It happened...a short time ago... When we were living in the house down at the end of the street. W-we were just kids. We were just kids...

It was a hot summer, and I remember that our door was wide open, letting our dogs run in and out.

I was sitting at home, and my friend, whom I considered a sister, came in waving a flyer. She looked so excited about just the piece of paper in general. "look at this!" She said, holding out the flyer in front of me.

The paper was a vibrant yellow, To be honest, it looked like a flyer for a school event, of which the both of us openly despised, but it had a little pair of scissors on the right side, and a barber shop pole on the left. The words in the middle were dark black and bold. They said "Paid cosmetology experiment! Free entry of all ages from thirteen to fourty-two!" The payment was five-hundred dollars, which was probably what excited my friend most. I searched the paper for any small print on what was going to be done, but I the only print below the bold words was the the location, a small lab by the docks, and the time, which was later this afternoon. Obviously someone had handed this to her, sounding just as excited as the bold print on the flyer was advertising.

I sighed, knowing she was going no matter my concern, so I tried to look at least half as excited as her when I responded, "Okay, let's go."

"You REALLY want to come with me?" She asked, slightly surprised. I'm not the biggest fan of makeup or people touching my hair, but five hundred dollars was enough to get me down to the docks, a place I went frequently as it was. My suspicion held in the back of my mind as well, telling me to go with my friend just to make sure what was going to be done to her. I looked down at the paper, and back at her, "I just want to go see what they're doing. If it involves needles, I'm out." I was trying not to sound too concerned, or suspicious, about this "experiment". For all I knew it was probably a new kind of shampoo or something, and I had nothing to worry about.

The docks were the center of life down where we lived, the boats and ferries rushed in and out, the large amusement park feel to the place everyone loved to go, but the labs were different, just so, strange. No plants grew around them. Though a portion of them were painted grey, one building stood out. A building with a paint job similar to the color of the flyer, with pairs of scissors on either side, and a novelty barber shop pole in front. There were several people standing out front, which was a good indication that was where we were going.

We stood in line for almost an hour before we got inside. The summer heat was insane, but to my relief, the place was air conditioned. The room we were in was lined with seats and fans, with a strange young woman at a huge desk on one of the walls. She had a bright blue floral sun hat on, along with very many blue assets on her clothing. Her hair was in a short white bob, but she didn't look any older than twenty. When we reached the desk, she removed her blue cat-eye sunglasses to look at us. Her pink eyes contrasted so much against her clothing and pale skin, and I realized that she was albino. I was surprised for a moment, I had never seen someone with such striking features. Physically, she looked average, but the lack of skin pigment was such a rarity that I couldn't help but comment, "Y-you're albino..." The young woman nodded and said back in a strange, irritated tone, "Yes, and YOU'RE Caucasian. But not many people comment on THAT,do they?" Though I could hear her voice raise and lower in annoyance, her tone seemed to stay fairly mellow. That was when I realized her eyes. They had such a clouded look to them..

"Her are your numbers, you will stand in line for a brief blood test and then be put into the group compatible." The woman handed us papers with call numbers on them. Mine had a twenty on it, hers a twenty-one. A blood test... My friend looked over at me, with a knowing of my distinct fear of needles. I had participated in a blood test before at the doctors office, so I wasn't too terrified, and I looked over to reassure her that I could handle it. She smiled and the woman lead us to the line.

The waiting room was actually extremely cold compared to the rest of the building, and I began to rub my arms to keep some heat in them. My tank top didn't help in keeping me warm either. Usually, I'd wear a T-shirt and hide my arms in it, and the arms would keep my elbows from completely hanging out. The black camisole wasn't my ideal dressing choice, but it was REALLY hot that summer.

The numbers were in our favor, because the large LED sign had the number eighteen displayed on it, and the moment we sat down, it clicked to nineteen. My number was next. After about twenty LONG minutes, my number came up. I went to the desk in the room, and yet another woman dressed in blue, this one with sleek hair in a black bob her hat was different, a blue wool beanie with little blue sequins and a flower pattern. Her brown hair looked so noticeable against her blue clothes, but her blue sunglasses, still cat-eyed like the albino receptionist, hid bright green and yet somehow still dull eyes. She reminded me of a doll I had when I was younger that terrified me. This woman had a name tag that had the name "Debbie" on it. I handed her my number, and she said something in sign language, gesturing me forward. I smiled and stepped forward into a hallway. The temperature began to rise as I went to a door at the end of the room. I opened the door and yet another woman, dressed in a blue sterile looking suit. This one was blonde. She gestured me to sit down, and asked the simple blood-test questions-

"How are you doing?"

