Chapter 1: Disconnect
“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?
Chapter 2: Walls have ears
It's like memories.
I had to rewrite this chapter about 10 times because my laptop keeps crashing.
I hope you guys like this chapter though! I hope you guys won't find the numbers too confusing but no one who's identity is of importance is mentioned here without explaining who they are.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“number 1, are you okay?” number 2 asked him.
Number 1 looked from him to number 3, who was fiddling with her hands.
“I know who I am” he said, number 3 finally looked up from her hands and shared a confused look with number 2 before they both looked at number 1 again.
“what do you mean” she asked him.
He sighed and looked at them, there was an emotion they couldn’t quite place yet.
“I am not-”
Before number 1 could finish his sentence the door burst open, the three looked up to see men dress in all black standing in the door opening; Polaris
“Number 1” a voice echoed through the room, and before any of them could even react they had pushed number 1 to the ground and restrained him.
They dragged him out of the room with force as number 1 was trying his hardest to break free form their grip, he screamed as they dragged him with them.
Number 2 and 3 rushed to the door to see them drag number 1 through the hallway, passing room B where number 4, 5, 6, 8 and 13 were standing. As soon as number 1’s gaze met number 4’s he got quiet and the men dragged him away.
They didn’t see him for a whole week.
49 groaned, turning around in his bed trying to ignore the voice.
“C’mon 49” another voice chimed in, “it’s time for breakfast” another voice piped up.
He sighed as he finally opened his eyes to see 39, 46 and 48 standing at the edge of the bed. “What time is it?” he asked them, “It’s 8 am” 46 said.
49 groaned loudly as he dropped his head back into his pillow, “too damn early” he mumbled into his pillow, 46 pulled him back up “well it’s this or.. well, you don’t want to find out” he said nervously. 49 decided not to ask as he was too tired to even be curious about whatever 46 was talking about. “do we always wake up at 8?” he asked instead, 46 laughed “we usually do, sometimes we wake up earlier or later”
49 yawned as he looked at 48 how he was fixing 39’s uniform, “get dressed, breakfast is in 15 minutes” 39 said with a smile, 49 gave him a little smile before he got dressed into the same uniform as the rest.
“How does breakfast work again?” 49 asked as they were walking out of the room, 48 and 39 walked in front of him and 46. “we sit down, they bring us the food. Everyone’s breakfast is based on the activities of the day. Someone with a busier and more physical day will have a bigger breakfast than those who don’t” 46 said, “we all sit in the dining area, there’s multiple tables. It doesn’t matter where you sit though usually us lower numbers tend to stick together and the higher numbers sit together. There’s exceptions though” he added, “we usually sit together with everyone from room G, the only time we’ll sit with the higher numbers is when they ask us to sit with them” 48 added as well.
They walked into the dining area, there were a few smaller tables and a few larger ones. 49 noticed that there weren’t that many people yet so he was relieved that they weren’t late.
There was a man and a woman sitting at a smaller table together, their talking was no more than a whisper as they sat next to each other.
“that’s number 9 and 15, don’t mind them” 39 said, “they’re a bit more.. reserved” he shrugged as he walked off towards one of the larger tables that was occupied by a few boys and girls around their age. 46 held out his hand to 49 with a smile. He took his hand and walked towards the table, as they got closer the talking got quieter and quieter until it was silent when they reached the table.
46 cleared his throat a little uneasy before speaking up, “everyone, this is number 49. He’s new” he said as he tugged him forwards a little. 49 did a quick bow and mumble out a ‘hello’. “isn’t he the one who-“ one of the girls said before being shushed by another one, “the one who punched a mirror? Yeah that’s me” 49 said. The girls looked at him a little frightened, “I assure you he’s not like number 13 guys” 48 said with a smile which seemed to calm everyone down a bit. 46 smiled as he held up their intertwined hands “I wouldn’t dare touch the hands of someone that scary” he said which seemed to make the group laugh. 49 smiled a little as he and 46 sat down.
“Well” one of the girls spoke up “It’s only polite if we also introduce ourselves- even if you can just read our tags” she smiled, she had a nice smile 49 noted, the kind that made you want to smile as well. “I’m number 37” she said, “that’s number 40, she’s a little quiet but isn’t she pretty?” she said with a big smile as she pointed towards one of the girls sitting next to her, the girl smiled shyly as she waved her hand a little bit. “I’m number 33” one of the other girls said, “and I’m number 38” a girl with short hair said. He nodded his head “nice to meet you” he said before the boys took turn introducing themselves. There were four boys seated at the table – number 31, 32, 36 and 35.
“the others should get here soon” number 31 said, he seemed to be the oldest at the table. “yeah, number 30, 41 and 47 should get here soon” number 32 said.
