The door to the new holding room opened. The room was made completely out of thick glass except for the door and hallway leading into the room. Those were made of thick metal for security reasons. There were two beds set up side by side against one of the walls of the room. One was made with gray sheets and a single pillow at the head. The other bed was specially made up for the occupant of the room. The sheets were emerald green with a pink pillow at the head. A few stuffed animals were laid out on the bed, but they were really only to add a more homey touch to the barren room. Across from the beds was a table that had a cover made of cloth stuffed with cushioning to prevent injury. A chair, covered similarly to the table, was pushed in against the table. On the wall opposite of the door was a flat screen TV protected behind a thick layer of glass that protruded into the room. A smaller screen, made of inflatable material, was connected to the wall by a short chain. Underneath the TV was a shelf where a few books were kept. There was also a small array of drawing materials including markers and sketchpads. However, there were no pens or pencils.
Dr. Benjamin Travis, Sr. was standing in an adjoining, observation room, keeping a watchful eye on the door that had just opened in the holding room. His gray hair was combed back close to his head and his green eyes stared out from behind thick glasses. He kept his hands in the pockets of his lab coat. Today was a special day, for two reasons. It was the first day the new holding room was going to be used, but it was also Dr. Travis’s last day. He had been “asked” to retire by the higher ups of the program. The only positive thing about it was he got to pick his successor. That had been an easy choice for him, but one that the higher ups and those who had been working closely with Dr. Travis had voiced numerous arguments about. The choice was his alone. Therefore his first choice for successor was the one who had gotten the job.
Screams came from the open door leading into the holding room. Dr. Travis watched patiently as the backs of two workers came into view. They were struggling with something just out of sight. The screaming became more frantic as the two workers managed to move further into the room. Slowly, a young woman came into view. Her short, dirty blonde hair was messy, a few strands sticking up. Her eyes were wide and filled with terror. They were amazing eyes. The inner most part of them were a dazzling royal blue while the rest of the iris was a mixture of green and small specks of gold.
They were the most unusual and beautiful eyes Dr. Travis had ever seen. They were only one of the reasons she had been chosen for this program. Recently, ironically just before he was asked to “retire”, Dr. Travis had received a large grant for his research and a new building to use. That was where they were now. They had been moving everything in before even attempting to move her.
One of the workers was kicked in the stomach and thrown across the room. He hit the wall and crumpled to the floor clutching his shoulder. The other worker managed to grab the woman’s leg before it she could do the same to him. The woman’s screams became ear piercing and Dr. Travis sighed.
He leaned forward and, calmly, removed his right hand from his pocket and pressed a small button in front of him. “Leah.”
The woman became silent and froze. The worker still holding her looked at Dr. Travis. Dr. Travis nodded and the worker released the woman. He hurried to the other worker and started to check his shoulder.
Dr. Travis kept his eyes on the woman. “Leah. Look at me.”
The woman flinched at the commanding tone of his voice, but slowly turned her head. Her eyes hesitated at the floor before moving up to meet Dr. Travis’s.
“Leah, what did I tell you about kicking?”
Leah was fighting to keep her eyes locked onto Dr. Travis. She raised her right hand up to her chest, showing a homemade doll. It was made of gray cloth, similar to the sheets on the second bed, and clothes had been stitched onto it using other kinds of fabric. A small black and white plaid shirt matched a pair of shorts and hat. Leah clutched the tiny thing against her tightly.
Dr. Travis took a deep breath. “Leah? What did I tell you about kicking?”
“Don’t.” Her voice was barely audible through the speaker.
Dr. Travis smiled. “That’s right. Now, I already explained to you yesterday what was going to happen today, correct?”
“What did I tell you?”
“I was getting a new room.”
“And…I’d have to leave my old room.”
“That’s right. I told you all of that and you still decided to make this move difficult. Why is that?”
Leah mumbled something inaudible over the speaker.
“Speak louder, Leah.”
“I don’t like leaving my room. I don’t like change.”
“Look around the room, Leah.”
Leah, happy to look away from Dr. Travis, quickly searched the room.
Dr. Travis leaned forward, watching her very carefully. “Everything looks exactly the same. We made sure everything stayed the exact same as your room. The only thing that’s different is the outside.”
Leah looked back at Dr. Travis, still clutching her doll to her chest. “But I still had to leave my room. This isn’t my room. This is a new room.”
Dr. Travis stared at her in silence. He turned his attention to the two workers still huddled on the floor. “How is he?”
The second worker looked at Dr. Travis. “His shoulder is dislocated…and he may have a concussion.”
“Take him to first aid. I no longer need your assistance.”
The men hurried out of the room, moving around Leah carefully. Leah flinched when the door slammed shut and locked.
Dr. Travis returned his attention to Leah. “Look at me.”
Leah slowly shook her head.
“Leah. Look. At. Me.”
Leah bit her lower lip and slowly looked at Dr. Travis.
“No more fighting. Okay?”
Leah nodded her head and squeezed her doll tighter. “Yes, sir.”
Dr. Travis leaned back and put his hand back in his pocket, cutting off the speaker into the holding room. Leah slowly moved towards the shelves under the flat screen TV. She ran her fingers across the few books placed on the shelves then she grabbed one of the sketchpads and a handful of markers. She hurried to the center of the room and placed the markers on the ground. She cradled her doll under her armpit and started to tear sheets of paper out of the sketchpad and throw the sheets onto the floor. She then threw the sketchpad behind her and fell to her knees. She grabbed two of the markers and, quickly uncapping them with her fingers, she began to draw.
