Black Eden: A Sinner's Salvation is Another World
The only difference between the saint and the sinner is that every saint has a past and every sinner has a future. - Oscar Wilde
Everything was pitch black for a moment.
All I could hear was the sounds of a whirring engine.
That of a bus.
I opened my eyes.
The first thing I saw was a window with the view of a vast green valley. The radiance of the sun was warm, not too hot, not too cold, not too bright, just right. A gentle breeze blew on the grass and trees, and a steady stream of water flowed across the valley.
What a relaxing view.
This made me wonder….What the hell am I doing here? Why am I on a bus? Why can’t I remember anything? And why are my hands cuffed to my seat? Am I being kidnapped? What for? Are they planning to sell my organs on the black market? Is this some sort of human trafficking? Am I going to be a slave?
As these troubling thoughts occurred in my head, I felt a light thud on my shoulder.
It was the head of a blonde girl with her hair tied up to a ponytail by a red ribbon. She was breathing softly, like she was in a peaceful slumber. I’ve never had a cute girl lay on my shoulder before! This is making me feel very nervous! Should I wake her up? No, that would be rude. But then again, she’s the one who invaded my personal space! Though, she seemed to be having a wonderful sleep. I didn't want to disturb her even if I could. What do I do then? Am I supposed to stay still, stiff as a board? I can’t move my hands either to adjust my position! This is getting a bit uncomfortable, but it also feels kinda good though…..
I noticed that she was wearing a white windbreaker jacket with black stripes and looked at my own clothes. I was wearing exactly the same thing. I stretched my head to check the other people on the bus. Everyone has the same jacket on them. Looks like we’re all made to wear some kind of uniform.
The blonde girl lifted her head up and opened her eyes. They were tinted with a reddish amber hue. She tried to open her mouth to yawn, but some drool ended up dripping from her mouth. Yikes.
She tried to move her arms to wipe it off, but they were cuffed to her seat as well.
Instead she decided to suck the saliva back inside her mouth.
“Um, good morning,” I said.
The girl looked at me and stared for a while. Then she smiled.
Then there was a moment of silence. Wait, what now? What should I say next? I don’t think I have much experience talking to girls, either that or I don’t have any memory of it. This might be a little awkward. Oh wait, I know what to ask.
“Do you remember anything?” I said.
“Uhm, not really,” the girl said. “Just my name, Samara. What about you? Do you remember your name?”
“My name, huh…..”
What was it again?
Suddenly, a name popped out from my empty head. Leone.
“My name….is L-Leone, I think. I don’t remember anything else.”
“Leone, like a lion. Meow!” Samara said.
“Umm…no. That’s another animal.”
"Ah, haha, I'm kidding. But don't you think it suits you more?"
"You mean being a cat?"
"Yeah, you seem more like the cute type of guy, so it fits well! Maybe you should try meowing?"
This girl, what the hell is she even talking about?
"Huh? Are you just messing with me?"
"Hehe. Perhaps you can say that. But seriously, I get this cat-like vibe from you."
"I don't get it…."
“I wonder if any of the people here know something about what’s going on,” Samara said.
“But they’re all still asleep though and stuck in their seats, they might be just like us,” I said.
The monitor in front of my seat suddenly turned on and a loud static noise played on the speakers.
“Gah!” I screamed.
“Pfft, hahahahaha!” Samara laughed.
“Not funny! I’m surprised you can even laugh in a situation like this!”
“Sorry, sorry. I can’t help it! That scream was pretty cute for someone named after a lion!” she said with a smug look on her face.
“Hmph, whatever,” I said.
The static noise woke up everyone else on the bus, then the sounds changed to cheery jazz music and the screen displayed the words, “Please wait for a moment.” with a smiley face.
It looks like everyone has their own screens too….
After that, it switched to a video of a long orange haired-man wearing a black fedora and a black aristocratic coat. His eyes were covered with black shades.
“Greetings, children! We are the Alter Foundation and we have all invited you to be here with us today. You can call me, Mr. Hatter! I'm here to explain why you are all here!” he said.
The Alter….Foundation? Mr. Hatter? They're the ones responsible for all of this?
“To put it simply, everyone on this bus has been judged as 'Sinners' and must be executed for their crimes!”
People started to murmur amongst themselves after Mr. Hatter’s words.
“Huh? Sinners? What is he talking about?” a person said.
“Is this some sort of sick joke?” said another.
“This must be some sort of mistake!”
“Let us out of here!”
“Why are we being treated this way?”
Me? A sinner? I don't understand….
Crimes? Can someone like me really be…..Are we being brainwashed in some way?
“Settle down, settle down. I know you’re all afraid and confused, but I am kindly asking you to let me explain,” Mr. Hatter said.
