“Come to the beach with us?” I asked Dean.
“When are you guys leaving?”
“In like an hour or so. We’re going to start a bonfire”
“Sounds good to me but who’s ‘us’”?
“Me, Felicia, and Elisa for sure. I don’t know who they’re inviting though. But, that doesn’t matter; it’s going to be fun”
“I’ll go, but only because you’re going” he said after a while of contemplating.
“Thank you! I’ll pick you up soon. Love you Dean, bye” I said excitedly, then hung up the phone.
Dean and I have been together for 13 months. I met him at a party when I was fifteen and he was sixteen. I fell for him right away but he was a little hesitant to talk to me for a while after I met him. He lives on the other side of town and lives a completely different lifestyle than me. I can describe myself as a girl who stays at home a lot, while he parties all weekend- and sometimes even on weeknights. I’m always doing my homework and extra-curricular activities and he doesn’t even go to school. He has independent studies and only has to show up in class for one hour once a week. That seems pretty easy to me but somehow he doesn’t manage to get all of his work done and he is still failing all of his classes. He’s not stupid though, he just doesn’t try.
I got ready to pick up Dean and called my friends, asking them where I should meet them because they left earlier than I had. I pulled up to Deans’ house and before I even honked he was walking outside. He slammed the door shut after he had sat in the passenger’s seat without saying a word.
“What’s wrong?” I asked as I started driving away.
I looked at him without knowing what to say. He and his mom have a really rocky relationship. They’re always fighting but he never wants to talk about it. I turned on some music and we drove the whole way there without saying a word to each other.
When we arrived, we carried all of our stuff to the bonfire site that my friends had set up and made out own little corner. I was saying hi to Elisa and Felicia and we talked for a while. They’re my best friends but they’ve never really gotten along with Dean for some reason. They always try to be civil however and try not to fight.
I was mid-sentence when Dean scooped me up from behind and carried me down to the water. Then, he set me down in the wet sand and the icy water flowed up to my waist every time a wave hit the shore. I know this sounds cheesy, and it was, but Dean is always good about doing cute things that only happen in movies. One time, he kidnapped me from my house while I was sleeping and dragged me all the way to downtown Los Angeles to stand on the roof of a building with a great view that his friend had showed him. He’s spontaneously romantic and it drives me nuts- in a good way.
He threw himself on top of me with his hands holding the back of my neck. Then he kissed me while smiling, sat up, tore off his shirt and pants, then ran into the water. I laughed and stripped my clothing off until I was in my bathing suit- then chased after him.
When I had caught up, I jumped on his back and kissed his cheek. He held my back with one arm and jumped over each wave. After a while spun me around so I was face to face with him. I kissed his forehead and wiggled around so that he would let me go. Once he did I started back to the bonfire because the sun was setting and I didn’t want to be in the water while it was dark out. I realized just how cold the water was which made me run out even faster.
I got to my things by the fire just before Dean had walked up. It was dark by now and the fire helped dry my body off before I even got to my towel. I deck-changed under my towel quickly and efficiently. When I was done, I found Dean sitting on a chair right up against the fire- he was already dressed very warmly. I was too but I was still cold.
I sat on his lap and kissed him on the check. We were talking for a while about non-sense when a tall, slender girl ran up to us.
“Dean!” she called out. Dean stood up without even giving me a chance to move. I stepped to the side and he hugged her for a really long time.
“What are you doing here?” he asked her. It was the most enthusiastic tone he had used all day.
“I’m here with my friend Josh who came with Elisa” she replied, “Who are you here with?”
“I’m here with my friend too- uh, girl. My girlfriend Emma” he tripped over his words. Then he looked at me and she did the same.
“Oh, your… girlfriend?” she asked stressing the word ‘girl’.
“Yes” I interrupted. They both looked at me awkwardly but I just smiled at the girl. She was actually really pretty as much as I hated admitting it to myself.
“Well, I’ll leave you guys alone now” she said and hugged Dean again, “it was cool meeting up with you again. I’ll give you my number a little later and we can maybe catch a movie or something”
“Yeah, maybe just hit me up” he smiled and she left. He looked back at me now. “What?”
“Who was that?”
“An old friend”
“Yeah? That could mean anything if I’m your ‘friend’ too”
“Emma, don’t start”
“I’m not, you already did” I said. He sat back in his chair. The girl kept looking over at us from across the flames. Dean grabbed my waist and pulled me down on his lap.
“Emma, I love you more than anyone else. Let’s not fight tonight” he smiled at me.
“Okay” I answered still looking at the girl. If Dean was over it, so was I.
We sang cheesy songs and played truth or dare with everyone else that was there. It was fun but I was extremely tired so I decided to lay down on a blanket I had packed, and covered my body with my best friend Elisas blanket, which was really warm. She came to lay down with me so that I wouldn’t be lonely since Dean was talking to some guys he knew when he was still in high school.
