[5] Sage

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Dedicated to @just_like_a_tree because they introduced me to this song, which reminds them of the book!

I have suffered through far too much jolt-awake moments lately, I think irritably as yet another one washes over me and my eyes snap open, heart pattering wildly. Not that I can even properly jerk upright because of my...


I stretch my newly freed arms and look around.

I am lying on a twin-sized bed to the side of an incredibly sterile room. Everything is pure, clean white. The brightness of the light shining off of it all hurts my eyes.

Across from me is placed a desk and matching chair. The chair is attached to the desk and is swiveled outward slightly as if somebody has just been using it.

To the immediate left of the desk is a large mirror. It doesn't look like normal glass for some reason, and I realize that it is some sort of plastic material. Instantly, my brain analyzes the situation - glass can break and cut easily. Wherever I am, the people in charge know what I am capable of.

I attempt to stand and collapse. My legs are not strong enough to keep me upright whatsoever. With a shock, I realize I haven't actually used them - at all - for close to three years. The nearest I got was being propped up to be showered - and even then, I wasn't supporting my own weight. Was their goal to weaken me so severely?

I try to stand again and my legs fold once more. At least with the Voice around I know that I will heal quickly from whatever bruises I just earned - it has always repaired me faster than any normal process could. Glancing desperately around me, I inchworm myself over to the chair and heave myself into it. Sighing, I lean back, my arms burning even from the slight physical exertion.

On my left, set in the wall beside the mirror, is a small porthole window. I cannot see much through it. There is pure, undulating darkness dotted with pinpricks of light. So I'm still in space, then. This is a spaceship.

And it likely isn't one of ours.

To my right is a strange-looking exit. It resembles an automatic door - if automatic doors were also heavily fortified against attack - made out of some sort of dark metal. It's the only thing in this room that isn't pure white, probably so that I can see where it is in the otherwise seamless wall.

I am dressed in a thin, hospital-like gown. It matches the monochrome of the room. My body is completely clean and I notice that I smell wonderful. I must have had another shower, then. Two showers in as many days when I hadn't had a proper one in years! Most of the time they just drugged me up and dunked me in water repeatedly, or sprayed me with a less-cruel (and effective) version of the hose they used before my departure.

I only know this because sometimes the Voice would wake me up for the process. It found it...amusing.

Luckily, whoever gave me a shower this time around used a different tactic, to get me so sparkling clean. They even washed my hair, as is evident by its equally fresh scent.

My hair, I realize delightedly. My long, blond hair is braided, as I discover when I pull the long rope over my shoulder. It feels soft and is wonderful. I used to take so much pride in my hair. It was my one quality that didn't contribute to my rebellious-emo-teenage appearance. I spent hours learning how to French braid the length of it, properly care for it, style it in various outdated and modern fashions, and constantly attempt to grow it just a couple inches longer. When the Voice took over, that all changed, of course, and I haven't let myself think about my hair in as long as my roommate had been here.

As I am absentmindedly feeling my hair, which is so much longer than when I last cared about it, the halves of the door retract into the walls with a corresponding whooshing noise. Jake bursts in. He glances wildly around the room, finding me instantly in the small space.

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