From Dreams to Reality
Lara, Age 12, Holmdel, NJ

As I began to regain consciousness, I slowly peeled open my crusty eyes to find myself in damp and dark surroundings that felt like a dingy metal box. I couldn’t hear anything, so I was alarmed by the uncomfortable quietness. I started to realize that I couldn’t hear, see, or move. My hands and feet were handcuffed to the floor, and my eyes were covered with what seemed to be a bandana. In a giant surge of movement, the box hiccupped forward in a jolt of movement. The cuffs unlocked themselves and, as if by instinct, my hands shot up and my nimble fingers undid the knot that had kept me from seeing my surroundings.

My eyelids blinked, trying to adjust to the darkness that had enclosed me, wiping my eyes as if they could wipe away a layer of blackness that was covering them.

Feeling around to get a sense of where I was, I learned that there were eight flexible metal walls surrounding me. I guessed I was in an octagon shaped box. I started trying to remember how I got into this predicament, and that is when the pure terror filled me. I couldn’t. I had this terrible feeling in my gut, almost as if there was animal inside me trying to eat or scrape its way out. The same words started ringing in my head over and over. Gone. Lost. Alone.

I thought unbelievably hard to try and figure out names and places, just normal things a person would know. I thought to myself, “My name is Emily and…” That was it. That was all I could remember.

I had full recollection of vocabulary and names of most things, but I couldn’t connect them to anything! I had all of my memories, but the people in them were missing, almost as if the faces were nothing but black holes. With all of this worry about my memory, I drifted away from the fact of where I was and what was going on. As I started to feel around some more, a minute door on the top of the box opened up and a piercing ray of golden sunlight shot through gradually as the door opened. With my eyes closed and still adjusting to the lights, I felt my way out of the box and into the blistering weather. It must have been over 100°F out there.

My eyes had now adjusted enough for me to get a peek at my surroundings.
I was in a desert.  I had seen this place before … before they, whoever did this to me, wiped my memory. I noticed similarities, but I couldn’t put my finger on them. I was looking around and all I seemed to see was a few poisonous reptiles, and out in the horizon a camel with one hump. It looked very sickly and dehydrated.

To the left there was a brown brittle palm tree.  From the looks of it, it hasn’t rained here in years! I took a few steps to the right to see what was there and, before I knew it, I was face first in the sand. I had tripped over an antler. It had probably been there for ages and the rest of its body was probably underground.

I dusted myself off and got back up and there was a boulder in front of me.  Just as I looked up, what looked like a leg disappeared behind it.

“I saw you!!!” I screamed out excitably at the figure that was behind the huge boulder, as if they were my way out of here. I went over to look behind it and see who was there, but nobody was. All that was there was a turquoise tray with a blanket, a magenta bowl, a glass cup, and a hairbrush. “Hmmmm, why would somebody leave this here?” I said as if I was talking to the person who disappeared behind the gigantic rock. I carefully picked it up and noticed that my name was engraved in the objects.
I took the stuff over to the palm tree and set up camp for the night. The sand felt coarse and thick; it probably hadn’t rained here in months, maybe years. I curled up on the blanket anyway and realized how exhausted I was, and slowly drifted to sleep.

I woke up the next morning and it was a little cooler than when I first arrived because there was a breeze in the air and according to the sun it was about 6 a.m. I slowly sat up and turned around and look at the tray. The glass was filled with orange juice and the bowl had some chicken parmesan in it! I scarfed it down, noticing how famished I was. I barely even noticed the beautiful violet colored hibiscus flower in a glass cup. When I was done, I was very grateful for the meal, and I wiped my mouth with the tissue next to the bowl. Then, I briskly trotted over to “my” brush and put my hair up in a bouncy black ponytail.

I was about to embark on a journey to figure out where I was and see if there was a possible way out, but I was interrupted by the sound of small whispering voices. They seemed to be coming from the boulder that the foot had disappeared behind before. I quietly tip-toed over to the boulder and peered behind it to see eight boys sitting in a circle like formation talking about something. Me. All of a sudden, they stopped talking and the tan kid who looked about seventeen pointed at me. Now that I was given away, I just stepped out from behind the massive rock and said, “Hi, my name is Emily.”

At first they just stared blankly at me. Then the boy that looked like the oldest and by my guessing the one in charge said, “Hello, I am Jack and this is Derek, Thomas, Alfie, Theo, Sam, Oscar, and Robbie.”

“Cool. Nice to meet you. By any chance, do you know how or why I am here?”

They all exchanged a glance and the smallest one, Robbie, who was pale as a sheet and had light blonde hair and piercing green eyes, walked up to me and quietly said, “We have all been sent here like you, and we have been forced to adapt to the lifestyle. We have no idea how we got here. We just remember waking up in a box with only the memory of our first name. About every month, ‘they’ send up a new person. “They” also send up supplies like food and water and clothes and necessary stuff. For example, as soon as you arrived, the tray filled with the stuff that had your name engraved in it. That is how we know your name.”

“So none of you know how we got here or how to get out?!” I said, almost yelling at them “Wait. But there is only eight of you, so this obviously has not been going on for too long.”

“No, some of us have been here for years trying to find the answer to that problem. It has been going on for way longer than you think.  We are just the strongest, so we survived. The others couldn’t adapt that quickly, so they didn’t make it,” Sam said with a glum look on his face.

“So it was you guys who filled my bowl and cup? Am I the only girl here?” I questioned.

“Yes you are the first girl we have ever had. Yeah, we thought we would help you out, it being your first day and all,” Theo said smiling a little

“Thanks. So how do things work around here?” I asked, hoping to get a little exercise

“Yeah, we spread out and look around to see if there is a way out of here,” said Theo.
I just nodded my head and followed them towards the open desert. All of a sudden, they all started off in a sprint and I quickly caught on and trailed them. We were off at a brisk pace and all of a sudden something bit my foot and a deep pain coursed through my veins. I looked over and one of the purple snakes had bitten me. I started to fade in and out of consciousness. Black. White. Black. White.

I shot up with sweat pouring all over me, and I was I a dark room. I was in my bedroom, in my bed. I sat there and thought for a minute, it had all been a dream! I looked at my foot and surprisingly there were two scars where the fangs had gone into my foot. That’s when it hit me: “It wasn’t a dream. When you die you go back to your life.”

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