The Room – Chapter 1
Two small newborns, Sandra and William, rocked and swayed from side to side in their beds. The room they occupied was white from floor to ceiling and void of any fixtures. A mechanical arm reached down holding a bottle and fed each in turn. Somewhere off in the distance voices could be heard conversing in the kind of topics one would normally hear on a radio.
Time went on and by the age of two, the children were transported to a playpen in a nearby room. Here, they had various toys that kept them amused. A short time later the two children were introduced to a screen that displayed real and animated visuals accompanied by various sounds and voices. Most commonly, objects were shown in the centre of the screen and were usually surrounded by a black or white backdrop. It wasn’t long before the children began to speak short sentences: mimicking the voices they heard.
Soon after, ‘Grey’, entered into their lives.
Grey was a ‘voice’ that spoke to them personally and could be heard from the screen and hidden speakers placed around the room.
This voice became their virtual father. As the children grew, they came to know him not only as their father but also as their teacher and companion.
Years passed and during this time Grey nurtured and fostered their intellectual faculties through virtual games and conversation.
The two children turned into young adults and from this time they began to experience events which turned their lives upside down.
Sandra and William lived in a small home made up of five rooms. This place, their home, was the only place that they had ever known. They did not have any knowledge of what was outside the walls that surrounded them.
As frightening as that might sound to the ordinary person, this was not a phenomenal fact in two adolescent’s eyes lives. William and Sandra grew up surrounded by only white walls, however, they were not frightened by what they did not know.
Their home was quite large, and it gave the pair a lot of room to move around. The structure contained a sleeping quarters, a dining room, a hygiene area where they bathed and washed, and various study areas. The structure also provided them with food, water, reading materials and stationary, all of which were shuttled to wall compartments via pipes in the walls.
The kitchen contained an open steel wall compartment to which food was delivered throughout the day. Whenever a delivery was made the pair were alerted by the sound of Grey’s voice. Just as items were shuttled into the structure, disposables were also shuttled out via a suction pipe located outside the pantry to the left.
Entertainment and study activities were conducted via a large screen located in each room. Never a dull moment went by due to the endless pictographs, illustrations and descriptive dialogues given by Grey. It was from these screens via ‘Grey’ that they learnt speaking, reading, writing and listening skills along with other subjects such as maths and chemistry. The pair also had access to a hand-held screen and a pen which they could write on and erase. Study was their favourite pastime because of the challenging tasks they were able to engage in as part of their formal education.
‘Grey’ which they only knew as a ‘voice’, spoke to them via speakers built into the walls. This was their main point of contact and communicative stimulus. This voice helped teach them how to communicate and gave them certain facts and ideas to ponder. Grey could be heard in any room and was able to engage in conversation about any topic. It was Grey, who provided their education and was also their friend and counsellor, though he wasn’t very skilled at the latter.
Neither of them knew their exact ages, though they had been told that they were above 18 and turning into adults. Although these ideas were not important in any social sense, they felt happy that they had formally achieved some level of maturity. Time was also set not by the sun nor by any other natural indications of time. Instead, it was set by a computerised clock and by an illumination lighting system which automatically dimmed the lighting within the structure: indicating when certain times came about.
Heating and cooling were also automated to give the pair a sense of different weather periods. The purpose of this was to break up periods of monotony associated with sensations, for example, a constant temperature or level of illumination.
As the children grew older, they began to wonder about the things that they couldn’t explain. They had questions such as; “What lay outside these walls?” “Where did their food come from? Where did they themselves come from?” These were just a few of the questions that often crossed their minds and were only to ignore some of them during game and study times with Grey. Thus, Grey tried to keep them occupied as much as possible.
Sandra and William sat on the floor in the study area one morning whilst passing each other pieces of paper which they were drawing on. Both were drawing imaginary images of people and animals. Grey suggested they do this for mental stimulation, but on this particular evening, both seemed to be in a mode of deep thought, as they concentrated on their drawings.
‘Why are we here?’ Sandra questioned.
