Omega (First Three Chapters)

Last September, everyone in my high school took a standardized test. But we hadn’t taken the OAAs since 8th grade. This one was different. A woman in a suit walked around the room observing us the whole time, presumably to check if we were cheating. When I got to PE class, I was forced to run around the gym until I passed out. More people in suits held stopwatches and tablets, recording our times. We had several other physical tests, and then went about our day. We weren’t told ahead of time about any of this, and we never got any sort of explanation. Even the teachers seemed confused. On the first day of summer vacation, I got my answer.

Cover by @Infinite_Exho

This is the first three chapters of a story I've been working on. I won't update it on Movellas past these chapters, but if it ever gets published or something (yeah, right) then I'll put a link to the full version. It's dystopian, by the way, but Movellas hasn't made that a category yet.

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3. Chapter Three

“That’s it?” Elenir asked me, “Nothing about whatever this is.” She raised her arm where she had been injected. “My doctor said I’d be briefed later.

“It’s a tracking device.” I said with almost complete certainty. I didn’t like the fact that the government could now know where I was constantly at all.

“Wait, really?” She leaned in.

“Obviously.” Said a boy at the next table. He rolled his eyes at Elenir.

“Oh.” She looked down at her arm.

***

“Awesome! We’re rooming together!” Elenir grinned when we were told to stop at the same door. There were two other girls, of course, as well.

“You know each other? That seems unlikely.” Said the tallest of the four of us. She had close cropped dark hair, and toned arms and legs that she seemed perfectly comfortable showing off.

“Not really, we just sat together in the last room.” I shrugged as the girl pushed open the door.

“And you’re best friends already?” She looked back at us with a hint of disdain, and stepped inside.

***

“Why don’t we just pick straws or something?” I asked. We had two double bedrooms, and didn’t know each other well enough to know who we wanted to room with.

“Why not?” The tall girl, who had introduced herself as Zill, shrugged.

“Wait, just a sec.” I rustled through my backpack until I found my notebook, and tore out a page. I ripped it into three sections, and wrote Zill, Elenir, and Neema on them. I crumpled them up and held them out to my third roommate, Ansel.

“Neema.” She read.

“Alright then. We’ll take this room.” Zill started moving her stuff into the room on the left.

“Cool.” Ansel did the same for our room. She seemed nice enough, but I had yet to make eye contact with her. She always seemed to be looking for something, and her eyes darted around like flies stuck in a jar.

As soon as she set her bag down, Ansel started scouring every inch of the room.

“What are you doing?” I asked, as she started feeling around inside a dresser drawer.

“Shhh.” She put up a finger, “Give me your notebook. And a pencil.”

“Um, okay.” I handed it to her and she scribbled a few words down. In miniscule font, she had written, “Finding the cameras. There’re probably audio-recorders too.”

When I looked up, she was on to checking underneath a dresser.

I hadn’t even thought of that. Of course there would be cameras. This is the American government we’re talking about here. All they’d done the past few years was “increase security.” I didn’t think a camera in my bathroom was very pertinent to my security, but the always-running ads attempted to convince me otherwise.

She made a little noise as she apparently felt something underneath the dresser. She went over to her bag and pulled out what looked like half of a very small hat box. I opened my suitcase and started unpacking while she continued her work.

Once she had installed her little device, she finished searching the rest of the room.

“Alright, so no more audio recorders. I don’t think there are any cameras either, at least in here. If you want to say anything you don’t want them hearing, you can say it in here. Quietly, though. No clue how far their other recorders can reach.”

“What was that thing?”

“It muffles sound. They’ll still hear talking and stuff, but they won’t be able to hear what we’re saying unless we yell. My mom and I have been working on it for years. I really hope that was the only other one in here.” She looked around nervously, and then plopped down on her bed. We hadn’t really discussed whose bed was whose, as she was a little preoccupied, but they were the same size and it felt silly to argue about it after the fact.

“Wow. That’s really cool.” My dad would love to get his hands on some of those. He wasn’t a fan of the whole tech revolution, even though he wasn’t that old when it started. All the cameras around nowadays bothered him.

“Thanks.” She still looked tense.

“So, uh, what do you do? I mean, why are you here?”

