Ok, so I'm basically doing this L_J to organize and share my book, related notes, and maybe a few random musings...
Number 487 jolted awake, covered in cold sweat. This was not an unusual occurrence, as this happened most nights, but this night she was particularly startled. Every night 487 was plagued with vivid dreams that followed similar patterns. She dreamed in static images concerning her peers and the places she had been within the Refuge. Most days she saw the pictures reflect themselves within scenarios throughout the waking day. Sometimes she’d see a person who had fallen in a previous dream suddenly trip in the corridor, or she’d see an argument play out the next day after she dreamed of angry faces. She did not attribute this to much; she merely felt as though she had good intuition. She could tell when people were lying most of the time and could spot where information was being withheld. This dream, however, was different. It contained a face that she had never seen. She dreamed of a blond haired woman who looked as though she was smiling and crying at the same time. # 487 felt an uncontrollable longing for this woman, but as soon as she focused on her face she felt more alone than she ever had. Blink didn’t dream fictitious dreams… period. Perhaps there really was a first time for everything. She tried to convince her self of this, but the growing emptiness dwelling in her stomach argued otherwise.#487
was used to feeling alone. Living as one of the infected in the underground quarantine left her ties to humanity severed. #487
, however, was exceptionally withdrawn when compared to her peers in The Refuge. The others dubbed her Blink due to her tendency to stare off into space and occasionally blinking back into reality with a violent jolt. What the other children couldn’t perceive was that Blink’s daydreams were often a source of unquantifiable information. Blink saw more images when day dreamed, and so she had her intuitions all throughout the day. The other infected didn’t make efforts to interact with Blink. This was not only due to Blink’s lack of visible ties to reality, but also because of her uncanny ability to determine the validity of the infecteds’ statements. People don’t tend to talk to people who can accurately call them liars.
As a typical infected, Blink’s energy was in a state of constant deficit. Each of her steps was a labored chore and required much effort. Despite the fact that she was nearly 16, she looked as though her body was that of a 13 year olds. She was small, and so pale that it looked as though she was an empty vessel. Her dark hair and blazing green eyes contrasted the tone of her skin drastically. Shadows inhabited the space below her eyes and
Blink lay still between the worlds of the sleeping and of the awake. She wasn’t ready to completely wake up and break through her thermal cellophane sheets so soon. Blink decided to open her eyes and stared at the white ceiling. She took a deep breath and drew all the strength she had, from the tips of her toes to the tips of her fingers; she found enough strength to break free of her bed and she reluctantly headed towards the sterilization chamber; her bed closed behind her, melted the cellophane from the night and disposed of her contaminated sheets.
She reached the corridor leading to the sterilization chamber and placed her hand on a biometric panel that guarded the doorway. After a pin prick and an optic scan the door slid open.
“Hello number 487” said the entrance way in a cool metallic voice.
“My name is Blink” she argued almost inaudibly.
“Please proceed, and place your contaminants into the incineration chute,” replied the entrance way without hesitation. Blink did what she was told and undressed. She then placed her thin white paper-like clothes into the chute and walked into the chamber. The door closed automatically behind her as she walked to her assigned sterilization pod. She opened the pod and reluctantly stepped inside. The pod, like everything else in The Refuge, was brushed aluminum. It was box shaped and was large enough to fit her whole body. There was a hose connected to the outside of the pod which lead to the depth of the incineration chute. The door closed, leaving Blink in total darkness which only intensified her anxious anticipation of the moments to come.
“Sterilization will commence in 5…4..3…2…1…Please hold your breath and remain relaxed.”
Blink had already been holding her breath, but she could never relax. First there was the sound of what was essentially a giant vacuum. Next came the sensation that her life was being sucked out of her and it rattled her core. It took all of her minute amount of strength to fight the darkness she saw and remain conscious; she often lost that battle. It was over in a minute but it might as well have been an hour, or a day. Blink had passed out while leaning on the door. When it opened she fell onto the white tile floor and the vile machine wished her a good day. The blinding white halogen lights woke her up and brought her back to reality. Through hazy eyes she saw the other girls stumbling out of their pods and Blink didn’t feel alone.
“That didn’t feel too great…”she mumbled sarcastically under her breath as she approached the disposable clothing dispenser. She had to place her hand on yet another biogenetic sensor in order to pick up her fresh set of white clothes neatly wrapped to prevent contamination. She ripped the bundle apart and hastily put on her clothes. Her thin garbs only just cut the chill, but she was glad to be wearing them anyway.
