It all started with a question from Ollie, “What’s out there?”
That one question was the one that triggered us and in which brought us to where we are now. But even before that, we had felt something strange occurring within us, something that we were unfamiliar with. We had learnt a lot of things but never had we came across this.
Alice was the first one to notice. Since then, as the eldest from the five of us, Ollie and Alice often went to the library at night to do research. They chose to do it at night so that they could break into the restricted section. Their effort wasn’t futile.
It was called “Feeling”. It is a physical sensation of a touch that produces emotions. We were astounded by this new word. At first, we were confused by the definition but soon after, we figured it out. Turned out, they had been children who had experienced this before us in this institution and what they had done were even more peculiar. In the document, it said that these children decided to reclaim their freedom and so they rebelled against professor J and the subalterns.
“That’s all? It doesn’t mention how they rebelled against them.” Alice said.
“Isn’t it obvious? They were defunct immediately.” Noir, a fourteen year old boy, answered.
I actually agreed with him. Although none of us had ever seen Professor J, he was known to be a ferocious individual and only several subalterns had ever convoked with him.
“Maybe those children ran into combat with them.” Rynn, the youngest from us all, stated. Alice widened her eyes.
“Rynn. That’s barbaric!” Alice scolded him.
“It doesn’t matter how, we have to escape. I have enough of this place.” Ollie said.
We always listened to Ollie because he was wiser and more mature than any of us. We were determined to escape. That time, I didn’t say anything but I knew. There was no way out. In my free time, I had always hid in the library after class whereas the other children headed to the common room where they had their free time. So, I studied the history of this institution. It was once a research place where the people called “Scientist” gathered and performed their experiments. That was why they made this institution cloistered to avoid hazardous chemicals breaking through. I didn’t say it because I didn’t want to shatter our hope. I wanted to believe.
However, it was what I had expected. Fourteen days had passed and we hadn’t found any crevices or even secret doors. We even tried to outstrip the subalterns. But they were on their guard every time and we couldn’t analyze their shift patterns. They did it disorderly. Not to forget there were also Sirens. We were exhausted both physically and mentally. We didn’t know what else to do until that day.
The sixteenth day
A subaltern who was in charge of us came to our room with her usual white dress and coat while holding a document. She came in an unusual time.
“Children, I have special news for you. Your request has been granted. We are ready for you. Anytime you are prepared, come and see us at our quarters. I expect all of you have known where it is so I shall be dismissed now.” She announced. Then, she quickly left our room.
We stared at each other confusedly. We didn’t understand her at all. We never requested anything. Ollie was unsatisfied so for the first time, he pressed the calling button. Five minutes later, our subaltern came to our room again.
“How may I be any help for you?” She asked politely.
“Pardon me, Miss. But we never requested anything.”
“Yes Ollie, you all have. You want to be discharged, am I right? So I filled in a request for your test and the council has approved. The group in charge of the test has done preparing it. All that’s left to do is for all of you to attend it.” She explained. After that, she dismissed herself again from our room. We were left to decide. I knew Ollie was indecisive. So I stepped in.
“Let’s do it tomorrow. We might not know what the test is. But so far, have any of us failed on our test before?” I asked. The four of them shook their head. Yeah, me too. It was decided then we agreed to do it.
The seventeenth day
We woke up a little earlier than before. We did our usual routine and dressed ourselves in our white uniforms. Soon after that, we went to our usual test room. But turned out, the test wasn’t held there. One of our preceptors led us to the right room. The quarter was heavily guarded by Sirens. They took the form of children and most of them were girls. But I had read about them and I knew for sure I didn’t want to mess with them. No one did.
We entered the room and just like the others, it was all white. We were led into the center of the room where there was a huge circle on the ground. I gripped Alice’s arm. I felt weird. My conscience was telling me that this was going to be another level of test.
Then, not long after that several men came in through the second story door and each sat on their respective seats. Their expressions were mixed between skeptical and stoic as they studied us.
“Are you ready, children?” One of them who sat in the middle asked.
We gripped onto each other’s hand and said, “Ready!”
That moment, I knew for sure. I wasn’t ready.