Grey’s voice was mostly humble and friendly, and he always tried to sound reassuring. ‘That’s an age-old question that no one has ever been able to find the answer to,’ Grey responded.
Sandra looked up at the screen trying to imagine Grey’s face.
‘Why am ‘I’ here?’ he stressed.
There was a pause as Grey considered the appropriate answer.
‘Perhaps there is no adequate answer to that question.’
Grey’s voice was sombre and yet resolute.
Sandra’s dark red hair draped around her shoulders as she sat with her legs crossed passing cards to William. She gazed up at the large blank screen with her bright blue eyes fixated on its centre.
‘William,’ she said with a soft voice.
‘I don’t think Grey likes us anymore.’ she said, grinning indicating that she was joking.
‘Grey has never liked us,’ he said while raising his eyebrows. ‘He never answers our questions properly,’ he said also grinning. During the night, all the lights were dimmed but were never completely turned off unless requested. As one walked around at night, the lights would illuminate brighter in each of the rooms that they passed through. All these functions were automatic and managed by Grey. To make a request they either could just call out to Grey as if he were in the same room. That night after William fell asleep Sandra got up and went to the main room.
‘Grey,’ Sandra called.
‘I’m here again.’
‘Yes, Sandra I know.’
Sandra stood in the centre of the room, staring at the large black screen on the wall. ‘I wish you had a face.’
‘Me too,’ Grey responded cheerfully.
‘I love you, Grey.’ The lights dimmed.
‘I know Sandra. I never expected it.’
Sandra often visited the main room after William was sleeping to tell Grey that she loved him. She found peace in this routine, although she didn’t know why. She had no idea why she felt that she loved him, or what the meaning of love really was. All she knew is that it made her feel secure deciding to feel that way.
‘What about William, Sandra? Won’t he be unhappy if you don’t love him?’ Grey asked her.
Sandra often thought about William, but she was so used to his presence that he had become more of a close friend than someone to love. She wanted someone or something else. Grey was that something and someone. Unfortunately, he was just a voice.
‘William. He is a….’she started but couldn’t find the right words.
‘What about children? You know about this Sandra. Without children how will you replace yourself after you are gone?’
‘He is a good friend, a brother.’
‘No!’ Grey said in a loud voice. ‘He is not your brother.’
Sandra had never heard Grey raise his voice and was quite frightened.
‘Maybe I should sleep,’ she said stepping back slowly. William might wake up.’
Sandra left and went back to the sleeping room. She stood at the door watching William sleep. He was a slender boy, much taller than her. His brown hair was short and curly, and his eyes were Hazel Green.
‘I’m sorry William,’ Sandra whispered. ‘I do not love you because I know there must be someone else out there somewhere,’ she said gazing at the ceiling as if trying to look past its white exterior.
Sandra went back to her bed and rested as she lay awake looking up at the blank white ceiling. ‘There must be a way out of this place,’ she whispered.
Although she had never been told of an outside world, logic told her that their supplies must come from another place. She and William both knew that this was an obvious reality that they had actively ignored.
Sandra craved igniting her curiosity and experiencing what couldn’t be seen. Although William felt this same urge he was a little more content, and a lot more afraid.
The next morning William awoke before Sandra. ‘I bet she was awake after I slept,’ he said to himself out loud.
William rose up out of his bed and walked into the food area.
‘Bacon, eggs and…chicken for Sandra, she doesn’t like bacon as much as me.
‘Very well William,’ Grey responded. Within minutes, two hot meals arrived on a tray from a compartment in the wall.
‘You know what I want before I order it,’ William noted while gazing down at the steaming hot meal in front of him. The counter was long and at the end of it there was a drink machine, from which, almost any beverage imaginable could be produced.
‘Today I think I will have lemon tea. William hesitated, ‘cold lemon tea. And for Sandra, milk. She is looking a bit thin.’
Grey was amused by Williams’s comment about Sandra since she was sleeping and unable to take note of it.
‘Your thoughts seem to be centred on Sandra these days,’ Grey commented.
