The next morning, Carrie had jumped in the shower and really made herself ready before the government agents arrived. She wasn’t exactly sure when they would show up, or if they’d show up at all, but she was completely mentally prepared for anything. Sarah had already left earlier for school and Lyn had never come home the night before. Carrie was alone like she had been yesterday. Throwing a simple set of jeans and a t-shirt on, she was about to make her way to the kitchen to make some coffee when her phone rang. The number showed as private on the LCD screen, but she flipped it open anyway.
“Ms. Carrie Goldwater,” a man’s voice said. Carrie wasn’t sure if this was the same agent or not.
“Yes,” she answered simply.
The man claimed to be the same agent as the day before and asked if she had come upon a decision. Carrie told him that she had decided yes and he continued on with instructions on how the day would proceed, as though he knew all along she would agree to the program. An hour later, a knock came to the door and she was greeted by two different officials who introduced themselves and flashed their identification. She was instructed that she needed to bring nothing with her, which made her feel a lot more nervous and exposed than she anticipated.
Following the two men in the bright sunlight, she walked down the staircase of her apartment. When reaching ground level, she turned back and looked at her home. This was the moment she could change her mind, say that she had made a mistake, run back upstairs and continue the life she had been living. But what was the life she had been living? It was mundane, meaningless, and quite frankly, depressing. She couldn’t think of one thing that held her back. So maybe this was what was meant for her, to disappear into government hands, to start a new life. That was something everyone wanted at some point in their life and she was being handed it like candy.
Turning to the suited men, who stood there on the sidewalk waiting for her, she allowed herself to turn away, breaking free of her past, and followed them into the black vehicle. As it pulled away, she watched as the complex passed her window and watched as all the memories that came with her home passed also. For a moment, her heart stopped, thinking for only a second that she had made a huge mistake, but as the vehicle moved farther away and she couldn’t see the complex at all, she felt herself let out a sigh. She had been holding her breath and must have been holding on to everything else she left back there. A little smile crossed her face, if barely, as she moved into the unknown.
Carrie had left the apartment the way it was. She had left her room tidy and clean, her bed made and everything put in its proper place. She had even left the bathroom neat and orderly, her contact case and solution tucked into the cabinet along with her toothbrush and paste. It would seem as though she still lived there, and when her roommates would come home, they won’t have noticed she’d gone. The day would turn to night and Sarah would finally call Carrie’s cell phone, only to hear it ring in Carrie’s bedroom. She would find the phone and see that there were two other missed calls, one from Carrie’s mother and one from Jason. Another hour later, Sarah will have become worried telling Lyn she couldn’t find Carrie.
Carrie dipped her finger into the solution, gently pulling out her left contact and popping it onto her eye. It stung. The contact was old and she had needed to get new ones for a while. She stared at herself in the brightly lit mirror surrounded by perfectly pristine white walls. Her cheeks had more color in them than they had three weeks ago, her hair more healthy and vibrant, and she felt stronger than she ever had before. She would have thought she would be exhausted by the way they were constantly exercised, but the way they were being exercised and being fed was a completely new experience to her.
It was the fifth week into the program and nothing had come up as incredibly unique or important when concerning human history. However, today was the final day and Carrie couldn’t wait for all her questions to be answered. Carrie moved into her bedroom, which was more like a cubicle with one window exposing lots of trees and green grass, a twin-sized bed, small closet which contained preordered clothing that Carrie called uniforms, and access to a small but private shower/toilet room that she had just come from. The shower room was white, but the bedroom was painted a rich cream color probably for comfort purposes. Everything else was plain. When she arrived here the first night, she lied in bed and cried. She later noticed with a little bit of surprise that everything was provided for her, including the toiletries. She assumed she was in another state, as she had flown on a private government jet to the Scientific Research building, which ironically was also in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by thick pine trees. At night, the stars would shine like diamonds, uninhibited by pollution or city lights, which made Carrie think they were far away from any major city. She didn’t know. Nobody knew where they had been taken.
