When I opened my eyes, everything was purple. So it was true, just like he said it would be.
I hadn’t believed it at first. It was a preposterous idea, only being able to see everything in one color. The world was meant to be seen in brilliant hues, of every tint that you could imagine. How could something be taken away so easily? How could the entire world be doused in purple once you open your eyes?
Besides, when a mysterious, trenchcoated messenger comes to your doorstep and awkwardly hands you an envelope officially sealed with wax that warns you of only seeing in purple, it isn’t exactly comfortable to digest.
My first instinct was to squeeze my eyes shut so tightly that I began to see spots behind my closed eyelids. That was what made nightmares vanish into thin air, what made them retreat to the dark depths of your mind, right? This was only a figment of my imagination. It had to be. Seeing everything in different hues of a single color wasn’t normal. None of this was normal.
I allowed my eyes to slowly, slowly, slowly flicker open. The room wasn’t purple anymore. Instead, it had turned to different shades and tints of red.
The letter had said that this would happen as well.
This is completely natural, the letter had claimed in a neat, medium-sized scrawl. Do not be alarmed.
I attempted to push myself up into a sitting position. My elbows buckled underneath my weight and I crashed back against the unbelievably soft mattress and pillow that I had been resting on. Instead of trying again, though, I lay against my mattress and stared at the now-scarlet ceiling, trying desperately to recall what had happened before this when I realized something.
There were no windows.
I was in a room with no windows.
It was a familiar room, I knew that much. I remembered noting that the room was windowless before I had slipped into an inky black unconsciousness. I had never been in such a room. It made me feel enclosed, like a bird in a cage.
Except birds could see the outside world through bars, and I couldn’t.
I found it strange that I could remember entering the room, but I couldn’t place why I had done it or what I had been doing before that. It was as if my entire life were deleted from my memory, save the man with his official-looking letter.
A door that I hadn’t noticed before slid open automatically to admit a lady in a plain dress and clipboard. She was older than I was, and her hair was tied up in a tight bun with not a single hair out of place. Despite her orderly appearance, her eyes were kind – almost motherly. If I could have moved, my muscles would have been relaxing.
She took a step towards me, jotting something down, and then moving her eyes to look at me. Her mouth moved to say a friendly “hello.” With a jolt, I realized that I could barely hear her. It was almost as if she were speaking underwater, voice muffled and movements soft and flowy, like liquid.
The clipboard was set down beside my arm; I could feel it brush against me just barely as the lady leaned over, placing her palm flat against my forehead and then prodding at my arm. A sharp pain shot up. I almost cried out. I probably would have, had my mouth been light enough to form that simple sound.
“Has your arm been bothering you?” Her voice was louder this time, and I could understand it as she rolled up my sleeve. It took nearly all of my energy to turn my head to the side to see what she was doing, instead of replying like a normal person would.
I didn’t see much, just a bandage on my arm. My flesh burned as if it were on fire under the coverings, stung as if a thousand bees were attacking that one specific spot all simultaneously. Tears pricked my eyelids. I didn’t understand why the pain was registering now, when I had been okay before.
Carefully, the lady began to unwrap my arm. Every movement caused the pain to grow stronger and my teeth subconsciously gritted together to hold back my scream. A cold sweat broke out upon my forehead, my breathing became shallow, my head began to spin…
Until, suddenly, everything screeched to a complete and utter halt. The pain was lifted immediately.
I blinked once, ignoring how the color red turned to blue. “What-“
“It’s the injection,” the woman explained calmly, her expression never changing into one of alarm. “You’re having a reaction.”
“A reaction?” I managed to get out, realizing that it was far easier to move now, though it wasn’t completely effortless. Not yet. “What injection?”
As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I remembered the shot. It had happened when I had first entered the room, sat on the bed. It was a different lady who had given it to me, though. With a firm mouth and unkind eyes and gray hair pulled back into a strict bun as well. The shot had lasted for only a few seconds, and I didn’t remember much after that. I figured that was when I had blacked out.
“The letter explained everything,” her voice was almost soothing. “We have to make sure that your body can handle the real thing.”
“This isn’t the real thing?”
The woman stopped, her hand pausing over her clipboard, hovering as if unsure whether or not she should pick it up and jot down more notes. She grabbed ahold of it after apparently daring herself to, avoiding my eyes. “It could be, if it works.”
Another pain sprang up in my arm, but this time it was farther down, by my wrist. My mouth shaped a question, but before I could ask the one word that was on my lips, I looked down at my wrist, where the darkened blueness of my veins was rearranging, standing out against the paleness of my skin. It hurt, but I was far too fascinated to say anything. Instead, I watched as numbers etched their way underneath my skin, a dull pain still there as the last number melted away every second, changing, counting down. My eyes couldn’t tear themselves away. Not even as I felt the bile rising up in my throat.
I could hear the smile in the lady’s voice as she said, “Congratulations. You are officially the first person in history who knows exactly, to the minute, when they’ll die.”
I turned towards her, eyes widening and voice catching in my throat as she lifted her pen and checked something off on her clipboard.
Congratulations. You are officially the first person in history who knows exactly, to the minute, when they’ll die.