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It's a world where a common cold can get you killed. They don't want you to infect their plans....an elite race, one free of illness and affliction. You are an infection upon their vision. You must be erased.

Angeline Winston works as a reluctant researcher for the Evolutionaries, a Government with underlying radical motives are about to be uncovered. Who can you trust in a place where everyone is a Defect, doomed to be 'erased'? Can they really pull off a holocaust of people whose only difference is that their mother had cancer, or that they suffered depression? Angeline is about to find out.


Submitted:Dec 22, 2006    Reads: 240    Comments: 3    Likes: 0   


THE HUMAN CYCLE

By A.Patrikios

"The biggest trick the devil ever pulled was making the world believe he doesn't exist." -The Usual Suspects

It was a frosty summer's day and the first flakes of snow had appeared right on cue. A brusque wind hastily charged through the city, pausing only now and then to muster more snowflakes into its midst. Angeline Winston watched the wind dance along the streets, reeking havoc on the unfortunate pedestrians who became entangled with their invisible foe. For a moment, she smiled, bemused by the flustered animations of a particular civilian. Angeline had not done this in a long time and sometimes she feared she never would do it again. Yet as the expression spread across her brightening face Angeline was oblivious to it even happening.

"Is this seat taken?"

Angeline awoke. As she glanced around the rest of the train, she could see other vacant seats.

"I'm sorry. No, you can sit there."

A ragged old man, with a face worn like leather left unpolished, sat opposite Angeline. There was nothing remarkable about his appearance and yet she felt her eyes peering back to observe him after a time. His skin was tinged with an unhealthy sepia but something was captivating. His eyes shone like an entire ocean was behind them and to Angeline, they seemed unnaturally bright as they radiated out of that big, grey rain cloud. When she dared to look again she found the old man's blue eyes to be staring right back into hers. An awkward silence ensued.

Angeline looked away but she could still feel the burn of his gaze. It made her uneasy. She tried to ignore it but she intuitively knew that his stare had not subsided. Something was not right about this man. She had to leave.

"Next stop, Varitaston."

Angeline took this as her cue to escape.

"That's me!" she chirped with false cheerfulness.

Quicker than he could reply, she was out of the train door, leaving the old man behind.

* * *

"Winston! Is day dreaming part of your job?"

"No."

"Well, then I suggest you abandon such a useless pastime in favour of some actual work. Good suggestion?"

"Yes."

She turned back to the desk and attempted to do 'some actual work'. That is, if one could call what Angeline had spent the past six months doing 'work'. Her hand reflexively shot to her mouth as she ran her teeth under what was left of nails. Bad habit, she thought. Shouldn't do it because it looks bad, she thought. I'm not going to change, she thought.

Red dot, blue dot, green dot, red dot, blue dot, green dot…..

Angeline stared at her computer screen and her eyes protested stubbornly. They had never quite adjusted to looking at a screen all day; she had no idea why not. They had told everyone at the start that if the pain hadn't gone in a week or two then they couldn't do anything more.

Green dot, red dot, blue dot….

The fluorescent light of the screen wasn't the only thing Angeline had not managed to adjust to. She worked in the Department, and by the laws passed in the Skills Act, was permitted to work in a room with no cubicles or walls. A single, flat, circular floor, just as the Evolutionaries believed. Circular, unified and never ending. The Supervisors would stealthily march up and down, back and forth, monitoring the room for the entire day; and Angeline had enough sense to hasten her typing and furrow her brow in false concentration when they did.

Blue dot, green dot, red dot….

She could still remember the day things began to change. The Evolutionaries came to power in what seemed like a matter of weeks, but the proclamation of their triumph and intentions became apparent in days. The Tower, in which Angeline was now required to reside in and work in, a gargantuan sky scraper designed purely to be a cylindrical structure, had burst from the ground as soon as the last ballot was filled. Sometimes she wondered if the election was necessary at all.

Red dot, blue dot, green dot…..

Everybody required by the Skills Act had to live in The Tower, as it was the only single structure that was under complete surveillance. It accommodated for the educated members of the state, which, once the Evolutionaries had snared their victory, became required by law to cease the ventures of their current careers to work for the government. She let her pace slacken for a moment and drew in a deep breath, sighing silently and letting the soothing pain swell across her chest. As her fingers rhythmically drummed at the keyboard, Angeline's eyes dared to scan her peripheral in curiosity. The Supervisors were lingering to one side of room, so she took her chance to survey the surrounds for a moment. Blacks screens, blue suits, one white wall and all those goddamn dots.

Blue dot, green dot, green dot…

"Winston!"

Bugger.

"If I have to tell you again, you'll go straight to the Boss! Understand, Winston?"

"Yes."

The Boss. Angeline didn't know who he was or what he did, but around The Tower, you did all you could to avoid him.

* * *

"Dr Winston, Castuseminium Level, The Department…"

Same as yesterday, thought Angeline.

"…December 6th, 6:00pm. Welcome Home, Dr Winston."

The cylinder of manufactured light evaporated into nothingness once more as the instant calendar turned itself back off. The entire system, surveillance, progress and schedule, was fed through the well in the middle of the circular room. Same as yesterday, the calendar would activate itself when Angeline arrived home from the higher floor and scan her. Her eyes, still reeling from another day of abuse, took a few moments to adjust to the white room. Just another circular room; of course built in accordance with the Evolutionaries' dogma. Unity and all that. Angeline suspected the three hundred and sixty degree room was especially easy to keep under complete surveillance, which was just another convenient truth.

Angeline was tired, her mind hazy and her fingers aching. It had been a long day. She lay down on the mattress to one area of the room and fell in a deep sleep.

