Serial Novella Part 1
by KATHLEEN WOLAK
#33347 glared at his daughter through his hood’s eyeholes. She had not yet completed her meal and it was nearing the end of the allotted hour for consumption. The petite hooded figure across from him put her fork down and lifted her head.
“But - but I can’t. I just can’t eat right now. I’m, I’m not h-hungry.”
“You will eat or I will force what is in front of you into your body. Do you understand me?”
“Pl-please, father, I just can’t - ”
#33347 had had enough. His daughter’s habit of not eating was beginning to wear on him. The stuttering, pathetic girl was going to have to have nourishment one way or another. He nervously looked at the clock on the wall. It read 7:55. He had five minutes to clear her plate. He pushed his chair out from the table, and strode over to his nervous, twitching daughter.
“Please father - don’t…”
But before she could get another word out, he grabbed the top of his daughter’s head, jerking her neck back so roughly she couldn’t breathe. #33347 positioned the plate with his other hand right at the opening of his daughter’s hood. He released the top of her head and started shoveling food into her mouth with her fork. Blood started to pour from her mouth, but the hooded man kept shoving the sustenance down. As she choked and sputtered, her mother, #33348 looked down at her own empty plate, making sure there was nothing left on it.
When the remains of his daughter’s plate were consumed to his satisfaction, #33347 placed the plate and bloody fork back on the table.
“Clean your fork.”
The girl, still coughing, with hidden tears running down her face and the taste of blood filling her mouth rather than the forced food, obediently took her fork and wiped it with her napkin. She then balled up the blood-soaked evidence and put it in the pocket of her robe.
The alarm sounding for the end of consumption went off, and, as always, there was a knock at the door. The voice behind it called out, “This is Regulator G2. I am entering to ensure all nutritional sustenance was consumed by the present family at this residence.”
The door opened, and the imposing figure, dressed in a black robe and highly shined boots, strode in. His hood did not obscure his whole face, just his mouth. His hawk-like nose and steel grey eyes were perfectly visible. His machine gun was slung over his shoulder casually, but everyone at the table knew that within half a second, it could be in his hands, delivering bullets to their heads.
His eyes moved from one plate to the next while the girl tried to stifle her coughs from under her hood. Her eyes were watering from the strain, and she could feel a morsel of food forcing itself against the back of her throat, aggravating her suffocated cough. For her, inspection could not be over soon enough.
The Regulator stopped first behind her mother. He picked up her plate and looked at it carefully. The adult female stiffened slightly at the presence behind her, but besides that, like always, she showed no reaction. The Regulator, satisfied, placed the plate back down and took out his nutrition thermometer. He pointed the small, white rectangular device at her chest and waited. Two beeps she lives, three she dies. The device beeped once, twice. #33348 would live to see another miserable day.
#33349 was silently convulsing under her thick scarlet robe. She could feel her father’s cruel dark eyes on her. She knew as well as he did that if it was evident she didn’t eat Field G’s supplied food willingly, it was a possible death sentence. The Regulator had moved on to measuring her father’s temperature when she noticed drops of blood on her plate. Her blood, from the feeding would be the evidence used against her family.
The Regulator’s thermometer beeped twice, and as he was about make his way over to #33349, the alarm set up outside, in the middle of their quadrant of Field G, began to sound. It was a loud, blaring noise that took everyone in the tiny room by surprise. #33349 took the loud noise as an opportunity to cough quietly, finally freeing her airways. The Regulator swung his gun around to his front and ran out of the house, not saying a word to the occupiers, the three scarlet figures nervously sitting around their food table. The blaring alarm meant only one thing; someone was trying to escape. The family waited a moment before the anticipated gun shot. Whoever it was that tried to escape had been executed. The alarm stopped, and the two adult figures at the table breathed a sigh of relief, while the young girl tried to breath normally again. She had been spared inspection tonight, but what about tomorrow? What about the day after? Truth be told, she felt as though she never wanted to eat again. Her anxiety was making her wheeze terribly, but paying her, and the recent unlucky runaway no mind, her parents stood up from their seats to go to their sleeping quarters. When she caught her breath, the girl rose from her chair and walked from the eating space to her own sleeping quarters, a small, grey area with only a bed and small chair to furnish it. She lay down on her bed and pulled off her hood. The mouth hole had been somewhat enlarged from her force-feeding, and the inside was stained with the food that didn’t make it down. She tossed it onto her chair and closed her eyes. This was the only bearable part of her day, when she could close her eyes and remember.
