“Journal Entry: September 8th, 2028
I’m the cool guy. I have a reputation to uphold, you know? Well, actually, if you do know, you should tell me ‘cause I don’t. You see, there is a certain group of people I am “allowed” to associate myself with, and the rest are to remain invisible or whatever. I honestly don’t know how I got myself into this position. I remember waking up one day and this was just how my life was. I don’t really feel like I belong, but I’ve sort of just accepted it. There is this one girl… I don’t think we have formally met, but she always gives me these weird looks. She always looks sad. Whenever we make eye contact, I swear I can see her, like, crying or something. It’s super strange, man. She isn’t one of the cool kids though, which I guess means I’m not supposed to talk to her?
I have come to the conclusion that every day is the same. I hang out with my friends. We always go to the skatepark after school. I don’t even question it. Every day. After the skatepark, I ride my board home. I feel like this same daily routine would seem nice - maybe even perfect - but only to someone who isn’t actually living it, ya know?
I can’t stop thinking about that girl. I’ve changed my route to school so I can pass her more often. Not in a creepy way. I’m just trying to figure out why she keeps looking at me the way she does. She is in my math class, but she sits in front and doesn’t really turn around. I don’t know. Man, everything I’ve written down is just a whole bunch of random crap. Ever since I woke up and my life became, well, what it is, I’ve found myself instinctively journaling. I have never considered myself much of a writer, but this is my way of proving that every day is the same! I think I got so caught up in the monotonous routine that I forgot what I did before. Like, what my life used to be like. But then again, this is all I remember my life to be! Well, I should probably go to bed. I’ve got a big day tomorrow! Haha. Get it? Cause every day is the same, so it’s not actually going to be a big day… Just kidding. That wasn’t a very funny joke.”
* * *
Dom woke up to the sound of a vacuum coming from outside his room. He crawled out of bed and stumbled towards his bedroom door as he kicked the clothes and empty water bottles on his way.
“Mom,” he said leaning against the door, only opened enough for his head to fit through. “You said you were gonna start waiting for me to be at school, or at least awake, to start vacuuming.”
His mom turned off the vacuum.“You remember me saying that?”
“Uh, yes. Why wouldn’t I?” Dom said as a befuddled look grew on his face.
“Nevermind,” she whispered, “you should be awake anyway! School starts in an hour.”
“Mom, you know I only need like five minutes, right?”
His mom returned a smile.
“I will have breakfast ready for you downstairs.”
Dom closed his door and fell back onto his bed. “Ugh! I’m up… I might as well get ready.” Once dressed and ready to go, Dom stomped down the stairs and went directly to the yellow round table in the center of the kitchen. He sat down on the wooden chairs that have been there since before his birth. At least, that’s how long they seemed to have been there. They were so old at this point, Dom thought, sitting on them hardly seemed safe. Nonetheless, he sat, right in front of his plate of freshly made chocolate chip waffles topped with his mom’s homemade raspberry sauce.
He paused to take a sip of orange juice. “Do you ever feel like our life is like… I don’t know, kind of perfect? Actually, a little too perfect? Or just really monotonous?”
His mom put the bowl she was washing down in the sink, rinsed her hands, then turned to look at Dom. “Monotonous? I’m not sure what you mean by that, Dominic. Perfect? Well, that would be nice! What made you want to ask?”
“I just feel like everything is perfect. Our house is flawless, I always have food ready for me on the table, I have the same routine every day, I’m, like, popular or whatever. It all just seems like a reality TV show. Not to mention I do the same things every day.” His mom dried her hands and sat down across from Dom.
“No one’s life is perfect. It’s not possible for life to be perfect. We haven’t found a way to make that happen yet, Dom.” Her face became red as if she said something she wasn’t supposed to. “Besides, you should just be grateful for the hard work I put in to make your life comfortable. You are lucky to have been given this opportun- I… I mean life. .” She sighed and rose from her chair. “Why don’t you finish your breakfast then head off. You don’t want to be late for school! Especially since it’s your last year.” Dom awkwardly smiled and continued to eat his waffle. Upon finishing, he wiped his face and went to put his shoes on.
