. “Why do you have to break the rules, James? You know what’ll happen if you get caught,” she stressed.
James shook his head. “You always worry Meygan. I’m fine. They’re not going to boot me.”
Meygan shook her head. “You always say that, but you’re not…” she stopped suddenly, as she didn’t want to express her thoughts.
James studied her face. “Not what? An alpha student?”
Meygan blushed, but remained silent.
“Believe me, regardless of my caste, I’m safe,” he smugly stated.
Meygan shook her head again. “I’m sorry.”
James shrugged. “I know. Now back to the news. Did you hear about Merrick?”
“Yeah, I caught some of that chatter on the way in.” She stared at the table.
“You don’t approve?”
“I think blood typing is wrong, that’s all.”
He shook his head. “We have a pandemic on our hands Meygan. If blood typing doesn’t fix it, then what will?”
Her eyes met his. “I don’t know,” she whispered. “I just know that if you force everyone, mutant, half human, vampire, anyone, it is a wrong decision. I’ve always believed that in my heart. We shouldn’t have to do that.”
“Well, I think it’s the only way to slow the spread of the mutation. There isn’t a place on this world that is safe anymore.”
Meygan shook her head at James’s stubbornness.
He smiled at her. “You’ll see, it’ll work.”
She sighed aloud. Several minutes went by in silence between the two of them. “There was a red light on in the hallway this morning,” she finally stated, breaking the tension between the two of them.
“An alpha died?” James blurted out, shocked by her statement.
She toyed with one of her pens. “I heard screaming in the middle of the night again.”
Her friend stared intently at her face, hoping she would elaborate. “Any idea who it was?”
She shook her head.
He looked back down at the blacktop. “I guess the latest antidote didn’t work. Either that or the mutation’s spreading. The sooner we isolate the gene the better.”
Before Meygan could respond a buzzer went off and an adult appeared from the hallway. The lady walked in with a large briefcase and placed it on the table in the front of the room. She wore a white lab coat over light blue scrubs, and her brown hair was twisted away from her face into a bun. She turned towards the others.
“Good morning. We have research to do this day. It seems our latest drug is still missing an enzyme to isolate the mutant gene. We need to do more testing to improve this.” She reached into her briefcase and pulled out several manila folders filled with paper. She passed them out to the lab desks. “Inside you’ll find all the materials you’ll need to study these new formulas for the drug. I would like a detailed report on the chemical structure of the drug, including possible side effects that might occur from using it. I would also like to know if the formula could isolate the mutant gene and keep it from replicating. Please have the reports on my desk before midday break.” The lady left the room taking her briefcase with her.
Meygan sighed and opened the folder. “Well, let’s get cracking.”James helped sort out the papers.