by Eli Crow
Neoprene giants stood over her—at least forty feet tall like trees—or were they trees too?
|They made everybody sign it. An early retirement program and a large allowance in exchange for a signature on this glorious sheet of cardstock, aged and off-white, but otherwise pristine. At the fall of the first great human society, when mankind was at the brink of perfect anarchy, the Old Guard was all that remained. The Old Guard was the only extant thing that could ensure some degree of comfort and stability.
It seemed like a good deal, their contract, but there was little indication of what a signature would mean, and no warning when the Old Guard—dressed in unfeeling neoprene—came for their children. Magdeline was the first to be taken from Region Eight, at the tender age of twelve.
They just came and took her, wrenched her from the steady arms of her mother and threw her in the back of an armored car. Her mother shrieked miserably from the stoop as the agents held her back. Neighbors leaned out of windows, covering their mouths at the horrible display. But what can you do about the fine print?
Amidst the screaming, the agents maintained their heartless phlegm, their stoic repose, and produced their rote. “Everything’s alright. Everything’s gonna be okay. It’s for the best, for the good of the people.” and, by and large, it was. But still, the screaming could only unsettle the urban landscape and urge the other mothers of Region Eight to grasp their children’s hands a little more tightly.
Magdeline was not alone in the armored car. A streak of light broke through a crack in the large iron hatch and faintly adumbrated the form of four or five other children, who were equally unmindful of their destination. There was uneasy silence at first—the children were muted by fright and disconcertion—but after four or five hours, the metal chamber lightly pulsed with confused and sympathetic chatter.
The car jolted to a stop, as did the talk. Magdeline and the other children heard machine noises approach, factory noises; something had stopped over them. The children were suddenly unbalanced, some unknown thing had latched onto them with a shuddering clang. The chamber was then promptly hoisted upwards, sending the children to the floor.
• • •
After a lengthy series of swift mechanical bumps, knocks, and bangs, the children were finally set to rest. Four men in neoprene threw open the large metal hatch and gently pulled each of the five children from their harsh, metal prison.
Magdeline covered her adjusting eyes as she was ushered into a bright, sanitarium-like room, wherein everything was a waxen white—the floor, the ceiling, the walls, chairs, plates, a table; everything was white. A dozen or so children had already been gathered. The children were then instructed to sit and eat. Terrified and hungry, they did.
When the children finished eating, men in neoprene separated them according to gender and ushered them into individual cells—also waxen white. Magdeline, rubbed at her eyes, which still had not fully adjusted. “Where am I?” she yelled ambivalently.
“You’re at Midwest Psychodynamics headquarters, sweetie.” a middle-aged lab technician replied nonchalantly, dutifully checking numbers on a clipboard. “Forty milligrams of lysergic acid diethylamide and eighteen milligrams of pseudomortic inhibitor 43.” he said to his assistant.
“Yes sir.” He replied.
Magdeline felt a cold prick as the needle entered her vein. The psychotropics spilled into her bloodtree, spreading like they do, and jumping, and spinning, always spinning. Neoprene giants stood over her, at least forty feet tall like trees, or were they trees too? Sunlight continuously poured from their mouths and red drops of rain fell from above them, gently cleansing the white away from the floors and the walls and the ceiling. The happy sun went out next, just like that—poof!
• • •