The room was bare: a table in the middle, with a few chairs thrown haphazardly around it. The children had been given torn off pieces of paper with writing on them. Most had been given letters of the alphabet. Others colors, or words based on cards and the like. These words were to be their names. They were given time to accustom themselves to this change.
Alone in the room, the children divided themselves up into sections, leaving a small group of children in a corner to themselves. They had been told by the men giving direction to avoid the small group of children, as they were not like them. The letters assigned to this group of isolated children were: N, M, S, E, L, F, B, and X. The sole boy of this group, ‘F’, looked around nonplussed at the rest of them.
“What are the chances?” He demanded, looking at his friends. Of the eight of them, seven were friends from birth.
‘X’, the odd one out, looked up from writing something on her torn out piece of paper and shrugged, “I doubt they look these things up.” She, then, proceeded to flip the paper over to show the crowd of children hovering nearby. She had crossed out her letter and replaced it with other ones. It now read: ‘Ehks’. She smiled at their raised eyebrows and simply said, “It seems more like a name that way.” This statement caught everyone’s attention in the room and soon they were almost all following suit.
The girl with the ‘Ehks’ placard appeared to be of Indian descent, with milk-chocolate skin, dark brown eyes, and pitch-black hair. She was one of the older children in the room at the age of ten. She was well spoken with good manners and a devil-may-care attitude all wrapped into one.
The boy, ‘Ehf’ as his placard now read, had pitch-black hair, pale white skin and shocking sky blue eyes. He was sharp, a smart boy and handsome, which was always a plus in these kinds of situations.
One of his close friends, ‘Ehn’, looked for the most part like a younger version of ‘Ehks’, except her eyes were hazel rather than dark brown. She was calm and collected even in the face of this nerve-wracking experience. She turned to smile at ‘Ehl’ who stood ramrod straight, still in shock of it all. Ehl had white hair, which had been braided into a ponytail by loving hands, as long as it was. Her eyes were stormy gray and her lips were turned down in a frown. She was albino, or at least that was what everyone thought because of the color of her hair and the fact that she could not go out in the sun unless she was fully covered lest she get sunburn.
Finally, after a long wait, a man walked in. He glanced around the room at all the children and took a calming breath.
The children slowly turned their pieces of paper over so he could see all their ‘names’, which had by many been crossed out and replaced with longer versions, following in Ehks’ example.
He slowly made his way to the middle of the room, a clipboard in hand, filled with jotted down questions. The man began rattling off questions to which the child he pointed at with his pen would respond with an answer.
“What is the significance of that room?” He asked, pointing at Ehks.
“I learned my letters in that room.” Ehks softly said.
“But you already knew your letters!” He could not help but protest.
Ehks smiled weakly and fell silent.
“How old are you?” He asked, pointing at Ehl, who seemed to snap out of her daze at this.
“My name isn’t Ehl.” She screamed. “This is not my name! And who are you? One of them?” She began to whimper at this, though she tried to keep her gaze steady, as mature as could be expected of a seven-year-old.
The man took another deep calming breath before speaking again with his thick German accent. “I am the director, a documentarian, if you will. I will not burden you with my name, nor will I ask you yours. I am here to film truth, nothing less, and nothing more. I am not a savior, nor a hero. I am not here to bring you harm but you have no cause for joy, either. As a documentarian, though you are children held for ransom, I do not think it is in the best interest of the truth as it is to help you. You are too young to understand this but the truth is in motion even now and it is my duty to document it as such.”
The stolen children quaked under his gaze, the younger ones bursting into wails, their cries joining Ehl’s as their tears burned trails down their faces as his words finally sank in.