I stared into the eyes of the boy. Again. The same boy who has been visiting my dreams for three weeks now. His hazel eyes always with a pleading look and always saying 'please' to me with no other words. The only other features I am ever able to see is his olive skin and the oversized coat he wears.
"I don't think I can do this again," he urges, his voice a husky whisper as he digs in his coat pocket. "I need you, mia bella, to come to me. Find me."
"First off, what does 'mia bella' mean?" I said, watching intensely as he pulls his hand out of the pocket. This reoccurring dream was never this long. "Second, this is a dream."
He merely raised his eyebrow at me, telling me in that single look this was not a dream and I knew it. He then reached out and took my hand, though I could not feel anything from the motion.
"Take this," he said, clearly ignoring my first question, "and find me. It will lead you to me."
When he removed his hand, I looked down to find a strange necklace. It was in the shape of a cartoon heart, with what appeared to be a lock on its side. But what made the locket strange was the gears on the one side that seemed to move clockwise, counter, fast, slow and be completely still all at once.
His hand covered mine again, hiding the mechanics ongoing motions.
"I suggest, amante, you not look at that part too much." He winked at me. "It can drive someone mad."
He took his hand away again and I clasped my own around the locket.
"This is still only a dream," I said softly, looking from my closed hand to his eyes.
He only gave me a small smile in return before he looked at what I assume was a watch on his wrist. He let out a sigh and gave me his full attention again.
"Come find me, Emilia."
I felt my eyes flutter open before my brain registered the sun streaming through my open window or the warm blankets keeping me safe from the cool of the morning. Groaning slightly, I pushed myself from the pillow and stretched my back and arms. The hazel-eyed boy and I never spoke to such lengths before. Truthfully, I was pleased my brain decided to give me more time with the dream boy. He was very easy on the eyes; through I cannot place where I knew his face from. Dreams always consisted of people you know or have seen in passing; yet I think I would remember a tanned, hazel-eyed boy who had the face of a Roman god.
Shaking my head with a chuckle, I removed myself from the warm bed and to the window. I reached up to close it, but felt something metal on the top. Puzzled, I closed my hand around it and pulled it down, only to immediately drop it when I saw the chain attached to it. The locket clattered on the floor, but otherwise made no additional noise.
"What. The actual. Hell," I said out loud.
On the wood floor lay the locket from my dream. The whirling gears facing me and making me as dizzy as the boy said it would.
I scooped up the necklace and turned it so the smooth side faced me. The surface had writing written in a language I did not know, but could easily pronounce: Sei la mia luce.
Muttering the phrase a few times, I determined it sounded like the unknown words Mr. Hazel-eyes said to me.
I jumped at the sound of the superior's voice. I shoved the locket into my sweatpants pocket just as the door swung open.
The superior, or Madam Superior, no one here knows her true name, was an older woman with a tongue of poison. Her eyes nearly looked black, especially under the hat she always wore. She was in charge of us girls who were orphaned during this war. Most of us cannot recall even the faces or names of our parents.
"Your flatmates said you were vocal in your sleep again," she said, her voice dripping with arrogance and attitude.
"Just a strange dream, Madam Superior," I said casually. One of the things I learned right away I was good at: lying. "You know I always speak in my sleep if I do not take some sleep medication. I will be sure to write a note and take it at least every other night."
"Be sure you do. We need all you ladies in top shape. You are here to train for your futures in helping our army on the medical field."
"Of course, Madam Superior."
She gave a curt nod and exited my room, closing my door behind her. I flew to the door and locked it, then carefully pulled out the locket again. I ran my thumb over the words again, trying to figure out which language they belonged to. My best guess was one of the "love languages" of the old world. Before English became the primary language after the British Empire remerged with a force to concur the world. We were at peace until the rebels broke out from the Southern colonies and began their attacks.
Taking a quick glance around my room, I decided it was not a safe place to hide the locket. Either the superior or one of my flatmates would snoop around and take it. Though I shouldn't be worried about it, I quickly grew attached to this little secret in just a few moments. It was a puzzle I wanted to solve and I could not do that if it was taken from me.
I slide the cool chain around my neck, the heart falling a few inches below my collarbone; well out of sight when I put my work clothing on as it's a high-necked dress with a blue apron; the uniform of apprentice medical staff in training.
A knock sounded and my flatmate Rea said from the other said, "Emily! Come on; roll call is in five minutes!"
