I can’t move. All I can smell is sterilized metal- like a hospital. I look down and see that I am constrained and there are so many wires and tubes connected to my head and body that I feel like a machine.
How did I get here? I was supposed to be on vacation. Wait. I was on vacation. The last thing I remember is the warm sand of Bermuda between my toes. I don’t remember falling asleep.
“Hey…” a girl next to me whispers, startling me.
I now realize that I’m not the only one here. Rows of people- men and women and even children- are constrained the same way. They are all sleeping and oddly enough, smiling.
“How did we get here?” I ask the girl.
“I don’t have any idea,” she replies, “I was just looking at a piece of artwork in the Louvre and the next thing you know I wake up here!” France? She was in France? How did we both end up in the same place? I wonder if I am even still in Bermuda. How would they have gotten me to another country without anyone noticing? My panic heightens thinking about it.
A door slams in the distance. We both pretend we are sleeping but I peek my eyes open to see what’s going on. I see a blonde woman with a tight bun in a suit checking on one of the women and writing something on a clipboard. She looks around at the rest of us and satisfied, she walks back toward the door. I close my eyes until I hear her high heels reach the doorway as she reaches for the door and then the door close behind her.
I pop my head back up and see the girl staring worriedly back at me.
“Why do you think we are here?” She asks. Her voice is hoarse like she hadn’t drank water in a week. I realize that my own throat is kind of dry as well.
“I wish I could tell-” Just as a start to finish my sentence, the blonde woman steps back into the room. She must have forgotten something. She is looking straight at us.
“How long have you two been awake?” She asks.
“Uh uh um..” I can’t seem to find the words. I don’t even want to start to think about what she is going to do to us.
“Just tell me girls, it’s not like I am going to hurt you.” She says with some sort of sarcasm that I can’t even begin to relate to right now.
“We have only been awake for about 5 minutes” the girl says admits, “We didn’t see anything and don’t know anything… I swear.” I start to wonder how long she really has been awake and how much she knows.
“Well then, I’m sure you girls have some questions,” she says as she starts to take off my restraints. I stiffen. Where is she taking me?
She looks at me confused and says, “Relax, dear. I restraints are only on for your safety.” For my safety? How could that be? I certainly didn’t come to this place willingly. I must have been kidnapped somehow. Maybe I was drugged? I hadn’t gotten any drinks besides a bottled water in my hotel room though. I really am clueless as to how this could have happened.
The woman removes all of the wires and tubes from my, setting me free, then moves to do the same for the girl. I’m not sure whether to make a run from it or stand still but against my best judgement, I just sit there doe eyed trying to guess what is going to happen next.
“Come!” She calls to us as if we were a pack of huskys or something. We do as we are told and follow the clicks of her high heels through the door and are blinded by the bright hallway. I didn’t realize how dark it was in there. Everything in here is white and silver. I can’t help but realize that the floors are made of the same tile as the airport. If I weren’t so clumsy and hadn’t slipped and fell on my way to the terminal, I wouldn’t have known that. There is no way that I am back in the United States. Is there? That would make it easier to escape if I was. At least I would be about to communicate with someone to find help once I escaped- if I found a way out of here.
The woman’s heels stop and she holds her hand up to a panel next to the door. It slides open and she enters, inviting us in. Wearily, I follow and realize that it’s an office. I look out of the windows and I see a runway. Are we at JFK?
“Ladies, this may come as a surprise to you but you never got on a plane and you never went to what ever Country to were trying to visit.” She says calm as can be.
“How is that even possible?” I blurt out. I am befuddled.
The woman begins to explain again, “It is possible because those countries do not exist,” and with those words my heart drops. This can’t be true.
She can sense our pulses quickening and goes back into explanation mode as if she never paused. “The United States, Canada and Mexico are the only “countries” that exist. A little over 150 years ago, there was a civil war and violence spread across the country. Although it happened at the same time as the civil war you two have learned about in school, it was not the way we have portrayed it to be.”
At this point I am at a complete loss. What is this woman trying to tell us. That our whole lives have been a lie? It can’t be possible that whoever “they” are “portrayed” the war a certain way and that people just went along with their stories.
As if it couldn’t get worse, she continues. “There was a small group of people who called themselves the Founding Fathers. My great great grandfather was one of them. It was more advanced of a time as we portrayed. Scientific invention was at an all time high and things existed that we wouldn’t even think possible. They decided that we had advanced too much and that was the cause of the war. They also knew that if they let the war continue, we would extinguish our own race. There was great fear of nuclear weapons and if one was used, it would eventually deplete the continent and there would be nobody left.” I have the biggest headache and I don’t know if I should believe the nonsense that she is spewing.
“If this is true, how did the people just forget that they were fighting and go along with these quote Founding Fathers?” The girl snaps. She clearly isn’t buying into this any more than I am.
The woman chuckles but neither of us join in. She answers with a soft voice, “My dear, we had to put them to sleep. Similar to what we are doing with you but it was much more daunting of a task. We had to instill memories of generations into their minds whereas with you, it’s only a vacation.” I feel so violated. Is it really possible that there is no Bermuda and that the feeling of the warm sand between my toes was just a facade? I really don’t want to believe that it’s true.
She doesn’t realize that this is too much for our brains to comprehend at once… or maybe it’s not… but she continues on. “We had to create a better America. We had to give Americans something to look forward to, including vacations, to motivate them to work toward making our country better. We made radios, movies and vacations but we made them gradually to make people appreciative for what they have. We needed people to be humble because advancement and greed is what cause the civil war in the first place. It is all very innocent. We don’t hurt people when they think they are traveling. We just put them to sleep as they enter the terminals or cruise ship or whatever means of travel they choose and instill knowledge and memories so they feel fulfilled.” I feel so cheated. I identify as a travel bug and a love of art and all that I love is a figment of my imagination. I start to think about my family and how I am going to break the news to them. The woman puts a damper on those thoughts very quickly.
She finally begins to conclude her spiel. “I am instilling a great amount of trust in you two. I know how startling it had to be for you two to wake up and that is the only reason why I am telling you all of this. I am asking that you keep this all a secret for our country’s sake. I trust that you two ladies will use your best judgement.”
I don’t even know what to do right now. How can I act like I know nothing? What would they do to me if I told someone? I don’t want to be the reason that the world falls apart but I wish that I never woke up. I wish I wouldn’t have known any better. I would have just enjoyed some drinks on the beach and gotten the alone time I was looking for.
The woman gets up and leads us out of her office and we are back to following the clicks of her high heels. I still have so many questions. What was life like before the war? How many people are a part of the Founding Fathers. What else is just our imagination. Were there every any other continents? I can’t leave like this. Do I have any choice? We find ourselves in front of a door and the woman turns to the two of us. “It has been a pleasure talking to you two ladies. If you would like to join the Founding Fathers in our mission, you now know what we do and I would love to talk to you two about it. Just come to the airport and ask a security officer for Madison Jefferson. They will know who you are and contact me. Be sure to tell your families how lovely your vacations were and have a wonderful afternoon.” The woman leaves it at that and opens the door to the airport hallway. I walk toward the door as a completely different person.
I hail a cab and think about what I am going to do with all of the information I just absorbed on the way home. I am changed.