“Alright, I’ll see you after school, mom.”
“Well, aren’t you going to the skate park with your friends?” his mom shouted across the kitchen in a frantic attempt to reach Dom before he went out the front door.
“I don’t know, I was thinking maybe getting some coffee and doing a little bit of, uh, relaxing.” Coming out of the kitchen and into the foyer, his mom smiled and put her hand on his shoulder.
“You really shouldn’t just leave your friends like that, Dom. Why don’t you go ahead and stick with the usual, huh?” She smiled, tilting her head. Hesitantly, Dom touched her hand.
“Good boy,” she stated, “now have a good day!”
As the door closed behind Dom, his mom locked it and sighed. “Let’s stick to the usual, Jan. Stick to the usual...”
* * *
Brrriiiiinnnggg. “Oh shoot, the bell!” Dom uttered. He ran through the halls and stumbled into the classroom. Math; Dom’s least favorite subject.
“Late again, Dominic?”
“Sorry, Mr. Beemer” he blushed in embarrassment. “I honestly don’t know how this always happens.”
Mr. Beemer shrugged. “I guess, uh, just try not to be late next time.” He quickly continued with the lesson. Dom nodded at nothing in particular then sat down next to Brycen. Brycen is a tall, dark-haired boy with hazel eyes. He is the captain of the football team and Dom’s best friend.
“Dude,” Brycen leans in towards Dom. “Why does he always let you off the hook so easily? It’s not fair.”
“Dude, I don't even know. I’m just as guilty as you are!”
Dom laughed and Brycen hit his shoulder. “Hey, don’t bring me into this.” The two boys laughed, straining to be as quiet as possible.
Class went by rather slow on this particular Friday morning. They were working on one of those “fun practice” math sheets. Dom put his pencil behind his ear and turned around to face Brycen.
“You see that girl?” He pointed towards a petite girl sitting in the front row of the classroom. Her hair was long and silky, brown so dark it appeared to be black. She was tapping her pencil on her desk in a fast rhythm.
“Uh, yeah” Brycen replied as he doodled on his worksheet.
“Does she seem kind of weird to you?”
“Bruh, I don’t know. I don’t really pay attention to her.” Brycen put down his pencil and looked up at Dom. “Why?”
“I just feel like she knows me, but I don't know her. She acts weird around me. Or at least that’s what I’ve noticed.” Brycen put his hand on Dom’s shoulder.
“I wouldn’t worry about it. It’s a free country, let her act weird if she wants to act weird.”
“Well, aren’t you at all curious why she is acting weird?” Dom inquired.
“No,” said Brycen, turning his attention back to his sloppy doodle of what might be a robot. Dom could tell Brycen had no interest in the conversation, so he turned back around and took his pencil out from behind his ear.
“Oh, hey, Dom?” Dom turned around.
Brycen put his head on his desk. “I’m gonna take a nap now, so uh, try not to wake me, okay?”
“Haha, okay man.”
Dom looked up at the clock. Only two minutes had gone by since he last looked. His gaze shifted toward the girl. She stopped tapping her pencil. Now she was lying on her desk. That’s cute, Dom thought to himself. He began to shake his pencil as he got deeper into thought.
I think I should talk to her. Just spark up a conversation. Nothing weird… Of course, I don’t have the guts to do that. No, I just gotta do it! I’m gonna do it right after class… Or maybe tomorrow before school. Or maybe… Ugh, whatever.
Without realizing, Dom flicked his pencil out of his hands, breaking the silence at is hit the ground. It rolled right underneath the girl’s desk, touching her faded blue vans. Crap, he thought, snapping back into consciousness. He slid off of his chair and quietly crept towards her desk. He wasn’t sure why, but he didn’t want to wake her up. She looked peaceful. He crouched down and stretched his hand towards the pencil. At that moment, she shifted her foot, hitting his hand. Dom looked at the girl.
“Dom?” she spoke softly.
“S-sorry,” he blushed. “My pencil rolled under your desk, I was just trying to grab it.” The girl reached down and picked it up, handing it back to him.
