Updated: Apr 21
Thunk, thunk, thunk, thunk. The industrial style lighting turned on, starting from one end of the room to the other. Yellow 11 opened her eyes and looked up at the bright white light, her eyes instantly adjusting. Like clockwork, she pulled the covers off her body and swung her legs off the bed. Her eyes looked straight ahead into a mirror. As she stood, her counterpart stood. Turning, she pulled the covers back over her bed. When she looked back, her counterpart had done the exact same. Her eyes snapped to the door as it opened and a man stood there with a small device in his hand. "Call," he commanded. From down the line, Yellow heard her voice call out. "Yellow 1," Her voice repeated the next call. "Yellow 2," "Yellow 3," And so on. "Yellow 9," "Yellow 10," Yellow opened her mouth, this time her voice being her own. "Yellow 11," Finally, when all 400 workers were accounted for, the man left and Yellow turned to see a Green coloured person walk in. "Block 1!" he called. Yellow turned and marched out of the room, flanked by her reflection. Dawn had not yet broken as they marched along a glass bridge to the next warehouse. Yellow looked around as a pod lowered down and surrounded her. There was a sterile hiss, and a puff of smoke, before the pod lifted and they all marched to lockers. Yellow 11 changed into her protective jumpsuit without even thinking, before marching off again to another warehouse. This was large and full of machines. Walking to her station, she looked towards the front, where the same Green coloured person was standing on a metal platform. "The National Anthem!" he called and a patriotic style music began to play from the loudspeakers hidden in the walls. "Lords bless Ace, The founding father, For whom we all work! May he innovate, strive to invigorate, this blessed land of ours, Nelara, Nelara, Your seas are plentiful, Your land is bountiful, We aim to serve you!" The music died out and the Green man looked at them all. "Begin Alpha shift!" As soon as he said this, the machines roared to life and Yellow looked at her counterparts as they began to work. Looking at her workstation, she stepped forward. A small metallic part came forward and she picked up a bolt that had popped up from a tube next to her. Taking the metallic part in one hand, she leaned forward, finding the loose part and screwing the bolt in. Almost as soon as she had done so, the belt moved on and another part appeared in front of her, with another bolt popping up from the tube. She did the same for this new part. And the next part. And the part after that. It was her job.
For sixteen hours, every single day bar one, Ace Day, Yellow repeated her job. She had done this job for seven years now, and she would do it for thirteen more when she would be retired and allowed out of the factory. As the siren wailed for the end of the day's shift, the conveyer belt ground to a halt. Yellow noticed idly that the next part was stuck halfway between her station and Yellow 10's station. She found that very interesting. Her eyes snapped forward as the group started to move out of the factory, back to their lockers. She stripped out of her jumpsuit and placed it back into the locker where it was swallowed up and a fresh jumpsuit appeared, ready for the next day. Marching back to the showers, the pod raced down, the sterile hiss was heard and the pod lifted. Yellow followed the rest out of this warehouse and to the next room where the workers were all lining up. Yellow waited as the line moved forward. It wasn't long before she had reached the front. A Green coloured man was standing behind the counter. "Identification?" he said monotonously. "Yellow - 11," The green man pressed a button and a small yellow pill popped out of the counter. Yellow picked it up with one hand and with the other, ran her finger down her throat. Almost invisible, was a small indent, the shape of a pill, just below the jaw where her head attached to her neck, hidden out of sight. When she ran her finger over it, it deepened slightly, reacting to her gentle caress the way the skin reacts to a gentle stroke. The indent found, Yellow placed the pill into this small indent. Almost instantly, the pill dissolved and was absorbed by the skin. The green man watched this all impassively. "Next," he waved her on. As Yellow walked on, she found herself engulfed by a strange feeling. She suddenly felt the cool steel beneath the soles of her feet and felt her breasts harden slightly at the cold air. The hair on her body stood erect and Yellow shivered, wrapping her arms around her to keep herself warm and to cover up her naked body she had so suddenly become aware of. She ran towards her locker and when she got there, she quickly slid into some warm clothes. Once she was clothed, she looked around as others did the same. Next to her, someone was struggling to get into her clothes, slipping every time she tried to put her leg into her trousers. Yellow smiled slightly. This must be her first time using The Pill. "Identification?" she asked the struggling Yellow. "Yellow 219," she replied, turning slightly to reveal a bright 219 emblazoned on her shirt, and then fell. Yellow quickly caught her. "One leg through one leg," she explained, helping her. "First time on The Pill?" "Yes," 219 said. "It takes some time to get used to," "It feels weird..." "It's good for us," Yellow smiled. "I'll see you soon!" 219 smiled back with a nod. Yellow turned and began to make her way to the Rec Room. The large warehouse space was filled with Yellows relaxing after the day's work. They were looking out of the window, talking, lounging. Some were even playing cards. They were allowed two hours of rest every day, and then it was off to bed ready for the next day. Yellow decided she would spend today looking out of the window, so she made her way over to the sofa. Sitting down, she stared out of the window, out of the factory and the warehouses, to a splendid view of valleys and hills, waterfalls and forests. Birds could be seen flying overhead, and animals played in the undergrowth. "I can't wait for retirement; I'd spend the entire day just walking over the hills," Yellow turned to see another Yellow speak. She was surrounded by four other yellows, all identical. The numbers on their shirts read 77, 38, 372 and 57. The one who had spoken was 20. "I would spend the entire time swimming in the water!" squeaked 38. "Apparently there is a place where the yellow land meets the blue water. It goes for a long way," said 77. "It's called the Bee Etch," 57 nodded wisely. "By Ace, I would love to visit the Bee Etch!" said 38. "There is no retirement," Yellow turned her head to look at the voice. It was from another Yellow who had entered the conversation. 101 looked at the group. "We don't ever get to retire," she said, looking around and lowering her voice, almost as if she was uttering some foul words. Yellow listened on, intrigued by this strange revelation.