* * *

With a bolt and a sharp crash, Angeline was abruptly awoken. Her eyes reluctantly braved the light and she blearily surveyed the room for the source of the sudden disturbance. Rising from the bed, she stumbled in the direction of the kitchen and found what she was looking for. Shards of glass, the remnants of a paper weight since shattered, were strewn across the tiles. Angeline tentatively bent down and plucked a single black piece of paper that was lying amongst the wreckage from the cold floor. Her eyes, now sufficiently awake, focused on the plain, neat script written on one side of the paper.

ANGELINE WINSTON,

You are cordially invited to the unveiling of Jude Welles' newest painting, destined to be yet another masterpiece in his long line of successes. As the city's most prominent artist and documenter of our time, Jude Welles and his work have heavily influenced the Arts of the region. The debut of his newest work is a highly anticipated event, so please, be prompt.

To be held at the Black Gallery, at 7:30pm on December 6th.

We eagerly await your company.

Angeline flicked the card over but that was all the information given. Then her eyes flicked to the calendar, which had instantly activated itself to survey the room due to the disruption.

"Dr Winston, Security check, December 6th, 7:45pm. All checks complete, Dr Winston."

Angeline's stomach fell. She was late. She was very late.

In a moment of pure panic and attempted focus, she snatched her coat from the hook and then managed to put her shoes on the wrong feet. Once the terrible footwear imbalance was rectified, she rushed out the door.

* * *

"Mr Welles' new work is a remarkable and significant piece that…"

She'd made it to the opening and only had to bear the scowls of two gallery curators and one security officer. Angeline was really quite proud.

"…epitomizes the event that unified a nation…"

A man behind a podium was prepping the audience for the unveiling, but Angeline was not listening. She was too preoccupied with her attempt at a subtle and tactful movement towards the front. No one seemed to mind her gradually sliding her way past them; in fact, no one seemed to notice at all. She was quite proud of herself really. A good, late entrance Angeline, she thought.

"…as Mr Welles heard of the terrible crash, he was inspired to paint the stories…"

Angeline hoped that the speech would not last much longer.

"…and let the city remember their loss at the hands of the City Line Train Disaster."

The speakers tone lowered and Angeline's eyes lifted in excitement. A gentle hush of anticipation spread through the crowd. The thick curtain veiling the image fell swiftly to the floor and the crowd gave a short gasp of surprise, followed by the mandatory applause of approval.

But Angeline did not applaud. She didn't even move. Inside she had fallen into a feverish panic, as her mind flittered over sporadic recollections and faceless scenes. Anything to explain what she was seeing.

It was her. There was nothing more to it. The painting before her was, literally, of her. It was a scene on a train. To one side of the canvas there was an image of a young woman, eyes gazing directly out of the window to the city scene below. Across from her was an old man. His eyes, which even in impression were unnaturally blue, stared right at her. Even as she looked upon the image, she could feel the heat of his stare upon her neck return.

"Jude Welles, although he has never appeared in public, has sent a message to his audience and I shall now read it on his behalf," said the host, who had resumed his place at the podium. Angeline was listening now.

"My dear public, I sincerely hope that my latest work has not come too soon. We have all suffered the most acute loss from the casualties left from the City Line Train Disaster and in my mourning, I sought an outlet. I wanted to paint an image that would epitomize the victims of the tragedy. The young girl whose few years are but a flicker of a flame on one side and the old man, worn, weary who is practically part of the city itself. These two images are our city. My deepest condolences to the families of those since lost and I pray that we may never see such a tragedy again.

Angeline was transfixed. How could this be happening? She had been on that train, but nothing had happened, no one had died. What were they all talking about? She felt a scream burgeoning in her throat but she did not let it escape. Her eyes were stinging with tears of confusion but even as she searched faces for help, no one returned her gaze. Then she stopped still. Across the room, someone had.

Past a hundred faceless figures, two luminous, blue eyes stared right back at her. The scream couldn't be held any longer.

* * *

There was a sharp crash and Angeline bolted awake. Her blurred eyesight offered her no answers; it only reflected the endless white of the room. Her hands clutched at the corners of the mattress in fear but she found nothing out of place. She was in her flat, on her bed and everything was perfectly fine. The lasting ring of the noise fluctuated through her head. Reluctantly she rose from the mattress to where it had come from. Staring down at the shattered glass on the floor, Angeline felt the cold slither of unease throughout her limbs. She had seen this before. A single black card lay amongst the broken paperweight.

"Dr Winston, Security check, December 6th, 7:45pm. All checks complete, Dr Winston."

Her breath sharply accelerated and her hand subconsciously lifted to her teeth, rimming them back and forth. This was not right. This was a dream but she was wide awake.

"Don't you just hate déjà vu? Catches me out all the time."

Angeline turned to see a man sitting on her white couch in her white room, dressed entirely in grey. Two unforgiving blue eyes stared directly at her. Her voice was stifled. She had spent her entire life following her refined logic but nothing could explain this. It couldn't be real.

"You know, I'd hate to say something along the lines of, 'I suppose you're wondering why I am here,' but right about now it just seems so apt," he said as he drummed his grimy-nailed fingers along the pristine leather. Angeline remained silent.

"Okay Angeline, enough with the girlish silence. You are a grown woman now and you want answers. If you ask, I can give them to you."

"Who are you?" she yelled, much louder than she had meant to.

"I am here to help you because I need your help. You know what is wrong but you don't know how to fix it. I, on the other hand, am a solution waiting to happen. Ask me anything and I will answer."

After a short silence, Angeline dared to be bold.

"Why is it still the 6th, when it was yesterday? Why did the painting have me in it? What are they talking about, this train wreck or something?"

"One at a time." He had raised his hand as a sign for quiet and instantly Angeline felt her voice fade away. With a raspy indrawn breath, he began.

"I am going to tell you everything. You will not talk until I am finished, then you may ask questions. For now, you will listen."

She nodded in agreement.

"You began working for the Evolutionaries as part of the Skills Act and yet, you still have no idea what you actually do. You sit at your desk and drum at the keys. You watch the little spots of light flicker upon the screen and then fail once more. You,"

He paused and his eyes darted to her destroyed nails.