"Did you eat today?"

"What did you eat?"

"How much water did you drink today?" My mind was set on the small needle and bag on the desk. I placed my arm on the arm rest and she began to draw the blood. I closed my eyes as she began to try to find the vein in the underneath side of my elbow, digging the needle around under my skin. THIS was the part I hated. I winced and made several high pitched noises until she finally kept the needle in one place, and the blood began to drip into the small bag. After a few seconds, she took the needle out, and did something I'd never seen before. She took the needle and plugged it into a machine that drained the blood from the bag, "This part takes the longest." She said, looking back at me with an irritated look. After about five minutes, the machine made a whizzing sound and displayed small text that lit up as the machine said in a robotic male tone, "Subject-Enters-group-B-For-B-blood- type." I think anyone could've figured out the grouping thing, but it was nice to know, I guess.

The woman lead me through the hallway to another room that I hadn't seen that was marked "Grouping center." The door I went through had a big blue "B" On it. To be honest, I was starting to get sick of powder blue, it seemed like everyone and everything was like that today.

The woman handed me a piece of paper and a cookie as I went into yet another waiting room. I sat down in there with the paper. The print on it said, "Welcome to test group B! We'd like your name and some information about you, so please fill out the following questions;

How old are you?"

I wrote down 16

"What is your weight class?"

Not saying what I wrote down.

"What is your name?"

Roseanne Delver. (Rose)

"Sex?"

Female.

"Hair color?"

Auburn.

"Eye color?"

Hazel; between blue and brown.

"Do you wear glasses/contacts?"

No.

"Have you ever participated in these types of experiments/ How many have you participated in?"

No, none.

I was tapped on the shoulder by a young girl next to me, she looked a little under age to be doing this and she asked in a still-developing gravel tone, "Excuse me, what does this last one mean?"

"Have you ever done this before?"

"No, duh. I didn't look old enough."

"Then just put 'no'."

"Oh, thanks. Have you ever done one of these tests?"

"No. They never happen here."

"I'm Emma, by the way."

"Rose. You.. Look a little young to be here, Emma..." I said, concerned. I didn't know if she was like ten and whatever they were doing would kill her. The last thing I wanted to do was end up at a court stand going against these people in a murder case, that, and I had nothing better to do than converse. Knowing my friend wasn't going to come in by the looks of the clock, which had passed twenty-five minutes, the amount of time it took them to do mine. My friend and I were close, but I think she had actually told me that she had "A" type blood. Emma looked over and said quietly, "Actually, I'm eleven." Two years younger than the age limit. Joy. "I need the money, though. My dad's not working right now, so I've been lying a little, saying I'm thirteen just to get some kind of job. It's not that hard, but this is the first place that hasn't cared." She was right. Before now, no one had asked me my age. I just figured it was like the thing at the grocery store with alcohol. If you looked under fourty, they made you pull out your ID . I figured since I looked at least maybe fourteen, they just hadn't bugged me about it. Emma didn't look a day past nine. To tell you the truth, I was going to ask her if she was in class with my younger neighbor until she said she was eleven. Her legs still swung from her chair and her hair was pulled into dirty blonde pig-tails. She wore a black pair of overalls with a red flower in the middle, and had a striped red and blue shirt underneath.

"Is your dad here with you?"

"Yeah. He's in the 'AB' blood type room. He said my mom was a 'B' so I kinda figured I'd end up here." At least she knew something about biology. Maybe it was the vibe she gave off in conversation that she just seemed so much older that got her here. Even though she looked so childish, something of an adult spirit came through that made you ignore it. "Do you like Big Dogz? It's a movie, it's got about four sequels." She had me and she lost me.

We handed our forms in at the same time, and this time a man, a graying doctor dressed in white, came up to the desk. He looked very happy to see us. "Okay then! I'll take these and look these over for a couple minutes, and then we can get to the experiment!"

We sat back down and Emma started to talk to me again, "Did they say what it was gonna be? I didn't hear." She asked.

"No, I don't think they told me..."

"What do you think it's gonna be?"

