Summary: Meet the future: civilization is a dystopian landscape thinly disguised as a progressive utopia – a willing society subdued and regimented through collective medication. Alternatively, there is the Fringe: outcasts, freedom fighters. Meet Lilly, the civilian who skipped her dose, and is caught somewhere between her call to duty, and her draw to the raw elements of the Fringe society.
Excerpt (first draft)…
Lilly arrived at CLEB (Citizen’s Liberty and Evaluation Building) about ten minutes before her nine o’clock appointment. She sat alone in the waiting room, her hands crossed on her lap to prevent fidgeting. She watched the large clock on the starch-white wall in front of her, the green digital minutes slowly flipping by.
At exactly 9:00, the door to the waiting room opened with a loud, mechanical woosh, and Rosie, the building assistant, stepped through. Lilly was ushered down the hall. They walked along the row of stations where citizens were meeting with Case Workers. There were about twenty occupied today – out of more than one hundred seats in total. Rosie walked her near the end and sat her down at station 97. Lilly sat and waited for the seat in front of her to be filled. She sat with her eyes in front of her, hands crossed firmly on her lap to prevent fidgeting. In front of her was the empty chair, and behind the empty chair was a closed door. There was one behind every station. That was the door Mr. Sherman would come out of in a few minutes. And presently, he did.
Mr. Sherman sat down across from her. They exchanged customary greetings as Mr. Sherman swiped the screen between them – invisible until activated. Since it was Mr. Sherman’s station, only the unique components in his palm activated the screen – the mixture of his palm print, acidity and average quantity of sweat. Up popped the translucent screen and they got to work. They could see the data splashed over it, and through the screen to make eye contact where appropriate. The core areas of involvement were displayed on the correct geography of the screen: diet and exercise in the lower left corner (by Lilly’s side), career performance evaluation and growth was shown catty-corner to that, in the upper right hand side of the screen (by Lilly’s side), and partner options were center of the screen, as this was currently the highest priority. Green images and scratchy text displayed the topics, and Lilly watched as Mr. Sherman circled each area as they discusses, crossed off items that could be closed (latest DB project finished yesterday). He underlined ongoing areas for improvement and additional discussion (Physical Fitness was still not up to standard – he would discuss with Marcy) and added additional items in orange (new potential partner match – James also worked at Diamond Aeronautics, but was in the Shuttle Development Department, so they had never met. Mr. Sherman would send details to her parents in the next 24 to 36 hours).
Mr. Sherman swiped the screen clean and pulled up the notes function. He would ask her about her sleeping habits, which had been resolved since the adjustment in her dose. Finally he would ask if there was anything she would like to bring up with him. She always thought about it – the pull. Wondered if she ought to mention it, then couldn’t figure out just how. And what was the point, really? It was not interfering with her day-to-day routine. So she shook her head and said no, and Mr. Sherman waved the content off the screen, and slid the paper packet across the table to her, reciting the same instructions she’s heard every month as far back as memory served: take at night, right before bed. Drink 13 ounces of water. Do not eat breakfast the next morning.
Lilly dropped the packet in her bag and stood up to leave. Mr. Sherman brought up the screen again as she walked away, making a few private notes in her file. He swished this way and he swished that way as Lilly walked back up the rows of seats, which were filling up now as the day wore on.
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