Larissa sat up in bed, her heart pounding, and the last remains of a nightmare lingering just out of reach.
She slowly got out of bed and went into the bathroom, turning on the light and staring at herself in the bathroom mirror
Ever since her sixteenth birthday had begun to approach, she had begun to have nightmares.
As she studied herself in the mirror, she tried to see past her long brown hair and hazel eyes, tried to see inside her mind.
Tomorrow, she turned sixteen and tomorrow, she had to take a test. The test that every teenager turning sixteen had to take. One that would show the government how intelligent the teenager was.
If they were too intelligent, enough that they might one day be a threat to the government, than something happened to them.
What that something was, Larissa couldn't say, no one could.
There were rumors of course, everything from the teenagers being put to death, to being imprisoned for life. But Larissa's father, an English teacher at the local school, told her that they were just that, rumors.
Larissa stared at herself some more, before turning off the light and going back to bed.
"There's no use worrying about it," she whispered to herself, but she couldn't help but remember Bobby Price, a boy down the street.
He had gone to take the test three years ago, and never returned.
A week later, his family packed up and left, no one knew what had happened to them.
Larissa shuddered and closed her eyes, determined to go back to sleep, but sure she wouldn't be able to.
When she opened her eyes again, it was morning and she could smell pancakes.
Quickly she got up and got dressed, before hurrying downstairs to where her mother was cooking in the kitchen.
Her mother looked up and smiled at Larissa.
"Happy Birthday," she said, "today is the big day, are you ready?"
Larissa nodded and sat down, her stomach in knots.
She had seen the hint of worry in her mother's eyes and knew, even though her mother would never say so, that her mother feared the unknown too.
She smiled at her mother, determined to put on a brave face and ate the pancakes and bacon that her mother served her, even though her stomach was still upset.
"Your father had to go in for a bit," Larissa's mother told her. "But, he'll be here tonight, for your party."
She suddenly gasped, as if choking back tears and turned around.
"We better go," she whispered, "the test will be at ten."
Larissa nodded and went to get her coat.
They drove to the testing center, and Larissa's mother dropped her off.
Parents and guardians weren't allowed to be present when the test was administered.
They had to return home and wait, wait to see if their child would return.
Larissa stood in front of the building and watched her mother drive off, suddenly overwhelmed with the feeling that she would never see her again.
Finally she turned and entered the testing center, walking up to a woman behind a glass partition.
The woman looked up at Larissa, her blonde hair done up in a hairstyle at least fifty years out of style, and held out a clipboard.
"Fill this out," she said in a nasal voice, "and wait for your name to be called."
Larissa nodded and walked over to one of the hard wooden chairs.
She sat down and filled out the form.
Almost as soon as she had filled out the form a tall man with short black hair, in a white coat opened a door.
"Larissa McClain?" He called and Larissa stood up, suddenly wishing she could run out of the building.
Instead she walked over to the man and followed him down a white, sterile hallway.
They finally stopped in front of a door, and the man opened it.
"Please step inside," he said, "the test is on the desk. Once you're done, slide it in the slot in the wall and wait."
Larissa nodded and stepped inside.
The man closed the door behind her, and Larissa sat at the desk.
She opened the test and began to take it.
Finally, after what seemed like hours, but could've been minutes, Larissa finished.
She stood up and carried the test over to the slot in the wall, sliding it in.
Then there was nothing for her to do but wait.