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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Sci-fi · #2290449
This is my entry for the "Dystopian Scrawlings" Contest.
The Omega was a towering stone brick building surrounded by a chain link fence. Inside, many people worked on building and testing artificial body parts and organs. It was going to be my new home for a long time.
Entering the fence was already surreal, as I had only seen the building a couple of times, let alone been inside it. But, now I was going to be inside it nearly every day, working on making new body parts and organs for those who couldn't afford new ones. The thought made me shudder. I glanced at the lady sitting in the car with me. She was talking about her early days at the factory, and how lucky I was to get this chance.
"Did you know how many kids get to do this?" Her voice was sharp and crisp. "One out of every one hundred!" I nodded, faking my interest. The thought of it made me queasy. The other kids talked about the horrible things they did to you there, working you until your arm falls off, then making you make a new one. Dread crept up the back of my spine.
"You can have any job you desire here! I was a tester, you know," she said. Her bright white teeth shone. I gave a half-hearted smile. Of all the things the kids said, the things they said about the testers were the worst.
"They get their body parts ripped off to test the mechanical ones. Then, the Omega pays for them to get new ones," the older boys would whisper when the recruiters weren't looking. "You know, the reason that they recruit here or at schools is that nobody wants to do those jobs anymore. And if you start, you can't stop." I, being only four or five, would get nightmares of the recruiters coming and taking me from the orphanage and pulling off my limbs to replace them with metal. Then they cut open my chest, taking out every little organ until I was only a hunk of metal. And even now, ten years later, sometimes I wake up in a cold sweat.
"What job are you interested in, darling?" The lady said. I didn't know what to say. My mind had blanked.
"I want to be a welder," I finally said. Welders took the shaped limbs and organs and welded them together. It was the only thing my stressed mind could think of.
"Ahh, yes. Welders are the heart and soul of this establishment. Without them, lungs would fall apart in your body, and arms would fall off!" She laughed as if it was the funniest thing ever. It took all of my strength not to jump out of the car. Suddenly, we jerked to a stop. My body flew forward, then was sharply pulled back by the seat belt. The air was knocked out of my lungs, and I was dimly aware of a door opening.
"Hello, Marisa," a man was standing outside of the car. He was wearing a fancy suit with a blood-red tie and the Omega symbol embroidered on his pocket square. The lady(Marisa, I assumed), stepped out of the car and shook his hand.
"I apologize for the jolt," he said, grinning.
"Oh it's no problem, sir," Marisa said.
"Is this one of the recruits?" The man said, craning his neck down to look at me.
"Yes! This is Ananova," Marisa said. "Come out here, please." I wanted to resist, but I didn't know what they would do to me. So I slid across the seats and stepped out of the car. The man looked me up and down, analyzing every inch of me from my strawberry-blonde hair to my long legs.
"Hello," he said, staring deep into my eyes. I couldn't help but feel intimidated.
"Hi," I said back, trying to keep the tremor from my voice. He turned back and whispered something to Marisa, and she nodded.
"Let us get you acquainted around here," he said, turning and walking toward the big building. I slowly followed with Marisa next to me.
The building was a cacophony of loud sounds, metal grinding, and hammers hitting metal. The air was hot and stuffy, unlike the cool air from outside. Bright blue flames leaped in the corner of my eye, and I saw a welder welding a leg together.
"This is the ground floor!" The man had to yell over the noises. "This is where all of the workers build the products!" He pointed over to the side where two hallways branched off of the main floor.
"Those are the testing rooms!" He yelled. "If you become a tester, you get to go in and test the products!" My throat went dry. I wondered what exactly they were doing there. The man turned and guided us to a set of stairs off to the side, next to the testing rooms. Hesitantly, I followed.
Once we reached the bottom of the stairs he said, "Up there are the offices, along with other things only for the higher-ups!" He didn't elaborate. Then he walked across the floor and to another stairwell that we went up. The noises were quieter now. We climbed up the stairs until we reached the fourth floor.
"This is the trainee floor," he said. "Down there are the rooms you are staying in, and Marisa will lead you to the rest of the recruits that have already arrived." Then he turned and strolled to the stairwell, and began going back down.
"Ah, well, I bet that was nice," she said, taking my shoulder and leading me to a door. She reached over to twist the doorknob and then pushed me through the door. Inside was a small common room, with couches and tables. While the area felt warm and cozy, there was something about it that seemed off and sent tendrils of cold up my back. And there were kids, sitting on the chairs and couches talking in hushed whispers. I didn't know any of them, but they all seemed to be the same age as me. They all looked up as we entered the room, eyes specifically on me. I was suddenly aware of Marisa's hand tightening on my shoulder.
"Well, I hope you have fun!" She said. "Get to know each other and we will come and speak to you later." Her hand lifted off of my shoulder, and she turned and left the room. But my feet were frozen to the spot, unwilling to move. Almost all the kids' eyes had gone back to whatever they were doing, but one boy's eyes hadn't moved. He looked me up and down, analyzing. Just like the man when I got out of the car. I pulled my feet from their numb daze and walked over to a couch and sat down. The boy's eyes had left, and I felt a weight lift off my shoulders.
"Hello?" I heard a voice ask. Looking over, I saw a girl with a dark complexion and bouncy black hair next to me. She was talking to a boy with honey-brown hair and warm hazel eyes.
"Hello," I said.
"Are you okay?" The boy asked. The girl swiftly smacked his knee.
"You looked the same way when you walked in here," she said, looking back at me.
"Yeah, I'm fine, just--" I struggled to try to find the right word.
"Scared?" The girl finished. "Me too. There is nothing right about this place." I nodded.
"Well, I'm Perl and this is Archie," she said. "What's your name?"
"Ananova," I replied.
"That's a pretty name," Perl said. I smiled a little. But I still couldn't get the thought of people building things below our feet. "Products," the man said. Perl and Archie went back to talking about something else, but I tuned it out. My whole body was tired and all I wanted to do was leave this horrible place. But I couldn't. And when I looked up, I saw the boy looking at me again.
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