The voice was a low whisper that sliced into my conscoiusness like a freshly sharpened sword. "Come on, Myretta. It's no big deal."

My stubbornness was faltering. "I don't think we should."

"Nobody's going to get hurt," Kira coaxed.

"Well, I...I guess just this once..."

"Aha! I knew you'd get it!" Kira snatched my hand and dragged me out of my comfort zone, a.k.a. my bedroom, without further invitation.

My eyes widened at the white, white hallway. I knew leaving my room was forbidden, but the strangely perfect hall piqued my curiosity. Kira had managed to escape his room every evening, and he hadn't been caught. Yet.

A shudder zinged up my spine, making my whole body tremble like a motherless kitten under my thin, gray, coarse gown. The gown covered my bare feet, but the immaculate tile floor still seemed cold and uncomfortable under my uncallused soles.

Kira shook his shaggy, unevenly cut, golden white hair out of his eyes and offered me a reassuring grin. I returned it with a tiny, unconvincing half-smile.

"You don't have to look so nervous," Kira whispered. "The scientists are all asleep by now. They have no way of catching us, so long as we don't wake them up."

He led me down the softly illuminated, blindingly white hall. I winced at every step, not only because the soft sounds aggrivated my anxiety, but also because my feet weren't used to walking on any terrain other than the thickly padded floor of my room.

All down the hall, we passed door after door, all painted the same shade of sickly gray-green. I wondered if all the doors led to rooms like mine, furnished with a gray mattress, gray chair, and gray table on the thick, soft gray floor.

"Kira," my voice spoke out, "where are we going?"

"The record room," he hissed, looking over his shoulder. "I've always wanted to go there, but I didn't want to go without you."

"What's the record room?"

He shrugged. "I've heard the scientists talking about it when they come into my room, but I don't really know."

Our quiet footsteps tip-tapped down the narrow passageway until at last we came to the end. A large, heavy-looking black door loomed before us.

Kira stared at the white paper sign on the door for a long time before finally turning to me. "Myretta?"

I sighed. He knew I could read. In fact, he was the one who'd smuggled me books from who knows where. The books held life and color, more than I'd experienced in my entire existance. However, I'd taught myself to read, so my skills were mediocre.

I turned my cloudlike gaze to the paper sign. "You found the record room," I told Kira confidently.

"Great!" He grabbed the shiny silver handle and pulled. The door didn't budge. So he tried pushing, but the door still refused to open.

It was then that I noticed the deadbolt above the handle. "Kira, it's locked." To be honest, I was only somewhat disappointed.

"Oh." Kira slouched, but only for a second. "Oh well! Haven't met a lock I couldn't pick!"

"When have you been picking locks?" I was horrified.

"Every evening. I unlock my door, then I unlock yours."

"That's two locks. I'm sure this one's more sec-"

As I was speaking, Kira whipped out a small flat pin from behind his ear, thrust it in the lock, and fiddled with it until an audible click was heard. The door swung open.

He grinned smugly. "Toldja."

My heart was beating rapidly as we entered the record room. To my amazement, the entire room was crammed floor-to-celing with shiny white file cabinets. At least five stepladders stood at hand, to aid in reaching the higher-up ones.

I noticed immediately that the cabinets were arranged by number. Each drawer had a label: 00001-00020, 00021-00040, 00041-00060, and so on.

"Kira," I inquired, "what's your number?"

He knew immediately what I meant. "00247," he replied.

My finger lifted dreamily and pointed at a drawer marked 00241-00260. Kira understood and dragged over a stepladder. Thankfully, the feet of the ladder were padded, so they didn't make much noise on the smooth floor.

While he was searching for his file, I pulled another stepladder under the drawer marked 00200-00220. The drawer slid open easily.

My fingers settled on a cream-colored folder with its tab marked 00219. My number. I pulled out the file, opened it, and began reading the first page:


Height: 183 cm

Weight: 43 kg

Sex: Female

Species: Unknown. Appears to be simian, but DNA also shows traces of-


I tore myself away from the page and looked at Kira. My normally carefree friend had an expression of pure panic on his face.

"Myretta...grab the file and run."