Five Years

It's been five years. ~Winner of the Walking Dead competition~

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1. Five Years

 

 

It’s been five years.

Five years since we went under. Five years since we have seen sunlight. Five years in these white, clinical hovels that we now call home. I notice the temperature in the room start to plummet, so try to turn my mind to the task at hand. I am strapped in a chair riddled with sweat stains, and the electrical impulses from my brain are the only thing keeping us from freezing. I check my watch, and with a sigh of relief realise that I only have three minutes to go. K12 will be taking over soon. 

Just as this thought crosses my mind, the hatch slides open and a tall, pale boy strides through, a grin already ghosting his face. The machines above me that monitor my mental activity begin to beep madly, and I hurriedly unstrap myself. Not many things in the Underground remain private, but I’m determined that this one will. K12 offers me a hand. I gaze at it blankly for a moment, before catching on and using it to assist me off the tilted chair. The blood rushes into my head, and K12 snickers as I stumble against him.

‘Who needs these fancy new zombie lasers, eh? They could just send you out there and you’d trample them.’

I pull a face at him, before making a hasty exit. I don’t want him to see how much those words hurt me.

After signing the shift sheet, I check my schedule. Apparently, I have ten minutes of free time before Mealing. My facial muscles twitch- the closest I can get to a smile. I know exactly where to spend these few precious minutes.

Underground is laid out rather like a spiralling staircase. It has a central ladder, with platforms in front of each new set of doors. This way, the entire structure stays in a neat silo shape. Each of the doors have a number and a letter. BG9 indicates my bedroom, simply because the designation I was given at birth was G9. Not a bad name really- there was once a girl in Underground who’s name was Y24601798472. No wonder she was transferred early to the adult silo. 

I reach the top of the ladder with a sigh of relief. The air up here is warmer, and smells cleaner than at the basic level. I stretch gladly, my arms clicking in a pleasant sort of way. Up here is like my sanctuary. The only window in the entire silo is here, and it  looks up at a blue sky. I spread myself out under it, drinking in the light. Everyone in Underground is very pale, and a few years ago a law was passed that hair was unnecessary and had to be shaved off. I run a hand over my smooth head ruefully. Hair must have felt nice.

Suddenly, I’m jerked out of my reverie by a unexpected darkness. A shadow has fallen across the glass. That wouldn’t worry me much, except for the fact that the shadow is on the outside. I stiffen up, knowing exactly what I’m about to see, but not quite able to picture it. I needn’t have wondered though. 
The zombie looms over the window, wrenching a scream from my throat. It is completely expressionless, driven only by an inhuman desire for flesh. It’s eyes roam over me, and it begins banging against the glass. I know it won’t break, and am tempted to flee, but am kept stationary by horrific fascination. Somehow, I don’t want this creature to leave. It is not as gruesome as I imagined, though its eyes are blood shot, and clothes ripped. 
I frown, my brain working furiously against the noise the zombie is making. This creature has clothes. This mindless, lumbering creature couldn’t possible have made itself clothes. As much as I hate to do it, I peer closely at the cloth draped on the zombie’s frame. That’s when I see the stitching.
Everyone in Underground has their designation stitched into their clothing. Heart racing, I scan the letters and numbers on the dirtied, ripped cloth, and finally make out a name that makes my stomach churn. G8. I swallow, my blood running cold, then hot, through my veins. A few weeks ago, my brother was signed into the adult camp. I’d waved goodbye as he disappeared through an elevator-like chute at the bottom of the silo. 
My brother’s designation had been G8.

I leave the zombie- my brother- flopping uselessly against the glass, swinging myself onto the ladder and sliding down it at full speed. My tears are lifted off my face and flung into the air as I go down. My feet hit bottom, and I’m already running. I burst through a door that I’d passed through only minutes ago, although it seems like years. K12 jerks in surprise as I fall against him, sobbing. He grabs my arms and pushes me away slightly, forcing me to talk. It seems impossible to force noise through the lump in my throat at first, but then the words begin to flow. I tell him my theory rapidly, ignoring his reactions. At the end, he shakes his head with a laugh.

‘You think that when we grow up- correct me if I’m wrong- and we get sent to the adult camp, we’re actually just sent above ground and become zombies.’

I nod frantically. He purses his lips.

‘What would be the point in that?’

I feel myself deflate a bit, then adrenaline rushes through me and I begin tearing K12 out of the monitor chair. He doesn’t fight me, perhaps playing along with my craziness. I shake him breathlessly. 

‘The monitors! They must be doing something!’ I rack my brains. ‘Oh my God! They’re using us like batteries, they’re using us up and turning us into zombies- stop laughing!’

K12 nods as seriously as he can when his face is split with a grin. I feel my eyes begin to water from frustration. As I’m about to open my mouth again, I hear an announcement, which confuses me. Mealing isn’t for another two minutes. A voice crackles through the announcement box.

‘K12 and G9 please report to the release chamber now. Prepare to be transferred to the adult camp. Take no belongings with you, but please wear warm clothes.’

My heart attempts to escape from my chest. I turn to K12- and he’s laughing. I feel despair begin to fill me as he pushes me out the door, and towards the chamber. The monitors must have sucked everything out of him, leaving only madness. As we near it, I begin to scream at the top of my lungs. Two men come and hold my unconsciously flailing arms at my side. I’m pushed towards the chamber, still screaming, and manhandled in. The chute races up, making my legs buckle beneath me. My screams are wrest from me still, before light streams onto my face. I turn to K12, unused to seeing him in such a wide landscape. He’s laughing. I keep my eyes fixed on his demonically mad face. 
It’s better than looking at my brother.

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