‘Besides study what else is there to centre my thoughts on?’ William asked swiftly.
‘What do you want most of all in your life, William?’ Grey responded calmly.
‘To eat my breakfast in peace, Grey.’ William replied in an agitated tone.
William wished nothing more but to enjoy the simple moments and breakfast was one of them. Unfortunately, there were more important issues he cared about, issues that pressed upon his mind.
‘As you wish William. Remember this William. I’m here to help you.’
‘Perhaps my existence has been a waste of life’, William said as he gazed in deep thought looking his breakfast.
‘And if so’, he continued, ‘how could it be made not a waste.’
William often pondered over these ideas from time to time.
‘At least I have my friend Sandra.’ This thought was often his only salvation when he couldn’t come up with alternatives.
As the day went on Sandra and William became tired from their study activities and decided to rest in the main room. In the centre of the main room, two lounges faced each other.
This was not always the case, as furniture could be transported from below the surface to above the surface and vice versa. The furniture was designed this way to save space when required.
Despite their small living area, many ‘out of sight’ furniture and objects occupied the rooms including exercise equipment which allowed Sandra and William adequate opportunity to maintain their physical health.
As the two sat on the lounges across from each other, Sandra peered across at William who was staring longingly at the main screen which was frozen blank as if waiting for something to appear on it.
William’s attention span was limited and rarely paid attention to anything besides direct input. Sandra, on the other hand, was often lost in her own thoughts trying to imagine things she had never seen. It was this spirit of inquiry that kept her asking questions.
‘William,’ Sandra called as she looked at his perfectly chiselled chin. ‘We have so little. I wish there were more.’ Sandra’s voice was solemn: she lowered her eyes and then hung her head down.
Sandra wore a white night gown with long white socks. The gown was partially see-through making the outline of her undergarments visible. William wore a simple white shirt, brown shorts and a pair of black lace-up shoes.
William turned away from the screen and momentarily stared at Sandra with a blank expression. His eyes then began to wander through her night gown. To his knowledge, this was the first time she had worn such a garment.
William looked away trying to hide the fact that he was observing her body.
The temperature grew suddenly warm but neither seemed to notice.
‘Life is simple Sandra. Right now, nothing is a surprise.’ William commented. Once again, he was staring at the screen.
‘But…what about…out there?’
‘Out there?’ William tried to make eye contact. ‘We have everything we need here. We are…safe. Out there…we don’t know.’
‘But aren’t you curious?’
‘I’m curious as to whether or not I will have food, water and air.’ William said as he shrugged his shoulders.
Sandra let out a not uncommon sigh. This was another moment where she had no answers and little to offer in response. Deprived emotionally as well as physically, she felt numb to the core. The physical feelings were natural she thought, however, she couldn’t match them with her desires.
William, although not deprived mentally, felt the same way physically. However difficult it was, he often pushed sexual thoughts aside: he did with most other complex thoughts, often to keep life simple and harmonious.
Sandra, however, wanted more. She refused to accept that her whole life would be spent inside a dwelling where she could never experience anything else. The idea of an outside world was never discussed with them.
Although references were made to objects that they had never seen or touched, the whole idea that objects actually existed this space was ignored. This was a strange reality they lived, and one Sandra found difficult to cope with.
Grey thought it was time to intervene. ‘Are you two ok? Perhaps we could play a game.’
Sandra stood up and turned her head towards the main screen, to which Grey’s voice stemmed from.
‘I think our whole…existence is a game! Who are we?’ Sandra’s words were loud and augmented with emotion.
‘I’m not sure I understand your questions, Sandra,’ Grey was expressing his usual calm self.
‘You have not explained this!’ she threw her hands around the room.
‘Again, I’m not sure I understand correctly. Are you referring to the question of why we are here?’
William shook his head and chuckled. ‘That is a question I never ask. It’s too confusing.’
Sandra turned to William and gave him a painful stare and then shrugged in desperation.
