Recruit 010777, Formerly known as Naomi
Wasn’t it usually the incredibly violent and disruptive that got solitary confinement? I wasn’t normally one of these people, but waking up in this desolate place had broken me. The sparkling white floors speckled with crimson drops still not dry, the dingy gray of the walls surrounding me, suffocating me…. I’d become one of those.
Three days ago, I’d pulled a nice and easy, very profitable bank heist that no one had been the wiser about. It had set me up for months. Next thing I knew, I was in this gray room with its gray walls, and its gray doors, and the scent of hopelessness stuck in the stale air.
Three days. Three days. Three days.
I only knew how long because of the sheer routines of this machine I’d been imprisoned in. Lights out. Lights on. Meals in and out. All at the same time every day. Nothing to do but lie in the darkness and wait for the light to come back. The first day, I didn’t think the light would ever come back. But it did, and it returned like clockwork, like a machine.
The machine suffocated me.
I needed out. I needed freedom. I needed air.
Something controlled that machine, and I needed to know what it was. If it was a computer, easy day. Hack and control tech was my specialty. It was why I’d never been caught in all the heists I’d pulled.
Force hadn’t worked. Two men now guarded my door, since the last escape attempt. It hadn’t been pretty. It had ended with a sedative injected into my neck and me strapped to a gurney.
At least—and I took some satisfaction in this—I’d left that guard with a way to remember me. I’d taken a nice chunk out of his arm. Even now, I could still taste the blood that had dried around my mouth, bitter and metallic. My stomach heaved with every breath, the hint of that taste traveling through my nostrils.
The metal door boomed open, the metallic change loud and echoing. Sonya Patterson’s heeled feet clicked across the floor, per presence as loud and imposing as the door sounded. She called herself a counselor, but she was unlike any I’d ever seen. She pushed every button I had… Sometimes… I thought maybe she wanted me to be out of control.
I stood and faced my newest visitor, backing up against the wall. The last time she’d come, I hadn’t been cautious enough, and within a few seconds, I’d been strapped down and wheeled into her office for personal one-on-one counseling from which I was still sore.
Silence deadened the room, except for the heels she wore, and the band of the door slamming shut behind her. My toes ached from the stiff cold of the floor. She placed her hands on her hips, her dark gaze sweeping over me, judging me. Shivers rolled over me.
“I see you’re feeling more… well, I see you’re feeling better,” she replied, her calm and composed voice echoing through the room. Of all the things that could intimidate me about Sonya, from the painful metal instruments in her office to the way she walked… the calm way she spoke—the way nothing rattled her—that was the scariest part. “How are you?”
“I want out!” I spat at her, the anger and fear clouding my rational thought. “You can’t keep me here. People will know I’m missing. They will wonder about me!”
The woman didn’t even flinch, except for the slight upturn of one corner of her mouth. “You are an impressive individual, Naomi.” Her long blonde curls lay perfectly over her shoulders. The collar of the red dress she wore swooped down into a deep V, the material smooth against her slim figure, flaring out at her hips. “I see great things for you here.”
“I don’t want to be here!”
She continued as if I had said nothing. “Not many recruits could take down a guard nearly twice her size so easily.”
Easy? It hadn’t been easy. I wanted out. It was my sole mission. I needed out. From the moment I’d woken up, everything had been wrong. I’d been alone. Sonya had been the first to see me. I knew they couldn’t be government. I knew FBI procedures better than the FBI did, and this wasn’t it. Local law wouldn’t have had a facility like this one. And I’d wiped all possible evidence from the computer systems that would have tied to me to any crime in their database. They didn’t have enough for a warrant.
But still, I had no idea who these people were.
“Superior training. Size. Knowledge. And yet, you beat him.”
“Let me go.” I growled out each word through my clenched jaw
“All you had were your instincts…” she paused and a smirk crossed her stoic face. “…and your teeth.”
Anger swelled inside my chest, and for a brief moment, my courage managed its way out of its tiny little cell inside. “Look, lady. I don’t want your praise or your analysis of my mental health. I want out of this shithole.”
I pressed my back against the frigid wall as she crossed over to the cot I’d been relegated to sleeping on the last three days. Slowly, methodically, she ran her fingers along the crisp white sheets. “Normally, an behavioral infraction of this magnitude warrants immediate termination.”
“Then end it.”
“…But you’ve only been here a few days…” She glanced at me briefly, looking for something I probably didn’t have. She stopped her petting of the sheets and faced me. “Section Five is all about second chances at life. Who better to deserve one than someone with a death sentence.”
“Death sentence?” My newfound courage vanished back inside its cell. I had managed my whole life to avoid jail and she was telling me I was going to die out there. Panic replaced the anger swelling inside. “Please. You have to let me go.”
“Of course,” she replied with ease. “When you are ready, you will reenter the world a new person. When you learn that force will never be as effective as a subtle deception, you will rule your little corner of that world. You are intelligent, Naomi. So intelligent. Or you’d not have been selected. It’s what you can do with the knowledge you have that will change the world for the better.”
“I don’t have a choice?” I almost choked the words out.
“There is always a choice. You can either be powerful and free, or you can be a wild animal stuck in a cage, waiting to be put down.”
“I hate you.” The words slipped from my lips before I knew they’d gone.
“Naomi, the thing you have to understand here is… There is no escape from Section Five. Not for you. The sooner you realize that, the sooner you can flourish and thrive in your new life with us. Sure, you could walk out that door, but really, for you, beyond that door is just another room. And another. There will always be another room. I hope that you can accept that soon. For your sake.”
A small satisfied smile from my silence appeared on her thin face. She turned away, and for a moment, I wanted to launch myself at her, choke the life from her and let her blood spill all over the white floor. But fear had immobilized me, bubbling within my blood like over boiled water.
As the door slammed shut behind her exit, I screamed, the steam escaping from me and I kept going until I collapsed to my knees from exhaustion. Tears streamed down my face, my body shaking with unrestrained rage. I was that wild animal she’d called me. I didn’t think I could ever be anything else stuck here.
They had me where they wanted me, and they weren’t going to let me go. That knowledge shattered me into a million pieces inside, broken beyond repair. I didn’t care who they were. I didn’t care what Sonya had said. I didn’t want to know what Section Five was. All I knew—all I could feel—was the hate burning through my veins, so hot it boiled.
They’d taken my life. They’d taken my freedom. They’d given me a choice in return, but was it really a choice? Life or death? Toe the line and become a slave to Section Five, or they’d make me disappear forever. It was a no-brainer. I didn’t want to die, though this felt a lot like hell.
I’d have my chance. Of that, I was positive. When I did get it, every last one of Section Five would burn.