Here’s a quick piece I wrote last night. I’ve been a bit lax lately when it comes to writing every day so I’m making myself get through at least a thousand per day. With that in mind, this story is a little shorter than my usual Flash Fiction stories, but I thought it was worth sharing. Let me know what you think.
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Fell knew a tear had left her eye and was now heading down her cheek. She wanted to lift a hand and brush it away, but then someone might notice she was crying and the last thing she wanted was to be noticed. At times like this it was best to be unremarkable, and then maybe you wouldn’t be called at all. It was a lie, but it was all she had to stop herself from breaking into uncontrollable sobs. Then she would be processed sooner so she didn’t unsettle the others, and anything that would keep her out of the office for a little longer was worth the self delusion.
It wasn’t fair. That was not surprising, life was not fair, but it stung all the same. She had always done her best to avoid finding herself here, she hit all her quotas and she worked without every really stopping to consider if she liked her job. She just did it. Nobody really knew how the selection process worked, and they knew that the administrators would never say why one person was picked over another, but still the traditional wisdom saw out. Work hard, do what your Mother tells you, or you’ll be sent for processing too and it’ll be too late to say your prayers and meet your quotas then.
She could feel a quiver in her through, she tried to distract herself. She watched others in the room. It was quiet, quieter than it should be, if the selections were so important why was she the only one there. If she stood, walked out of here and never came back would anyone really notice. She would never know, nobody ever left. There was too much at stake. Back at the village, their work quotas would be lowered for everyone, she couldn’t take that away from them. If they even knew she’d thought about it, they’d never let her through the gate. She sat back in her chair and lolled her head, the tears came freely now.
An older woman came a sat beside her, she did not say anything for a few moments, but when Fell made eye-contact, she smiled.
“Good morning, Fell” said the woman. She extended a hand, adorned with a discrete signet ring. Fell sat up straight. “Forgive me, Administrator.”
“There is nothing to forgive.” She nodded at Fell and the two of them watched the small queue filter down. “You’ve had a long day.”
“How do you know?” She asked.
“I’m working on your case,” she had a file tucked under her arm. “All the important details are here. I’m sorry you haven’t been called yet.”
“Is it time for me to be seen?”
“No,” the administrator pointed to a small camera in the corner of the room. “They told me you looked upset, it’s perfectly understandable. I’m here to make sure you’re feeling alright.”
Fell bit her tongue.
“It’s ok, you can speak. We’re not monsters, you know.”
“I’ve never been to the processing centre before.” She glanced at the file. “Does it say that in there?”
“It does.” The administrator opened up the file and Fell caught a glimpse of every detail about her life, laid out in a double spread. “It also tells me a little about your family. Are you here on your own today?”
She nodded. “I didn’t want them to come.”
“A wise choice,” the administrator folded the file back up and dropped it on the chair. She leaned a across a looked right at Fell as she spoke. “You’re strong, I can see that. Strong enough to keep them away, and strong enough to sit her quietly while every urge is telling you to run out the door.”
Fell went wide eyed. “That would be a crime.”
“And yet people do it here every day.”
Fell looked at her hands, she felt ashamed. All she had thought of since she sat was getting up again and leaving, now she was being praised for being too frightened to go through with it. The administrator seemed to know what she was thinking and held her hand gently.
“I like you Fell,” she said. “I just want you to know, you go in there with the same dignity you’ve shown out here, and I’ll make sure your family isn’t billed for the processing.”
Fell’s eyes welled again. “You’d do that?”
“You have my word.” A red light flashed near one of the staff doors and the administrator shook her head. “Now I’m going to have to be going, I’m afraid.”
“Fell 3-6-9?” Someone called.
“Me too.” They nodded their goodbyes, and Fell got to her feet.
They weren’t too bad, Fell thought. They had a bad rep, the Administrators. People said they were sneaky, but Fell had never met one before today and she had seemed pretty nice. Someone had to make the rules, and you couldn’t please anyone.
As Fell walked to the reception desk, she saw one of the guards walking a Runner into the back. He struggled, but they’d already sedated him. His family weren’t likely to be let off the bill. There was a young man behind the glass who greeted her with a smile, and Fell was surprised she smiled back. She glared at the guards as she passed them on the way to the processing offices. She pushed the double doors open and walked down the famous white corridor, the door’s were alphabetical. She strode confidently until she found Room F. There was a moment’s fear as her hand touched the door, but in a second she was inside. She was inside the Room F that had haunted her dreams since the day she learned about the processing centre, but now it wasn’t so scary.
In the centre of the room was a small, comfortable looking chair. In front was a table with a glass of water and two small green tablets. On the wall a time counted down from the moment she entered the room. She knew what she had to do, and she had ten minutes to do it in. She sat in the chair, she briefly considered waiting the timer out and making the most of it, but the guards were on the other side, and she’d like to be done before she had to see them again.
With six minutes on the clock, Fell took the green tablets and died before the time ran out.