‘I’m not talking about why we are alive. I’m talking about why we are here in this’, she began to stammer, ‘place you call our home.’ She paused momentarily. ‘Obviously, there is something out there,’ she said pointing up towards the ceiling.
There was a moment of silence. ‘You often play dumb,’ Sandra accused Grey. ‘We deserve an answer.’
They always suspected that there was more to their world, however, they had never confronted Grey with this issue in such an intense way.
The silence continued.
Sandra shook her head and shrugged once more.
‘We are trapped here, aren’t we? We can never leave. This will be our whole life. One big waste.’ She said angrily and then stormed out of the main room and into the bedroom.
She lay on her bed and wept. This was perhaps the first time she had ever cried.
‘See what you have done Grey? You have made her unhappy. You should just tell us about the happy space outside this place. Even just let us out. I hate to see her unhappy.’
‘I too,’ Grey said sorrowfully. A moment of stiff silence past as William pondered his life.
‘Life is not the same these days.’
‘Yes, I know.’
‘Why is that?’ Williams’s eyes sparkled with curiosity as he stared directly at the centre of the screen.
‘Let me show you something. This is a film about life from start to finish. It shows you how people are made and what happens after they are born until they are old and eventually pass away.’
‘Is this film just for me?’
‘You can watch first William. Perhaps you can pass this knowledge on to Sandra, or she can watch the film later. Either way, it will be fine.’
The film began, and William sat and watched intently. It was narrated by a deep resonant father like voice; a voice that put William at ease.
There were a mixture of voices and animated images describing the cycle of life, including the act of conception. To some degree, it resembled the kind of sex-education film that might be shown to teenagers. Although Sandra and William were well past teenage years, they were still very unfamiliar with the concepts related to relationships and sex.
Williams’s eyes were wide as he watched intently. He had never heard or seen such things in graphic detail. As he sat there the lights dimmed and William felt he was in a world of his own. Of course, he knew Grey was there in the background observing him but as he watched he imagined that he was there all by himself seeing things that only he could witness.
‘William, what are you doing?’ Sandra called from the doorway.
William didn’t want to miss any of the film and so ignored her. Sandra had been secretly listening and watching from the hallway. She entered the main room and sat across from William on the lounge and watched the film in silence.
Towards the end, they became a little depressed by the description of the last phase of the human cycle, not because of its eventuality but because death was one more of those unexplained concepts that was suddenly introduced into their mind. The end of the film came, and the lights returned to their normal brightness.
‘That film showed us some things we really hadn’t considered,’ Sandra commented. ‘But’, she paused momentarily. ‘I have an important question.’
‘Yes, Sandra. What is it?’ Grey asked.
‘If we do this for you, what will become of the child’s life?
‘This is not for me,’ Grey sounded offended.
‘Yes, it is. It is all for you. Perhaps because you cannot have a child, you want us to have one for you.’
‘You do not know me, Sandra,’ Grey retorted.
‘That’s right there are lots we don’t know’, Sandra said calmly.
William stirred in his seat trying to shake himself out of his state of hypnosis.
‘Grey. Life is so simple. Why must it get complicated?’
‘There are things you must come to accept even if you do not understand them.’
William shook his head in irritation. ‘This is not right. I am happy. I do not need these strange feelings. I already knew some of what was on that film.’
Grey responded. ‘I knew you would subconsciously figure out the concepts of procreation, but now you have fully realised it; I think you should mature and do what comes naturally; Natural to humans.’
William shook his head once more, this time in anger. ‘I’m going to bed. I just want normality.’ He stormed off and slammed the door behind him.
Sandra and Grey remained in silence.
‘I feel I have failed with William. He doesn’t seem to have the courage and maturity I hoped for.’
‘How can we mature? We cannot understand any of this.’
‘Perhaps you are right and perhaps I should have waited longer before I pushed for this, but I knew that…’
Sandra stood up in front of the screen with her hands on her hips. ‘Why did you stop? What do you know?’
Grey refrained from answering, which made Sandra even more annoyed.
