NOVELLA: - [ 1 ] -

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Finally I've counted up all the votes for the novella. The winner is the choice that a decent amount of people picked as their number one, two, or three pick, but it is the option I wanted the most!

So now I proudly present to you

STEPHEN MOORE

a novella about Stephen's initial experiences in the Enhancement Project

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- [ 1 ] -

"Let me out of here, c'mon!" I yell, my voice thundering around in my personal white cell. The walls and floor in here are like ice, cold and solid. I'm beginning to forget what it feels like to be warm.

I bang on the nearest wall, but nothing happens. The sound I produce is dull and low, meaning the wall is pretty much a 20-ton rock. There's no way I can break it down using my weak fists.

I growl and slap my palms against the stupid wall. As expected, the room remains still and unwavering. "I hate this place! Let me out," I spit, dropping myself to the ground. None of this makes any sense.

I'm alone, confused, and freezing my ass off. I mean, seriously, why take away my shoes and socks? Who would care that much? And why?

I shake my head, trying to clear the fog stunting my thought process. From what I remember, I was screened, and then I woke up here. The lights turned off twice for periods I used to sleep. I don't know what day it is, where I am, or who put me here.

Most importantly, I'm afraid. There's this unsettling vibe in my stomach I can't shake away. If someone does end up letting me out of here, my stomach thinks they're going to cause harm. Heck, I don't think it. I know it.

I lean my head against the wall, fighting the tears that burn my eyes. The screening on the rooftop ruined my life for good, but how could it leave me here? How could my country abandon me? One mistake and I'm suddenly nothing.

"It's not fair," I mumble to myself. My voice contorts into a sickening laugh more like a scream than a plea. "This isn't fair!"

Then a cascade of sound occurs all at once. My instincts jump awake and freeze me in my tracks. I flash my gaze towards the adjacent white wall as an opening forms with an eerie scrape. Then stomps of boots and screeches of metal and plastic shatter the room's silence. I cower away from the opening in the wall, expecting the worst.

I watch in shock as Screeners wheel a metal table into the cell. A limp figure hangs off the table with his arm bent at an awkward angle. His dark skin and shaved hair contrast the red outfits of the Screeners unbelt him and shove him off the table. He hits the floor with a huge thump, not even breaking his own fall.

I can't believe what I'm seeing, yet in my confusing disbelief, the Screeners don't waste a second. They begin to shuffle the table out of the room, and as I watch their red outfits, I realize I should do something.

"Hey, wait!" I manage to say. I stand up and take a few stumbling steps towards the Screeners. Panic builds in my throat as I call out, "What's going on?"

The Screeners don't respond as they take the metal cart away. It's like they refuse to notice I'm even in the cell. I don't understand at all. In my forlorn state, I pursue the Screeners and continue mumbling like I've gone insane.

"Hey!" one of the Screeners yells suddenly. The scraping begins again, and that's when I know the cell door must be shutting again. Faster than I can blink or even realize, the Screener shoves me as hard as he can, tossing me back into the cell. I trip over myself and fall.

My elbow bangs against the ground as I groan. The doors slam together, and then it's over. The silence restores itself across the cold cell, and that's it.

In the sharp silence, my mind explodes into even more shock and confusion. The Screeners? They're the ones keeping me locked away in here? Screeners are supposed to protect people, not kidnap them. Not tie us to carts and dump us in random places.

The guy next to me stirs awake. He shakes himself awake and pulls towards the wall. He stares at the opposing wall for a few minutes, thinking and maybe even recuperating his recollections of where he is.

I watch him as he does all this in a slow progression. If I was him, I don't think I'd attempt opening my eyes let alone regaining a sense of being.

"Cool, a roommate," the boy says all of a sudden. I stare at him, not sure what to say or do.

"Or prison-mate if that's what you'd prefer," he chuckles. "Got a name?"

I nod numbly. "My name's Stephen. I don't know why I'm here, and I have no idea of anything... but if this wasn't the most hopeless situation I've ever been in, I'd say it's nice to meet you."

He laughs once. "Well I'm not in my best shape right now to explain, but I'm Chase. Gimme a day or two to recover, and I'll tell you whatever you want to know."

Chase spread out on the bare floor and closes his eyes. He doesn't look comfortable at all, but at least he's trying.

As Chase tries to relax, I notice his bare feet. "Why did they take our shoes?" I ask him.

He sighs. "Because they're for citizens."

"And we're somehow not?"

"... Nope," Chase says. "We're less. Much less."

-- -- -- -- --

hopefully that wasn't too boring, but of course things become more twisted and creepy in the Enhancement Project. I'm hoping to showcase some pretty crazy experiments Stephen endured but never discussed openly. Maybe even some sightings of other familiar faces ;)

Question: Choose a phrase: first experiment, first change, or first surprise.

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