Once the exams were done the medics gathered up their clothes, “You can have these back right after the first fertilization attempt.”
Mars scowled, “You’ve never taken our clothes before.”
“You have an audience today and we are pushing things along for them.”
The examiners left the two young people alone in the room attempting to cover up as much as they could with their own hands.
It didn’t seem to matter that she had done this four other times being naked in front of someone hadn’t become any less embarrassing. Now that she was in a room with Mars it seemed worse.
Part of her was self-conscious about every little flaw she saw in herself. For the first time, she worried her partner would see them too.
Mars stood there silently watching the door almost willing it to open back up and someone tells them there has been a mistake.
It wasn’t that Mars hadn’t ever thought about being with Venus, but not like this. He dreamed that they lived together, just the two of them living in a cottage. Somewhere far away and far from the rest of the world.
“Should we just get started?” Venus asked.
Mars turned toward her before whispering in her ear, “I don’t think I can do this.”
Venus’ eyes grew in surprise before they quickly looked down, “Oh! Well, I can try and help.”
Mars’ cheeks deepened into a red blush, “No that’s not what I meant,” he stated. “I mean we are best friends.”
“And this is awkward?”
“Well, awkward or not we don’t have a choice. I’d rather not be ‘retired’ and I don’t think you’d like it either.”
“No I don’t but you’re, V, my best friend.”
Venus nodded, “Yes, and you’re, Mars, one of the few people who makes the days worth living.”
“It’s not fair to use guilt,” he mumbled.
“I’ll use any method I can to get you into bed,” she joked.
Mars pretended to laugh but her words stung a little. She didn’t want him she just wanted to get it over with and continue to the next step. The part where she could grow fat and happy. Where, apart from the prenatal exams, she was left alone.
“If only we could esc-”
But before he could finish what he was going to say Venus quickly covered his mouth.
“Don’t you dare finish that thought,” she whispered.
Escape was treason against the Cube. It resulted in immediate action. Often if a breeder was lucky enough to be spared from termination, they disappeared for months. When they came back they looked like death. Un-fed, broken, beaten and any thought of trying to leave the Cube was gone.
“Have you ever wondered,” he whispered, “if the termination is so bad?”
Venus had often wondered if the escape of death was real and worse than what she had to endure. But a deed of hope rested in her. Hope that this would someday end. That someday the current powers that controlled the facilities, like the one she lived in, would die out and the need for genetic perfection would die out.
When the perfect children, like her, finally took over she would be free... During her worse times, she would repeat over and over to herself, “Tomorrow, tomorrow we will be free.”
“Tomorrow we will be free,” Mars repeated after Venus realized she said it aloud.
She grinned and nodded, “Tomorrow, but we still have to get through today.”
Hope was V’s real cage. Hope kept her captive for the better tomorrow that it never promised her.
She and Mars did as they were told. Both were surprised to find comfort in one another. Beyond friendship.
The medics must have been pleased because the window that usually delivered food opened and a fresh set of clothes were waiting.
Once the required fertilization was fulfilled the two could enjoy some time in the quad alone.
It seemed like paired breeders were more pampered but it was only to endure that the female breeder wasn’t contaminated by anyone but her current partner.
Large iron fences lined the Cubes quad. It reasonable a prison from ancient times more than a facility that brought forth life.
The quad rested on. the edge of a wooded area. No breeder knew how far the wood stretched out behind them, but the sounds of rushing traffic in front of the Cube let them know that civilization wasn’t far away.
The quad was littered with different equipment and courts to entertain them.
V walked over to the swings and sat down. She slowly rocked herself back and forth as Mars joined her. It was weird to hear the quad so quiet.
“Do you think Cas okay?” Mars asked.
V nodded, “This isn’t her first time. She knows what she is doing.”
“Does it get easier with each time?”
Venus laughed, “Hell no, but once it’s over it’s over. Then we get to rest and relax.”
“That part sounds nice.”
“It is,” she admitted, “it the part I look forward to the most. Unfortunately, it is the part that lasts the shortest.”
“Tomorrow,” he reminded her.
V gave him a large smile and nodded, “Tomorrow.”
They sat there quietly and rocked back and forth. When their time in the quad was over in the quad a medic came and usher them back into their pod. The didn’t provide the breeders much entertainment in the breeding pods so that there wasn’t much to distract them from.
Mars and Venus talked and joked until dinner and finally went to bed. Only one large bed was provided in the breeding pod and Venus, for the first time, found it comforting to share it.