The start of your new life
Suitcase in hand, you headed to the station.
You woke up that morning, alarm blaring into your eardrum after falling asleep with it beside your bed. You'd been waiting on the message and staring so intently at the screen, mere inches away from your face. You could still feel the strain it had caused your eyes.
It must have arrived moments after you fell asleep. We said it would, you tried your best to prove us wrong but you missed the point. You thought we were implying you wouldn't care enough to stay up that late, or maybe even took it as a personal offence that you were too weak to be able to manage it, but you were wrong.
We were watching you.
Monitoring you, even.
We were waiting for you just as much as you were waiting for us. It wasn't a test like you believed. It was a show of power, of control, of how out of your element you were. And you missed it.
You were so excited, so self obsessed, you missed the flags. There were plenty of them. Sometimes it seemed like you wilfully turned away from them, like you saw them and just chose to ignore them.
We liked that about you. So many potential candidates saw what you couldn't, it was unfortunate really. If they'd have turned a blind eye they'd be here with us now.
Don't worry, though, we compensated the family. We're not monsters, after all. We'll compensate your family as well, maybe even your friends if you continue to progress.
You went out on a limb and we're proud of you. You dropped your life at a single message, suitcase in hand you headed to the station and left everything you knew behind. That was brave. Stupid, but brave.
We'd been watching you for a while. It's protocol to see what someone's like before reaching out. We can't go contacting any old person, the disappearances that could cause would lead to suspicion. We just can't risk it.
So we watch.
And we wait.
And if we think you've got what it takes we reach out. Some of the people are awful, like genuinely bad. We don't feel so guilty disappearing those kinds of folks, honestly the world's a better place without them. Sometimes we reach out knowing they'll fail, to make up for all the hurt we cause. It's a little thing but it's a moment of reprieve for us.
You weren't like that though. We grew rather of fond of you. We hope you do well, we hope you pass the test and make it out the other side. We don't want to disappear you.
You'd be missed. Your voice, your actions, your soul, all of you. You make the world a brighter place and for that we are truly sorry. We don't like it when people like you fail, it hurts us, makes this job a bit harder each time.
See, we don't just watch you, we watch the people around you as well, especially those you interact with regularly. We watch all the people you've cheered up, you've supported and understood and held space for even when it wasn't necessary. We watched the times you made someone laugh or cry or relax into your arms after a hard day and all they wanted was to feel loved.
They'll miss you so much. We know you won't believe that, and understandably so, but it's true. They valued you more than you realised, more than they realised, even.
One of your friends is here as well, it worked out so conveniently. You both walked away from your lives at such similar times. It'll make the cover story so easy. You were already so close, it'll be so easily believable.
You know, if it's required that is.
I have high hopes in you. We all do. We think you're our best chance yet, which is surprising to be honest. You seemed so normal at first, we almost overlooked you. One small act sealed your fate. It makes us wonder how many potentials we've missed because they didn't have that same opportunity.
Sometimes we wonder if a protocol change is about due, we haven't updated with the tech quite as much as we could've recently, it's ever so easy to overlook the constant changes that are going on. We got complacent so maybe it's time for an upgrade, results will be more accurate, there'll be less losses and more opportunities.
I guess we have you to thank for that.
You've been ever so useful already, you haven't even done the bulk of the work yet, that'll come soon enough, and you've helped us exponentially. We're almost glad you can hear this.
See, we have to run some tests now. You won't like this bit. We need you conscious. We need you aware. It's going to be tough. Your brain might get a bit scrambled, some cognitive functions are going to be impaired for a while, hand eye coordination might get a bit screwed, fine motor skills might get a bit funky, we don't know to what extent yet. Best case scenario, you'll be back to normal by next week. Worst case scenario...
You know what? Let's not go there. There's no need for you to know. You deserve better. Ignorance is bliss, as they say.
Like I said earlier, we have high hopes for you. Maybe you'll ace this. Maybe you'll come out the other side completely intact. Maybe you'll prove our predictions wrong and have no adverse side effects. We'd like that.
The test will begin soon. We should've kept this much shorter. We shouldn't have gotten so sentimental. We shouldn't have strayed away from the script.
Technically we're breaking protocol by doing this, by talking for so long, but you're worth the reprimand. We just didn't want you to be alone for so long. We believe in you, we believe you'll make it through in one piece. You'll achieve such great things, we're sure.
Before we go, we just want you to know it's OK to be scared.
We were too.