“status update ”
“He ’s all wiped sir ”
“Good, prep him ”
“On it sir ”
“The start of our new future ”
“Where am I? ” the man asked enraged as he slammed his fist against the wall, “WHO am I? ”
“You ’re number one, ”
“One of many to come ”
“the first step to our new future ”
“You ’re in the core, ”
“Your new home ”
“He’s all wiped sir,”
“Good, is he prepped?”
“Perfect, escort him to room A2, together with number 48, 46 and 39”
“on it sir”
He opened his eyes, he shot up only to lay down again because a sharp pain shot through his head, he groaned in pain “where am I” he murmured.
“You’re in district 9”
“at the core, home”
He slowly sat up straight as he looked at an unfamiliar face, actually- everything was unfamiliar. He was situated in a room with only the necessities like a bed and cupboards, the walls were white, the bed was white everything was white. He looked down to inspect his clothes, he was wearing a white dress shirt, pants and shoes.
“home?” he repeated towards the boy situated at his bed, only to realize there were two others standing around him, looking at him curiously.
He got out of the bed he was laying in and rushed towards the first door he saw; it lead to the bathroom.
He looked around and finally found a mirror, he looked at his own face.
He sighed finally something familiar – wait, why didn’t he recognize the face staring back at him. Why didn’t he recognize the black hair with an undercut, the sharp eyes or any of his facial features for that manner. “who am I” he whispered as he stared at his reflection.
“You’re number 49”
He whipped his head back to find one of the others boys, the other two shielding themselves behind him like- like-, what is it that this reminds him of. “I am who?” he said angrily and in a fit of rage he punches the mirror that shows a reflection, it’s just a reflection because he can’t recognize the face staring back at him.
“please calm down” one of the boys told him, he stared at his bloody fist and the shards around all of them.
Suddenly someone walked in, he was probably older than the others, “48” he spoke up, the boy who was standing in front of the others shifted his head towards the man, “He’s new number 5, he’s just a bit… dazed” the man looked at his bloody fist, “we have to get that treated and get a new mirror,” the man observed, “Why don’t you stay in room G1 for the time being, until we have the mirror fixed” he said kindly to the other boys, they nodded as they made their way out of the room, except for the fact that ‘48’ waited a bit longer before following the other two.
“Follow me number 49” the older man ‘number 5’ said.
He decided to follow the man, he had no idea what was going on but he wasn’t going to cause any more trouble than he already had caused. He looked around as he followed the older man, holding his fist as it was dripping with blood. He noticed some other people looking at him, as he looked at one of the boys looking at he felt the sharp pain in his head again, he groaned painfully. The man walking in front of him stopped for a moment, looked at him in thought before walking again.
They reached a big iron door which was guarded by two men, dressed entirely in white clothes – but different from theirs and they wore helmets that obstructed their entire face.
“Number 49 had some trouble adjusting” number 5 said to the men, all they did was nod in understanding as they opened the door. Number five walked through the door so he hurried to not fall behind, “where are you taking me” he asked, “to the Polaris” number 5 responded, “Who are they” he asked. “See of it as, teachers and leaders” number 5 said, he didn’t dare to ask more because the further they walked the more people with helmets they accounted, and they unsettled him.
“here we are” number five said as they walked into a brightly lit room, there was a woman seated at a desk dressed in a white lab coat.
“ah Nic- I mean, number 5” the doctor stammered, “what do you need?” she asked him.
“Number 49 had some trouble adjusting, his fist needs to be patched up” number 5 said “do you have some time right now doctor Park?” he asked, “ah yes of course” she said as he ushered him to sit down and inspected his hand.
“what did you do?” she asked, he looked at her “I punched the mirror” he said blankly.
She smiled sadly as she removed some shards from the mirror from his hand, “I see” she said “I’ll have them put a new mirror in the room, what room are you in?” she asked him, “I have no idea” he replied. “room A2” number 5 replied “I’ve already informed the Polaris”
“of course” doctor Park replied, “I will have to stitch it up, is that okay with you?” she asked.
“You’re the doctor” he replied, she sighed “I’ll take that as a yes” she gave him a cloth “You can bite down on this if you want to” he shrugged his head in a dismissive manner and she looked at him confused “are you sure?” he nodded, this time also number 5 looked at him with a raised eyebrow.
The doctor started to stitch the wound and he tried to sit as still as he could, only grunting and groaning every now and then.
“You will have to return to me in a week, then we’ll see if we can remove the stitches or not so until the you’ll have to keep wearing the bandage, I’ll make sure they put some spare in your room” doctor Park said, “thank you” he said and bowed to her, to which she looked surprised “you’re welcome” she said as he walked out of the door with number 5.
“I’ll have number 48 and 46 show you around” number 5 said as soon as they passed through the big metal doors, “please don’t act out like that again” he said more stern. He didn’t reply and followed number 5 to a hallway that lead to a staircase, above the staircase a big ‘G’ was painted.
The entire room fell silent as soon as they walked in, there were a lot of boys in the room and a few girls.
“Hello, number 5” they all said, but their attention was focused on the boy behind number 5.
Number 5 nodded his head in acknowledgement, “number 48 and 46” his voice boomed through the silent room, two boys scrambled forward with their head down. “show 49 around and teach him of how things work around here” he said before leaving the room.
“did you really punch the mirror?” one of the girls asked, she wasn’t tall and her hair was tied up in a braid. Everyone else shushed her in a scolding manner, “what I’m curious it has been a while since we had a violent outburst that wasn’t from number 13” she said and everyone seemed to agree.
“I did” he decided to reply.