"…nibble away at your nails to pass the time. But you don't know why you are there. I am going to tell you. The Evolutionaries don't have you doing work. You are there for one reason and that is to be a provider of information. Previously you worked at the Discovery Institute and when you left, you were required to bring with you all of the medical records that had accumulated over time. This is the information they want. The records, naming every person who has ever had cancer, schizophrenia, even a common cold. They need to know this."

"Why?" Angeline could not understand. His eyebrows rose as a sign to be silent once more.

"They want to erase them. The Evolutionaries want the records because they name every person who has ever been ill. They need to know because they need to eradicate them. The Defects. You, Angeline, are a Defect. Tell me, why did you decide to study medicine?"

Angeline scoured her memory and found the answer.

"My mother, she died when I was young. She died of…"

"Cancer. I know this, Angeline. The very thing that propelled you to try and save lives is jeopardising your own. You are classified as a Defect because of the hereditary risk of cancer. And therefore, you must be eradicated."

"You can't be serious, no one could do that. Everyone would be a Defect. They can't."

"Angeline," his voice was that of a parent, "they already have."

She scoffed. This was ridiculous. Somehow, the old bum on the train had followed her home and broken in. He was insane, and that was all there was to it.

"You don't believe me. I expected so much from a leftbrainer but if you let me explain then you will."

She raised her eyebrows incredulously but he seemed oblivious.

"They have poisoned you Angeline. They have control of the entire water system of the city and when they came to power they instigated the poisoning of the supplies. They altered the lines and isolated the Defects. Then it was just a matter of time."

"Well, hate to say it, but I'm not dead. They haven't poisoned me."

Those two blue lamps turned upon her like a spotlight in the dark.

"What was that then?" he said pointing at the invite lying among the shattered glass. She had no answers.

"You see, you know that something is wrong. I can tell you what. When the Evolutionaries sought to destroy all the Defects, they meant to poison them all through the water system and then pass off the aftermath as a terrible plague. But that didn't happen, did it? You are not dead Angeline, as you so diligently observed. It didn't work, the poison didn't kill everyone. The survivors suffered side effects. Dreams, visions…"

"…that's what I saw. A vision?"

"Yes. You saw part of their plan. They were going to pass of a mass genocide as a train disaster, the City Line Train Disaster."

Angeline meditated upon this for a moment.

"And who are you? Why should I believe you?"

"I am the truth. This building and everything the Evolutionaries stand for is lies. They want to enslave us and annihilate Defects in order to create an elite race. Unified and never ending. You know who is behind all of this, don't you?"

"The Boss."

"Precisely. He instigated this plan, he led the Evolutionaries to victory and he is trying to kill you."

"But if you still won't tell me your name; how can I trust you?"

"Why would a name change anything? I wonder, if I told you I had no name, would I be untrustworthy? A rose, by any other name, dear Angeline."

She wasn't in the mood for evasiveness.

"As you said, leftbrainer. If you are the truth, then what name does truth go by?"

His face darkened and in an uncommonly clear and sharp tone he said,

" My name is Jude Welles."

* * *

Angeline's hands clutched at her cup of tea so tightly that the heat was beginning to burn through the china. As she paced her kitchen, back and forth, her mind was reeling. So much had happened and so much had been said, yet she felt like nothing was learned. She felt like two parts of her were at war, viciously fighting for what she should believe and what she wanted to.

Welles had left soon after he revealed himself. Somehow, this had killed the conversation. How he made it past all the surveillance, Angeline had not the slightest idea. Her mind walked the corridors and paused at all the cameras and mirrors; wouldn't they have sighted such a conspicuous looking man? Her passion fought back. He must have been careful enough; he must have been skilled enough to get past all of the Boss's eyes. A small smile spread across her face.

"Dr Winston, Security check…"

The screen had illuminated but then become distorted. Figments of light flicked, waxed and waned within seconds and then fell dark. The lights of the room dimmed and Angeline's grip slackened. Then there was light.

In the middle of the room, where the calendar should have been, a single blue beam of light shot through. Angeline was drawn to it.

"Angeline, we need you. To rebel against the Boss we must unite. We must fight for our lives. Meet tonight, the City Line Station, at midnight."

It was his voice.

"Wait! I need to know something!" she cried. It was too late. The light had faltered and then failed. The lights returned.

Midnight, thought Angeline. Wouldn't want to be clichéd.

* * *

"You are all here for one reason. You are all here for one cause. You are all human beings. Yet, there are those who do not think so. There are those who look down upon you. There are those who want you eradicated. Gone. Like an infestation."

Angeline could not see any faces in the dark; only a sea of shoulders, facing forward to the man upon the stairs, listening to their master.

"You know who it is who wants you gone, you know his name."

"The Boss," Angeline chanted.

"Correct. But why should we fear him? Why is he dangerous?"

"He's the leader of the Evolutionaries! He controls everything, everyone!" someone screamed from the back, their cry echoing through the tunnels. Angeline glanced back to the dead subway entrance. She didn't fear being caught, curfew was in and anyway, Welles was with them.

"No, he is not. The Boss is not anything to be feared. He doesn't even exist."

He let his last words descend upon the crowd. Silence. He continued.

"We fear The Boss as our persecutor and yet we do so needlessly. Our suffering is only a concoction of our own minds! The Boss is a cheap ploy, a trick manufactured by the Evolutionaries to enforce their rule and paralyse their challengers! But we will not succumb to their false advocate. We will not bow down and be cast from our homes."

He had thrust his hand to the air, his fist so clenched Angeline could see the veins pumping, as a sign for an uproar.

"Long ago," he cried, "The Evolutionaries took something from me and I have never been complete since. They took, no, they stole, a part of my essence that cannot be reclaimed. Until now. We shall have our revenge!"

They cried and they chanted, as if they were one mind, one being.

"Down with The Boss! Down with The Boss!"

