A fiction story by Melpomene based on characters created by Melpomene.

Future Path

They watch us like weíre prisoners or something just as equally despicable and perverse. Weíre locked into our rooms each night and awaken to the bell thatís set to sound at six am each morning. We have no freedoms, no friends, no families. I donít even know that we ever did, not really.

I remember one thing from beforeÖ I was sitting on the grass in front of a green and gray painted house looking at a newspaper. I was looking at the pictures and pretending the people were my friends. I was sitting there in the grass with the sun shining on my face and a buzzing bee flitting around my bare toes when the van pulled up on the road next to the curb.

The van was black, and I remember thinking how odd it was that there werenít any inspection stickers on it or license plates. I was sitting there looking at that paper when a woman stepped out of the house with a kind of a sad look on her face. I knew who she was, but I canít remember anymore. I looked into her eyes and I knew that I would never see her again. I remember waving goodbye as the men opened the door to the van and helped me climb inside.

That was a long time ago, twenty years if not longer and I only remember two important details from that sunny day so long ago. No, I donít know who the woman was and I donít know the explanation as to why I was put in that black van. I do know that I was three years old and it was the twenty-sixth of May in 2098.

Now? Now all I know are white rooms and white walls and white machinery and sensory deprivation tanks, as if all the monotony of white werenít deprivation enough. I know tests and trials and terror and a true wish for death to come and claim me. I know that those of us who are here, are here because we are, in some way, different from those people who are still on the outside. I was different that the woman who stood on that green and gray porch and that was why the black van came. We were all different.

Our difference was the cause of our isolation. I have heard the hushed whispers that there are other rooms here, with other people who are also different, but different in other ways. There are supposed to be people who have trouble learning simple things, people who just donít really Ďget ití. There are stories about people here who can use their minds to talk to each other or move things, others who hear the voices of spirits. I also heard, in the dark of one stormy night that the people who put us here are afraid of us and thatís why weíre locked up.

There are supposedly tests they give to all the kids at certain developmental levels. The tests are used to Ďweed outí the undesirables, the troublemakers and potential hoodlums. Every so often their tests go kaplooey and everyone tests off the charts in one direction or another, it sorta makes you wonder how reliable their tests are, not to mention their scoring system.

Iím not so sure that they fear us so much as they hate us. The doctors and scientists donít speak to us when they appear at the door, they just motion and direct with their hands and if you dare to speak to them, wellÖ letís just say that it takes you a lot longer to recover from their reprimand than it does for you to figure out that keeping quiet is your only option. But itís more than that even, itís the look in their eyes, like weíre not even human, just so much cattle.

Iíve figured out at least some of what theyíre testing for. We get to mix with the others in our cellblock twice a day for an hourís time, thatís when we sit together on the white floor and whisper back and forth what we believe is happening to us and why. The tests seem to be centered on stamina under duress and the short and long term effects of physical and psychological torture. I have no idea why they would want to study either thing, unless thereís a war going on out there somewhere. Then again, maybe that's one of those things I really don't want to know about.

All I am sure of is I donít want to be here. I want to be out there, back in that green and gray painted house where I was cared for, where being smart and learning things quickly wasnít a frightening thing. I want to go home but I know that I never will. I'm already home.

the end

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