May 1, 2456
“Three days until surgery, Sapphire,” the monotone voice told me. It came from the ceiling, like it always does.
I’ve been lying awake for hours, thinking about it. They tell me I am not allowed to move around. They tell me I must stay in my room and wait. It would be boring, but they uploaded the room so it has new features that my old room did not.
I focus my mind on the beach, trying to imagine the sound, the smell, the touch. I have never been to a beach, but I have walked into a room being focused on it. I remember that it smelled like salt, and there was a constant cool breeze, splashing, foaming water, and sand. Lots and lots of sand.
The white walls slowly ooze backward, melting into what seems to be the sky. Bright blue and splattered with light, it emerged, replacing the ceiling. The smell of salt enrolled, followed by a far off roar. It sounded like millions of animals charging for me, all at once. Just when I thought the animals were close enough to trample me, water erupted from the walls, filling up the room. Nothing was disturbed, however, and I could breathe as normal. The water receded, leaving everything dry, and as soon as the water left, I could see that the ground was covered in sand. Every few seconds the water would wash up over the sand, snaking under my bed and up the walls, and then pull back.
“Whoa,” I breathe, leaning over to watch.
Little crabs began burrowing out of the sand, washing up with the tide. A few fish scattered the water, along with little grass-like sea plants. Above my head, seagulls roamed the air, watching over the ocean for their next meal.
I can’t believe it’s not real. The walls seem to have disappeared. It’s like I’m sitting in a bed in the middle of a beach. I can see far out into the ocean where a sail ship has appeared, and far over the left and right side of me, where the sand continues on, clear of litter and all other people.
I get lost in the waves, following them up and down. I don’t know how much time passes, but soon Dr. Venon walks in.
“Oh!” she exclaims, jumping over the imaginary water. I look ever at her, my concentration on the walls breaking. The water falls back, but does not come forward again. The sand and sky melt away, replaced by the same white walls I was staring at before. The sound dies, and the smell disappears, leaving no clue that just a second ago, there was an ocean here.
“Dr. Venon,” I say quietly, watching her feet.
“Sapphire,” she regards me. I look up at her face, biting my lip, waiting for her to say something more. The feeling must be mutual, though, because she’s giving me the exact same look I’m sure I’m giving her.
“Sorry.” I break eye contact again, watching the walls, wishing the ocean was back.
“Sorry? No, Sapphire, we gave you the option to go anywhere you’d like in this room, so you have it. I’m not mad at you. I’m just thinking, that’s all.” She moves over to the table beside my bed, setting her clipboard down and turning her attention toward the machine that I’m hooked to.
“Thinking about me?” I watch her jaw tighten as she pushes buttons, trying to turn off the alarm system so she can exchange the needles in my skin.
It takes quite some time before she answers. “Yes, Sapphire, thinking about you.”
And then I am quiet for an equal amount of time before I say, “About what they’re going to do to me?”
Dr. Venon sighs, bends down, and begins taking the needle off of my wrist. She waits until she is finished exchanging the needle and has reset the alarm system to answer.
“Yeah.” She pushes her hand up under her hair on the back of her head, closing her eyes shut for a few seconds. “But I only know as much as you do.”
Which was nothing.
She moves for the door. “Wait!” I cry. “What am I supposed to do?”
More silence. Then, “Go back to the ocean.” And the door closes. And the lock is turned. And my fate is sealed.