The Sponsors

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Chapter 11

Chris utilised the wisdom and skills he had learnt in the past now, creeping round the city after his 24 hours were up. A search would be out for him soon, so he made the most of his freedom. Like the children in the video, Chris starved, unable to scavenge food in a city where any morsel was a luxury. He squatted in an abandoned warehouse in the centre of the city, occasionally stealing food from market places and using the warehouse as a shelter from the cold in the nighttime, shivering under the straw remains of empty sacks. He was near the presidential building of the Company, a large ominous building which loomed over the three-storey houses and flats that populated the city. The brick overlay has shining letters and emblems of the company, a silver shield with a lion, the mouth of which shaped the large C of the Company. The Latin banner ran underneath it: “deficit omne quod nastier”: Everything that is born passes away. Concrete steps led up to the door, and the five stories were permeated with symmetrical windows each side of the door, stretching out along the street. Chris knew that underneath this was a base, talked about in his childhood filled with government rooms and space for the workers. One entire floor underneath was rumoured to be filled with long-life foodstuffs, cans upon cans to feed the Company people if famine ever did strike. Their symmetricity was subsumed by the order of the Company. Craving the sweet earth of the retreat gardens under his feet, Chris woke up with the sunrise as per the practice of the training drilled into him since he was small, and left the warehouse just before sunrise, taking off his shoes to let the bare, dewy patch of grass wind through his toes and caress his heels, the long, overgrown patch just at the back of the warehouse, breaking through the rough old concrete that preceded it. He knelt down to the ground, grounding himself with the day and silently chanting to the sun to calm his nerves as he waited to be spotted. He finally sat down on the bare earth, and listened to the earth around him, hands in chin mudra on his knees, eyes closed as he felt for the vibrations of people. He noticed every tingle and fibre of his body when the sun started rising even further, hitting his body and face with morning light, slowly dragging up the sky. In a total state of calm, he barely realised where he was, taken back to the serenity of his past, appetite waning from the hunger he had previously felt. The terror and fear he had felt towards his impending death sentence melted away, leaving him strong and able, sitting up even further, pulled towards the sky. All of a sudden in his moment of peace, two pairs of hands hoisted him up, one person on each elbow. He was in such a state of shock from being woken up so abruptly from his meditation, he easily complied with these men, unable to resist their brute strength as they dragged him into their car, a black Land Rover emblazoned with the insignia of the Company on the bonnet. Slowly coming to his senses as the car drove away, he analysed the men either side of him. He had expected the men to come for him when he so blatantly stepped into the open, ready with open arms to show his sign of camp training. Chris settled for questioning the men all about his situation, and what the Company was up to, despite the fact that he knew they would not reply to a fugitive. Any sign that would flicker across his face he would be able to read, and yet they remained entirely emotionless, staring straight ahead to the back of the black leather car seat. The silence after each word he spoke rushed through the air, stagnated in the car and swirled around until time passed, and the trapped words escaped their unanswered fate through the open car door. Chris was once again held by the two men, one on each upper arm as he was hurried towards the government building. The revolving doors were surpassed in no time, leaving the main, heavy oak door untouched, and coming into a reception room in the side building of the house. The two men never once let go of Chris, held in a perpetual bond as they crammed into the triangular section of the door, bundling out ungraciously. Chris didn’t struggle, but felt the discomfort build up in his arm at the tension from the two people holding him. He moved his head freely, curiously gazing around at all the workers and various receptionists who answered the phones, busily taking down notes. Behind them, a long room was filled with many more desks, the low humdrum of noise bouncing towards them on the marble walls, each syllable blending into one another and reaching their conclusion in a gooey swirl. The elevator in an alcove further down the room took them all up to the second floor, the workers barely looking up as they passed them by. Chris was marched down the corridor to the room at the end of the hallway. Red carpet was plush under his feet, and portraits of important diplomats loomed over the many people that walked down the hallway. The white, glazed double doors emblazoned with the Company’s crest looked slick under the cold lights that shone from the ceiling, and they opened out into a circular office, the plus carpet continuing through, windows all the way round the edge, darkened with paint so people could not see inside. This was the back of the Company building, and the people who resided here were able to watch over their domain, their garden filled with plots, brown dirt encasing vegetables for the coming months. Over the mesh fence and barbed wire was the city, bustling with people with their heads down, on their lunch break. The retreat was off in the distance, interrupting the smooth horizon with a small blip, a grey line that barely registered as it was so far away. Eyes only travelled there from the straight road that interrupted the greenery outside of the city. After surveying the skyline, Chris turned to the walls crammed with bookshelves, files and folders organised neatly into piles, and propaganda posters framed and filling the space in between the abundance of books. The navy and silver of the company reminded him of his past home one that he adored, and he felt slightly more at ease with the grounding of something familiar. Sitting in the chair in the centre of the room, Martin, his brother, worked at the desk. Forms were being filled out, and his computer screen created a ghostly white pallor on his face, from the blank white screen of a document waiting to be written. Martin looked up, his eyes similar to Chris’s, but that was where the similarities ended. He surveyed the situation, his bodyguards holding his little brother, disheveled and dirty, his perfect white shirt now crumpled and grey. Martin looked at the disparity between the two lives they had lead. Him, safe, with the knowledge of the future, and his brother, who he used to want to protect with his life, about to watch the new world unfold. He deliberated what to do next, whether to save his brother from his oncoming plans to save humanity, or just to let him go back to the retreat and let his life last a little while longer. Again, he could also just set him free in the city, let him come and work for him even. It would be nice to have someone as loyal as family around. Martin lifted a hand and shooed the bodyguards away, watching his brother rub his arm where sore red marks lined where the guards had been gripping him for so long. The men took a step back, manning the door with their hands closed in one another, folding together in front of them into a menacing stance. Once this display of masochism was over, he nodded at them and turned around to look out of the window at the bustling city, at the pavement, the slender people jutting out from the ground as walking skeletons all over the city. Each office building held people who were working towards keeping the city alive, and towards finding assets for food. Of course, entertainment still happened, but as a luxury it was a small percentage of the population. Production of books had to be stopped, and until the country was up and running again, the main goal of the city was to distribute food from the farms to the people, to process food as much as possible in order to make it stretch further. Martin sighed and turned round again, the desolate view making him feel guilty and sad. He finally faced his brother, but refused to look into his eyes, staring squarely at his nose and chest. Chris didn’t even try to talk his way out of the situation, standing there calmly and yet still trying to find his brother’s gaze.