Her hands moved over the papers quickly, but were never sure of what they were doing. An image slowly began to appear across all of the sheets of paper. Dr. Travis moved closer to the glass wall that separated him from Leah. His eyes searched the drawing being formed in front of his eyes.
“Doctor?” a lab assistant asked opening the door into the observation room. “He’s ready to meet her.”
Dr. Travis waved his hand at the lab assistant. “Then send him in.”
The lab assistant left. Dr. Travis pressed his hand against the glass and strained to see the full image Leah was creating.
Leah’s eyes were locked onto the papers in front of her. Her hands moved like separate beings. They switched markers without a pause and soon the drawing was almost finished. She just needed to use two more markers and it would be finished.
The door to the holding cell opened and closed. Footsteps approached Leah, but she was too caught up in her work, until the shoes appeared in her vision. Her hands stopped their work, only one line left before completion. The shoes were unfamiliar to Leah. She knew everyone who worked with Dr. Travis. She knew everyone, but the man who was now standing in front of her.
Her eyes slowly made their way up to the stranger’s face. He was young, close to Leah’s age. His eyes were green and his hair was a deep, dark brown. He wore thin glasses, most likely worn not very often.
Leah’s eyes widened. She dropped the markers in her hands and her doll fell, forgotten to the floor. Her breathing quickened and she whimpered. She scooted away from the stranger until her back hit the wall. Then she curled up into a tight ball, but her eyes were still visible and locked onto the newcomer.
The man watched her patiently. He took a few steps forward. He bent down onto one knee and picked up Leah’s doll. He looked into her eyes and smiled. “Hello, Leah.”
Leah began to shake her head furiously. “No! No! I don’t like change! Leave! You have to leave!”
The man stood and started to walk towards her. Leah squealed and curled tighter into a ball. “I’m sorry we had to meet under these circumstances, Leah.”
Leah uncurled and quickly crawled towards the bed made up for her. She grabbed the covers and roughly pulled it off the bed, pulling the stuffed animals and pillows to the floor with it. She wrapped the thick fabric around her, hiding herself from the man.
The man looked at Dr. Travis. “You really didn’t tell her anything about me.”
Dr. Travis laughed and pressed the intercom button. “I thought I had more time before I would be forced to leave the program.”
“No, you didn’t want her to know about me. You were going to try to convince her I was you.”
“What could possibly have put that thought into your mind?”
The man sighed and walked over to the emerald green, breathing blob that Leah was hiding inside of. He held out her doll. “Leah, you forgot Lee.”
The green blob flinched and slowly Leah’s head appeared from underneath the fabric. “How did you know her name?”
“I know a lot about you and Lee. Why don’t you come out and Dr. Travis will properly explain everything to you.”
Leah hesitated, but eventually she began to stand and reached for her doll. She quickly grabbed it from the man and looked at Dr. Travis.
The man turned to Dr. Travis and raised an eyebrow. “Are you going to be good and tell her what’s going on or do I have to do it?”
Dr. Travis took a deep breath and released it slowly. “Leah. I have been asked to leave. I will no longer be here watching over your progression.”
Leah shook her head. “You can’t. You’re always here. You can’t leave.”
“It’s not my choice, Leah. I have been asked to leave, but I was given the chance to name my successor. He is my successor.”
Leah looked at the man standing next to her. “But he isn’t you.” She looked back at Dr. Travis. “Things cannot change! I don’t like it when things change!”
“You don’t have to think of it as change,” the man said.
Dr. Travis eyed the man, a warning in his gaze. “That’s right, Leah. This man here is the closest to me I could possibly have found for you.”
Leah’s eyes flickered between Dr. Travis and the man. “What do you mean?”
“This is my son. Dr. Benjamin Travis, Junior. He is the only man I could possibly entrust my research to.”
Leah turned her complete attention to the man next to her.
He met her gaze and smiled. “If you’d like you can call me Dr. Travis. Although I prefer Dr. Ben.”
Leah clutched her doll to her chest. Suddenly she looked down at the doll as though it were talking to her. She slowly looked back at him. “Lee says I should call you Dr. Ben. She says I shouldn’t be afraid of this change. It will be all right.”
Dr. Ben looked at Dr. Travis. “How very kind of Lee.”
Dr. Travis cleared his throat. “I’m so happy this went so well. Dr. Ben, I would like to have a word with you before I leave for good. You, too, Leah.” He turned and left the observation room.
Dr. Ben turned to Leah and held his hand out to her. She stared at it and then at him. He laughed to himself and put his hand in his pocket. “We can be informal if you want to be.”
Leah wrapped the fabric of the covers around her tighter. “I don’t know what would be informal for the son of Dr. Travis.”
Dr. Ben wrapped his arms around her. Leah’s eyes widened and her heart began to pound in her chest. She roughly pushed him away.
“That would be informal, Leah.”
Leah hugged Lee close to her chest.
Dr. Ben’s eyes moved to the floor where the drawing Leah had been working on was lying forgotten. He walked to it and leaned down to get a closer look. “What did you draw, Leah?”
Leah walked forward and looked at her work. “I saw it in my head.”
The drawing was of a strange ship. It looked like a cruise ship, but some of the windows and the shape of the ship were unlike anything Dr. Ben had ever seen. The colors Leah had used added a haunting quality to the ship.
Dr. Ben looked into Leah’s beautifully, odd eyes. “You saw this just now?”