“do the numbers 30 and up sit with each other or something?” 49 said, the girls laughed a little “I’ve never really thought about it but mostly yeah” 33 said, “I guess 30 and up is the ‘newer’ generation here, it just feels like we’re younger than the others” 36 said. “I wouldn’t wanna sit anywhere else though, some of these people are scary!” 33 said as she looked around.
“what’s the deal with number 13 though?” 49 asked, voice a little hushed. Everyone at the table looked at each other before looking around if anyone else could hear them.
“well, number 13 is… weird” 36 said, “he, dreams a lot and seems to mistake them for reality. He screams a lot of the times about people that aren’t here, he tries to convince others that he’s telling the truth but I think he’s insane” 38 added. “He’s very aggressive whenever he’s had a dream, he’s broken a lot of stuff and injured himself in the process. He’s often taken away and we don’t see him for a few days or sometimes weeks. I would not like to know whatever he’s seen” 32 said, there seemed to be a little slip of accent but 49 wasn’t sure- and wasn’t going to ask anyways.
“weird” he said as he recalled the brief eye-contact he had with 13. He certainly had a very cold stare.
“Look there’s the others!” 45 said as he pointed towards a group of boys and girls walking towards them, the girls waved enthusiastically at each other before all sitting down together. 49 looked at the boys when a sudden pain shot through his head, he let out a groan which alarmed a few at the table. “hey,” 46 whispered, “are you okay? Another headache?” he asked to which 49 responded with a nod. 46 nodded with a weird expression on his face. 49 looked up again to see the three boys had sat down, for some reason it hurt his head whenever he looked at 41. He looked at his tag;
For some reason his head started to hurt even more, like it was trying to tell him something. “fuck” he muttered under his breath, only 46 seemed to have noticed but didn’t say or do anything this time. 49 decided just to try and ignore 41 for now and focused on how the area was slowly filling up with more people – and exactly like they had said it seemed like the groups were divided by numbers.
There was a loud siren that went off for a few minutes, signaling everyone to be quiet as the food was going to be served. Men dressed in all black delivered various meals to everyone, 49 looked around to kind of get an idea what he could expect. His meal was delivered to him, it seemed like most people at his table all had the same meal – yoghurt with cereal, a banana and some water.
“we’re probably going to exercise” 39 whined, “I don’t want to”
“well just eat maybe it’s something different” 45 said trying to cheer him up, it worked to a certain extend as 39 smiled at him and contently started eating breakfast.
The rest of breakfast passed relatively quick, there were a few conversations during breakfast but it was mostly quiet. The siren went off again, signaling that the activities for the day would start.
46 grabbed his hand again as they stood up, “come with me I’ll show you what to do” he said as they walked towards a similar scanner that had been used yesterday.
“Just scan your wrist like so” 46 said as he scanned his own wrist, “then your activity will appear on screen and will tell you were to go” and as he said that the screen to where the scanner was connected lit up. “I have combat today” he said. The screen turned off and he scanned 49’s wrist, after a few seconds the screen lit up, it said COMBAT in big letters on the screen like it did for 46.
“Looks like we have class together today” 49 said with a slight smile, 46 smiled back at him as they gathered the others who had combat today and went to the inside exercise accommodations.
“combat?” number 13 said confused, “why the hell do we have combat classes”
“To make us stronger” number 8 said, “become the best version of yourself”
13 looked at him, “I think you’re already the best version of yourself” he said.
Number 8 laughed, “You’ve only known me for three days, 13”
with that number 8 walked away leaving number 13 on his own.
“I’ve known you for 10 years, Junho” he mumbled.
Number 1 looked as 13 walked away after number 8, it seemed like he knew more than he let on.
“Why the hell do we have combat classes anyways” 49 said as they stood outside, the sun shone and the temperature was pleasant.
“To better ourselves!” a boy next to him spoke up, he was a little bit taller and had freckles on his face. “To become the best version of yourself” he smiled, 49 got a faint pang of pain in his head. “I’m 47 by the way, I hadn’t introduced myself during breakfast but you’re the new guy who punched the mirror right?” he asked, sounding somewhat excited.
“uhh, yeah- that’s me” 49 said as he looked at his bandaged hand.
“Why would they put you in combat when you have your hand damaged?” 47 asked him, 49 shrugged “beats me, I don’t even know why they do anything here” he said, 47 laughed “You’ll figure out soon enough, it’s confusing I know” he said.
Everyone started to quiet down as two older men approached, 49 squinted his eyes to see their tags:
Only then did he notice it was number 5, he wondered why they were here seeing as most people here seemed younger than them.
“they’re not here to take the class” 46 said, “They’re the teachers” 47 added.
“Partner up” number 6 said, “first stretch” number 5 added.