Welles' eyes widened and Angeline felt her voice fail. The crowd instantly fell silent once more.

"Not down with The Boss, rule to the Defects!"

A ceremonious cheer. Even in the crowd, Angeline felt her voice cry out.

"But what can we do? How do we overthrow the Evolutionaries?"

Welles smiled.

"My dear Angeline, always so logical, you are quite right. We need a plan of action. I can give you that."

The ground began to quake beneath them and at last, glimpses of faces shone in the dark. Angeline was not afraid.

A horn sounded and at the end of the track, a dim light smouldered. The train was approaching, slowly.

"We ride under the City to free her from this oppression. We ride to the water plant, to cast off the poisonous injustice. We are going to, in one fiery night, end the Evolutionaries forever."

* * *

The rocking of the train would have normally lulled Angeline to sleep but tonight she was wide awake.

They were going to the water plant; they were going to expose the Evolutionaries. They were going to be free. No one would call her a Defect.

She indulged in thoughts of never having to work at The Tower again. Her eyes brightened considerably.

"Winston!"

Green dot, blue dot, red dot…

For a moment, she was back at her desk, drumming away at the keyboard.

Blue dot, red dot, green dot…

A Supervisor summons her. She feels her knees falter as she rises from her desk and his leathery hand grasps her arm. They march forward, past all the desks with the faceless figures typing robotically, to the door at the side of the room. She can't see in and yet intrinsically knows what awaits her behind that locked door. She's been summoned. However, only one person can be the summoner. The Boss.

The door opens and she steps through.

"Angeline Winston, Castuseminium Level, The Department. Confirm, Winston."

"I confirm."

Her eyes are searing with pain. She feels that if she stares into the back of that black chair any longer, she'll burn a hole right through it.

""Let me be plain, Winston. This Government symbolises the ideals of an entire nation. Do you think it would be beneficial to the Government, and therefore, the nation, to employ someone who is out of step? To someone who, though they stand in uniform, will not march in line?"

"I see."

"You are a burden to us at the Evolutionaries and a burden to me. You make our governance…"

The chair turns around and Angeline feels the floor beneath her disappear.

"…defective."

"Welles? What are you doing here? Where's The Boss? What's happening?"

She is screaming. Welles sits before her, across the desk in the circular room, with a face of the slightest bemusement.

"Goodbye, Angeline."

A gunshot sounds and a blinding pain strikes her chest. She doubles over and falls to the ground. Everything goes dark.

* * *

"Winston!"

Angeline gasped. Turning with eyes wide she looked up and saw Welles staring down at her. The thrumming of the train echoed through the silent carriage and she found herself back in reality.

"Angeline, please follow me."

Welles couldn't be The Boss, it wasn't possible. Why would he create his own enemies? She trailed into the next carriage with him to find it completely empty. He lent against one of the doorways with an expression of fond nostalgia on his face.

"Do you know where we are, Angeline?"

She shook her head hastily.

"This is where we met. You sat there," he gestured to one booth, 'and I opposite."

Angeline smiled in an attempt to seem normal.

"It is a pity it should come to this."

The smile quickly failed.

"You are so beautiful, Angeline. It is such a waste that you should be inferior. Not even I could believe it at first but I always knew there would be sacrifices. Funny, isn't it, that my one weakness could have been my downfall. It is often the way."

He reached into his jacket.

"No, Welles, please." She was pleading now.

"You saw who I really am and I have to protect that information. I have no choice. No one else could have seen it; they were not affected that way."

"Why?"

"That," he laughed shortly, "perhaps we will never know. You have a gift, an intuitive savant side that occasionally glimpses greatness. A gift of," he paused once more, "nature. Not that I was ever one to marvel at the traits nature bestows upon us."

She felt ill. This wasn't happening.

"All of the signs were there Angeline, you just didn't see them. You saw me everywhere, my eyes. Even I didn't know I could affect someone mentally. The poison we fed into the water system reacted with your condition and, needless to day, created a few problems. Luckily that left brain of yours overruled what nature had to say. It will be hard erasing you, so rare and yet so flawed."

She was silent. A single tear rolled down her cheek.

"That is why this is so difficult to do." His hand lifted from within his coat.

Angeline didn't raise her head.

* * *

"Winston 18972, Rations check. Move forward!"

She trudged forward in the line and the weight of the chains clasped on her wrists made the ache in her shoulder burn. The ashen faces of the Defects were too painful to look at but Angeline did anyway. She should hate him for putting her here, in this scum ghetto. She tried to but couldn't. She tried to feel hatred, to feel anything, but she couldn't. As the chains scratched the skin off her bones, she wished he had just killed her.

"18972! Move it!"

She trudged forward in submission. How it had all happened was not clear to Angeline. Fragments came and went, drifting in and out of thought, but she couldn't realise the entirety of it all. All she knew is what she struggled to remember and struggled even harder to forget. Welles had betrayed them, all of them, to the death camps.

"You know Angeline," he had told her as she lay in the pool of her own blood, "The papers will still read the same tomorrow. The City Line Train Disaster was not just a random vision, my dear. What you saw was the future, as I envisage it. Our elite race created and not a single voice to question it. As far as the rest of you Defects know, this train is heading to the water plant to bomb the centre of the Evolutionaries' plan. It isn't. This train heads to hell, Angeline."

He had smiled.

"To think of you, an angel in hell."

She had been through the entire plan over and over in her mind a thousand times. Welles took the train to the camps, which had been built as far as Angeline could see, on a concrete island jutting out of the City's border and then passed off the disappearance of thousands of Defects as a disaster crash. It was a flawless, political plan. No one would hear the voices of the dead.

"Winston! I won't ask you again! Get your rations or go!" the guard shouted, his hand tempted by the hilt of his mace.

Angeline moved forward, her body protesting in pain. She had been numb since she came to the camp, but really it wasn't a lack of feeling. It was an abundance of only a single feeling. Pain.