Of course, what she brought to her mind were not her own memories, but those told to her by somebody else. Her eyes filling with tears, #33349 looked over at the chair in which this person would sit and tell her invaluable information about the past. She again closed her eyes, and envisioned her grandmother, Abbey.
CHAPTER 1 - FOCUS ON THE FUTURE
In the year 2014, the future was looking very bright for the United States of America. Medical advances alone were helping to push the life expectancy up, which in turn helped to stimulate the economy; people were living longer and spending more.
In November of 2016, an idealistic young candidate won the presidency with his Focus on the Future platform. His goal was to use America’s economic surplus to fund his grand idea of The New America. This meant universal health care, lowered taxes, and lessening America’s dependency on foreign oil. His impassioned speeches sparked hope and want in the hearts of Americans. They hoped this would all come to pass, and they wanted it to be at the hands of their brand new president-elect.
Like a genie granting the obligatory three wishes, the young president got to work right away on delivering what he promised. Universal health care was passed, after much debate. The economy was thriving, so lowering taxes was granted shortly thereafter. Morale was never higher in America; everybody loved the man in office who delivered. The only promise posing an issue, however, was that of foreign oil. The president worked day and night on trying to come up with something, but no solution was magically appearing.
Americans, now so accustomed to getting what they wanted from this man, the same way a spoiled child is with an overly generous father, were getting impatient. The once young, handsome, and energetic Commander-in-Chief was now grey, tired, and in need of a distraction.
In 2020, the incumbent was begrudgingly re-elected. He decided that in order to find a solution, he would have to connect personally with the American people. He utilized a social network that enabled him to have actual, virtual conversations with everyday citizens. He knew this would not only help his appeal, but also just might give him an idea or two. He was right; Americans had never before had a leader they could personally connect with. This gave the president the distraction he needed, and Americans were once more on his side.
Technology in 2020 being what it was, it was decidedly easier for the House of Representatives and Congress to meet virtually than to travel to Washington D.C. In 2016, cell phones had been deemed obsolete upon the development of glasses that boasted all of the same properties of the most advanced smartphone, with information and conversation appearing at will before the wearer’s eye. The heads of state could now simply see each other without ever leaving their homes. This technology trickled down to everyday Americans soon enough, and by 2018, every man, woman, and child was bespectacled.
By 2022, the president was no closer to an alternative fuel, but nobody seemed to care, or even remember. The citizens of the United States were just thrilled to be able to count the president as one of their “friends.” Of course, by this time, 500,000,000 citizens were “friends” with the president, so he had to enlist the help of a team of scientists, who came up with a super-computer to field many of the conversations with the people of America. The computer, or DD - 126 was armed with information regarding any and all topics that would possibly come up. It was actually said to be smarter than any human, as it was able to acquire new information on its own and add it to its vast database.
On May 24, 2023, the president died suddenly of a heart attack. No one in America knew about his death until a month later, when the vice president found him in the Oval Office, slumped and decaying over a stack of papers at his desk labeled “oil solutions.” DD - 126 had been doing the president’s job for over a month, and no one was any the wiser. Citizens were still under the impression that they were communicating with the actual president. DD - 126 was even making presidential decisions. The computer that was simply developed to answer questions was now questioning answers. Since no one communicated face to face anymore, everyone in the cabinet and the rest of the country just assumed it was the real president making these decisions. They had no idea that their faithful servant was replaced.
The shining knight who saved America, and worked so hard for the fickle citizens - the man who actually cared enough to work on delivering his last promise until it killed him - was dead, and America hadn’t even noticed.
The next forty years proved to be the undoing of the United States of America, and the birth of Area 1.
AREA 1 continues in the Spring issue of HelloHorror.
Kathleen Wolak is a writer living in Hamden, CT. She is the author of The Tasteless, a young adult novel, and co-founder of the entertainment blog Tasteless Entertainment. When she isn't writing or blogging, she is hosting her weekly advice show on HerTube.TV, or marathoning The Simpsons on DVD.
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