"Coming!" I responded, quickly discarding my sweats and top for my uniform, then throwing my black hair into a messy bun. I then threw open my door to Rea waiting with her arms crossed. I gave her a smile and a shrug to which she rolled her eyes and began moving toward the exit. Giving one last look into my room, I left the door open (per protocol to ensure no one was hording anything of rebel alliance) and scurried after my much taller flatmate. She gave me a side glance and rolled her eyes again.
"I don't get how you can just roll out of bed and look like one of those Greek gods," she said.
I chuckled, pushing open the door and allowing her to go through first. "It's just the dark hair and the olive skin."
"I think it's witchcraft and unfair," she huffed good-naturedly. Rea was very pale; she was found in the most northern part of the British Empire where the sun sometimes does not show its face for more than a few hours. According to her, that part of the world was once called 'Norway' or 'Finland'; but we cannot be sure as there are no pre-exiting maps from the time this world was not under the British rule.
"If I was a witch," I retorted "I wouldn't be here."
Rea gave me a puzzled look before saying, "But this is the only place we have to go, Ems. You have no idea anything about your life before 2 months ago. I don't remember my life before I was brought here."
"Doesn't that...bother you?"
Rea stopped a few feet away from the doors to the medical building on our little campus. Her blue eyes looked clouded and she bit her lip while staring into the void. I checked the doors to see if anyone was waiting there before giving her a little nudge. Her eyes refocused on me.
"Sometimes," she admitted, softly. "But if I don't remember it, maybe there is a reason I don't remember. Maybe, like we discussed last week in training, there was a trauma and my brain shut it out rather than face it?"
I gave her a small nod and gently gave her hand a squeeze. She smiled and gestured to the doors. I dropped her hand and we walked into the building to begin classes for the day.
But I couldn't help but be suspicious that, out of the fifty girls/women here aged twelve through twenty-three, how could every last one of us not know our past?
Come find me, Emilia.
I released the locket I was clutching in my sleep, a faint line of blood dripping down my hand. I flew out of bed and locked my door, then flipped the second switch beside my dresser; the one that turned the cameras and microphones off for exactly five minutes to allow you to change in private. I pulled out the locket, my locket, and flipped it over so the gears faced me. I felt along the side until I found the small indent and pressed my finger against it. The gears whirled and a voice from the locket spoke up.
"Saluti, Custode," I said back.
The gears stopped and the voice (Custode) asked me where I wanted to go.
"Il mio amante, Arturo."
With a final click, I felt the room shift around me. Time both sped up and slowed down and I remained as still as possible. A thousand memories were flooding back into me; but none as powerful as the truth of who I am.
I was Emilia; head inventor of the rebel resistance. Captured two months ago and brain-washed into believing I was a nobody. Arturo and I had prepared for this; we prepared for every situation. I invented a lucid dreaming machine; one that can allow small objects to be passed through dreams. The locket was my access point back to Arturo and the means to unlock my memories faster than the brain washers intended.
When the world was rightened, I stood up to find myself in the middle of a meeting. Looking around at the shocked faces, only one wore a smug smirk. I returned that smirk, staring into hazel eyes as I spoke, but addressed everyone.
"Ciao, feccia ribelle," I said. "Did you miss your favourite inventor?"
I was immediately bombarded with questions in both English and Italian. As I made my way to those hazel eyes, I answered as much as I could, but eventually stopped speaking as we came face to face.
"Emilia," he purred. "Ciao, mia bella."
I smiled, placing my hands on his cheeks and pulled him until his lips met mine.
He broke the kiss first, his mischievous smirk every present as he pulled me close. He turned his attention back to our brothers and sisters in arms.
"Who's ready to raise some hell?" he said. "We've got some inside information thanks to mia bella," he glanced to me. "Through it was a great risk, that damned plan of yours."
I merely smiled and gave my friends my full attention.
"There are many more like me trapped in that place; forced into become medical staff because we are women and 'lower' than the British. Brain-washed into not knowing ourselves. We start here; free them and help them. Whether they join us or not, we leave that choice to them. But we will free them of that place."
Arturo took my hand; that gesture conveyed more than words ever could.
"We will free this world," I said proudly. "And we will bring back our cultures and world."
And this little locket will be the key.
Italian to English Translations:
"mia bella" – my beloved
"amante" – lover
"Sei la mia luce" – You are my light
"Saluti" – greetings
"Il mio amante" – my lover (male)
"Ciao, feccia ribelle" – Hello, rebel scum
"Ciao" - Hello