GibberingEloquence

It was a day like any other for Cassie The Hand Drawn Girl. Which is to say, time seemed to crawl and fold upon itself like so many sheets of paper. The endless white expanse she inhabited was littered with black structures from previous interview and experiments, protruding from the ground like skeletal trees in the snow. This was both her prison and playground, where she drifted through each day like a ghost stuck in a loop. The fake sun, moon and stars she had been given had marked the arrival of a new birthday for Cassie. Not that the Foundation would care very much, she told herself. She wasn't really a person here, just a doll in a music box who didn't even serve to bring delight. She found herself playing in a tire swing set, trying to identify the constellations she had learnt about.

A new movement from a pencil brought a message for her into existence. The letters floated above the snow, demanding her attention. Cassie got off the swing set and approached the message with renewed energy. Despite all her melancholy, she still enjoyed having someone to talk to.

"Good evening, Cassie. Researcher Horatio here. How are you?"

"Fine, I guess…" replied Cassie while drawing in the snow with a stick. "What do you want to tell me this time?"

"We have noticed that you have become unusually distant and unresponsive during our interactions. Sometimes even uncooperative. I proposed that your behavior would improve if you were allowed to have something you wanted. As is, we can give you basically anything with negligible cost to us."

"But Horatio, I don't know what I am supposed to ask for."

"Well, I noticed that you don't really have somewhere to live in. Would you like it if I drew a house for you?"

Cassie smiled at the idea. Real people lived in houses with their families, and some of them even had pets like dogs or cats. Maybe if she was nice and took good care of the house, they'd let her have a pet too?

"I'd like that very much! I promise I'll pay more attention in the future."

"Good. Please wait while I draw the house for you."

Cassie sat on a bench next to a frozen lake and watched with eagerness. Like the purest magic, a house began to form out of nothing before her, brick by brick and window by window. She wanted to run inside and see what it was like, but she knew it wasn't finished and had to be patient. Her eyes widened as she saw the house receive various warm colors, which made it really stand out from the rest of the landscape. But what made her most excited was the workshop, which made her imagine all sorts of tools and car parts she could work with.

"Thank you, Horatio! It's lovely. You're a great artist."

"You're welcome, Cassie. I hope you will enjoy it. I have other work to attend to now, but I'll see you later."

Cassie dashed toward the house, almost tripping a few times in her excitement. Once inside, she inspected every room's details with immense curiosity. It was a lot bigger than she expected, so much so that it could indeed fit a big family in there. As if struck through the heart by an icicle, Cassie suddenly felt even more lonely in all that empty space. She laid down on a bed and tried to sleep it away, but all that she managed to do was cry. Hesitantly, she got up and went toward the bathroom to clean her face.

However, she was startled to find that the bathroom had been replaced by something resembling the clinic of a psychologist. There was a couch next to one of the walls, as well as several bookshelves and paintings. Someone was humming a song while sitting on a big spinning chair. Cassie just stood there dumbstruck, unsure if this was some sort of new test or experiment. A voice came from behind the chair, velvet-smooth yet undeniably smug.

"Good evening indeed! This is quite a nice place. Don't be shy now, lie down on the sofa and tell me about your worries. There is a towel over there for you to wipe away your tears as well."

Cassie was about to protest that she had no idea who this man was, and had every right to be shy. But perhaps a break in her tedious routine wouldn't be so bad? She had no idea when something like might happen again, and she was admittedly curious. She cleaned her face, lied down on the sofa and tried to think of something to say.

"Ummm…who are you? How did you get here? Did the Foundation send you?"

The man spun around on his chair, finally looking at her face to face. "My name is Classy Carlos! As for how I got here…let's say the Foundation is not quite as thorough as you'd think. But that is beside the point, isn't it? I'm sure your isolation must have caused quite the damage." He took out a notepad and pen as he regarded Cassie with an attentive smile.

"Well, it does get pretty lonely here some days. I've learned to keep myself busy when the Foundation is not around to talk to me. It was either that or going crazy."

"Ah, that is a very sensible choice. But how can you be sure you are not, if you will excuse the term, crazy?"

"I am not sure, honestly. Does it even matter, though? I mean, nothing in here is real. It's all just a drawing, myself included."

"Why do you say that? Is there some sort of existence out there that you think is more real?" Carlos' smile was taking on a growing smugness as he analyzed Cassie's very being for holes to sink his hooks into.

Cassie was taken aback and rather creeped out now. Did this Carlos know about her biggest dream, and how did he even do that? Overwhelmed by the surprise, Cassie withdrew further into her shell.

"N-n-not really. I'm fine like this, I assure you." She was doing her best to avoid looking directly at Carlos, to no avail. It was like the psychologist loomed over her without so much as getting up from his chair.

"Do not lie to me, Cassie." He said in a strict tone, pointing at her with his pen. "I came here to help you, and I can't do that if you don't help yourself. Why are you in denial about wanting to become a real human?" The faces in the paintings seemed to turn toward Cassie with a slow creaking sound.

Cassie shrunk further, assuming a fetal position and hugging herself. "…because it will never happen." She said through suffocating, barely contained sobbing.