Blink slowly walked the corridor to the mess hall. She ignored the other infected’s greetings and hellos. She was focused on her dream and didn’t know what to think of the images that she saw. She remembered a flying vehicle, floating cities, and a crying woman who tugged at Blink’s heart. She knew that finding that face was important but she couldn’t even begin to fathom how to locate her.
Almost in a daze she reached her assigned seat. Already seated at the table were two boys. The first was a small shadow of a boy called “Smith” but his formal number was #597
. His green eyes were the only hint of color that broke through the wall of pale that was his body. His hair was platinum and his skin was a ghostly white. When looking at his tiny body it was hard to imagine that he was older than a boy of eight, when in reality he was over the age of 12.
Next to Smith was Connor. Connor, #236
, was 17 years old and was one of the oldest kids in The Refuge. He was called Connor, because he could never resist conning someone to trade something of value for rubbish from the outside world, Upperville. The infected were obsessed with things from the outside and Connor was the one who provided. His dark hair and eyes mimicked the shadows in which he hid. He was tall, and as bulky as one could get while living in the refuge. He wasn’t as tired as the others. Perhaps the most surprising thing about Connor was that he constantly kept #597
by his side, despite the fact that they were complete opposites of each other both in physique and mannerism. Connor gave Smith his name; no one knows what Smith’s name is in reference to, but #597
embraced it and was Connor’s faithful companion.
Blink closed her eyes in an attempt to break through her daze, but instead she saw an image of Smith’s hand on a locked bedroom door. She was startled by this, because no one in the Refuge had any need to touch the doors; they opened at assigned times during the day. They opened in the morning, and closed when it was night. She tried to probe Smith in order to decipher the image she had seen.
“Hey, Smith,” Blink had to initiate this conversation as stealthily as she could; she never talked to anyone and Connor would most likely get suspicious if she seemed to be prying. Connor already was suspicious of Blink; he was always looking at her and looked as though he was constantly debating whether or not he liked or hated her.
“How was your night? Did you sleep well?” Blink blurted out. She immediately felt unnatural speaking aloud, and this did not seem to be a great introductory question.
“Fine, I guess. I didn’t sleep too well,” Smith answered, he didn’t seem to mind Blink’s questioning. In the corner of her eye she saw Connor’s face harden. She continued her questions anyway.
“Why couldn’t you sleep well? I don’t usually have any problems sleeping…” she paused and added reluctantly, “I seem to be dreaming all the time anyway.”
“I have seen that.” He answered as though it was nothing but pure fact. Before he could continue Connor stopped him.
“Hey Blink,” Connor started, his eyes were narrowed but he maintained a calm
demeanor. “Smith has problems sleeping at night. He doesn’t like being alone the entire night.”
Blink knew this wasn’t the truth; this was a downright lie, but she wasn’t going to push the issue.
Blink noticed that Smith couldn’t stop staring at her. Every time her eyes dropped to look at her food, she felt Smith’s stare. Every time she looked up to investigate she saw Smith wince as Connor kicked him under the table to look back down. She knew that they weren’t only lying, but were hiding something, something important. She finished eating quickly. Before she left the table, she looked at Connor, threw caution to the wind, and said quietly “I know you’re up to something Connor; you may be able to con everyone else, but I know better.” She left without hearing his reply and rushed to her corner in the common room.
The common room was essentially a large white room with cellophane wrapped sofas and chairs. It was where the children of the Refuge were allowed to congregate for limited amounts of time between meals and sterilizations. There were tables with cellophane covered touch screen monitors for surfaces that the children used for games. Physical games were forbidden because they were too hard to sanitize. Blink, however, didn’t care for games. She would much rather sit in long periods of uninterrupted thought and preferred to stay in her unoccupied corner in the room where no one bothered her.
Blink crossed her legs, sat on the floor, and stared off into space. She just knew Connor was hiding something important. What was it? Why did Smith keep staring at her? She shut her eyes and nodded off into a light sleep. Suddenly waves of emptiness physically washed over Blink. She felt as though she had been forced into a state of dreaming, but the world around her stayed awake. Blink wasn’t sleeping, she was completely aware, aware of more things than she had ever been in her life. She found herself stepping out of her body like one would get out of bed and punched through the cellophane of consciousness and stepped into reality. She saw as though she was staring through a thick fog and heard Connor’s ecstatic voice in the distance… “And that’s why you’re my little locksmith.” Immediately following these words she saw Connor’s and Smith’s forms emerge from the mist as they walked through a doorway. Then in the distance she saw a woman weeping, but she was smiling. It was the same woman from her dream! She called out to her, but the woman didn’t respond. And then suddenly she felt her head smack the floor, and everything went black.
