The society Theresa came of age in recognized the mark of a child was the belief in one's immortality. Everything in life was permanent and death something that only happened to other people, mainly the aged who they could never imagine becoming. Collectively it was decided 15 was too old to continue holding onto the fair tale, and so they introduced "Traini's box."
The confines of the isolation chamber was a world of its own. Time dissipated in the darkness and the only sound was thought. It was the very edge of existence, a place where none of the senses received enough stimulation to remind the mind it was still alive. The chamber was only 7X2 but it held eternity, and whoever was put inside was forced to stare into the never-ending void. The blackness swallows everything, and soon Theresa forgot there was a world beyond the padded metal door that seal her inside.
The disconnection transformed fear into apathy, and the girl inside began to dissolve into the nothingness that surrounded her. The human mind always a torrent of blended emotion that brings itself as much torment as it does joy became as silent as the steel cocoon, soon consciousness was only the occasional murmur. The intervals of heavy silence became longer and longer until everything Theresa ever was disintegrated into the nothingness. Right before her final plunge the door swung open and she was pulled back into the world by a blinding white light. Theresa return to the world was a whirlwind of confusion and pain; it was like being born again.
She recovered for a few days, and her mind began to return. She was far more resilient than many of her peers who were never able to leave the darkness of their chamber. Their minds shattered and whoever they were before disappeared, claimed by that doorway to infinity. Theresa understood why the chamber resembled a coffin.
She sat up in the hospital bed sipping cocoa watching a blaring television. She was always absorbed by the light of a screen. It was the only thing that put her at ease now. Without the constant distraction, her mind would return to the chamber, to the stifling little box. She committed herself to keeping silence and darkness as far away as possible.
“Hi, Theresa.” said a familiar voice from the doorway.
Theresa tore her gaze from the tv.
“Docent Pershing.” she said with a smile.
“How are you.” the small statured man asked as he approached her bedside.
“I’m doing much better now.” she assured him.
“That’s good to hear.” the Docent said as he pulled up a chair.
“Can we turn off the tv for a minute?” Asked the Docent
Theresa hesitated. “Just for a minute,” he repeated.
“Ok.” she murmured.
The picture on the screen imploded leaving a blank canvas of glass.
“I want to talk about your time in isolation.” said the Docent.
“Alright,” Theresa said with a brave smile.
“What do you remember about your time inside?” the Docent asked.
“Well, at first, I didn’t really see what the big deal was. I thought I could just keep myself entertained, just think about whatever. After a while though it was like I had to get out and sometimes I would just start screaming without even realizing it. Like I thought I was going to suffocate. Then it gets all….” She chewed on her lower lip while she searched for the right word. “quiet” she concluded.
“Well, that’s normal.” The friendly Docent assured her.
“Theresa,” he said leaning forward “do you understand why we have the simulation?” he asked.
“I’m not sure.” she said with a shaky voice.
“The young have an illusion of immortality, and it's important we dispell that illusion. I know it seems cruel, but it's important you understand the value of your time. What is waiting for you at the end of this life is an eternity inside that box.”
“That’s what it's like to die?” Theresa whispered.
“Close to. Theresa, it's important you understand that you came from that nothingness, and you will return to it. Death will always triumph. Life is merely a brief interruption of oblivion.”