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The paper sits in front of me, as dangerous as a hungry lion. My hand is shaking, not letting the pen sign neatly. I don't want to do this. I don't know what I'm getting myself into, but it must be something truly dangerous if we are not allowed to read the clauses of said document. The President is sitting there, fiercely looking at each one of us, especially me. Does he know me? Has he seen us exploring in that basement? I look over to Max, who gazes back at me for a second and then puts his name on the signing line. He drops the pen on the table and leans back, as if this was the most relaxing day of his entire life. I roll my eyes and let out a small sigh and leave the writing tool on the table. I simply sit straight, looking at the wall in front of me, to avoid making any eye contact with our governor. The time is up and the Invigilators gather themselves around us and ensure that all the papers have signatures on them. Unfortunately, one girl has refused to sign it. She begins sobbing, despite her attempts to show some strength. They instantly pull her out of the chair with impressive force and drag her along the room until she's outside. The door closes and I'm sure we'll never see her again. I can hear her screams fade with every step her guards take to put her somewhere else, hidden from the rest of us. I wonder if she'll simply be punished or killed? The thought makes me shiver and makes me feel a hundred times worse. Just like everyone in the spaceship, I've done nothing. I've sat there, watching the whole scene unfold, how violence has filled the air, and, instead of protecting her, I've let her go. Fear is truly dividing.
Finally, one of the guards approves all the documents and confirms they're all signed. Our leader smiles and stands up from his chair, a gesture that makes all invigilators instantly point their guns at us. I recognise some of them and get surprised by the variety of armament. One really strange thing about our police in this spaceship is the equipment. Each invigilator possesses a different weapon so as to deliver great amounts of pain to the victim at the same time. I recognise some of them because I helped with their creation in one of our bases.
"Thank you. Now, my guards will escort you to your rooms."
Rooms? I think to myself. We won't be able to escape this hell after all. What have we signed? What have we put ourselves into?
'Escort' is too much of a fancy term. The way they're leading us to our destinations is more like 'dragging.' Some individuals beside me are being pulled by their hair and by the time we get to said place, their scalp is simply flesh and blood. I look away disgusted. Fortunately, my guard was sympathetic towards me. She still pushes me into the cubicle.
"Goodnight," she says and the door automatically closes leaving me in confusion and fear. My room is bigger than the one I was assigned a few floors above. It's decorated too nicely as to consider it a cell. It has some Chinese vases and lovely paintings of landscapes. I smile remembering fragments of my life on Earth prior to 'the End.' However, as much as I try to remember my home planet, I cannot. Not even a single detail of the apocalypse. It's like my brain is filled with random images of flowers, bees and blue skies, yet is unable to remember such a tragic incident. I sit down on the bed, only to find it surprisingly soft. I decide to lay down for the rest of the evening. However, at some point during the night I hear a knock on my door. At first, it's slight and barely noticeable in the silence. Still, it becomes progressively louder as I remain lying down on my bed. I finally get up, aware that it may be a guard. To my surprise, it's Max. I can't see his face for the corridor is too dark but I recognise his voice. To say he sounds extremely scared is too mild.
"I... I don't know."
I put a hand on his shoulder. It's really wet from all the sweat.
"I... can't explain," he finally states. I can feel him shaking. Something really bad must be going on behind these walls. "You have to follow me." Without letting me decide if it's a good idea to simply roam halls filled with Invigilators, he walks away and I follow him without much meditation. We walk in silence, trying to be extremely quiet on our toes. However, the wooden floor that compounds the government's headquarters is too creaky to let us wonder incautiously.
"Max, you're making too much noise," I say but he doesn't seem to listen. Before I can say anything else, I focus on his leg and see that he's limping. He was not in such a state before we were taken to our rooms. I begin to think that he may have just saved me from some unfortunate destiny. Maybe it was my turn tomorrow. Perhaps if I had just been let to be woken up my the Invigilators I would have died. We finally take a turn and enter this room. It's completely dark and I don't dare take a step.
"I'm surprised there were no guards out there."
"I saw 'em. They're all gathered at the entrance doors. Probably to make us think we can escape and then... boom." Although my partner is speaking a bit more now, I can't help but notice a strange sound to his voice, as if it's raspy.
"Can we turn on a light?" I say to which he goes and touches the wall to find a switch. He ends up locating one and lights up the whole room. He stays behind me and orders me not to turn around. I laugh. What is going on with him?
"Oh... are you going to kiss me from behind? How sweet."
"I'm not joking. Just keep walking."
We reach a metallic door at the end. The room is practically empty and there is barely anything useful to explore besides our contracts which lie still on a table. I'm tempted to pick them up and rip them but it would be useless.
"You open the door," says my friend from behind. I find it strange that he does not want me to see him. I do as he says nonetheless and I push the door strongly since it's heavy. What I see inside is awful. I turn around in awe to my counterpart and my mouth drops even lower. Max is missing a front tooth, his hair has been ripped from his scalp and his legs and arms have several cuts. They are not deep but they look painful.
"Oh my God, what happened?"
"What you're seeing is what I came to tell you."
I turn around again to look at the room with all the bodies.