"What do you mean?" 38 asked curiously. "Of course we retire,"
"Do we? Why have we never seen any Yellows outside?" 101 questioned. The other Yellows shrugged, looking around themselves.
"I've heard the world is big. There are many places to go," 57 tried to reason.
"Look around you...look at yourselves. We are all the same," 101 said. "When we retire, all they do is wipe your memories and put you to work again," 101 looked around and pointed at Yellow. She looked away quickly as if she wasn't part of the conversation. Behind her, she heard 101's voice say. "Take her for instance. 11. There have been 11s before her. She's probably worked here for over one hundred years. Each time, they wipe her memory and start again. And nobody would know. Because we all look the same,"
Yellow stood up and walked away, her mind adamant to not listen to any more of this heretical conversation. "Ace grants us retirement. Ace never lets us work forever," she muttered.
That night, Yellow looked up at the ceiling of her bed, the underside of the bunk above. The polished steel gave off a dim reflection but even so, Yellow could make out her face. A face. That looked like her. And every other Yellow in the workhouse.
"We do retire", she told herself. "I can't wait until I do,"
The thoughts disappeared by the next morning and she did not hear any such talk until Ace Day that same year.
Ace Day was the only day in the year when the routine of life was broken down. The day was divided into three, separated by three Pills being given. The first Pill was given after the Yellows woke up. After their shower, they were sent to the same hall with the counters and given the Yellow Pill by the Green administrator. After that, they gathered outside, in the courtyard, the only time the Yellows were allowed to go outside. They sang the national anthem, and then each Yellow was called up to a podium where they met some people who looked very strange to the Yellows. They had only ever seen other Yellows and the two Greens and three Whites every year. But on Ace Day, they met people who did not have any colour, and all colours. Whites, but not the same white colour of the Whites, pinks, browns, blacks and every single shade in-between. And the most important thing was...they all looked different. Not just the oolour...but everything; faces, eyes, genders. Everything was different. They were Pures, but the Yellows didn't know what they were called.
As each Yellow was called up to the podium, they shook the lead Pure's hand and they were allowed to touch the Pure's magical tablet which placed another mark against their name. It signalled another year, one step closer to retirement. When all this was done, they sung the anthem again as the lucky Yellows who had done their time were loaded into a moving box and were taken away to their retirement. Then they were given another Pill and allowed into the rest room where they were able to relax. They would each be called, one by one, into a side room where they would meet three Whites, all looking the same. The Whites would take some blood from the Yellows, and make them step into another Pod which would whir. When the whirring stopped, the Whites would let the Yellow go and the next Yellow be called up.
When all Yellows had been checked this way, they were allowed the final Pill. Some Yellows were taken aside before they all marched outside. Again they sung the anthem and then they watched as new Yellows arrived. They were greeted warmly by the Yellows who then listened to one of the Pures as he spoke about the glorious Ace. Finally, they were allowed back into the rest room for the final hour of relaxing before the new year began the next day.
That was what happened on a normal Ace Day. However, this Ace Day, something different happened. Yellow didn't realise it at first though. The first part of the day went smoothly. She didn't notice how some of the Pures were wearing special clothing that looked almost identical bar from the colour over the shoulders. She didn't notice the look one of these Pures gave her as she walked up to the Podium. She didn't notice his piercing blue eyes, or his combed back brown hair. She didn't notice the two and a half pips on his collar, nor the silver delta symbol on his chest.