(this is the part of the story where the three kids decide to work together as a group. During this time blink has her first moving vision and passes out near the common room because of the amt of energy it required of her…she woke up in a hospital bed covered in wires and was being examined by a team of medics and doctors…..blink begins to piece together suspicions of what connor can do, she knows that he can tell where people are around him, but doesn’t know the extent of his power, and he knows that somehow smith can open doors for him, but doesn’t know if it’s a power, or if he just has a good memory….I’m just too lazy to write this part because I’d rather skip to the action..amen)
Blink suddenly felt as though a giant burden has been lifted off of her shoulders. Yes she was still sick, yes she was still alone but tonight she didn't feel lonely. Now there were other people she could relate to, people who were different who had accepted her into their group. Blink no longer felt isolated. Connor, despite his cranky demeanor and dreary attitude had an interest in her, and that was the first time that anyone in the refuge took a second look at her. Smith, on the other hand, was young and kind. He never said anything that wasn't true to her, and yet it seemed as though he held on to the most secrets. Of course Blink had already seen herself with them, however, it was nice to have her intuitions validated. Her dreams were beginning to unravel from their shrouds of mystery to make sense; perhaps soon her dream about the crying lady would become validated too.
Blink's room was dark with no shadows cast from the softly pulsing blue light emanated from the floorboards in her room. She lay quiet beneath her thermal cellophane wishing that the temperature maintained could be just a little bit warmer. It didn't really matter that much anyway because tonight would be the first night that she would participate in what Connor called the "midnight stroll." He didn't give her too many details but she assumed that she would be going with him to obtain some items from Upperville. When she thought of Connor coming through her doors her heart suddenly skipped a beat. She attributed it to being nervous, but deep down she was glad that she would be going with Connor. Connor, as moody and mean as he projected himself to be, stood out from the other infected. He was always strong while the rest were weak. You couldn't help but feel strong with him if he was on your side, and tonight he was on Blink's. It didn't matter that she didn't know why. Blink suddenly gasped as she saw her chamber doors slide open and Connor urgently strode through into Blinks room.
Connor looked anxiously at Smith, silently urging him to work quicker. Time was always a precious commodity when working the midnight stroll. Especially tonight he couldn't allow any to be wasted, he felt something weird, it was nothing. He didn't feel anything and that was quite alarming to him. He could normally feel the doctors pacing distant corridors or the infected stirring in their rooms, but at the moment he didn't feel a thing and he needed Smith to work quicker. He tried to look down the corridor. It was hard even though the hallways within the refuge were always illuminated. At night the lights were dimmed to 50 percent to give the illusion of a changing outer climate, despite the reality that the only outside was a mile of dirt that could only provide darkness. Connor nervously stared down the corridor and hoped that no one would come walking down.
Smith could sense Connor’s urgency, this didn't bother Smith. He knew that unlocking the door would take as long as it would take, and nothing he did could speed up the process. He patiently waited with his hand on the door; in half a minute the door slid open. To Connor the thirty seconds passed in an eternity, especially because he saw two shadowy figures walking towards them in the distance. Connor rushed past Smith into Blink’s room. Smith understood this different form of panic from Connor. Somebody was approaching, and Smith immediately followed Connor in to Blink’s room. Now time really was of the essence. He needed to re close her door before the men walked past it. If smith was caught, he'd not only have to explain how he got out of his room, but how he managed to unlock two rooms of his fellow infected. The door shut quickly and he raced to catch up to Connor.
Blink Stared at the two of them through the pulsing light. She whispered "Connor, what's wrong?" in an urgent hush, but Connor's glare bade her to keep silent and she deduced that something was wrong. Connor examined her room, the whole room was dimly illuminated and no corner was dark or hidden. The only plausible hiding place would be behind Blink’s bed, and even then the bed hovered above the floor so that there would be a few inches of clearance that could potentially reveal those hiding on the other side. Connor foresaw no other option as he hurriedly grabbed smith and pulled him behind Blink's bed. Blink immediately followed suit and pretended with all her might to be asleep as she heard the faint sounds of footsteps walking towards her door.
The footsteps stopped and she heard the door slide open. Blink tried to hide the fear on her face; she summoned all of her strength and tried to maintain closed relaxed sleepy looking eyes. She heard what seemed to be two sets of foot steps walk into her room. Please, please don't come all the way in! she thought forcefully within her head. She couldn't bear the thought of her new friends being discovered. The two sets of feet continued walking until they reached the closest side of her bed. She could feel two sets of eyes staring at her, almost ravenously, waiting to see if she was really asleep. She kept her face calm and painfully free of any movement to betray her conscious state. After what seemed to be an eternity, they began to speak.