“I program. Hack, really.” She whispered hack like it was a secret. “At least, I think that’s why I’m here. Because of my computer skills. They shouldn’t know about anything else.” She gestured at the dresser where she had installed her little device, “What about you?”

Should I mention it? I’ll mention it, “I was valedictorian at my high school. I was planning on becoming a journalist before all this.”

“Interesting.” Ansel responded but was now on computer, typing away furiously.

“Do you think we should change for dinner?” I asked Ansel a few minutes later.

“I suggest lying low. Don’t wear anything too flashy, or something that’ll make you stand out. You won’t want to have a target on your back throughout this whole thing.”

“But...should I change?”

“I don’t really care, Neema.” Well, she was pretty frank.

The only thing remaining in my suitcase was my valedictorian sash. I was going to leave it at home, but Dad stuck it in my bag at the last second. I didn’t want to look like I was bragging, but he assured me that I would be the humblest person here. I didn’t think about the fact that everyone here might be a valedictorian.

“Are y’all ready to go? It’s almost time.” Elenir poked her head into our room. Ansel hadn’t changed; she still wore a black shirt and dark-wash jeans. With her nondescript dark hair, I could see why she seemed to blend into the crowd so well.

“Yeah, just a sec.” My brush got stuck in my hair and I groaned. I guess it had gotten more messed up in the car than I thought. I grabbed a hair tie so I could braid it as we walked.

A woman was waiting outside our room when we opened the door, and without a word she started towards the elevator. I noticed several cameras on the way, and the elevator must’ve had at least four. I glanced at Ansel, and her eyes were narrowed at one of the intrusive objects. It was nice to meet someone who the constant monitoring bothered. While I wasn’t doing anything wrong, most of the time anyway, I didn’t get why the government needed everything to be filmed.

Zill towered over everyone in the elevator, including the woman showing us the way. When the doors opened, she strode out first with optimal confidence.

The lady showed us to a table, and promptly left.

“Well she seemed nice.” Elenir laughed and took a seat gracefully. Zill rolled her eyes.

“So what do you know about this whole thing?” She asked us.

“Not much. Just what was in the letter they sent us and what we were told earlier.”

Ansel gave me a look that said there was much more to it than that, but pointed at the table and raised her eyebrows.

There’s a recording device under the table. Because of course there is.

The whole surveillance thing isn’t anything new, it’s been building up over the last few decades, and really since security cameras were invented, but government buildings just seemed to have a feed on every nook and cranny.

We were the only ones at our table, so as the rest of the tables filled up we could observe without having to introduce ourselves. I saw the boy from earlier. He didn’t have a book this time, but he didn’t seem keen on socializing either. When all the tables were full, I made a mental list of the common traits among us. No one was over maybe a size 6. Most people had an athletic build of some sort. Several of the guys were quite muscular. Also, everyone was pretty attractive. We weren’t all as striking as Elenir, but no one had severe acne or any sort of disfigurement. If you’re picking from a group of people just finishing up puberty, that had to be on purpose.

***

Course after course was served, yet no one ever came into the hall to brief us. I was starving so I disregarded that fact and focused on the food, but I glanced at the door every time the waiters came back in expecting to see someone important-looking. After the waitress set down my dessert, I reached for my fork to dig into the amazing looking chocolate cake, but suddenly my arms were being wrenched behind my chair. I yelped as something tightened around my wrists. Sorry, what?

I twisted around to see the waitress leaving with a completely blank face.

“What the hell?” Zill barked at her waiter, voicing my thoughts.

The room filled with yells and questions being thrown at the wait staff leaving the room. None of them answered.

The doors closed, and I was even more confused than before.

“Fucking of course.” Ansel groaned.

“So they’re going to feed us and then...tie us up? What’s going on?”

“I don’t know.” I searched my brain, which didn’t fail me very often, for some sort of logical answer for why my hands were caught in a zip tie. Minor claustrophobia got to me as I tried to move.

“It’s a test.”

I turned my head to see who had yelled the answer to all our questions. It was a boy at a table in the middle of the room, and while the rest of us were frantic, he just looked irritated that we hadn’t figured it out earlier. He was the same one who had confirmed my suspicions earlier about the tracking devices.

“They’re testing us. Pretty soon the room will start filling with water or something.”

“I can vouch for that.” A girl at a table by the wall yelled back. I noticed that water actually was seeping out of vents in the walls. Well, crap.

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