…And why would that be a bad thing?”
“Because they would drug me. When I fall asleep before the voices go away—things—happen. Like to Kendra and Doctor Ben…
Selma shivers, it’s only been twenty minutes but already she’s half asleep. She tries not to think about it but the visions are closing in.
Selma tosses down the Gameboy. Pulling out the blankets from under her knees, she puts them over her shoulders. Behind her a window is open to the woods where Selma could spend the night with less fear than in bed. Like she had the first night she’d found Kendra’s note when she’d seen Will’s scar. When she’d first realized what monsters ran the Center.
It had been a warm April night over a year ago when Kendra had been gone missing and with few leads and no evidence of foul play, the police had chalked it up to her being another runaway.
In their last conversation before she had left, Kendra gave Selma a warning.
“If I’m right about the Center then we’re in trouble.” She said with a serious glance. “Whatever you do Selma, don’t tell them about your dreams anymore. Not if Blackfly’s in charge.” She said playing with one of her braids.
“Ok sure, it’s not like I tell them everything anyways.” Selma said shrugging.
“I’m serious Selma. Until I know for sure, you can’t let them know about the future or the places you see or the people. ” Kendra said strangely grave.
“Fine, I get it.” Selma said in a voice filled with discomfort. “But how do you know Blackfly’s so bad anyways?”
“When was the last time you saw Will?” Kendra hissed.
“A while, I guess.” Selma hedged around the issue of her missing boyfriend.
“It’s been a month Selma. He’s been missing a month now and no one’s reported him. He’s not like us; he never runs away”
“Maybe that wasn’t the Center or Blackfly. We don’t actually know.” Selma said quietly.
“Selma, they had my sister institutionalized and then killed.” Kendra grabbed hold of Selma’s arm; her deep brown eyes had lost their usual jovial spark. They were dark with an anger Selma rarely saw. “Now they have Will. They’ll go after you next so you have to promise me. It’s life or death.”
Selma nodded and then swallowed slowly as Kendra loosened her hold on Selma’s arm. After a long moment, Kendra smiled and punched Selma, lightening up the mood. Selma laughed but frowned worriedly when Kendra turned her back.
“Well then, I’ll see you when I see you.” Kendra said as she stuffed her bag with snack food.
“You’re disappearing again?” Selma complained, watching Kendra overstuff what Selma recognized as a runaway bag. It was something they had in common, the urge to leave and never look back. That and the identical looking bag they used to do it with.
“You bet, I can’t do squat at home and this whole Center puzzle needs my whole attention. You know what my house is like.” Kendra’s voice sounded cheerful but the look on her face made Selma’s heart constrict.
“How long?” Selma said trying to sound casual.
“I have no idea but I wont be around, if I can help it.” She said scowling at Selma’s real question. Kendra knew Selma was really asking how long before she should call the cops.
“Be careful then.” Selma said awkwardly. She briefly wondered if two weeks was long enough for Kendra.
“Don’t worry about me, I always am. You’d just better not tell them about your visions.” She warned before walking out the door.
There were signs: the sounds, the lights, the exhaustion and most importantly, the feeling.
Selma could feel it coming like a big slow wave crashing in on her before pulling her out and into the sea.
She could feel it in her bones, on her skin, in her hair and in her lungs, days before it happened, getting stronger and closer to pulling her under.
She could feel it now.
The visions came when they came so Selma felt there wasn’t any reason to tell the Center. They were supposed to be the good guys; at least that’s what Selma kept telling herself.
Even when Kendra had discovered that people mysteriously went into the sublevels never to remerge, Selma hadn’t believed.
The people who disappeared had their names on a strange list.
Jenny had told her of the rooms under the Center but they weren’t supposed to be used for patients. The list kept getting longer and longer and the people on it kept on disappearing. Still Selma wouldn’t believe. Not even when Will’s name went on the list.
The Center couldn’t be evil.
She couldn’t have put Will or Jenny or any of the people she knew in danger. She couldn’t have let them give Will that God-awful scar.
Selma shakes her head, it didn’t matter what she had thought now she knew the truth. She stands up on the couch and ducks to avoid the dream-catchers she and her cousin had hung up years ago and finally closed the window.
She stayed standing leaning to her right trying to get a glimpse of what used to be Kendra’s house before she had run away, over a year ago.
Selma steps off the couch, clutching on to a stack of boxes to help her now unsteady legs to the floor. She’s getting worse by the minute; she was barely holding on to consciousness but suddenly Selma didn’t care, all she could think about was Kendra’s legacy. Selma crouched down to touch the sticky residue on the side of the couch.
Kendra had suspected the Center’s good intentions from the very beginning; she always said there was something wrong about the Center but then again, Kendra didn’t trust doctors, not since her sister had died, since she’d first heard the name Blackfly.
It had been two months when Selma’s promise was finally put to the test and she fell into a psychic coma. She awoke three weeks later screaming, ending her coma before its time.
Selma refused to say what she saw; only that Kendra was gone.
Whatever Selma saw haunted her every dream and every thought until she began to feel that her visions were threatening to pull her under again, threatening to give her the whole story.
Frightened, Selma had left the Center and went to where she could be alone to fight off the visions. Where she didn’t have to see her friends die.
When Selma walked into the clubhouse that night, her nurse had been waiting. Selma forced the old woman to stay the night, taking her car keys and cell phone from her.
When Jenny finally fell asleep on the couch, Selma got up to get a blanket from the bin. It was only then she noticed the writing scrawled on a nearby box in red permanent marker.
It wasn’t written on just any box but the box full of things that the Center was looking for, things that were like Selma, special.
ICFD in the old whale
Selma pounded the dust out of the blanket, frowning. It was written in Kendra’s handwriting.
‘How long was that written there?’ Selma thought as she walked to the couch.
She squatted beside the couch, pausing to touch the sticky residue of where Kendra had once put a large whale sticker there before she began to look for the rip in the bottom of the couch.
The sticker had come off years ago but they still called the couch ‘the old whale’ because no one wanted to carry the heavy thing out of the clubhouse so it stayed but not before it earned its name and some battle scars from every attempt at moving it.
Selma found the tear and a letter tucked inside. She opened it and read it slowly and carefully. Halfway through the letter, her hand had begun to shake.
When she finished reading the letter, she calmly folded it up again, placing it back into the couch. She stayed crouched near the floor for a moment, wiping the tear running down her cheek.
Selma stood up and rushed out of the clubhouse, holding her stomach and clutching her mouth.