Sunlight seeped through the windows of Sarah's cell. Her eyes opened slowly, and she let out a loud yawn. She was extremely glad that the lab was well funded, so she had a comfortable bed. She sat up and ran her fingers through her hair lazily.
Weekly eye tests took place today, and she frowned. Mother Reina had gotten a bit obsessive about the weekly eye tests. Sarah didn't see how an eye test mattered on an F patient.
An F patient was a failed patient, and Sarah had the honor of being F patient #001, the very first failure. She rubbed her eyes wearily and finally shoved herself out of bed and onto the cool cement floor of her cell.
Technically, her bedroom wasn't a cell, but the rooms were so tiny and similar to a jail cell, that they had taken on that name. Even Mother Reina and Father Roger had begun calling them that.
Summers were miserable in Lab 5, because the air conditioning wasn't effective, and the sun was scorching hot. Sarah slipped on a long, baggy white tank top and a loose pair of blue jeans. She pulled up her bright blonde hair into a ponytail and slapped on her navy blue mariners cap over it. Father Roger had brought the cap back to the lab for her five years ago, and she'd worn it every day since then.
She made her way silently into the dining hall and picked up a bagel and cream cheese with a glass of orange juice for breakfast. Sitting down solitarily, she spread the cream cheese over her bland bagel and sighed tiredly. They would ask her the same questions, and she would give the same answers that she had since she was four, when they'd started weekly eye tests.
She felt two points of pressure on hers arm, moving slowly to her face. Sarah lifted her gaze to see a tall redhead seated across from her, bagel and cream cheese in hand. He was clinging onto a white Styrofoam cup filled with a brown black liquid.
Since the experiment on her, ten years previous, she had been able to feel people's eyes on her. Wherever they looked at her, she could feel it. She was only supposed to be able to see people's eyes on her, but the experiment had gone wrong. It was truly annoying and miserable to constantly feel people's gazes, but she was sure it was irreversible.
"Hey, Isaac," said Sarah with a yawn. Isaac smiled at her and took a sip from his cup.
"Good morning, Sarah," he said, biting into his bagel.
"What are you drinking?" Sarah asked.
"Coffee." Again. Sarah rolled her eyes.
"Black?" she asked.
"Of course," said Isaac proudly. Since his experiment, he had seen small glimpses of what he said were 'demons'. He had been terrified of the beasts, and completely avoided the dark. At that point, the nightmares began. Every night he screamed out, claiming that they were 'coming for him'. Sarah felt terrible for her friend, but she could offer him no relief.
Since then, he tried to evade sleeping at all, so he constantly drank straight black coffee, keeping himself awake for days on end. Sarah repeatedly warned him that it was unhealthy, but he refused to sleep.
Everytime he lapsed and did fall asleep, he would end up crying out in the night, having seen the demons again.
"So how long have you been awake this time?" Sarah asked.
"This is day three," he smiled. "But, anyway, ready for eye tests?" he asked.
"What are we even doing eye tests for? What am I going to do? They'll stare at me and I'll say 'Oh, yeah, I definitely felt that!'. It's pointless," Sarah complained.
"Mother Reina says that it'll help her fix us, so why shouldn't we. The sooner I'm fixed, the sooner I can go to sleep again," said Isaac.
"The sooner she fixes me, the sooner I can walk around without getting bugged by other people's eyes," said Sarah excitedly. Isaac grinned at her excitement and took another sip of his coffee.
"Hey! Mother Reina says it's time for testing!" shouted a brazen voice from the entrance to the dining hall. The voice reverberated from every blank wall in the large room, pulling all eyes to its origin.
The girl stood at the doorway, hanging by one arm from the door frame lazily. Her dark curls were pulled back by a clip and she smiled brightly. Karin was always a loud one, and she felt a constant need for attention.
"We're coming, Karin," said Isaac exasperatedly. Karin smiled at him, victory in her face, and she darted from the hall and out of their sights.
