00 / the beginning

The world has changed. Gone from America is freedom of expression, religion; gone from America is freedom. The once-shining country is now a wasteland, save for one small section in New England salvaged by the Government.
But the Government still controls everything - in fact, they dictate every single life in their colony by means of an intricate plan. You receive this plan at age three, in a sterile environment. You come to accept this plan of yours, no matter how soon you die, or even how.

The children filed into the classroom, skin as white as the plastic fixtures hanging from the ceiling, eyes the same color as glass. They were unclothed, undefined, each with a flat stomach and no curves, coarse black hair buzzed to a fine stubble. 

There was a rather corpulent woman sitting in the front of the room, her fat spilling out of the confines of her hard, plastic chair. She looked bored, sitting there, behind the brittle brass nameplate spelling out Geraldine Gibbons, tapping her pen idly against the glass and steel of her desk. When the last child - student, kid - had taken its seat at the last desk in the last row did Geraldine Gibbons rise to her feet, tottering a bit as she struggled to keep her balance. 

When Geraldine spoke, her voice was a throaty sort of rasp, and she gave a cough into one meaty hand before picking up a massive stack of papers off of her desk and beginning to call up the students. 

Surprisingly, every child knew what to do - filing from behind their desks in a perfectly orderly fashion, accepting a thick packet from Geraldine before looping around the room back to their desks. Upon returning to its seat, the first student set the packet down with methodic absence, staring blankly ahead at Geraldine until all twenty students had sat down. 

"Right, well," Geraldine began, somewhat flustered. She had always hated this first step, the blank stares of the children gazing serenely up at her. "You may begin to read."

Each student picked up its packet and gazed down at the first page. In an instant, brass name plaques appeared on the fronts of their desks. The first child, whose hair was rapidly growing into thick, buoyant blonde curls, a rosy flush rising onto his tanning skin, had a name plate spelling out in uniform letters, DAVID ROSENBLOOM. Beside and behind him, similar transformations were taking place.

But in the last row, a curious thing was happening. A name plaque reading HOLLAND SCHULTZ had appeared, and where the white figure had sat was a dark-haired girl with green eyes, but instead of a delighted smile, a scowl was affixed onto her features. She stared hard at her paper, as though willing its words not to come to life, but of course, such always happened.

From the front of the classroom, Geraldine gave a nervous titter. There was always one or two odd ones in a class, but they grew out of it. Surely this girl, this...this Holland (such a peculiar name, too, Geraldine thought) would grow out of this odd, questioning phase. As a matter of fact, her forehead was smoothing just now. There we go!

Holland Schultz, pale skin flushed with indignation, closed her packet with a snap that froze everything in the room. Even the nervous boy in the front row stopped fidgeting long enough to look back at Holland.

And as she rose unsteadily to her feet, green eyes blazing, she spoke the words Geraldine had dreaded to hear her entire career - the words any supervisor hated, begged never to be heard.

"I protest." 

The End

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