‘You know something about humans because you know there are others, somewhere else; Perhaps others who procreate earlier.’
‘You are very intelligent Sandra.’
Sandra stared at the screen with an expression of frustration and anger. She turned and left the room.
Later, that evening Sandra was lying down in bed while William was sitting at his desk reading. Sandra’s thoughts had been racing around in her head for hours pondering over the countless possibilities that could exist in her world but that she had never experienced.
‘William,’ Sandra called from bed.
‘Yes, Sandra,’ William replied while turning to look at her. His voice was calm and relaxed. In a way, he was glad that he had experienced something unusual in his life and his experience watching the film was certainly unusual.
‘I don’t want to be forced into things just because Grey wants me to.’
‘I don’t want to have a child either Sandra. Not in this life.’
William was happy with his life but also very frustrated with the challenges that his emotions and desires presented to him. He felt the best way to deal with this was to simply say no to them.
‘William, this is not about wanting or not wanting a child. This is about the choice of whom we should have children with and why.’
That sentence sounded very profound and strange at the same time to William for it was quite evident to him that he was the only one who she could possibly have children with. William’s eyes were wide with inquisitiveness as he pondered her words and expressions.
‘I know what you are thinking but there must be others, there must be a whole world out there that we don’t know about.’ Sandra tried to choose her words carefully.
Sandra continued. ‘This is not about I loving you or you loving me. There must be more to this existence than us.’
Those words scared William. He knew that she would never be content. It was clear that she would never fully accept him, and that left a hole in his heart.
‘What about you, William? You can withstand this life, but are you happy?’
William reflected on his life and the lack of expectations that came with it. He knew that he could accept Sandra and that would make life easier, especially concerning his desires but was that enough? Sadly, yes, but he had to agree that he wished there were more.
‘I’m a little happy,’ he paused briefly, ‘and a little bored. I guess if there was more to this,’ he waved his hands around the room, ‘I could be happier.’
‘See!’ Sandra exclaimed with excitement. Finally, William was thinking about the endless possibilities of life.
‘But what can we do about this?’ he asked waving his hands around once more.
Sandra’s eyes were wide with curiosity as she tried to imagine the outside world. A moment passed as they both stared aimlessly in thought, ‘We need to escape,’ she finally said with a cold stare. ‘Grey won’t let us go.’
This idea had been on her mind for a while, but this was the first time she had spoken of it. She knew Grey would be listening but there was no other way of telling William without Grey knowing her thoughts.
‘Grey hasn’t even said if there is an outside world.’
‘There must be William. He always goes quiet whenever I speak about the possibility. I know he is hiding a lot from us. We are probably some kind of experiment.’ Sandra was picturing a great expanse of colours in her mind. Flashes of white light would scatter over the horizon of endless blooming shadows of green, blue and grey.
William looked down at the white floor beneath him in thought. ‘As I said before. We don’t know what’s out there. What if we can’t look after ourselves?’ He looked over at Sandra. ‘Here we get fed and clothed, and we never have to worry.’
‘This is not life William.’ Sandra’s eyes began to fill with tears. She turned to her side and closed her eyes. ‘I will think on this. Good night.’
William didn’t sleep well that night. Many thoughts rolled around in his head as he tried to come to terms with his life. On the one hand, he considered Sandra’s dissatisfaction with life. On the other, he had conflicted thoughts concerning his desires.
‘Is contentment enough?’ ‘Am I content?’.
Contentment was a necessary part of life he thought but perhaps this was something someone had to convince themselves of. Could he convince himself that he was content, but Sandra could not?
As he pondered these thoughts, it occurred to him as well that Sandra was serious about leaving. This worried him. Would he try to escape with her out of fear of being alone? And if they left what would become of them? These thoughts went back and forth and still there no answers. Eventually, in the mid hours of the night, he managed to fall asleep.
The night passed along, and Sandra began to dream. Dressed in blue, her favourite colour, she stood in a hallway with a bright red rose in her hands that glowed bright as a flame. Her hair was woven into an intricate plait and placed around her right shoulder and her high heels were covered with white and silver patterns of interconnected flowers.