Sarah got up and stood patiently, waiting for Isaac to move. He threw his head back and drained the last bit of his coffee before standing.
"Why do you always wear this?" he asked, flicking the visor of Sarah's base ball cap. Sarah sighed and pulled the cap down further over her eyes angrily.
"Does it matter?" she asked.
"No, I'm just curious." Sarah looked to the floor, feeling his gaze on her neck.
"Stop it," she demanded. Isaac looked at her, puzzled.
"Stop what?" he asked.
"Looking at me. You know how much that bugs me," she grunted. Isaac laughed and turned his head away from the grumpy blonde.
"I think someone didn't get enough sleep last night. Maybe you should try less reading at night, and more sleeping." Sarah paused, thinking about Isaac's last statement. How ironic had that been? He thought that she needed more sleep, when he hadn't slept in three days.
"So when are you planning on catching up on sleep?" Sarah asked. Isaac rolled his eyes at her.
"Hopefully never. I never want to sleep again," he stated firmly.
His experiment had gone so terrible wrong it was nearly unbearable. He was supposed to see ghosts (if there were any). He was only supposed to catch glimpses of spirits, not see terrifying demons. The monsters had backed him into a state of constant fear and illusion. He was afraid of anything that had to do with the dark, or spirits. That included sleeping.
Together, they walked to Mother Reina's office, while Mother Reina was currently in her eye test with Bree. The young girl stood solemnly in the office, staring at Mother Reina forcedly.
"I am a dog," said Mother Reina enthusiastically. Bree rolled her eyes.
"If you're going to have me find a lie, make it a challenge…please?" said Bree.
Mother Reina frowned for a moment, before her face lightened again.
"What mood am I in, Bree?" she asked.
"You know as well as I do that I'm never going to be able to read auras, so give up, Mother."
Bree had originally been supposed to read auras, to be able to tell others moods and personalities. Instead, she could only see the change in aura that signified a lie.
"Come on, Bree, you at least have to try," said Mother Reina. Bree rolled her eyes again, brushing her cropped, brown and blonde hair from her shoulders.
"Alright then, I want you to leave, Bree," stated Mother Reina.
"You're lying." Mother Reina clapped excitedly.
"That's very good. You're dismissed!" said Mother Reina. Bree sighed and made her way to the door, letting out a huff.
"She should just give up already! We're F patients, and nothing more," Bree frowned, irritated. She ran her fingers through her hair and adjusted her ruffled, orange tank top.
Bree, although she herself didn't know it, was quite the downer. Everyone's mood seemed to sadden the moment she opened her mouth. She didn't have a positive opinion about anything, but she could find more downsides to a situation than anyone else Sarah knew.
Not that Sarah knew many other people. In fact, as far as she could remember, she had never left the lab. Father Roger had told her that she was born outside the lab, but apart from when she was brought to the lab, she had never taken one step out of it. She often asked the others if it was possible to spend a day shopping. She had never been shopping, but it sounded fun.
"Maybe she keeps trying because she has hopes of fixing us," said Isaac. Bree shrugged at him and leaned back on the wall.
"If she has such high hopes of fixing us, then why did she send out Father Roger to find five new kids? We're being replaced. You know why? It's because she gave up. She has no more hopes of fixing us." Karin scowled at Bree, frustration etched into her girlish features.
"Some of us don't need fixing!" shouted Karin.
Karin had been supposed to see people's inner workings, such as organs, bones, blood flow and such. This test had been close to success, because Karin could see a person's internal system, just not well. On average, she could name three out of five, which was only a sixty percent. Mother Reina had no choice but to label her an F patient as well. Karin always denied this though, claiming that, if she trained her vision hard enough, she could redeem herself. Really, it was because she couldn't stand the label of failure.
"Oh, that's right; you're trying to clear the title, Karin. Well, good luck!" said Bree, trying her best to sound sincere. Bree didn't try to be too negative, it was just natural. Every once in a while, she would honestly try to be positive, but it didn't work out too well.
