The girl had been taught from an early age on that the Earth was dying, that humans were the cause of this death, that all humans, once they exceeded their usefulness, would be disposed of by Them. She never questioned it, even as she watched her peers, her teachers, her neighbors disappear.
One night, she woke up. She peered through the window, where They escorted the people she called Mother and Father into a white vehicle. They gripped her parents' arms, although Mother and Father showed no signs of resistance.
Although she felt no attachment to her parents, a small part of her wanted to rebel against Them, to see what They would do. After all, she had accepted Their words without question. She had seen many friends and family members disappear, disposed of by Them. She had blindly followed Them, but now she wanted to know what happened to those who vanished.
The girl slipped on her shoes and, climbing onto a bicycle, followed Them.
The route the white vehicle took was an familiar one, despite the multiple twists and turns. With a start, the girl realized that They were heading back to her house. She thought that maybe They had forgotten or left something behind.
Not wanting Them to catch her past curfew, the girl slipped through the bushes and entered the house from the back door. She could have her mission another time, she thought. Tonight was too dangerous. They were watching.
She crept up the stairs, and twisted the doorknob of her bedroom. It swung open before she could touch it.
In her bedroom was Mother and Father, along with Them. The faces of her parents were blank, unseeing. But They seemed to have anticipated her. They beckoned her over.
The girl backed away, mumbling hasty excuses. They continued to motion for her to come into the room.
The girl had learned that no one could ever disobey Them, so she approached Them slowly. They smiled kindly, holding out a hand.
She took Their hand.
The girl opened her eyes. The morning sunlight was streaming through her windows. Slowly, her dream came back to her.
The girl brushed her teeth and dressed herself quietly. She did not want to disturb Mother and Father, who were still asleep. Odd, she thought. Father was usually up by this time. But she dismissed her thoughts. Perhaps he just needed a day to sleep in.
As soon as she stepped downstairs, the doorbell rang. She twisted the doorknob. It swung open before she could touch it.
They stood there, smiling kindly, holding out a hand. Come with us, their eyes said.
The girl had learned that no one could ever disobey Them.
She took Their hand.