“Where are we? Why am I here? My head’s a little fuzzy.”
Gordon nodded. “It’s the drugs they gave you. You’ll get used to it eventually. Before long, you won’t even remember your own name. They’ll give you a new one, depending on your skills. That is, if you survive long enough to learn some skills.”
Liam’s heart pounded harder. That didn’t make sense. The last thing he remembered was…he searched hard for a memory of some kind, but only came up blank. He couldn’t remember anything except his name, and that had barely come to him. He clung to that memory, not wanting to forget his name.
Liam. My name’s Liam. Don’t forget it. Don’t forget.
My name is Liam. Liam.
No last name came forward. No middle name. Just Liam.
It would have to be good enough.
How old am I?
He glanced down at himself. Faded jeans. Black hoodie. Converse sneakers. Wiry build. Not as old as Gordon.
He stared blankly at the big, redheaded kid.
How old am I?
He glanced back down at himself.
Yeah. I’m twelve. I think.
Panic gripped him again. He couldn’t be sure. What was going on? Why couldn’t he remember anything?
Gordon’s words finally sank home: It’s the drugs they gave you.
Liam’s heart rate kicked up even more, galloping in place like a tethered thoroughbred. Drugs? Who were they? What had they done to him? He shouldn’t be here. He should be home with…who? His family? Did he even have a family?
His head hurt, a fierce pounding that made him want to scream in agony. He clutched his head in his hands and groaned softly. “Why am I here? Why? I don’t understand.”
Gordon shrugged. “Why are any of us here? Because we’re expendable. I just hope you last longer than my last roommate did.”
Liam snapped his head up, the headache screeching to a sudden halt. “What happened to your last roommate?”
Gordon eyed him with a seriousness that made Liam flinch. “He didn’t survive the first round of tests.”
Tests? What tests? What was this guy talking about?
“This is freaking me out.” Liam jumped up from the bed. He paced across the cell to the bars. Staring out into the corridor, he shouted, “Help! Let me out of here! There’s been a mistake!”
A big hand gripped his shoulder. “Won’t do you any good, Liam. You can scream and cry until you’re hoarse. They won’t free you. You’re not a human being anymore. You’re a test subject. A lab rat.”
Liam spun his head around, his gaze locking on Gordon’s. “What do you mean? Who are they?”
Gordon sighed. “They are The Company. They own us now. From this point forward, you just need to concentrate on staying alive, because you can’t run, and you can’t hide. You’ll never escape.”
He gave Liam a sympathetic pat on the back and turned away.
“Welcome to hell, roomie.”