Some nights I cannot sleep because I'm writing - in my head. Even when I'm not at the keyboard, I'm writing. I write in the shower. I write while working out at the gym. I write as I eat. My mind will not be free until the story has been told - the muse on my shoulder has been satisfied. And so, through moments of pride, periods of self-doubt, and the occasional grip of writers' block, I continue to work.
Here is a short excerpt from Chapter One (in draft form, of course).
“Have you made contact?”
“No.” I slump deeply into my chair. They always start with that question. Does it ever bother them that they are being so predictable, so repetitive, so boring?
“Has anything unusual occurred?”
“No.” Define unusual.
“How are you feeling?”
“Fine.” I shrug my shoulders.
“Please, sit up straight.” Dr. Bertrand impatiently raps on the mahogany conference table to get my full attention. She sits across from me with her back pin-straight. Her graying brown hair hangs without shape at her shoulders and a thin line forms her mouth. She smells strongly of disinfectant, as if she’s scrubbed herself in it. She always looks grim and formidable. Her face holds no hint of humor or sympathy. She is here to do a job and she takes that job very seriously. I know she thinks that I am impeding her progress. She’s sick of me. She resents me. Why am I so important? Why have they chosen me? Why can’t I give them the information they need? I can tell she wonders these things as much as I do.
I sigh and scoot myself up in the cushioned leather chair. I am self conscious under her cold stare and I can feel the eyes of others in the room bore into me. They are equally fascinated, frustrated, and disgusted with me. I only ever speak to Dr. Bertrand and General Bishop, but the two guards stationed at the door are always silent observers. They seem like solid statues without human emotion, but I know that it is a façade. They are analyzing me as much as their superiors, but they are not allowed to show it.
“Describe how you feel.”
“I don’t have any aches or pains. I’m not nauseous. I have no fever. My eyes do not burn. They are not irritated. They are not too watery.” Indifferently, I list the symptoms they always ask of me. I am so tired of the constant questioning.
General Bishop believes that I am important to the survival of our country, possibly even the world. He believes I am the answer. He believes I know more than I am telling him. He is the reason I am here in this underground government facility, being questioned and tested, prodded and manipulated, like livestock instead of a human being.
I tell him again and again that I am just a girl. And I try to make myself believe it, too.
This has been our routine for almost a month now. I wait each morning to be summoned from my small, drab room in which I spend most of my time – locked in like a prisoner. I am then escorted by the same unsmiling soldier through the honeycomb of hallways, tunnels, security doors, elevators and finally the Situation Room, which is the command center of this underground government bunker, to this interrogation room.
Dr. Bertrand and General Bishop question me. I tell them nothing new. They run tests on me. The tests tell them nothing new. They wait for me to give them answers. I wait for them to realize that I have none. At least, that I am willing to tell. I wait. They wait. It is all a waiting game.
When will it end?
Do we want it to end?
Because what if we uncover an answer too impossible or horrific to face?