Through the curtain of the barbed wire fence, Angeline saw a black car drive past. The City loomed in the background, veiled in a sepia fog. The tinted windows of the car came down and Angeline turned.

Darkness.

And, for a moment, two blue eyes staring out.

THE HUMAN CYCLE

By A.Patrikios

"The biggest trick the devil ever pulled was making the world believe he doesn't exist." -The Usual Suspects

It was a frosty summer's day and the first flakes of snow had appeared right on cue. A brusque wind hastily charged through the city, pausing only now and then to muster more snowflakes into its midst. Angeline Winston watched the wind dance along the streets, reeking havoc on the unfortunate pedestrians who became entangled with their invisible foe. For a moment, she smiled, bemused by the flustered animations of a particular civilian. Angeline had not done this in a long time and sometimes she feared she never would do it again. Yet as the expression spread across her brightening face Angeline was oblivious to it even happening.

"Is this seat taken?"

Angeline awoke. As she glanced around the rest of the train, she could see other vacant seats.

"I'm sorry. No, you can sit there."

A ragged old man, with a face worn like leather left unpolished, sat opposite Angeline. There was nothing remarkable about his appearance and yet she felt her eyes peering back to observe him after a time. His skin was tinged with an unhealthy sepia but something was captivating. His eyes shone like an entire ocean was behind them and to Angeline, they seemed unnaturally bright as they radiated out of that big, grey rain cloud. When she dared to look again she found the old man's blue eyes to be staring right back into hers. An awkward silence ensued.

Angeline looked away but she could still feel the burn of his gaze. It made her uneasy. She tried to ignore it but she intuitively knew that his stare had not subsided. Something was not right about this man. She had to leave.

"Next stop, Varitaston."

Angeline took this as her cue to escape.

"That's me!" she chirped with false cheerfulness.

Quicker than he could reply, she was out of the train door, leaving the old man behind.

* * *

"Winston! Is day dreaming part of your job?"

"No."

"Well, then I suggest you abandon such a useless pastime in favour of some actual work. Good suggestion?"

"Yes."

She turned back to the desk and attempted to do 'some actual work'. That is, if one could call what Angeline had spent the past six months doing 'work'. Her hand reflexively shot to her mouth as she ran her teeth under what was left of nails. Bad habit, she thought. Shouldn't do it because it looks bad, she thought. I'm not going to change, she thought.

Red dot, blue dot, green dot, red dot, blue dot, green dot.....

Angeline stared at her computer screen and her eyes protested stubbornly. They had never quite adjusted to looking at a screen all day; she had no idea why not. They had told everyone at the start that if the pain hadn't gone in a week or two then they couldn't do anything more.

Green dot, red dot, blue dot....

The fluorescent light of the screen wasn't the only thing Angeline had not managed to adjust to. She worked in the Department, and by the laws passed in the Skills Act, was permitted to work in a room with no cubicles or walls. A single, flat, circular floor, just as the Evolutionaries believed. Circular, unified and never ending. The Supervisors would stealthily march up and down, back and forth, monitoring the room for the entire day; and Angeline had enough sense to hasten her typing and furrow her brow in false concentration when they did.

Blue dot, green dot, red dot....

She could still remember the day things began to change. The Evolutionaries came to power in what seemed like a matter of weeks, but the proclamation of their triumph and intentions became apparent in days. The Tower, in which Angeline was now required to reside in and work in, a gargantuan sky scraper designed purely to be a cylindrical structure, had burst from the ground as soon as the last ballot was filled. Sometimes she wondered if the election was necessary at all.

Red dot, blue dot, green dot.....

Everybody required by the Skills Act had to live in The Tower, as it was the only single structure that was under complete surveillance. It accommodated for the educated members of the state, which, once the Evolutionaries had snared their victory, became required by law to cease the ventures of their current careers to work for the government. She let her pace slacken for a moment and drew in a deep breath, sighing silently and letting the soothing pain swell across her chest. As her fingers rhythmically drummed at the keyboard, Angeline's eyes dared to scan her peripheral in curiosity. The Supervisors were lingering to one side of room, so she took her chance to survey the surrounds for a moment. Blacks screens, blue suits, one white wall and all those goddamn dots.

Blue dot, green dot, green dot...

"Winston!"

Bugger.

"If I have to tell you again, you'll go straight to the Boss! Understand, Winston?"

"Yes."

The Boss. Angeline didn't know who he was or what he did, but around The Tower, you did all you could to avoid him.

* * *

"Dr Winston, Castuseminium Level, The Department..."

Same as yesterday, thought Angeline.

"...December 6th, 6:00pm. Welcome Home, Dr Winston."

The cylinder of manufactured light evaporated into nothingness once more as the instant calendar turned itself back off. The entire system, surveillance, progress and schedule, was fed through the well in the middle of the circular room. Same as yesterday, the calendar would activate itself when Angeline arrived home from the higher floor and scan her. Her eyes, still reeling from another day of abuse, took a few moments to adjust to the white room. Just another circular room; of course built in accordance with the Evolutionaries' dogma. Unity and all that. Angeline suspected the three hundred and sixty degree room was especially easy to keep under complete surveillance, which was just another convenient truth.

Angeline was tired, her mind hazy and her fingers aching. It had been a long day. She lay down on the mattress to one area of the room and fell in a deep sleep.

* * *

With a bolt and a sharp crash, Angeline was abruptly awoken. Her eyes reluctantly braved the light and she blearily surveyed the room for the source of the sudden disturbance. Rising from the bed, she stumbled in the direction of the kitchen and found what she was looking for. Shards of glass, the remnants of a paper weight since shattered, were strewn across the tiles. Angeline tentatively bent down and plucked a single black piece of paper that was lying amongst the wreckage from the cold floor. Her eyes, now sufficiently awake, focused on the plain, neat script written on one side of the paper.