"The world does not want you anymore. Because you're different. A black sheep. An outcast. Let’s just say each and every one of you is a Sinner, and you’ve done something that people fear and despise. Something that has caused you pain and suffering. Everyone has considered you a criminal that deserves to die. And that is why you chose to disappear from this world, to run away, forget everything and place your life in my hands."
I don’t understand. Why would someone like me accept to be kidnapped into who knows where? And what exactly did I do wrong?
"If you do not believe me, see for yourself!"
The screen switched to a video of me with my head hung down, and my eyes were depressed, as if I've been through something horrible.
"Will you choose to accept my offer?" the voice of Mr. Hatter said in the video.
I looked up and simply said,
"Yes. I don't want to go back."
W-what…...why……why did I choose to accept the offer?
I looked at Samara and some tears fell down her eyes.
"Why am I….crying? I don't understand," Samara said.
“Now, you must all be wondering what I offered all of you in those recordings,” Mr. Hatter said.
“Luckily for you, there is an alternative for criminals who aren’t above the age of 18. I offered you salvation! That is to be a part of the Black Eden Project! To live a new life, in another world. A new home. A magical place separated from the rest of the world. Pretty fitting for all of you Sinners, the black sheep, outcasts from the flock. ”
“What if we don’t want to join?!” a guy with a pale blonde spiky undercut said. “How do we know this isn’t some dumb scam or trick?! With all this restraining and memory wiping, why would we ever trust someone like you?!”
“Well, either way, you don’t have much of a choice! You're all pretty much on death row. Once you all reach the age of 18, your lives are over. Are you really going to waste your precious youth waiting to die?” Mr. Hatter said.
Black Eden Project…..another world? Is it really somewhere I want to be in?
“Don’t forget, it was you who chose to be a part of the Black Eden Project, and I welcome you! There lies an environment fit for special juveniles like you! A place where you can live your own life however you please, unbound from the rules of the world!”
“And if you ever wonder what makes you so special to the point that you have become a Sinner, it is up to you to discover your own sins. I would say it’s like a forbidden fruit that should never be eaten! However, if your heart truly seeks it, then perhaps you may find it. Although, I’m not sure you would even want your memories back!” he said, smiling mischievously.
My memories…I want to know. Who I am. But the past might just be a nightmare, so I should just focus on the present for now. I still have my doubts and worries about the whole situation. What if the Black Eden Project has a hidden meaning? What if means working as a slave, or being tortured, or getting my organs harvested? Or some other scary fantasies? Aw, I’m still quite terrified!
“Anyways, that’s all I have for today! Thank you for listening! Good luck, everyone! I hope you do well on your journey! The Alter Foundation bids you all farewell.”
The screen then turned gray and the words, “Thank you for cooperating with us!” were displayed.
After the announcement ended, people started murmuring amongst each other.
“What do you think, Leone? About Black Eden?” Samara said. “It sounds fun!”
“Um, I don’t know. It sounds like the opposite for me,” I said.
“Wait, look!” Samara said.
The bus stopped in front of a fenced military outpost guarded by a group of masked soldiers with black outfits. After a while, they opened the gate and let the bus inside the base.
Up ahead was what seemed to be a giant tunnel leading deep inside the mountain. Once we entered inside, our field of vision grew darker. I patiently looked at the endless gray of the walls and watched every light pass through my eyes. Where exactly were they taking us?
The bus had finally reached the end of the tunnel and stopped at what looked like a parking area with a variety of vehicles.
Our metal cuffs were taken off the seat and we were free to leave the bus.
“Where are we?” the blonde spiky-haired kid asked.
“No talking. Just do as we tell you to do,” a soldier said.
“At least answer my question, damn it!”
The soldier hit the kid’s head with the back of his gun and started to aim at him.
“S-sorry!” the kid said.
“Hey. We can't be harming these kids. They're all important specimens for the project. We can’t afford to be in trouble with the higher-ups, ” another soldier said.
“Tsk, damned Sinners, why do they even bother giving them a second chance? So what if they’re just teenagers? The world would be better off without them,” the first soldier muttered.
4 soldiers escorted us to the front of a huge bunker entrance. The doors slowly opened and we quietly walked inside. We were then taken to a huge elevator big enough to accommodate around 40 of us (not including the guards) and we slowly went down.
And down…….How deep does this even go? What if it malfunctions and instantly drops to hell?
I looked at the elevator controls and saw that we were headed towards level 20, the deepest part of the bunker.
Haha, this won’t take long at all. My anxiety of falling has not yet failed me.
After a long wait, the elevator had finally made its way to the very bottom. I think I feel a little dizzy…..
“Keep moving,” the soldier said.
We walked through a long hallway and stopped in front of a huge bay door. One of the guards put his keycard on the lock at the side, causing the doors to slide open.
It revealed a deep open cavern and a bridge leading to a huge dome-like structure in the middle.
