Chapter 1 ~ Welcome to my life
"Girls up! Breakfast will be served in eighteen minutes. Move now!" The matron screamed, almost shattering my ear drums in the process.
All the girl jumped out their beds creating a systematic thudding sound, whilst I simply groaned and grabbed my pillow to cover my ears. I needed more sleep.
A person needs an average of nine hours of sleep, whereas I need about 14. I'll take a nap whenever I can.
"Ari come on. You're gonna get in trouble again." Lilia whispered into my ear, whilst frantically shaking me like a mad woman.
Lilia's always been a stickler for rules and punctuality. Me being late automatically puts our dorm on the radar, and Lilia will do anything to stay unnoticed.
I should too. I should be trying to stay as low as I can but I'm not one for authority. I make my own rules.
Not by choice, it's just in my DNA I guess. I get it from my mother. One of the only things I know about her was that she hated rules and even tried to escape multiple times, causing her untimely death.
I protested when Lilia resorted to pulling on my arm as a form of getting me up. Eventually she managed to pull me into a seated position and then she grabbed the spray bottle hidden under my bed and started to squirt me with it.
I coughed and sputtered as the water hit me with such a force that I had no choice but to open my eyes and wake up. I glared at her, whilst she giggled.
This was our daily morning. It was also the only form of fun we ever have. Each of the girls in our dorm have hidden spray bottles underneath their bunks, that we've collected over the years.
They're old bottles that were once filled with cleaning products, but now we use them as a tool to cool us down in summer, do our hair or even in water fights.
There are six of us in total, meaning three bunk beds placed around the small box room. We have a bathroom connected to the room that barely fits two people in so timing is key.
When we were seven and all fully able to speak, read, write and organise, we devised a timetable which made sure that everyone gets the same amount of bathroom time. Right now we're on minute four, meaning that it's Rachel's first minute in the bathroom.
The girls know I'm the slowest at getting out of bed so I have the last three minutes, which I'm perfectly content with.
"Here," Lilia muttered, throwing me my blue dress, whilst she slipped hers on.
Lilia's my best friend and the closet thing I have to a family.
We've been bunk mates since we were four years old. We do everything together, well mostly everything, it's not like I'm gonna let her watch me pee.
She's my partner, meaning that, we clean, study, socialise and eat together. We only really need each other.
Don't get me wrong, the other girls in our dorm our my friends too but I don't love them like I love Lilia.
"Lilia, minute twelve." Yasmin calls out, sending Lilia into a frenzy. She quickly folds her clothes, throws on her slippers, grabs her comb and brush and rushes into the bathroom.
I take off my shirt, exposing my bare breasts, but no-one really cares. Nudity isn't really a problem when you've been sharing a room and bathroom with five other girls your whole life.
I fasten the clasp of my plain nude coloured bra and then pull the blue dress over my head. I put on my black slip on shoes and then started tugging a comb through my tangled hair. I grab my half a crescent shaped necklace, the only thing I've got left of mother, and quickly do the clasp.
"Minute 15." Carly calls out and I grab my toiletries, high fiving Lilia as we pass each other on the way. We have a running joke amongst the girls that the Matron does this in order to improve our tag team abilities.
My stuff falls out of my arms onto the sink and I rummage through the mess until I find my brush and toothpaste. I squirt a tiny bit on, as we only get one tube a year, and then frantically brush my teeth.
I kick up the lid to the toilet seat and pull down my pants. I pee whilst brushing my teeth, yes gross I know, but it's either that or risk being late and although I was happy to do that earlier I really do not want to feel the wrath of the Matron this morning.
After I've finished I clean myself up, wash my hands, and do my daily face ritual which consists of washing it with a simple face wash. No scents, no colour, to be honest I think it's just soap that the Matron passes off as face wash.
I give up trying to comb my hair so I detangle it as best I can, and then style it so it stays out of my way. I grab my items and the do my final check.
My tanned skin is clear, thank god I got over those teenage acne years, and my long raven locks are placed into a tight plait that's slung over my shoulder.
I'd like to think I'm pretty, I'm mean definitely not the most beautiful, some of the girls here are gorgeous. For example, I would kill for Lilia's golden curls or Carly's full lips.
With my straight small nose, sharp jawline and naturally rosy lips, it's enough to make heads turn, which is great considering the whole point of this place. What really makes me stand out however, are my eyes. They're a very dark shade of cerulean blue with hues of green swirling inside them.
The Matron says that they'll be the thing to get me bought. Confused, I'll explain.
You see around three hundred years ago, the world went to shit. I'm talking nuclear wars, atomic bombs, complete and utter destruction and loss.
Once all the death and war stopped there were only 6 remaining humans alive. They hid in caves at the top of Mount Everest to avoid the chaos and practiced witchcraft using ancient drawings and scribes found on the walls.
