By: Sophie Lesser – Centennial 7th Grader

Non-staff Contributor

There I was sitting in my boss’s office in downtown New Jersey, honestly very scared of what he was gonna say. He started to speak up to say, “Thomas,” he sighed “I suggest you start trying to find a new job, we’re closing. We don’t make enough money to keep the shop open, and we already have tons of offers.” The only thing I could think of was to look through the newspapers and see what jobs were open. I saw there was an ad for walking this old lady’s dogs, but when I looked to the left I saw a mysterious ad. It was a plain grey background with words saying, $22 an hour work from 12:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. It paid more than my original job. There was an address in the bottom right corner, no phone number or anything. So after work, I was going to stop by and see what was going on. It wasn’t a very popular store so I would usually sit behind the counter reading my favorite book or random magazines my boss orders in. I stared at the clock for what seemed for hours to only be 30 minutes. My boss barges out saying I could go home, and that no one comes to this store anyway.

 I head straight for my car and drive right to that address. I pulled into the middle row of the empty parking. I stepped out of my car and walked towards the plain grey building. There were a pair of glass doors in the front that you could only get into with a code or key card. I knocked. Out of the half-lit hallway came a tall dark figure. He walked very slowly towards the door. When he got closer to the light the figure became more clear. He was an older man, mid 40’s very buff and thick black hair. He was wearing a navy blue suit and a red tie. He was about 6’4 and I was 5’11.

 He stepped up to the door and said, “Whadaya want kid?” sending shivers down my spine.

“I- I saw your ad in the paper, and there was no phone number but an address.” I stuttered saying.

 “What’s ya name kid?”

“T-Thomas.” he genuinely frightened me. Without another second he grabbed my arm and raced inside. He shoved me towards his office and I flew in, landing surprisingly into the chair. He sat down behind the desk and started to speak, “Hello Thomas. We’ve been expecting you.” It creeped me out a little but I played along cause he was scaring me. I saw a nameplate with the name Arnold Smith. 

“Mr. Smith sir, what do you mean?” I questioned. 

“Don’t ask questions kid, I’ve already got a keycard made for you.” He hands me a keycard. It had nothing on it, it was just plain grey. He told me he would like it if I could start as soon as possible. It was weird how all he needed was my name. No resume, no qualifications, no background check. Just my name. I questioned it but I let it go.

The next morning I got up and went to tell my boss I quit and that I give my notice now. He was very understanding. I sat down at my usual place and took out the keycard.  I looked at the back of my keycard and there was a number. A phone number. I figured it was probably that guys. Two weeks passed fast. It was my last day. I said my goodbyes and was on my way.

I left my apartment around 11:30 and got there five till 12:00. I scanned my key card and Mr.Smith was standing right there to show me where I was working. It was a concrete room with a big TV sitting on a desk and two buttons next to it. One button red, one green. On the screen of the TV was a room with a girl sitting in it, painting. Next to the desk was a mini-fridge full of food and a bathroom right next to it. “The red button, you push if something is happening that looks concerning, and the green, if you think whatever’s happening, should be taken note of. The screen will flash and the time and date will be captured. Our crew will review it later.” said Mr. Smith standing with his arm pointing towards the door. 

At this point, I was pretty freaked out. “Am- am I watching a kidnapped girl!?!” I stuttered. 

“No she’s not kidnapped shes, uh she’s a test subject or a project to be exact.” I stayed silent. He just looked at me and closed the door. I slouched down into the chair in front of me. I gazed around the empty bland room and watched in confusion. This has got to be one of the weirdest jobs I’ve taken.

I was having financial issues and was about to become homeless so no matter how horrible the job was it paid well. So I overcame my curiosity and said yes to the job. Mr. Smith had basically forced me into the chair, closed the door, and told me to not take my eyes off of her no matter what. So I sit there for the next few hours just watching this girl, studying every detail. She had blonde hair so silky it looks like honey. Her face was so symmetrical (from what I could see) that she could be a model. She was skinny like she wasn’t being fed but maybe she just has a slim body type. My brain couldn’t stop going to the worst possible situation she was in. I had decided to name her Rachel. I thought maybe giving her a name or acting like I could talk to her to comfort her would soothe me better than it would her. She kept painting until she had stopped. She looked at the camera and smiled, stood up with the painting in both hands, and set it on the couch behind her. It was beautiful. The trees looked so realistic. The birds were painted so detailed they looked real. As I looked closer though I thought I could see words. From what I could make out I saw a T, M, and an S. I was really confused but maybe my mind was playing tricks on me.