"Is this the child who is suffering from the 'Side effects'?" The first voice asked. It was that of a man. His voice was deadly calm and even though he sounded old, his voice echoed of what seemed to be a bottomless, endless power.
"Yes." A second more feeble sounding man responded. His voice was trembling with what Blink thought was fear. "She is the one who has reacted to the treatments most curiously." He stopped as though he was waiting for the first man to reply. After a brief period of silence the man continued cautiously. "She is the child who was found outside of the infected common area. She reportedly had a fit and it was assessed that a higher rate of infection resides within her, much more so than the rest of the Refuge population."
The second man finally responded. "It seems as if our treatments aren't fully working. I have heard reports of a few other patients who are exhibiting similar symptoms." His voice suddenly rose to a menacing yell. "If this situation persists, Cornelius, the city of Ion will suffer, and you, my friend, will be held personally responsible!" Blink tried to refrain from wincing as she heard the man yelling. She had no idea that the outside world really cared about the infected. Oh my God! she thought, I'm more infected than everyone else...But before she could dwell any more on this upsetting realization she felt a falling sensation, a sensation she recognized from the time she collapsed outside the common room. Slowly the blackness she saw beneath her eyelids became transparent and the familiar shapes of her room began to appear. She looked around and suddenly saw two men staring at her, frozen in time.
The body of whom she believed the first voice belonged to was not a man of intimidating stature. He was of medium build and his hair was a flat gray. He wore a plain black suit and a blue sash with words that Blink couldn't decipher. Blink was surprised to see that the man wasn't wearing any type of breathing apparatus! Blink thought that this must be a nonsensical dream because no one would dare to ever walk the halls of The Refuge without a breathing mask. The consequences were potentially deadly, and no one in their right mind would take that chance. Perhaps even more startling to Blink were his eyes. He had recessed eyes with dark circles under them; they were the same flat gray as his hair. And if looks could kill, one glance from this man would be more than sufficient to do the job. The second man wasn't as impressive as the first. He was a doctor, and Blink couldn't discern any of his features because they were hidden behind his breathing mask. She suddenly saw all black again as she heard the men turn briskly around leave. When the door closed behind them, Connor hesitantly stood up and shook his head with disappointment.
"I can't believe I didn't see those two guys coming!" he said as if defeated.
"Me neither," Smith replied simply as he rose from his hiding place to join the others.
"Well, whoever the hell that one guy was, he sure as heck wasn't a doctor." Connor replied, trying to regain his composure. They all sat in an awkward silence.
Blink studied Connor’s fear. This was the first time she had ever seen him exude any emotion other than arrogance or irritation. His confidence was shattered, and that simple reality scared her even more than the prospect of those strange men coming back into her room. Smith suddenly broke the silence.
"Connor, Seymour is still awaiting our rendezvous, we should really get going." He started towards the door and saw Connor hesitate. "I know that tonight doesn't feel normal, but it is important that we see Seymour tonight. It might be our last chance for a while." With that said all three of them walked out the open door. Smith waited for them to pass through before he closed the door behind them.
Connor, Blink and Smith walked quietly through the labyrinth of corridors. Blink tried to curb her curiosity but it was difficult. If she didn’t find out what she had unwittingly gotten herself into she might have broken down and cried right then and there, in the middle of the hall. She turned to look at Smith who was behind her.
“Smith” She whispered ever so quietly, “Who exactly is this Seymour?”
“He’s a medic; he collects rubbish from the outside and gives it to Connor.” He explained without hesitation. “I don’t think Seymour is his real name though; I think it may be a nickname.”
Before Blink could respond Connor hushed them both “SHHH! Do you want to get caught? Shut up!”
Blink did indeed shut up. She at least knew what Seymour was. Medics were usually nice and most of them talked to the infected. She hoped that Seymour was a nice medic, but the way things were going tonight, she didn’t hold her breath.
Every once in a while Connor would hold up his hand to signal those following to stop, or Smith would run up front and quietly open a locked door. Blink followed Connor so close that her nose kept brushing the nape of his neck. Blink began to think about how this proximity to Connor made her feel but was interrupted by Smith placing his hand into hers. It was trembling. It was easy to forget how young Smith was, but when she felt his tiny shaking hand it reminded her instantly that he was still just a fragile little boy. Blink squeezed his hand. She knew he was nervous, and for once his size wasn’t the only thing to suggest he was only 12 years old.
