Chapter 37: Jacob's Cohort

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Jacob walked down the hall, holding the arm of his Batman toy in the hand that wasn't gripped tightly by the nurse. He sniffled a bit, the fear of the unknown terrifying him. He wanted to be back with Simon and Angelique. He wanted to be held and comforted until it was time for another nap, but it didn't seem like that was going to happen soon.

They entered another section of the hospital and went through a set of large double doors. Then, they had to go through an indoor security checkpoint, and the nurse showed her badge to the officer on duty who waved her through. Finally, they stopped at a door, and the nurse punched a code into the keypad on the wall, and when she finished, the door slowly opened.

The room was painted with vivid colors, and the walls were decorated with paintings of radiant rainbows. The shelves and cubbies across the room were all stocked full of toys and trinkets. Multiple bean bag chairs were littered in the center of the room, and there were a few other children sitting inside.

"Okay, Jacob, you wait here. We'll come to get you for your testing in a bit," the nurse said, releasing his hand and turning to exit the room.

Jacob stood near the door, unsure of what to do. The other kids looked to be about his age, but they weren't playing with any of the toys. One was napping in the corner, and the other two were sitting on the bean bag chairs looking at him.

"Oh, geez, we've got another brainwashed one," the girl said, looking up from the book that she was reading to glare at Jacob.

"Be nice Trish. It's probably not his fault. You've seen how the medication seems to mess them up," the taller boy rebuked, walking over to Jacob. "I'm Thomas, and this is Trish. What's your name?"

"I'm Jacob," he answered shyly, clutching his Batman toy.

"Well, Jacob. Welcome to the childcare center at St. Ives," Thomas said, leading Jacob over to the middle of the room. "We're all regressed like you were, and we all have different caregivers, except Trish and me. We're stuck at the same house."

"They watch us behind the glass like we're animals," Trish ranted, sticking her middle finger up at the camera in the room.

"How come you aren't playing?" Jacob asked, innocently eyeing a bead maze.

"Because we aren't stupid," Trish answered. "The more you play with the toys, the quicker you'll get brainwashed, and I don't want to end up like you. I bet you don't even remember how old you used to be."

"I do too," Jacob objected. "I used to be twenty-two before."

"You were younger than most of us," Thomas said. " I was twenty-seven, and Trish was twenty-eight."

"Were you sad too?" Jacob asked.

"Yup, very sad," Thomas replied. "That's how they find people to experiment on."

"That's how they make us disappear," Trish added. "They pick people who don't have lives or families that will miss them."

"It's so messed up," Thomas lamented, dropping onto a bean bag chair.

"It's fucked up," Trish fumed. "That's what it is."

"You can't say bad words," Jacob whispered, looking at the door and expecting Trish to get in trouble.

"Kid, you need to wake up," Trish said, shaking her head. "We're adults, and I'm going to say whatever I want."

"I don't like spankings," Jacob explained. "They hurt."

"They don't hurt forever," Trish said with a wicked smile on her face. "My caregivers can spank me as many times as they want. I'll still fight back."

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