A lone girl, small, young and tired looking, tread down a stretching hall. She turned, her barefeet cold on the glass floor, towards a door. Porcelain fingers curled around the door knob and she pushed the door open.
She stared inside for a moment before entering the room and locking the door, blinking back tears as she gazed at the boy in front of her. His short black hair contrasted with her long blonde, brushing her ankles. Her eyes counted his freckles, familiarity with his features set her more at ease then not. She went tiptoe, leaning towards his slightly parted lips, his eyes closed to her actions, she closed hers as well.
She pulled away from the kiss, her lips letting out a slow breath that he inhaled with a gasp. His arms and chest tightened, his eyes blinked open, and his feet desperately searched for ground.
His lips moved, trying to speak, but no sound escaped. Her eyes smiled as she reached upwards, placing a single, thin finger on his lips.
“Sixty,” she said.
He took a few deep breaths, blinking and looking around the room, his neck sore and taught. His eyes locked with hers and he begged her, without words, to free him.
She reached up and placed her thumb on a panel above him, and a whirr preceded his short drop to the floor.
He realized how cold the room was when his feet and knees hit the smooth floor, his feet bare and calloused. He ran his fingers through his hair, freeing several tangles, and then gazed at the girl with wrinkled brow. The light from the front of the room illuminating her from the back, her appearance angelic.
A gulp alerted him to the dryness of his throat, and when he reached for it, he winced at the soreness of his wrists where they had been tethered up. He stood shakily, his whole body sore and stiff, and looked past her, to the darkened hallway, and then behind him, where a wall stretched directly behind where he’d been suspended.
Warmth from the girls body enveloped his own as she gave him a surprise hug, her hair flying up and back down with the swiftness of the motion. She slipped away, her hand gripping his own, opened the door, and led him through it, her padded feet sending soft echoes down the hallway. His hand rubbed roughly against the softness of hers, and he felt certain that when she let go her hand would no longer shine porcelain, as his own was covered with dirt and grime.
She slowed to a stop at the end of the hallway, in front of the only door he’d seen besides his own. She looked at him with spring green eyes, aglow in a way that pained him, and then led him through the door.
This room was small and comfortable, two beds lined one wall, and a miniature kitchen lined the other. A single book case, filled with books, and an arm chair were along the back wall. He staggered over and collapsed in it, his legs already tired from the short run. He closed his eyes and inhaled through his nose, his eyes cracked open again, an unidentified weight lifted from his shoulders as the smell the hug, the smell of the girl, filled his senses.
Running water reached his ears, he glanced and saw the girl turn off the faucet, walking over with a small glass of water.
He took it from her hands and gulped it down, a smile cracking from the coolness of the liquid. The girl had no larger glasses, but gladly took four trips before the boy stood up and drank directly from the faucet. She giggled as he paused to wash his hands and then continued with all the more vigor, finally switching the water off and wiping several drops from his mouth.
He cleared his throat, and found his voice, “hello,” he said, turning about.
“Hello,” she replied.
“Where am I?”
“Does not matter.”
“Why am I here?”
“If you don’t remember, I shall not say.”
“What will you tell me?”
The girl glanced down, biting her lip. “You have less then a hour. This...” she paused, “is a death sentence.”
“Why was I-”
“In the room? You, and everyone after your sentence, received a unique kind of sentence. You committed a crime, and you must die, but they are no longer allowed to kill prisoners.”
“Thanks to you. You and your colleague cleverly avoided the death sentence, in a way, and made it so the government had to select a compromise.”
“I don’t remember.”
“That was a precaution, they don’t want the criminals waking up still... dangerous.”
“You’ve been asleep for years, not aging, except for one thing. Your heart.”
“Your heart has been beating, wearing itself down, and today is your last day. I was alerted to wake you when you reached the one hour mark.”
“Where’s my colleague?”
The girl brushed her hair from her face. “Undergoing the death sentence as well.”
“Oh,” he looked at his hands, remembering a time when they were covered with blood, wondering what he could have possibly done, then looked at the girl with a start. “What about you then? Who are you?”
“That can’t be true.”
“I’m no one,” she insisted, her voice breaking.
“Then who am I?”
“That’s what you're called.”
He sank to the floor. “What am I supposed to do?”
“Try to remember, that’s what they all do,” she glanced towards the beds. “At least, that’s what I prefer.”
He cleared his throat uncomfortably. “Don’t worry, err, is there any food?”
She jumped up, “yes, of course, I’ll get you something.” She swept her hair into a ponytail, and set about preparing some food.
He crawled along the floor and settled between the door and beds, leaning against the wall, thinking. Nothing came to him but the clinking coming from the kitchen, and finally his eyes set about studying the sagging shelves of the book shelf, each one held up by the books on the one beneath.
“Have much company?”
“No,” the girl replied.
“Is this what you do? Wake up the prisoners and accommodate them till they die?”
His eyebrows relaxed. “Must be lonely.”
The girl stopped her preparations and glanced at the boy, blinking back tears again. “Yeah, it is,” she said, turning back to her work.
“Do you read?”
“All the time,” she said with forced laughter, trying to mask her budding tears. “All of them over there, they won’t give me more, I’ve tried.” She swished around, her eyes widened and she gasped at the boy, inches from her face. The tea clattered to the ground, splashing over there toes. She winced in pain but he gazed steadily, his toes scrunching in pain of their own accord.
“You’re no nobody.”
She met his gaze steadily, her pulse slowing down. “Thirty,” she breathed out in a whisper.
“Thirty minutes left.”
He brushed her tears from her eyes. “What’s your name.”
“I have no name.”
“Then what do they call you?” he said, eyes narrowing.
“They don’t call me anything,” she shook her head, her voice breaking again.
He backed away, his fists clenched. Once he was far enough, she pushed past him, fleeing to the far bed and leaning against the wall, gazing into the corner.
A few minutes later, he cleared his throat. “Twenty-five.”
“What should we do with them?”
She turned round, sitting cross-legged and placing her chin in her palm. “Try to remember, die with no regrets, they say.”
“What should I remember?”
“Anything you regret.”
Clyde bit the inside of his cheek, trying to remember, but as the minutes ticked away, the only thing he remembered was the blood on his hands. Who it’d belonged to was beyond him. He felt a pain in his chest, a mixture of regret and true pain, when the girl leaned in, pulling him from his daze.
“Five,” she said, tears streaming down her face. “Do you remember? At the very least?”
“No,” he groaned, clutching his chest. “Who are you? It must be important.”
“I’m undergoing the death sentence as well, as I said. I hoped you’d remember.” She threw her arms around him, clutching him in a hug.
Everything flooded back to him. The experiments, the murder, the death sentence, and her.
“Marigold,” he said with a sob, hugging her back, tighter, as tears slipped down his cheeks.
“You remember,” she gasped.
“I’m sorry,” his face contorted into an uncontrollable frown that he struggled to speak intelligibly through. “How long were you here?”
“How long,” he insisted, his heart slowing.
She let out a slow breath, “fifty-five years.”
“I’m sorry.” He buried her face in her shoulder, and she patted his head.
“I know, sleep now.”
As his heart slowed to a stop, Marigold smiled weakly, and placed one last kiss on his lips.