Blink tried to lighten things up. For once she wasn’t the weakest one around and she felt obligated to cheer him up. “Connor knows this place pretty well, huh? He’s like a walking map.”
“That’s right,” Smith responded. Blink pushed a little further.
“How do you know all the codes to the doors anyway?”
Blink began to feel irritated. She could feel the absence of truth. There were some pretty big secrets between these two, secrets they wouldn’t share. As usual, Connor cut her off before she could pry any further.
“If I didn’t know any better, it would seem to me that you’re babbling because you want to get caught.”
Blink shook her head furiously and clasped her hand over her mouth with an audible smack.
“Good.” He said with a smug voice. “Well, it doesn’t matter now anyway because this is where we will meet our contact. He’s almost here.”
Blink suddenly realized that they had stopped. Directly in front of her was a giant metallic set of Elevator doors. To the left of the doors was a biogenetic sensor that also had a physical keyhole, something that Blink had never seen before.
“What is this place?” Blink asked in awe.
A voice boomed from behind blink. “That, my dear, is the gateway to good ol’ Upperville.” Blink nearly jumped out of her skin. She didn’t recognize the voice and she was certain they had been caught. The voice continued, “And I am the gatekeeper, well, for what’s left of tonight’s shift anyway.”
Blink mustered up the courage to turn around and face the man to whom she was talking. He wore the typical garb and face mask of a medic, but when she turned around to face him he took off his mask and smiled. His hair was peppered gray and friendly crows feet resided in the corners of his eyes. Blink thought he looked friendly enough, and perhaps they weren’t in trouble after all.
“Connor, I am so glad that you brought Blink here. I’ve wanted to meet her for a while now.”
“Blink, this is Seymour,“ said an exasperated Connor. He redirected his gaze towards Seymour. “Did you have to scare her like that? Not everyone is as startle-proof as me.”
“Sorry Connor, I couldn’t resist scaring the new addition of your little group,” chuckled Seymour. “You know I can’t resist a good laugh.”
Blink eyed Seymour. “I wasn’t scared…well, not much at least.” She said in a small voice. The truth was that she was very scared, but she didn’t want him to know that. She wanted to change the subject so she asked, “Why do they call you Seymour? I know that’s not your real name.”
“They call me Seymour for the same reason they call you Blink. I see more than I should and hear more than I should. Information has a way of finding me. Some of the information I should know, but most of it is very dangerous for me to know.”
Blink felt the truth in Seymour’s words.
“I know what you’re thinking, Blink,” Seymour chided.
“Sure you do,” she retorted to his random statement; he couldn’t possibly know what she was thinking. No one could ever understand what was going on in her head.
“He does,” said Smith simply.
Seymour winked at Blink before he faced Connor. “Well, as promised I brought you some goodies from the outside. Nothing but trash really, I don’t know what you kids see in this stuff.” He threw a white lumpy bag roughly the size of a pillowcase towards Connor, who caught it one-handed in mid air.
Blink couldn’t help but be amazed. She couldn’t even fathom lifting it with both hands, let alone one. Blink wished that she could be strong, and she couldn’t help herself from envying Connor. Seymour caught Blink staring longingly at Conner, and it seemed as though he was reading her mind as he spoke the words, “You’re strong too ya know. I’ve heard a lot about you and your episode outside of the common room. In fact I was the medic that found you lying on the ground. Not everything is as it seems, Blink. Remember that. And believe me I’ve already gone through what you three are going through right now and I know what it’s like.” Suddenly his tone turned from gentle to direly serious. “Keep it to yourself.” He then looked into Blink’s eyes and whispered so only she could hear, “I won’t let them take what’s yours Blink. Not anymore.”
She didn’t only hear those words, but she felt them burrow inside of her. She was utterly confused and tired of everyone being so cryptic around her.
“Seymour, you’re not making any sense at all.” Blink was starting to feel herself become angry. “How do you know what I’m going through? How do you know who I am, what I am?” She was almost shouting at this point. Her fists were clenched and her body was shaking. It took all of her strength to keep from crying, and a few tears still managed to escape.
“I don’t make sense Blink, no one does. That’s just life. Anyway, I better get going, my shift is almost over and I don’t want anyone to come looking for me.” And with that note he pulled his mask back on said his goodbyes to Connor and Smith and walked away.