“Thank you.” Dom was about to get up but paused and looked back at the girl.
“I’m sorry, your name must have slipped my memory.”
She smiled and her eyes seemed to water.
“No worries! It’s Evelyn.”
Evelyn, Dom pondered the name for a second. He looked back up at Evelyn and smiled.“Ok. I won’t forget next time.” Evelyn smiled back. It was a soft smile, just big enough to show her dimples. Dom stared for a second, only snapping out of it when Evelyn started to say something.
“I should probably get back to my seat,” Dom said, cutting her off. “Uh, see you later.” Immediately standing, Dom returned to his desk. Before he sat back down, the bell rang. Brycen had fallen into a deep sleep. When the bell rang, he shot up, drool coming from the corner of his mouth.
“Finally!” he shouted, “see you at the skatepark after school?” Dom swung his backpack over his shoulder.
“Yeah. Sure.” Brycen lifted his fist, Dom did the same, bumping them together.
“Later, dude!” Brycen shouted as he left the classroom.
Dom found himself alone in the classroom. It was lunchtime, everyone had packed before the bell and was out the door as soon as it rang. Dom wasn’t as prepared today. As he put his papers in his bag, he felt a soft touch on his shoulder. He turned to the side. “Oh, hey Evelyn!” She had that look on her face. That weird look.
“Can we talk? Not right now, but maybe after school?” Dom started to get nervous.
“Uh, y-yeah. S-sure thing!” Evelyn looked down at her shoes.
“Okay, great.” She looked back up at Dom. “Meet me at the tennis courts?” Dom nodded.
Evelyn returned a nod of confirmation then left the classroom.
Well, snap, Dom thought to himself, not entirely sure what happened. Things seem to be changing up a bit! I’m not even sure how I feel about it... With that final thought, Dom left the Classroom.
* * *
The school day had finally ended. Dom couldn’t stop thinking about his after school plans. He couldn’t tell if he was excited or nervous. Or both! Once the final bell had rung, he quickly got himself together and went straight to the bathroom. He found himself in front of the dirty mirror, staring at himself. He brushed through his short curly hair with his fingers. Why did I do that? Now it’s all poofy. Eh, who cares. I don’t know why I do. Dom’s thoughts were interrupted when someone came into the bathroom. It was a short guy, dark skin, light eyes. “Oh, hey! You’re in my English class, right?” Dom questioned.
“Yes, Dom. I’m surprised you noticed.”
“Oh. Uh, yeah.” There was an awkward silence that now filled the bathroom. Dom was about to bolt out when the guy started to speak.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to make this awkward. I’ve just been scared to talk to you. I didn’t want to get anyone in trouble.” Dom was curious.
“What do you mean ‘get in trouble’?”
“Look, there is a lot you don’t know, and I am not supposed to tell you. But I don’t know how much longer I can hold it in. I miss you, man.” Dom was uncomfortable.
“Ok. It’s senior year and this has gone on long enough. My name is Troy. Evelyn and I-” Before Troy could finish his sentence, a man walked in.
“Good afternoon, gentlemen!” The man exclaimed.
“Good afternoon, principal Maxton” Troy replied.
“Any trouble going on I should know about?” Sheepishly, Troy walked up towards the bathroom door.
“No, sir. I’m heading home. But when nature calls, you gotta take care of business if you know what I’m sayin’.” Principal Maxton gave Troy a judgmental look and Troy left the bathroom. Dom wasn’t quite sure what had happened, but he knew it was weird. Principal Maxton looked at Dom and gave him a nod.
“Say hi to your mother for me,” Dom responded in a fiddly manner,
Upon that remark, Dom walked back out into the hallway. Oh shoot, he thought. I hope Evelyn is still waiting!
Dom walked as fast as he could to the tennis courts. Once he reached the gate, he saw Evelyn sitting on the top row of the stone bleachers. He made his way to the top and sat down next to her, leaving an awkward amount of space between them. “I was a little nervous you weren’t going to come,” she said, fiddling with her hands.
“Sorry, I got caught up talking to someone.”
