The following is a Science Fiction based world that came to me in a fever dreams. There are a lot of stories that could be told, but Eve caught my attention.
The sky overhead was black, it was noon and the sky was black. Still, for the fourth day in a row. The longest blackout in history had been a hundred years previous, even that had only lasted five days. It wasn’t the inner air that was the problem, it was the outer. No one had control over that, not anymore.
I stared up at the sky, wondering if I would ever see the stars. In my mother’s childhood, she had seen the stars, little pricks of light that moved across the orange of day or night. Rumour said that one could still see the sun, on occasion, rising and setting but that the atmosphere outside had become so thin that even the orange of my grandmother’s time was gone.
“We burned the sky, we burned the ground, we’re lucky to be alive. We shall always carry the burden of billions of deaths on our shoulders. We killed our home through reckless behaviours and choices. Now all we have is the city, all our lives are because of the city. Each of us has a place here and must fulfill that place without uprising or causing trouble, or the entire human race will die.”
I did wish they would shorten that up a bit. But for those who sunk in the levels, it got longer and longer. A reminder that we were causing a burden on the city.
I reached down and touched the com-device on my wrist, acknowledging that I had heard the comment. Two days previous I had sunk to 22. A mistake at work caused an oil spill, which may have soaked into the ground, damaging land inside. I was luck that was all I got. What had I been thinking? I knew how to do my job, I knew never to override protocols!
I might have been personally responsible for long-term damage to Dome, I might mean the end of the entire human race and the animals we cared for in the small Bios attached to Dome. All because I had been reckless on the job.
I gritted my teeth and shook my head as I looked up and down the abandoned street.
During blackouts, most people preferred to stay inside. Just like before Dome, except just a little different. Instead of ignoring what they were doing, the damages they were causing by their choices and greed, people were ignoring the choices made by those who had come before them. I preferred to stay outside, staring up at the sky and wondering if the sky would ever come back.
Certainly, that sky was a muddy sort of colour, but it was better than forever night. Standing under a UV streetlamp just wasn’t the same without a lightening in the sky overhead.
Turning towards the Core, I wished I was above 20. They got cigarettes still. But anyone below them didn’t. We were still able to work, but too far from N to ever see the light of day.
Literally. N could work in the Core, even if it was a courier, they were allowed to travel up high once a year to watch the sun for a whole two hours if their position wasn’t high enough to see it every day. Anyone below 10 would never see the light of day. 10 and up, if you were on your deathbed they took you up and showed you the sun, even showed you the remains of the moon, if you asked for it and lived that long.
I was feeling—
I was tugged backward suddenly, a hand slapping over my mouth, another tangled in my hair. As I struggled I was pulled off the main street, between buildings. I got in an elbow. There was a muffled sort of sound and whoever had grabbed me let go as he fell over. Bolting for the front of the alleyway, I shouted as a constable stepped into the light at the end of the darkness.
“E.I. Projects!” a voice shouted behind me.
I stumbled to a stop, half bent over in my attempt to function as an actual rational person.
E.I. stood for Eugenics Incorporated. They had taken my aunt off the street once, returned her pregnant to her parents. My cousin Harold wasn’t the best physically, but he was smart as could be N10, he lived in the Core and was high enough ranking that my aunt lived with him.
She had been 24Annabelle when she had been taken. Upon the birth of Harold, they had awarded her 14Annabelle.
I had just hit someone who might help raise my level.
Jerking straight, I turned to the man who had spoken, who was focused on the constable, not on me. He frowned ever so slightly and looked at me instead. A hand raised, he made a motion to me, to move towards him.
“I want to see identification,” I said, my voice shaking.
“Of course,” he said, pulling a badge from his pocket.
He tossed it towards my feet, it flew over his partner’s groaning form and slipped across the cobblestone towards me. I picked it up and peered at it in the dim light.
“Breeding projects?” I asked, holding the badge away from myself. “Kidnapping women off the street?”
“If you’d kindly step into the van, I can take you to someone who’d explain,” he said, trying to sound calm.
I could still hear the surprise in his voice like he was expecting me to run. Like he was asking himself if I was really a good selection, considering the fact that I wasn’t putting up a fight and trying to kill them for taking me.
“Fine, but I’m not being bound, because if this goes sideways, I’m kicking him again, then hitting you twice,” I said as his partner struggled to his feet.
I had gotten him good in the kidney.
The speaker led me to the van and helped me in the back. I took a seat beside a woman who was clearly tweaking on something, and across from another who had pale skin. I hadn’t seen pale-skinned folk in years. They had been rumoured to have died out.
“25Therese,” the pale woman said.
“23Eve,” I said, extending my hand across the back of the van.
She reached out and shook my hand. It was so white, it was no wonder she had been picked up. Eugenics Incorporated were said to have been trying to breed a human that was capable of living outside, but were also interested in maintaining as many of the genetic diversity as possible.
“I found them loading the tweaker,” Therese said. “They stared at me like that, asked if I’d be interested. I said hell yes. Girl down the road was taken a year ago, came back and just gave birth. Twins. They boosted her to 3.”
“To 3? You must be joking.”
