Move [Part VIII]

Marianne was afraid for the first time in days. That is to say, she was consciously afraid – her muscles, whether she knew it or not, had been clenched in a sort of animal fear ever since she had first woken up in that cold steel room. But this was different. Marianne had gotten used to the routine of this place, these facilities in which she acted as lab-rat. Her mind was constantly ticking away and her plan was slowly forming during those short spans of time when she knew she wasn’t monitored as closely.

She was unprepared, therefore, for what was currently taking place. She had come to think of Miss Flanders as a scientist; pure, precise and utterly ruthless when it came to her experiments, one of which was Marianne, Adept [for she had been promoted from Novice apparently] #824. Marianne wasn’t ready for Miss Flanders to come into her room, sit down, and try to chat with her.

When Miss Flanders had entered, Marianne froze in what she had been doing. A panic that she had been discovered rose in her, for she had just been making her usual rounds of the room, jogging, trying to see if she could detect any more cameras in there. She jogged so as to have excuse in case she was asked what she was doing, taking rounds and rounds of the room as she did – exercise, she would reply. She promptly forgot this excuse, however, as the fear of Miss Flanders’ entrance erupted in her mind.

Miss Flanders didn’t ask a thing about what Marianne was doing. She didn’t speak for several minutes, but just sat down on the vacant bed in the room and stared politely at Marianne. Marianne couldn’t help noticing that Miss Flanders’ pupils were very wide, so her eyes looked blacker than ever. She also detected a strange smell about the woman, though she couldn’t explain what it was.

When Miss Flanders opened her mouth and asked Marianne the question, in a false, bubbly voice, Marianne knew that things were only going to get worse from now on, and she had to sit down on her bed to stop her legs from buckling completely.

“So, Marianne, what’s your mom like?” Miss Flanders asked.

“Wh-why? Why are you asking that?” Marianne was thinking furiously, trying to figure out what was happening here. She guessed by now how the Set worked, and she was chilled to her very bone at the thought of what they might do to her mother.

“Oh, I just want to know what you think of her. I mean, dear, all our other volunteer subjects talk about their families all the time,” Miss Flanders’ cheery voice was somehow much scarier than her normal, deep, musical and threatening voice. “You, however, seem rather quiet on the subject. You haven’t, for instance, asked to go home since those first few days.”

“Your OTHER volunteer subject? Meaning you think I’ve volunteered for this?” Marianne tried to take the subject away from her mother, but wasn’t sure whether or not Miss Flanders would see through this.

“Yes, you did. You applied, you got accepted, you signed the papers. Now, what about your mother?”

Marianne gulped. She knew that what was coming wouldn’t be a pleasant interview. She’d lie as well as she could, tell Miss Flanders that she absolutely loathed her mother, tell her whatever it took to try and convince her of that. She knew the truth though. She knew that they were planning something to do with her mother. As she lied fluidly to Miss Flanders, Marianne was speed-thinking, trying to figure out her plan and how she could carry it out quicker than she had intended. She resolved, as Miss Flanders raised her eyebrows in disbelief at Marianne’s lies, to begin practicing.

I’ll practice every night if I have to, she thought to herself. We’ll see how they like a taste of defiance soon enough.

Move [Part VII]

Miss Flanders was standing at the window into the room where Marianne was currently strapped into the chair. She looked thoughtfully at the girl, and saw that Marianne had succeeded in this next part of training as well – there were two wooden blocks floating now, one on each side of her.

Miss Flanders returned to the monitors and sat down in front of them, tracking the little lines with her calculating eyes and trying to decipher what the girl was thinking of that was giving her such extraordinary power so as that she managed to move two things simultaneously as she was doing now.

A door opened, and Miss Flanders spoke without turning around to see who it was.

“I think she’s thinking about her family again.” She pondered aloud. The man who had entered made an indistinct noise in his throat and put down the tray he was carrying beside the monitors. He handed one of the mugs on the tray to Miss Flanders and sat down beside her, staring intently at the monitors with her.

“There’s something new there, though. Look, right there, see it? Just once in a while. What could that be?” He said quietly as Miss Flanders took a sip of the drink he had given her. She made a face at it.

“God, that tastes nasty,” She said. “Anyway, yes, I see it. We’ll need to start analyzing that tonight. You want to do it, George? I want to spend some time with her tonight, see what I can get.”

“Sure,” He said, smiling as he saw Miss Flanders pupils widening slightly and taking a sip of his own mug. “It does taste nasty, you’re right.”

