The Awakening: Chapter 1, Part 1
Genetic Overload, book one, The Awakening. In this dystopian world, Jared despises his wretched monochrome existence. Every single day in his miserable reality, his entire society is subjected to soul-crushing propaganda. If it weren't for the love of his devoted mother and his adoring little sister, he'd have lost his mind years ago. As it is, he has a tenuous hold on his sanity because, like all children in his society, he's literally half of a human. A gruesome sight, a second class citizen, and a burden to the state. By chance, Jared meets an eccentric adult, unlike any he'd ever known before, and a glimmer of hope ignites his spirit. However, a lifetime of fear and distrust toward all oppressive adults in his society keeps him on constant edge.
This book is dedicated to my friends and family for all their love and support. You know who you are.
The morning District Siren screeched, jolting me from a deep sleep at six-thirty. I rolled my feet to the floor, stomping until the offending noise silenced. I rocked out of bed and caught my reflection in the mirror. I stood there studying myself, thinking for the millionth time that real eyes will see so much better than my inferior microscopic eyes. The ones I'm unfortunately stuck with until I'm eighteen. I keep telling myself it's only four more years, but honestly, I don't think I can make it.
It's always the same every morning, I'm yanked from dreaming into a living night terror. With a disfigured half body, just hips and down with folded up skin to seal it, otherwise I'd be a totally gruesome sight. But I'm not the only one, every child under the age of eighteen looks just like me. The only definitive way to tell us apart is by our electronic ID anklets. To the rest of society, that's all I am, B1888. I honestly don't understand why our society is so warped.
My beautiful mother's loving voice pulled me from my daily morning misery, “Good morning, Jared.”
She always made sure to speak clearly, knowing my nanoscopic sound detector wasn't the best. I tried not to act as miserable as I was, cramming down my feelings, my voice distorted through the dome-like speaker placed atop my half-pelvis, “Good morning, Mom.”
Mom never fell for it, it's like she can read my mind. She touched my hip gently, her bright blue eyes full of compassion, “Are you okay?”
If I had a head, I'd nod. I dipped my knees instead, “I'm fine. How are you?”
I tried to let her sweet smile sooth me, setting aside my raging emotions. I knew it hurt her too, but there was absolutely nothing she could do to change our circumstances. Despite that, she always does her best to make me and my little sister happy. I concentrated on that as she chatted happily, distracting me while she gave me my Nutrient Dayshot. It stung a little, but I didn't make a peep, I'm used to it. I'm used to it all.
For the most part, having to depend on someone else for my very survival makes me feel completely insignificant, but luckily my mother never treats me like a burden. She makes sure that I know just how much she loves me and my sister. Mom smiled down at me, “Let's get you ready.”
My mother's been dressing me my whole life, but it's still a little uncomfortable sometimes. She was careful as she helped me into my softest gray pants, and buckled my belt in the perfect spot. She quickly moved to help me slip into my footpads, asking, “There, I think you look pretty handsome, what do you think?”
I wiggled my toes, “Yeah, thanks Mom.”
She knelt down whispering, “I bet something great's gonna happen today. I can't wait for you to come home and tell me all about it.”
She gave me another warm smile, kissing the very top of my hip before going to help my little sister dress. I stared down at my transparent footpads, thinking they were pretty ineffective, but they were all I had. I forced myself to get moving, no good comes from wallowing in self-pity.
I made my way to the common room, smiling on the inside, listening to my mother and my little sister giggling in the next room. Penny gushed on adorably, almost squealing her joy, thanking Mom for a small, pink flecked rock that she'd found for her. Penny was obsessed with anything colorful, and luckily at her age, she was sometimes allowed to express with certain colors.
“Where'd you find it?!”
My mom giggled back, “By the road. Can you believe that?”
I knew better, but Penny didn't even think to question it. I had no idea how she found anything colorful, but I was certain it wasn't beside the road. Mom always amazes me like that.
They finally met me in the common room, Penny bouncing on the balls of her feet, excitedly announcing, “Today in Architecture, I'm gonna ask permission to express in pink!”
Mom praised her, “Good idea, be sure to tell me how it goes!”
Penny jumped up and down, thumping loudly as she landed, “I will, Mommy! I will!”
Mom made sure to include me in the conversation, “What are you looking forward to the most today, Jared?”
I turned to her, making up something quickly, “I'm really looking forward to Astronomy.”
Mom's smile widened, "That's great! You'll have to teach me all about it tonight when you get home!"
Penny interrupted, bursting, "I can teach you too, Mommy!"
I listened quietly as Penny went off on an adorable tangent, Mom beaming down at her indulgently. And for about twenty minutes, I basked in the warmth of the loving home my kind Mom had built for us. Even though my life was a constant, brutal struggle, I was beyond grateful that I had my mother and sister. We are a tightly knit family. My mother tries to never hide how much she cares about my sister and me, even with the threat of reeducation.
Stepping outside my front door and leaving our comforting home behind is always a completely dehumanizing experience. The streets are lined with a multitude of constantly droning speakers, pumping oppressive propaganda throughout society like a beating heart. They're like a hammer to your consciousness, they just keep pounding into your mind over and over, showing no mercy no matter how much you bleed. The harsh reality of the cruel world drowns out my mother's loving words, replacing them with the horrible doctrine that spews and spreads like an insidious virus.