ANGELINE WINSTON,

You are cordially invited to the unveiling of Jude Welles' newest painting, destined to be yet another masterpiece in his long line of successes. As the city's most prominent artist and documenter of our time, Jude Welles and his work have heavily influenced the Arts of the region. The debut of his newest work is a highly anticipated event, so please, be prompt.

To be held at the Black Gallery, at 7:30pm on December 6th.

We eagerly await your company.

Angeline flicked the card over but that was all the information given. Then her eyes flicked to the calendar, which had instantly activated itself to survey the room due to the disruption.

"Dr Winston, Security check, December 6th, 7:45pm. All checks complete, Dr Winston."

Angeline's stomach fell. She was late. She was very late.

In a moment of pure panic and attempted focus, she snatched her coat from the hook and then managed to put her shoes on the wrong feet. Once the terrible footwear imbalance was rectified, she rushed out the door.

* * *

"Mr Welles' new work is a remarkable and significant piece that..."

She'd made it to the opening and only had to bear the scowls of two gallery curators and one security officer. Angeline was really quite proud.

"...epitomizes the event that unified a nation..."

A man behind a podium was prepping the audience for the unveiling, but Angeline was not listening. She was too preoccupied with her attempt at a subtle and tactful movement towards the front. No one seemed to mind her gradually sliding her way past them; in fact, no one seemed to notice at all. She was quite proud of herself really. A good, late entrance Angeline, she thought.

"...as Mr Welles heard of the terrible crash, he was inspired to paint the stories..."

Angeline hoped that the speech would not last much longer.

"...and let the city remember their loss at the hands of the City Line Train Disaster."

The speakers tone lowered and Angeline's eyes lifted in excitement. A gentle hush of anticipation spread through the crowd. The thick curtain veiling the image fell swiftly to the floor and the crowd gave a short gasp of surprise, followed by the mandatory applause of approval.

But Angeline did not applaud. She didn't even move. Inside she had fallen into a feverish panic, as her mind flittered over sporadic recollections and faceless scenes. Anything to explain what she was seeing.

It was her. There was nothing more to it. The painting before her was, literally, of her. It was a scene on a train. To one side of the canvas there was an image of a young woman, eyes gazing directly out of the window to the city scene below. Across from her was an old man. His eyes, which even in impression were unnaturally blue, stared right at her. Even as she looked upon the image, she could feel the heat of his stare upon her neck return.

"Jude Welles, although he has never appeared in public, has sent a message to his audience and I shall now read it on his behalf," said the host, who had resumed his place at the podium. Angeline was listening now.

"My dear public, I sincerely hope that my latest work has not come too soon. We have all suffered the most acute loss from the casualties left from the City Line Train Disaster and in my mourning, I sought an outlet. I wanted to paint an image that would epitomize the victims of the tragedy. The young girl whose few years are but a flicker of a flame on one side and the old man, worn, weary who is practically part of the city itself. These two images are our city. My deepest condolences to the families of those since lost and I pray that we may never see such a tragedy again.

Angeline was transfixed. How could this be happening? She had been on that train, but nothing had happened, no one had died. What were they all talking about? She felt a scream burgeoning in her throat but she did not let it escape. Her eyes were stinging with tears of confusion but even as she searched faces for help, no one returned her gaze. Then she stopped still. Across the room, someone had.

Past a hundred faceless figures, two luminous, blue eyes stared right back at her. The scream couldn't be held any longer.

* * *

There was a sharp crash and Angeline bolted awake. Her blurred eyesight offered her no answers; it only reflected the endless white of the room. Her hands clutched at the corners of the mattress in fear but she found nothing out of place. She was in her flat, on her bed and everything was perfectly fine. The lasting ring of the noise fluctuated through her head. Reluctantly she rose from the mattress to where it had come from. Staring down at the shattered glass on the floor, Angeline felt the cold slither of unease throughout her limbs. She had seen this before. A single black card lay amongst the broken paperweight.

"Dr Winston, Security check, December 6th, 7:45pm. All checks complete, Dr Winston."

Her breath sharply accelerated and her hand subconsciously lifted to her teeth, rimming them back and forth. This was not right. This was a dream but she was wide awake.

"Don't you just hate déjà vu? Catches me out all the time."

Angeline turned to see a man sitting on her white couch in her white room, dressed entirely in grey. Two unforgiving blue eyes stared directly at her. Her voice was stifled. She had spent her entire life following her refined logic but nothing could explain this. It couldn't be real.

"You know, I'd hate to say something along the lines of, 'I suppose you're wondering why I am here,' but right about now it just seems so apt," he said as he drummed his grimy-nailed fingers along the pristine leather. Angeline remained silent.

"Okay Angeline, enough with the girlish silence. You are a grown woman now and you want answers. If you ask, I can give them to you."

"Who are you?" she yelled, much louder than she had meant to.

"I am here to help you because I need your help. You know what is wrong but you don't know how to fix it. I, on the other hand, am a solution waiting to happen. Ask me anything and I will answer."

After a short silence, Angeline dared to be bold.

"Why is it still the 6th, when it was yesterday? Why did the painting have me in it? What are they talking about, this train wreck or something?"

"One at a time." He had raised his hand as a sign for quiet and instantly Angeline felt her voice fade away. With a raspy indrawn breath, he began.

"I am going to tell you everything. You will not talk until I am finished, then you may ask questions. For now, you will listen."

She nodded in agreement.

"You began working for the Evolutionaries as part of the Skills Act and yet, you still have no idea what you actually do. You sit at your desk and drum at the keys. You watch the little spots of light flicker upon the screen and then fail once more. You,"

He paused and his eyes darted to her destroyed nails.

"...nibble away at your nails to pass the time. But you don't know why you are there. I am going to tell you. The Evolutionaries don't have you doing work. You are there for one reason and that is to be a provider of information. Previously you worked at the Discovery Institute and when you left, you were required to bring with you all of the medical records that had accumulated over time. This is the information they want. The records, naming every person who has ever had cancer, schizophrenia, even a common cold. They need to know this."

