I hear voices. This is strange, I’m supposed to be dead at the bottom of an abyss.
“How is her condition?” a woman asks.
Another woman’s voice answers, “It appears to be stabilizing. We were able to get her out of the pod shortly after the oxygen shut off. She must have fainted from fear and shock rather than lack of oxygen. She doesn’t have any brain damage, so she should be fine.”
Something abruptly bangs on a table and a gruff man’s voice adds in, “This is the fifth person this week. Why did the number increase so suddenly?”
“Jean! If you make a ruckus like that again I’m sending you out!” The second voice yells back at the man named Jean. My head begins to pound and I try to open my eyes, coughing while doing so.
“Oh! She’s finally woken up.”
A face comes into focus hanging over my face. She has kind looking brown eyes and a smile together abruptly reminds me of my mother. I begin to tear up as memories of before flood into my mind.
“Dear, are you feeling okay? Do you remember what happened?” the woman asks. Her words are completely failing to help as it only brings back all the memories into more focus. I begin to cry and she begins to sit me up. The memories of this morning with my family, my excitement, and the awful memory of all the positive emotions turning to pure horror are swirling in my head.
“Sean, leave. There is nothing you can get out of her in this state. Come back tomorrow.”
I hear a sigh in response but don’t care, just clinging to the stranger offering me support. As I cry, I feel myself feeling better and getting tired. The next thing I know I’m just leaning on this woman’s shoulder in silence on the brink of sleep once again.
I wake up to early morning light beginning to fill the room I’m in. I sit up feeling drained and look around the room. The walls are grey, but with a flurry of color on the wall opposite of where I sit. I glance to my left and find the woman from yesterday asleep in a chair. I begin to feel confusion as I can’t understand how I got here. As I rearrange myself in my bed my shuffling wakes up the woman.
“Good morning dear,” she quietly greets. I swiftly turn towards her direction a little startled by her voice.
“Don’t worry your safe now,” she gently urges. She then continues, “I know this is overwhelming but I need a little information from you.”
“I’m fine,” I bark at her, immediately regretting the rudeness in my voice.
She looks at me with understanding eyes and proceeds with the conversation, “What’s your name and age?”
“My name is Arilyn. I’m eighteen.”
“Okay, Arilyn. My name is Susan. Where are you from?” My mind drifted at the mention of her name, Susan. That’s not a common name anymore. She must be older than she looks, most likely older than my mother.
At the thought of my mother my heart aches and I snap back to the present replying, “I’m from Quoise City. What city am I in now? Do you now why the pod malfunctioned or what happened to corrupt my Life Test Results?” I quickly listed out all of my worries, a part of me refusing to believe what happened was real.
“We are not in a city from the NSC. We are in the City of Liber . We are a completely separate entity of the NSC.”
“What? That can’t be true. The Nation of Sea Cities united the remaining human population after the storms ruined most of the civilizations existing during the time. Everyone joined the NSC.”
“That’s what you were taught, but here we are sitting on a city that doesn’t want you dead.” My stomach dropped at her last remark.
“So it’s true? I failed and was supposed to die?”
“The Life Test deemed you a threat to difficult to control under the standards of the NSC.”
“So I never had a role that I could play?”
“Not under the NSC.”
I look down at my hands trying to cope with this information. My whole life was a lie. What am I even supposed to do now without ever having a perfect role waiting for me.
“I apologize if I overwhelmed you. I felt it better to tell you the truth right away than dance around the matter at hand.”
“No don’t feel bad. You opened my eyes.” I can feel myself gazing mindlessly at the colors from across the room, a close resemblance to how my mind feels right now with all the different thoughts going through my head.
“Well, now that this matter has been revealed we still need to get back to our original talk. Now Arilyn, you are quite lucky in the fact that you suffered very little injuries in your pod failure. We can actually have you up and exploring the city with a guide later today. Then tonight we will have you discuss a few things with Sean —”
I start to chuckle, Susan is talking as though I actually have a future. My chuckle grow as I realize the awful humour in this situation and I can’t help but allow the frustration I’m feeling to radiate from that mocking laugh.
“Why are you laughing like that?” she asks a bit taken aback.
“Why are you talking like you can just decide all this for me?” I yell back.
“We aren’t deciding this for you, we are letting you explore and talk things through. You will be making your own decisions soon enough,” she retorts. “I understand you are frustrated but we need you to cooperate for at least today.”
She glares at me, and once I calm down I see her face softening to her original gentle face. I’m going to collect some spare clothes for you and ask for a guide. I sit there in silence for about twenty minutes just thinking about the previous conversation, trying to absorb all this awful news.