Your new life began in a small, windowless room.
The strangers unloaded you and carried you into a large building composed of mazes. You were so tired and so hungry that following the journey made you dizzy, so you closed your eyes. Eventually, they placed you down on a hard surface and untied your arms and legs. Once they took away their hands, you found you could not sit upright. You slumped over, your head banging against padded plastic.
The strangers left you there. Time passed.
You woke again to a hand touching your head. A voice asked you to do something. You didn’t understand, so you couldn’t comply. You opened your eyes. Inadvertently, it appeared, you had done what the voice wanted. You blinked a couple times and were greeted with a smile.
A Subgroup A male knelt in front of you. He was small, like all Subgroup As, but unexpectedly beautiful, his features soft and elegant, his eyes a bright green. His hands were gentle as they massaged feeling back into your hands, legs, and feet, and never once did he stop talking to you. Seeing the damage you had done to your own hand, he frowned, rose, and, leaned his head out the door, called for another Subgroup A, a female with red hair. She examined, soothed, and bandaged your hand, and, once she was done, she leaned over to kiss you on the crown of your head.
The male left the room with her, and, in his absence, you curled up facing the wall, cradling your bandaged hand against your chest. Before you could sleep again, the male returned. He helped you sit up and offered you a bowl of a warm food-like substance. It tasted like the color gray. The male sat beside you and watched you. When you stopped eating midway through the bowl, already full and growing nauseated, he urged you on with gestures. You did not want to finish, but he would not leave until you did. You finished eating. He took the bowl from you and left again.
In an effort to ignore the churning of your stomach, you looked around the room. It only contained the bed on which you were perched, a row of cabinets, some instruments on a tray in the corner, and a scale of some kind by the door. You pushed yourself off the bed to take a closer look at the tray. This movement was enough to make your stomach rebel; you vomited all over the floor. You sunk down into a small huddled mass beside the bed, and, burying your head against your legs, you thought of your mother.
The male returned. His footsteps stopped briefly at the door before continuing on up the hall. Some people came to clean up your mess. They did not speak to you, and you did not look at them. They closed the door to the room once they were done.
From your place on the floor, you heard an argument occurring outside the room. One of the voices sounded like the male who gave you the food. You hoped they would not force you to eat again. They didn’t. Instead, the white-clad cadre of people who entered the room decided to examine every part of you.
A female braced herself against the bed and hovered over you. You pushed your body further into the corner and pressed your head firmly against your knees. She forced your head up, pulling you by the hair, and spoke to you in a voice made of sharp edges. When you would not come off the floor willingly, they pried you up and strapped you down on the bed.
Scissors were brandished, and your clothes were gone. Rubber-coated fingers searched your crevices—prodding at your teeth and in-between your buttocks—and handled your genitals. Instruments searched your ears and eyes. They unstrapped your limbs one by one to stretch and bend them. Your left arm was bent too far, and you screeched in pain. A hand hit you once, hard, on the top of the head. You determined screaming would not be tolerated.
They stuck a needle in your wrist and filled a little vial with your blood. They dragged over the tray and gave you a series of shots, one needle after another driven into your arm. You began to cry, but since you were silent and did not struggle, no one paid you any attention. Finally, some pills were put into your mouth. You refused to swallow them, letting them rest in a hollow you made with your tongue. One of the males pulled your head up with his hands. Another forced your mouth open so water could be squirted inside. You choked and spat out the pills. Their next attempt was more successful. The female grabbed your face between her hands and shouted at you. You swallowed the pills.
They left you, immobilized and exposed, still strapped down to the bed.
There was no way to hide when the door opened again. Straining your neck upward, you could see the green-eyed male had reentered the room. He spoke to you in soft tones as he unstrapped your arms and legs, wiped your face, and applied a bandage to your shot-ridden arm. He helped you dress in stiff, clean clothes before propping you up and easing you off the table. When you stumbled, he allowed you to lean against him. His arm encircling you, he steered you out of the room.
You took an unsteady trip down a long, brightly lit hallway. At the end of it, there were three doors. Green-Eyes guided you through the one on the left. The room you entered was absurdly large. One entire wall was made of darkened glass that reached all the way up to the ceiling. Green-Eyes motioned for you to sit on a bench in front of the window. He pressed a button and the dark glass became clear.
You did not understand what you were seeing.
On the other side of the glass, in an outdoor arena, subgroup Bs flew by at unnatural speeds. You stood up to get a closer look. You could feel Green-Eyes standing behind you, and you turned to look at him to make sure that your behavior was condoned. He smiled at you, and you returned your gaze to the arena.
When the subgroup Bs slowed and stopped to take directions from the smaller As, you could see that they were balancing on boards held up by nothing but air. Pairs of them moved around the arena in tandem, juggling objects between themselves and navigating various obstacles. One pair balanced a tiny Subgroup A female on their shoulders.
The performance made little sense, but you longed to be outside. You pointed at the glass and asked slowly, in simple words, if you would be permitted to go out. Green-Eyes just smiled at you again and motioned for you to come to him. You disobeyed, pressing yourself into the sliver of sunlight that was reflected through the glass. If you hit it hard enough, you wondered, would the glass break?
You did not get a chance to test your theory. Tired of waiting on you, Green-Eyes pulled you away from the wall and directed you out of the room again. You were returned to the windowless room and the plastic bed.
A blanket and pillow were unearthed from a cabinet with a flourish. You curled up under the one, rested your head on the other. They smelled like nothing and felt too soft. Green-Eyes adjusted the blanket around you and swept your hair from your forehead. He turned the light out on his way out of the door and left you in the dark. You had never slept in an enclosed room. You had never slept in a room by yourself. There were odd sounds, the humming of the lights in the hallway and conversations in words you didn’t understand.
Lying there in the dark room, you finally grasped a thought that had eluded you since your capture: you would never see home again, and this bed, this room, these noises were your new life. This realization left you breathless, and you gulped at the air until tears streamed down your face.
Seconds later, one of the white-clad women slammed into the room and affixed a plastic mask to your face to help you breathe. She strapped you down so you would not dislodge the mask and gave you another shot.
You were asleep before she shut the door.