"Why?" Angeline could not understand. His eyebrows rose as a sign to be silent once more.

"They want to erase them. The Evolutionaries want the records because they name every person who has ever been ill. They need to know because they need to eradicate them. The Defects. You, Angeline, are a Defect. Tell me, why did you decide to study medicine?"

Angeline scoured her memory and found the answer.

"My mother, she died when I was young. She died of..."

"Cancer. I know this, Angeline. The very thing that propelled you to try and save lives is jeopardising your own. You are classified as a Defect because of the hereditary risk of cancer. And therefore, you must be eradicated."

"You can't be serious, no one could do that. Everyone would be a Defect. They can't."

"Angeline," his voice was that of a parent, "they already have."

She scoffed. This was ridiculous. Somehow, the old bum on the train had followed her home and broken in. He was insane, and that was all there was to it.

"You don't believe me. I expected so much from a leftbrainer but if you let me explain then you will."

She raised her eyebrows incredulously but he seemed oblivious.

"They have poisoned you Angeline. They have control of the entire water system of the city and when they came to power they instigated the poisoning of the supplies. They altered the lines and isolated the Defects. Then it was just a matter of time."

"Well, hate to say it, but I'm not dead. They haven't poisoned me."

Those two blue lamps turned upon her like a spotlight in the dark.

"What was that then?" he said pointing at the invite lying among the shattered glass. She had no answers.

"You see, you know that something is wrong. I can tell you what. When the Evolutionaries sought to destroy all the Defects, they meant to poison them all through the water system and then pass off the aftermath as a terrible plague. But that didn't happen, did it? You are not dead Angeline, as you so diligently observed. It didn't work, the poison didn't kill everyone. The survivors suffered side effects. Dreams, visions..."

"...that's what I saw. A vision?"

"Yes. You saw part of their plan. They were going to pass of a mass genocide as a train disaster, the City Line Train Disaster."

Angeline meditated upon this for a moment.

"And who are you? Why should I believe you?"

"I am the truth. This building and everything the Evolutionaries stand for is lies. They want to enslave us and annihilate Defects in order to create an elite race. Unified and never ending. You know who is behind all of this, don't you?"

"The Boss."

"Precisely. He instigated this plan, he led the Evolutionaries to victory and he is trying to kill you."

"But if you still won't tell me your name; how can I trust you?"

"Why would a name change anything? I wonder, if I told you I had no name, would I be untrustworthy? A rose, by any other name, dear Angeline."

She wasn't in the mood for evasiveness.

"As you said, leftbrainer. If you are the truth, then what name does truth go by?"

His face darkened and in an uncommonly clear and sharp tone he said,

" My name is Jude Welles."

* * *

Angeline's hands clutched at her cup of tea so tightly that the heat was beginning to burn through the china. As she paced her kitchen, back and forth, her mind was reeling. So much had happened and so much had been said, yet she felt like nothing was learned. She felt like two parts of her were at war, viciously fighting for what she should believe and what she wanted to.

Welles had left soon after he revealed himself. Somehow, this had killed the conversation. How he made it past all the surveillance, Angeline had not the slightest idea. Her mind walked the corridors and paused at all the cameras and mirrors; wouldn't they have sighted such a conspicuous looking man? Her passion fought back. He must have been careful enough; he must have been skilled enough to get past all of the Boss's eyes. A small smile spread across her face.

"Dr Winston, Security check..."

The screen had illuminated but then become distorted. Figments of light flicked, waxed and waned within seconds and then fell dark. The lights of the room dimmed and Angeline's grip slackened. Then there was light.

In the middle of the room, where the calendar should have been, a single blue beam of light shot through. Angeline was drawn to it.

"Angeline, we need you. To rebel against the Boss we must unite. We must fight for our lives. Meet tonight, the City Line Station, at midnight."

It was his voice.

"Wait! I need to know something!" she cried. It was too late. The light had faltered and then failed. The lights returned.

Midnight, thought Angeline. Wouldn't want to be clichéd.

* * *

"You are all here for one reason. You are all here for one cause. You are all human beings. Yet, there are those who do not think so. There are those who look down upon you. There are those who want you eradicated. Gone. Like an infestation."

Angeline could not see any faces in the dark; only a sea of shoulders, facing forward to the man upon the stairs, listening to their master.

"You know who it is who wants you gone, you know his name."

"The Boss," Angeline chanted.

"Correct. But why should we fear him? Why is he dangerous?"

"He's the leader of the Evolutionaries! He controls everything, everyone!" someone screamed from the back, their cry echoing through the tunnels. Angeline glanced back to the dead subway entrance. She didn't fear being caught, curfew was in and anyway, Welles was with them.

"No, he is not. The Boss is not anything to be feared. He doesn't even exist."

He let his last words descend upon the crowd. Silence. He continued.

"We fear The Boss as our persecutor and yet we do so needlessly. Our suffering is only a concoction of our own minds! The Boss is a cheap ploy, a trick manufactured by the Evolutionaries to enforce their rule and paralyse their challengers! But we will not succumb to their false advocate. We will not bow down and be cast from our homes."

He had thrust his hand to the air, his fist so clenched Angeline could see the veins pumping, as a sign for an uproar.

"Long ago," he cried, "The Evolutionaries took something from me and I have never been complete since. They took, no, they stole, a part of my essence that cannot be reclaimed. Until now. We shall have our revenge!"

They cried and they chanted, as if they were one mind, one being.

"Down with The Boss! Down with The Boss!"

Welles' eyes widened and Angeline felt her voice fail. The crowd instantly fell silent once more.

"Not down with The Boss, rule to the Defects!"

A ceremonious cheer. Even in the crowd, Angeline felt her voice cry out.

"But what can we do? How do we overthrow the Evolutionaries?"