‘He broke the rules,’ rang out, as Martin addressed the guards around the room, who had slowly trickled in as the interest in the prisoner grew, the door clicking poignantly against the silence as they entered one by one. Martin lifted his chin up, addressing the skirting board that ran along the ceiling. ‘Order must be maintained if our new strategy is to work…you all know we’ll have publicly implemented the New Laws in a number of days, and in order to create faith in the Company, the public need to know that the new method works. That people are getting fed. they need to produce more food for everyone, and sponsors are the right way to do it.’ Chris’s eyes went wide as he latched on to what his brother was saying.

‘Martin…you don’t have to do anything like this, they can build more farms. There’s another option. There’s always a choice and this isn’t the right one and you know it.’ He walked forward, reaching out to Martin, but before he could even begin to stride across the floor, he was pinned down by the bodyguards who had previously held him up, his muscles straining against their strength, even though resistance was futile. Martin flicked his wrist at the guards once more, and Chris was taken away from his brother. The door anticlimactically clicked into place, but the echo travelled down the corridor. Chris suddenly slumped down, exhausted and hungry. He brought the guards down with him a small distance, and they hoisted his limp body up.

‘It’s probably better this way…at least he won’t feel it,’ one guard mumbled to the other, as they went down to the floor below, and into a new side room, twisting the handle on the large metal door in order to open it up. Concrete slabs lined the cold room, and a huge conveyor belt with bars began on one side of the room, ending in two huge funnels, one to grind up bone, and one to grind up meat. A metal basin lay in the middle, chains hanging from the ceiling and workers prepared, lined up along the side of the conveyor.

description of the meat factory.

After the commotion outside had calmed down, Martin got up from his chair and made his way towards the door. He confidently walked out of the room, unwilling to rush as he was fully aware of the security guards watching him through the cameras. But he had won their loyalty; they wouldn’t say a word after all the food packages their families will receive every month. Walking lightly across the padded carpet, he took the stairs to the right of the elevator down onto the viewing panel of the meat processing room. Standing in the cold, harsh light of the room, he placed his hand on the metal bannister in front of him, the metal bar he rested his palm on heated by his body. He stood stoically to the side as his brother was stripped, his limp body flopped and twisted on the floor like a wet fish on dry land, manipulated by the guards. His head banged against the side of the conveyor and blood poured out of his skull and out of his nose, running onto his bare chest, finally exposed to the elements. His feet were pointed towards the machine, the workers lined up for the first test run of the intricate machinery and human handiwork running through the room; the thousands of boxes stacked on the end ready for the meat packets to be dispatched to the city. From the platform, Martin could see Chris’s eyes stir and his head roll to one side, consciousness slowly emerging onto his face. Martin realised how his brother would scream when the skin was stripped from his body, and clanged on the bar, his palm slamming down and catching the attention of the guards, their small eyes looked up at him, slowing the smooth drag of Chris’s body across the metal. Martin realised he needed to assert authority; the soft spot he still held for the nostalgia of childhood resonated in the ageing face of his brother.