“Oh, it’s alright!” She responded.
“Actually,” Dom paused. “Do you know someone named Troy?” Evelyn’s head shot up as she looked directly at Dom.
“Yes! Is that who you were talking to?” Dom was surprised by her enthusiasm.
“Uh, y-yes. That’s who I was talking to. I’ve never spoken to him before, but he started saying a whole bunch of weird things. He uh, he mentioned… you.” Dom was looking at the ground. Evelyn was silent. Dom looked up at her only to find that she had been looking at him.
“Evelyn, what’s going on?” She hesitated but then spoke.
“That’s it?” he said. “‘A lot’? My life has been this same, boring, uneventful routine for, well, for as far as my memory goes back, and you’re telling me that - apparently - there’s ‘a lot’ going on?” Evelyn seemed to be getting uncomfortable.
“Look, there is too much to explain right now,” she said.
“How long has - whatever it is - been going on?” He interrupted. She let out a deep exhale.
“Since freshman year. So, almost four years.” Dom was speechless. He felt like his head was going to explode from confusion. What the heck is going on here? Dom was becoming frustrated. He wanted answers, but he didn’t even know what his questions were.
“My memory goes back from before freshman year. Nothing was different then.”
“But it was!” Evelyn began to cry. “This was a bad idea. I should have listened when they told me not to say anything. I lasted four years, I thought I could do it. But now being threatened to be locked up and your family tortured is what has been stopping me! They said they didn’t want to hurt anyone else through the process. But seeing you every day breaks my heart. What they did to you isn’t fair! You had no say in the matter. None whatsoever. Nobody did! I’m gonna find a way to tell you, Dom. I want you back. I need you back!” She was sobbing. Dom had no idea what to do. He felt nauseous. Everything seemed blurry and chaotic. Was she telling him that his memories are false? He has been living a life not fully conscious for the past however many years? What was she trying to say? Dom was overwhelmed.
“I- I don’t think I can handle this. I’m sorry, but whatever is going on, well, it’s scaring the crap out of me. Anyway, if it was something I should know about, wouldn’t I know by now? I just don’t understand. This is all too confusing.”
Evelyn was struggling to speak through her tears. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean any harm. That’s why I haven’t said anything. That’s why I couldn’t say anything. There just has to be a way around the threats and the lies! I miss you so much.” Evelyn went to embrace Dom. He stood up.
“Stop!” he yelled. “What do you mean ‘you miss me’? Troy said that too. And what do you mean ‘threats and lies’? As far as I’m concerned, this is the first day I have actually spoken to either of you. What you need to do is to call the police and leave me the hell alone.” Evelyn continued to cry, but it was much softer now.
“I’m sorry, Dom. You’re right. I should have left you alone and not said anything. I’m sorry.” She quickly got up and ran down the bleachers and out of the tennis courts. Dom didn’t go after her. He just grabbed his hair and looked up to the sky.
“What the HECK!”
* * *
Dom found himself at his favorite coffee shop. He wasn’t sure why he liked it so much, but he was always comfortable there. He sat down at the table in the corner of the restaurant, furthest from the door. He pulled a brown leather journal out from his backpack and placed it on the table in front of him. He pulled out his pen and began writing:
“Journal Entry: September 9th, 2028
I don’t even know what to write. You know, even though I noticed every day was the same, I don’t think I ever tried doing anything about it. It was just something I observed. I never really had a desire for it to be changed. There was always, like, a little voice inside of me telling me, “everything was how it should be”. But today was different. So different. I opened up to my mom today. Why? I have no clue. It was so random. That little voice was gone just long enough for me to think that maybe things weren’t how they were supposed to be.
Oh! So, the most psychotic part of today was when I met these two people, Evelyn and Troy. Well, I thought I had met them today. According to them, we have already met. At least that’s how they made it seem. Apparently, there is some crazy crap going on in my life that I just so happen to be completely oblivious to. I don’t know what to think. I don’t know how something could be going on for so long and I’m only now getting hints about it. It just seems so sudden. Evelyn said that it’s been going on since freshman year. Freshman year! I am a freaking senior!
