The room was a cave she couldn’t escape – a black hole. It sucked every happy emotion and memory away from her and only left tears and fear. She desperately wanted to leave again, roam the halls, but the man, Ethan, told her not to, told her it was dangerous, told her she was safer in her room. Safer in the black hole where no one could find her.
The idea of distrust never occurred to her. For some reason she trusted the dead man. She knew just by the sadness that swelled in his eyes that he was worth trusting. Besides, he told her Cole was in this place, whatever “this place” was, and that he was alive. Why wouldn’t he be? This one question that popped gently in her mind created millions more like it, making a constant stream of mind bending numbness.
Then a gentle knock.
Isabelle jumped from the bed. Immediately cowering away from the door like a puppy with it’s tail between it’s legs. The knock gain again. She whimpered softly, her hands over her eyes. The knock came again. Isabelle took a breath, wipe her face and moved toward the door. She slowly turned the nob. Ethan stood in its archway.
He stood, back straight, dabbing a cloth on his forehead with one hand and fixing his golden tie with another.
“Sorry I’m late,” he said, walking past her and taking a seat on her bed.
Isabelle followed his movements with unbreakable eyes.
“Turn the lights on. It’s depressing in here!” he said, a shadowy smile stretching across his face like a crescent moon.
“I didn’t know there was a switch,” Isabelle said.
“Should be on the wall somewhere.”
Isabelle turned from him for a moment feeling along the scaly wall until she found the switch. And with a flick the ceiling fan that hung over her bed lit up. “Much better,” Ethan said, his smile stretching wider.
“Is...he okay?” Isabelle asked, her eyes darting to the floor and her head sinking low into her neck.
“Your friend is alive,” Ethan said.
A weight lifted from Isabelle’s shoulders and she let out a breath.
“But I’m afraid that the state he’s in is not ‘okay’,” Ethan said, his smile slowly turning into a rooted frown.
“What do you mean?” she asked; the weight returned.
“It’s difficult to explain,” he licked his lips quickly. “Cole is in a state that the doctors like to call ‘Autopilot’. The best way to explain that is he has no control over what his body does and the part of his brain that makes all the important decisions is completely shut down, that way he only does, or can do, the bare minimum – he does what he needs to in order to survive. More or less, your friend Ms. Demcaste, is, as I like to call it, Asleep.”
Isabelle thought about this in silence for a moment and then said, “Was I Asleep, too?”
“You were, but you are Awake now,” Ethan said.
“How?” she asked, knowing the answer.
“I don’t know,” he said.
“Will Cole wake up?” she asked, knowing the answer.
“There’s no knowing,” Ethan frowned at her. “I’m afraid he will need to wake up again by his own will. ‘If there’s a will there’s a way’.” He smiled at her.
“What do you mean?”
Ethan stood from the bed and began to pace slowly “Well, I believe if there is a part deep inside Cole’s brain that desperately wants to wake up, and if that same part fights hard enough, it may be able to wake him up.”
Isabelle stared off, her eyes beginning to fill, the dark unknown creeping in. “What is this place?” she asked, her voice shaking slightly.
“It’s called Linxus,” Ethan said his head shrinking into his chest. “A government affiliated facility that has gone completely out of control,” he said.
Isabelle’s eyes widened, “What am I doing here?” she whispered.
“It’s a facility for people who have psychic abilities,” he explained.
“What?” she said, her mouth hanging open.
Ethan nodded, “You’re a psychic, Isabelle – a Median.”
“A Median?” she repeated, in a dry whisper.
“You can see and speak with the dead,” Ethan said moving his arm onto her shoulder. “That’s why you can see me.” His voice trailed off for a moment allowing her to take the information in.... Then he spoke, “I’m sorry for what we’ve –”
Isabelle jumped from the corner of the bed, where she had been sitting, and began hyperventilating. “This – is not – real! A dream...it’s a dream...” her eyes closed and tears fell down her tan cheeks, “...it’s just a dream.”
Ethan stood, moving to embraced her, “It’s not a dream, Isabelle.”
“I don’t understand why this is happening to me!” she cried through spit and tears.
“It’s not just happening to you, Isabelle –”
“I was supposed to go to college! Have a good life! How long have I even been in this damn place!” The tears flowed like a river down her face and onto her shirt.
“Five years,” Ethan said quickly and quietly, secretly hoping she wouldn’t hear him. She did.
It was that moment all of the beautiful tan color drained from her skin and she toppled onto the floor, Ethan trying to catch her as she fell.