Today I am releasing the first part of a short story called The Rapturing. It is set in a dystopian future where genetic experimentation has been taken to a whole new level.
By Brett Galen
This is my submission as required by Administrator-21952. My directions are to write a log of my days to help in transitioning to my Rapturing, which is, of course, the day I will become an adult and join productive society. Considering the options of speculating about my role in the Politic or leaving a journal for posterity and frame of reference, I have chosen the latter.
My name is Adm-85546. I was born in Clutch-10958. I was born on the 28th day of May sixteen anums ago. Well, everyone in my clutch was. We started with thirty but now there are eleven of us. I, like all my clutchmates, have black hair, blue eyes, dark skin and stand about five feets tall. We are of the Tech Caste and in six days we will all have our Rapturing, where we leave the Pod and join the Politic, the society of adults.
Let me start at the beginning. I was two anums old when I experienced my Day of Awareness, but, noticing Podmother-4588 and Podfather-4588 and how they interacted with the other clutchies, I continued to act unaware. I don’t know if it was fear or intellect that held me back, but I watched as the days passed, mimicking the unaware clutchies. Podmother-4588 began calling them by their names Adm-85542, Ane-79956, Adm-85547, Adm-85549, and so on. After about seven clutchies became aware, I stepped forward to learn my name, Adm-85546.
The next few weeks were relatively procedural as we learned to use the restroom at the proper times, to keep our workspaces clean and operational, and to write our language. By the time all the clutchies had become aware, most of us had already learned Common and were starting algebra. We learned to sleep in our slabs and the lights stayed on constantly. I remember everything being white: clothes, surfaces, eduscreens, and food.
Two of our clutchies, Adm-85545 and Adm-85547 began bleeding from the nose and were removed to the medical facilities. They never returned, but we were told they were moved to a special care facility. Because my name was between theirs, I was taken from my clutch to medical. I was examined with hands and machines. I remember the Meds taking my blood and giving me air that made me sleepy. After two cycles, I was returned to my clutch. Now, ten days behind, I had to accelerate my studies. I somehow have not quite gotten a working understanding of sines, cosines, and tangents.
By the time our clutch turned seven anums we lost eight clutchies to various illnesses and accidents. On the day our clutch turned seven anums, Podmother-4588 and Podfather-4588 celebrated our commencement. We concluded our studies and cleaned our areas. Using sterilizer foam and cloth wipes we hand scrubbed every surface we could touch including the eduscreens. I knew they were hermetically sealed, but I still saw danger in spraying around the edges of the glass touchscreen, so I sprayed the center and scrubbed outward. Ane-79952 noticed my pattern and mimicked it.
After cleaning we were given time for minimally supervised social interaction. Instead of focusing on proper manners and procedures or debate topics, we were given free interaction. Ane-79952 approached me for conversation. Adm-85542 joined us and we discussed personal perceptions and opinions. Adm-85542 had an obviously flawed hypothesis which I brought to his attention. He huffed and walked away. Ane-79952 and I attempted to make sense of his reaction, finally settling on an emotion of some sort. We knew we would be tested by emotions and that they can be a strength when used properly, but we expected it would be an eduscreen assignment. I suspected then that Adm-85542 might be in trouble.
The next waking, Podmother-4588 and Podfather-4588 had us make our slabs neatly and lead us to their observation room. After sitting on the floor in a group, Podmother-4588 introduced us to Administrator-91766. Administrator-91766 told us that commencement was a transitioning step and that we would move into a pod of older children. Today we would begin studying physical training and social interaction. We would no longer have Podparents to remind us of our schedules or to remind us of our manners. Administrator-91766 said that she would oversee and discipline if necessary, but that we would be responsible for learning correct social interactions and working to promote a responsible pod. She also said we would be introduced to new concepts like music, art, gymnastics, combat, deprivation, and night.
As she finished speaking to us, she gave a single nod to my Podparents. They, in turn, nodded to us. We stood, faced Podmother-4588 and Podfather-4588, then gave them a nod of respect. Administrator-91766 walked through a transparent door and we, the twenty-two remaining of Clutch-10958, followed her.
I think I would be remiss if I didn’t explain the simple schedule. Schedules are important and the schedule I was assigned hasn’t changed through my commencements. At three ticks I wake up from slumber. I push the button to open my slab door and eject my slab. I fold my thermal and lay it at the head of my slab, then I quietly push my slab back into the three feets wide by three feets tall by ten feets long chamber so I don’t wake my podmates.
I go to the physical room and run the obstacle course while doing my music study on my edugoggles. At lightrise I go to the washroom and I do my art study while cleansing. By five ticks I am dressed in my grey jumpsuit and am preparing nourishment for the pod.
Since introduction to pods, each podmate is given a social responsibility. Some prepare laundry, some tend the garden, some remove waste, some move and repair equipment, but I prepare nourishment. It comes in sealed packages and is identical every day, meat packaged in fat and a liquefied protein base. The ones before me boiled it every day which was good for routine. But I, after walking the gardens with Ane-79952 noticed that many of the plants grown in the hydrochamber were aromatic and after tasting a few leaves, began to cook with them. Pod morale rose.
After nourishment, the sanitizers would cleanse the area and fold the tables back into the wall while the rest of us engaged in social interaction. I enjoyed debate until the day that Adm-85542 decided to transition from debate into anger. His history is a tragedy. Now I write letters of critique instead of debate. During combat I train with bangs, small hand-held devices that send projectiles great distances. I also train with slicers, thin but sturdy pieces of metal that extend from a hilt approximately three feets long. I excel at hand combat, but my strength is in defense and counter-attack.
My first personal instructor was a female not from my original clutch. She was a few anums older than I and taught me combat. Her name was Ele-65545 when we first met, but after her second commencement she was designated Hope and was a Nature Caste. Her podmates all had auburn hair, green eyes and fair skin and were, on average, a few inches shorter than my podmates. She was strong and fast and on more than one occasion nicked me with a slicer to remind me to focus.
After studies, we engaged in tasks. Since I prepared nourishment, my task was complete and I would work with the other podmates to understand each of their tasks. Doing this, I was able to help in instances like the loss of a podmate to illness or accident. I learned much about botany, recycling, chemistry, and repair and tried to incorporate my new knowledge into other areas of podlife. I even modified my edugoggles to access lessons from each of the other social responsibilities. One tick before lightfall, everyone went for cleansing and fresh laundry. At lightfall everyone went to their slabs. End of day.