After Ace Day, things really began to change. Yellow didn't notice it at first. For months, the days rolled by as usual. She heard rumours that the pill had been weakened in strength, but she paid no mind to such talk. But what she did manage to notice, was the sudden decrease of Yellows. It hit her one day, as she was sitting in the Rec Room, staring at the hills and the trees outside. The room around her looked... thinner, somehow. She shook her head. She was just seeing things, most likely. It wasn't until Ace Day did she really know something was different. There was no pomp. No ceremony. The Yellows all gathered outside, and it was now she noticed how few of them there actually were. She was sure there were more Yellows around last year. The anthem seemed decidedly flat today, and then the lead Pure made an announcement. "All! Ace has made a declaration. Rejoice, for all of you have been granted retirement!" Yellow blinked. Retirement? She still had years left of work. Retirement? "If all of you will make your way to these boxes, we shall transfer you to retirement facilities," the Pure said. Around the courtyard, large containers were lowered, and the doors opened. Two Brown clones stood by the doors of the containers, ushering people in. Yellow felt herself move towards the containers as the other Yellows pushed to get in. Retirement. She was finally getting it. Inside the containers, the Yellows were packed in rows. There was no room to move, no room to sit. The Yellows were packed in like sardines. None of the Yellows minded it though. They were used to it, but also there was an overwhelming ecstasy at their impending retirement. Yellow was one of the last to enter and heard the doors slam shut behind her, a bolt sliding into position, sealing the container shut. A low whir and a light jerk told her that she... that they... were moving to the new chapter of their lives. But somewhere, deep inside her, there was a sense of questioning. Of why she was being retired early. "What are you going to do when you're free?" "I'm going to go to the Bee Etch!" Yellow turned to see the 38 that she heard years ago. Or it was "a" 38. She wasn't sure if it was the same one; they all looked the same after all. "LORDS BLESS ACE!" a Yellow shrieked out from the front. "THE FOUNDING FATHER," The container erupted into a raucous rendition of the National Anthem, the words echoing in the metal container. Yellow felt herself being drawn into singing. The trip was long, but for Yellow, it seemed like the trip was over as quickly as the National Anthem. There was a slight thud as the container seemed to dock somewhere, and Yellow heard a bolt sliding out of position at the front. This was it. Retirement. Yellow let herself smile a little as the doors opened and light streamed in, blinding the Yellows who had been stuck in the dark container. The light of a new era.
The light blinded Yellow, and for a while, she couldn't see the paradise ahead of her. She could feel the smooth metal behind her pushing her towards the opening. She could hear it though, loud and clear. The screams of joy as the first Yellows experienced the outside world.
The screams that followed were not of joy. There was a grating of metal, and blood-curling screams. The air was filled with the stench of shredded meat. Yellow's eyes adjusted to the light and she finally saw the scenes in front of her.
Yellows were being pushed out of the container and falling into what looked like a giant vat. At the bottom, she saw huge blunt gear like claws that rotated round in a circle, meshing with similar gears that rotated in the opposite direction. Yellows were grabbed by these claws and dragged into the middle, where they were crushed by the claws that rotated in the other direction. Arms, legs, bodies, heads. All flew everywhere, in a mass of yellow blood. Yellows screamed at the pain, screamed at their impending doom. The crack of bone, the snap of muscle sinews. Flakes of skin, hair, and clothes fluttered in the air. The squelch of skulls cracking, spilling out brains, like coconuts at a beach. Organs clung underneath the claws as they rotated, only dislodged when another Yellow fell into their grasp. Yellows climbed on top of other Yellows to try to get out, but the smooth sides of the vat simply forced them down towards the gears. Yellow liquid clung to the walls, making the smooth sides slick, making escape impossible. Claw marks lined the edges as the Yellows were dragged down continuously. Some of the Yellows on the containers pushed and shoved to get to the back, but the back kept moving forward, tossing Yellows out into the vat of doom. The air was thick with the smell of Yellows, squeezed to a pulp. All through this, the steady hum of the claws rotating brought a relaxing, almost serene calm to the entire situation.
Yellow felt the floor underway give as the container started to tip up. She struggled to move back, kicking a Yellow out of the container as she tried to get her footing. The Yellow started at her as she fell backwards. It was 38. Suddenly the container stopped, and dropped backwards, away from the vat.
Yellow's head hit the back of the container hard as it collided with the ground. There were few Yellows still inside. Yellow could barely see as other Yellows stood up, trying to escape the container. She only saw the bodies jerk backwards as they were pelted with bullets from the Brown guards she could see at the entrance. A Yellow corpse fell ontop of her, and she found herself stuck to the floor by the blood dripping from the body.
"Ace be damned! Another container failure!" she heard a voice.
"The Browns have dispatched them. We'll get someone to clean it out and throw them in with the rest of the produce,"
"Let's do it... what? Another one? Forget this container, let's get that one,"
The footsteps disappeared. Yellow slowly got to her feet. Her world was a daze. She stepped over the corpses of the Yellow clones, under the symphony of screams and the hum of machinary. The smell choked Yellow, and she felt bile erupt out of her mouth. Her throat burning, she knew she needed to escape. Without looking, without stopping, Yellow ran in the direction away from the vats. She didn't know where she was going. She just knew she had to escape paradise.