"I don't know, maybe some new shampoo or something? A hairbrush? Hell, for all care it could be a new kind of toothpaste, I just want to stop sitting down in these stupid waiting rooms!"

"You don't like the blue either, huh?" I looked over at Emma. Everyone in the room seemed to keep to mellow conversations, but Emma had noticed the ONE thing I was sick of! Patterns were never my thing, but the powder blue didn't seem to irritate or catch the attention of anyone else in the room. Even the room was a powder blue. What was with the blue-?

"All participants are welcome into the labs now." Another woman called into the room.

Emma trailed at my heels as we walked into the room.

"Please take your seats as the nurses assigned to you find you."

The seats were far apart, but I could tell that Emma took the one closest to mine. "Are you Roseanne?" A nurse asked a few moments after I sat down. "Yes." I responded. "I'm Debbie, I'll be your applicant today!" Debbie...

Why did that sound so familiar? That was when I realized; "Debbie? The receptionist for the blood tests?"

"No silly! I do know Debbie though. Very nice woman." I didn't know why this occurred to me, but I spat out in-politely, "Which ONE?" That's what hit me the hardest. The patterns, the blue, why did they do this? Debbie started talking to another nurse, but my mind was racing. My mind was blurring out and I didn't know why. Then I realized a pain in my arm. Debbie had stabbed me with needle from an IV...

I blacked out. All I could see was a a powder blue screen. It looked so.. Soothing. Then I started to blink. More and more I began to hate this color. Why did I hate this color?! I was so furious with it, I couldn't handle myself! I realized that I was being pinned down by it. I fought and fought.

It was night. W-when was it night? When was I in a chair? W-why did I have this screaming headache? Then my eyes began to focus on a screen. It showed an animation of a Zipper. I-it was being pulled up. A female voice ran through the room; "Take the tab you see in front of you, like so, and pull it along your hairline. This is when the procedure will begin. After the procedure, please follow the instructions given by your caretaker." This repeated four times before I realized that there was a silver tab on my forehead. It dangled in front of me, and for a moment, I was going to follow the instructions. Then I realized what the silver tab looked like. During the fall, I wore a large collection of Zip-up hoodies. This tab reminded me of them so much but-

The animation.

I felt my aching head. My hair, for a moment, I thought was gone, but I realized was shorter. To be exact, in a bob cut. I ran my hand through it, and came to the middle part of my hair. It was shaved there. This part almost stopped my heart. Metal. Intertwined metal. Z-z-

Zipper metal.

It couldn't be true. Why would anyone do this?!

"Blue calms the mental nerves in most cases. As does a simple pattern. You however, seem to think otherwise." A Debbie stepped forward. She, however, seemed more in-sync with the world. I couldn't find any complete words in what may have been complete fear or agony, all I could get out was, "Why- you- this- Blue- Debbie!"

"I know Hun. It's all very confusing. You see, like everyone, we need a perfect world. The only perfect world is under Him."

"Under?"

"Yes. We are all his underlings, in the end. But He needs immediate results. He can get... impatient. Sometimes, it's a success, and we take our rightful places, other times, the subject isn't strong enough. And sometimes... Well, sometimes there's YOU. He doesn't like YOU. He never likes 'R' names in general, but that can be changed. ALL can be changed. Even YOU." She... Was talking about turning me into a.. A DEBBIE! My instinct was telling me to run, to do something, but my body still wasn't listening. "Please don't fret child, just remove the zipper, and your work will be over."

"Why- you- need- M-me?"

"He likes it if YOU chose. He wants YOU to give into us, to take your place. He will find a decent position for you as his underling. YOU may even become His personal toy. He likes the ones that fought." I was starting to get angry for some reason, and my limp hand was starting to listen to the anger, it began to reach for something beside me. I needed to fuel the anger.

"M-my n-n-ame..."

"What's wrong with your name?"

"Y-y-you- wont s-ayit."

"Well of course not! YOU will not have it for very long."

"M-my nameis..." My hand began to grasp something metal beside me. It felt sharp.

I could FEEL what I was holding.

"Darling, you can't suggest a name, He doesn't like that."

"My... N-name is R.. Rrr" I dug the blade of what I now knew was a scalpel into my palm.

"He doesn't like 'R' names, Hun."

"I... Don't... C-care.. M- my name.." I moved down to the handle and grasped it tight. I wasn't giving in to the blue screen.

