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“Lizzy…” A faint voice called out to Elizabeth.
Elizabeth peeked her eyes open to see her sister, Jennifer, sitting over her, her face pinched.
“Ugh! What’s wrong? Did I sleep in?” she groaned.
“No, I have no clue where we are.”
Confused and groggy, Elizabeth rolled away from Jennifer, hoping to get more sleep. Her bed felt harder than usual. Much harder. Muscles ached, and her spine was sore. Pushing her elbow out, Elizabeth used her arm strength to raise herself up until she sat almost level with Jennifer. She looked into Jennifer’s eyes before looking around, then gasped at what she saw.
Elizabeth was not in her room. Not in her bed. Instead, she rested on a hard concrete floor, hence the soreness. Metal bars surrounded them. They were in a giant cage in the middle of a large room with only a small amount of light coming from a tiny window. It was silent except for the sound of their breath.
A musky smell crept up her nose. Shivering, Elizabeth wrapped her arms around her knees, bringing them up to her face. “This has to be a scary dream,” she thought, but she hadn’t dreamt in years. She stood, Jennifer watching her every move. Crossing to one side of the cage, she grabbed one of the bars and tried to shake it, testing its strength. It didn’t budge.
“I’ve already tested everything.” Jennifer said, softly.
Elizabeth felt her core go cold. Her head began to ache. Tears pooled in her eyes, and she hyperventilated.
Rushing to her, Jennifer forced her to her knees, holding on to her as her breathing became increasingly loud.
“Elizabeth, you need to breathe. In, and out.”
Jennifer held onto the sides of Elizabeth’s face, forcing them to look into each other’s eyes. She made visible motions of breathing, encouraging her to follow.
Following Jennifer’s prompts, Elizabeth felt her lungs stop burning, and her head stopped spinning as her breathing returned to normal. Her cheeks were wet from tears, and she occasionally sniffled.
“That’s good. Just keep breathing. Stay calm. Passing out won’t help anyone.”
Jennifer continued comforting Elizabeth by rubbing soothing circles on her back.
“You good?” Jennifer asked, after a few minutes had passed.
“What are we going to do?”
“I… I don’t know.”
Jennifer’s eyes followed the shape of the cage, the palm of her hand pressed to Elizabeth’s back shaking.
“I checked every bar, looking for some sign of weakness. There’s none But I have one last idea. It’s why I woke you up. You’re not going to like it, though.”
Resting her head in her hands, Elizabeth already knew what Jennifer was going to suggest.
“I know you don’t want to go dream travelling, but it’s the best idea I can come up with. Maybe you’ll find who put us here… or find something to help us escape.”
“Yeah, I know. Jennifer, you’re right. Dream travelling is probably our best bet at this point.”
“So, you’ll do it?”
With a resigned sigh, Elizabeth nodded.
Wiping the tears from her eyes, Elizabeth laid down with her hands behind her head. Taking deep, relaxing breaths, she tried to lull herself to sleep.
She hadn’t always been able to fall asleep so fast. Knowing what awaited her once she slept gave her too much anxiety for her to calm down. That had changed. After years of practice, accepting what sleeping brought, it took only a few minutes of coaxing to allow her body to rest.
Sleep, without a dream, yet like a dream—but not hers. Someone else’s.
As if awake, Elizabeth slept, yet was standing in what looked like a boardroom filled with men and women dressed in suits. They were all yelling at each other.
Looking around the room she found herself in, she saw it had white walls and was filled with white chairs circled around a glass table. On the wall at the head of the table was a large, flat screen with Elizabeth’s and Jennifer’s pictures. Below each picture was text starting with their ages, twenty-five, followed by their physical descriptions. Before she could read more, the eyes she saw through moved to large windows with a view of the outside. She couldn’t tell where they were, though. All she could see were large maple and pine trees, but she heard a voice.
“How in the world did that woman know about the hijacked plane? She knew before us, even!” said an elderly man.
“We should torture her. She must be one of the Society members,” proclaimed a woman next to him.
The woman asked, “Jackie, what do you think?” to Elizabeth’s occupied body, and she understood she must be in “Jackie’s” mind.
“Shush, everyone!” Jackie shouted. It was silent for a short time while her eyes were closed. She smirked. “Well, I think I may have my answer,” she thought.
“Answer to what?” Elizabeth thought to herself. Then, a shocking answer. To her.
Then, something grabbed at her, pulling her from Jackie’s mind. Elizabeth felt like she was being ripped apart. It was unlike anything she had ever experienced, like ripping off Band-Aids covering her entire body at once and flying through the air at the speed of light. Disorienting, painful.
Back in her own body, she jumped to her feet and woke up, feeling dizzy.
“What happened, Lizzy?!” Jennifer looked into her eyes.
“I don’t know. I just saw a boardroom of people. I think… well, they think we’re responsible for the plane being hijacked.”
“That makes no sense. We warned them about that! Why would we have warned them if we were involved?”
“I don’t understand it either. That’s not all, though, the woman I travelled to… I think she may have talked to me through her subconscious. And I think she pushed me out.”
Elizabeth felt a sense of dread.
“What! People can’t do that! Can they?”
A door thudded, hitting the wall as it opened, and lights blinded them as they stepped away, gripping onto each other in fear.
“Hello, Elizabeth,” said a strong, familiar voice. “I’m Jackie. I believe you invaded my mind.”
Jackie had long, wavy, dark brown hair, brown eyes, and olive-toned skin that looked smooth, like porcelain, but Elizabeth could tell she was middle-aged. Jackie watched her with an empty expression as her eyes adjusted to the piercing light. Elizabeth continued to look at her, unsure of what to say. No one had ever noticed her in their mind before.