On the way back Connor almost regretted bringing Blink. Seymour had said that she would be necessary and that it would be important to bring her along tonight. He didn’t regret bringing her because he didn’t want her around, or because she slowed them down (which she did), or even because she was weird (which she was). Despite all of her oddities, Connor liked having her around, and he didn’t like getting her into any trouble, and most importantly it almost killed him to see her cry. She didn’t need to be in any more danger than she needed to be. Connor knew that The Refuge was not as it seemed.
Seymour had once told him that the same group of Scholars who founded Ion still ruled it today. That meant that the Scholars were over 100 years old. Connor couldn’t even picture himself making it past his 20th birthday. Only a handful of the infected made it past 18. Connor looked at Blink. Her cheeks were glistening and she was struggling to keep her eyes open. As they approached her door he touched her shoulder and said “I’m sorry about Seymour, Blink. He doesn’t make a lot of sense, ever really. And I can tell you that no matter how strange he seems, he’s a good guy.” To Connor’s surprise Blink had regained her composure and looked him in the eyes. She never noticed how green they were.
“He’s trustworthy, Connor,” she said. Connor started to turn away and leave when he felt her grab him as hard as she could. “But I don’t like being treated like an idiot. I know you are hiding something. I won’t help you until I know exactly what I’m getting myself into. I need answers.” She let go of him and crossed her arms angrily. She impatiently tapped her foot awaiting a reply.
Connor didn’t really need her, but having her around had its perks. Smith sure seemed to like her. It was nice to see that kid attached to someone else. Not to mention he couldn’t forget about those strange people in Blink’s room; he needed to find out what that was all about. They mentioned that other infected were showing similar symptoms and he couldn’t help but think that they were talking about him and Smith. He made up his mind. “Fine, you want answers, and I’ll give them to you. Smith, are you ready to lock Blink into her room for the night?”
“Yes, goodnight Blink,” said Smith while he held his hand on the biogenetic panel.
“Goodnight, Smith,” she responded.
Connor mumbled inaudibly, I don’t know if I’d call it a good night, but it certainly was something. The door closed behind him as he walked to his room. He set his stash on the floor behind his bed and drifted off into a deep dreamless sleep.
Blink was not as fortunate as Connor. It seemed as though the moment she got back into her bed her mind immediately went to sleep and she began dreaming. She felt that falling sensation envelope her again, and she felt her mind open up as she awoke from the world into reality. Blink felt herself holding something. She looked down and saw that she was holding a large golden key. As she surveyed the room she saw countless infected holding similar keys varying in color and size.
Directly in front of her was the strange man she saw earlier that night. His suit was crisp and his blue sash shone brightly. His eyes were still recessed and tired, but a blue spark was hidden in the corner of his grey lifeless eyes. He held a small metallic box in front of him. Behind him were 11 other similarly dressed men with the same dead grey eyes. They were throwing bread into an angry mob who was trying to break through and reach the man with the box. The mom hastily ate the bread and became subdued. The man then motioned for Blink to step towards him. She couldn’t stop herself. Her key arose without her aid and pulled her toward the box. She placed her key on the box. The rest of the infected rushed forward and gave up their keys as well. All of a sudden the box burst open with an explosion of white light and she heard Seymour’s voice crying in the distance, “KEEP WHAT IS YOURS!” The white enveloped her and her sense of vision was lost. In the background she could hear the woman from her dreams crying. Her sobs remained with Blink the remainder of the night.
Blink rushed through her morning routine. She didn’t lie in bed and ponder her dreams. Her mind couldn’t rest until she had answers, and Blink hoped that today would be answer day. She walked to the sanitation chamber without delay. The sooner she got this part of the day over with the better. As usual she ignored the other infected she encountered along the way. She couldn’t help but notice, however, that there were so many of them in The Refuge. She broke her gaze away from the floor and looked into the faces of her fellow infected. Each one of them shared the same tired eyes, the same furrowed brow, the same pale stature, and the same look as though tomorrow was lightyears away. She unexpectedly felt connected to everyone around her; each one of them was infected, all of them were alone deep in the ground, isolated from the glories of Ion.
She reached her sanitation chamber in a daze. Her thoughts were racing and her body ached for some sort of clarity. As the machine counted down Blink’s thoughts looked something like this as she braced her self for the coming onslaught of pain and the unavoidable loss of consiousness: I really hate this chamber…Why do I suddenly care about the rest of the infected…Connor better stop hiding things from me…Smith is nice, even though he talks like he’s 40…Connor is nice to be around, for a big jerk…oh crap here it comes… But as the machine reached the end of the countdown the words “Today I shall keep what is mine!” defiantly slipped passed her lips and the intense sucking sound roared around her.
