Chapter 3 - Onboarding
I try to block out the crying of the women all around me, their quiet sniffles and occasional sob hard to ignore in the otherwise silent room.
All of them have been taken in tonight just as I have, and more are added with each passing hour. I knew that the seekers would be coming for us and that they would move quickly, but I did not anticipate the swiftness of their actions.
It’s become clear that this has been planned out for months now, the government probably having approved it long ago and finally giving the green light after the find earlier in the day. Objectively, waiting until there was a breakthrough capture before starting the house raids was a great idea. Everybody will believe that that’s what spurred the attacks, the capture leaving the government with no options but to approve the seekers’ request to enter private property.
The people will be none the wiser that this was planned out, that their homes were to be broken into and torn apart either way.
My eyes feel heavy as I look around the dark space, small tears welling up inside of them as I note the women sitting around me. I’ve never been around anybody other than my parents before and am surprised by how many others seemed to be in the same situation as me.
I always believed that I was alone in my struggle.
Exhaustion threatens to pull me to sleep, urging me to curl up on the hard floor with the other women in an attempt to forget about my situation, but I cannot bring myself to do it. Instead, I sit rigid as stone on a small bench with three others and watch as more and more females are brought in and tossed onto the ground like ragdolls.
My heart breaks every time a child is added, their wide, terrified eyes looking over all the women in here as they try to make sense of what’s going on. Most of them are old enough to understand to some extent what is happening, but every once in a while there is one too young to even comprehend the situation they are in.
Usually one of the older women will swoop in and help out, cradling the young female in their arms until they either fall asleep or lower their sobs into quiet sniffles.
None of the women in here look to be older than their mid-thirties, leading me to believe that they are only collecting the ones they aim to sell. It’s painful knowing that that means that my mother will not be brought in and that I will very likely never see her again.
I blink away the tears that threaten to spill over at the thought that I will never see either one of my parents again, and that my father is very likely still lying dead on the living room floor. That he’s been left there rot until, hopefully, somebody decides to come and check in on him.
My head swivels to the right as the main door opens and a man steps in with a clipboard. He takes a moment to look over us all before glancing down at the sheet in his hand and reading out a couple of names.
The women in question stand up and follow him out of the room, their movements nervous and timid. Nobody ever comes back after leaving this room with that man, so I can only assume that he is sorting us out and moving us into new waiting areas.
Hopefully ones with beds and food.
I watch as the females leave one by one, almost all of them turning one last time to take a look at us before disappearing into the hallway. I imagine that I’ll be doing the same thing when I leave, desperate to get one last look at the women I’m sure never to see or encounter again.
Assuming that we are all going to be batched into the auction that the men on the news talked about earlier today, in one month we are all going to be sold to the highest bidder.
My eyes wander over the children once more as I let out a quiet sigh. All of us except the young ones. They’ll live out their teenage years in the facility until they are old enough to be sold. It changes from race to race, but the Human government doesn’t approve the purchasing of women until they are well into adulthood, sometime in their early twenties.
Another one of the children starts to wail as she wakes from her sleep, her tiny hands curling up into fists as she rubs at her cheeks and pushes back her unruly hair. She still wears her pajamas from when she was taken, and I take a second to imagine what her night looked like.
I wonder if her parents knew what was going to happen. If they gave her extra sweets and cuddled with her until she fell asleep in their arms, whispering soft assurances of love in her ear as they cried over her. Or if they put her to bed like they did every night, probably having to wrestle with her a bit as she complained about not being tired and insisting that she stay up a bit later.
Either way, she’s here now and there’s no escaping. Her life from this moment forward has been decided for her.
My attention is pulled to the main door once more as the man with the clipboard comes back in, rattling off another short list of names. My heartbeat quickens as I hear my name ring out into the room, my body moving before my brain has time to process as I stand to my feet and line up with the other women.
My pulse is deafening in my ears as I follow them out of the room, the blood rushing through them blocking out any other noises happening around me. Unable to resist, I turn around one last time as the other females did and scan over all the faces in the room, committing them to memory.
How long that memory will last I’m unsure, but I know that I need to do it anyways.
I’m forced to blink a couple of times as my eyes adjust to the fluorescent lights in the hallway, the sterile white walls making everything feel brighter than it really is. I’ve seen images of the sorting facilities on the television a handful of times, but I quickly realize that it’s nothing compared to actually being inside of them.
There’s no personality or attempts to comfort made in this building; everything instead made to be efficient and cheap. I suppose it makes sense, though. At the end of the day we are objects to be sold, so there’s no point wasting money to keep us happy and soothed. Despite my father’s constant statements and promises that I am not an object, this building makes me feel exactly that.
The man leading us abruptly stops and swivels on his heel to face us, his eyes cast downward at his clipboard.