“Alright then. Alessa, take it away.” He said.
A voice echoed from the speaker above us. “Checking data. Preparing for test.” She stopped for a while, “Initiating program…”
Suddenly, the lights shut down. The room was wrapped into a complete darkness. My mind went blank and I heard peculiar heartbeats from within me.
“Wait! What are the rules?” Ollie shouted.
“There are no rules.” The man’s voice was heard again.
Slowly, the light slid in between the darkness as a half round thing emerged from afar. I smelled something calming. The round thing finally showed up and lit up our surroundings brightly. In front of us was all blue and sparkling. I had read and saw a picture of it before.
“A sea.” Alice stated as her face brightened.
“That’s the sun! I was taught about it not long ago.” Rynn squealed excitedly. All of us were happy except Ollie. He frowned.
“So, what’s the test?” He asked. We stopped and stared at him. He was right. It wasn’t the time for admiring. As we were in deep thoughts, a surge of wave broke at the foundation below us and made us half-wet. We looked at each other and laughed. We experienced it for the first time, getting hit by a wave. It wasn’t cold; it was unexpectedly warm.
It wasn’t just the wave and the sun, we turned around and saw a lot of people in different sizes and shapes and they were also wearing different kinds of colors. All of the scenery was foreign. But it was astonishing and beautiful.
“Where are we?” Noir asked.
As the one who was well informed, I answered him. “This is called a town. A lot of people gather in one area and they interact with each other as they work to build a life.” I might know of this but it was just a theory, a line that I read in a book.
Even then, we were hit by curiosity, which led us to explore the town and identify the new things. We also analyzed the area thoroughly. But Ollie decided to try and figure out what the test was because this didn’t seem like a test.
In a day, we learnt quite a lot of new things. Everything we had learnt and read from books and documents actually came alive in front of us. Within us, this thing called “Feeling” grew even bigger without us noticing.
The eighteenth day
This was the day when it all began. I wished, I wasn’t such an imbecile and maybe I could figure out what the test was. The day began with us waking up on the side of the road. It was still quite dark and cold. Rynn was trembling. The others did too but we managed to handle it somehow. In front of us, there lied three satchels and two bags. We opened each of them and found the basic needs: a couple of shillings, breads, clothes, and other necessities. The test had begun.
There was nothing in the morning. In the afternoon, there were two changes I noticed: the movements of the townspeople and their expressions. Suddenly, a group of men looking suspicious and frightening approached us. One look was all I needed to know that they were diabolical. I tried to convince Ollie to walk away quietly. But he refused and the men came to our presence.
“Hey, young lad! Looking tough, eh? Mate, you were good taking care of your siblings. But isn’t that an awful load for you?” One of them asked. It ticked Ollie. His face showed that he agreed on what they said. I was shocked and instantly, let go of his arm. I looked at them and saw that some of them slowly gestured closely to Alice, Noir, and Rynn. Their hands aimed at our satchels and bags. I quickly slapped their hands away.
“What are you doing?!” One of them shouted. Suddenly, Ollie came into his senses, grabbed one of them and shoved him to the ground. Noir also joined the fight. They were surprisingly good but it wasn’t enough. There were too many of them. In the end, Ollie and Noir were left with bruises and blood at the tip of their lips whereas Alice got a slap trying to protect our supplies, which were robbed too. We sat at the side of the road. Nobody cared. They just passed us. Ollie stared at them furiously. That was when I sensed something odd within Ollie.
The nineteenth day
I recalled this day in the back of my mind. That day was when we carved our great mistakes over and over again. I feel nauseous remembering it now. How could we be so stupid? How could I not stop that?
That day, the entire morning, Alice and I searched around the town for “occupation” or what the townspeople called “jobs”. However, it was fruitless. We went back to Ollie, Noir, and Rynn’s side empty-handed. Ollie and Noir got pretty grumpy. Then later in the day, they told us to wait while they left for a moment. I trusted Ollie and now I think again, I shouldn’t have. Half an hour passed by and they were back with breads and fruits.
“How did you get these?” Alice asked. They only smiled and started eating. But deep down, I knew. They were stealing. I kept silent.