The noise was impenetrable, a fortress that could not be escaped. Blink noticed that her hair was standing straight up. Strange – she thought – I don’t remember this part of the process… Of course Blink wouldn’t remember any part of this process, up to this point in time she had always immediately passed out when sanitation began.
Blink, who was naked for the sake of sanitation, saw her entire body emitting a soft blue light. She saw the edges of her glow flux towards the vacuum in the ceiling as the suction of sanitation grew stronger. She saw the light rise higher and higher until it suddenly slowed to a halt and held fast before the vacuum. The entire process lasted, to Blink’s surprise, less than 15 seconds. Blink was convinced that she had seen what the doctor’s called the infection…and it didn’t want to leave her…
Connor, like always, had woken up early. The morning, in Connor’s opinion, was the best time for privacy. His doors would remain closed for another hour or so which meant that no prying eyes would be able to look into his room and monitor his every action. Connor reached for the bag that Seymour had given him the previous night. He spilled its contents onto the white tile floor. A flood of disheveled holocards swelled across his floor. Connor gazed into the lifeless sea of images looking for answers regarding the outside.
His view of Ion was a fragmented one. The overlapping pictures began and ended without a seamless continuity. One holocard would be of Scholars Circle, and the one adjacent to would be of the City Sky Line.
The skyline was always a source of wonder for Connor. Buildings as tall as the sky nestled together shoulder to shoulder. Narrow buildings with rounded tops were bunched together with square and even triangular ones. But the shape of the buildings was not the primary point of interest for Connor. He was captivated by the vast array of soaring buildings that scattered the skies of Ion. The sky…oh how he longed to see the sky. He was tired of his disconnected life spent entirely underground and was ready to be and see all of Ion.
Connor carefully inventoried his stash. He divided the pictures into various piles each denoting different categories: People, Vehicles, Animals, Buildings, etc. As he was sorting he thought about all of the things he could trade these pictures for. It was always a good week when Seymour gave him photos. Connor wasn’t the only one who was interested in the outside. Every infected dreamed of reaching the outside, and Connor supplied them with a limited view of the outside. He was the self-proclaimed provider of dreams… true or not, he thought it had a nice ring to it. He was about to place the final hologram into the People pile when he something on the back of it caught his eye. Not really giving it a second thought, he turned the card over.
To his surprise he found Seymour’s familiar scribble.
After meeting you I am quite certain that you will appreciate this…
Your new friend,
P.S. Tell Connor to stop wondering how I slipped this in the bag even though I know he’s reading this anyway.
He eagerly flipped the picture over to examine why the image would be of interest of Blink. To his disappointment it was the picture of what looked to be an ordinary woman. She had a friendly smile and was pointing to Scholar’s Circle behind her. It looked like a promotional pamphlet to him. She must be one of the many paper pushers who worked under the scholars. In red bold block letters beneath her the words “Knowledge and Power Hand in Hand for an Innovative Tomorrow.”
Ahhh… it’s propaganda! Connor thought to himself- Why would Seymour want to show Blink propaganda? Shaking his head, he pocketed the pamphlet. He wondered why Blink would like this. Was she capable of liking anything? Connor laughed to himself…Probably not… With that thought in his mind, he strolled carelessly to Sanitation.
After breakfast the common area was usually crowded. The infected were playing their Holographic simulation games and there was a buzz that Connor had received a new “shipment.”
As Connor walked int the Common room the infected eyed Connor eagerly, hoping to verify weather or not the rumor was true. To their surprise he wasn’t followed only by that little ghostly boy, what was his name…Smith…it didn’t matter, what mattered was that the spacey girl Blink was following him. Wait a second, she wasn’t only following him, but she was talking to him!
“Blink, shut up, I don’t want to talk with all of them gawking at us…”
“Well, when were you planning on talking to me Connor? You didn’t say anything during breakfast; if I didn’t know any better I’d think you were made of stone.” She crossed her arms.
“I didn’t talk to you at breakfast because, just like here, we were getting gawked at!” He lowered his voice that only she could hear: “Just calm down…okay…I promise I’ll try to explain what I know, even though I’m probably almost as confused as you are…”
The crowd surrounding him jumped back as he unexpectedly shouted “GET THE HELL OUT OF MY WAY!”
The crowd parted; no one wanted to make their supplier upset. An upset supplier meant higher prices…or even worse, no trading at all.
Walking with purpose Connor motioned Smith and Blink to follow. He found an empty corner and glared at the rest of the infected behind them. Hastily they turned around and went back to what they were doing.
