Test Subject 257

By: Ellie Skjersaa

Every morning I would open my eyes to a pitch-black room as my alarm blared angrily at me. It was another day that I didn’t want to get out of bed, another day where I was faced with the choice of socializing or staying concealed beneath my oversized hoodie. Usually, it was a hoodie day.

It had been hard to care about… anything. I slacked off on homework and avoided all social situations. I was depressed, it’s easy to see, but everyone has some form of mental illness these days. I wasn’t special.

I went to all my classes, ate lunch in the library, and prayed my car’s engine would ignite after the last bell rang. This was my everyday routine. I was trapped in an endless cycle of anxiety and loneliness. It was just great.

Until today.

Like everyday, my alarm sounds. Except today, I am not laying in my bed.

A bright light shines in my eyes. I try to sit up, but my legs and arms are strapped down to a table. I twist my neck and find I am in a room surrounded with white walls and floors. Across from me there are four other people strapped onto beds, eyes shut as if they are hibernating. Where the hell am I? An insane asylum?

Suddenly, I hear shoes squeaking on the tile floors. In a panic, I lay my head down and close my eyes. 

“How are the subjects?” a deep voice asks.

“Test subject 363 went to her first therapy session and has symptoms of anxiety,” a female voice says. “Test subject 89 still has an eating disorder. Test subject 257 is-”. Her voice trickles off. 

“Is what?” The man snaps. 

“Sir, I don’t know what happened, but… 257 is offline.”

The footsteps rush over to my bed.

I can see their shadows through my closed eyelids and try to stay still as they attach wires to my forehead. I flinch as they insert a needle into my arm.

“That should knock her out again soon,” the man says. “Keep an eye on her, she can’t find out about the simulation.”
The simulation? As the shoes rush away, I crack my eyes open and see a computer sitting by the side of my bed. Displayed on the screen is around twenty different monitors, each projecting a viewpoint from what looks like people’s eyes.

The top right screen shows a hand writing in a journal. I can tell it’s a girl because of her petite hands and the rings decorating her fingers. She writes, “my homework load makes me want to tear my hair out, I just can’t seem to focus because my mind keeps wandering back to the fight I got into with my mom. It ended in slamming doors and harsh words that I didn’t mean to say.”

Another screen displays feet walking on a sidewalk. The person looks up to see two young boys laughing. The boys look at me as if I’m the person in the screen and mouths, “you gonna cry?” They snicker and walk away.
On the bottom right corner of the screen I see my test number- 257, except my monitor is black.

I wriggle my hands, trying to break free of my bindings when a voice from across the room says, “I’m guessing you want an explanation?”


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