The image was serene and felt somehow static in time and yet there was an endless feeling of joy that ran through her veins. The air was chillingly cool, but she knew that warmth was only a moment away. She waited for her groom but knew not who it was. She was hopeful but did not know what she hoped for.
‘I’m sorry,’ a voice came from above. ‘Why,’ she answered.
‘I have taken so long,’ the voice replied.
A tear ran down Sandra’s face as she realised the dream was about to end.
‘Wake up!’ William was shaking Sandra. ‘You’re making noises in your sleep again!’
Her eyes opened, and tears ran down her cheek.
Feeling confused and frustrated he made his way to the main room and clapped his hands for the lounges to rise. As they rose he jumped on one of them and dug his head into the fabric.
Sandra lay in bed with her eyes wide open. She could remember her dream with such detail.
She was waiting for her perfect partner: a man she had never met. Although she was led to believe that man could never exist she felt the knowledge of this man had entered her sub consciousness from the outside.
These were joyful thoughts. Thoughts that she now wanted to extend with her imagination. It was this that kept her happy enough to focus on sleep. Eventually, she drifted off in a world of mystery and excitement.
The hours passed and out of habit, William woke at his usual time. This time, however, there was complete darkness. He checked his wrist watch for the time and surely enough it was 7 o’clock.
‘Lights on,’ he called. The lights remained off.
‘Grey! Turn the lights on!’ William ordered. There was no response.
‘How unusual,’ William thought.
The room was in complete darkness.
‘Sandra! Sandra! I can’t see.’ William called.
Sandra rolled around in her bed. She heard the last part of what he said and opened her eyes.
‘Tell Grey to turn them on,’ she said and then yawned.
‘I did but he hasn’t responded. I think he doesn’t like your idea of escaping.’
Sandra sat up in bed. ‘So, the lights are off, and he can’t see us. We have lived here long enough to know where things are.’
William was worried. This confirmed his fears about escaping.
‘I told you, Sandra.’
‘Told me what?’
‘Escaping was a bad idea. No one to look after us. No one to feed us.’
Sandra expected such comments. She knew William was not strong willed.
‘If I want to escape I will,’ Sandra asserted fearlessly. ‘Lights or no lights!’
‘But before you go maybe you should try to eat something. A last meal.’
Sandra shook her head and laughed quietly.
‘I’m going into the kitchen to see if I can get some breakfast,’ William announced with an air of defiance.
William didn’t need to see to be able to locate where things were. He knew this place inside and out and was confident he could roam around freely without any light to guide him.
William stood up out of bed and stretched his arms. ‘I can find the kitchen.’
‘I believe you, William,’ Sandra commented with sincerity.
‘I just wonder if Grey is mad at us.’
‘He definitely is or at least he is mad at me.
William stammered to his feet. The air was warm, which was unusual. Normally, the temperature was cool during their waking hours. As his eyes adjusted he began to make out the shape of the bedroom. He could see the outline the bed Sandra was lying on.
He could make out the position of the door and he knew roughly how many steps it would take to get there. He began taking small steps and then bigger ones until he eventually felt the wall come into contact with his hands. Soon he could feel the handle of the door and knew with great precision where he was in relation to the bedroom, the hallway outside, as well at the kitchen across from him to his right. He now moved with confidence and entered the kitchen.
Although the lights were still off completely his eyes had adjusted, and he could now see the outline of all the major objects in the room. It was almost clear to him as if there was illumination in the room.
‘Grey? I’m sorry for her. She has little understanding of how much we mean to you but regardless she wants to leave. Perhaps you could forgive her?’
William thought he had better find a way to make peace with Grey. He knew he was angry but there was no answer, and the silence grew chill. William stood and waited for Grey to respond.
A few minutes turned into at least 10 minutes, and William began to feel anxious. Perhaps Grey was somehow gone. ‘What if he is dead somehow?’ This thought sent a chill through Williams’s body.