“I’m not, even if I only have one, that’s enough to move halfway to the core. There are parks there and green things still grown under the lamps. That’s the kind of place I’d like to raise a child.”
“You, I understand, but me? I’m just like any other woman on the street.”
Therese made a small sound, considering me. “I’d say you’re a bit darker than the usual. Though, those green eyes, where’d you get those?”
“Damn, if this doesn’t work out, you should give me his address, I’d settle for adorable green eyed babies.”
“Well, I don’t make it a point to talk to rapists, so I wouldn’t be able to get you in touch with him.”
“Oh…” she said, looking away.
Thanks to the coms, rape and personalized crime was almost nothing. Constables were alerted whenever there was a problem. I had been conceived before the invention, however. Shortly after my aunt returned, my mother had been approached about joining the program. She declined, only to be assaulted a few weeks later.
She had tried to raise me but saw too much of him in me. By the age of five, I was living on the street. My aunt had looked after me a little, so I had spent time in the teens area. It had been beautiful, comparatively. But she had had to make a choice, either drop levels, or drop me. She had done what was necessary to give her child all the benefits she could in Dome.
The van came to a stop. A moment later the back opened and we were motioned out. We followed though the tweaker put up a fight. She was tased for her troubles.
We were led into a Core building. Gaping up at it, I turned back to the van, wondering what sort it was, where had they gone that such a short ride had been—
I tripped over my own feet and almost hit the sidewalk. Not because I’m clumsy, like any 20-something I knew my way around in complete dark. I had tripped because there was a heaviness to my limbs.
They had drugged us.
I was helped to my feet, stabilized, then led on with a hand at my back. Therese and I stepped onto a lift and then were left to ourselves as it raised off the ground. I stared out the windowed lift, taking in the lower levels as we rose higher and higher. Above the haze even, we went that far, but the sky was still dark. We had been out that long.
The lift pulled to a stop and a door opened behind us. We turned and stepped off the lift. There was a waiting room almost filled with women. From look alone, they all appeared to be like Therese and me. All from about the 24 level. All young, varying in size and shape, in skin and hair colour.
The skin colour of the human race had darkened over time, for the most part. Something about five hundred years under UV lamps combined with the races no longer fighting one another creating a standard mocha sort of colouring. Amongst those in the room, I did see the finer bones of the Swedish decent, as well as the broader faces, and a few who were almost full on black.
Not dark brown, black. As in the colour of the night sky, the colour of oil. The whites of their eyes stood out above all else, but in the darkness of the lower levels? They’d blend right in.
A door on the other side of the room opened.
“Ladies, I need 25Annemarie and 22Margaret, here with me, please. That’s 25Annemarie and 22Margaret, here with me. Thank you.”
The women in question followed the man out, the doors closed and there was silence. Over the next six hours, I floated around the room, trying to figure out what was going on. No one knew, however. We were fed every two hours, small snacks with a little water. There were bathrooms available for us to relieve ourselves if necessary.
Every fifteen minutes or so, the man returned and called out a few more names. Not always two, sometimes as many as six left with him.
When my name was finally called, it was the only one. I went to the front and the man led me through the doors and down a short hallway. That led to a lift, which took us to another level and opened into what appeared to be an apartment.
A man sat at the window, staring out it. Before him was a wine glass and a bottle of wine, his finger was on the stem of the glass.
He seemed distracted as the first man led me to within several feet of him.
“Sir?” the man said.
The man made a sound and turned towards us.
“Sir, this is the woman who has been assigned to you.”
“Thank you,” he said quietly. “You may go.”
The man bowed slightly and took his leave.
For my part, I stood there awkwardly as the man turned back to the window and sighed.
“You’re a 23,” he said to the window.
“I am, yes, and you are…?”
“I have no designation,” he said, then sighed again.
It was an annoyed sort of thing. Like he was being forced to do whatever it was that we were doing there. I had been under the impression that the pregnancies involved in-vitro fertilization to get the genetic sequences correct. Not sex.
Then again… hadn’t had sex in a while, might be fun.
“Okay, but how about you look at me when you speak to me?” I asked.
The man turned to me finally, arching an eyebrow as if asking if I knew who he was. I didn’t know who he was, but near as I could tell, we were both part of some sort of eugenics project, that meant that we both deserved the same amount of respect. I wasn’t going to let me trample me underfoot because I was a 23.
“I am a person, I do exist,” I said, then motioned to him as if encompassing everything. “This here, is not so hot and attractive that you can treat a woman like she’s bothering you and get away with it, okay? So can the bad boy act, pull off your big boy pants and let’s get on with the breeding. I do have a shift I still have to work today. Can you do that?”
The man sat back, a finger tracing his lips. I swore I saw a smile being stifled as the man seemed to consider me.
“They didn’t tell you.”
“Tell me what?”
“Let’s start at the beginning again,” he said, standing as he extended a hand in greeting. “You are?”
“23Eve, and you?” I asked, taking the hand, but making certain to be firm in my grip.
This time, the man did smile. “Oh, someone’s got a naughty sense of humour.”
“What’s so funny?” I demanded.
He pulled away, chuckling as he wiped at his upper lip with the back of his hand.
“Hello, Eve. My name is Adam.”