The Old in the New.

Earth as we know it is no more. Pollution and war have wiped out most of humanity, now only one community remain.
Jenna lives in the Hotel. After a series of events she finds herself sucked into an adventure, full of things that she could never have imagined.

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2. Chapter 1.

    The transpod pulled into the dock to the left of the grand doorway and, with a sigh that could only come from an inanimate object that transported humans for a living, let down it’s steps. My fellow passengers smiled at me and proceeded to disembark, but I avoided their eyes, choosing instead to pick at the hideous material that was wrapped around me in the form of a dress. 

    Of course, earlier that evening my mother had insisted that I wear the thing, after all it was “the biggest night” of my life and I would be a “fool” to come off less capable than the others in my class. Nevertheless, I couldn’t avoid grimacing as I tugged it over my head and caught sight of myself in the mirror - an overly decorated cake who just happened to be standing in the room of a seventeen year old girl. 

    With regret, I clambered out of the rounded doorway and down the steps, fleetingly imagining the comfortable suit that I had selected for this event, which was now neatly folded on my bed back in my room and destined to remain there until I could get away with wearing it to any future events. Rejoining my group, I trailed behind them as we are shown through the heavy steel gates and along the straight wide corridor to the Ceremony, where one by one we press our fingers onto a block and are allocated seats. 

    Once inside with the other classes, I walk around aimlessly between groups. Somehow I manage to find a machine which sells water, so I insert my tokens and wait, grateful that I am going to give myself something to do. Joining the majority, I sway slightly to the repetitive music that is playing from speakers mounted next to each watcher in the grey room. We call them watchers here, but really they’re just cameras. Just cameras which are located in every orifice of the Hotel and whose recordings are monitored 24/7 to ensure conformity. To keep myself entertained, I try and recall the proceedings of the Ceremony, but my mind is static and blissfully empty. So in a vain attempt to endure the long wait until the proceedings start, I go back to the lessons I had at the school I just left and imagine our old teacher’s droning voice…

    A tap on my shoulder brings me back to the present. I turn and get engulfed in a flurry of silk and sequins which wraps me up and squishes me tightly. I have no doubt who this could be, although the choice of outfit throws me off a bit and I laugh at the contrast between character and clothing. Cat pulls back and scowls when she sees the expression of amusement on my face. 

“Jenna, honestly. Quit laughing at me! This dress? Not my choice.” 

Her face is flushed and sheepish, so I humour her and let out one last snort of laughter, “It’s okay, I understand. I’m having the same trouble if you didn’t notice!”

She grins and leans forwards again into my arms, and chuckles to herself when I rest my chin on the top of her head. 

    I hear Cat starting to talk again, but then she is cut off by the blaring anthem that the screen at the very front of the large room begins to play. Our hands give each others’ a squeeze and then let go, as the crowd of milling teenagers sweeps us towards our seats. The cold metal greets me by wrapping a band around my left wrist, which will keep me in position for the entirety of the Ceremony. It doesn’t surprise me that the seats have been installed with these, as a couple of rumours a few years ago hinted toward the fact that, after receiving his job post, a guy tried to kill himself by jumping under a transpod. Unfortunately, as the transpods hover, he only succeeded in winning himself many months of embarrassment and counselling. The seats are full now and the murmurs die as a hologram of the Hotel Mayor appears before the screen. His mouth begins to move, but no sound comes out and people start to laugh. I sigh. Give me a computer and the correct software and I could holo-create a thousand times better than the so called “experts”. Eventually, it starts to work and his over-enthusiastic voice screeches his speech.

“Young ladies and young gentlemen, welcome to your Ceremony; the day where the rest of your life begins!” One of the more spoilt class members groans from the front row. His friends laugh.

“When your name is called out, please answer loudly, so that one of the Guardians can find you. I’m sure by now that you all know how it works, but I will reiterate for you, so that any inaccurate rumours are dispelled. The Guardian will place a headset on you, which will then show a smaller screen on a band across your eyes. On this screen, you will see your name, face, job position and when you are to report to that particular HQ. Please try and remember these! There is always one person who forgets, and you know what has to happen to them!”

