The First Dissidents: A Short Story

She started that morning just as She had started every morning. Staring at her reflection, She said it out loud. “I do not rock the boat. I am one of many.”
Her skin and hair were hers. The former olive, the latter dark brown. The slightness of her figure was hers too. The tiny scars She knew. But her eyes. Her eyes were different. More gray. Less alive.
“I do not rock the boat. I am one of many.”
She stared at her face in the mirror as She dressed. Undergarments. Pants. Shirt. Socks. Shoes. Brown. Number embroidered where a name should be. Brown. All like her hair. All like everyone else’s all.
“I do not rock the boat. I am one of many.”
She wondered for a moment if She might remember her name if She thought hard enough. If She might remember more about her mother and father than that they had simply existed. If She might picture the place She once called home.
She began to push the thoughts deep down where they should live as He pushed through the door of her small brown cube. His eyes were wild. Not gray. Green. She wondered to herself about how He got them to stay colored.
He rushed toward her. The green of his eyes almost unbearable to look at so closely. “Be quiet and listen to me,” He whispered sharply. “I have been watching you. I don’t know why, but I know you. And I have a plan to escape.”
“I do not rock the boat. I am one of many.”
The green darted around the room. Looked behind him. “They make you think that.” His whisper had become a hiss. She wanted to be frightened but no longer had the capacity for it.
She tried to maneuver around him in her tiny cube. She was stuck between him and a brown chair. It would be easy to knock over but She knew better than to make much noise. Her last noise resulted in a scar.
“I must get to my station.” Her station was inside a large room where She and others like her connected one piece to another while They watched. They watched from behind mirrored helmets. They watched with electrically charged devices in their hands. Always scanning. Always ready.
“Yes, you will go to your station. Today. Tonight we will leave. But you must listen and do as I say.” His voice had grown slightly louder.
“No thank you,” She said as She tried once again to move.
This time He grabbed her. With his left hand full of her elbow, his right waved a small vial under her nose. “Snap out of it!” His voice was too loud this time. The green darted about again as a soft whirring came from outside the cube. A familiar whirring that They made.
She and He stood very still and kept very quiet until the whirring retreated. “What is in that vial?” She was beginning to think more clearly.
“We make it at my station. It is called Truth. Some got inside my mask by accident once. It gets rid of the fog inside your head. They use it to get information from us when They need it. I’ve been stealing a drop of it every day to fill vials for myself.” The green of his eyes began to sting as He stared into her.
“I don’t remember much from the old life yet. But the more I use Truth, the more I can see,” He continued. “I know there was something before this place. Before They took us. I know there is something beyond these walls. And I know I need you.”
Her head was beginning to hurt from the information and newness of clarity. “I can’t…”
“Yes you can.” He was loud again. “Go to your station. Do your duties like always. I will come for you during the night. Do not go to sleep.”
“My cube will be locked.”
“I made a key.”
“They will electrocute you,” She said, her scars growing hot at the thought.
“They recharge at night while our cubes are locked. I have gone out many times to find a way for us.”
“I do not rock…” She started but could not finish. He pushed a vial of Truth into her hand and slipped through the door.
She went to her station. She stood amongst the rows and rows of brown. The rows and rows of numbers where names should be. She connected one piece to another. At eating time She looked only at the brown slop, worried that They might notice the change in her eyes.
The Truth helped her to realize how long the day was. She became even more aware of how everything and everyone was the same. How none of them were in control of their own thoughts.
When her duty was over, She went back to her cube and stayed awake just as He had asked. Not only because He had asked but also because She wanted so badly to remember her name and her parents and the place they once called home. She heard a metal scrapping at the door and drew in her breath, sure that They had figured out the plan. But He entered.
He and She walked quietly through corridors that He knew. She stopped at a room full of mirrored helmets and hands holding electrified devices. She had never seen them so still. The eyes reflecting back at her were less gray than before. “They’re charging,” He said under his breath. “Keep moving.”
After more time than She could keep up with and so many turns that She would never find her way back, they reached a door that looked like none of the others. “This is it,” He said to her. He pulled one of his keys from his brown uniform pocket and inserted it into a hole She had not noticed before. They walked through hand-in-hand and shut the door behind them. They were now where nothing else had been for many years. They were at the next beginning. He and She. The new first.

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