Move [Part VI]


Marianne was in a chair that resembled the kind found in dentists’ offices, except that there were no trays full of sticks for fiddling in mouths beside her. Instead, she was loosely strapped into this chair at her wrists and ankles, and she was alone. Opposite her she could see a wall that was one long mirror. She knew that this wall must be a one way mirror and that the people who gave her instructions were, in fact, on the other side and watching her every move. As if it’s not bad enough that they get to see my thoughts, she thought bitterly.It had been three days now since Marianne had been taken from her cold, steel room. Miss Flanders, the woman who had collected her from there, had taken her to a spacious room, steel like the first, but warm and full of comforts. She had a comfortable bed with a thick mattress, a desk with some writing paper and pens on it, and, best of all, a bookcase crammed full of books. There was also a spare bed in the room, but Marianne was quite alone and there didn’t seem to be any other occupant at any time.

Marianne felt that she was now pampered, as if to placate her after the bad treatment she had received. Miss Flanders and the others greatly wanted her cooperation, and she was ashamed that she had given it to them, mostly because she was too weary and too scared to defy them.

But not for much longer… No, mustn’t think about that, or they’ll know. She quickly began to think about her mother again and about her sadness and aching heart and the way she missed her home. But in the back of her mind, which she had learned to hide away, a plan was forming…

Move [Part V]

Something was different. Marianne knew it the moment she woke up, because she woke up naturally, for once. There was no rattle of the dumbwaiter; there was no muffled crackle of the speaker. She sat up on her mattress, crossed her legs, and rubbed her eyes. She looked around the room, and immediately saw a difference. A difference so staggering that she felt her stomach clench – whether with fear or excitement, she didn’t know.There was someone in the room with her. Someone was sitting on a simple, steel chair that was right against the opposite wall. Marianne gaped. She took the person sitting there in, inch by inch, while they scrutinized her right back.

The person sitting in the chair was a woman. She had very high cheekbones that were prominently displayed over the black doctor’s mask that was hiding the rest of her lower face. A pair of eyes, the iris’s so darkly brown they appeared black from afar, were above the cheekbones, perfectly framing a slightly long, very straight nose. The woman’s hair was rather surprising – she was a redhead. Though her hair was swept back in a tight bun, it seemed like it wanted to break out and spring back into its normal state of bouncy curliness.

The woman crossed her legs and placed her white hands upon her knee. She then spoke, and Marianne knew instantly that it was this woman’s voice that pierced her through every day, the voice that emerged from the crackly speaker. It was deep, for a woman, and slightly rough, but there was a musical tone to it as well, as if this woman could sing jazz easily.

“Well,” she said. “It’s nice to finally be able to greet you in person, Marianne.”

Marianne didn’t know what to say, so she continued to stare at the woman. She wondered if the woman expected her to be pleased to see a human face, perhaps even be grateful for it. She got her answer in a moment though, when the woman spoke again.

“I’m sure you hate me, Marianne. That’s alright, I don’t really care one way or another,” the woman’s eyes crinkled as she spoke, as if she were smiling beneath the mask. “I am glad, however, of how obedient you’ve been since those first few days when things were… shall we say, difficult. You’ve become a model subject. Your progress is impressive, I must say. It is time, therefore, to get you out of this room and into the next stage of our facilities. I think you will find them more comfortable than these rooms.”

The woman stood up, and moved the chair to one side. The panel of steel wall behind her instantly slid open. She beckoned to Marianne, and gestured toward the open doorway, which seemed to lead into a hallway made of some more steel.

“Well…?” she said. “I hope you’re not going to make this difficult.” A threatening note was evident in her voice as she continued with “You know what happens then, don’t you, Marianne?”

Marianne got to her feet. She strode through the door, shivering slightly at the thought of what would happen if she struggled now. She really, truly didn’t want to know.

Move [Part III]

Marianne was awakened, as always, by the rattling of the dumbwaiter as it clattered to a halt at the level of this room. She stretched her aching limbs, which were sore both from lack of movement and from the constant clenching they underwent when Marianne tried to move objects with her mind.

She got up off the thin mattress and went into the tiny steel-covered bathroom that was connected to the room by a sliding, metal door. There was no mirror in there of course, and Marianne wondered, for the hundredth time, what she looked like. She wondered if she looked gaunt and pale from lack of sunlight or just haggard from lack of sleep. In truth, she looked neither gaunt, nor pale, nor haggard. She didn’t know this, but the lights in the steel room were special – they imitated the light that the sun gave off and filled her skin with vitamin D. The food she ate every day was also altered, and was full of strengthening nutrients. Marianne didn’t know this either, but she was allowed to sleep more than eight hours every night, and so she actually got quite enough sleep. She was being cared for more carefully than she could ever imagine – but even if she knew this, she wouldn’t have been any less resentful towards her situation.

