The Underneath - Chapter One.
I blinked. Closing my shutters to the world for a moment, I could almost pretend I was just in a nightmare. Almost pretend this wasn't a rapture. If I closed my eyes any longer though, I would only hear a melody of screams, tears, protests.
They were innocent, good people. Why were they being taken Underneath? Underneath where people only returned as a shadow of themselves, dulled, quiet. With an ever present void cascading through soulless eyes. And even then, it was rare anyone returned.
With a sigh, I pushed away from the window and walked down the short hallway to my sister's room. I could hear their quiet chatter coming from the other side of the door, I paused to listen before entering. My two younger sisters looked up at me, both their wide eyes meeting my hollow gaze. "You need to get ready," I told them, my eyes scanning over their white knee length night gowns. "You know what Maria is like if you arrive late." My voice echoing around the bleak room, the shadows rejecting the inevitable.
Both of them jumped up and rushed over to the chest of drawers, pulling out a pair of jeans and t-shirt that matched - which was something rare in this household. Walking into the kitchen, I remembered I needed to ration food, our next delivery wouldn't be for another week. I grabbed two cereal bars and handed them to my passing sisters. Well, little food left now...
"You know what to do," I told them, looking both of them in the eye.They nodded and I unlocked the beat up car, watching them quickly run outside and get in the back. Once I was satisfied they were okay, I grabbed my back pack of the floor and jogged to the car.
"Belts," I said them, turning around to watch them buckle themselves in. Driving down the road, my eyes landed on old houses. Houses that need a repaint, houses that were built too long ago, houses that were home to scared citizens. As the abandoned streets washed away into wavering seas, I held onto the already fading picture of those houses.
Just a house. But I would be a house soon. Being the walls to support my sisters, even if my windows are cracked and ceiling has fallen down. But the house can never fall. Grip on the steering wheel tightening as I try to push back tears, I found the site of the Services, where part of the city was already awaiting, hollow eyes fading into the twilight behind their thirsty bodies.
Dark would invade soon, meaning the Services would start. Only my parents were being taken today, or "Upgraded" as They called it. Upgraded to freaks. The blurring of motion around the car, the vulture's eyes feasting on my every turn of expression, followed my every slight movement. Some were sympathising, some relieved it wasn't their family. This time.
My sisters bickered in the back, both arguing about something. I didn't bother to stop them, I wanted their mind focused on something else for the time being. The car in front of me pulled to a stop on the side of the road and I followed suit. Twenty minutes, just twenty short minutes until the Servicing will begin.
"Come on," I said quietly, opening the car door and letting the girls out. "Maria," I called the older woman. A flash of pink hair streaked across my vision as she skipped over to me. "Sorry we're late." The older woman nodded and gestured for us to follow behind her.
"Yes, you better be! I told you time and time again Ember, do you not understand the importance of this? It would be breaking the Lor, especially with your family's current state... Do you wish to go Underneath as well? I may be your Guider, but that doesn't mean I cannot turn you in as well..." The forty two year old left her threat hanging, eye brow raised slightly to join the wrinkles in her forehead.
"No! Child, I told your parents at the decision for Upgrading that I would take care of you, how can I do that if you don't even turn up to the most vital part of Lor? If you do not turn up to this, then you're basically throwing yourself to the dog house wearing a dress of steak!" She cried, pursing her painted blue lips.
Only the wealthy could afford such luxuries of make up, and fashions. Her form slightly plump from the fresh bread, and many deserts - something I could only dream of - waddled closer to me, her arm gripping my elbow, nails scathing my skin.