"Nacht Henderson, male, 28. Sarah Stone, female, 27. David Freeman, male, 41. Ernie Cheng, male, 39. Sienna Lovison, female, 21. Justin Cooper, male, 20. "
"Is that all?"
"Five minutes until wake up. The solution has been put into place. The subjects have been put into place. The lights are off. It is night."
"I see." But of course, it wasn't night. It was night for the subjects only. Not that they would know the difference, anyway. The person sitting in the chair, watched the screen closely, comfortable in the dark room. Six blocks were arranged on screen, each revealing a sleeping face. They had made sure the subjects would get enough rest, for they would have a long day ahead of them. So peaceful, so silent. No sound, no smell, nothing to feel, except for the warmth of the blanket they lay snuggled up in. The subjects were off in dreamland. They should have cherished the moment. "I am now turning on the lights."
As the Monitor reached for the button, the door behind him slid open. A dark figure walked in, face shadowed by the light coming from behind it. Disturbingly tall and thin, with long fingers and a white smile, the figure's full identity was something many weren't aware of. He was sheltered well within the company. "Monitor," he spoke in a shrill voice, grabbing onto the bottom of his shirt in excitement. "I will have my way with them, won't I?"
The monitor did not answer the question. "Sir, I am turning the lights on now."
"Are you?" The figure tilted his head. "We have five minutes left. We should not wake them up too early. Will you be speaking to them?"
"Yes," the monitor answered, tapping the tiny microphone atop his desk. "What difference does five minutes make?" Though his face was unseen, his voice held an annoyed tone.
"Five minutes makes a big difference, for the subjects, that is. I'm sure they would appreciate it."
Justin was still sleeping when he heard the announcement. It shattered his pleasant dream, breaking through like a bullet to his skull.
"Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.
It is your lucky day. You have been chosen to participate in our very first testing of S.O.L., the one and only solution to all of your problems.
As of right now, you are in houses built and monitored by our company, designed to be the perfect copy of your original homes. The area has been sealed off and gaurded, for your protection only. There will be no entering, and absolutely no leaving the area.
In your bedroom, you will find a weapon. We are only here to observe. Your weapon is there to help you if you come across any... problems. Do not worry, for we are sure there will be none.
The lucky one of you, will also find a little, red pill beside your weapon. You are to take this pill. There will be no exceptions.
We hope you will enjoy your stay."
The young man's brown eyes opened, but were instantly blinded by the bright light shining through his window. Had the Earth moved closer to the sun? Never before had it seemed so bright. He groaned and turned away from it, burying his face under the thick, navy blanket.
His first thought was that it was the television. There was simply no other explanation. He had left the television on the Discovery channel, or a similar channel, and had fallen asleep while watching it. But why did it sound so loud? Had he rolled over onto the remote again? That was just splendid. Now his neighbor would soon come pounding at his door, complaining about the noise, just as she had done five times before, since he had moved into these apartments a year ago. She'd show up at his door, staring into his peep-hole with her sagging, pale, angry face. Usually, he could just send her away, but she had decided to continue arguing with him the last time, and it escalated into something JC didn't feel too good about. What day was it? Friday? No, Saturday. That was good. He could rest today. He could sleep until the next morning if he felt like it. With a smile on his face, he snuggled deeper into his bed, not realizing that the loud 'television' had somehow stopped.
Then he noticed something was different. As he was breathing in the gentle musk of his bed, he realized that it was not his own scent. His bed did not smell like his expensive cologne, or pomegranate shampoo. It smelled... different. It smelled like his sheets were brand new, right out of the store, and had been sitting in the back of a cold car all night. Not that JC could smell that, but the picture was clear inside his head. He pushed himself from the pillow, black hair hanging about his face in a mess of waves, frowning suspiciously. Everything looked the same. His pilows and sheets were the same sky blue as they had always been. The tiny hole in his sheet from when he had stabbed his bed with a pen out of frustration. Everything was exactly the same, but the smell seemed so... strange. Could the odor be coming from somewhere else?
Justin leapt out of bed, in his black, Snoopy pajama bottoms. The feel of the carpet was also strange, against his bare toes. Right beside his bed, sat his slippers, right where they usually were, and he slipped them on. His teal robe hung on the chair in front of his computer, and he put that on aswell, tieing the string around his waist. The large baseball bat resting within the chair, completely slipped by his notice. With a sudden urgency, he hurried to his front door and opened it, expecting the bland hallway of the apartment buildng, and a door across from him reading '102'.
This was not what he found.
He was outside. The sky was a bright yellow, but there were no clouds. On a second look, he realized there was not a sun to be seen either. His apartment, or what used to be an apartment, was now a small house, surrounded by five other houses in a large circle. A sidewalk formed a smaller circle within, with six paths branching out, connecting the houses. Around the houses was a long stretch of nothing but grass and few trees. The grass was cut short and crisp. The air smelled of a fresh Spring morning. There was so many things wrong with the situation, JC felt as though he was sleeping. He was inside a dream, inside an alternate reality, where things were supposed to be right, feel right, and look right, but had a few things missing from it, and not just his six-floor apartment building.
There had to be something here. Someone had to know something. Though he had thought it impossible to move, JC started off into the direction of the nearest house. He felt like he was being watched, as he stepped up to porch of the seemingly cozy home. An address was painted beside the door, but it was only one number. "1." With cold fingers, the dark-haired college student pushed the button beneath the address, ringing the door bell.