Yes, magic is a thing but unfortunately only people who live in the kingdom or very remote parts of the sectors practice. I've personally never seen magic performed up close, although the prospect of it is very appealing to me.
They began to repopulate the Earth, using a special fertility spell only they know to this very day.
As the human population grew, they knew they needed to re-establish control and order. They believed that democracy was the cause for the end and therefore introduced monarchy back into society.
The oldest and most powerful, gave one continent to each of the remaining humans to rule and watch over. The Kingdom of Dahlia, which is where I unfortunately live, I believe used to be a place called America.
The oldest ruled over Dahlia with an iron first to ensure the past didn't repeat itself and he spilt Dahlia into six sectors, not including the main Kingdom.
However as the human population grew over time, new traditions, ideas and rules came into place.
The biggest one of all, woman are less. Yes, society has reverted back into their old sexist ways, at least here. Women are viewed as nothing and are seen to only have two purposes in life: produces babies and give pleasure.
That's what the whole point of this sick 'academy' I live in. We're taught how to be the perfect domesticated housewife.
We're taught all about cleaning, sex and childcare but we also learn the regular things you would have learnt two hundred years ago. Maths, English, history, geography, science etc.
They don't want us to be stupid, I mean after who wants to have a dumb wife. The smarter, prettier and more fertile you are, the more you're worth on auction day.
Auction day is the day that all girls dread. Once every girl on your floor is 18 you're taken away to the auction house, where you're tested, stripped, and graded out of ten.
No-one ever gets a ten, since no-one's perfect and the whole thing is disgusting. Once we're graded, we get put on display like show dogs for two weeks.
That two week period is the only period of the year, in which males can buy themselves a wife. It's complete and utter chaos but as crazy as it sounds, you're actually considered lucky if you're bought.
The other girls who aren't are shipped off to labs, where they get impregnated by in- vitro and kept there until they give birth. The scientists try and get as many children as they can out the women, before they 'dispose' of them.
If you give birth to a girl they are taken away to the academy and if you give birth to a boy they are taken away to be raised and trained to be a worker.
Either way, you don't get to raise your child.
The academy houses girls of every age and has a floor for each. Since I'm 18, I live on the top floor.
Once the last girl turns 18, we'll be shipped out and the girls below us will move up here, then those living below them will move up to their floor etc.
It's a continuous cycle of misery that will never end.
This whole process occurs in every one of the six sectors, the seventh sector is the main kingdom where the royals and those born of high nobility live. In other words, the snobs.
My mother was subject 1875, whilst my father was test tube 45. God knows how many half siblings I've got running around but I'll never know. None of us will.
It's forbidden to talk about our parents, I'm one of the only people who knows the fate of their mother and has something to remember her by. For as long as I can remember, I've always worn this necklace and I'll continue to wear it until the day I die.
As I said before she was a rule breaker and the Matron never lets me forget it. Apparently her constant disobedience was the cause of her fate. She would have been bought at the highest price it wasn't for her mouth. I'm the same, but I know I how to control myself.
I will not spend my life being a human incubator. I want something better, something more.
I just pray the man who buys me is kind and understanding. I will happily give birth to children if their father is a nice man, not having children is not a choice.
It's been implanted into my brain for years that I will serve my husband and bear him children. I just don't want to be forced to do so.
"Ari, let's go. Come on." Lilia screams, pounding on the wooden door between us. I take a deep breathe, before opening the door. I dump my stuff on the bed, promising Lilia that I'll tidy it up later, and stand in my place in line.
I'm the youngest in our dorm so I stand at the back behind Carly, Lilia in front of her.
The Matron storms in and has a quick look over are room. Her eyes linger on the items sprawled across my bed and she gives me an cold look, forcing me to tuck the items back in my toiletry bag.
I quickly run back to stand in line and she yells out leave, making all of us walk in single file to the dining room.
We each take our designated seats at our table, which is situated right at the back of the room. The youngest and first floor residents are at the front, as we're the oldest we're at the back.
There's a Matron for each floor that takes care of you from when you're age three to now. They're meant to be like a mother figure, guiding you, caring for you, but instead they're all hags who don't give one fuck about any of us.
All they care about is their pay. The more of your girls sold at auction, the higher pay rise you receive.
The Matrons all begin to serve their floor breakfast, which is are usual gruel. No taste, no flavour, just plain old gruel. I don't even know what they put it in, and to be honest I don't think I want to know.
Apparently it keeps us slim, healthy and pretty which is all the really matters.
The Matron slams a ladle full of gruel into my bowl and sneers at me, before moving on to the next table.
"Bitch." I whisper under my breath, only loud enough for Lilia to hear, causing her to snicker and almost choke on her mouthful of gruel.