She was one among fifty other candidates, all who had surprisingly said yes to this program. They weren’t allowed to socialize. Their time outside their rooms was monitored and controlled. Seven o’clock was when they needed to wake, and seven o’clock was when they needed to sleep. In the morning, they would eat a hearty breakfast full of protein and nutrition. They were not allowed to consume any caffeine, which made Carrie very irritated as she was very dependent on her coffee in the morning. Then they would run laps throughout the forest for hours. The difficulty of each exercise would go up every day. Then lunch would come around and they would feast on more protein-concentrated foods. Lift weights—take snack and water breaks—stretch—massage—protein dinner—exercise—recreational activities among the other participants—and sleep.
Carrie had been very exhausted for the first week, but she quickly adapted and now it became such a routine with her, she barely noticed the days passing by. To her, it felt like months had gone by. But when night came, she’d lie down in her bed and was left alone to her thoughts. Carrie would think of her mother and father mostly, think of how much she missed them now more than ever, and occasionally she’d allow her mind to dream of Jason and wonder what he was doing.
The chime rang throughout the hall’s speakers and Carrie stepped outside of her tiny cabin and followed the rest of the participants down the grey passageway toward the lecture hall. They were all dressed similarly in blue, white, or grey exercise uniforms. It was a unique group of men and women ranging from the ages of twenty-three to twenty-eight, all of them fit, and some even more so after the four week training. Carrie’s own body went from thin to thick, gaining a good amount of muscle bulk, but not as much muscle tone as some of the others had.
She waved hello to a few others she had bonded with as much as she was allowed to and sat in one of the seats inside the lecture hall. This was the same hall they had been taken to on the first day of orientation. They were handed over by the government officials to the scientists of Americor. That was the day the entire program was explained in great detail, and the scientists gave them the chance to decline their participation one more time. No body did.
Today they were going to be tested. The scientists had been developing a serum for years that was theorized to make the human body impervious to any disease, to make the human body as capably strong as it possibly could. But the serum needed to be tested on young, adult humans in perfect health. Carrie sat in her seat listening to the instructions that were being explained by a tall scientist—the boss, as Carrie called him—who looked about the age of sixty but had the body of a muscular twenty year old. He was always constantly eating protein bars, or what Carrie assumed was protein bars. She had never gotten close enough to tell.
He finished and they were instructed to return to their cabins. They were not to consume any foods this time as the serum may put them to sleep for days. Acting calm and collected, though Carrie’s insides were burning with curiosity and excitement, she made her way back to her cabin. An hour later, one of the female nurses came to her room and escorted Carrie to a place that resembled a hospital’s room. It was painted all white. There were two entrances to the room, a door on the right by a large square-sized mirror, and the one she was entering. There was a large window that allowed the daylight to shine in, giving the room a warm atmosphere, and in the middle of the room stood a bed accompanied by a few monitors and an I.V. bag.
“Please remove your clothes and change into the sheath. When you’re done, then go ahead and sit on the bed,” the nurse said, her voice soothing and warm.
Carrie obliged and soon was sitting comfortably on the bed. It positioned her sitting up, and she sat watching the nurse start up the monitors and began hooking Carrie up to them. Carrie wasn’t nervous at all. She had been waiting for this day since the first time Right and Left came to her apartment. She couldn’t wait to see if this all Left had claimed it would be: the most important scientific break through discovered in human history ever. She looked out the large window in front of her, watching the pine trees bend slightly in the wind, the sunlight flickering above their tops, turning their needles into a deep green.
“Please remove your contact lenses,” the nurse said, handing Carrie a lens box. Carrie obeyed, removing the lenses from her eyes, everything turning foggy, the faraway trees becoming a blurry mesh of dark green. “Now I’m going to give you an I.V.,” the nurse instructed, as she took Carrie’s left hand and inserted the I.V. into a vein. Carrie winced only slightly, the sharp pain subsiding quickly into a dull throb. “Now I am going to administer the SHB,” she said, referring to the serum. The nurse injected the serum into Carrie’s I.V. Carrie squinted her eyes to watch, but could only see a messy blur.
“Okay, all done,” the nurse said, smiling at Carrie. Then she made her way out of the room, closing the door behind her and leaving Carrie completely alone. Carrie looked after her, but then turned her attention to the window. She watched the blurry mesh of trees rock back and forth against the white-blue sky. She was overcome with calm and serenity she couldn’t manage to think of anything. And soon she had fallen asleep.