Elisa and I have been friends since middle school. We grew extremely close quickly and spend almost every weekend together-when I’m not with Dean. The only person that knows me better than Elisa is my only other best friend Felicia. She and I have been close since kindergarten- no joke. I love them to death and they are pretty much like my sisters.
Anyway, we were talking and laughing for a while until I fell asleep. I dreamed of my mother. I was supposed to call her when we got to the beach but I was distracted in all of the excitement. I had a dream that she grounded me, and never let me go anywhere again and never let me see Elisa, Felicia, or even Dean. It was horrible.
When I opened my eyes, it was because a bright light had crossed over my eye lids. I squished my eyes together and covered my face. Some jerked my hand away from my face and yanked me up off of the floor. I felt the sand run down my back and heard it hit the floor. Everything was still a little bright and I held my hand up to block the tiny light source. I heard walkie-talkies beeping and making static sounds. I heard people crying and when my eyes adjusted, I realized they were all my friends. Everyone had a guy holding them- just like me. They were all wearing dark black suits so thick I could probably kick one of them in the stomach and they would hardly feel a thing. They had big dark helmets with plastic goggles around their eyes. There wasn’t an inch of skin that was exposed.
They were scary looking. I looked up to see if the guy who was grasping my wrist was as scary as everyone else- he was, except my guard seemed a lot smaller than the rest although he was still remarkably taller than me. During all of this time that I had spent looking around, the guard was asking me questions that I hadn’t answered.
“Ma’am!” he yelled at me, “What is your name?”
I looked at him for a while. he sounded upset but his eyes looked scared.
“I’m Emma” I murmured.
“Do you feel funny Emma?” he asked his voice still stern-sounding.
“Yes, I feel fine” I looked around and by now, the other guards were dragging my friends to the parking lot. I saw Elisa squirming and crying. She looked like she was in so much pain and misery. My heart started hurting and I realized that the guards weren’t here to help us. They were being rough with us.
“Did you play in the water today?” my guard asked me.
I didn’t answer him because I was looking around for Felicia. She wasn’t as violent as Elisa had been but she still looked as if she was going against her will. Then, I saw Dean. He was talking to that girl who was hugging him earlier because their guards were conversing about something as well. When Dean reached out for the girl, he was pushed back violently by both of the guards. The girl was hysterical.
“Hello? Are you sure you’re feeling alright?” the guard asked me again. I looked back into his eyes. He looked even more afraid than last time.
“Yes, I’m fine. I played in the water today, but only for a little while”
He nodded and said “okay, uh, I’m gonna ask you to come with me okay?” he was so nervous.
“Sure” I said. He walked me over to one of the vans that were in the parking lot, next to our cars. “Are we in trouble?”
“Uh, no- well, not really anyway. I can’t really talk about it”
“You work for the government?”
“What’s going on?”
“I’m not supposed to explain anything to you”
“But I think I have the right to know. Am I getting arrested? Is it because we were on the beach past curfew?”
“No, it’s not because of that”
“Then what is it?”
He stopped walking and stood in front of me. Then, he looked around for other guards that might hear him. They were all pretty far away- well, far enough to not hear what he was about to tell me.
“Okay, don’t tell anyone this information but there has been a disease that’s spread across the country in just the past 24 hours or so. It started in Kentucky and it’s already here in Los Angeles”
“That’s it? A disease?”
“It’s bad though” he leaned in closer to my face, “it’s kind of like rabies. It makes the most sane people go crazy”
“What do you mean crazy?”
“There have been millions of reports of” he stopped, looked around again and whispered, “cannibalism”
I half-believed his story. The idea of this disease seemed too radical to really exist but there was definitely a reason that they kidnapped us from the beach. We started walking again when I really started thinking. What if they weren’t really from the government? What if they were just going to kidnap all of us? What if there was no disease? I knew however that I wasn’t getting away-not if Elisa couldn’t.
When we reached the van, I was pushed to crawl in first and sit in the back. There were no chairs so I had to sit on the floor. My guard came and sat by me although not once did we make eye contact. No one else was in the van with me- none of my friends anyway. Just me and the guard.
The doors shut and we took off.
“Where are they taking us?” I whispered so the driver wouldn’t hear. He probably wouldn’t have heard if I had said it in my normal tone anyway, he was listening to radio reports about what was going on sent out from what I think was the government.
“Sort of like a concentration camp in Cerritos. It’s about a half-hour from here”
“Why, what are they going to do?”
“Check and see if any of you have the disease”
“And hypothetically speaking, let’s say I do. What happens?”
“They’ll probably kill you. Or, if you’re especially unlucky, use you as a test model to try to find a cure”
He must have seen the fear in my eyes from the dim lights outside because he was quick to cover what he had just said.
“You look fine though. You’re talking fine and your breathing seems normal” he pressed his eyebrows closer together, “but you look a little pale”
“It was freezing outside and I just woke up. Could that be it?”
“Yeah” he smiled, “could be”
“So, if I had the disease, I’d be… you know” I let my voice trail off.
