Eva didn’t sleep well that day either. Her dreams were filled with the man known as the Phantom as he hovered over her, holding a bloody Bowie knife. She opened her mouth, but no scream escaped; she tried to run, but her limbs did not respond. As the Phantom raised his knife, she closed her eyes. When nothing happened, she opened them.
She was in her white bed in the white room. The sheets were damp with her sweat. Her hair stuck to her face and was tangled in a hopeless rat’s nest. Quietly, she placed her bare feet on the cold floor; she tip-toed out of her room and to the bathroom down the hall. She turned on the faucet and splashed her face with the cool water. She looked up at the mirror. The Phantom was behind her, his bloody knife raised. She screamed.
“Eva! Eva wake up! Eva!” Strong hands grasped her shoulders, gently shaking her.
Her eyes flew open and were met with Mitchell’s concerned face. “Eva, are you okay?”
She didn’t respond, instead her eyes searched the room. There were more people in her room. Laura, the secretary, along with a nurse, and what looked like a secret agent. Laura handed Mitchell a damp towel and he used it to wipe the sweat and tears off of Eva’s face. The nurse stepped forward and placed a hand on Eva’s forehead.
“She’s burning up,” she said. “I’ll be right back.” She raced out the door, which gave time for Eva to examine the ‘secret agent’.
He was tall and dressed in all black. He leaned against a far corner, half hidden in the shadows. His dark hair was cropped short and he wore sunglasses, even though it was nighttime and he was inside. He had small stubble along his jaw and when he spoke, his voice was low and gruff.
“Mitchell, I suggest we start right now. The sooner she gets out of here and moves on, the less likely chance of this happening.”
Mitchell sighed. It was clear he didn’t like this idea, but he responded anyway, “Yes, sir.” He turned back to Eva. “Come on.” He held out his hand and Eva placed hers in it reluctantly. They were just about to leave when the nurse returned.
“Wait,” she said. “I have some fever pills that might help…”
“No time,” the man in black said. “She’s just going now to change.”
The nurse nodded. She backed out of the way to let Mitchell and Eva pass. Mitchell led Eva out of her room and down an adjacent hallway. Mitchell didn’t say anything and this bothered Eva. Usually, when he talked to her, she felt more comforted, more relaxed.
“Mitchell,” she said, her voice small. “Say something, please?”
Mitchell sighed again. “I just don’t think they should start this now. What happened tonight is just proof that you’re not over the shock yet. You need time to rest up and gather your thoughts. Forcing you to do this so early…” his voice trailed off.
“Remember that makeover I was telling you about?” He waited until she nodded, then he continued. “When someone is admitted into the WPP, we have to create a new… person. That way, they can’t be tracked as their old selves. You’ll get a new look and a new name. We’ll take care of all the formalities; papers, back stories, and the like.”
“Oh. Do I get to choose my own name?”
Mitchell laughed, though it wasn’t really in his heart. “We ask your opinion, but the main selection will be by us.”
They had arrived at another plain white door. Eva wasn’t sure what she was expecting behind the door, but it certainly wasn’t this.
The room looked like a salon and a school room met. There were hair stations lining the right wall and desks on the opposite side. In the far back, there looked like… a surgeon’s table. Eva prayed she wouldn’t have to have her face redone.
“You won’t,” Mitchell said, as if he was reading her mind. “That’s for older kids who won’t change their appearance naturally. Because you’re so young, they’ll trust that you won’t look the same now as you will in say… five years.”
Eva breathed a sigh of relief. Mitchell led her over to one of the salon chairs. “I’ll be back soon,” he said, patting her hand. “I’ve got to go work on some paperwork with Williams.” By the way he said the name, Eva guessed that it was the secret agent man from her room. “Just listen to Cynthia, she’s really nice.” Mitchell looked up. Eva turned around
Cynthia was walking towards them. She was a tall, lean woman in her mid-thirties. Her hair appeared to be a natural shade of ginger red. She had a spattering of freckles across her nose. Her eyes were a light brown flecked with gold.
“Hi, darling,” she said, her voice dripping with a strong Southern accent. “Thanks, Mitchell; I’ll take it from here.” Mitchell nodded and left. “Oh, it just breaks my heart to see you youngin’s coming in.” She sighed. “Well, best get started then, shouldn’t we?”