I woke up to Zeke shaking my shoulder. I felt better after my nap. The grief wasn’t gone, certainly, but I was more in control of my emotions. Not to mention, my wounds weren’t bothering me as much.
“You awake?” asked Zeke.
“Yeah, I am.” I said, sitting up, and pulling the covers off. He stepped back a bit so I could get out of bed. Once I was standing, we left the room. I was surprised to see Ella and Jack at the table.
Ella smiled at me. “Hey, Lee,” she chirped. “Zeke invited us over for dinner. He’s a better cook than either of us, so we’re happy to come over.” My brother rolled his eyes and I smiled. My mother had taught us both to cook, and we were both good chefs. Zeke always told me I was better. Secretly I agreed, not that he wasn’t skilled. He definitely had me in baking though. He probably was even better than Mom in that area.
“Well then, I’d better go get the plates,” Zeke stated. He went to the kitchen and I sat at the table. We were all in the same spots we’d sat in earlier. The table was set and there were cups of water of the table for all of us. Zeke came back from the kitchen carrying two plates, setting one down in front of Ella and another down in front of me. It was baked chicken, roasted potatoes, and asparagus. I was starving, but the manners my parents had engrained in me kept me from digging in immediately; I’d wait till everyone was served.
I hadn’t eaten in a long time. I’d had an IV earlier, but that wasn’t quite the same. Once we all had plates, we began eating. It wasn’t long before our plates were clean.
“That was amazing, Zeke,” Ella said. “It always surprises me how much of a whiz you are in the kitchen.”
“Thanks, Ella. I’m not as good as Lee is though,” he responded.
Ella looked at me. “You cook too?”
I nodded. “Yeah. Our mom taught us both. She was amazing. I’ll admit I’ a slightly better cook, but he’s a way better baker,” I told her. Zeke groaned.
Jack and Ella stared at me, then at my brother.
“You bake?” Jack asked astonished.
My brother sighed. “Yes. At least I used to. There’s not really much opportunity to here.”
“While this is all enlightening, I have some questions for Lee. If you’re ready, that is,” Jack said, directing the last part towards me.
I shrugged. “It’s fine. I’m not sure how much help I’ll be, though. I wasn’t important in the Colony, so I can only speculate.”
“It’s more information than we have,” Zeke pointed out.
“I suppose so,” I agreed. “What did you want to know?”
“Why don’t you start by describing the Colony. You know, the structure, daily life and all that,” Ella suggested
I hummed in response. “Well, I guess I’ll start with the physical structure. There are 10 Sectors. Five around the outside, four behind them, and one in the middle for the highest ranked leaders. Sectors 1,2,3,4, and 5 border the outer wall. 6,7,8, and 9 are in the middle. The leadership has Sector 10. Each Section has Various work spaces, areas for different abilities to honed. For example, I was a dancer, so I practiced in a studio. People with talents that are less physical, like architects, used various computed systems and VR simulations. I was in Sector 2, and I think that the other Sectors had similar set ups, but I can’t be certain.”
“What about daily life? How did you spend your days?” Zeke wanted to know.
“Every day of the week had a different schedule, and that schedule was the same every week. Every morning every Sector had breakfast together. After that, most of my day was spent on talent work. Lunch was given during that time, as a break. A little while after lunch, I would have an activity. It was different for everybody. Sometimes there would be social groups, or exercise time. Others had schedules that were opposite of mine, so that space could be used more efficiently. Those of us that were older would also help train the kids in their talents. Everybody saw the doctor for a shot once a week. Everyone had different days assigned, and those visits probably lined up with the day we first got the injection.”
“Lee,” Jack began. “You said something similar earlier too. I think you also mentioned that you missed a shot, and that’s how you remembered everything.”
“Right. It was immediate, but the effects of the serum they use seem to wear off quickly if that one week mark is missed. One of the results of the shot is a lack of rebellion towards or questioning of leadership. But it wasn’t even an hour before I started to get curious about the commands of my leaders. And that night, I had what I thought was a dream, but was really a memory. The next day, I was remembering more things and thinking clearly. That’s when I left,” I explained.
“So nobody there remembers anything about the world outside? It’s only been seven years, surely people would wonder about why they couldn’t remember all the time before that,” Ella said.