Welles smiled.

"My dear Angeline, always so logical, you are quite right. We need a plan of action. I can give you that."

The ground began to quake beneath them and at last, glimpses of faces shone in the dark. Angeline was not afraid.

A horn sounded and at the end of the track, a dim light smouldered. The train was approaching, slowly.

"We ride under the City to free her from this oppression. We ride to the water plant, to cast off the poisonous injustice. We are going to, in one fiery night, end the Evolutionaries forever."

* * *

The rocking of the train would have normally lulled Angeline to sleep but tonight she was wide awake.

They were going to the water plant; they were going to expose the Evolutionaries. They were going to be free. No one would call her a Defect.

She indulged in thoughts of never having to work at The Tower again. Her eyes brightened considerably.

"Winston!"

Green dot, blue dot, red dot...

For a moment, she was back at her desk, drumming away at the keyboard.

Blue dot, red dot, green dot...

A Supervisor summons her. She feels her knees falter as she rises from her desk and his leathery hand grasps her arm. They march forward, past all the desks with the faceless figures typing robotically, to the door at the side of the room. She can't see in and yet intrinsically knows what awaits her behind that locked door. She's been summoned. However, only one person can be the summoner. The Boss.

The door opens and she steps through.

"Angeline Winston, Castuseminium Level, The Department. Confirm, Winston."

"I confirm."

Her eyes are searing with pain. She feels that if she stares into the back of that black chair any longer, she'll burn a hole right through it.

""Let me be plain, Winston. This Government symbolises the ideals of an entire nation. Do you think it would be beneficial to the Government, and therefore, the nation, to employ someone who is out of step? To someone who, though they stand in uniform, will not march in line?"

"I see."

"You are a burden to us at the Evolutionaries and a burden to me. You make our governance..."

The chair turns around and Angeline feels the floor beneath her disappear.

"...defective."

"Welles? What are you doing here? Where's The Boss? What's happening?"

She is screaming. Welles sits before her, across the desk in the circular room, with a face of the slightest bemusement.

"Goodbye, Angeline."

A gunshot sounds and a blinding pain strikes her chest. She doubles over and falls to the ground. Everything goes dark.

* * *

"Winston!"

Angeline gasped. Turning with eyes wide she looked up and saw Welles staring down at her. The thrumming of the train echoed through the silent carriage and she found herself back in reality.

"Angeline, please follow me."

Welles couldn't be The Boss, it wasn't possible. Why would he create his own enemies? She trailed into the next carriage with him to find it completely empty. He lent against one of the doorways with an expression of fond nostalgia on his face.

"Do you know where we are, Angeline?"

She shook her head hastily.

"This is where we met. You sat there," he gestured to one booth, 'and I opposite."

Angeline smiled in an attempt to seem normal.

"It is a pity it should come to this."

The smile quickly failed.

"You are so beautiful, Angeline. It is such a waste that you should be inferior. Not even I could believe it at first but I always knew there would be sacrifices. Funny, isn't it, that my one weakness could have been my downfall. It is often the way."

He reached into his jacket.

"No, Welles, please." She was pleading now.

"You saw who I really am and I have to protect that information. I have no choice. No one else could have seen it; they were not affected that way."

"Why?"

"That," he laughed shortly, "perhaps we will never know. You have a gift, an intuitive savant side that occasionally glimpses greatness. A gift of," he paused once more, "nature. Not that I was ever one to marvel at the traits nature bestows upon us."

She felt ill. This wasn't happening.

"All of the signs were there Angeline, you just didn't see them. You saw me everywhere, my eyes. Even I didn't know I could affect someone mentally. The poison we fed into the water system reacted with your condition and, needless to day, created a few problems. Luckily that left brain of yours overruled what nature had to say. It will be hard erasing you, so rare and yet so flawed."

She was silent. A single tear rolled down her cheek.

"That is why this is so difficult to do." His hand lifted from within his coat.

Angeline didn't raise her head.

* * *

"Winston 18972, Rations check. Move forward!"

She trudged forward in the line and the weight of the chains clasped on her wrists made the ache in her shoulder burn. The ashen faces of the Defects were too painful to look at but Angeline did anyway. She should hate him for putting her here, in this scum ghetto. She tried to but couldn't. She tried to feel hatred, to feel anything, but she couldn't. As the chains scratched the skin off her bones, she wished he had just killed her.

"18972! Move it!"

She trudged forward in submission. How it had all happened was not clear to Angeline. Fragments came and went, drifting in and out of thought, but she couldn't realise the entirety of it all. All she knew is what she struggled to remember and struggled even harder to forget. Welles had betrayed them, all of them, to the death camps.

"You know Angeline," he had told her as she lay in the pool of her own blood, "The papers will still read the same tomorrow. The City Line Train Disaster was not just a random vision, my dear. What you saw was the future, as I envisage it. Our elite race created and not a single voice to question it. As far as the rest of you Defects know, this train is heading to the water plant to bomb the centre of the Evolutionaries' plan. It isn't. This train heads to hell, Angeline."

He had smiled.

"To think of you, an angel in hell."

She had been through the entire plan over and over in her mind a thousand times. Welles took the train to the camps, which had been built as far as Angeline could see, on a concrete island jutting out of the City's border and then passed off the disappearance of thousands of Defects as a disaster crash. It was a flawless, political plan. No one would hear the voices of the dead.

"Winston! I won't ask you again! Get your rations or go!" the guard shouted, his hand tempted by the hilt of his mace.

Angeline moved forward, her body protesting in pain. She had been numb since she came to the camp, but really it wasn't a lack of feeling. It was an abundance of only a single feeling. Pain.

Through the curtain of the barbed wire fence, Angeline saw a black car drive past. The City loomed in the background, veiled in a sepia fog. The tinted windows of the car came down and Angeline turned.

Darkness.

And, for a moment, two blue eyes staring out.





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