Author’s Note: Warning, scenes may be emotionally difficult; Discussion of death and violence.
I was jerked back to reality when Kellen hit a rather nasty bump in the road. We were getting close to Ancora, and I had been caught up in reliving my story.
“So what happened after you realized what was going on?” Kellen asked as the parking lot came into view in the distance.
It was still a long story, so I just kinda glossed over what happened. But in my head I was replaying every moment. How after I realized it was a Utopian experiment, I started to leave the office but I heard footsteps at the top of the stairs. I turned off the lights of her office, shutting the door and going to hide in one of the empty rooms. I called Kellen then, and could hardly hear him between the static. I tried explaining as best I could that I had gotten into Jay’s office. I could faintly hear out in the hall and when I heard her door opening, I knew it was Jay.
“She’s still around,” I whispered into the phone. “You need to come and get me out of here!” I inched back to the farthest part of the room, huddling in the corner, hoping she couldn’t hear me. Kellen said something but I wasn’t sure what. I clutched the phone, feeling scared and alone. “It’s worse than I imagined,” I breathed into the phone. There was static and I was beginning to worry he couldn’t hear me. “Hun? Kellen? Can you hear me?”
“–ely he–ou–” was the reply I heard. “–na, you n–dif-” Then there was a lot of static. I winced at it, hoping it wasn’t as loud as I thought it was. “–talk, the recep–own there. –une?”
Tears dripped down my face. “Kellen, you need to get me,” I whispered. “We need to leave at once.” I began hiccuping and held the phone away as there was a lot of static. “I think it’s some sort of Utopian experiment!”
As I said these words, the door to the room swung open. I shut the phone quickly, burying it under my shirt. I could see Jay outlined in the hall light and I watched in fear as she reached over and switched the light to the room on.
“Well,” she said when she saw me. “Luna. Why am I not surprised?”
I got to my feet, hoping my face wasn’t too red from crying. “I apologize for being down here. I’ll just go back to my office now.” I tried to walk past her, praying that this would work, but she grabbed my arm, spinning me around and slamming me against the door frame.
“You…” she hissed out and then began dragging me to her office. I stumbled along, remembering all those deceased people. Oh Watcher. Ohhhhh Watcher, no. She flung me into her office and I fell against one of the armchairs. I scrambled to my feet, hoping maybe if I jumped at her suddenly and tried to smack her head against the floor, maybe I could knock her out.
She stood a good distance from me, arms folded, foot tapping. “I should have known,” she said, her voice like ice. “You are like your–“
“Mother?” I cut in, raising my eyebrows. “Willful?”
She stared at me and I was happy to see I had flustered her, for even a second. “I see you’ve been in more files than I thought,” she said, recovering quickly. Then, without warning, she slapped me. My cheek stung and I put my hand against it, determined not to look in pain. “You think you know everything, don’t you?” she hissed at me.
“I know you killed my mother,” I said, trying to sound brave. “I know you killed a lot of people. I know you kidnapped my sister. And I know what you’re doing in Ancora!”
She put her hands behind her back as she paced back and forth. “You do, hmm? Tell me, what am I doing with Ancora?”
I gulped, shifting in my seat. “Utopian society,” I said and she raised an eyebrow. “Anthropological Coexistence. It’s right in the name of this place. I always just assumed that the acronym was merely a coverup but it’s not, is it? The real coverup is all these little experiments you’re having your employees running around doing while the truth is staring us in the face!”
She smirked. “Very good, Luna. I am impressed. It’s a shame you’ve turned out like this. You used to remind me of… well, me when I was your age.”
I glared daggers at her. “You’re my age now, aren’t you?”
“All right,” she said with a strange laugh. “When I was your age the first time I was your age.” She began drumming her fingers, looking mighty pleased. “Yes. Ancora is the real experiment. Everything else here is false. Lies. I needed people to help take care of this place but did not want them to know the truth. So I found little experiments to have people work on–stuff to help keep this place funded.”
“But why?” I demanded. “What purpose?”
“A perfect society…” She trailed off and narrowed her eyes. “Rules, simple coexistence, everyone working for a goal–no fighting, no wars. This is what their society is like.”
“Perfect society?” I snarled, pointing at her computer. “There may be no wars, but there is death! You killed Lloyd, you killed Verna, you killed Bianca. You killed many others. You killed my mother and–and! And my grandfather!”
“Not this again!” she half-wailed. “If you are referring to Jacob–“
“Yes! Actually, I am!” I shouted, coming towards her. She stepped back but didn’t look worried. “And you’re not getting away with this anymore.”
“What do you intend to do? Go to the authority?” She looked amused at that. “They wouldn’t believe anything you said. Besides, Ancora won’t exist anymore. It’s served its purpose. I’ve gotten plenty of useful information from the past few decades of studying the residents. And now, I am done with this. As I am done with you.”