“If you had the disease, you’d probably already be showing signs of major anxiety and you’d be throwing up all over the place. Those are just the early signs though”
“My friends we’re showing major signs of anxiety. How can you tell if they’re infected or just scared?”
“We can’t- not without a blood sample at least”
“So we’re going to go get blood tests?”
“And what happens if I’m not ‘infected’? I get to go home?”
“No, they have camps with super high security. You get blood tests everyday there and they feed you certain foods. You get housed with other people who aren’t infected, even if they’re strangers”
“But my friends will be in the same camp right?”
He shrugged. I took a deep breath and wondered why I was so calm. The world was pretty much ending and I wasn’t hysterical like my friends. I thought about my mom and dad and wondered if they were okay- then about my sister and brothers. I kept happy thoughts in my head because I didn’t want to freak out. If I did, they might think I was infected and shoot me on the spot.
I looked out of the back window that had bars on the outside to see if I could see my friends. I couldn’t because it was too dark out and most of the street lamps were off. I sat back down and remained silent for the rest of the ride.
“We’re here” the officer said. He stood up and lifted his gun. He was reaching for the handle when I stopped him.
“Wait” I whispered. He shot his head around and looked at me.
“What’s your name?”
“I’m not supposed to give personal information out. I’m sorry” he said and opened the door. He stepped out and I followed.
“I’m gonna have to put these restraints on your hands and feet. It’s nothing personal but I have to. That way you don’t try to run away. Not that I’m saying that you would I just-”
“Its okay” I threw my hands up in the air, then put them behind my back. I heard the chains clinking against each other. He placed the first one around my wrist gently.
“Sorry” he said worriedly. When he did the second one, he seemed even more worried even though it wasn’t hurting a bit. He didn’t put them on tight at all.
When he started putting on the ankle-cuffs, I saw Dean step out of the van he was in. His guard wasn’t as nice as mine. He was pushing Dean around.
My boyfriend shot me a hopeless smile while he was getting cuffed. I could tell that he was only smiling to make me feel okay because his eyes were terrified.
They walked us over to a long line of crying people. I walked next to Dean but neither of us said a word to each other until we were in line.
“I wonder what they’re doing here” he said stretching his neck up to see. Our guards were all on the side of the line now talking to one another. Every so often, one would turn around to make sure we weren’t doing anything out of line. My guard turned around and smiled at me. I smiled back and looked at Dean.
“What was that?” He asked.
“Your guard seems real friendly”
“He is” I said sternly. I was in no mood to argue with Dean over something stupid.
“They’re gonna check our blood here” I said.
“What?” there was fear in Deans voice. I had forgotten that he developed a terrible fear of needles after his last tattoo. His friend was doing the tattoo on him and he slipped letting his hand fall, slicing Deans skin all the way down his arm. He had to get stitches and now had a nasty looking scar to prove it.
“But its going to be okay. Its just a small blood sample to make sure you’re not infected”
“Infected with what?”
“Some sort of new disease”
He looked at me for a long time. He looked as though he wanted to cry. I kissed him on the cheek and told him not to worry.
We started getting closer and closer to the front of the line and Dean was in a cold sweat by now. I told him to act like he was calm or they might grow suspicious of him. He didn’t seem to heed my warnings. I looked all over for Elisa and Felicia. They must have been sent to another line.
“Arm?” they voice behind the table asked. The person was so heavily armored that I was unable to tell if it were a male or female. I sent my arm forward and the voice grabbed it roughly. She shoved the thick needle through my skin so fast I hardly felt it break skin, but once she started sucking the blood up, it hurt like hell. I kept my mouth shut however because I didn’t want to scare Dean. I heard a beeping noise come from the machine that my blood was sucked into. The sound itself sounded like a bad sign. I had a mini-heart attack thinking I was infected.
The worker looked up at me and told me to follow my guard down the hall. I was more nervous than words can describe. I heard a siren go off by the table next to me. The lady in front of the table screamed and cried, asking what that sound meant. Then, without hesitation, the guard that was waiting for her picked his gun up, and shot her in the face. Everyone screamed but no one dared jump out of line in fear they too would be shot. The guard that killed her picked up her head by her hair and dragged her behind a fence leaving a trail of blood behind her corpse.
A single tear ran down my face as I walked to my guard. I looked back to make sure Dean was okay. The machine didn’t make the same noise that mine had. Nor did it make the noise of the machine next to me that caused the lady to be killed on the spot. I made a new noise that I had never heard. It sounded neither good, nor bad and I looked for his guard who was now lunging toward him. He grabbed Dean by his stitched arm and dragged him down a different ‘hall’ which was more of a tunnel.
“Where are they taking him?” I screamed.
“Further examination” my guard answered me and dragged me down the hall I was in. This was the first time he had been rough with me and I think this was because there were other guards around. Afraid to ask further questions, I looked at the floor and followed the pull of my guard.