She was good friends with Karin, and she hated to be negative around her, since she had such enormous dreams and aspirations. She often found herself lying and faking encouragement when she was talking to Karin.
Karin smiled at her. "Thanks, Bree. I'm sure that this time Mother Reina will take away the title!" said Karin excitedly.
She walked into Mother Reina's office, a glittering smile placed on her face. There was truly something completely unappealing about Karin. No matter what angle Sarah looked at the girl from, she just seemed…unnatural.
It wasn't her appearances. Karin was a very pretty girl, and Sarah often envied her looks, but something about her was a barrier. It was as if, no matter how she tried, she couldn't appear worthy to anyone.
On top of that, her experiment had been the closest to being a success. It was almost unbearable to see how fate just couldn't seem to let anything go right for her. Somehow, Karin never seemed to let her misfortune get to her. Instead, she worked so much harder than anyone else.
Sarah was truly proud of her. She had nowhere that amount of motivation. I guess I'm just lucky, she thought to herself. Then again, who could be considered lucky after having spent fourteen years locked up in a lab?
"So, Karin, how are you today?" asked Mother Reina.
"I'm just fine, Mother. Are you ready to fix my label?" she asked eagerly.
"Well, that all depends on how much you've improved," Mother Reina said with a smile. Karin nodded and stared at Mother Reina intently, her eyes clouding a bluish white. Watching Karin inspect someone was slightly disturbing, and definitely eerie.
"Quiz me, Mother."
Mother Reina pointed to a low spot on her throat and stared at Karin expectantly. Karin stood a while, thinking hard.
"Thyroid gland," she spat. Mother Reina smiled and moved her finger to her upper thigh. Karin gazed, an extremely aggravated expression on her face. Her face moved from desperate anger to simple desperation.
"I…I don't know. I…can't see it," sighed Karin.
"The lower body is your blind spot, Karin. Until you extend your vision to there, I can't change your label. Sorry," explained Mother Reina sadly.
"But I don't know how, Mother! Please teach me and you know I'll do it," Karin cried. Mother Reina shook her head grimly.
"You think that I would know, Karin? I don't have enhanced vision like all of you. Just, try focusing more on that area I guess, and you'll get better," said Mother Reina. Before Karin could object, Mother Reina struck up her hand as a silent dismissal.
Defeated Karin walked from the small office, messing around with her hair angrily.
"Why does this always happen?! There's something wrong with me, I swear!" she shouted, more to the wall than to anyone in particular.
Isaac wrapped an arm around her shoulders as she frowned, clenching her teeth. To everyone's dismay, looking into Isaac's eyes, there was barely any sympathy. Maybe it was Karin's curse, that not only could no one love her, but no one could feel bad for her either.
"Isaac? Can you come in?" asked Mother Reina's voice gently. Isaac released Karin and entered the compacted office. Karin looked from Sarah to Bree solemnly.
"I'm going back to the cell. Don't visit me, please," she growled. Sarah nodded, and then Bree did the same. Karin stomped down the hall, muttering under her breath. It was as if an invisible black storm cloud was hovering over her head.
Bree turned to Sarah, a look of irritation on her face
"Karin should give up. This is pointless," she sighed.
"I admire her hope…" Sarah lied. Deep down, she knew it was as pointless as Bree said it was. Karin was an F patient, and there was no reversal of that.
"You do not, Sarah. Don't lie to me. It's just like your hope of getting rid of that bothersome curse of yours," said Bree, turning to stare at Sarah's face, but avoiding her eyes.
"Bree…cut it out. You know that bugs me," Sarah stated. Bree rolled her eyes; rolling her eyes had become her trademark.
"Seriously, Sarah, we've been here for fourteen years. What do we have left to count on? Obviously we're not going anywhere. If we were, we would have already left years ago."
