“All citizens of sector B50, please report to the feeding station.”
X-13 barely looked up at the sound of the loud monotone voice, leaving the wall she was repairing to walk to the line already forming before the metal double-doors at the other end of the great hall. All the other people had lined up, single-file, without protest, without any sound and with their gazes held straight forwards. Their grey one-piece suits looked even more dismal in contrast to their surroundings-the walls, floors, even doors were coloured a bright, unstained white. It would be enough to blind the human eye, but the population had grown accustomed to it. The government claimed it would brighten the underground continent of Subtera, so much so that ‘even the sun would no longer be necessary’. The light that the white setting reflected, though, was from high-intensity LED’s that ran on self-charging batteries. It gave the place a sterilized, hospital-like feel, cold and practical. Citizen X-13 was inside the sector’s main hall, where regular feedings, vaccinations, and announcements would occur. Outside the building, Subtera was very much the same-the streets and buildings were all white, meticulously cleaned, and the streetlamps had the same LED bulbs. The occasional screen monitor could be seen on the sides of buildings, massive and constantly on a loop of the government’s special-made video on the history of Subtera.
“In a time of great crisis and turmoil,” the machine-generated narrator’s voice would say, “The leaders of each country banded together and created this continent, saving a select portion of the human race from the disease still ravaging the planet.”
It was all the same after that, ‘exclusive’ interviews with some familiar politicians on how great Subtera was, how advanced, and how grateful the population should be…If X-13 was to be honest, it was all the same garbage. The government fed ideas to the people, along with controlling every aspect of their lives. Every day was on a rotating schedule and, today, X-13 had been on repair duty. She didn’t like the job but, in all truths, it could’ve been a lot worse. There was that old man, Jim, who had refused outright to complete his duties, yelling about how the vaccines were really sedatives used to control the people of Subtera. Within a minute, the authorities had arrived on their hovering bikes, taking him to the main hall to be ‘dispatched’. He was never heard from again.
X-13 was pulled from her thoughts when the metal doors opened, a nurse smiling a sickeningly artificial smile and welcoming the people inside. X-13 shuffled inside after the others, already dreading the routine. Another nurse waved her to a table, granting her fake smile #2. X-13 sat at the chair in front of her, holding out her hand, eyes narrowed as the nurse scanned it with a small device.
X-13 gave a small nod, trying to get a glimpse of the information on the tablet the nurse had picked up. After what she had heard Jim saying, X-13 had decided to find the truth for herself-by skipping her vaccines. She could only hope that the information wasn’t betrayed to the authorities. X-13 didn’t want to get dispatched anytime soon, as the sickly and old were dispatched. The process seemed, quite frankly, terrifying.
The nurse placed a paper plate before X-13, holding a few pills. She put a glass of water beside it too, waiting patiently. X-13 downed her meal without the water, wincing as the bitter taste spread over her tongue. These meals were supposed to be at the cusp of technology, formulated to contain all the right vitamins and minerals for survival.
“Have you already gotten your weekly vaccine?”
X-13 pushed up her sleeve to show a bandage on her shoulder, nodding again.
“Yes. Just yesterday.” she said, lying through her teeth.
The nurse bought it and, throwing out the plate, gestured towards the doors.
“Great. Don’t forget to return at 1900h for another meal!”
X-13 was already half-out the door, grinning as soon as she’d left the main hall. It had been a few months that she had skipped her regular vaccines and, remarkably, there was a stark difference. Her thoughts were clearing, her vision sharper. If Jim was right, and it seemed he was, X-13 was prepared to skimp on her vaccines for a while. She couldn’t even be sure that diseases existed underground-it was probably some ploy or another. Though, no matter how she looked at it, X-13 couldn’t begin to think why the government could possibly want more power. They were in control of everything-except, of course, Citizen X-13 of Sector B50.