by Abby Gayle
Dmi's job is utterly simple . . . or is it?
|I pressed a button, which turned off a piece of the planetary shield. A ship flew through the hole and I pressed the button again, closing the gap. That was pretty much what I did: press a button. That was my job at the “Company”. No one really knew the company's real name, even though it pretty much ran the entire planet.
“Dmi Hasenkamp!” a gruff voice called from outside the small closet of a room I was “working” in. “You're shift's over. We have a new night worker, so you'll have to show her how to do her job before you leave for the night.”
It was always a girl, for some reason. I suppose they couldn't spare the male workers for a job like this.
The girl was shoved in, and the door closed behind her. She had dusty, light brown hair and brown eyes with a look of tired determination. She wore dirty, scrappy clothes and looked like she was around thirteen or fourteen years old. Even in the dim light I could see a small scar on her cheek. I figured she must be a new “employee”.
Every year, they get more workers. Not because everyone wants to work here, but they take people by force if they don't comply. They go through the large cities and small towns alike. Any adults they take at first sight, although sometimes if there aren't enough, and they need more workers for whatever purposes they had, they took teenagers and, occasionally, children. However, this girl was the youngest I had actually seen.
“Look, there's an incoming spacecraft,” I announced.
“Yeah, I could see that on those monitors over there,” the girl said.
“Okay, so all we have to do is press the red button, then press it again when the ship is past the shields. It's quite simple.”
“Yeah, simple,” she sighed.
“By the way, my name is Dmi. Dmi Hasenkamp.” I stretched out my hand for her to shake, but she ingored my hand.
“Juliana,” she answered as she walked over to the worn seat next to the button.
I looked all around us. I always did that, I don't know why. It's not like they had cameras to watch the button workers or anything. I stepped closer to Juliana and took a deep breath.
“You were fighting back, weren't you?” I asked.
Juliana didn't answer my question. She didn't even look at me.
“It's how you got the scar, isn't it? Did you think I wouldn't see it? Why were you fighting? Most people know that it's pointless, and that the Company will choose whoever they want to for whatever jobs they have.”
“I was fighting,” the girl said. I could hear the tears in her voice. She was trying not to cry. “I was fighting to get back to my family. My mother got taken a long time ago. And my father? He disappeared since before I could remember.” She was then talking in between sobs. “And I . . . I had to take care of my three younger siblings. I — I thought that we would be safe in the small towns, hidden away. But they got me. I fought. I fought to get back to them. They're too young and immature to take care of themselves for long. They . . . they need me.”
“Well, what if I told you . . . what if I could get you out of here?” I asked.
“What do you mean?” she asked. “This place has tons of security and, well, guards, right?”
“Yes. Now, I should leave before anyone suspects anything, but I'll talk to you tomorrow when your shift starts.”
I typed the code for the door to open, and ran all the way to my room, which sometimes seemed even smaller than my work-space. All I had was a tiny bed in a closet filled with the few clothes I owned, along with a cardboard box of some of my things I managed to grab before they got me.
The next night, when Juliana walked in, I was able to stay a bit longer than I should have. This time, I could tell she wasn't resisting the Company as much.
“So, Juliana, where do you live?” I asked.
“I don't know the name of the town, but I do remember the ride over wasn't too long. I didn't have access to any clocks or anything, but I'd guess maybe an hour away. Why?”
“I can get you back to your family, but you're going to have to trust me,” I said.
“Okay. What do I do? And what if we get caught?” she asked.
“For one, I won't be able to go with you. And you won't get caught. No one has since I first got this job,” I informed her.
I pulled a screwdriver from my pocket and bent down, unscrewing an air duct underneath the desk we used. She watched as I took it off, pressing the button, then again, presumably to make sure we didn't seem suspicious.
“Now, you have to crawl through here. Turn left on the first fork, then head straight ahead at the next one, then left. I have someone outside waiting for you. When you get to the end of the air duct, wait for the signal, then run to the front door and find the woman in the red dress with pink polka dots.”
She just nodded and went on her way. I closed the duct again behind her and went to my “room”, where I hit an emergency button that triggered an alarm. Through a radio, I heard my mother's voice.
I love my job.