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               “Are you awake?” I open my cornflower blue eyes with a jolt. Something is pressed up against my throat, so that I can’t swivel my head or look anywhere but up. My eyes dart around, straining to see the owner of the rusty voice, but failing to see anything except blank white walls. “Are you awake?” There is that voice again. It sounds old, like the owner of the voice is tired and frail. “Yes,” I respond in a voice that is not my clear, high one. This one sounds as if it hasn’t had water for days. Suddenly my head clears for a moment and I realize how strange it is that I am lying in a bed with my whole body strapped down and a man asking me if I am awake. My arms and legs feel rigid, like somebody sewed a different persons appendages onto me. I hear a chair scrape the ground loudly, and cringe at the awful squeak that sounds almost like nails on a chalkboard. Then, footsteps come toward me at surprising speed and I try to move, but only achieve sharp pains shooting through my body. Somebody leans over me- An old man with a neatly shaven grey beard and crows feet around his eyes. Then I realize- “Grandpa?” I cry out through tears of joy. “Is it really you?” The salty tears running down my face slide into my mouth, but I don’t care. My grandfather looks amused by my tears of joy, and then speaks. “No child, I am not you grandfather. I am simply your Life Creator. I designed a life for you to live in with parents and friends and school, even incorporating myself in as your beloved grandfather, but none of that was real. This is real.” A picture of a tiny baby being held by an exhausted mother in a delivery room is held above me. The woman’s long red hair and pale face full of freckles is so uncanny to mine that I have to look at the photo again and again to convince myself that it isn’t me in some future time warp. I study her face, the slight bump at the end of her nose and bright green eyes so different than my blue ones. Small differences, but enough to convince me that it isn’t somehow myself in the future. But wait… “What do you mean you’re my Life Creator? How is that photo ‘real’ but my life isn’t?” I cry out. Grandpa still has an amused look in his bright eyes, one that signals to me that he finds this a fun little game. Then he responds in his frail voice, “What I mean Beth, is that you don’t have a life.” He frowns at his choice of wording. “What I mean to say  is that I have created for you a life inside your head as you have lied on this bed for all of your real lifetime. That woman is your real mother, my best friends daughter. Notice the uncanny resemblance between your faces. You are a spitting image of her, but she didn’t care about you. After your dear father died it drove her insane,” he spits out bitterly. “She gave you up to the local orphanage, having no idea that her offspring would be chosen for an experiment as great as this one.” I stare at this nutcase until he squirms uncomfortably. “Do you mean to tell me,” I begin, “that my biological mother gave me up to you?” My look of disgust makes my ‘grandfather’ fidget more than he already was. “Not exactly. She had no idea what she was doing. She thought you would be in the good hands of the volunteers at the orphanage, having no idea of your destiny,” he says hurriedly. “Instead you were chosen by me as the newest experiment for the betterment of the human race.” I feel empty inside as I think of my mother giving me up to an orphanage. Then I think of my other mother, and start to cry again. “It had to be real!” I cry out. “No way could somebody just make a life for me! Why would you do that anyway, it doesn’t make sense!” I scream at him. He looks unflinching and indifferent now, and then speaks again. “I will give you a choice,” he states in a matter of fact voice. “You can either stay here in the technology center for the rest of your days, as all the others have chosen, or I will implant you back into your world for further study. You will have no recollection of this day, and will continue with your old life as you were.” He is out of breath by the time he finishes this little speech. I feel dull and empty, and want to go home. “What do you mean ‘the others’?” I ask. “There were ten others that we studied on before you. Our technology was not as advanced then, and they suffered severe mental problems after we told them the truth. They all chose to stay when offered the choice, and now roam these halls alone, with nobody to talk to. I suppose they didn’t feel like they could go back and carry on like everything was normal without knowing what they were doing. If you do the same, we will choose another child to further develop our conclusions about the human emotions on, and you will stay here with us, a wanderer, but you will know the truth. Which sounds like the better deal to you?” All amusement is gone from his face, and he acts very businesslike as he tells me my options. It’s an  impossible choice, and yet I am forced to choose. I can’t let another child go through this if I can help it, but also can’t take not knowing. Then I decide. “I’m going back,” I respond. “I can’t let anybody else go through your disgusting system.” My tears have stopped and I feel like an empty shell. But I know that I made the right decision in my heart. I know what I had to do. “Okay,” he responds with an excited look on his face, like a child who is opening gifts on Christmas for the first time. He doesn’t know what he’s going to get, but thinks it will be good. I hope it’s socks and underwear. “Here it goes,’ he says, a syringe in his outstretched hand. I awake in my bed to a sharp stabbing pain in one of my arms, almost like I had a vaccination done. I feel as if I had a dream, but can’t remember it. “Mom!” I call down. My brown haired, brown eyed mother walks up the stairs just like every morning. “Hey baby,” she says. “How’d you sleep?”

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