Chapter 4

The uncertainty devours me. I have no idea what they have done to me, and no way to find out. I can feel the prick of tears in my eyes, but fight them. My breathing spikes, but I refuse to cry out. I have to be strong.


I sit up. The blanket that smells of mold falls from my shoulders. I look around. None of the people are in my room, and I can't hear any footsteps or talking. I hold my breath, waiting for the voice again.

"Over here. By the floorboard." Slowly, I lift myself out of bed. The stone floor is cold on my exposed feet, but I can't be bothered with that. I look around the dimly lit room, all along the base of the floor. But there are no obvious holes.

"Follow the sound of my voice," it says again, and this time it keeps speaking. "You're getting closer, closer, almost there," it encourages me as I get down on my knees and begin to crawl. The voice directs me to the corner of the room closest to the head of the bed. There, right along the bottom of the wall. I can feel a quarter sized hole, large enough to stick a finger through.

"Hello," it whispers to me, sounding close enough to touch. I want to say something, anything, but I haven't spoken in so long I'm not sure if I am able to. "Are you alright?"

I nod, but realize that the voice cannot see me. I clear my throat, surprised by how much the action hurts.

Hoarsely, I whisper back, "Yes, I am alright."

The boy, I recognize by the tone of his laugh, says, "So you are a girl, then? Last person who used that room was a man, about twice my age! It's a nice change, I must admit. His snore sounded like a utensil stuck in the garbage disposal." I smile.

"Yes, I am a girl. And I know you are a boy. How old are you?" I ask, my voice becoming a bit clearer. I am still crouched down next to the hole, and my legs are beginning to cramp. I turn around and lean my back against the wall, but close enough to the hole so I can still hear him.

"I'm 17 years old. Or around there, anyway. They do not generally celebrate birthdays in this place, so I cannot be sure. How old are you?"

"16," I answer without hesitation. Though I cannot recall what I had done my last birthday, or when it had even occurred, 16 just feels right.

"What's your name?"

"My name?" My name. What is my name? My heart starts to race in my chest as I realize I can't even remember my name, as much a part of me as my hand or my eyes. "I don't know," I manage to choke out.

"Hey, hey don't get upset," he says softly, trying to comfort me. It isn't helping. "I can't remember my name either. I made one up a long time ago, back when there were still lights in each room." I look around, trying to imagine the small space illuminated so that the corners don't harbor shadows and the walls don't feel like a prison. The only light that is shining comes through the crack at the bottom of the door, and it only brightens the first few feet into the room.

"So what is your name?" I ask.


The End

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