The four of them lived in the same five-storey building. Each one occupying a different level and allowed to decorate it with whatever their heart’s desired. Amelia lived on the first floor of what we would later call Experiment A. At the time we didn’t really have a name for what we were doing, we just knew that no one had done anything like this before. I visited the lobby on the fourth day of the experiment. We thought that would be enough time for them to adjust to having anything they wanted. We were wrong.
The idea looked simple on paper: Find a family, give each of them a place to live and offer them everything they wanted. The catch? Well, at the time we invited them, we honestly didn’t think there would be one. These were foolish ideas. And that’s exactly what were, fools. We promised not to reveal their last names so I won’t write them here either. I’ll only refer to them as Family X. The rules were well defined and easy to understand. If you want something, you call the lobby, and we will get it to you. Food? Toys? Music? Games? Decorations? If you could name it, we could get it to you. That was the way we sold it because that’s what we believed. What we didn’t account for, however, was what happens when you wanted something that we couldn’t produce.
Amelia moved into her empty apartment, and she immediately did what all four members did: Looked around and examined every room, corner, hidey-hole, cupboard. For what? We weren’t sure. Maybe it was something all humans did when they got into a new place. She then leaned her back up against the the living-area wall, slouched down and put her head in her hands. For a moment we thought that something had gone wrong with the signal, but it seemed Amelia was just taking her time, because, as we would learn, Amelia was very meticulous.
It took the other three family members a few hours to ask for a bed, but that was the first thing Amelia asked for. And, aside from some fresh clothes and some well considered meals, the only additional things she requested in the first three days were a pen and paper which she never used. We originally presumed that Amelia was just walking around the apartment, figuring out what she wanted and that the pad and pen for her to write down her ideas. Instead, she was waiting.
On the fourth day, I visited the lobby. The contrast between each member of Family X was incredible. At 7pm on the day of my visit, the lights and cameras went out. Those of us working in The Lobby scrambled to get everything up and running again but, in the 49 seconds it took us to do that, Amelia was gone. I gave the signal for some of the workers to go and explore the apartment. They found no sign of Amelia, just a piece of paper with the word PRISON written on it. We weren’t too frustrated, because, as interesting as Amelia was, the other members of Family X would prove to be far more fascinating.
My name is Gregg Savage and, every night when the house is quiet, I write and publish a free children’s story at dailytales.com.au for you to share and enjoy.
Illustrations by Alisha Towers: FACEBOOK
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