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Two years ago, we were joking on twitter about the picture above (lots of semi serious things start as jokes) and then the idea came up to have concept humans with these powers brought to life in stories. Well, here is the Pilot episode, written by Edwin almost 3 years ago. Enjoy.

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They came, in the middle of the night, sifting through the camp like lengthy shadows. In little clumps, they positioned themselves in front of seemingly random tents. A canister under your flap and five minutes later, you were dragged out from under your parents, drowsy but alive. Your family had no such luck. The last sight you see of them is from upside down, atop a burly shoulder, spread awkwardly, foaming at the mouth. You try to scream but nothing comes out, you’re too drowsy. Twitching bodies is the last thing you see of your parents before you pass out.

White lights blind you when you wake, white fluorescent lights strung on chapped wires, cavernous roof overhead. Sterile room, underground, beside water; these bits of information come to you – how, you have no idea. You look down at the needle sticking out of your arm. There’s nothing attached to it. Whoever they are, you can instantly tell that there aren’t enough needles for them to bother changing with every transfusion. You remember your mother, her smile, her halo of black curly hair and you start to cry. Because somehow you know what they did to her, they killed her with gas, like an insect.

Suddenly you hear the ugly scrape of a tripod being dragged across concrete.

SCREECH!

SCREECH!

You try to turn in the direction of the sound but your head doesn’t move. You panic, and reach for your head but your hands stay put, strapped to the pallet on which you lie. You scream, loud and shrill, your voice yet to be broken by puberty. The scraping stops and footfalls replace it. A swift slap and you go silent. You can see in your peripheral vision, fatigues, a belt of syringes strapped around the waist, breasts. You can’t see her face but you can tell that she is angry, and that the syringes in her belt are swirling with various liquids, probably some sedatives. She disappears and the scraping begins again. You begin to whimper, you’re afraid of her and her belt. Her face looms over you, and she kisses you full on the lips. You are rigid with shock as the first of the IV broth begins to filter into your blood. You hold on for as long as you can but it is futile.

You wake with a scream. One you quickly staunch when you remember the last time. You are seated, but you can’t turn your head or move your arms. They don’t trust you, or any of the other children you somehow know are cordoned off from you behind holographic panels that sport black splotches of engine oil from the generator and other things you do not want to consider but your new-found knowledge fills in the blanks anyways. Your tiny cubicle is dark save for the small television in front of you flickering with black and white images, casting shadows all around you.

Propaganda.

The word floats to you out of the soup of words you have learned by repetition over the last month. The images flicker. First the multinational tapes of the War, the Truce and the Segregation. Blurry vistas show a sea of people standing before little white houses that go on like a Lego constellation, all smiles and intertwined prehensile tails. Untailed people, wild and free, living off the land like cattle. All is well, they say, the segregation was a good thing. The carefully constructed cinematography gives way to coloured, jerky amateur videos; ‘candid’ stills shot from under trucks and inside air vents. The changing labs, the guttural screams of adults strapped down as tails are grafted onto their vertebrae. You force yourself to watch the grotesque pictures of skin falling off limbs as the mutated DNA moults the skin off flesh. Doctors laughing in air-conditioned cubicles, doctors griping about how the races interbred and destroyed the status quo. How the caste system was necessary to keep things in balance. The camps, squalid and reeking of death, the one you were born in. The ballot and raffle that decided if you were to be tailed or untailed. The rig that ensured no one ever got to be de-tailed. The whispering almost inaudible underneath the sounds of the presentation, more propaganda. You spot the tiny camera embedded in the frame that holds the screen, trained on your face.

“Are you ready now?” The narrator asks.
You nod as best you can, your wide open eyes communicating the rest.

Rorschach tests, psychoanalysis, group therapy. They are trying to prepare you. The multi-nationals are cunning and treacherous, they say; you have to be ready. Though no one asked, they offer some story about how your parents had already been poisoned; they only saved you all from slow and gruesome deaths. A lie every shackled child in the room lets slide with slack faced nods.

Today’s the day. You are all in the cavernous hall, standing sentry beside your IV stands, watching silently. You are subconsciously aware of every girl in the room, the mechanics are different for everyone and for you it is like being able to pick out every single sound in an orchestral piece. Each girl has a unique timbre and if you concentrate and ‘listen’ for it, you can tell exactly where she is. The restlessness is like a plague, the rustle of hospital gowns is all you hear. The lights at the podium come on with a glare and you all shield your eyes. You’ve all become used to the dark. There is a ballot and raffle. An exact replica of the one the multinationals used on your parents. The Messiah of this camp, a reedy man with slats for eyebrows and a thick syrupy voice addresses you all, poisoned words dripping off his lips like honey.

“We are giving you all a chance to avenge your parents,” he says, his right eye veering away from his left. “But we will do it rightly, an honest unrigged ballot. There are eight colours, eight pills. We know what they do, but we don’t know their limits. This is our gift to you, given freely on the condition that you use it wisely…” his hands are spread out like a benevolent patron.

He drones on and your hand snakes to your first sacral vertebrae, the place where your body can feel the foreign body, and the tiny bursts of electricity it emits. A nano-bot, much like the ones the multinationals created, set to spy on the inside of your body. They have underestimated you all, you aren’t children, not anymore. They think you have forgotten the gas canisters, the restraints, the drugs forced into your blood. You are their guinea pigs, the first batch to test their attempts at playing God. The silence erupts with fanatical cheers and rapturous clapping when the Messiah finishes his speech and he actually beams in pride. You feel the urge to retch; he is as naive as you were when you were brought here. The ballot starts to whirr as it comes to life, jaunty prepubescent music blaring from concealed speakers. A folk song you remember from the children nights at the fields just outside the camp where you grew up. The ballot shoots balls striped with your patient numbers into the raffle, a constantly rotating wheel, the balls randomly deposited out into 8 bags, each one a different colour. The projector is trained on the entire thing, and screams go up as the balls begin to drop into the bags. You turn around frantically and notice as the IV bag of the girl beside you turns a violent green before she slumps.

“Number 47… RED!”

That’s you. Your eyes flit up see your IV bag bloom the colour of rubies and you try to tug at the tubing secured at your elbow, but your hands feel like putty. You still try to scratch at it; it’s your only chance. Your knees give out and you fall on your side. Your eyes are heavy and your head feels like lead. You can’t move your limbs or feel your face; your hearing struggles to stay focused for a while longer, and the pre-recorded applause that follows each announcement lulls you into deep murky slumber.

 

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So there you have it. Can you write the story for one of the Pill subjects in the story following on from here? Send your entries to hi@stories.ng and we will publish what you write (terms and conditions apply :D).

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