Day one. "It goes like this," Collax says. "You lift up this flap, and then you punch in your greencode – you do know your greencode, don't you? They gave that to you in orientation, right? I thought so. Punch it in here, then pull on the lever by your left hand. No, your other your left hand – uh huh, there you go, champ. Voilà. You're in." The screen spanning the length of the room flickers and focuses. Colors fade in. From this angle, pedestrians look like beetles. Worse, you think you might recognize the neighborhood. This concerns you. Collax misinterprets the grimace. "Don't worry," he says. "You don't get to run it on your own until you log fifty hours. At minimum."
Day nine. Eighty hours logged, thanks to that mishap at the saw factory on Wednesday. Collax stops by, slurping from a styrofoam cup. "You'll get coffee privileges around week six," he says. "Sugar privileges a week or two after that. How's the hood?" It's alright, you say. It's under control.
Day eighteen. Or is it day nineteen? At noon, an announcement feeds through the ceiling speakers: the annual company barbecue is officially set for June the thirty-fourth. As always, the voice adds, please bring your own plates. Collax never comes by anymore, but you bump into him in the breakroom. "Hey champ," he says. "Day twenty one, already, huh? It flies by."
Day forty. The barbecue has come and gone. While the meat was grilling, you cracked a couple well-timed jokes, flattered the right people. After that they upgraded you to a room in the primary hall, the same rank as Collax. Now, instead of a neighborhood, you've got a whole city. You've got six hundred thousand people, and they look like specks on the screen instead of beetles. They all look exactly the same, except for – well, except for that one right there. A flick of your wrist and the screen zooms in. It's a boy. He's looking up at you, and he's holding a sign. Hello, it reads, in blocky black handwriting. Hello, up there.
Fiction Friday is an outlet for experimentation while I slowly work on becoming a novelist. Read the rest of the stories here...