“Is she the one?”
They spoke of me as if I wasn’t there. There was no friendly ‘hello’. They spared me not a single amiable smile. And there wasn’t any attempt at making me feel comfortable in the cold, white-walled office. They had no interest in being my friend. Thus, my only comfort came from the stuffed toy panda–stained red from a painting misadventure–I clutched at my chest.
“Yes. Should I get her ready?”
The lady in the iron-pressed lab coat nodded and gestured to the towering man in the faint-blue tunic. With the order to proceed, the man reached for my upper arm. His grip was strong. His guiding force tempted to free my stuffed panda from my grip as he led me out of the room.
“There’s nothing to be afraid of,” he said. What was supposed to sound comforting came with a tone that implied otherwise. “There are other kids like you here, so you’ll make lots of friends.”
I didn’t care much for friends. I just wanted to go home.
“And, if you do well in the tests, you’ll get double servings of dessert,” he added.
I would rather not eat cake for the rest of my life if I could be with my family. Why did my parents agree to this? None of the rewards were appealing in this pristine hallway of glistening-clean floors and spotless-white walls. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a choice. I could be the future of mankind.
“We’ll be running one test today. If you pass, you’ll stay,” the man continued.
“If I fail?” I asked, suddenly hopeful.
“You won’t fail.”
How was he so certain? Did he evaluate my performance at school?
“But what if-”
“You won’t,” he repeated.
His insistence sounded like a threat. What kind of a man would threaten a child? So, in my stubborness, I was determined to fail. I didn’t want to stay in this place any longer. I planned to do everything within my power to leave. And in this case, I would do nothing. If the test was like any of the other tests I did at school, doing nothing should result in a ‘fail’.
After making two right turns, we halted before a sliding door. There was a single beep before the door slid sideways, giving view to the white room inside. It was an almost barren space with but a polished, metal-encased, reclining armchair in its center. By the chair was a woman in the same blue tunic as the man. The only difference between her and the people I met before her was the gentle smile on her face.
“I know this looks scary,” she said, tapping on the chair. “But it does nothing you imagine it would do.”
I admit, I was imagining the worst. Were there needles in the seat ready to pierce through my skin? Was the metal casing going to heat up and burn me alive? Never was my imagination as wild nor as terrifying as when I stood before the daunting-looking device.
“What… does it do then?” I asked.
“Nothing,” she said.
“Take a seat,” she prompted.
The man finally released his grip on my arm, allowing me to move freely. For a brief moment, I contemplated running for the door. If I escaped, I wouldn’t have to do the test. Alas, it was a silly notion–I was just a child. So, I did as I was told and climbed into the chair. Planting myself firmly on the seat, my legs hung above the footrest–yes, I was rather short for an eleven-year-old.
“I’m going to put these two buttons on your temples, all right?” the woman said. She didn’t wait for my reply as she stuck the flat pieces to the sides of my forehead. “Oh! And look here,” she exclaimed as she pulled away. “What lovely freckles you have,” she praised. “My daughter has them too. She’s one of the kids you’ll meet later.”
“Yes. Now, I want you to close your eyes.”
I followed instructions, eager to disappoint the adults. As darkness replaced the white room, I waited for the next prompt. However, there came none.
“What do I do?” I asked.
There was no reply. I wondered if I should open my eyes. But, a second before I did, I saw the strangest thing in the blackness of my eyelids. I was… in space.
A control panel with a series of switches and screens encircled the chair I was strapped into. And, in that moment, I questioned my reality. Was I still in the white-washed research facility? Was it all a dream? Why was I suddenly in space? Will I awake in my bedroom, ten feet away from where my parents slept? I wished the latter to be true. Unfortunately, I had an inkling that it wasn’t real. This was my escape–a place in my head where I was a space pilot, far away from my dreadful reality.
“Good job,” I heard the woman say. In a snap, the twinkling stars vanished. Darkness returned. When I pried my eyelids open, she added, “You passed.”
“But… I did nothing,” I said.
The woman retrieved the buttons from my temples, before the man reached to pull me off the chair. “Come now. You’ll get two brownies with dinner as promised,” the man said.
I didn’t want brownies. I wanted to know what was going on. How did I pass? What did the chair do? What made me so special? Sadly, the only thing I did know was that I wasn’t going home. And until I figured out why, my imagination would serve as my only escape from this reality–a reality where, I’ve been told countless times, every adult hated to live in.
Panda, freckles, and space pilot were words given by HKay. A question for you, dear reader: what do you think is this child’s gift? Feel free to share your ‘theory’ with me in the comment section.
Now, it’s your turn! Write a story of your own with the three words given. Oh, and if you think you have 3 words that will surely challenge my creativity, leave them in the comment section too. It wouldn’t be fair to give myself the 3 words now would it?
*To download the banner, left-click then right-click to save.
3 Words, 1 Story © 2018 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.
(Click HERE for a list of stories in this writing challenge.)