“Oh, but I noticed you.” She pushed her thoughts into Elizabeth’s mind.
A chill ran down Elizabeth’s spine, then throughout all the nerves in her body. She stared at the woman; her eyes grew wide. Nobody had ever pushed her out of their mind before. She had never felt pain like that. It was as if layers of consciousness were being torn apart. And now she had spoken directly into Elizabeth’s head. Elizabeth opened her mouth to speak, but no words came out.
“Who are you?” Jennifer asked with authority.
“I’ve already told you, I’m Jackie.”
“I know your name; I’m asking who you are.”
“I’ll answer what I can.”
“Great, thanks.” Then, speaking even more sarcastically, “I take it you’re the one who put us here?”
“No. You put yourselves here. You made a 911 call about the plane before it disappeared, hijacked. Now the entire DUST thinks you may be part of the terrorist organization responsible, and a threat. To the United States.”
“Are you going to kill us?” Elizabeth managed to utter the question.
Jackie stood silent, not answering, but Elizabeth thought she saw a flash of concern on Jackie’s face. The silence was making her nervous, very nervous, and she looked to Jennifer, wondering if she’d know what to do. Nostrils flaring, eyes glaring, and fists clenched, Jennifer yelled, “You can’t keep us here, we’ve done nothing wrong!”
“Oh, but I can.”
Before her reply was even finished, two tall, large women, dressed in blue long-sleeved jumpers, walked through the door, straight to the cell. Jackie continued looking at the two captive women without expression.
“Don’t fight them.” Jackie thought to Elizabeth.
The two women in blue opened the cell and marched towards them. Elizabeth backed away, cowering, her back hitting the edge of the cell. She fell onto the floor, hoping it would swallow her. She closed her eyes, but opened them again immediately when she felt a sharp sting on the side of her neck.
“Watch out for the other one, she’s a fighter,” she heard Jackie warn the women.
Elizabeth’s head started to feel woozy. Turning to Jennifer, Elizabeth saw her giving the two women a difficult time. Cornered, Jennifer undercut one woman, then kneed the other in quick succession. But while she was distracted, the first woman stuck a needle in her neck. Elizabeth cringed at the sound of Jen’s yelp. Whatever drug had been injected into her sister quickly took over her body. Jennifer’s attacks grew less powerful. Aside from the drug, she was fighting fatigue from waking up in a cell, with no food or water. Though Elizabeth tried to stay awake and watch Jennifer struggle to fend off the much larger women, she blacked out, missing her sister’s defeat.
Once Elizabeth and Jennifer were placed on gurneys, Jackie watched as they were rolled away, saying, “Take them to the medical room for assessment.”
Walking away from the cell, Jackie left, heading back to the boardroom. Before reaching her destination, she picked up her cell.
“William. Send me everything you have on Dream Travellers. Make sure that their apartment is clear of evidence. We don’t want anything leading the police here.”
She hung up.
Sitting in the boardroom, six officials were talking as Jackie walked in. All ignored her as she made her way to the front of the long table, except for Vance, cooly observing her every movement. He leaned back in his seat, looking her up and down with a judgmental stare.
She tried to reach into his mind, as she often did by habit, but something repelled her. She had never been able to reach him; it was as if he had a forcefield surrounding him. He gave her a knowing smile, making her shake inside. Jackie kept a straight face, not wanting to give him the satisfaction of making her uncomfortable.
“Oh, Jackie. Have them killed, please.”
Jackie looked at him, hiding her disgust.
“I want them on my team, Vance.”
Vance sat up straight, putting his forearms on the table. “And why is that?”
“Voltz is a Dream Traveller.”
Vance got up from his chair, slowly walking around the table to her. “The last Dream Traveller we had went mad. Don’t you remember him?”
“Of course I remember him. Sir… But we have someone that can help her this time.”
“Yes, and his sister, Paige.”
All in the room were quiet as they watched the exchange. Vance moved behind her, his tall frame towering over her. She kept looking ahead as he leaned over her and said, “Tell you what, keep her as a trial run. If she steps out of line, does anything to jeopardize our operation, eliminate her. No questions asked.”
Jackie nodded, agreeing to his demand, yet seeing an opportunity.
“I want Jennifer too. She could be a great asset to the team. She’s a skilled fighter.”
“We have plenty of fighters. Why waste resources on another?”
“She’s more skilled than the others. It will be good to keep her and Elizabeth together. Don’t you know they’re sisters? Foster sisters? According to your ‘researcher,’ William, they’ve been inseparable since they were kids. That’s the way I want them.”
“As if you know anything about warriors. I was already on the fence about Elizabeth anyways. Why would I care if she stays with her sister?”
“There’s more. Noels isn’t who she says she is. She changed her last name.”
“Care to elaborate?”
“Of course. Her parents were Alena and Jordan Hickory.” Jackie turned to face Vance, stepping to the side for a bit of space. “If you remember, they were both Major Generals in the army until they were assassinated when she was thirteen. She was found unconscious, lying next to her dead parents. By the way, they found at least ten assassins dead, all killed by her, a child.”
Jackie was sure she saw Vance smirk. “So… why is it that I’m just now finding out about her?
“She was taken into protective custody. Last name changed to Noels. Elizabeth’s family adopted her after fostering her for a year.”
“Fine, fine, fine. I’ll give them a chance. They’re your responsibility now.”
“Thank you, sir.”
“Have them injected with trackers, and make sure they know that we’ll kill everyone they love if they step out of line.”
Jackie nodded, thinking how badly she wished to kill him, and started to leave.
“And Jackie? Do be careful. I would hate to have to take matters into my own hands.”
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