It wasn't the graduation that she had anticipated. What she had imagined before, before the room, before the tunnel, what she had imagined was proud parents, gathered friends, hats thrown into the air and the future. This was a future, but this was not the future, not the right future. She had anticipated parties, she had been going to go to the basement with Speck. They were going to celebrate, party, laugh, love, make love ... that was the future, that was graduation. Not this, not this future, not this strange cold room filled with grey tired faces, faces that were waiting, waiting for the future they never saw coming.
They were sat in a large hall, in regimented rows. They had all been issued with what seemed like a uniform, clothes handed out to them in the morning - clean, fresh, not stained with tears or sweat, but the same colourless jackets, the same jumper, the same skirts for the women and trousers for the men, the same shoes. It was dehumanising, weakening. Eunice felt something hard stir in her chest, fear maybe, or anger? Freya sat next to her, her eyes red with tears, but her face dry and stony, the night's events had pushed her towards self preservation. The evidence of fear was still in her eyes, but survival was impressed on her expression. Blend and be silent, blend and behave, blend, blend and agree to everything.
Suddenly a screen dropped down, music played a fanfare and a lectern rose up from the floor. A woman stepped forward from the front row, and raised her hands to indicate that all should stand up.
The music grew to a crescendo and the word "welcome" appeared on the screen. A man marched forward and then a sign flashed up on a monitors around the room "Applause".
The man stood at the lectern waited a moment and then the signs went off and he indicated that they could stop clapping and sit down.
'Welcome new Compatibles' he laughed. 'Welcome to your new home, your new life and your fantastic future.'
The "Applause" sign came up again.
'I am Senior Appointee Byron and I am here to welcome you to your graduation. I am here to welcome you all to Accord. This is your new home, your new life, your new future. Your graduation has been a success not a failure. You have found your place, the place where you belong, the people you belong with, I promise you that for the first time in your life, you will feel like you belong. You will feel compatible. By the end of today you will have a job, a home and a place in this marvellous miracle of our home, the home of prosperity, the home of justice, the home of enlightenment. The best home.'
'Accord not Concord, is your home. Accord is the place to be, here we reward merit, we reward good behaviour, we reward study and here the best succeed. Here we are going places but we work for it and we expect you to work for it. Here there are no chores, only work, paid work. Here it is not "Work, Community, Study", here it is "Work, Community, Success".' He paused, this time no sign came up to tell them to applaud, there was a slight pause and then somebody started clapping. Then they all clapped.
Senior Appointee Byron smiled and raised his arms 'Excellent such a good crowd, we are going to get along just fine. In a moment Appointee Merrill and her colleagues will take you through to the graduation room, there you will be welcomed to your new home by many of our colleagues, you will be interviewed and offered fantastic opportunities, opportunities to work, to serve, to build our community, and to succeed.'
This time the applause was automatic. Senior Appointee Byron smiled, raised his hands to settle the applause.
'We have a motto here, we have a simple rule that we live by. "Work to Succeed" "Work to Succeed"' the monitors changed their sign "Work to Succeed" flashed up. Someone began a chant, they all began to chant.
The chant rose in resonance, people began to clap and stamp in rhythm. The signs switched off. Senior Appointee Byron signalled silence.
'Fantastic, marvellous' he said. 'You have great future here, I am sure we are all going to work to succeed and I am sure we are all going to be... compatible.'
YOU ARE READING
In a not too distant, nor impossible future, a young woman finds herself uprooted from everything she knows. Banished. Now she must battle her way back to her life, her love and her family and find out why she was not "compatible".