The first thing Vanessa noticed as she slowly woke up, blinking groggily and squinting at the too harsh light of the room, was how heavy her eyelids felt. Everything inside her felt weighted, as if gravity itself was trying to pull her down. She blinked several more times, first registering that everything around her was…white. The ceiling was high and white, the walls were white plaster, the floor was bare concrete, and the bed under her felt hard and stiff.
Wait. Where was she?
She abruptly sat up and then immediately regretted the action, wincing with a hiss at the sudden ache in her spine. Wherever she was, she’d been lying here for a long time. Slowly, carefully, Vanessa swung her legs over the side of the bed and unsteadily got to her feet. She glanced around. The room she was in was completely bare and empty, save for the bed and one small table with a chair in the corner. Everything about it was perfectly polished and clean.
The last thing she remembered was crashing onto her still unmade bed at four in the morning, exhausted from running some errands and from getting several mind-numbing essays done. She’d picked up Monica and Brennan from their respective schools and dropped them off, and she’d called them again to check in on them. How had she ended up here?
It wasn’t long before a voice came down from seemingly out of nowhere out of the speakers, making her nearly jump out of her skin. The cafeteria? How on earth was she supposed to know where that was? Hesitantly, Vanessa pushed open the door and took a look out into the hallway. There were arrows, alright…but did they lead to just the cafeteria?
It was cold. That was the first thing Xavier felt when he cracked his eyes open, squinting at the brightness of the weird fluorescent lighting. He squinted, automatically compelled to shield his eyes with a hand. But that seemed like too much effort in his current state, too tired to care about anything other than…maybe going back to sleep? Yeah, that’d be great. He’d just sleep in for a few more minutes. Just a few more minutes. Mom would yell at him if she came in to see him still asleep, well after his alarm having gone off, but what harm could a few minutes do? Two…or maybe five. Or ten. Or twenty–
That was when he heard the voice booming from the speakers and he nearly fell off of the bed entirely. Instead he gave a jerk and rolled, barely catching himself from going to the floor. With a groan, he pulled himself up on one elbow and blinked hard before looking around. As his vision focused, the first thing he noticed was how…empty everything was. Clean. Bare. Nothing like his…room?
His room. He hadn’t even gone to sleep in his room, he’d crashed onto the sofa in the living room after staying out late. No one had noticed him sneaking back in. But either way, there was none of the clutter he knew, not even a rumpled shirt or a forgotten sock. It was all white, and all bare, and all…where was he?
Xavier sat up and, with some effort, stood up. He tried to focus on the voice he’d heard again. Going to the cafeteria. Right. He could do that. He could freak out about what was happening later, when his brain had fully woken up. He awkwardly stumbled towards the door, yanked it open, and stuck his head out into the hall. There were green arrows on the floor. Okay…that was a start. And other people seemed to be out and about, too.
“Uh…” Right now, with his brain still half-asleep, he wasn’t sure of what exactly to say to get anyone’s attention. Or who to talk to right now, for that matter. “Hey?” he ventured, to no one in particular.