Two little eight-year-old Graces stare at each other. Each wears the white lab gown.
“Who are you?” One of them asks.
“Who are you?”
The Graces examine each other. Who is this other person? A copy? A clone? An alien?
One of the Graces reaches out her hand. The other one shies away at first, but then curiosity gets the better of her. The two hands make contact.
Both Graces jump back from each other. They examine their hands in shock.
“Are you–” one of the Graces asks, “are you–me?”
The other Grace’s eyes widen.
“Did I get copied when I came here?”
The other Grace still doesn’t respond. She begins shaking her head.
“Where is here?” Grace asks.
She looks around. She has no idea where she is.
“I want Chex. Where’s Chex? Chex!”
Grace begins pacing about frantically, shouting for Chex. She starts crying.
Tears well up in the other Grace’s eyes. She’s so overwhelmed by everything. She can’t process it anymore. She turns and runs away.
Grace notices that the other Grace has run away.
“Wait, no! Come back! Don’t leave me here alone!”
The other Grace is gone.
“Please! Come back! I don’t know what to do! Please! Come back!”
Grace stumbles about, begging through her tears.
“Come back! Please!”
Adult Grace and Chex chased after the orderlies down the hallway. Nurses held an oxygen mask on Little Grace’s face as she seized.
“Make way!” One of the nurses shouted over and over again.
Adult Grace could hear her heart beating in her chest.
Grace, can you hear me? Grace? Come on, don’t do this to me.
The orderlies wheeled Little Grace into another room. The doors swung shut behind them. Adult Grace and Chex followed.
A hand shot out and stopped them.
“I’m sorry, ma’am, you can’t go in there.” A nurse said.
Confusion swept Adult Grace up in a flurry of emotion.
“What? No! Where are they taking her? What are they doing? What’s happening to her?” She protested. “You have to let me in!”
“She’s having a seizure, ma’am. They’re going to give her more anticonvulsants and try to get it stopped.”
Adult Grace pushed against the nurse, trying to get inside.
“They already gave her that!”
“Grace, come on. Let the doctors do their job.” Chex said.
Chex gently placed a hand on either of Adult Grace’s shoulders and eased her away from the nurse.
“She’ll be okay.” He said.
Adult Grace shoved Chex away.
“Don’t lie to me.”
I’m here! You’re alright!
I don’t know where I am, Grace.
You’re having a seizure, Grace. You’re in a part of the hospital. The doctors are taking care of you. It’ll be alright.
Where are you, Grace? Where’s Chex?
We’re waiting right outside. We had to get out of the doctors’ way.
You don’t need to be! I’m right here. I can’t be with you, but you can talk to me.
Am I dying?
No! You might be sick for a while, but you’ll be right as rain as soon as this is over. It’ll be like it never happened.
Don’t lie to me.
Little Grace opened her eyes. She was in bed. Adult Grace and Chex sat in chairs on either side of her, both of them asleep.
Little Grace looked around. She was in a hospital room. Wires connected her to monitors that measured her vitals.
Little Grace sat up, slowly. Everything about herself felt groggy and tired. She tried to remember. Seizure, Adult Grace had said. But why? Who knows.
I hate wires.
Little Grace takes off the wires attached to herself. The monitors beep in protest. Little Grace glances at Chex and Adult Grace. They’re both still sleeping. Little Grace knelt up on her hospital bed and pushed the power button on the monitors. The beeping stopped.
She carefully climbed out of her bed, being careful not to disturb either Chex or Adult Grace.
They were getting annoying. They were always arguing. To an extent, Little Grace could understand why. That place was awful and Chex’s experiment sent them there. But Adult Grace seemed to always be angry, and she was always trying to get Little Grace angry, and, well, being angry all the time was exhausting. Better to leave them where they were for now. Quiet.
Little Grace crossed to the door and slid out of the room.
She had no idea where she was going, but exploring was always fun. She headed down the hallway to the stairwell.
Up or down? Up would lead to the roof. She’d been to the roof. She didn’t know what was downstairs.
Little Grace headed down the stairs, her bare feet padding along on the metal steps. Above her, a door opened and a doctor and a nurse headed down the stairs.
Little Grace picked up the pace, trying to remain as quiet as possible. She had no idea why she was panicking, but she couldn’t help it. The doctor and nurse got off at another floor and disappeared.
Little Grace breathed a sigh of relief and continued on down the stairs. Down, down, down. There was the parking garage. That’s it.
Little Grace stared at the door. She was curious. She hadn’t been in the parking garage before, but she was barefoot and in a hospital nightie.
A door from a couple floors above her opened up. In a panic, Little Grace opened the parking garage door and ran inside.
There were ambulances everywhere. They stretched on for row upon row. Little Grace wandered through them, impressed by their bright, red and white paint jobs. That was all there was to see, though. Not very interesting in the slightest.
Little Grace turned to head back up the stairs. Or maybe she should take the elevator. That was a lot of stairs.
A hand reached out and grabbed Little Grace, clamping over her mouth.