She hated walks. The only good thing she could think of was that it was halfway through the day. Studying since dawn, a small break for light exercises in the yard, then science and mathematics, and then this horrid walk. Marching single-file in silence while the pompous teachers and observers kept us not only from enjoying themselves but from mixing the boys and girls. The last thing they wanted was another Meomi incident.
She had nothing to think about but the back of Kyomi’s head. It was just like it had been the day before, and the day before that. Her throat was dry. Hands swung in the way just as the others swung, those horrid, pinching boots marking in each other’s footsteps. She almost laughed out loud, not that she actually would. Not after last week, but still. The urge was there. As long as Mr. Timpsy wasn’t watching. What was she hoping, wanting, yearning to laugh about? Oh yes, that if they measured the inline and ball of each foot in the terrific line they all fell silently into, it would still look like just one person walking endlessly to the the precipice.
Supposedly they looked out there as a reminder. One at a time, bristled, stony faces without a tremor, or flinch of compassion. After years of training, of instilling such passivism to violence. To blood. They marched them out at noon. In the heat to look out across the horizon to watch every single rebel rot slowly. The stench made some gag. Gagging was acceptable, as long as you were young, but at her age it was expected with the mind-alterations that she would look at, her feet barely over the clay, knowing, knowing that hundreds of miles down with one slip she would be with them; with the rotting, torn limbs, with the blood dried in the dust and the uniforms bleached in the sun, with the predators tearing them apart in vicious, grinning teeth; all of this beating behind her bloodshot eyes and she was supposed to look at them without a single muscle in her face contorting.
A glimmer of compassion perhaps? A tear in their eye? She had never watched anyone do anything more than look away, complaining of the sun in their eyes. How could the sun be in their eyes when it was beating down on them from above? A question not answered. They were altered, again and again. Taking more trips, one before and after school to practice. Surely Mr. Timpsy would devote what was left of his time to instill that rigid old philosophy, never wavering, never flinching with the cowardice of emotion.
She watched her classmates go, one by one. Discerning under the sharp noses of the observers, rapidly marking notes on their pads after each one stood on the precipice. She sighed. That thirst had come back. Watching Kyomi’s head. Was that sweat? Of course - it was humid. They wouldn’t mark down sweat, would they? Kyomi walked as everyone else did, footstep from toe to heel from the ones before her. She watched at the line marked by the fat one with red eyes, who slid the marker back onto the pad.
Kyomi breathed softly and stood right at the precipice. What was it she saw? Did the ground cave in? Did Kyomi leap? Was she pushed? In a moment that seemed so frightfully dull and routine left with Kyomi screaming until the blood and bone broke on the others slaughtered and rotting. Chaos, uncontrollable children sweating under the sun looked over, while the observers tried to find out what to do.
She didn’t have to stand out at the precipice after Kyomi fell.