   A blanket falls over my senses and I relax back into my seat to block out the rest of the speech. If it’s important, I’m sure a Guardian won’t hesitate to drill it into me. When I say that, I mean it literally in the fact that you are taken to a bunch of scientists one day where your brain is assessed for any malfunctions that could be being shown through forgetfulness. After all, every member of the New needs to have a full mentality in order to benefit the society. I think Cat’s friend had it done once for forgetting a piece of important homework - apparently they drilled tiny holes halfway into the cranium and took readings of the brain when it was faced with having to remember something. Not something I want done to me.

    The arm of the person next to me, Gerard I think, knocks into my side as the other teenagers around me shuffle in their seats. I snap back to the present and see the Mayor hologram pull out his digibook from thin air and open up what I assume to be the document with our jobs on. An apprehensive silence which felt thin and brittle stretched across the room. The hologram clears his throat an announces the first name.

“Brianna Aati!” 

A Guardian marches over to a petite girl dressed in pink in the front row and places the headset onto her head. Her companions wait tensely as her eyes flit across the band, and let out a breath when her face breaks into a wide grin. In an instant the headset is gone and Brianna whispers in excitement to her friends whilst the Guardian is already moving to another person across the room. All I need to do now is wait. The entirety of my school career has prepared me for this; now is the time where it will be decided how I am to serve the Hotel and it’s inhabitants for the rest of my life. If I get something awful…I shake me head as if to dissipate that thought. I’ll address it if it comes.

    The Ceremony lasts for over and hour. Guardians come and go, my classmates smile and grimace. Eventually it’s my turn.

“Jenna Zed!”

I must not look afraid. The nearest Guardian walks briskly towards me and forces the headset onto my head. The screen expands across my eyes and I focus on it, aware that everyone is a bit restless now as I am the last person to be called. At the top of the glowing screen is my name and to the left is my face staring blankly at the camera. Not my most flattering shot, but it can’t be helped. I cast my eyes downwards slightly and inhale sharply. In big, bold letters next to the side heading ‘Job Post’ is the word ‘Attendant’. I can’t exhale. Attendant. They’re the lowest of the low, basically the only ones in the Hotel who don’t have a hi tech job and who instead fill the only position that exists from Before. I don’t understand. I have the third highest results in my class. I’m good. I don’t want to go day to day caring for the homes of the richest people in society. 

    Stunned, I hardly notice as the headset is removed from my face and my vision is filled with over a hundred young faces looking at me. I will not cry. Tears start to form on my eyes, eager to embarrass me further, but I hold them back and hope that no one can see how distraught I am. Attendant. The Hotel Mayor is still speaking as he draws the Ceremony to a close, but I am far from caring. Standing up, I push my way past my row of seats and rush up the hallway and out of the door, back to the transpod docking station. A couple of the hover cars wait in the bays, but their doors are closed. I guess they’re not admitting passengers until the designated finish time. It’s foolish of the Leaders to think that this is going to stop anyone leaving early, and to be honest, they should have thought it out better. I pick up my disgusting dress and start jogging along the hallways of the Hotel and back to my room. I can’t stop the tears from flowing now that I’m out of sight, and they blur the grey walls and doors that I pass (“grey is the colour of uniformity and submission”) into a never ending line of steel. 

    Thankfully I’ve reached the last corner before my room. More tears start welling up, but I brush them aside and get out my keycard. At the last minute, a hand reaches out and grasps my upper arm with a force so strong I can only just stop myself from crying out. The hand wheels me round to bring my face inches away from that of a Guardian. I can feel his eyes stabbing into mine from behind the slightly green-tinted sunglasses and fight to keep my breathing under control. Letting go of my forearm, he brings a digibook out of his pocket, quickly grabbing my index finger and jabbing it with a needle. I flinch and watch in exasperation as a small ball of blood wells up and drops onto the screen of the book, registering who I am. With one last penetrating look from behind the green glasses, the Guardian drops my hand and walks back into the door that he appeared from. Breath shaky, I propel myself towards my door, quickly flash the keycard against the laser and tumble onto the floor of my open plan, one floor house. 

 

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