1st draft of a novel (to be continued in later publications)

By Brick by Brick Middle School Writing Group

In our last installment, our characters find themselves trapped in a virtual reality cube.  They make initial contact with one another. They explore their surroundings and look for answers.  In the following chapters, they continue their explorations.

Chapter 6 – Atticus

I felt weak, they felt powerful. I couldn’t move. Nothing would respond, the only thing I felt was energy. Every cell, every fiber in my body was teeming with energy. I felt myself moving forwards and behind me, fragments of rubble dripping crimson rose off the ground like magnets repelling each other. I felt enormous waves of sorrow and guilt. I had just slaughtered these people with no remorse. Each individual had seemed to gaze at me from the ruins of the building when suddenly, a tear trickled down my face. 

I felt their control over me waver, but the strength I had over my own body still faltered. Once more, they used my body as a mindless vessel to do their bidding. I flew through the grassland, each blade blended together into a great big thrashing sea of green. Every one of them exactly like the other. None unique in any way. But I knew deep inside that each one was different. Just like those people in that building. They had their own lives and families, all of them were different. Each one of them had once mattered to the world. 

Suddenly, pitch black crept up from the rims of my eyelids and obscured my vision. I felt a malicious, shadowy presence behind me. I whirled my body around, only to see three pairs of eyes that burned a deep amber light into my soul. They started to grow nearer. “Stop thinking about them, those people were going to hurt us! They wanted to kill us!” with every word the eyes shifted in the dark-like heads moving side to side.

I felt a powerful presence behind the voice. A tremendous amount of pressure pushed on all sides of my body, as if I were being crushed by a thousand pound boulder. But the excruciating pain soon was brought to a sudden halt by a shaky, yet powerful voice that said: “Hello?” 

Suddenly, my eyelids parted to reveal the blurry vision of an old, charred elm tree. My skin had been seared nearly to the bone. Then, I looked up to see the person to match the voice. A small girl with bright blue hair and a robotic eye that darted all around. She heaved me up by one arm and let me lean on her as we hobbled around the gnarled, scorched tree. As we started towards the next sector, I introduced myself by saying, “i’m Atticus,” and she said her name was Terra.

As we walked, she asked, “What happened to you? When I found you, you looked like you were dying.”

I responded with, “It’s a long story,” trying to avoid talking about the whole situation.

“Well, it’ll be quite a long time until we come up on the next sector.”

I explained how I had lost control of the monster inside of me and had killed all those people. As I spoke, a tear went down my cheek like the first drop of rain on a dry summer’s day.

As I looked into the distance, three shadowy figures started to walk toward us. Terra turned to me as to say something, but just as she was about to talk, a gleaming flash of light filled my field of view. I was launched through the cool air. My ears rang like school bells as I pushed myself up to a sitting position. I yelled for Terra to help, but my voice gave out and my mouth only let out a whisper. I tried to stand up, but my arms collapsed underneath the weight of my torso. Despite all my efforts, I was left lying motionless in a crater.

Then, the same dark figures from before towered over me, and with a flash from a small device, I was out cold. 

When I woke up, I saw a similar room to the one I was once in except Terra was next to me sitting on a metal table. 

She looked at me, her eyes wide with surprise and said. 

“Oh! So you’re finally awake.” 

“Where are we?” I said as I groggily sat up.

“I don’t really know, some lab I’d guess.”  

I looked around and saw a small glowing spot on the wall. I got up and peered through, we were on the end of a hallway and people were steadily approaching. Terra looked through and whipped around like an electric blue whirlwind. She took items from off the tables and started to work her fingers precisely putting each part together, until she had fashioned a syringe gun with a beaker full of maroon liquid on the end. I could tell the liquid was volatile because of the metal starting to steam and melt in her hand. she precisely put dots of liquid on the hinges, and with a swift kick of the door it fell over. She then walked through the doorway and shot each person in the hallway once and they collapsed onto the floor steaming, as we walked past I saw that holes were bored through them where Terra had shot them. 

