The world may be stricken with misery and suffering, but at least the blessed few who live inside the city are happy. With the invention of a revolutionary new antidepressant named BLISS, the Government can finally award happiness, compliance and coexistence to whoever uses it. Of course, it comes at a price - your free will.



The devil had always been described as a short, ill-tempered man with horns and a pitchfork, but as two police officers handcuffed my wrists and threw me into the back of a squad car I began to suspect he was actually a woman with long black hair and red lipstick that liked to careen about the city in the passenger seat of various emergency service vehicles.


“What a situation you’re in, Ms Dai.”


I started upwards, my hands jerking automatically against the metal cuffs before falling limply into my lap again. The woman’s cherry-red lips curled into an irritatingly patronising smile, revealing a set of sparkling white teeth that vaguely reminded me of a television advert. This woman was the one who’d spoken to me in the corridor and convinced me to stay in the city, which made perfect sense now I was trapped in the back of a police car.


“You’re observant,” I grunted, slouching back against the stiff leather of the seats and pointedly averting my gaze. The woman tucked a strand of glossy hair behind her ear and laughed, the sound grating against my already shredded nerves.


“Now now, Ms Dai, there’s no need to be obstinate. You’re doing the right thing, you know.”


I could see why the Government would use someone like her as their representative - attractive, intelligent and annoyingly cheerful, she seemed to embody everything our leaders idealised and delivered it all with a perky little grin. It had been a solid five minutes and I already loathed the woman.


“So you say,” I mumbled, picking at an imaginary loose thread on the seams of my jeans simply to avoid her gaze, “but where are you taking me? I haven’t exactly done anything illegal.”


“Unfortunately, the authorities disagree, Ms Dai. Assault, first degree murder and destruction of property - you could get locked up for a very long time,” she purred, her voice so sweet I feared I’d develop a cavity. I wanted to rip that smug little smile straight off her face with nothing but my fingernails.


“However, it’s your lucky day, because the Government need you! You’re a very special little girl, Ms Dai, and we can’t have you running awry outside of the city with the Miserables, can we?” she continued, her eyes sparkling with the kind of deranged conviction I’d only ever seen in movies. This woman wanted me to believe her to be some kind of mother hen, I’m sure, but all I sensed from her was the calculated stealth and silent venom of a fox lying concealed in the grass.


The all-too-familiar surge of indignated fury exploded in my chest all the same, however, a mess of angry words brewing like a storm at the tip of my tongue.


“You know full well that I didn’t kill anybody, you bitch!” I spat, my skin reddening under her suddenly icy gaze. I glanced downwards, unable to trust myself to meet her eyes and only half-surprised at the sheer force of my fury.


“Verbally assaulting a Government official. That makes four, my darling.”


I bit back a sudden growl of rage, the sound bubbling in the back of my throat as I glared furiously down at my shoes. I knew, deep down, that blind anger would get me nowhere with someone like her, but the fury and pure hatred that coursed through my veins blurred the cool logic that I prided myself so highly on.

“Sakura, darling, I’m sure you’ll be pleased to know that we’ll be leaving soon - the officers have almost finished up outside. Since you want to know so badly, I might as well tell you - we’re heading to a correctional centre, where you’ll be spending the rest of your days.”

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