Bree was right, and Sarah knew it. They weren't leaving Lab 5 ever. They had already been there for fourteen years, and absolutely nothing had changed. Weekly eye tests, breakfast in the dining hall, sleeping in the cells, made up birthdays, and other routines, always done perfectly, never once out of rhythm.
"And Karin has been doing these tests the whole time, always thinking that she's going to get rid of the 'F' on her record, but she needs to face the fact that it's never leaving her," Bree snorted.
"Well…" Sarah began, feebly attempting to muster enough courage to counter Bree's negativity. "I think that if we all work hard enough, we can all shake our labels," Sarah whispered.
"You do not. What did I tell you about lying to me…pointless."
"Hey now, Bree. Don't be such a downer!" said Jake, entering the room.
It was funny how Jake always showed up whenever Bree was around. He was so optimistic; so happy. It was like he was her personal mood enlightener. She feigned a smile and brushed her hair from her shoulders gently.
"Hey, Jake," she said. Jake smiled his horribly contagious smile, and even Bree grinned. Although she didn't smile often, when Bree did smile, it was one of the most gorgeous, stunning smiles anyone had seen. Maybe it was because, when she really smiled, it was an honest smile.
Jake had clearly just woken up. His chestnut brown hair was strewn across his forehead, and he yawned and rubbed his eyes lazily.
"So…" he said with a tired sigh. "How are eye tests going?"
He really didn't have to ask, because nothing was different. Nothing was ever different. Tests were exactly the same every week. Bree would go in, identify what was a lie and what wasn't, and then leave. Karin would walk in, demand a new title, not be able to identify a few body parts, and leave in anger. Isaac would go in, talk about his newest sightings and nightmares (if he slept at all) and leave. Sarah would go in, say that absolutely nothing had changed, and leave. Jake would look at things, say their exact measurements, and leave.
And they were alone with each other for an entire week until the next eye exams. Absolutely nothing changed. Ever.
"Sarah, it's your turn," said Mother Reina's voice from her office. Sarah hadn't noticed that Isaac had already left, his face dark and his clear blue eyes clouded in painful memories.
Sarah gave a wave to Bree and Jake before entering the small office and taking a seat in front of her 'Mother'. Mother Reina was an aging woman, with her dark, reddish brown hair always tied up in a tight hairnet and a pair of thick goggles always masking her eyes. But her definite defining feature was her warm, maternal smile.
"So, Sarah, here we are again," she said. Sarah nodded. "Your eyes sure are lovely. Have I ever told you that?" she asked.
"Only every week, Mother," said Sarah sarcastically. Every single week that Sarah stepped into the office, Mother Reina would compliment her eyes right away. It wasn't that Sarah didn't appreciate the compliment, it was simply that she was used to it, and was bored.
"So, any questions about your eyes?" she asked.
"How are you and the others getting along?"
"Same as always."
Mother Reina frowned.
"Sarah…you have to work with me," she warned.
"It's only that nothing's changed since our last test, Mother," Sarah said calmly.
"So you kids want some excitement? Is that what it is?" she asked.
Sarah's ears seemed to perk up, if that was possible. This was new. Mother Reina had never offered change or excitement. Sarah couldn't help but grin with giddiness. She was finally going to get to do something, well, out of the ordinary.
"I guess I could…how about meeting the kids from Lab 4?" she asked. Sarah nodded eagerly, excited to meet someone new. "I'm sure you'd all get along. They all had their hands experimented on."
"That would be so amazing, Mother," said Sarah, leaping forward to give Mother Reina a tight hug. Mother Reina returned it awkwardly, but with a smile.
"Feel free to tell the others, and tell Jake to come in, too," said Mother Reina happily.
Sarah shoved herself from her seat and bolted from the office, almost letting her baseball cap slip off. She tossed it back on firmly and grabbed Jake by the arm. He stared at her, startled at first, then with a friendly smile.
"What's up?" he asked.
"Go on in," shouted Sarah. He nodded and walked into the office, and Sarah raced down the hallways of the lab, looking for her other friends, almost bursting from a need to tell them the great news.