- Vol. 08
- Chapter 03
There it was.
The hole in the fence.
A hand, its pale skin darkened from dirt, reached for a pebble on the ground. Despite her young years, Nadia knew the truth. The Pit was nothing but smoke and mirrors meant to taunt its inhabitants.
Clothes, appearing clean each morning, were never washed. The odour stung Nadia’s nose every day.
Showers, offered in the evenings before dinner, was nothing but an illusion fed to their brains through the sensory microchip that was inserted by Admissions and synced to the brain. Nadia felt the hot water, felt and smelled the soap the lathered, but she also knew they were nothing but signals directly to their brain.
Meals, rich feasts three times a day, were the simplest of nourishment alternatives; a nutrition porridge that tasted of plaster. The skinny bodies of Nadia’s co-farmers, skinny enough to appear dead, reminded her of pictures she had seen from the concentration camps during World War II.
Beds, appearing comfortable after a hard day’s work, were a death trap. Nadia knew the pillow sent electromagnetic impulses that collaborated with the microchip in your sleep and never used it. For everyone else, every day was the first day at the farm “for an authentic experience of days past” where guests were offered a chance to help with the running of the place.
Nadia’s fingers searched the ground, her eyes looking about for drone scouts. She had made it this far thanks to Uncle Jem. He had explained it all to her when she arrived and added that it was important she did not tell anyone unless she was sure that they already suspected the truth. “Don’t breath a word unless you think it worth the risk to get caught”.
The machines came for him that night.
It had taken Nadia longer than usual to find the right stone; according to her calculations, the machines came by to restock her stones about once every three months. A carefully calculated amount of throwable pebbles, carefully mixed in with the bigger and smaller rubble at this side of the field. It was ironic, really; the harvest machines were capable of breaking their human interaction behaviour but still had to perform their tasks methodically.
As every other day, she weighed it in her hand and appeared to consider where to throw it. She feigned surprise at seeing the hole in the fence, then set the stone flying. The stone spun in the air, unaware of its fate, before hitting the hole at its centre. Just as Uncle Jem had told her before his execution, just as she had seen every day since her first pebble-throw, the energy field faltered but for a second and she could see the setting sun on the other side when the stone disintegrated in a rainbow-coloured pulse. Freedom.
One day, she promised herself.
The shovel was light in her hand when she began working again, her energy rejuvenated.