"Oh yes Matron, I had a lovely night's sleep." Ivy, the academy's mean girl you can say, replied smiling brightly at the Matron.
There's three words to describe Ivy: snake, fake and selfish.
One minute, she's helping the Matron sweeping up floors and the next she's tripping up thirteen year olds and laughing in their faces.
Not to the mention the fact that she's made it her life's mission to make me miserable. As if the world isn't fucked up enough, she has to make it worse.
I dish it back to her though. I'm not gonna let some two faced queen bee ruin, probably the best years of my life. I mean, after this there's either serve you husband or birth children in a lab, for the rest of your life.
After she's finished sucking up to the Matron, she turns around and glares at me. I turn my head, wanting to be the better person, and focus on the disgusting plate of gruel in front of me.
I can still feel her sharp daggers at the hack of my head but I ignore her.
Our little rivalry all started back when we were six years old and I was picked as head girl for our floor, instead of her. After years of torment and torture from her, I eventually resigned and handed her my position on a silver platter.
I actually loved that job but living my life in peace, well as peaceful as I could get, was worth it.
I heard a chair move and then footsteps approach me, but I paid no attention to them. "Uh hum," The wicked witch of the west cleared her throat, demanding my attention.
I clenched my jaw and then turned to her with a fake smile plastered on my face. "Yes," I said in an equally fake upbeat tone.
"My my, all that food for a little thing like you. Wouldn't want a repeat of what happened three years ago, now would you?" She asked, her head cocked for the side.
I move to stand up and give her a taste of her own medicine by using my fist, but Lilia stopped me before I could.
"I just care about you Arabella. We all know what happened and we wouldn't want you hurt yourself like that again." She added, referring to my bulimia.
I used to be two hundred pounds heavier, three years ago. I hated the way I looked so I stuck my fingers down my throat after every meal until Lilia caught me one day.
She got me help, well the most help I could get. I basically had to be supervised at all times, even in the bathroom and when I showered. It was horrible but it made me stop.
It also got me the figure I have today but I keep it by working out and eating more fruits and vegetables.
Now she's even using my illnesses against me. "Look bitch, I suggest you shut your mouth before I stick my foot down your..."
"Seats ladies!" The head Matron voice echoed around the huge room, causing all the girls to fall into complete silence.
Ivy glares at me, before taking her seat and crossing her bare legs over each other. Her dress rode up leaving only inches of her bare legs unexposed.
It's no secret she cuts her dresses to and I quote 'stand out from the crowd' but all it does in reality is makes her look like a slut. Plus, the only people who see her are us girls, and the Matrons.
All of us are forced to wear the same blue dress, as we're from the Ambrosia sector, expect the girls on the highest floor.
Ours are the same shade of blue but with spaghetti straps and a sweetheart neckline, whereas the other dresses are basically long shirts.
Every sector has a different colour that you have to wear so people can recognise which sector you're from.
Alyssum is blue, Primrose is pink, Zamia is green, Silene is red, Juniper is purple and Kalmia is white.
The citizens of the kingdom of Dahlia are free to wear whatever colour they please, even though all the sectors are part of the Kingdom of Dahlia.
The original King, was obsessed with botany and anything to do with nature, therefore he named the six sectors and the kingdom after plants.
"Stephanie is turning five today," The Matron announces, her mouth turned into a straight line.
The whole room started to clap for her and the little girl walked to the front of the room, trying to hide behind her long blonde hair. Another younger Matron, walked towards her holding a black bag. She opened it up in front of her and the young girl rummaged around it for a while until she finally pulled out a colouring book with a few colouring pencils attached.
The black bag is the birthday bag. It's at least one girl's birthday every day so this ceremony is very familiar. The bag is filled with toys, books, hair brushes, even toothpaste.
It's the only present we receive a year and also the choice we're allowed to make. I tend to go for books, but one year I was forced to choose a hairbrush as mine snapped.
The older Matron stepped forward again and called out Georgina, a name I actually recognised.
Georgina began walking towards the front, her eyes wet with tears, knowing that this is the last birthday she'll spend in this school before she's faced with her dreaded future.
Georgina dunked her hand into the bag and pulled out some trinket, not caring what it is.
"Georgina is 18." The Matron has a sick grin on her face as she wrapped an arm around Georgina's shoulder, causing her eyes to widen.
Okay, something is definitely wrong here.
Almost every girl could feel the change in atmosphere and some started to scream as men wearing black clothing, stormed in and began to make their way to the back.
They started grabbing girls from my floor, left, right and centre, causing my head to turn in so many different directions I thought I may get whiplash.
"Georgina is also the last girl to turn 18. It's the day you've all been waiting for, auction day!"