‘I’m sorry Grey!’ William shouted. His voice was almost shrill with fear.
Sandra called out from the doorway of the kitchen, ‘William?’
‘Sandra, are you ok?’
‘Yes, William. Are you ok? What are you doing?’
‘I don’t know. I wish there was light. I just want Grey to come back to us. I feel he has left us forever.’
‘I don’t think so.’
There was a flash as the lights flickered momentarily above them and during that brief moment, a ray of hope shone through Williams’s chest but then suddenly sunk deep into his belly.
‘Grey is upset and so I am,’ William announced gloomily.
‘Oh William,’ Sandra said with a sigh.
William decided to walk and find his way around by feeling for the objects around him. He no longer cared about bumping into things in front of him. After all, he knew this place well. It was the only place he had ever known.
Sandra heard footsteps and then the sound of a thump. ‘What are you doing William?’
‘I’m looking for Grey and something to eat. There must be something in here to eat.’
Sandra began walking without caution.
From the corner of the kitchen room, a spark of light appeared and then a flash.
‘What was that?’ Sandra asked in a hushed voice.
‘A flash of light!’ William replied also in a hushed voice. ‘It is gone now!’ he added.
From the midpoint of the kitchen area on the left side, another flash of light struck and quickly faded. William suspected it was near the food dispensing pipe in the wall and moved closer towards it.
‘Over here Sandra!’ Over here!’ The food pipe where we get our food. It’s coming from there!’
Sandra felt along the wall on the right side until she reached a point where she suspected was opposite to the pipe.
William was directly in front of her crouched down. He lifted up the cover of the pipe and a bright light shone from it. The diameter of the pipe was now larger than they had previously known it to be, large enough for an adult to crawl through.
‘This is not how I remembered it’ William noted, now in a normal tone and volume. ‘I guess Grey must have enlarged it.’
‘For us to leave’ Sandra said in a solemn tone.
‘I don’t want to go Sandra. I will stay’.
‘William.’ Sandra said and then paused. ‘I don’t think that’s a good idea.’
A loud echo rose from the floor followed by a single word spoken in a booming deep resonant voice of male unknown to them. ‘Go!’
‘That’s not Grey!’ William screamed out.
William was still kneeling on the floor in front of the food pipe.
‘Grey!’ he cried.
‘Grey was never real William!’, The deep voice boomed back at him.
‘What have you done with him?’ William screamed back. Tears came to his eyes, and his chest was heaving.
The kitchen became a little brighter and Sandra stood behind William and watched him weep. Grey was like their father, and suddenly they had been told he wasn’t real.
‘William. It’s time to go. Leave this place behind.’
‘No! You go!’ William stood up and moved aside. He turned and looked at Sandra’s face. He was still crying.
‘William. I can’t go alone.’
William wiped his eyes and looked around. ‘I’m not strong Sandra.’
‘Oh, William.’ Sandra also started to cry. She moved forward and grabbed his hand. ‘I can’t stay, and I can’t go without you. Maybe we can come back one day and say hi to Grey. Or maybe there will be others out there. Real people William!’
William looked around at the only place he had ever known.
‘William. I love you.’
He turned to the food pipe. By now, he had stopped crying. ‘Take clothes and food. We will need them.’
A smile came to Sandra’s face.
‘This could be a big mistake, Sandra. What if there is no food out there? What if… there are bad things?’
‘Food comes to us and bad…well I don’t know, but it’s a risk I want to take. This is not living.’
Sandra held both of his hand tightly. ‘We will have each other William. That’s all that matters’.
All the rooms shined a little brighter. William and Sandra gathered as many things as they could and placed them into pillow cases.
Both stood at the face of the food pipe. ‘It’s time to go William.’
‘I’ll go first William.’ He nodded again.
She climbed up into the food storage area and laid on her stomach. She then started to squirm and crawl with a pillow filled with clothes and food items. William followed. Both were crawling down the pipe but after a few meters, William stopped and looked back.
‘Bye Grey. I’m going to miss you.’