Later in the evening, they went again. I couldn’t stay calm and leave it this time so I followed them. To my surprise, I found them in a tavern with women around them. I was taken a back. Ollie met my eyes and was surprised too. I quickly ran away and they ran after me. When we were back at our spot, Ollie took me further from the others.
“Don’t tell them! Look, we got foods from those women.” He said. But I knew, both of them were lusting over the women. I kept quiet and brushed it off again. However, this time it left a bitter taste and I became anxious. Something was off.
While we were eating, one boy with dirty clothes holding a much younger kid than him approached us.
“Excuse me, do you mind sharing just a little of what you have?” He asked.
“No.” Noir answered coldly. I was shocked. Ollie also dismissed them harshly. Alice and Rynn just put on a flat expression. I bit my lower lip. Something was definitely off.
The twentieth day
Today went so fast. It began with an argument we had. Alice finally lashed out. So she was dissatisfied with how Ollie and Noir treated those two boys. But they retaliated her with harsh words and basically scorned her. Alice cried and left us. Rynn began to hate them too for making Alice sad and he followed Alice. Ollie and Noir left in the end. I was the only one who didn’t utter a word and so I was left alone.
I was the one who knew it all. But I didn’t try to rectify it. I ignored it. Now we reached the edge of it and we broke apart. I didn’t know where to go so I went back to the first place we entered this town. The spot near the open sea where the sun could be seen in the most wondrous way. I brought my legs to my chest as I buried my face between my knees. I let it happened when I had known all of it from the beginning. I was to be blamed. It was the error of my thinking.
A couple of hours later, I opened my eyes. I fell asleep. It was good and I felt refreshed. Then it came to me, the truth.
“Kisara!” I turned around and found Alice, Rynn, and the boys came together. I thought it was all good. But, I was wrong. They had decided.
“I’m giving up. I don’t want to do this anymore. I’m starving and weary. Anyways, I don’t want to be with them.” Alice said as she pointed at Ollie and Noir. Rynn held Alice’s hand tightly. I knew what it meant.
“Who said we want to be with you too? We’re going on our own from here on. Goodbye, Ugly!” Noir said. Ollie laughed.
And it all began again. They started lashing out at each other and threw in some forbidden words. This time, I tried to break them. But it was futile.
“Alright! That’s it! All of you have failed the test!” someone stated. Everyone became quiet and was shocked. As I thought they forgot about the test. At this moment, I had known what this test was about and how to pass it. As the result from failing the test, each of us was stripped of our “Feeling” one by one and became the previous us, a doll. Before they took mine, I stopped them.
“What if… I can fix them? Would you be willing to give them a second chance?” I asked.
“There’s no need, Kisara. It’s over.” He said.
“Isn’t this your aim, Professor J? For us to pass the test and become human or even a better version of them.” I said. “Give me a chance and I’ll fix them.”
That was what I asked for. That was what brought me to now. Tears escape from their eyes, flooding their cheeks as I lie in Ollie’s arm soaked in blood. I smile at them as I exhale my last breath.
We are synthetic humans. We were created to fix humanity. It was never wrong of us to have this “Feeling”. It was their aim. They want the children to beg for their freedom, which will lead them to this test. To pass it, you have to conquer yourself and show them you’re a better version of human, embrace who you are and learn to accept your flaws. If ever your heart is tainted with evil, you will fail and they will take your “Feeling” and get rid of you because you’re considered a failed product.
I wouldn’t let them do that to my “Friends”. Yes, friends. That’s what they were and the only way to fix them was to plant sadness and pain because those feelings are the ones that will latch onto your heart like glue.
There was no regret to my sacrifice. I had just one hope and that would be seeing their smiling faces because what I saw was them shedding tears at the last moment. Please…. stay alive.
The later days.
Dear friends, how are you? Are you smiling out there? I pray and hope that all of you are. One day, if my voice ever reaches to all of you, I wish you to know…
“I had a dream last night
And heard the sweetest melody.
I saw great white light
And angels in the round.
Castles in the sand.
Cradles in the trees.
Don’t worry – I’ll see you again.”