“The Colony leaders took care of that. Somehow, they replaced our memories. We all thought we had spent our whole lives there.”
They all had thoughtful expressions on their faces.
“Lee?” Zeke asked. “These leaders you talk about, how much interaction did the ordinary people have with them?”
“Well, that depends. Each Sector had its own lower level leaders, and they talked to us all the time. Looking back, that was probably the most important part of what they did; they were supposed make sure no one was acting in a way that signified normal thought,” I answered. “But the higher ranked officials rarely had any interaction with us.”
“Do you think the leader all knew what they were doing? Is it possible they were also under the mind control?” Zeke’s question was interesting. I had never thought about that. It seemed risky to let that many people know the truth about the Colony, but they still had to know what to report back to the people in Sector 10.
“I really don’t know,” I told him honestly. “It’s likely they didn’t fully know what they were doing. At the same time though, if they were being told to watch out for people who were thinking clearly, it would be impossible for them to know what to look for under the same fog we were under. But again, I can’t be certain.”
“What about defenses? Can you tell us anything about the security there?” Jack asked seriously.
I shook my head. “I can’t. Until the day I left, I’d never seen a single weapon anywhere in my Sector, much less soldiers or any other kind or security personnel.”
He leaned back in his chair. “That’s interesting. We’ve never seen anyone patrolling the outside either. They’ve got that search light to scan, so I assume there’s someone up there, but I don’t understand why they wouldn’t have any form of guards near the barrier.”
“It is odd,” Zeke agreed. “I think that’s enough questions though. Unless there’s anything else important Lee can think of.”
“That’s really all I know. If I come up with something more, I’ll let you know,” I promised them.
We all stood up, and Jack and Ella said good bye, and left. My brother and I were moving towards the living area when we heard their kitchen door open again. Ella popped back in.
“Something wrong?” I asked.
“Not really. But I just realized you don’t have any other clothes. I was wondering if I could take the day off training tomorrow, Zeke? It’s a smaller group, and Jack was assigned to be there too. I think he’ll be able to handle it,” she asked.
He thought for a moment. “I think that’d be okay,” he agreed. “Besides, I can’t really take two days in a row off, and I know absolutely nothing about women’s clothing.”
She laughed. I smiled. I got to spend another day with Ella. She was a nice person, and we got along well. Besides, while I was friendly with my neighbors in Sector 2, I didn’t really have friends. It would be good to have someone besides my brother to talk with.
“I guess I’ll see you tomorrow, Lee,” she said with a grin.
“I’ll look forward to that,” I replied, also grinning. She left again, and Zeke and I went towards the couch and his chair. Before we got there, he paused.
“I guess I should give you a tour of the apartment, “ he mused.
“That’d be nice. After all, I do plan on sticking around,” I pointed out. There wasn’t too much to see. The space was clearly meant to be functional instead of spacious. He showed me the kitchen. It was smaller than the one in our house, but that was to be expected. It still had an oven and a sink. There was also a refrigerator. It didn’t have a microwave or a toast, though, and Zeke said that they decided against it, since it wasn’t completely necessary. If things needed to be reheated it was done in the oven.
The bathroom had two sinks, and only one of them was used. The other one would be mine. It had a shower and toilet as well, and a small cabinet where my brother kept his towels. I noticed that there were also a lot of towel racks. I asked about that, and I found out that they washed laundry in the sink, so there had to be somewhere to dry it. It was also in the bathroom that I asked how they got running water.
“There a pipeline that runs inland, to a river with fresh water. It still has the filtration system, and the pipes were replaced a little before everything collapsed, so it’s in good shape. Actually, that river is the water source for three settlements, including that other one I told you about. There’s also one the same distance away on the other side. We formed a team to work collectively on the water system, and they do a good job,” he said.
He showed me the two cabinets against the wall. The book shelf was stocked with random books, probably whatever books he could get a hold of. In the other cabinet, there was nothing but weapons. I wasn’t really surprised, but I did feel a sense of apprehension. This place was very different from what I was used to, or even the life I had before I was taken. I had a lot to learn, and I was afraid of the changes I was going to have to make.