Ayres/Fleur - Season 1

The first part of the serial to accompany the collaborative EP 'Ayres/Fleur'. Find the music here: https://thequantumsweep.bandcamp.com/album/ayres-fleur
Revolution is afoot in a shocking alternative-timeline dystopian vision of the North American continent. Fleur, a priveleged student and engineer is dragged into the struggle between the crazed revolutionary 'Ayres' and his struggle against The Senate.
But, as Fleur uncovers secrets regarding the organised rebellion in her country, new information begins to come to light regarding The Senate and with whom the power really lies.

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6. Poison

“Hello? Who’s there? Where am I-”

“Miss White, please, although you undoubtedly have many, many questions, I urge you - do not speak for the time being. There is something… wrong with your throat and I would not want you to damage anything permanently.”

“What-what do you mean?”

She begins to manoeuvre herself into a sitting position, only to find that her right hand is cuffed to the frame of the bed. To watch her attempt to move is painful in itself - she is so horrendously weak. She is frightened. She is beginning to realise, I think, but I cannot be sure.

“I-”

“Would you like help sitting up, Miss White?”

“No, thank you.”

She is very clearly in pain.

“Are you in pain, Miss White? If you are, I would advise you tell me immediately - I have the necessary supplies to treat -”

“I’m fine-” she says, with more force this time. She winces.

“I advise you rest your vocal chords-”

“I advise you to step out of the shadows and draw the curtains and for goodness’ sake let some light in here- you’re a pretty shitty kidnapper if that’s all-”

At first, I am hesitant to do this, but she begins to reach for the curtains herself and I cannot help but ignore the instincts advising me otherwise.

The town is quite busy today. Beyond the pseudo-medieval mansions and trees, the great grey wall separates the elite borough from the sprawling city beyond. Fleur has not noticed this, however. Her gaze is settled on something much, much nearer.

That was why we weren’t going to draw the curtains.

“Oh my-”

Tiny globes of water begin to expand around her eyes. The surface tension soon breaks and the tears begin to slide down her face, leaving streaks as they do so.

“It was real - I was a - I - I - “

“Died.”

***

I am alone in a room, tied to a metal slab. I have no clue how I got here. A battered, cracked screen in the ceiling directly above me flickers into life.

“Welcome to Capitol Farm” says the screen. “Do not be alarmed.”

Robotic arms emerge from the slab and begin to spray a greasy white substance. It stings as it contacts the skin, colouring and staining it’s as it does so.

I cannot move as it makes its way into my mouth, my eyes, my ears. It is blinding, viscous, and hot. I choke, but my throat is blocked. The smell is repulsive. The world begins to fade again around me. Somewhere in the distance, razors take to my scalp. I feel my hair fall onto the slab.

***

She collapses backwards, apparently unaware that she is doing so. We move forward, in an instant catching her and lowering her slowly onto the bed. She doesn’t seem to react.

“I didn’t want you to have to see that.”

She doesn’t say anything, rotating herself with some difficulty onto the bed.

“What-”

She coughs, and winces.

She looks up into our eyes, afraid, and crying.

“Wh-” she stops, and touches her hand to her throat, gulping as she does so.

“What did you say was wrong with my throat?” she whispers, clearly in pain.

“The chord cutter is still stuck in there.” She wells up again, fighting back sobs. “When your heart stopped the bomb defused, and the genetic link was broken. It no longer serves any functional purpose. But it is still embedded within your throat, constricting airflow, in a half-open position. Since you have been awake you have been breathing more normally - this natural movement is causing your throat to literally tear itself apart around the device’s remains.”

Fleur looks up at us, apparently preparing to talk again.

We hold up a hand.

“I can remove the device, but it is a very complex operation. I will require your express consent before commencing.”

“Do I have a choice?”

“In theory, yes. But in practical terms very little. I assure you I am a qualified surgeon. I will not charge you, nor in any way hold you accountable for the time or effort I will expend in the process - you need not feel even gratitude.”

She stares at us, trying to read us. Whatever she is attempting to find, the human hopes from the very bottom of his being that it is still there to be found.

Fleur appears to relax. Slowly, she opens her mouth.