49 was about to ask 46 when 47 grabbed him by the hand, “wanna partner up?” he said with a smile and for some reason 49 couldn’t say no to him when he smiled like that. “sure” he said making 47’s smile even wider “great” he said pulling him down with him. 47 grabbed his other hand carefully, looking to see if it hurt 49.
“It doesn’t really hurt so you don’t have to be so careful” 49 said as he grabbed 47’s hands tighter as they stretched together.
“It’s been a while since we’ve had anyone new around here” 47 said, “That’s why I might be a bit overwhelming, I just want to be friendly with everyone” he said nervously and something within 49 stirred with recognition as he said that but he doesn’t understand why. “It’s okay, It’s not exactly easy to make friends here when everyone thinks you’re some scary aggressive guy” 49 said, “just because I punched a mirror” he said with a grin making 47 smile as well “sooo dangerous” he drawled out.
“How about we test the new one!” someone next to them suddenly said, both of the boys looked up to see number 6 standing next to them, “we don’t have to 6, we better choose someone who was more experience” number 5 tried but number 6 seemed to be set on testing 49.
“He’s gotta learn it somehow” number 6 reasoned as he helped 49 stand up “Or would you rather not?” he asked him, but 49 already knew that saying no would only make him look weak which was an idea he wasn’t fond of. “try me” he challenged with a grin, 6’s eyes lit up with delight “that’s more like it!” he said as he dragged 49 with him to the center.
49 noticed everyone standing around them, he noticed 39 looking at him with worry so he tried to reassure him with a smile.
“Just try your best to defend yourself” number 6 told him, “I’ll try to hold back”
49 scoffed as they both bowed at each other, number 5 – albeit it being reluctantly – signaled they start the fight.
Number 6 started swinging at him, without even really noticing 49 started moving it’s like his muscles knew what to do. He dodged every move number 6 made and he managed to kick number 6 to the side. It didn’t feel like he put a lot of force into it but number 6 was knocked to the side.
Everyone was quiet as number 6 looked at 49 in confusion, everyone was staring at 49. He didn’t know what to do so he walked over to number 6 and stuck out his hand in order to help number 6 back to his feet. Number 6 laughed as he took 49’s hand “I like you, kid!” he said with a smile.
“what was that Woojin” 46 said with a hushed tone,
“That’s the confirmation we needed, Hyunjin” 48 replied.
“will you two keep it down” number 5 hissed at them, “you know what’ll happen when someone else overheard you?” he said.
They let their heads hang “sorry” they whispered.
“You’re crazy!” 47 said as 49 returned to his side, “You’re like super strong and skilled!”
“I guess” 49 said shrugging, “I just did what I felt like I needed to do”
“That’s awesome!” 47 said before they continued their class.
“where’s number 12?” 13 asked one of the men dressed in black.
the man didn’t respond which only infuriated him more.
“where is he?!” he yelled, “Number 12, Lim Seulong, where is he?!”
“What are you talking about 13?” number 1 asked him calmly.
“My friend, Seulong, they took him!” he yelled.
“there’s no Seulong here, 13” number 8 said trying to calm him down, inching closer as 13 got more restless.
“No-no,no,no,no, NO” he said as he shook his head. “He IS here, number 12 that’s Seulong.”
“No, 13-“ number 8 started,
“I’m not 13! I’m Chansung! You’re Junho, you’re my friend” he said desperately.
“That’s Nichkhun” he said pointing to number 5, “That’s Sunye and that’s Kwon” he pointed at 7 and 15.
“we’re people!” he yelled out, one of the men dressed in black suddenly attacked him from the back. Chansung fought back and threw the man off of him, the man hit the back of his head on the edge of the table, his eyes didn’t shut and his chest stopped rising and blood started to pool from his head.
“Please” Chansung pleaded as he grabbed number 8’s hands “believe me Junho”
Number 8 looked at him pained, unable to speak as more men dressed in black all threw themselves at number 13, injuring him until the screaming stopped.
Number 8 looked as they took 13 with them with tears in his eyes.
He was sick.
number 13 was sick and confused.
Number 5 stood there as he watched the scene unfold, unlike most he did understand what 13 was saying. As soon as he heard his name he knew, he just knew.
He knew that he was more than just number 5, and he knew these other people.
but he had to pretend, like he didn’t know.
Otherwise he’d end up like Seulong or Chansung;
Dead or tortured.
Nichkhun sighed, “terrible things happen when you let it get that far” he warned Woojin and Hyunjin. He looked at 49 as he was training together with 41, if Woojin and Hyunjin were right- they'd had to act fast or he would make the wrong decisions and end up in the wrong situations.
I hope you guys liked it! I will be going back to school starting Monday and my laptop will be fixed today so I hope to update as soon as possible in te meantime hmu on twitter @Techjenos