March 27th, 2006
Lucian’s body had been cleansed to near perfection and his head shaved to remove any thread that might disrupt the process. Everything had to be perfect, or else the project might fail. They placed him in Dorm 12, a white-walled comfortable living space. He sat there looking through the pictures they gave him of happy children playing in playgrounds that, to his knowledge, still existed. They forced him to hang pictures of his girlfriend, his mother, and his father to remind him how important his deeds were.
He picked up his papers, which listed the charges against him. Lucian hadn’t meant to go half a year without a job, but times were tough and an honest buck was hard to make these days. Sitting there looking them over next to the picture books and the trinkets left in his moderately-sized quarters he considered the idea that this might be his time to make amends.
The young man almost believed that this was his big chance. This was going to be his moment of truth. He almost believed it, until he heard the whispers of the facility staff and of the others staggering down the hallway towards the chamber. They were getting progressively more worried, and kept saying things like “We’re narrowing it down” and “I hope we have an answer soon.” That ounce of doubt had him wondering just how many times they told men and women they were going to be the one.
Those who went mad before they were shuffled down towards the chamber used to mutter about seconds, about minutes. They ranted about time. Sixty rooms, all in orde,r and the one in room sixty always went first. They counted down from there. Lucian wondered what happened when the last person left and the rooms were empty. The only logical idea was that the scientists would fill them again.
Standing up from the obligatory mediation on his photos, he retrieved his personal scrapbook from the shelf above his bed. Slumping back down onto the plush surface, he cracked open the book to peruse its contents.
The same photographs begged his attention and brought warmth and hope. He was sure the facility wouldn’t object if they found it. All except one piece, that is. Amongst the littering of pictures and letters was a news article from the National Report. Bold lettering filled throughout the headlines and text. Facilities had been shut down. All clients were refunded and Chronos Enterprises became the newest wing of the UN. It was all here. but no one knew what happened next; no one but those nervous-looking scientists outside his door.
Something must have gone wrong, he figured. Tourist groups stopped returning from trips and at first they prohibited travel past a hundred. Then they didn’t travel at all. Soon the sixty rooms were filled and the public shut up. Scientists got nervous and politicians started plotting. Is that what they meant when they told Lucian he was the answer? Perhaps they meant that this problem had to have a solution. If Lucian was to be the one then he considered himself lucky. Because, if he wasn’t, he was the twelfth second of another minute where no one else existed.