Connor clenched the Holocard intended for Blink in his right hand bending it so tightly that it formed a cast of the inside of his hand. His eyes subconsciously glanced at his hand before he hurriedly hid it behind his back. Guiltily, he tried to casually shift his gaze back to Blink. He underestimated her perceptioin skills.
“What is in your hand Connor?” She asked squinting her eyes as if to see what it was.
He shoved his hand in his pocket…”Uhmmm, quite frankly, I don’t know, I’ll show you in a second.” He tried to shift the subject…”Anyway, you said you had some questions, and I just might have a few answers.” He crossed his arms confidently.
“The problem is this Connor, I have no clue what to ask, or how to even begin to ask what I’m thinking” She slumped back into the wall.
"Perhaps you should ask why we took you with us to see Seymour." Smith said with implied certainty.
Blink eyed Smith, he just sat there wearing what seemed to be a half smile. He jerked his head in Connor's Direction "Go on, ask him!"
"Fine, why did you take me to meet seymour?"
Connor paused to assess the right way to answer this question. He needed to verbalize what he was thinking. "Because...he said he needed to check out a suspicion of his, and he couldn't do it with out talking to you first."
"But he didn't even ask me anything!" Blink responded quickly. "He just kept telling me cryptic nonsense. Not only that but he did something to me! he said he couldn't let them take something away from me, and then this morning...I think my sanitation machine is broken...he did something to it, to me..."
Connor took notice of Blink's panic. Her pale body was pink and flushed with anger. Sweat raced from her brow to the bottom of her chin. It was obvious that she was scared out of her wits. Connor wanted to calm her down, but he needed to know what happened in the chamber.
"Blink," he gently began to rub her back. He wasn't good at consoling people but he assumed taht this is what people did in these kinds of situations.
"I know that you're upset and confused, but I need to know what happened in the chamber."
Blink, wh's head was in her hands, turned to look at Connor. His hand still awkwardly traced the bend in her back. She had never been consolled before, but she assumed that this is what it must feel like.
Seymour told her to keep this quiet quiet, despite the fact that her instinct for survival screamed at her to tell and get the infection out of her, telling Connor, however, felt right.
"Seymour told me to keep it quiet...I don't know if I should." She let her face burrow back into her hands.
Smith interjected "Blink, strange things have been happening to us too, and even more strange things since we met Seymour." The cadence of his voice was steady and calm, but the tone reflected that of a plea "We would like to confirm if Seymour is the common variable."
The honesty of Smith's voice, despite its urgency, soothed her. He was just as confused as she was. She removed her face from the safety of her hands and looked to Connor, his usually hardened face reflected the same amount of anxiety as the rest of them. She decided to tell him.
"I said some strange things that came out of nowhere and I didn't pass out in the chamber..." The expression on Connor's face had changed to one of panic. He began to squirm as Blink Continued "I saw what the chamber takes out of us. I saw the infection and...it was so strange...I was glowing."
With lightning speed Connor clasped a hand over Blink's mouth in mid sentence. Her eyes widened with confusion and as she tried to speak again he held his finger over his mouth to hush her words.
He then motioned to smith with his other hand as he whispered "Someone's coming, stop talking, act like we're just playing a game or something...and I think we have some things in common."
As Connor's hand fell back to his lap, the door to the common room slid open and Blink's jaw dropped. The man who strode through the doorway was a man she recognized from her dreams...and from her room last night…the man next to the man with the grey eyes and sash.
Dr. Cornelious T. Loringe III was a timid imitation of a man. THe only one's who feared him were the infected, but they feared all doctors so this wasn't even beneficial in his favor. It was for that very reason that the scholars had hand picked him to be the highest ranking official with in the refuge. He would do as he was told.
The scholars had not forgotten about the infected since its first occurrence 26 years ago. Dr. Loringe did not have the luxury of being able to forget. He remembered the initial announcement of the outbreak like it was yesterday. The Circle of Scholars spoke through holoboards and speakers that Ion's perimeter had been breached and that New Haven had finally attacked.
It was at this time of panic and discord when he was summoned to the chamber of Scholar’s.
Few had been seen again after being summoned by the Scholars. Seymour dwelled on those odds as he was ushered through the massive doors guarding the Chamber. His eyes had to adjust to the dimness and what he saw continued to terrify him.
Twelve ominous figures sat completely around him on an elevated circular platform completely engulfing Dr. Loringe. His knees shook violently. The fearful percussion produced audible clicks that echoed throughout the chamber.