The Slates

A distopian Futuristic novel about a world where overpopulation and pollution are critical and the government rule all. Can a small group of Slates, young boys and girls undergoing rigorous state education, discover the true agenda? My first novel of magnitude so be kind :)

N.B. this is a first draft and once the story is complete I am going to revise, edit and complete the book so please ignore any pesky typos, awkward English or minor plot holes. thanks :)


9. Education begins

The next morning we all woke in quite the same fashion as we had the day before and once more the panel by the door lit up. Again I got up and read the message aloud to Evan and Tom. ‘Today will be your first day of lessons. Your timetables are on your watches. Please assure you are punctual to lessons.’ I read out to them.

    ‘I told you that that watches would have the timetables on them!’ Tom replied from the other room. I also heard Evan yawning - he was not a morning person. After walking back into the bedroom I looked at my watching and after figuring out how to navigate around it found my timetable. We quickly found all of ours to be identical, which made sense as we were all on the same level. Our first lesson was mathematics but we needed to have breakfast before that. It turned out we still had an hour before that because we’d all awoken so early.

    ‘Let’s have a look through that manual.’ I suggested, grabbing it from the other room. It was huge. Looking in the index I found the page which described the level system. ‘“All Slates are ranked from level 0 to 5. This is a gauge of ability. Every six months there is a test which everyone takes, covering all subjects. If passed, the Slate progresses a level. Level 5s who complete their test become Works and leave the compound. Classes are split into 1-3 and 4-5 with a tiered system within classes. Level 0s progress to level 1s without passing a test but by attending one class of each subject and successfully integrating into compound’s way of life. Rewards for going up a level include a sum of tokens and a new badge. The colour order for these badges are white (0), orange (1), blue (2), yellow (3), green (4), black (5).”’

     ‘So different people progress at different speeds?’ Evan said whilst looking at his watch.

    ‘It seems so - if I fail the test and you don’t, let’s say, than you are now a level ahead of me whilst being the same age.’

    ‘Hm. Interesting.’ At the same time as this Tom rose from his bed. ‘We should get ready and get to the canteen - I really don’t want to sit on the ground again.’ He then opened his draw and got out some clean clothes. Me and Evan did the same and we all got dressed and showered in the bathroom.

    We did manage to get a seat on a bench in the field, where we ate our breakfast. We then walked to the mathematics shop. It was much colder than the other days - the sun was hidden behind voluminous grey clouds and a nippy wind whipped around the compound, so the three of us were glad to get inside. When we got inside we found a room full of compasses, protractors, calculators, textbooks, rulers, graph paper - anything and everything one associates with the study of numbers. Also inside were around seven other Slates. Some were wearing blue badge, others yellow, but the majority orange. This coincided with the information in the manual: classes for levels 1-3. In the back of the room was a staircase, which I assumed lead to the classroom, and a desk manned by a Work. As the time till the lesson started diminished, more Slates entered the shop and a queue started to form by the desk. Tom, Evan and I decided to join it. After a few minutes the Work at the desk started placing people’s wrists under a scanner and letting them upstairs. When it got to our turn he did the same. It wasn’t the wrist being scanned but the watch. Luckily all three of us had remembered to wear ours - they were clearly very important to all the going-ons within the compound. We ascended the stairs. Through the door presented to us at the top was a typical classroom. Single desks filled the room and at the front was a blank wall, in front of which a Work stood. The Slates in front of us bows slightly towards her and took a seat on a desk. These desks were named and after acknowledging the teacher we found ours - three in a row at the front. Eventually the room was perfectly full. The teacher began.

    ‘As you all know this is the start of a new term. New classmates, new levels, new topic. We have three Three new level 0s in the room with us, though they’ll be 1s by next class. Can you stand and say your names?’ (we did this, starting with Evan, me, then Tom) ‘We also lost three of the level 3s who are now in the higher mathematics classes with the level 4 and 5s. Congratulations to all those wearing new badges. Now, today we are starting Differentiation. Level 1 are doing to learn basic differentiation, Level 2s integration and Level 3s integration and differentiation of sine, cosine and tangent. You level 0s are just going to be honorary level 1s for today.’ She then touched the screen of her watch. A hologram of a graph with a curved line on it appeared. She started explaining the uses of differentiation to us all. It was interesting for the rest of the lesson I listen intently on what she said and tried my hardest on the questions. After that we walked over to music. The experience was similar: new term, new topic. In that lesson we started learning about theory and pitch frequency ratios. It was amazing how relevant mathematics was to music - a topic which seems so unrelated. After that was lunch, business, then languages. After languages had finished, the last lesson of the day, we made our way back to our rooms with our arms ladened with books and homework. We’d seem all the other Slates with convenient backpacks and quickly found three in the bottom of our draws.

   ‘We are only just getting used to the compound and stuff, now we need to keep on top of work?’ Evan complained, lying face down on his bed.

    ‘Wasn’t that all so interesting?’ I said excitedly, though I could understand his point.

    ‘I need sleep. Can I miss dinner?’ Tom asked. We all laughed. After a rather uneventful (and cold) dinner, Tom and Evan went to bed but I stayed up for a while longer and finished the differentiation homework. I then thought for a bit. I was acting around the education like the other two had been around the candy in the Candy House, though I assured myself my situation was better. I thought about what Evan had said. One day to look around the compound and then launched into education. It was like they didn’t want us to have a proper look around or get to know anyone. I packed up my work and slipped into bed.

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