Look… for the first time, my routine is starting to feel really weird to me. I can’t describe the feeling, but it’s not good. It’s eerie... Unnatural... It’s like, I broke my routine today and everything started falling apart. Like I messed up some sort of system. I wanted to ignore it because it’s just so overwhelming. But I don’t think I can ignore it. Something is starting to be revealed, and I need to know what it is.”
Dom sat for a few minutes, trying to process the events of the day. A feeling had overcome him. He felt driven by curiosity. He quickly packed his things and headed for the door. He felt confident, but he didn’t know why. As soon as he stepped out the door, he felt a burning sensation on his side. He fell to the ground and, in a moment, everything was black.
* * *
“I told you he wasn’t a good candidate. Someone of his background was destined to breakthrough the experiment at some point” a distant voice spoke. It was a man.
Another voice, a woman, responded, “there was no way we could have known this would happen!”
“Jan, it was predictable” the man snarked.
“Well, I didn’t see you objecting when we finally agreed to use him, Maxton. Besides, if Troy and Evelyn had kept quiet, as we instructed them to do, his consciousness wouldn’t have come back so strong. We should have locked them up when they first found out.” Dom tried opening his eyes but failed. All he could do was hear the voices. That sounds like… Mom and Maxton? He thought. No… It couldn’t be.
“Quiet,” the woman snapped, “I think he is starting to wake up.” Dom was scared. When he finally managed to open his eyes, everything was blurry at first. Once his vision cleared, he realized he was in a hospital. He sat up and fought to speak.
“Mom? Principal Maxton?” Jan ran towards Dom and embraced him.
“Oh, sweetie! I was so worried about you.” Dom kept his arms relaxed by his sides.
“I- I don’t understand. What do you mean candidate? Experiment?” Jan became silent, slowly moving away from Dom. She looked nervous.
“Sweetie, you hit your head pretty hard, you must be imagining things.” Dom dragged his feet off of the bed.
“No.” He looked up at Jan, “I am not imagining things. What is going on?” Jan and Maxton looked at each other. Maxton turned back towards Dom and looked directly into his eyes.
“We should have wiped him when we had the chance.” Jan turned towards Dom.
“It’s not too late.” She took a step forward. “Honey, everything is going to be okay.” Dom was uneasy. I thought it might have been better to have not known, but I’ve changed my mind. If this is about my life, I deserve to know, Dom thought to himself. He quickly got up and grabbed a picture from the wall.
“Dominic, put that down,” Maxton said sternly.
“Not until you tell me what’s going on,” replied Dom.
Jan glared at Maxton. “Call security.”
As Maxton reached for the phone, Dom threw the picture at Jan, causing her to fall to the ground. He pushed Maxton back, sending him into the wall. He ran out of the room and down a cold hallway. He ran down hallway after hallway, having no clue where he was headed. He stumbled across a doorway with an “Exit” sign plastered on it. “Thank God,” he said to himself, gasping for air. He pushed on the door and was attacked by the bright sunlight. The door opened into an alley where Dom continued to run. Upon turning a corner, he tripped and fell onto the concrete sidewalk. He grunted as he tried to stand up. His hands and knees were bleeding. Dom looked up and could see the high school in the distance. What the-? he thought. Dom looked behind him and noticed the giant hospital that was only blocks away from the school. How did I not notice that before? Dom thought.
He crawled to a nearby tree and sat up against it, trying to catch his breath. The sun was beating against his face, causing his sweat to glisten. He closed his eyes. He reached into his pocket only to find nothing in it. They must have taken my phone… crap. A shadow cast over him and he opened his eyes. It was Evelyn. She looked so pale.
“Dom,” she whispered, “this is all my fault.” Dom started crying. Evelyn knelt down next to Dom and wrapped her arms around him.
“Ev…” he whispered. She turned to face him.
“What did you just call me?” He exhaled heavily and turned to look at Evelyn.
“Ev.” She smiled.
“I’m starting to.” Evelyn helped him to his feet.
“Come on, I’ll help you get in my car.”
“Can I take a nap?” Evelyn laughed, tears still running down her face.
