Stories from Refuge – 1 – “You want to hear what’s not in the reports, right?”

(c) Radist | Dreamstime.com

(c) Radist | Dreamstime.com

I’m starting a new project. Since I have no deadline for this (as I mentioned a while ago, with much relief), I’ve been taking the time to do something I rarely do – background writing. The world I’m working with is undergoing a Truth Commission of sorts, so I started writing some of the statements made by the victims, which is helping me get more familiar with this new setting, and might give me content to intersperse with the chapters when I start writing the main story. But it occurred to me that these statements themselves would make for good flash fiction, and I thought I’d share them. (Worst case: the book never gets finished and/or published, but I still have something to share.)

Reconciliation Council report B-1, interview with N.A., recorded by James 72A
Refuge Year 100.2.1

Yeah, I’ll go first. I’m still not convinced that I’m not gonna pay for it. You know that’s why no one else has come forward yet, right? Talk to your so-called Fourth Council. They think they’ll get in trouble for speaking out. No different from the first three Councils.

But I don’t know how much more trouble I can get in. Whole family’s gone, arrested, locked up in some compound. My dad and my big sister both shot down by bots during the riots back in 96. Girl I was dating at that same time, she was questioned in connection with them, and I never heard from her again. I’ve seen her since then – sure I’ve seen her, how the hell are you not gonna see someone in a space four and a half miles wide? But she looked like she’d never seen me before in her life. Didn’t know who I was. We were planning on getting married, filled out the petition and everything, we were just about to submit it, once we got together the credits to pay the bribe. What do you have to do to a person’s brain to make them forget that?

But who cares, right? You people writing all this down, you know what happened. Official damn reports. You want to hear what’s not in the reports, right?

So here’s something. The last time an Empath questioned me, it was the albino one. And here’s what I thought – it’s gonna sound stupid, right? But you know what you’re thinking, looking at me. How the hell did his grandparents get into Refuge? Didn’t their parents have the money to pay for blending treatment, and why did they have kids if they didn’t? How come he didn’t end up Aboveground like the rest of the people with skin that’s too dark and hair that looks like that? I dunno – my granddad was an engineer or something, helped build this place. Helped freaking build it. Dad got really mad about that, how we were treated when granddad helped save everyone. Got himself in all kinds of trouble because he was so mad, and my sister was just like him. I’m not mad about it anymore. Too damn tired to be mad anymore.

But here’s the thing. That albino Type 1, running around looking like that, and working for the Council. It’s nuts, but I had this thought that she’d know how I felt. What it was like, not looking like everyone else. What kind of nerve she had to have to look people in the face, knowing what they were thinking about her. I almost said something about it. Like I could trust her or something.

Of course I couldn’t. She was tracking some kind of break-in, people stealing supplies from one of the storerooms. You want the details, look it up in your reports. I wasn’t in on it but I knew who was, and she wanted to get it out of me. She could probably smell it on me a mile away, or however the hell it works.

But here’s the other thing, the thing that was really weird. She could’ve done something to get it out of me. Could’ve projected at me and made me scared to make me talk. Could’ve made me beat my head against a wall until I confessed to make it stop, like they did to my sister once. But she didn’t do any of that. None of that PsyOp shit at all. She looked at me and she smiled – like we really did understand each other, like we really did trust each other. And she said, “You know I have to ask you, don’t you? You know you have to tell me.” Something like that. Real confident, not that she could get into my brain and mess around with it until she got what she wanted, but just that I’d go along with her because I’d go along with her. That was scary. That was even worse than the bots and the Type 1 who made my sister knock her head until it bled. That albino in PsyOp was the worst thing I’ve ever seen.

©2016 Michelle M. Welch

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