Annabelle stood with her eyes closed. She stared intensely at the inside of her eyelids. It was as though she was searching them for some all-important detail. The view from the tower was just as beautiful as she remembered. She could see the snowy peak of the mountain and its rocky slopes below. Stark lines softened into the curve of a lush forest. Her eyes travelled down to the foothills and farmlands which surrounded the mountain. A brook flowed out of the trees and darted in and out of her view between green fields. It joined another stream and broadened. It ran under a bridge, passed the mill and through the middle of the village. Annabelle looked down on the village. She studied the roofs of the buildings. She knew which were houses and belonged to the blacksmith's forge, the apothecary and the tavern. She looked around the village square and saw smiling people going about their day.
She opened her eyes. There was no snow-capped mountain, no green fields, no babbling brook, no village square and no smiling faces. Only four grey walls. The same four grey walls she had spent the last twenty years looking at. Annabelle stood in the centre of the room with her arms outstretched. She could almost touch both walls at the same time. Almost.
She had heard strange noises that she didn't recognise and then the alarm. She knew the alarm because it sounded every week as a test, but this time it went on for hours before it stopped. She was glad of the quiet.
Annabelle moved to sit on her bed. Her eyes drifted from her open wardrobe to her bookshelf. Her gaze was drawn to the spines of her books. She was very proud of her little library and had read them all more than once. She had seven books.
The wardrobe door was always open. The other door was always closed. It had a hatch in the middle and opened out onto a corridor. Annabelle wondered if that made it a 'corridoor'. She had been out of her room, but not often, and when she came back she could always tell that someone else had been in and closed the wardrobe door.
Annabelle got up and walked to her wardrobe. It took her three steps. She reached in and pulled out a white dress identical to the one she was wearing. She hung it up next to the other three.
The hatch in the other door opened outwards and startled Annabelle. It always did. Lunch must be early today, she thought. She rushed over to her bed to see who was bringing her meal. Three times every day the hatch would open and someone outside would rest a tray of food on it. Annabelle liked to see as much of them as possible. For years, all she had seen was their torsos and hands. The torsos were covered in different clothes every time, but Annabelle got used to seeing the same pairs of hands over and over again. Some were brown, some were pink and one had long pointy red nails. Some wore rings, most wore watches.
She peered at the hatch and she couldn't see anyone. She saw the other side of the corridor, and the door opposite hers which bore the name Billy.
Annabelle realised that not only was there no torso and no hands, but there was no tray. She hadn't been particularly hungry, but now she worried that lunch wasn't coming. She stood up and walked toward the open hatch leaning left and right to try to see more.
A hand loomed into view and Annabelle shrank back to the safety of the bed. The hand grasped the door through the hatch and the door made a hissing noise. It sounded a bit like the noise the door made when it open on its own, but louder. The hand pulled the door towards it and it opened.
Annabelle jumped up onto the bed and pressed herself against the back wall.
The door swung outwards and a man stepped into the room. Annabelle didn't recognise him immediately. She looked down at his hand and felt a wave of familiarity. She recognised the bitten nails and the wedding ring. She knew those hands. They had brought her breakfast, lunch and dinner for several years. She looked at the rest of him. There were spectacles in front of his eyes. They were blue. He had a furry chin. He wore a long white coat, what looked like a red shirt and a small rectangle with a little picture of him smiling and the words PROF. PETER JENKINS written under it.
"Annabelle." He said, leaning in the doorframe. "You have to go."
"Anywhere" he said abruptly, he could see Annabelle searching his face trying to make sense of this. Disappointed in himself, he offered "Elsewhere" in a softer tone.
"This facility is being closed.” Her expression must have made it clear that she didn't understand, because he added. "There are men here. They're coming in through the front door, which means you need to go out through the back."
PROF. PETER JENKINS motioned her towards him with his left hand. He was holding his side tightly with his right. Annabelle took a tentative step toward him and he moved backwards into the corridor. She followed him out and stood outside her own door. She closed it and lifted the hatch shut. Her name was written on the outside. She ran her fingers over the letters and turned to see Billy's door.
She looked down the corridor and PROF. PETER JENKINS was quite a way ahead of her lurching from side to side. She started after him looking at the names on the doors either side of her. Charlotte, Daniel, Emma, Frank and the rest. She knew these names.
"Where are the others?" she asked.
"Olivia and Peter and the others." she said reading names from the nearest doors.
"Oh, they are long gone. You're the last one here, Annabelle."
The end of the corridor lit up and Annabelle saw PROF. PETER JENKINS in silhouette. She caught up with him and he ushered her outside. It was bright and her eyes hurt. She felt a breeze through her dress and she shivered. She looked down at her bare feet among the undergrowth.
PROF. PETER JENKINS was doing something to the door. She looked at his torso and she could see he was bleeding a lot. She reached out towards his reddening shirt and then looked up at his face. He pushed a button. Their eyes met and he said only "Go" as the door began to slide close between them.
Annabelle turned her back to the huge metal door. Ahead of her there were trees are far as she could see above her blue sky and mountain slopes. She started walking down the mountain. It was time to go and see Billy.
Thank you for reading. More tomorrow.