The morning sirens blared loudly outside Lukas's tiny apartment, like they did every morning at six o'clock. Rousing him from a deep and dream ridden sleep. Groaning Lukas rubbed the sleep from his eyes with a clumsy knuckle as his head fell deeper and deeper back into his pillow, 'Lukas, time to get up handsome!' her voice rang out around the tiny room. Lukas flinched. Scrunching his eyes shut and refusing to look at her.
'You're not real, you're not real, you're not real.' he chanted to himself over and over, deep waves of dread crashing over him as he felt the foot of his bed sink beneath her weight.
'What do you mean? Of course I'm real,' the Spectre whispered with a soft giggle. 'I wouldn't be here otherwise would I?' Lukas shook his head. Continuing his chant mentally, attempting to control his powers that always seemed to run away with him in the mornings. She's not really here. She's not real! 'Open your eyes baby,' she whispered leaning over him, her voice inches away from his face. 'I'm right here.' he felt the warmth of her skin run up his arm, across his chest.
'You're not real Jennifer.' Lukas hissed through his teeth, tears brimming in his eyes.
'I'm as real as you want me to be...' she whispered into his ear. He'd missed that voice so much. For one foolish moment of weakness Lukas opened his eyes to her, but she was gone. Coughing out the breath that had been locked into his lungs since he'd heard her voice Lukas wiped the tears from his eyes; his powers were a curse sometimes. With the morning siren still wailing outside Lukas threw the thin blankets from his bed and sat up, running calloused hands across his worn face and through the short locks of his blonde hair.
'Get out of my head,' he said softly pressing his strong palms against his temples. He could feel her eyes one him from the picture of her he kept on his bedside table. With a thought the picture slammed down onto the table, shattering the glass loudly and shaking the very room. 'Get out of my head...'
After using all his water rations on a shower Lukas dressed in his battered workers overalls and stood by the door of his meagre home, waiting for the red light in the corner to turn green, disengaging the magnetic lock and allowing him to go to work. Eventually with an automated buzz the light changed and his door swung outward, revealing the world beyond to him. It wasn't a pretty sight. The houses were uniformed white hab-blocks the streets were covered in the fine grey dust and the sunlight seemed unnatural as it passed through The Bubble. A specialised shielding matrix that protected the inhabitants within from the deadly radiation beyond. Taking three steps out into the street the harsh, fibrous dust immediately clung to Lukas, firing up his nose and causing a painful discomfort at the back of his throat. With oppressive synchronicity he as well as hundreds of others stepped into two ordered lines in the centre of the street, each staring at the back of the person in front of them, waiting in crypt like silence for the Enforcers to take the front of the long line and lead them through the streets towards the Manufactory. 'Morning Lukas,' Caleb whispered beside Lukas as he stepped into the line after kissing his wife, Emma, goodbye.
'Morning buddy,' replied Lukas.
'You feeling alright? You look like crap.'
'Thanks, missed you too.' Lukas grinned with Caleb. 'I'm fine. Just...didn't have a good morning.'
'SILENCE!' a voice blared through the old sirens that stood on the corner of every street, once upon a time they had been used as an early warning system for a world war that took place in the mid nineteen-hundreds. Now they were repurposed for controlling the masses. Just like everything else in this f*cking place. Lukas thought darkly. 'Today is the third of January, a Monday. Year, 2513.'
'They think,' Lukas whispered making Caleb chortle softly. Staring down the line made up of over seventy factory workers Lukas could just see the five white clad forms of the Enforcers, their helmets covering their faces and rifles strung across their shoulders. They paced back and forth like caged lions whilst the smallest of them spoke into the radio.
'You will work from seven o'clock, to seven o'clock in a single twelve hour shift before returning home and remaining in your houses until lights out. Understood?'
'Yes sir,' the line chanted half-heartedly.
'No,' Lukas said under his breath to Caleb.
'Proceed.' The annual march to work was as boring today as it always was. The streets were forever the same; they went the same way, walked at the same speed and even marched in the same order. Their only bit of excitement was seeing a bird. Such a simple little thing to bring so much joy into Lukas's heart, but it proved they were not the only living things in this massive bubble they inhabited like ants in a colony. Passing between two huge white Government buildings Lukas cast his golden eyes over to the huge white tower that loomed up in the distance, the Silver Citadel was the headquarters of The Government, training facility for the Enforcers and, most importantly for him, the Power Core for the Shield Array. Without that building The Bubble would fall and the entire millions strong population would be turned into nothing but a colony of disease ridden mutants. Or maybe I won't...Maybe I'd be fine. Lukas didn't know how he got his abilities, whether they were a genetic mutation passed on from his mother or father, or whether it was some kind of natural selection. Or maybe he was just a mutation. Maybe he was a walking, talking, genetic freak. A result of billions of years of evolution gone wrong?
He didn't know. He didn't particularly care. They were there and he had grown up with them since he was a child. They almost felt like a fifth limb to him now.
Reaching the factory Lukas still felt the shiver of revulsion run down his spine at seeing it. It was a horrid construction. All twisting metal pipes and huge crooked chimneys that ejected their waste chemicals past the Shield, injecting the Earth's already destroyed and radiation ridden atmosphere with even more toxic chemicals. 'Welcome back to hell brother,' Caleb said with a dry laugh.
'Good to be home.' Lukas muttered as the ringing of machinery and hammers beating metal into shape filled the air around them. Walking up the steps at exactly 6:58, the same time every day, Lukas joined a long queue that stood outside one of the check in cubicles. Caleb joined the queue beside him and the two waited in silence while the length of people was steadily cut down. As he waited Lukas noticed that the Enforcers were eyeing him a lot more than usual. Their fingers seemed to be permanently hovering over their triggers and one always seemed to be looking at him.
Caleb noticed this too. 'Done something wrong Trickster?'
'I don't know. Maybe they’re just pissed after what happened to Jacobi.'
Caleb laughed loudly before smothering the sound, Lukas couldn't help but smile as he remembered the look on the vicious Enforcers face when he was confronted by an irate, shouting Enforcer General. Who had really only been a thoughtform projection Lukas had cast after Jacobi had smacked a young boy around the face with the butt of his rifle. 'Maybe no more tricks today then,' Caleb whispered as they approached the cubicles. Lukas grunted. The Enforcers were useless. They had never caught Lukas, even after performing thousands of pranks and tricks on work mates and Enforcers alike, they knew strange things seemed to happen around him. But aside from that, they had nothing. When the door to the tiny metal coffin clicked open Lukas stepped inside, the door automatically shutting behind him with a sharp snap! Leaving him in total darkness until the screen in the top corner burst into life. The computer generated face distorted with static. 'Name,' it rasped.
'Lukas.' a small box appeared in the bottom corner of the screen, the recording device showing the voice recognition pattern of his speech and matching it with the data-records.
'Factory worker Delta 011001011101, Lukas. Though of the day...'A society with Government is like a building without a foundation.'...Contemplate.' the robot man said as the back of the check in cubicle popped open allowing Lukas access to the factory. Lukas didn't even bother getting frustrated. He just stepped out of the cubicle and into the factory, searching for the smelting room where he would be melting down recycled metal for the next twelve hours. Fun.