Before Samara could say anything, I covered her mouth tightly. The guards looked at us in suspense, which made my heart jump a bit. T-that was close……
When we had reached the entrance of the dome, the guard used his keycard again to open the doors.
“This is your last place in this world. Please proceed to the dome quickly. Everyone’s waiting,” the guard said.
We all entered the dome. I looked back and saw the guards staring at us, before finally closing the doors to lock us inside. Looking to the front, I saw more people dressed up with the same white jackets like our group. They were all around the same age range as us. We’re all on the same boat.
I took one step and noticed something odd.
I touched the ground to confirm and it felt like the real deal.
I looked up and saw a claw shaped machine pointed downwards from the top of the dome connected with lots of wires scattered everywhere like spider webs. At the very center of the machine was a glowing orb of energy that I assumed to be its main core. What was that for? Is it going to shoot at us? Oh, it definitely is!
“It has been confirmed that all 300 Sinners are finally present here,” a voice on the speaker said. “We are now ready to begin in T-minus 1 minute. Please take a moment to brace yourselves and stay away from the center of the dome.”
“Are we really going to be taken to another world?” Samara asked.
“I hope it doesn’t just kill us instead…”
The sound of a deep humming could be heard, indicating the activation of the machine and slowly building up power.
“Your only objective is to start a civilization in this world. It doesn’t matter how you do it, as long as you are able to survive as a group. Good luck in your new life, Sinners. Be free.”
The claw machine started to spin around and sparks of electricity developed around the energy core.
“T-minus 30 seconds.”
The humming sped up faster, the core began to shine brighter, waves of energy began to emanate outwards and the sparks had started to spread farther.
“T-minus 20 seconds.”
The machine shot down a laser beam towards the floor, causing the whole ground to crack and shake violently.
Suddenly, we were all floating upwards, as if gravity had completely abandoned us. People started screaming and panicking as we were sent flying.
“T-minus 10 seconds.”
“I don’t like being this high!” I screamed.
“Leone! Grab my hand!” Samara said and offered her hand.
I struggled to reach her hand while floating mid-air, with our fingertips barely touching one another.
“I’ll grab it!”
“T-minus 5 seconds.”
I desperately spinned by body around and stretched my hand towards Samara. Luckily, she was able to grab my hand and we both gripped tightly towards one another.
Slowly, everything had turned completely white.
"Leone. You can't face life without placing your trust in others."
A woman's voice echoed in my ears. I didn't know who it was, but it felt all too familiar.
"You can't? That's ok. Surely someday, you'll find people besides me that's worthy of gaining your trust. I'll even bet on it, hehe!"
What are you talking about?
“Oyyyy! Wake up!”
“Ugh, what….am I still alive?”
“If you aren’t going to wake up, I’m going to kiss you,” she whispered to my ear.
I opened my eyes and saw Samara’s face so close to me.
I immediately got up and Samara moved her head away.
“Hahahaha, I’m just kidding! Can’t believe that worked!”
“Sigh, you gave me a heart attack just now,” I said. “Anyways, where are we?”
It seemed like we were in a pretty high up area, so we had a clear view of the place. The first thing I noticed was that we were surrounded by towering walls from afar on all sides, forming a gigantic ring. These walls seemed to enclose and border the entire landscape we were in. Inside the walls was pretty much a vast open clearing teeming with wildlife, with various flowers of different colors, endless forests of trees, and birds flying in the sky. Strangely enough, there were also tents, houses, structures and small buildings, pretty much ruins of old abandoned settlements which seemed to indicate that people used to live here before. I wonder what happened to them now. At the very center, was a giant oak tree that towered over everything else. The place was essentially like a massive garden.
“This is…..Black Eden?” I said. “Does that mean…..we’re already in another world?”
“Pretty cool right? It's way better than what I expected!” Samara said.
“I find it hard to believe, to be honest…”
Our conversation was cut short by two individuals who approached us. One of them had brown, spiky messy hair and the other had short orange hair with green eyes and a warm smile.
“Hello! My name is Zeke! Nice to meet ya!” the spiky-haired dude said, waving at us.
“I’m Rhys. We’re gathering people to the big tree at the center, you should join us. We’ll be discussing plans on what to do with the area,” the orange-haired dude said.
“Hmm, new people. I’m not sure we can trust these guys just yet, Sam,” I said.
“Hallo! My name’s Samara and he’s Leone! Pleasure to meet you all!”
“Come on, don’t be so uptight! They’re probably just the same as us, no memories!”
“It’s fine. It makes total sense to not trust people so easily. After all, every person here is a 'Sinner', according to the Hatter dude.” Rhys said.
“But, we don’t have much of a choice! We’ll all be living in the same place, so we might as well get to know each other!” Zeke said.
“So, are you coming or not?” Samara said.
“Hmmmm, sigh. Fine,” I said.
And this is how the story begins.