“wow” one of the other girls replied, he focused his attention on the two boys – number 48 and 46 – instead. “I’d love to introduce myself but I’ve got no fucking clue who I am” he said to them, there was a collective gasp to be heard from the room as he swore, “first rule; keep the swearing to a minimum,” one of the boys said, “and like we’ve been telling you, you’re number 49” he told him.
“excuse me, I am WHO now?” he said not believing that they went by numbers.
The boy ‘Number 48’ said as he pointed to his chest, he looked down to see a label;
“if you don’t know who’s who, just look at the label” one of the boys said as he pointed at his own chest; WJ48 and towards the other boys’ chest HJ46
Before 49 could say anything else he was dragged away by 48 and 46.
“Okay number 49, there’s simple rules you must follow” number 46 told him, “you wake up when Polaris wants you to wake up, you sleep when Polaris wants you to sleep, you eat when Polaris wants you to eat.” 46 started, “you’ll follow certain classes together with those around your age group, you’ll have free time too and you’ll have to behave yourself” 48 added “You’ll understand it when you’re here for a few days” they told him. “the higher the number is, the longer they’ve been here so you must respect those with high numbers,” they added.
49 didn’t understand how people could live like this, and more importantly he didn’t understand how he got here in the first place. “why?” he asked them, they halted in their steps and looked at each other. “to better ourselves” they said before proceeding to give him a tour of the building and telling him about the outside accommodations and activities. But the entire time he kept trying to remember something.
Suddenly a sharp pain shot through his brain
“what do you mean?”
That was his voice.
“what do you mean, Ji-“ sharp pain, “is missing?”
He groaned loudly as the pain kept echoing in his head.
“they’ll find him, I’m sure. Why don’t you welcome the new neighbors? They have a son around your age as well. His name is Fe-“ another sharp pain.
The voice of a woman was suddenly cut off by another wave of pain going through his head.
“49 are you okay?” 46 asked him.
“I’m fine” he gritted out as he kept thinking about those letters.
Why did he think about this, where is this from? When did it happen? Did it even happen to him?
“are you sure you’re okay?” 48 asked as he looked somewhat concerned at him.
“Just a headache” he replied, 48 and 46 looked at each other for a moment, as if they knew something he didn’t.
“we better head back to the room,” 46 said, “they’re about to do the weekly check”
“weekly check?” 49 asked him, 48 sighed “just come along and do what we do” he said as he walked back up the stairs towards room A2, when they stepped inside they noticed the mirror was already fixed and 49 noticed a few rolls of bandages lying around on the cupboard next to his bed.
49 noticed that 46 and 48 were quietly talking with each other on one of the beds, he didn’t really care much for it as he was still trying to piece together whatever that memory was. He also tried to figure out why he kept having headaches.
A bell started ringing for about a minute before stopping, 48 stood up “okay all you have to do is follow us, and do whatever is asked of you. Got it?” he said, 49 nodded albeit a little reluctantly. As he stepped outside of the room he noticed many people walking out of their rooms, on the left side of them he noticed a few older men walking down. He looked at their chests to see their ‘status’.
Number 13 –
He recognized that number, he remembers the girls in room G briefly talking about him. He was tall – very tall, had a sharp nose and black hair. He seemed tired and his eyes were trained on number 8 who was walking in front of him.
He felt shivers down his spine as he met the sharp eyes of number 13, his stare was cold and his expression was tired. Whatever he went through 49 would not like to be in his shoes.
46 carefully grabbed his hand, tugging him along “don’t fall behind” he said softly. As much as it infuriated 49 to even be here, in this situation. He gathered that being friendly with the people whom he shared a room with would be a smart decision. He held onto 46’s hand tightly and tried to avoid any further eye contact, although he noticed many people were staring at him more specifically at his hand. They’re probably thinking that he’s some sort of angry maniac like he heard the girls talk about number 13.
They got to a halt and all lined up, 46 let go of his hand as they lined up next to the others.
49 looked at the long line and noticed that he was probably one of the youngest among all these people, even if he didn’t even know his own age but from the looks of it most of these people looked more mature than him. Although there was a boy who looked like he was their age strolling along the line with a little cart and scanner, everyone held out their wrist. When the boy finally got to them 46 had already stuck his hand out so he could scan his wrist.
The number the boy with the scanner was wearing was 36 and the letters before his number were MH. The boy looked at him, “your wrist please” he asked, his voice sounded small as if he was intimidated by 49. He offered his wrist and the boy scanned his wrist before moving towards umber 48. Only then had 49 noticed the scar on his wrist, which seemed identical to the ones on the wrist of 46 and 48. He frowned as he looked at 46 who looked at him uneasy.
And just like that the bell rang again and everyone returned to their rooms, 46 took his hand again and lead them swiftly back to the room.
“what is all of this?” 49 asked, this place only got more and more confusing. 46 sighed “We’re in district 9” he replied, “this is the core” he looked to the ground as if he didn’t want to say these things.
“why are we here 46?” 49 asked again, 46 looked at the door to see that 48 had walked in together with another boy whom 49 recognized as one of the boys he’d seen this morning.
“this is number 39” 48 said, “we also share this room with him”
“H-hello” 39 stammered, looking nervous as well as scared. 49 sighed “Hi, there’s really no need to be afraid of me” he said, catching 39 off guard. “I know, I’m sorry it’s just..” he started “it’s just that we’re advised to stay away from the more violent people..” he said softly
“they don’t take kindly to violent people here” he added “most don’t dare to anger Polaris by being violent”
49 sighed, “is there, a shower somewhere?” he asked, 48 nodded his head and pointed towards the bathroom where he’d destroyed the mirror earlier the day. He mumbled a thank you before going into the bathroom. He locked the door behind him and looked at his reflection again.
What is happening?