“It’s big.” Sophie’s words mirror my thoughts. The Facility looks like a five-star hotel instead of a medical clinic. A glass castle…with armed guards.
“Don’t let it intimidate you.” I grab her hand and pull her with me. The two of us bring up the rear of the group. You can feel the tension in the air. No one wants to step through the security checkpoint; there’s no turning back after that. Not that we have a choice. It’s like the old military draft, when boys went to war against their will, barely trained and ready to kill. Except this isn’t war. This is survival.
I’m behind Sophie as we reach the burly-looking guards and their machine guns. They don’t look at us as we file through the large, grey chamber. Two more soldiers stand to the right of the chamber, staring intently at a small screen. It’s a body scanner. They’re making sure we aren’t concealing weapons. But why? Why would we bring weapons to a place like this? Has that happened before? And why the guns? Are we in danger? My mind swirls the questions together with fear and paranoia about what the innards of The Facility will bring as I wait impatiently for Sophie to be scanned. Once it’s my turn, I cautiously step onto the chamber platform. I barely get three feet inside when an ear-piercing siren sounds and both ends of the chamber seal shut.
My mind clouds with panic. I frantically rush the entrance of the chamber. I pound on the cold surface and scream for someone to help but I know I’m wasting my time. Why are they doing this to me? What did I do wrong? I don’t have a gun hidden anywhere, no other weapons. I didn’t even pack a fingernail file. I’m no threat here. Especially here. The Facility is supposed to be a place of hope. Why do they think I would destroy that?
I give up screaming and scan the chamber. My lungs tighten in my chest as the realization of my enclosed quarters sets in. The walls feel alive, moving, closing in on me. Don’t panic, Hannah. Don’t panic.
I fall against the door. My legs crumple beneath me. I’m defeated. They’ve won. I’ll do whatever they want if someone will just let me out of here. My mind can’t handle the claustrophobia. Reality warps. Shadows gripping the upper corners of the chamber begin to move. Long, black arms reach down, making contact with the cold floor. Lithe bodies peel from the walls. Two of them, equal in size and terror, move toward me. I don’t panic, don’t even acknowledge them. I can’t. I’m frozen with fear. Part of my brain knows this isn’t real; the rest is scared to death. I don’t want to die. I don’t want the shadow monsters to take me and torture me and kill me. As their gangly fingers make contact with my skin, my eyes close and everything goes black.