Hannah looked around the office and yawned loudly. The bins were empty, the desks were polished and the windows gleamed. This was her second day cleaning at the Council head office. It was a good job and the pay was slightly higher than normal. She even got a hot meal before she began work too. She had been surprised to get it, but apparently the head of Maintenance had asked for her. She thought it strange and had no idea why, but she wasn't going to look a gift horse in the mouth. She looked at her watch and realised she was running late. Shane was meeting her outside and she needed to hurry. She put the cleaning supplies away in the cupboard, gathered up her things. It was still cold out, so she put on her coat, hat and gloves and went to the lift and pressed the button. The office was eerily silent. All of the workers were long gone, only the Flawed worked at this time of night.
She entered the lift and pressed for the ground floor. She was looking forward to seeing Shane. He had been working overtime the last couple of days and they had barely seen each other. Things were progressing nicely. She had stopped worrying about their friendship and the effect a relationship might have on it. Hannah had never had a boyfriend before and Shane had been her first kiss. She knew he wanted to take it further, he hadn't actually said anything but from the response his body made when they made out she knew he wouldn't say no! She smiled to herself. Was she ready? Could she take the next step with him?
Hannah's thoughts were interrupted by the lift stopping on the 16th floor. As the door opened, she lowered her face to floor hoping to avoid eye contact. The Perfect made her nervous. Luckily, they rarely acknowledged a Flawed, as if being in their company would cause them to become contaminated. The doors opened and a man wearing utilitarian black boots and loose, black trousers. Hannah didn't dare look higher.
The doors closed and they started to descend. Hannah began counting down the floors, eager to get out. 15, 14, 13... The lift stopped mid floor. Hannah felt a surge of anxiety. She wasn't keen on enclosed spaces.
"Hello Hannah," said the man standing to her left.
Hannah froze. Ordinarily, no one spoke to her much, let alone somebody here. She kept her eyes trained downwards.
"Look at me, Hannah," the well-spoken voice commanded. There was no hint of the Flawed dialect she was so used to hearing.
"Please, Hannah, I'm not going to hurt you." The man was trying to sound reassuring. It wasn't working.
Hannah took one last look at the scuff on her old shoes, then reluctantly raised her eyes towards him. He was tall, well-built man, she guessed to be in his early 40s. His dark brown hair was cropped short and everything about him screamed Top-10, except though for his clothes which were old and grubby. She looked down at his hands; they always gave away a person's background. She was right. These were not the hands of a Flawed. Trim, clean nails, palms free of dirt and stains, and most importantly, not a sign of the scars and calluses of manual labour. This man's clothes were merely a costume.
"Hi, I'm Zeke," he said, smiling broadly at her.
Hannah said nothing.and shuffled back a step.
"You don't know me but I know you, Hannah," he continued.
The hairs of the back of her neck were up and her palms began to feel clammy. She mentally reviewed her belongings trying to remember if she had any sharp objects on her that she could use as a weapon. She didn't.
"Hannah, I have something very important to tell you. Something that you cannot repeat to anyone, but something which will come to mean a great deal to you in the coming weeks, months and years."
Hannah realised she had been holding her breath and gasped for air. She sucked in sharply; the sudden feeling of relief in her lungs helped her find her voice.
YOU ARE READING
The NumberedScience Fiction
Imagine the second you're born, a consultant removes you from your mother's grasp and runs a battery of genetic and physiological tests on you. Thirty minutes later they give you a score out of one hundred which denotes your level of perfection. If...