“Do not speak. Please, Miss Fleur White do you consent to me anaesthetising you and attempting to remove the device currently implanted in your throat?”

Slowly, and tentatively Fleur nods her head.

“The procedure will take approximately five hours; the estimated recovery period will be about three months in addition to the recovery period for the other injuries you have already sustained. You will be unable to utter any sound at all for forty-eight hours after the completion of the procedure for your own safety. I anticipate a ninety-five percent chance of complete success, and the risk of sustaining further injury at less than nought one of a percent. Do you have any further concerns or questions?”

“Your medical protocol is very skewed.”

“Please, refrain from speaking. My medical protocol is faultless. It is based on the Senate Intelligence Agency protocol as of May eighteenth this year.”

Fleur flinched

“Please do not be alarmed. I have no affiliation with their Senate, or their Intelligence Agency. I simply wish to help you, and I will explain everything to you as you recover, but for now our time is limited and you are in great pain. Do you consent to me proceeding with the operation?”

Fleur seemed to sigh, shuddering as she did so.

“I consent.”

“Please, refrain from speaking, or you will cause permanent damage.”

We lay our right hand to her forehead. She displays a look of confusion that soon slides away as the dampener takes effect. Within moments, she is asleep.

***

 

I am trapped in a space too small to allow me to lie down and fully extend my legs, and too low to allow me to fully stand up.

In the top of one wall, there is a window through which I can see the night sky.

A voice whispers from beyond the window. It is a woman’s voice, middle-aged and hoarse.

“Hey - I can help you - if you’ll let me.”

I feel something switch I my throat. Air begins to move normally as it used to.

“Who are you?” I whisper.

“I’m a nurse here. I have contacts,” comes the reply.

“What sort of contacts? How can you help me? Why would you help me? What’s in it for you?”

She sighs as if gravely saddened.

“Keep your voice down. I want to help. I’ve helped many more like you.”

“How?”

The woman drew up close, but not close enough for Fleur to be able to see her.

“The only way to defuse the chord cutter is if your heart stops for at least five and a half minutes. It also has a defence system against most known poisons entering your bloodstream, and will filter them out much like an extra kidney if it detects them.”

“So?”

“My contacts have developed for me a poison that will avoid this. The only problem is it’s very slow-acting. I’ll have to administer it daily. In about two weeks you’ll die peacefully in your sleep, your chord cutter will defuse, and I’ll intercept the men who come to take you away, resuscitating you as I do so. Then I’ll break you out and pass you onto the underground railroad.

“I have nothing to lose.”

“I’m aware.”

“Will you let me administer the poison?”

“Yes. But can you leave my chord cutter open?”

“Yes. For twenty minutes. But it doesn’t matter anyway. The poison has a sedative effect. Once you take this pill you’ll fall straight asleep.

Fleur sighed sadly.

“Very well. It seems I have no other choice.”

A gnarled hand pushed a single pill through the window. Fleur reached out to take it.

“Your hands are soft,” the woman noted.

“I was framed. My real name is Fleur White, but my identity cards were wiped and no one believes me. I-”

The tears began to return.

“Hey - hey, don’t worry. I know. That’s why I came to you - you’re the girl from the television, right?”

“You recognised me?”

“Of course. That’s why I came. Your father is worried sick.”

“Can you get a message to him?”

“Mr White? No way. There’s no way he’d see me. Plus, the railroad would never allow it.”

“I don’t care. Can you get to him?”

“No way. I’m not elite like him. I can’t travel, if I could I couldn’t get into the right district, and even then, I couldn’t make it to your front door what with all the security-”

Couldn’t you arrange a meeting?”

“Don’t be silly - you know the mail is checked.”

“The mail is checked?”

The woman laughed. “You really are a rich girl in disguise, aren’t you?”

“I’m not in disguise.”

“No. You’re not. You’re the real thing. I need to go.”

“What?”

“Quick, swallow that pill, or they’ll find me and we’ll both be executed.”

“Don’t go - I need to know my father is-”

“I’m going.”

Fleur felt the chord cutter slide shut in her throat.

She sighed, closed her eyes, and swallowed the pill.

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