The clink of metal on metal rings through the frigid post-Winter Holiday air. All 111 of us march through piles of winter precipitation on our way to the front building of the University. It is early in the morning, no later than 9 o’clock, and clouds cover the sky, leaving us in shadow. Children are in school, adults are in workplaces. The streets are empty, save for us. And it truly does save us.
Our band of metal and flesh walk up the steps to the University, past pillars of stone and walkways coated in ice. We arrange ourselves in a single file line and exhale simultaneously. This has been planned out to the moment. I, for I am first in line and the proud leader of rebellion, step forward and knock sharply on the door four times. An automated response asks for a fingerprint. This is what our plan comes down to. This single moment of insurgency, announcing to the world that we want our rights. I step forward, my shoulders shaking ever so slightly. I press a hard metal fingertip against the screen.
This may not seem like much, but it goes way back to when the University was first instated. There were only a few cybs then, under 50. They didn't like their standard labor jobs. So, the University added the jobs of collection and food prep. Some workers were still unhappy, however. They protested. They went up to the fingerpad screens and, with their metal limbs able to program anything with software, and unlocked the door. They went on to protest inside the building. The 22 cybs were subdued. They were never heard from again.
Maybe, today, if we are so forcefully dismissed as they were, we can find them. Maybe we can break the system.
"For the cyborgs!" I cry out.
"For the cyborgs!" my fellow rebels echo. Then, we charge into the building to the sound of blaring alarms.
We 111 rebels stand, our backs to the wall, our hands clasped before us. A lineup of six vans labeled “Outskirts” sit outside with tinted windows and back doors open, waiting for us, the rebels, the fugitives. Men in University Army uniforms watch us with disapproving eyes. I don’t blame them. Our metal limbs are weapons enough for them to be nervous.
One of the men blows a whistle. The sharp sound rings through the crisp air. Two other workers walk around, separating us into groups of 20. My group is short a few people. The men lead us away to the vans. They shove us into the back. A bolt catches on the edge of my metal finger, and I wince. The men whisper gruffly at us to “sit down and shut your mouths- metal and otherwise”. I stiffen with offense, but I sit down. This will only be worse if we struggle. The doors are slammed shut behind us, and the trucks take off.
Through the tinted windows, I can see shadowy images of sun on winter precipitation. I see airbuses for a while as well, but after a few hours, we are in a section of society with unpaved and slippery roads. We are not in our civilized world anymore. Some of our rebels begin to shiver, and one girl starts crying quietly. I, too, feel a shudder down my spine, remembering the Primary stories about the Outskirts. Morphed, giant versions of the poultry we eat. People who execute others without a government. Closing my eyes for a moment, I shake my head quickly to wipe the vision from my head.
We continue driving until nearly midday meal. At what would have been the lunch bell, the vans slide simultaneously to a stop. The men, still standing straight, open the back doors and order us out. Stretching my legs, I climb out, setting my feet on the rough ground dotted with plant life.
“Where are we?” I hear a rebel- because we still are- ask a uniformed man nervously.
“We are in the Outskirts.” the man shouts out to all of us. “There are no giant turkeys.
There are executions, if you’re not careful.
You will be fed.
But you will work.
It will be harder than your labor jobs.
Each morning, you will rise at 5:45.
You will dress in your new uniforms.
You will eat a morning meal.
You will then work until 12:30.
You will be served a midday meal.
Then, you will continue working until 18:30.
At 18:45, you will eat an evening meal.
We’re not monsters here.
You will have relaxation until bedtime at 21:00.