Terra looked at them. Her face shone pale and plain like a sheet of white paper, yearning for completion and color. I turned towards the pale, cream-colored walls. Each chip in the wall, each miniscule detail seemed to be almost too perfect to be real. As we walked along the hallway, our shoes made sharp, fast clicking sounds that echoed off the walls. I seemed to be too alert to my surroundings, too observant. 

       As we strode down the imposing hallway, more and more seemed to feel off. From the tiny chips and cracks in the painted walls to the iTunes U noise of our footsteps making the exact same clacking sound every time they hit the floor, everything was too odd. We then reached old, scratched up wooden door. And with a light and gentle push and the creak of a rusty hinge, I revealed the cobbled street of what looked to be a small, old roadside town. We gazed down from the staircase we were on and saw a cute, 1960’s style diner, the shiny chrome walls and bright neon lights that wrapped around them looked like something straight out of a history book. Across the shop lined street, there was a small park with a three fountain in the center. we saw a small group gather in the park but Terra and I were there as well.

Chapter 7 – Rylan

       Mage and I walked ‍around, trying to find even a sliver of information about where we were or what we should be doing in this unfamiliar place. We asked, “Do you know about the test?” or “What is this test that we are hearing so much about?” We ran into someone who seemed as if she wasn’t fully recovered, materialized or holographic. She was mumbling about a test of sorts but it was hard to understand what she was saying due to the fact that she was phasing in and out of reality.

         We arrived back at what seemed to be our home to find that there were two other people there, one with messy blonde hair and the other with a  shaved Mohawk; the girl looked very short, almost childlike and the boy seemed as though he was in a constant struggle with himself. When we talked, they seemed almost used to their surroundings, like they were programmed to be there. They told us “don’t worry about it” and “this happens all the time”. Reluctantly, we agreed and sat down but something felt very strange as if they were part of some higher power or higher government but I tried to let that feeling go as much as I could. We insisted that they tell us about this “test.” They wouldn’t budge, saying “loosen up a little.” That really started to get me more and more aggravated with every passing word my mind less focused on the task at hand and more on how aggravating it was to talk to them.  I left the house as they shouted “ please stay!” But for me, it was just a distant cry for help that I wasn’t willing to respond to, so I left and told Mage to come with.

        But as I arrived back at the diner, I turned around and Mage wasn’t with me. I figured that I didn’t have time to look for her. This time I went to the diner, it was for answers. I asked all the workers, “ What’s this test about?” or “What do I need to do to prepare?” One of them said, “ I couldn’t tell ya,” in a southern accent, another one said, “may I take your order,” repeatedly until I gave up on that lost cause. I asked another one and he simply said he didn’t know what I was talking about and proceeded to try and force me into a booth and serve me. I refused and I thought I had asked everyone except for one person that had been in the corner since I got there and the only thing he said was, ”You need to find a way out or you will be here forever,” as he got forced out of the restaurant.

           As I traveled back home, I thought why would I need to get out? Nothing bad had happened, so why should I leave? When I arrived back home, the two people I had talked to before were no longer there and seemed like they didn’t leave a trace. I couldn’t worry about that right now I have bigger fish to fry (pun intended), and so I went to sleep knowing that I had to find more info then that guy gave me at the diner.

 When I woke up to the same two people at my bed, I knew something was up. This time it was different because although they looked identical, they seemed more like their own person and less programmed. But nonetheless, I liked this personality better than when I saw them before. 

Chapter 8 – Summer

As I clenched my hands, I listened to people talking. They talked about how they all got here, what happened in their world before all of this nonsense came into play. 

