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Pen Your Pride

Chapter Five - The Price of a Lie

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     In the blink of an eye, 0144 was gone, and 0015 was left alone with her thoughts. What surprised her the most was that 0144 had even gone to her--after her abandonment of the second-gen when she was being beaten, 0015 never thought that 0144 would ever speak to her again, let alone warn her about being “taken care of” by the Corporation. The euphemism made her mouth twist into its usual cynical grin.

     Twisting about, she tried to take stock of the situation. She tried to ignore the feeling of claustrophobia she had and focused on her surroundings. The room was bare of anything she could use to escape--and in her present state, she was pretty sure she couldn’t pull of the same stunt 0144 did--which was climb into the skylight. Besides, no way would her tall, 5’8” frame be able to fit into the tiny skylight as 0144’s petite body had.

     She closed her eyes and lay back against the bed. The skylight was a faint orange, meaning it was morning. She sighed. She remembered a conversation she once had had with Silver.

     Silver had just come in from a mission then. Her eyes, usually a light, lyrical blue, were troubled and sad. Silver was one of the few gens who had a non-numerical name--she’d gotten it because of her silvery hair, and her constant babbling of the word ‘silver’. It had stuck, and everyone called her “Silver”.

     “What’s the matter?” 0015 ruffled Silver’s hair affectionately, the short strands glimmering in the darkness of their room.

     “Nothing.”

     0015 waited. She knew that something was on Silver’s mind.

     “Just--do you think the sky really was blue? You know, like, a hundred years ago?”

     0015 had looked at her fellow gen in surprise. “Where did you get that?”

     Silver shrugged. “Found a book on a mission--there was even a picture of the sky there.”

    0015 blinked at her. “I really don’t know, Sil.” She found the idea of a blue sky gorgeous, but found it hard to believe. She’d grown up, after all, to the constant threats of acid rain from the skies and orange, red, and sometimes green skies. Orange and red were the normal colors while green meant a bad dose of acid rain.

     “It must have been amazing,” Silver had sighed then. “I wish I’d lived back then.”

     0015 ruffled her hair again, lost in her own thoughts.

     There had been nothing like us back then. She was brought back to the present, wrenched away from her memory.

     0015 heaved a sigh and tried to control the ever-present feeling of being closed up in a small, tight box. She didn’t want to faint again.

     “Seems like the only way to escape is to do as 0144 said to do. Pretend the Asperger’s gene they’ve given me really worked.” She vaguely remembered being given a nanopatch and an intravenous drug--it was clear that the “drug” was the Asperger’s gene, but she hadn’t thought of the nanopatch. What if it was a truth serum?

     How do you know if you’ve been given a truth serum, anyway? 0015 was pretty sure that if she had, it had worn off by now (she didn’t feel as weird as she did when the nanopatch was applied). Come to think of it, the nanopatch had alleviated the claustrophobia, but there was no saying that there wasn’t a truth serum there, too.

     She decided to test it out. Sitting up straight on the bed, she mumbled, “I absolutely love 3102.” She almost spat the words out in disgust as she said them, but they proved one thing.

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