Summer, 2047. One completely average girl and her completely unusual friends encounter secrets about themselves and about the world they live in...
3:23 AM, 14 June 2047
I woke with a start.
I couldn’t move. My eyes were still closed, my body in the same position it had been when I fell asleep.
I started to panic, but couldn’t move anything at all. My breathing didn’t quicken, I couldn’t hear my heart race, nothing.
Sleep paralysis. I remember once reading something based on that.
Calm down, Clare. Calm down. It’s okay. Just wait a minute.
There was a low beep sound from elsewhere in the house.
I must have left the television on.
The beeping didn’t stop.
Five minutes had never felt like so long.
Beep... Beep... Beep...
I tried to count them, to calm myself back down.
I got to fifty-five when I was able to open my eyes.
Slowly, I sat up. I checked all of my appendages to make sure they still moved when I told them to. They did.
I stood, trying to avoid stepping on something in my cluttered room. The beeping hadn’t stopped, although it had gotten quieter.
I crept down the stairs to the living room. The television was silent.
The beeping was coming from the basement.
I stopped for a moment. I just wanted to see what was beeping. I couldn’t sleep with all that noise.
It’s probably just a computer or something Dad left on, I told myself, walking through the empty house. I’ll just turn it off and go back to bed.
Further and further I went, until at last I was on the staircase. Though I was scared out of my mind, my heartbeat remained calm and steady.
The noise was loud, and the entire lab was flashing red.
I walked down the stairs. Bulbs clicked on as I stepped past the sensors, filling the hall and the lab with an intensely bright fluorescent light. White, red, white, red, white, red. The flashing continued.
“There goes my night vision,” I said, squinting, though I couldn’t hear myself over the beeping.
“WARNING.” The computer’s voice sounded throughout the room. I covered my ears with my hands. “OPERATION BRILLIANT-2A MALFUNCTIONING. BRILLIANT-2A MALFUNCTIONING.”
“Brilliant-2A,” I repeated numbly, trying to remember when I had heard that before. The words sounded familiar to me. Maybe Dad had mentioned it over dinner once.
Well, whatever it was, he could deal with it when he got back.
I continued down the stairs.
When I reached the bottom, I looked around for the offending computer. Several of them were on, monitoring and solving and doing the things computers did.
I turned around a corner.
I was face-to-face with my corpse.