* * *
Dom woke up on a green couch. On the floor next to him was Evelyn. “What are you doing down there, Ev?” Dom said while tapping her head. To his surprise, she shot up, still partially asleep.
“I’m so glad you’re awake!”
“I’m honestly not so sure I am. You have a lot to catch me up on.” Evelyne stared at him and sighed.
“I know. This isn’t going to be easy. If you’re up to it, I can give Troy a call and we can all talk together.”
That’s right! Troy, Dom thought. “I would love that. He tried to talk to me before. He should be here.” About thirty minutes had passed until Troy arrived at Evelyn’s house.
“Hey there, big guy,” Troy said. He hugged Dom. Dom was hesitant but then wrapped his arms around Troy. Troy smiled.
“It’s okay if you don’t remember everything right now, we are going to try our best to explain.” They all sat in the living room, Troy and Evelyn on a couch parallel to the one Dom was on.
“First things first,” Dom proclaimed. “am I... safe?” Evelyn and Troy looked at each other.
“Yes,” they said in unison.
“We are actually in an underground bunker. Troy and I made this place to hide from… well, them. We have been using it as a way to make a plan to save you without anyone getting hurt. Especially our families. Up until today, we hadn’t come up with one that was safe enough.” Evelyn seemed uncomfortable as though she had said something in the wrong order.
“Wait. ‘Them’?” Dom asked, “the people who were, uh, experimenting on me?”
Troy gave Dom a stern look. “Yes.”
A shiver went up Dom’s spine. The thought of being used for an experiment made him nauseous. Evelyn reached out for Dom’s hand, grasping it lightly. “We don’t have to do this right now.”
Dom paused, then looked up. “No. I’m ready.
* * *
“Journal entry: April 20th, 2030
It’s been a while. I guess I felt like I didn’t need this journal any more since my life was, I don't know, back to normal? I’m not really sure what normal is. I also don’t really think this is it, though. But I’ve had time to register everything, and I think I’m ready to share my story. But first, I wanted to write it out here.
My name is Dominic Lokin. I am twenty years old. When I was eight, I was told my dad was killed in a car accident. Only a few years ago, I found out that he was actually part of a failed experiment. You see, there are some crazy people in the world. Crazy enough to put toxic injections into people’s brains to alter their brains to make them as “perfect” as possible. My dad was in the first of the trials - the injection killed him as soon as it got inside his brain. I was a part of the second trial, which was years after the first. They were too scared to try again in case it failed as miserably the second time around. The injection - what it consists of is still something I am trying to find out - caused me to lose all of my real memories which were ultimately replaced with fake ones. I forgot my real friends, my real family… I even lost all of my real instincts. The chemicals were practically forcing me to not question what was going on.
You see, these crazy people thought perfection meant repetition. Repetition of the same routine, same friends, same meals. My best friend Troy and my girlfriend Ev were amongst the few who knew about what these crazy people were doing. Their families were threatened if they were to ever release their knowledge of the experiments. My mom - I later found out - was killed trying to save me from becoming a candidate. To this day, I have no memory of her. While most of my memories were able to come back, some never did. I still don’t have all of the answers. I can’t even tell you how I managed to escape the madness. In fact, my friends and I went back to school shortly after and found out that “Principal” Maxton and Jan were gone. They just disappeared. The hospital was torn down, but nobody could figure out why. The police said it was classified information. I think it’s because they, the police, didn’t even know why. I may not have an explicit answer, but I can guarantee it was because of them. These crazy scientists in search of a “perfect being.” They must have moved on to other possible candidates in a place where people didn’t know of them. A place where people weren’t on to their schemes. I guess you could say I was a failed experiment, except it didn’t cost me my life. And now I am on to them.
I have decided to dedicate my life to stop these people. I am going to figure out exactly what they are doing and how they are doing it. I will find wherever it is they went. I am going to raise awareness and form a rebellion. What happened to me was unimaginable. But I can’t even begin to fathom them doing it to anyone else. Mark my words: this isn’t the end.
I don’t know who you are yet, but I am coming for you.”