Taken

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: November 06, 2017

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Submitted: November 06, 2017

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Taken

A grey, wispy cloud floated far above a small town, guarding it from the bright rays of the sun. Down below, the streets were bustling with people, yet appeared colorless in the inescapable shadows. At the center stood the Treatment Center: a large, white building towering over the dozens of smaller houses and its inhabitants.

At the edge of town, beyond the chain-link fences surrounding it was a forest, an endless sea of leafy trees full of mystery and unknown. One particular tree, however, was especially familiar to the girl sitting inside its hallowed base this peaceful morning. But wait—she wasn't alone. Not anymore.

Someone came up behind her.

Emma let out a loud yelp as a pair of hands suddenly grabbed her shoulders.  She whipped around to find Brandon with a huge grin on his face, showing no effort to hide his amusement at her reaction.

"Shhh! We're gonna get caught and sent to treatment."

Her frightened expression quickly became a scowl.  "You were supposed to meet me here ten minutes ago."

"I got held up." He sat down beside her in the tree. "The Treatment Center looked awfully busy today. Looks like they're bringing in more and more each day."

Although she had known Brandon for a long time, Emma never quite understood why he would take such a risk to try to satisfy his curiosity. But what about her? Getting caught climbing or going beyond the fences could lead to the same fate. But this is worth it, she thought.  In a way, it felt more peaceful and safe out here in the forest—an escape from the busy streets and the Treatment Center itself.

She gave him a serious, yet concerned look. "You shouldn't be poking around that place so much. What if you're next?"

Leaning back against the inside of the tree, Brandon appeared too relaxed to notice. "Don't worry about me, I'm always careful. You should come next time," he offered while glancing over. She gave him another fearful look, frantically shaking her head.

But that doesn't mean what happens within the white building doesn't intrigue her as well. She had heard countless stories from her neighbors—well, the ones that were still "themselves". As far as she knows, people were taken in for some kind of procedure and come out, never the same again. But don’t they all live to tell the tale? Well, yes—they look perfectly fine, except for the blank faces and empty expressions. These people returned with no memory of the procedure or any true emotions—like empty shells prepared to re-enter society.

Emma shuddered just thinking about it. Her concern for safety, however, was more for Brandon's sake than her own. The Treatment Center seemed to target and subdue individuals with dynamic personalities—curious and outgoing people, just like him.

Brandon suddenly popped up, walking outside of the tree. "Gonna get some candy from the store. Wanna come?"

She shook her head. "I'll take a nap. But please be careful." And he disappeared through the trees.

 

Emma woke up a couple hours later, with Brandon nowhere to be seen. He should be back by now. She quickly got up to head back into town.

The main street running parallel to the Treatment Center was always full of people—like ants scurrying down a path, each with their own hidden purpose. As Emma slowly strolled down the road, carefully observing each shop and passerby, she began noticing a strange and ominous pattern: the vacant stares, lack of eye contact, and absence of conversations around her--more than ever before.  She quickened her pace past the dull creatures and past the doors of the candy store to the cashier: a kind, bearded man who has sold her and Brandon dozens of candies over the years.

"Have you seen Brandon today?" she asked.

"No." This time, however, he didn't bother to meet her eyes and continued to stare past her, as if he were hypnotized by a boring daydream.

Now disconcerted and seriously worried, Emma dashed out of the candy store, and knew there was only one other place he could be. She anxiously made her way towards the Treatment Center.

 

Brandon was out in plain sight by the white building, standing on his tippy-toes and peering thru a small window when Emma spotted him. "I thought you were getting candy. I told you not to come back here!"

He turned around, startled. "I was on my way to the store when I saw the guards take a whole bunch of people in. I tried tracking them through this window, but they were brought deeper inside and I lost 'em. Hey, if it ever happens to us, better to know what actually goes on in there, right?"

"It never will if you stay far away from this place. Now let's leave before—"

"What do you two think you're doing here?"

Too late.

Approaching them were two guards, both dressed in all black with scowls on their faces.

"This is a restricted area."

Emma stood frozen in fear, so Brandon spoke. "Sorry, sir. We were just leaving." He grabbed her hand and took a step.

One guard, suspiciously eyeing Emma as if he could smell fear, stopped them. "We can't let you leave now. You'll have to come with us."

 

They were led down a long, dark hallway with dim lights that seemed to flicker at their presence. At the end of the hallway hung one last, eerie light, illuminating a single black door.

A couple of people sat against both walls before the door—people who looked terribly afraid.

The door swung open. "Who shall go next?"

A short, balding man in a white lab coat appeared. His rubber gloves were dark red, and he wore strange bifocals that made his eyes look bug-like and unsettling. The anxiously waiting patients seemed to all look away at once, avoiding his frightful gaze. They were trying so hard to prolong their lives before their inevitable fate. However, a guard spoke up. "We caught these two trespassing, Doctor."

The doctor turned to face them, scanning over their two culprits. His large eyes suddenly met Emma's, as if they bore into her skull and could see the overwhelming terror. "You're next."

"Wait!" Brandon intervened unexpectedly. He gave Emma one last look, a look of many words. "I'll go first."

The doctor, looking unaffected by their emotions, paused for a second. He gestured to the guards, who swiftly pulled them both into the next room, deeper into the darkness.

Emma lay perfectly still across a cold, metal table with a single, blinding light above her face. As she heard the deafening noise of a powerful drill somewhere close behind her, she felt a sharp pain at the top of her skull. The doctor pulled the light lower towards her face, his gloves temporarily staining everything below with dark red. Tears streamed down her face—not from immense pain, but from knowing she will never see the world the same way again.

Moments before everything was taken away, Emma tried so hard to recall all the good memories she would fail to hold on to—their endless days of trips to the candy store or spending time in the forest were so perfect. She never wanted to forget their tree, a place that became so familiar it felt safe. She never wanted to forget Brandon—his wide, playful smile and eyes full of brightness and curiosity. She never wanted to let go.

But in a matter of minutes, it was all gone.

They walked out of that large, white building in opposite directions, never looking back again.

 

 


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