This was Bunnel's first official story. We have written numerous more short stories for your pleasure. We hope you enjoy this one!
“Where are we going daddy? Where mommy?”
“Shush…shush…we’ll be okay…” Dad softly stroked my hair. Mom took me and hugged me tight. Almost dried tears lined her face. I buried my face into her fur lined leather jacket. I closed my eyes and drank in the smell of mother’s perfume…like the smell of a field of flowers in spring, sunlight streaming through and open window…the caressing touch of a morning breeze…I felt tears in my eyes also. Why was I crying? As a feeling of dread and sadness hung in the air, the question echoed again and again in my head.
All my parents had told me was that we were going on a vacation, but we would need air masks on the way there. I wondered what kind of terrible vacation this would be. And I could not keep wondering where the place was. The elevator we were on went down and down quickly. I looked up from my mom’s jacket. The filmy clear-glass walls of the elevator showed a dusty landscape. We kept going down and down. Fog gathered outside the glass. I heard something crackling in the distance…was it…glass? What was that odd noi-
Shattering glass flew everywhere. And I was falling. Help me! I pleaded silently…HELP! Somehow, my mom grabbed me and pulled her air mask over my face. Without her air mask, she would die. The toxic air of this strange place would poison her within minutes. I saw Dad, falling and falling and falling…his air mask was not on his face. The toxic air in their lungs reduced them to colorful swirls in the air; they were nothing but dust particles…blackness…dizziness…swirls…mom…dad…
I blacked out.
“The poor little girl…” metallic voices floated around me. They had no emotion, plainly monotonous. They sounded…well, dead. I was no little girl to them “…parents died…” snapshots of conversations, distant voices, echoed through my head. The words came back to me…my parents died? Am I dead too? Urgent, silent thoughts rumbled aimlessly around. Where am I? Mommy…daddy…where are you? I need you…Then, I heard another voice…must be a man’s…it was too hard to tell…
“…needs new lungs…I will attend to her…”
Blurred images of faces and bodies floated before my eyes. I blacked out again.
Upon waking up about five hours later, I found my neck was stiff, and I was oddly tired. The strange room I was in was a reflecting titanium dome. Fiber woven shades covered some windows, so the room was dark. This place was far from welcoming. A small violet (or was it black?) plant stood on a little metal pedestal in corner of the room, wherever a corner was. Behind me, I heard a door open.
Entering the room was a lengthy man with cat-like black-green eyes. Once again, things changed colors. Were his eyes blue now? No…it couldn’t be…they were positively green a moment ago…no, it’s blue now…green! No, blue…the strange man spoke. He was wearing a starched, white doctor’s coat. He had brown-gray hair, but did not have the impression of being young or old, or even middle-aged. What was wrong with him? What was wrong with this place? What was wrong with me?
“Welcome to the
From the man’s words, I was in a hospital on some toxic aired planet. I had never heard the name “Htrae” in my life, so far. But this was not like any hospital or place I had ever been before. Metal panels covered the walls, not decorated with prancing horses and teddy bears with balloons. Not even a picture hung on its cold walls. Where were the plump nurses in friendly colored scrubs calling you ‘honey’ or ‘dearie’ or ‘sweetie pie’ waiting on you hand and foot, all day long? No. The walls were completely bare and unwelcoming, and only tall snobbish people (if they were people) were there to look at you with cruel sneers.
What had happened to me? Was I kidnapped and put in this…this sterile prison? Or…was I rescued? As if reading my mind, which I was unable to sort out myself, the doctor-man said, “Your parents died. You were taken from the rubble of the destroyed elevator. You will now live here.
“You have no one now. You are no one. From now on, you will only be referred to as ‘you,’” Doctor-man said bluntly, as if simply stating facts from a book. “This is called the Dead Wing. It is made for the No Ones. No Ones no longer have names.”
This perplexing information seemed to clog my mind…and I was scared. I couldn’t think. My heart was pounding hard. Sweating and breathing heavily, I finally spoke.
“Who…are…you?” I froze…my voice…it was like scraping steel pipes together.
“WHAT DID YOU DO TO ME?!” I demanded angrily. Calmly, Doctor-man answered, “It was a fairly simple procedure to patch up you punctured lungs. We opened you up and replaced your lungs with fiber-steel ones. They are strong enough to withstand anything.”
“You didn’t have my consent!” I rasped, hating my voice more and more.
“Would you rather have died?” was the cruel response I received.
“I would rather be dead and with my parents!” My response shocked me into a dull, stony silence. I lowered myself down and closed my eyes. I pictured my parents; sweet, kind, loving...they were people who loved me. Why did they die? I opened my eyes and stared at the metal ceiling. Doctor-man was no longer in the room. I stood up and paced the empty room.
My chest was heavy now, I found…very heavy. It was hard keeping my body up. I was angry. Why? The question came back. WHY?! I banged my knuckles on the titanium wall. My bones shattered; I did not care. A blinding, stabbing pain shot up my arm, but I decided it was no better than the pain of losing my parents. I clenched my teeth, and waited through another hour of throbbing pain. Then, I decided that I would leave this dreary, hated room. With my good hand, I pulled open the door. To my surprise, it actually opened, sending a rush of cold air into my face. I walked down the roughly carpeted hallway to another door with an illuminated gray exit sign above it. I simply walked out the door, not knowing what was on the other side. I gasped.
Prancing horses. Plump, friendly nurses. Pictures in frames. “Huh?” I thought. I looked behind me one last time. There was no door. I fingered the sky-blue wall, then knocked. It was not even hollow. I was still concentrating hard on the crayoned, but cheery wall, when a man’s voice called out to me.
"Christine! Over here!” he exclaimed. He was a kind looking middle-aged man with dark brown hair with some gray streaks in it. His eyes were dark green, and I thought there was some black and blue in them too. His white doctor’s coat was slightly crumpled, and on his breast pocket was…a nametag! It read: Dr. Hu, pleased to be at your service. He continued, “Where have you been? Your parents are worried sick about you!”
“MY PARENTS?!” I screamed excitedly.
“Well, yeah, of course. Who else?"
Dr. Hu smiled. I laughed. I was so happy; no cold, grey walls, no purple (or black) flowers. And, those hateful metallic lungs were gone. My voice was so musical, so lovely, not a scraping monotone, the lifeless metallic voice that I had before.
I followed Dr. Hu into another room, which was cheerily decorated with flowers, cards, and countless teddy bears that said “Get well soon!” when you pressed on their foot. And there, sitting together on a pale pink soft, bouncy looking bed, were my parents.
“Christine!” my parents wailed in happiness when they saw me walk in. I ran and hugged them in relief. “Mom! Dad! I thought you had died!”
“Oh, sweetie. What are you talking about? When you had fallen down that broken elevator four days ago, we thought you had died! You were completely unconscious. We sat by you all the time, waiting for you to wake up. Apparently, you woke up when we were taking a break and you wandered out of the room. We were just so worried about you, dear,” Mom said. I was enclosed in more hugs. But I was still confused. What elevator? When? And why did my arm have a cast over it? But when had it-no! It couldn’t be true, I thought. It was a silly idea. Pushing these thoughts out of my head, I bounced happily onto the bed between my parents.
For the rest of that day, I basked happily in my parents’ love for me. And I promised myself, that after this incident, I would never again doubt my parents love for me. I knew that they would always be ready to give up their lives for mine. And, of course, I never told anybody about the Dead Wing, nor the