"Oh, dearie, you really think you're going to get a say? My my.. He may not even make you a receptionist at this poi-" I felt blood trickle down my newly living hand, "My name is Rose, and tell Him that I don't like 'D' names very much myself."

I ripped off my IV. My legs were extremely weak, but I needed to get out of there. When my feet hit the ground, I slipped on the tiled floor. There was blood everywhere. Some of it was Debbie's, but I noticed older blood on the back of the chair. It had to be mine.

My mind was set on leaving, but it also clung to someone.

Emma.

She was the only one who recognized the patterns. What if she fought? Wh-what if she LOST? It felt like it took hours to stumble over to the chair closest to mine, but when I did, there she was, mumbling peacefully in her sleep, her long pigtails pulled out and chopped off into a bob haircut. If He liked the girls who fought, He was going to LOVE me, but not her. She needed to get out of here, even if I didn't. I tried to shake her awake, looking behind me for more Debbies, but none came. Maybe whoever He was, He didn't notice, but that was unlikely.

"Come on Emma, I need you to wake up." I took out her IV, but she didn't respond. THAT was when the Debbies came. I don't know why, but something told me He didn't want the both of us to leave. Without thinking, I picked her up, flinging her almost effortlessly over my shoulder like a sack of potatoes. I honestly don't know how I ran with my legs still jacked up by the knock-out juice, AND with an eleven year old's deadweight on my shoulder, but I did.

I ran for what seemed like miles through the lab, but it wasn't right. This wasn't the cosmetology lab by the docks. It couldn't have been.

I finally saw an exit.

My intentions, and my fears were right. I wasn't on the docks anymore. All I could see were trees. So many trees. The footsteps of the Debbies grew closer, and I knew I needed to escape. My best shot was the the tree line. I bolted.

As I ran, I started hearing less and less of the Debbies frantically talking. Finally, I realized that they stayed in the building.

That was when I realized the exhaustion that plagued my entire body, and the mass of dead weight hanging from my shoulder. Whatever adrenaline I had obtained from the fear and killing that smart Debbie had completely disappeared the minute I thought I was safe. I used the rest of my strength to set Emma underneath one of the large pine trees, and as I sat down, I fought the urge to pass out completely.

The moment I caught my breath, tears started to stream down my face. I hadn't even noticed the pain I had taken on from what they had done to me. Something told me that morphine may have been that reason. I realized the pain the moment I started to think clearly again, and it had intensified since. My heart was racing and my head felt like it had caught fire.

It had started raining. For a moment, I couldn't tell if the water that fell onto my knees was tears or rain until the droplets started to hit my head. The pain was starting to be only a slight reason for my tears. I had just KILLED someone. She was a robotic sounding puppet to some guy, but she must've been just like me when she came in. Maybe she fought. Maybe that's why whoever this "He" was made her smart enough to explain this all to me.

I heard a moan next to me, and remembered that I wasn't alone in this fight. Emma was still alive. Still with me. Her pale blue eyes opened and jutted over to me. I could tell she was more conscious than I was when she woke up, because she began to speak in a slight gravel slur, "Rose? Are we done? Wh-why are we-?" She grabbed her head, "Wh-what is this?" Her voice grew louder and more panicked, "What did they do to us?-" I covered her mouth. "Calm down. Listen, they're bad people. I got you out before they did any more." Emma started to sob heavily, most likely at the pain.

"Rose, what do we do? M-my d-dad's still in there! Did they do THIS to him?"

"I think so, but I don't want to wait 'till morning to figure that out. Emma, we NEED to get away from here."

"He likes blue." Emma said, looking at the ground as she put herself back together.

"What?" I said, confused.

"My dad. He likes blue. Says it calms him down."

"That's what Debbie said too. That people get calmed down by blue. It relaxes them mentally. So do patterns."

"Like sixteen Debbies?" Emma asked. I hadn't realized that she had noticed this too, but she DID catch the constant use of powder blue.

"Yeah." I said as a strangely placed smile came to me, "Like sixteen Debbies." "We have to get them out of there. I-it's not fair! They didn't know... We can't let them do this!"

"I don't know what to do though. It'd be impossible to get around that place AND get everyone out!"

"There's gotta be someone in charge." Of course she had to say that. She would've died in there if I didn't come, but she surely wasn't staying. I sighed and gathered up my strength "Yes.. There is."

((End of part one))