‘Turn him around. No one needs to hear this,’ he stated to his guards. A nail gun was handed to the first worker, who planted the metal rod through Chris’ forehead, effectively making him brain dead for the whole process. His body convulsed at the click of the needle, jutting upwards before finally settling. They then lifted him up and turned him around, his head facing down towards the first worker. First, his body slid onto the conveyor belt and chains were looped around his feet. Dragged into the air above the metal basin, Chris’ throat was slit, the deep cut creating an adrenaline rush so that Chris’ eyes opened for the last few seconds. Blood poured from his body, a steady stream pattering onto the metal like rain. Martin saw the vein on Chris’ neck stand out slowly stand out then fade away hands clenching and feet shuddering as his body fought to keep alive. After the recommended time, Chris’ head rolled down, the blood flow slowing and his body finally drained. Water poured down Chris’ dead carcass in order to wash away the grime and dust from the outside world and Martin turned away, his hand finally free from the harsh white grip he had unconsciously held. A deep sigh escape him as a flicker of pain wandered across his face. But as soon as it appeared, it had gone with the closing of the door behind him, as he left to go back to his office. The whirr of the blades slicing away at skin turned into a heavy grind in the distance, only just audible in the silent hallway. Martin once again sat down at his desk, and looked out the window.

He kept his office as it was as he rose through his success, refusing to leave his perspective on the city. The image had been burned into his mind, one of people starving and his brother dying for the cause. His instrumental power was transferred to his seat in the Company table, replacing the previous president at the head of the table. The vote was unanimous on the scheme since Chris’ test run went perfectly, providing a ground meat package that could be sent out to the people fresh. The reduction rate this would have on the poverty on the area would be massive. Martin provided a presentation to the men and women on the table and his right hand confidante, a sharply dressed female, provided extra details when necessary, supporting Martin in his speech when he was flustered or forgot the important details. Martin ran through the slides, showing each different chart.

‘Here, they have the poverty numbers in the city. he sits at his window every day and look at these starving people, and they have tried everything they can to help them.’ He paused for a minute, walking over to the head of the table and taking a sip of water, letting the other members of the company analyse the information given. ‘In the past fifteen years, they have developed the sponsor experience, and gave them the best quality of life possible before death. But what has that given us? The funding they get from the people does not go far enough. they cannot reduce poverty any more by using this method.’ The silence as the table settled down was deafening. Natalie, the confidante, spoke up, putting Martin’s vindication on hold as she approached the subject with a cool head, discussing the facts that the company wanted to hear. She ran through the next few slides as Martin collected himself, going through the failed techniques they had used before in order to solve the poverty solution; the failed human waste materials, the sponsor system, and protein packets. The next stage of the plan was passed back on to Martin. ’By lacing the food on the farms with antidepressants and creating a calming regime through innocence and meditation, the sponsors cortisol levels are at an all-time low. The nutrients provided to them creates a lean meat which they will be able to farm upon their deaths. The sponsor levels are higher than before, with new life created every day, they have been able to cut the population of our country by half. The consistent turnover of people means that they will have a steady income of a new resource of food. The ethicality of the situation does come into play here, yet the humans involved voluntarily giving themselves up. they will say to the public that an influx of new meat has come in from the surrounding counties in order to support our plight. This has been arranged with Company presidents from around the UK, with each city providing sponsors for our regimen, in turn provided with a percentage of the meat in return. The Company men created a murmur around the table, the whispers of approval and dismissal permeating the blank wall of sound. Once the hubbub had died down, each member of the group had finished scribbling on the notepads in front of them, wiring down minutes for later. Martin hoisted up the front of his trousers and sat down on the chair placed for him in the corner, temporarily renouncing his role as speaker. Natalie then stood up again, from the seat adjacent to his and placed herself in an impartial judicial role for the time being.

‘A vote must be taken on this matter. they already have the equipment needed, and the opportunity to save thousands of lives with this regime. All those in favour, please raise your right hand.’ A momentary lapse of movement commenced, until slowly, nine of the fourteen members raised their hands in approval, looking around shiftily at the other members, analysing the new gulf in their company. Martin looked around, releasing the stress he had harboured in his chest and exhaled, relieved at the majority vote he had won over with this system. He stood up once again. The placement of people in a room, while official and important for the understanding to procedure, made him tired with all the regularity.

‘Its final then’ he sighed, hand coming to his face, signalling his exhaustion at the whole procedure to the room. ‘They can bring in the first round of subjects tomorrow and get the meat sent off to the nearest surrounding farms for a trial run.’ Chairs shuffled around the table as the officials got up to finish their other work, each signing the new legislation on the way out of the door. Soon, Martin and Natalie were left alone to sort out the first retreat to be used. With the map of the thirty retreats out in front of them, they picked the closest one at hand, and decided to work their way out. Judging by the perceived annual influx of sponsors, by the time they had finished with the last retreat, it would be a month before the new batch of meat would be ready, the excess rations were to be preserved in a storage container underground with the rest of the protein packages and agricultural stores. Martin’s head was full of the death of his brother. The secret he has instigated in his New Food regime will have to be kept for the rest of his life, while outwardly appearing as the virtuous saviour of the people. Martin left the room with Natalie, the lights automatically closing off for the night.

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