NationStates Jolt Archive

The Only Second Chance

23-06-2005, 08:47
The reveille was especially cacophonous that morning. James 6179 raised himself from his bed, shaking his spouse roughly. They had to hurry, the usual alotted time was about 60 seconds to arise from bed before They came. They knew how long it took. They always knew.

He quickly dressed in his uniform and helped his spouse. She was slow that morning and he could not afford that. Mary 3892 was quite an attachment to his life. They expected such an attachment of course as They broadcasted it constantly, and They were not to be displeased.

He checked the chronometer on the dormitory wall. 5:57. He had 3 minutes to deposit the videotape. Alright he thought. Of course, punctuality was rewarded with O2 Tokens, and he and his spouse could always use more of those. James walked over to the camera nearby the bed and removed the tape. He then approached the chute in the room and opened the latch to drop in the videotape. He listened almost with pride as he heard it whistle down the pipe to the outpost assigned to his dwelling. 3 minutes early, nice.

James hoped the previous night's performance had been pleasing. He and Mary had only had one of the four required offspring and he wanted to prove to Them that he was trying with everything. If the tape satisfied their requirements, They wouldn't Remove him or Mary. Probably send a new narcotic that would increase fertilization. This might cause birth defects in the offspring for which he would be condemned and likely Removed, but he could hope and ask the Excelsior for forgiveness.

He checked the statistics list for that day by the door, careful not to approach it too closely. Just as he'd hoped, they'd received 49 O2 tokens instead of 48. The food was already set out on the table that the Acolytes had prepared. He looked at the list. The food provided for that morning's rations consisted of a grain supplement with a half-gallon of evaporated dairy and another of water to mix it with. Not gourmet, but to upgrade the meal would cost 5 O2 tokens. Best not to take chances.

He hoped he could hold it. It cost 1 O2 token to flush the toilet and another to run the water for each bath or hand-washing. He could always go during occupation, but that would be deducted from his pay for that day. Damn.

James ate with Mary in silence, afraid that the cameras would detect heresy in the slightest conversation and Remove them both. He stole another glance at the chronometer. 6:17. He had to be at the warehouse by 7:00. Mary likewise had to report to the preservation center by 7:30, but had to leave a half-hour earlier. He finished at 6:22 and walked over to the door slowly.

He quickly turned to Mary and pledged his love to her and she returned it. He spoke to the camera on the door: "I am ready to serve Excelsior." And the door opened into the tube.

The tube was an elongated pressurized chamber in which his O2 tokens could be tracked and deducted from his daily amount. If he spent the tokens, his oxygen would be cut in the tube and his home, immediately and without mercy. The tube had a conveyor that moved him steadily to the warehouse. It was designed to never get him there on time as it adjusted to fit his schedule. If he rode it normally, it would get him there about 10 minutes late. So he would have to run and resperate faster, wasting more oxygen tokens, but it was all for Excelsior and he knew it. Excelsior would one day deliver them from Sybaritica and they all worked together fpr the goal, the cause.

James ran.

He arrived at the warehouse out of breath and gasping. He hoped he was on time. There was no way to know as They deliberately did not put chronometers in the warehouse. He set about his work diligently and without rest. Lunch did not exist in Sybaritica.

His shift ended promptly at 19:00 and the workers only knew this because it was announced over the system that they were to leave. "James 6179, Tube 18."

James headed over to Tube 18 and waited his turn to utilize it. Then he ran partway home. He had to be there by 19:30 or his O2 tokens would automatically expire. He arrived by 19:28 by the chronometer in his dwelling and replaced his uniform for his nightwear. Mary was not yet home and would not be until before 20:00. He prepared the night meal set out by the Acolytes and finished at 19:56 just as Mary arrived, resperating heavily as he had been.

"How'd your occupation go?" He asked her as he set the meal out on the table. "Very well," she replied proudly. "They've added 2 extra tokens to our supply for tommorrow." He kissed her softly. "Excellent."

They were just finishing their meal when, at 21:00 exactly, their was a notification from the camera: "Acolyte Andrew 5982 will open your door in 30 seconds. That is all."

James got up and Mary followed anxiously. Acolytes only showed up for bad news. Not Removal, no never for that, but nothing good. The door opened and Andrew stepped in, carrying a sack and a tape. No!

Andrew lowered the sack to the floor and handed the tape to James and, without a word, vacated their dwelling via the tube at exactly 21:01. James opened the sack and the inert body of their 13-year-old son Steven 1024 fell out and flopped sickeningly, flecks of dry blood clinging to the rug. James and Mary left the body where it was as the Acolytes would dispose of it in the morning but took the tape to their room and put it in to the reciever on the television on the wall.

The screen blipped to life and a text appeared for a full minute:

"Your offspring did not fulfill the requirements of the Cadre and was Removed."

And a recording showed a huge line of Acolytes watching as Steven was walked out in front of them by a Sybarite. Without a word, the Sybarite put a single round from his Mark 17 sidearm in Steven's abdomen. The boy screamed and crumpled, vomiting blood and his own entrails as he writhed. The Sybarite and all the Acolytes watched, their expressions as neutral as stone, as the boy died slowly. Then, when he was near death, the Sybarite put another round into Steven's head and the boy stopped jerking.

More text appeared on the screen:

"You must watch this tape every night before your performance at 22:00. Begin this tape and then proceed immediately afterward. Administer The Elixer as it ends. Then continue. Remember, you only have one more chance." And the tape ended, automatically rewinding to the beginning.

Mary began to cry and James did so less loudly. They were allowed to grieve for 5 minutes before the O2 was cut. After almost 5 minutes, they composed themselves and James reached into the nightstand drawyer for the syringe of Elixer. He clenched his teeth and shot it into his arm and he felt himself harden after a few moments.

Mary had removed her clothes and he had to follow suit and they had to being at 22:00 exactly. He waited until the right time, then they proceeded. The camera was set to record at exactly 22:00 so they had to be punctual. He didn't want to take chances this time.
23-06-2005, 11:43
tag. and great work.