I finished my first day and I kept going to my job to watch her paint, day by day. As the days go on I started to see more and more clues which kept drawing me into going to my freakishly creepy job. One day I had realized what she was trying to spell. I had started to bring a notepad with me and write the letters I had seen down. One day when I got there she was peacefully sleeping and two male nurses had burst through the door to take her away. This happened every once in a while so I decided to try and scramble the letters together to make words. The letters I had were H, H, E, A, O, T, M S, L, P. I tried many different variations till I finally got it. THOMAS HELP. Many questions ran through my head like “How does she know my name?” Am I really watching someone who was kidnapped?” My hand had started to move towards the red button but every muscle in my body had stopped me from pressing it. I stood out of my chair and turned towards the door. I was so focused that I didn’t hear that Mr. Smith had already opened it. I turned and felt a cloth bag be put over my head. Two men grabbed me and yanked me down the hallway as I struggled to get out of their grip. My arms felt as they were losing circulation as they gripped tighter and tighter so I decided to stop fighting back. They loosened their grip on me and flung me into another pair of hands. These hands were the size of elephant ears; they were so big. The temperature had gotten cold to the touch and I got goosebumps all over my body. I could have only assumed we were outside. The big hands threw me into the back of a vehicle and drove off. It was a short drive to wherever we were going. We came to a stop and they had taken me to a room. They yanked my blindfold off and the shine of the bright light had blinded me. A man stepped into the light and my vision came back clearer and clearer. It was Mr. Smith, I looked around to see a concrete room and a door to my left. Mr. Smith had done the thing every “bad guy” does in every movie ever. He circled my chair with his head high and his hands behind his back. 

“Thomas… How was the ride over, did they treat you well?” he sarcastically asked.

“Well, my arms hurt and I don’t know where I am so how do you think I feel?” I blurted as the fear rushed through my body.

“Don’t get smart with me boy!” he exclaimed, “I assume you have many questions about the girl.”

“What did you do with Rachel!! Where did you take her?” I said with tears in my eyes as the fear started to show.

“Wha- what did you just call her?” he questioned.

“R-Rachel..” I stuttered. Mr. Smith pulled a walkie-talkie out of the inside of his suit and whispered,     “He’s the one, bring me the envelope.” A man comes through the door that was to my right and hands him an envelope. He then sets it on my lap and walks over to the door in what looks like confusion. “Thomas that girl you’ve been watching… her real name is Rachel. We were experimenting on her because she had some kind of mind power and we saw the hidden messages with your name in them. For three years we’ve been only giving this job to men named Thomas and they either pressed the red button or quit within the first few hours, but you, you stayed.” he questioned. I said nothing. “Rachels dead Thomas. Rachels has been dead for over 3 years.” I stare into a gaze as the words that just came out of his chapped lips sink into my ears. I had felt a special connection with Rachel even though I had never met her in my life. I pick up the envelope and walk towards the door with my eyes widened and tears coming upon them. I open the door handle as Mr. Smith yells to wait. The door swung open and Rachel’s body lay in a glass tank. Her hair floating in the water as if she was a mermaid. Her skin was as pale as the clouds in the sky. Her eyes, shut. Her arms afloat and wires connected to her head. I dropped the envelope and to my knees. Every noise in the background became a blur, the faint noise of Mr.Smith talking in the background, the two men that carried me in yelling. It’s as if everything was in slow-mo.

 I looked over to the envelope and ripped it open. “The tree behind the gas station off Route 40,” it said. I get up with blurry eyes from the tears that had previously pushed their way through. I somehow made my way out of the scary building and my car was there, in the parking lot. I rummage for the keys and start my car, putting it in drive and hitting the pedal.  Pulling up to the gas station I almost forgot to put my car in park. I hopped out so fast. I ran to the back where a big tree had an opening to it. It was scary so I went to grab the hammer I had in the back. A while back I used to be a construction worker and I never really cleaned out my car so that’s all I had leftover.  I went through the tree and the opening closed behind me. I ran down the long concrete hallway until I got to an opening where it was as bright as day. It was a girl’s room. I went in and looked over to see a beautiful girl standing there. Rachel. She ran towards me into my arms and hugged me.

“You found me.” she squealed.

“ What is this place, Rachel?”

“It’s the new age, our world was so messed up before I found a new, better place,” she exclaimed.

I stood in disbelief  “But, but you were dead!!”

“It’s a fake that looks exactly like me, the girl that looked like me died from heart failure and I had to use my chance to get away. I knew about this place for a while now.” she moved away from in front of me and I saw an opening to a new brighter replica of our world. Everyone had smiles on their faces and was living their best life. “Come on Thomas, let’s start a new life. Together.”