I don't quite remember when I fell asleep, but I must have at some point, because I wake up with someone leaning over me. Someone that I've never seen before.
"Theo?" he says.
I jolt upright in the bed. He stumbles back, surprised.
"Who the hell are you?" I hiss.
"I– I..." he swallows, his eyes wide with fear. "I came here t- to talk to you."
I pause to take a better look at him. He has a round, almost chubby face that lacks the scars of the man who's talked to me before, and his azure eyes have a youth to them that the previous man's lacked.
"Oh," I say. "Sorry. What happened to the one from before?"
His brow furrows. "Excuse me?"
"The man who talked to me yesterday. And the day before that."
He runs his fingers nervously through his hair. "Um, Jo– He doesn't work on Wednesdays."
"I see. I suppose you're going to tell me to sit down now," I say.
"Uh, yeah..." He pulls one of the chairs away from the table. "Go ahead."
I stand up, wiping the sleep from my eyes as I walk toward the table and sit down. He sets a small device down, presses the button labeled RECORD, and begins running me through the usual questions. Do you remember yesterday? What is your name? Do you know how you were created?
Finally, I interject. "Why won't any of you tell me your names?"
"We aren't supposed to," he answers.
When I don't say anything more for a few moments, he stops the recording and sighs.
"You may think of me as Nate," he says. "But don't say it when I'm recording, please. My job's on the line."
I nod, and we stay in silence for a while. This time it feels more comfortable, nothing like the lengthy stretches of uncomfortable quiet between me and the other guy.
Then Nate plays the recording and starts talking again. "How are you feeling?"
"Fine," I answer. I learned from the previous interviews that 'fine' is the most neutral and acceptable answer.
"Really?" Nate raises one eyebrow.
"To be honest, I feel like shit."
He frowns. "I'm sorry."
"Why am I even here?" I ask again.
"I can't tell you that. I'm sorry. No exceptions."
A deep, guttural sound comes from my throat, less of a groan than a growl.
"Listen," Nate says, "I don't even know why you're here, okay? I'm just trying to do my job."
I don't answer him. Lies don't deserve acknowledgement.
He digs in his pocket. "I almost forgot." He offers me a small tablet from his palm. "It's a Nutro-Tab. Take it."
Cautiously I reach out and grab the pill. I stare at it, not quite sure whether to trust his word.
"You're supposed to swallow it."
I give him a glare before taking the pill. "I know what I'm supposed to do with it."
"Riiight... Sorry," he says.
I won't acknowledge empty apologies either.
"I am sorry, I mean it. I know you don't like this, but can you give me a chance?" he pleads.
"And what if I don't feel like it?" I want to say. But then I realize that he could be useful.
"Yeah. Okay. Sorry." I say.
Nate sighs and turns off the recording, putting the small device back in his pocket. He sits up and walks toward the door.
"Yeah?" he responds.
"Next Wednesday, can you bring me a mirror or something? I'd like to know what I look like."
He smiles. "Yeah, Theo, I can do that."
He presses his fingertip to the sensor on the door, quietly opens it, and leaves. I hear the small beep of it locking behind him. Now I'm alone again. That's good. I need time to think.
I know I need to get out of here. This place is practically a prison, and I have no idea what they are going to do to me. It's almost as if it's ingrained inside my mind, the need to be free. I don't know where I would go. Hell, I don't even have the beginnings of a plan, but every time I think about leaving, my heart starts racing.
And I think that Nate might be the answer.