“It is too late!” He yells. His fist slams into the metal wall. It makes me jump. He slumps dejectedly against the wall. I feel the doom settling in. He is right It is too late. But there has to be a way to avoid this. “We can fight it.” I suggest weakly. “We already have it.” He looks at me. I know what he means. There is a black ring around his light brown iris. I have that black too. I remember them shooting us with a needle filled with glowing liquid. The liquid made our blood glow a brilliant blue for days now we have this ring of black. The turning will come next. This is the worst thing that can happen to anyone when the mind turns on itself. They invented it as a punishment for running. I ran with Ben and now I am here with him getting punished for it. We were almost to the border. Almost there. They found us a day before we would have crossed. Those who run and do not make it to the Border get punished. They call it the turns. “I am so sorry Maze,” Ben says. “I am the one who pulled you along.” For some reason I smile. Running with Ben was fun. “I agreed to run. We had an adventure. Thats what life is about, having an adventure. We are not going to die any way. We will have more adventures. We are still young.” “But we will be turning.” Ben says. I look at him. He is so unlike the boy that I agreed to run with. The Ben that I knew never gave up. We were being brought here. He fought the patrol the whole way. He fought when he was getting injected with the turning liquid. Then he stopped. It is inevitable now. His eye has the evil black ring. His light laughter colored brown eyes look distraught with that ring around them. That seems appropriate because that is what he will become with the turnings. Distraught. I wish I could kill him. I wish he could kill me. “Ben,” I say quietly. He looks up from his hopelessly folded hands. “Will you kill me.” “Maze… I don’t know If I can because…” His eyes drift back to his hands. “I just can’t.” I understand. I would not be able to kill him. I could not bear to see the light leave his soft brown eyes.
* * *
“They are almost there. 1 hour.” I hear someone say. My eyes snap open and I see Ben just sitting blankly. I man is examining his eyes. “Get away from him.” I yell lunging toward the man. He backs away and exits the room. I turn to Ben. He stared to the wall blankly. “Ben, why did you just stop?” I ask half mad half sorrowful. I sit next to him. He answers the question the worst answer I have ever heard. “It wouldn’t of mattered. Nothing I do any more will matter because in 1 hour I will turn and you will too. Nothing that we do matters any more.” He says. His hopelessness sends a wave of tears to my eyes. Ben used to be my source of hope. He could figure out any problem, He always was there for me. Never giving up. Now in front of me is a sick parody of the Ben that I knew and loved. Doom has settled into him. It is settling into me too. A deep pit of fear is filling my stomach. 1 hour until I turn. 1 hour until my brain turns against itself and horrible unimaginable things happen. Fear and pain trap the brain in a swirling current of torture and there is no way to swim out. I need to live this eleventh hour. “I love you Ben. Did you know that? I need you to know that before...” My voice trails off. “I didn’t know that,” he says. “I love you Maze.” He slips his arm around my shoulder. “My first thoughts about you where how beautiful you where. We were only 10 but I still thought you were beautiful.” I laugh. “My first thoughts of you where ‘wait what is he doing here.’ you were new to the village and then I thought ‘he must come from a far away place because his eyes are weird.’ I have only seen dark brown and green eyes in the village. Your eyes were new to me.” Ben laughs. I laugh too. The hour slips by like smoke. I look at Ben in the eyes and the black is almost filling the white part. “Maze! You the black.” Tears start to spill out of his eyes. The black creeps twords the edges. We are seconds away from a lifetime full of mental torture until we die. There is no way out. “Ben I love you.” “I love you.” He says. I look at the Brown part of his eyes. The part that drew me to him like a magnet attracts metal. The black covers the white part of his eye. Then I can’t see him. I am afraid and I hurt it is like 1000 knives are stabbing me in one million different places. I have turned.
* * *
I always cry when I think about Turning. It happened to me and my husband Ben. We fought it somehow and we have been helping others fight it too. Something about the last thing we said to each other helped us. We find ways to help others. I still have the memories of the torture. We were in the turn for 8 years. We got out of it and now Ben is lying right next to me in out dark room. He talks in his sleep. He still has bad dreams about the turn 18 years ago. He wakes up with a gasp. I find his hand in the dark. “I am right here Ben.”
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