“So you are all going to wait here in the rooms on the left-” He starts, sticking out his arm to point at the white doors camouflaged into the wall. “One person per room- it doesn’t matter which one you go in. Somebody will be in shortly to ask you a couple of questions. It shouldn’t take too long, maybe thirty minutes or so. Once you’re done with that, they will give you directions to the doctor. You’ll all be getting quick physicals before being taken to your rooms.”
His voice echos down the bare corridor, but he hardly seems to care as he reads down the talking points on his clipboard.
He’s met with silence.
Seemingly not surprised by that, he nods to himself and gestures once more for us to enter the rooms. Without waiting around to see if we follow his instructions and enter, he turns and heads back down the hallway he led us down. We all turn to watch him leave, our attention on him unwavering until he’s entirely out of sight.
It feels cocky of him to just leave without ensuring that we aren’t going to try and run away, but it just goes to show how locked down they must keep this facility. There’s absolutely no worry in their minds that any of us will escape.
Besides, even if we did there would be no place for us to go. A woman on the street is sure to be noticed, and I’m willing to bed that the men I would encounter out there will treat me no better than the ones who will buy me.
At least the one who buys me will be held accountable for my health.
The other females all look at each other for a long moment as we silently communicate with one another. My shoulders round forward as the who stands in the center, a tall brunette dressed in what I assume to be her father or brother’s clothing, sighs in defeat and enters one of the rooms. Her actions act as a catalyst for the rest, all of us following suit and heading into an unoccupied room.
The room is relatively small, with only two identical chairs separated by a wide desk occupying it. Like everything else in this building, the walls and furniture are a crisp, unnerving white. I make my way over the chair furthest from the door and sit down. Crossing my legs and intertwining my fingers on my lap, I will the thundering of my heart to settle down as I wait for my interviewer to show up.
Thankfully I’m not forced to wait long, the door opening up to reveal a young man only a few minutes later. He offers me a warm smile as he enters, his pseudo kind expression not fooling anybody.
“Goodmorning! My name is Anthony, and I’ve just got to collect some basic information about you before sending you off to the doctors.” He explains, his voice chipper.
I nod, watching through narrowed eyes as he sits himself down on the seat across from the desk. He barely glances at me as he slides open one of the drawers and pulls out a blank form along with a pen. My jaw clenches as he clicks it with a tired sigh, his expression bored as he finally looks up at me.
I blink, debating whether or not I should answer him and, if I do, whether or not to tell the truth. I suppose the only point of lying would be to protect my family, but it doesn’t matter if they are already dead. The man quirks an eyebrow at my prolonged response, his reaction stressing me.
“Charlotte Myers.” I finally say, deciding that it would be too hard to remember a fake name.
Anthony hums, writing it down on the form.
At that he raises his eyes from the paper, looking me over with a slight frown. Why has my answer shocked him?
“Yes.” I answer.
He hums quietly, but says nothing further on it. Once more boredom takes over his features as he begins to note down a couple of items about my features. My nose crinkles as he describes my hair as a mousy brown, my lips pursing shortly after when he marks down my looks to be adequate.
He could at least fill that in when I’m not here to see it.
“Can you read?”
“How educated are you? Your best estimation is all we need.”
“I was taught the basics of science, math, language, and history.” I respond, cheeks reddening as I admit this.
“Great, we are almost done.” He assures me. “Number of sexual partners?”
“Are you aware of what sex is? We offer a health class for the females who do not. It’s a fairly basic course. If you understand the mechanics, you will probably don’t need it.” He explains.
I contemplate the offer for a moment before shaking my head and turning down the class. I’ve read enough of my mother’s romance books to understand what happens between a man and a woman. The last thing I need is to attend a class where I will be reminded of what I will be forced to endure in a month’s time.
Anthony marks that I have turned down the offer of the class before turning over to the last page of the form.
I shrug, not understanding why it even matters.
“I’m attracted to men.”
“Cool, cool. Any allergies?”
I shake my head.
Anthony hums quietly as he fills in all my information, his hand scribbling quickly along with the form. I want to rip it out of his hand and throw it across the room, but I refrain.
“Last thing, and you don’t need to decide on it right now. We offer both men and dildos for the virgins if you would like to prep yourself before being sold. Some women find it empowering to have sex with a man of their choosing before that option is taken from them.” He explains with a shrug. “We figure it’s the least we can do. If at any point you would like to go down that route just reach out to your handlers and they will help you through that process.”
My lips twitch at his words, disgust rolling through me at how casually he speaks about all of this. I suppose it’s hard to care when it’s not your life and freedom that is being ripped out from underneath you.
Anthony doesn’t wait for my response as he signs the bottom of the form and stands from his chair. He slips open the drawer and puts the pen back in place before turning and pushing my form into a small slot in the wall.
“You’ll find the doctors down the hall to the left here.” He says, opening the door and pointing down in the direction I am to go.
“Some women like to have a moment in here alone before continuing on. When you make your way down, just remember to tell the doctors that you came from interview room eighteen.”
I nod, refusing to let any tears fall until he has left the room and I am, once more, alone.
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