She grabbed my arm and began dragging me out of the office. I tried fighting her but it was no good, she was stronger than me. “What are you going to do?” I demanded. “Kill me?”
Her eyes met mine and for a split second I imagined that maybe possibly sort of in certain light if you squinted that she seemed kinda distantly maybe sort of something that seemed distantly related to sad. “I do not want to,” she said and even her voice betrayed that maybe possibly sort of way of distantly related to sadness. But that was my imagination. It had to be my imagination.
“So is that a yes?” I demanded, still trying to pull my arm free. “Are you going to kill me?”
“Oh, Luna,” she sighed. “Contrary to what I think you believe, I do not like death. I feel regret and guilt when someone involved with my experiment dies.” I rolled my eyes, not believing that. “But death comes, whether we like it or not. And sometimes death is required…”
She stopped in the hall in front of one of the doors. I began tugging harder. “Jay, no–please. Death is n-not required for anything!”
“You don’t understand!” she snarled, her nails digging deep into my skin. I knew they were going to leave marks. “Nobody understands, except my brother! You… you have something that you would risk everything for, do you not? That–family–of yours?” She shook my arm, demanding an answer.
“Yes,” I said. “I would do anything for my family.”
“I would do anything for my dream, my vision, my…” She stopped and closed her eyes. “Someone like you will never understand. And I am sorry for this to happen, but you stand in my way. If I let you go, you are liable to go to the police and I do so dislike dealing with the police. It will be difficult enough after the tragic accident at Ancora. Things will go a little easier without you running around, telling stories.”
“Tragic accident?” I asked, more surprised by this than anything else she said. “What accident? Did something happen?”
“Not yet,” she admitted. “But I think tonight will be the night. Ancora has served its purpose and this experiment–this Utopian experiment, as you put it–is just not going anywhere. I’ve been planning on ending it for a while and after what you have done, I have decided that tonight will be best.”
She pulled out a keyring and began looking through them. “What are you going to do?” I asked, trying to take up time.
“Does it matter?” she asked, raising her eyebrow and giving me that creepy look.
“Consider it a dying wish to know,” I said flatly. “You owe me something.”
“You seem to think you are owed a great deal,” she pointed out.
“Don’t you want to brag about your plans?” I asked as she unlocked the door.
“No,” she said and swung open the door. I stared at the sight of Rosalba huddled in the middle of the floor. She looked up when the door opened and scrambled to her feet, seeing me.
“Miss Danevbie!” she gasped as I was shoved inside.
“Rosie!” I wanted to run over to her but instead I spun around and jammed my foot in the door as Jay tried to shut it. I shoved the door open and tried to make a grab for her but she easily danced out of my grip. “Rosie, run for it!” I shouted, managing to grab a hold of Jay’s coat. I heard Rosie behind me but before she could slip past me, Jay kicked the door shut.
“Why must you cause so much trouble?” Jay demanded, exasperated, her nails scratching the back of my hand as she tried to seize me again.
I yanked at her jacket and she stumbled forward. I took this opportunity to try to put her in a hold but before I could, I felt a sharp sensation fill my body and I fell to the floor in pain. Jay stood over me, panting slightly as she smoothed down her coat and fixed her glasses. “Troublesome,” she muttered and then held onto my arm, pulling me to my feet. “The pain will fade in a moment.” She indicated what looked like a pen that she placed back into the pocket of her coat. “A sort of stun gun, if you will. Something you helped create, actually. Do you remember? I suppose not, it was years ago and your mind isn’t quite as brilliant as I once thought it was.”
“Wh–what are you going to d–do to Ancora?” I managed to get out as I gasped for air. The pain was going away, but she once again had a hold of me. And she was wrong, I did remember helping work on that stun pen.
“My, you are stubborn,” Jay said, frowning a bit. “Very well. If you must know, a few decades ago–when I began to suspect that Ancora would not fulfill my desires, I had explosives placed around the town. Under buildings, laced under the wall–enough so everyone and everything will be destroyed. I must not leave any evidence, after all; and this building will also be destroyed,” she added as she opened the door again. Rosie was watching with wide eyes. “With you in it. I will claim espionage. We are, after all, funded by our country’s military force. We were infiltrated by an enemy of the country. France, perhaps. I’ll blame their military for it.”
I was shoved into the room but my body did not move on its own free will. “You’ll kill EVERYONE!” I yelled, stumbling forward rather blindly. “Because you’re TIRED of all this?!”
Jay shrugged, her hand on the doorknob. “Tragic, really. I am sorry for it. But it must be done. After all, we don’t want any secrets getting out. In about an hour I’ll sound the alarm for this building to be emptied, and half an hour after that the timer at the Meeting Hall will go off and… the end.”
The door slammed, and Rosie and I were plunged into darkness.