Since 2021, the watch tower rang its chorus for blood every year.
The capital, a rather ugly smog covered building, draped its menancing shadow high over the gray seeped city of Crestford. Today began quietly. Like a dying heartbeat, the city barely collected itself to bring in another rising sun.
A liver for $200,000, a lung for $500,000. The currency of this hyperactive new world became organs. But, the only extra one I kept on a chain was the beat-up heart locket I received as a birthday present before the laws of our city became worth more. All the upper class citizens would stupidly dress in athletic looking gear, prepared to run and climb at a moment's notice. They were fit, healthy, and always seething to improve their physical status.
This society was focused on ruling out the unhealthy, the sickly, and the mentally ill. Without conviction, a peppy voice too bright for this decade would always chime in with that same old line: "no need for stragglers." Shiny hospital doors would ring in millions of dollars per year to convince the masses how necessary it was to replace old parts that didn't work with new "donated" ones. These were amped up with the latest functioning stem cells in pristine labs made for profit.
Crestford's richest patrons paid (who knows how much) to expand their lifespan every year. Like clockwork, the evening news displayed crisp coated doctors on TV who always said their lines so matter-of-factly that it became its own language to speak like them.
Organs were dangerous for the folks who stuck out in society. If they looked lower class, had health issues, were deemed "unstable"... then their bodies would be at high risk for the "generous donations" that ended up at the clinics back doors each year come replacement time. These piles of organs somehow arrived fresh at these places all over the nation, keeping the poor in check. Organs were the most wanted item on the market, a very hot commodity to fix up and resell. Once medical technology improved enough to keep the human body going and alive many years longer than any creator intended, it became a lifeline of wealth.
Ding, ding, ding.
The dreadful tower signaled that donations were needed for the approaching year.
Hospitals would be putting up advertisements on floating screens to encourage people to "donate." I laughed at that. Everything received a price for being turned in. Actual donations rarely occured.
Meanwhile, many social media influencers would be picking out new body parts, blood lines, and facial features to wear in their next big outfit reveals of 2067. Even in the festivities of January, those brutalist winters amongst this city's skyline made holidays seem desolate and pointless.
I had to hurry though, and get home as quickly as possible after my errands. Hunters would be out soon, which meant they would be looking. The homeless populations and wanderers would be at the highest risk for getting caught, but I would look no different.
Many pharmacies kept track of those on medications, with criminal histories, and even an individual's financial background. If you had a mental illness, it was better to hide it and never receive help. In my case, I had to do without the depression meds. It was better to lie than be hunted down by so-called private lists that are always "leaked" to the public. With my luck, I'd be the first sacrifice for some sleek haired businessman with a corvette.
Sirens wailed between street corners to signal the opening of the donation centers. It would be time soon.
Clutching the heart shaped locket, I held the past in my hands. A vintage metal chain from 2010 gave me the only semblance of normalcy in the epicenter of a bloodbath.
With light steps, I raced through the grocery store to pick up the things our family needed. The bus would be coming soon, and I watched as many others lowered their wings to fly into the stations every few minutes.
Another announcement rang through the storefront:
"Thank you boss...all clear. Attention shoppers. Donations are now being accepted an hour earlier than scheduled. Please proceed to the red tents set up in front of any medical center if you have items to offer. They will compensate you depending. Thank you for your generosity!"
I didn't plan for this, as many patrons around me glanced at each other in pure silent horror. This is the first time they have changed the schedule to an hour earlier.
Which means, I have to get home...now.
I heard a woman behind me fall to the floor as somehow pulled out a weapon that shattered her cart to nothing more than a few specs of metal.
It is already starting.
Running home, I made sure to hold the locket as I darted through the chaos emerging in the lower level neighborhoods. The faded "Luz" on the back of the locket still screamed my named as I let adrenaline take over. My braided hair swung back and forth as I passed under neon signs.
Every sign flashed the same words.
"Health is Wealth"