I tried hard to concentrate on my mother's reassuring presence. While all the other kids waited alone for the transport, Mom stood beside us, waiting patiently. For a split second, I stopped feeling so angry inside. Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I felt compassion for those other kids, along with every other kid in Tryen. All of us literally half human, second class citizens, burdens to the State.
In an attempt to distract myself, I took in my monochrome surroundings. The little gray houses that all looked the same. The gray yards, gray roads, and narrow gray walking paths. The soft hum of the small gray automobiles, each one identical to the other. At least our district had automobiles.
The transport rolled to a stop in front of us, and Penny happily moved toward it while I trudged ahead reluctantly. Mom gave us the secret look that was code for blowing us kisses before waving goodbye. Penny and I couldn't blow kisses or wave, we could only respond with a distorted, "Goodbye."
Penny and I shuffled along, sitting next to each other in the middle row. We waited silently for the adult to buckle us in. When the adult was finished, Penny started whispering incessantly. She didn't seem to care that I wasn't really listening. Even though she was annoying, I didn't complain because I love her.
I shifted in my seat, scanning the tram and seeing the adult sitting at the very back, away from the rest of the kids. I knew she hated children, and even though she rubbed me the wrong way, I was glad that at least our tram had a safety protocol. Not all of them do.
As we pulled away, I strained to see out the window, watching as Mom got into her small gray automobile. She wouldn't be home from work until late tonight, at least one hour after Penny and I got out of courses. It only happens once every four quarters, but when it does, Mom asks our Aunt Lucy to watch us. Aunt Lucy is always struggling and can't succeed at any occupation she's been assigned. She's on her ninth assignment, with only one more strike left. In the meantime, watching us keeps her status at minimum. I hate Aunt Lucy.
My mind was invaded as we moved past the speakers spewing out propaganda. No matter how hard I tried to keep the constant noise from bombarding my mind, the insidious message always manages to worm its way in like a pathogen. Exactly what the State wants. I tried hard to concentrate on Penny's happy whisper-jabbering, hoping it would block out the rhetoric, but that only works for a minute or two. There is no escape. Penny had a gift, no matter what despicable words filtered through the air, she was oblivious.
“Law four three five six states that all children must be fastidiously clean and appropriately dressed–”
"And Mom said that if I earn another perfect score, she'll–"
"Violators of Standard Protocol will be disciplined with reeducation no matter the age–"
"And if I could just express in pink–"
"–no child may act inappropriately–”
“I have a course with–”
“–willfully disobeys this Standard Protocol will be disciplined with four quarters in reeducation–”
Penny quieted her whisper, “And I just can't wait for Architecture! Did I tell you I'm gonna ask permission to express in pink?!”
“–child who violates the Standard Protocol, will be disciplined with nine quarters in reeducation–”
“And next time I see–”
"Each of these Standard Protocols are strictly enforced to ensure the safety and purity of our citizens, especially the feeble children.”
The transport arrived and the adult came to unbuckle us one by one. After she unbuckled me, I waited for her to unbuckle Penny. We got off the tram, slowly and silently shuffling in single file lines into the education square. The conforming gray buildings towered high above us, with nothing but empty gray surrounding us. The sterile environment had no distractions.
A long forgotten memory flashed through my mind, I was playing in actual mud. I was four, Penny had just been born, and Dad had just left. It was fun, but that kind of behavior is strictly prohibited. We got away with it just that once. Mom gave me a bath before anyone ever saw me.
That's what they call having fun, misbehaving. I imagined that if any adult had ever seen me covered with mud, they would have certainly turned my mom in for reeducation.
My mind flashed back to the present. We quickly said our quiet goodbyes before separating into our different categories, ninth level for me, fifth level for Penny. I hid my irritation, walking into the courseroom, going to my assigned terminal, resting my feet on either side of it. The hundred and fifteen degree angle made it easier for us to access the screen. Even so, I bet it'd be a lot easier with hands.
The history teacher came in, following her same lifeless routine, greeting us with, “Let's all take a moment to turn our thoughts to the duty of continuing the purification of our Superior State.”
She waited a full excruciating minute before asking, “Are we ready?”
It was really no surprise that the kids stayed silent since she had disabled all of our speakers. She gave a quick nod, “You are approved to access your terminals.”
The black screens crackled to life with a bright flash of static, and every student quickly tapped in their identifications. The teacher chirped, “Let's get started."
She tapped the oversized monitor behind her, “Today we will be learning about the beginning of the Genetic Revolution and the Bio Interest. The archeological discovery of Zaphorious, the oldest known genetically enhanced society, led to the Genetic Revolution. Their ancient technology paved the way for much of ours, and today we still see many machines and architecture based on their ingenuity. I will start by showing you a brief photoplay, and then we will go into more detail about our State's history of genetic enhancement and engineering–”
It was difficult to pay attention to the same monotonous lecture that I'd heard my entire education.
The teacher finally stepped aside and the photoplay began with distorted audio. An aerial view of Central District Tryen emerged onto the screen. An enthusiastic man's voice filled the room, “What a glorious place our State is! So free, so safe, and so forward thinking!”
The photoplay went on and on and on. Every single day of our existence, they force this venomous deception on us. I absolutely despise it, but everyone else seems to love it. They just don't really understand what it all means.
Continue at: The Awakening: Chapter 1, Part 2