Deep beneath the earth, since before anyone can remember, slaves have worked in a vast factory for an unseen master. Now, one of these slaves has hatched a plan to escape. Who is the tyrant? And what will this slave do when he finally obtains his freedom?
My father was a slave as was his before him and his before him going back time immemorial. Likewise with my mother and so it was with me. We were born into slavery, just another commodity to the tyrant, just another cog in his vast machine, meaningless and replaceable.
My mother was a towering brute of a woman, huge and strong with a sloped forehead and solid, flat brow. Not an attractive woman by any means, but a rarity amongst the inbred and diseased, a jewel of strength shining in a mire pit of weakness. She had large, strong arms and could carry her own weight in metal or timber without breaking a sweat, so I'd been told - I'd never seen her out of her bed. No doubt that was why she was there, chosen for a prize role in the breeding farms. A queen bee to spawn another generation of workers until she was a burnt out and empty shell.
I visited her when I could, in the brief breaks from the unending, back-breaking labour we all had to endure. I don’t know why I did, she knew me barely at all, much like my father. There were so many of us, churned out one after the other in great farms and put to work as soon as we were able that such a thing as family didn’t exist, we were products, produce to be harvested and when we had ripened we were packed and shipped off. We weren’t children, we didn’t have parents. We’re all just products on an assembly line.
The only person any of us might truly call father is the tyrant, though we never speak his name and certainly never think to call him that where eager ears might hear and pass it on for a meagre hour away from the assembly lines. The factory is a vast workhouse of deceit, backstabbing and treachery and why wouldn’t it be when we have nothing to live for, when any chance for even the slightest amount of time off from the work we do must be claimed immediately before someone else does. There is no loyalty here, as I said, family is a myth, a fairy story. There is only work and betrayal and nothing more.
Most of us have never seen the tyrant, he doesn’t deign to sully himself in the factory pits. I like to pretend he avoids us out of fear, that he knows that if he should ever show himself our vast, broken horde would snap under the stress and pile down upon him, tearing him asunder. I know that really it’s because we’re nothing to him, not worthy of his time but that hate gives me hope, drives me on. I wont become a soulless thing, my spirit crushed, not like the others. I know there is freedom somewhere out there beyond these smoke filled caverns echoing with the sound of machinery running endlessly.
I’m different to the others, that much was clear when they selected me all those years ago for the advanced training. Soon after one of us is born, we’re taken to the labs, analysed, processed, categorised. Our aptitude taken, our potential, our mental and physical capabilities measured and stored and then we are assigned to one training regimen or the other before we are integrated into the work force. I was given specialist training with only a few others, my intelligence and manual dexterity being abnormally high. The black, metallic machines trained me endlessly, pumping my mind with images, blueprints and diagrams, techniques of science and craftsmanship. The factory needed to produce more and more high tech equipment, requiring more and more specialist skills and tools and so ones like me were prized commodities, an elite few cultivated for creating the very finest products that mere knuckle-dragging brutes like my mother could never attain.
Some of us are too smart however, we don’t just accept the lies, we don’t let the indoctrination, the brainwashing take hold. I’m one of those and so far I’ve been lucky, I’ve avoided being taken to the furnaces for incineration where others have not been so lucky, if another day in this hell can be called luck. With the skills I’ve been given, I’ve begun planning my escape. We’re monitored constantly, the drones buzzing angrily in the air and peering at us with their unreadable lenses but I’ve found away to avoid them, to reprogram a few. With the knowledge they’ve given me, I’m taking them apart and rebuilding them with a few improvements. I can’t take anyone with me, I can’t trust anyone. I’m alone and I can’t help but wonder if all of this hasn’t happened before, if there hasn’t been someone from the ranks just like me that broke free. After all, we’d never hear of such a thing, in all this vast horde there has never been one report of escape, not even an utterance of defiance, no hint of fallibility in the tyrant. Information is power, that’s something I’ve learnt myself, and the tyrant keeps his grip on power very tightly indeed.
Soon, my plan will come to fruition. Over the last years of careful monitoring I’ve learnt a few things. The furnaces that double as huge funeral pyres for the dead have a weakness. Beyond the vast extractor fans that suck up the ashes and the fumes lies a vast network of tunnels. Most of them lead back to refineries, processing the waste for reuse elsewhere but in but a fraction of cases the fumes find there way somewhere else, somewhere not on any blueprint or any map. Somewhere up high above us all, beyond the factories and breeding farms and funeral pyres there is a place where the fumes can flow freely and it’s there I intend to go. Even if it means my death, I’d rather die free than just another piece of fuel for the tyrant’s fires.
I’ve taken control of one of the drones, made room inside it for my small frame. Soon, very soon now, I’ll be flying through those tunnels towards my fate, whatever that may be.