“I wish I was back home; with my white swirled sheets and my brown, creamy pillow that buried my face while sleeping. I miss the neighborhood and the neighbors that would wave to me early, every morning when I went to school. It’s hard to digest, ya know? I didn’t call my house a home, but at least I got something  out of it.” Mage closed her eyes and a tear dripped down her soft, caramel cheek. Her lips vanished as she creased them. She put her hand out in front of her face and wiped the salty tear off of her chin. 

 “I feel empty, like a glass without water. The thing I miss most is those summer nights out by the park. Where the man in the sweatshirt played the drums and the girl that had dark, coal hair sang to the rhythm . I miss the old man that asks for a dime and had a sign that said; God bless you all. Only a little will do. He had a smiley face by his name that he signed; Veteran Michael Holmes. I miss that.” Atticus claimed as he rubbed his legs and placed his sweaty palm on the glass floor that echoed everyone’s voice. 

Rylan swung his arm over his other as he stretched, like getting ready for a big race. “My house was fine, I guess. Every morning I would look in the mirror, and just stare at myself. Watching my bionic heart beat in my chest and my bionic legs crack the floor blades as I step one by one. I went to school, just like a normal person, I ate breakfast, like a normal person, but I never felt the same as a normal person. You get that gut feeling like you don’t fit in. Sometimes people would look at me in class, and that made me feel like I’m not even human.” He plowed his hand into his hazel brown hair. 

“I miss my dad,” I mumbled. Rylan turned. 

“Did you guys hear that?” Mage questioned as she spun around, creasing her eyebrows. 

“I didn’t hear anything, only Atticus when he was talking,” Terra said, turning her head slightly. 

Can they hear me? Am I finally being known? 

“Hi! Guys!” I said loudly, as they all turned their heads facing me. 

“Now I hear it.” Terra said.

“Me too. But it’s so quiet, do you think there might be someone here? Someone else?” Rylan searched. I looked at their eyes as they bounce off the mirroring floor. Should I explain to them? They can hear me, but it’s super quiet. As I sat there, listening to their conversations, once in a while someone would look in my direction, confused and unable to figure out what the quiet noise was coming from. I just lay there, making no movement whatsoever. 

  “My home wasn’t the nicest, my clothes weren’t the cleanest, but I still made it out alive, right?” Mage leaned her head low and played with her boot lace. 

I pushed my feet out and tapped my pale fingers on the hard floor. Atticus heard the tapping and rushed his head backwards. He stared right into my soul but couldn’t figure out what it was. 

“Did you hear something, or what?” Rylan added.

“I heard a noise again. It was like tapping or somethin’.” The whole group froze in discussion as they turned themselves around. I looked down at my feet. It looked like they were yet to materialize. It was forming, slowly. The group, with their wide eyes, began to back away. 

“Uhm, guys? Is, what is that?” Atticus grabbed his blade out from his brown, silky pocket. 

I started to walk away slowly, but that was no good. “H, h, hello. My name is Summer.” 

They gasp and look around. They know where I am.

“What the… who are you?” Terra clenched her fists together.

“It’s a long story, but I’ll shorten it up for you. My name is Summer, I got taken by the government, and I’m not fully materialized yet, but I’m a real human. I guess that’s pretty much it.” I smile, even though no one could see.

“So, so, you’re like us, huh?” Atticus places his blade back into his pocket and sits down. “So, how did you end up here?” 

“Well, things were messed up at my home and I decided to run off. When I got on a trail that was meant for a shortcut to go to my friend’s house, these men came up to me and started talking to me. They asked if I had a bionic ear or eye or anything pretty much bionic. I said yes and they started walking with me. A few minutes later, one man grabbed my arm and put me into a black car. We drove off. I noticed they had the government symbol embroidered on their leather jackets. I started freaking out, because earlier that week, I stole something, and I thought they were taking me to juvi or something. We hopped out of the car and they did some testing on me because I was still materializing, and I ended up here. That’s why my feet are kind of forming, because I’m starting to materialize.”

“Wowza, the government took me in too, and all of us as well.”

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