We slept in what had once been the gymnasium. Huddled together as one clan, as we had been on the outside, only now so many fewer.
I scratched absently at the stubble growing in on my head. My one vanity, my thick and shiny auburn hair, had been shaved off and thrown in the trash.
Along with Vera’s unborn baby; she had been deemed unfit to carry. A dreamy odd thought had drifted through my mind as I watched them drop handful after handful of my locks into the can, that the baby girl lying in there would at least be surrounded by something warm and soft. She deserved at least that little courtesy, in a world so cruel some might think she was better off. Vera was inconsolable. I saw them take her, dragging her from the room.
The Lark Council had begun the culling within a few days of stomping down their gangway towards us, all wide eyed benevolence; they came bearing relief, they said, from the drought and the hunger that plagued our remote town. Our Elders had been so relieved at the thought of rescue that they hadn’t looked past the friendly words to see into the hard eyes that never changed. We saw through them, we saw and we whispered amongst ourselves. It happened so quickly though, we thought that we would have more time to speak our piece, to keep our own peace. Not so.
In their crisp and clean uniforms, the Council first culled out all of those who had been touched by the Roiling, and those who had nursed them. These unfortunates, with their scars that looked like melted wax dripped over and into their flesh, their sad and crazy eyes that spoke of untold pain, were corralled into our church. The doors were barred, guards were posted, and that was that. Those who resisted were shot without warning; those who protested were given one.
Next came the pregnant women, Vera shuffling in the middle of the herd, hands covering her swollen belly as she was jostled forward. I never heard what the Lark’s criteria were for choosing who was allowed to carry a child; there didn’t seem to be a connecting thread to the women who came back to us with gratitude and fear fighting for control of their face. They were named Inviolate. There would be no other procreation without permission. Any infractions would be cause for the execution of both parents and any existing children, immediately.
The worst part of all of this, the most insidiously terrifying thing, was that we had no idea why. We didn’t know what the Lark Council’s purpose was, we didn’t know what they wanted. Sometimes a seemingly random soldier would step forward with a proclamation, some rule or other we were expected to follow without hesitation upon penalty of death. They wouldn’t answer questions, they wouldn’t address anyone directly, and I saw Jaim take a loaded thruster stock to the temple for attempting to step in front of a grizzled man that was trying to leave the building.
As they locked us into the gymnasium night after night, a slow burn fired in my belly. It was obvious that there was no rescue or relief for us, but our town was falling into disrepair as well. The soldiers on the ground didn’t bother digging jacks and the smell was quickly becoming overpowering. They let their garbage fall where it would, bonfires that had been kept burning without fail for months were pissed on and kicked over.
If they weren’t taking care of the town it was because they weren’t planning on staying. They wouldn’t bother turning us into a matched and malleable set of players if they were going to leave us here to rot. This meant that they plan on leaving. They plan on taking us with them. Somehow I don’t think that we will have pride of place within this regime.
I fear that they mean to enslave.
the chosen winner of last weeks Master Class entries was the cringe inducing creepy tale Weightless (http://www.angelaamman.com/2013/01/the-master-class-3-weightless.html). Angela chose Margret Atwood’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ for this weeks prompt: We slept in what had once been the gymnasium
i introduced the Lark Council in the very first Master Class, and visited it once after that, and now this one makes three. it’s not a cohesive continuation yet, just snippets that pop into my head. one day i’ll figure out how to link and tab and all that fun stuff so i can make it easy for anyone who wanted to maybe go back and read other stuff…one day…. 🙂