Marianne closed the steel bathroom door behind her and headed for the dumbwaiter, eager for her food. She quickly ate the eggs and toast and butter with the plastic utensils, and put the tray back in the dumbwaiter. She then turned and walked to the middle of the room and waited for the voice to come. She knew the routine – after breakfast every morning, a new day would start and she’d need to begin concentrating on moving things once more.

Sure enough, the dumbwaiter, which had clattered up and then back down again, came to a halt and opened automatically. Inside was a block of lead as large as a crate. This was heavier than anything Marianne had moved for days. The voice in the loudspeaker told her to concentrate and begin.

Marianne shut her eyes and imagined her mother’s face once more. She decided today to think about her memories of her mother when she was small. She then opened her eyes, the vision of her mother pushing her on the swings fixed in her mind, and then began to concentrate on moving the heavy thing.

In a room far above her, were a man and a woman, both staring at a large TV screen. They could see the girl, subject number 824, begin to move the lead block out of the dumbwaiter with her mind. They looked at each other with a rough determination in their eyes.

“How the HELL is she doing that?” The man asked.

“I think,” The woman replied slowly. “That next week we should take her out. It’s time to put on the electrodes. It’s time to see what that damned girl is thinking.”

Move [Part II]

“Annie! Annie, honey, look what you got in the mail!”

“What? Mom? What is it? Come on, give it to me!”

“It’s… The big envelope! You got in! Sweetie, look, you got in! Oh, love, I’m so proud of you.”

“Oh my god! I got in! I can’t believe this! YES! Oh- oh, Mom, don’t cry, please don’t cry. I’ll be back from there every weekend, you know I will.”

“I know, I know. But the house will be so lonely without you. I still don’t love the idea, you know that. I mean, I know it’s a great honor to be able to join this experimental group that the Set have started, and I know it’ll be an amazing thing to put on your college applications in a year, but still…”

“Mom, you know how bored I am at school. You know that I would start college right now if I could. The Set are offering kids like me the opportunity of a lifetime! I can’t pass this up. Mom, tell me you’ll be ok without me…”

“Of course I will, honey. I’m just going to miss you, that’s all. As long as I’ll get to see you once a week, I’ll be alright.”

“I’ll be home every weekend, Mom. Promise.”

Marianne stared blankly at the boulder in front of her. It was still hovering. She moved her eyes, and her concentration, to the right. The boulder moved with her mind. The loudspeaker made a gurgling cackle and the ever-present voice told her that that will do. Marianne let the memory fade away as she shook her head and rubbed her aching, tired eyes. The boulder fell to the floor with a crash as Marianne threw herself on the thin mattress that lay on the floor in the corner. She felt herself crashing into unconsciousness just like the boulder and then knew no more.

Move [Part I]

“Again!”

Frowning in concentration, Marianne wiped the sweat from her brow, took a deep breath and tried once more. The grain of rice on the table in front of her was her challange, her goal, and she had to conquer it. She had to master it. She couldn’t let her thoughts wander at all. She tried once more to believe, with all her mind and heart, that the grain was rising from the table, that the grain, lighter than a feather, could easily defy gravity. Marianne’s upper lip and forhead began seeping with wetness again as she gazed fiercly at the tiny grain of rice and tried with all her might to make it rise.

She almost had it, she felt, so close – but then her thoughts began to wander again, despite her best efforts, and she thought sullenly Why am I even doing this? Why am I doing what they tell me? In a moment, she collapsed in a heap on the floor, exhausted, and felt as if she had been wrung out like a sponge. She sat there, on the cold, metal floor, and tried to organize her thoughts again. She didn’t know where she was. She didn’t know how long it had been, but she knew it must have been some weeks – it seemed so endless. She fingered the white hospital-type bracelet circling her left wrist. It read “NOVICE  #824: MARIANNE” in big block letters, with no more indication than that.

“Again! Try again!” Came the cold voice over the loudspeaker. Marianne didn’t even see where the speaker was in the room, but she’d learned to hate the crackle of it, that little “Ffff…” before the person, who she couldn’t recognize as male or female, spoke. The voice was as present in her current situation as the sweat on her brow. It was the voice that awoke her from her restless sleep, the voice that commanded her to take the food from the odd, metallic dumbwaiter and eat it, the voice that told her relentlessly, over and over “AGAIN!”

As she had nothing else better to do, and she’d almost been convinced that maybe something would come of this, and also because she had learned what happened when she refused, Marianne rose to her feet, walked to the table with the grain of rice on it, and tried again. For a moment, for no reason at all, her mother’s face flashed before her eyes as she was concentrating on the grain. Blinking away the vision, Marianne stared at the reality in front of her. The grain of rice was hovering a full foot off the table. She coughed, and the grain clattered onto the metal table.

“Finally.” Said the voice over the loudspeaker. Marianne looked up at the wall, as metal and unadorned as the rest of the room, and tears filled her eyes.