[BꜶD] 01. Alone in Detainment

It was silent, save for the fan in the corner.

These big, metal boxes with grates on four sides were everywhere, and they all worked tirelessly to do two things: take in the old, stale air and revitalize it for another use, and pump the result back out into the same room. They were absolutely necessary, in a place with no trees or other flora to do the same job, and because of this it was vital that they remain clean and in working order.

Most of the maintenance workers were very familiar with them: If one was malfunctioning, or getting dusty, or being blocked off, then it was first priority for any maintenance member to set the fans right. It was rare that they needed more than a quick cleaning, or a minute of deactivation before being rebooted… But they had all needed to reassemble one in working order before being assigned to their final post.

This unit was working fine, steadily taking in and putting out air in a constant, flowing stream. In fact, there was only one thing amiss about it at all:

A woman had decided to sit on top of it.

She was resting her head on her knees, arms wrapped tightly around them, hiding her face. Her hair was short, black, and messy: It had a slight curl to it, which announced itself no matter how short it was trimmed. This she grabbed now, both hands pulling on it slightly as she groaned near-silently. She ran her hands through it a few times, scratching, before one came to rest on the back of her neck, and the other (her right), fell to her side.

She wore dark gray boots; boots of the maintenance crew. They came up to mid-calf, laced the whole way up, with a pair of buckles over the laces for extra stability. She kept them well out of the way of the vents, out of well established habit. They hugged the legs of her jump suit tightly, and colored the same as they were, it was easy to assume they were part of the same garment.

Her jump suit, however, had a single light gray line running up her thigh, hip, and side. It traced the sides of her body, splitting her arms, neck, and legs. There was only a single break in this line, and that was at her waist, where a bright orange line crossed as if it were a belt. At the orange line’s center was a large “D”.

Her clothes fit her tightly, just as everyone’s did. Loose clothes were a sign of sickness or mischief; when clothes no longer fit, they could easily be replaced by ones that did, for free. One of the boons of living here. That said, she had a fairly large frame: Not overweight, but wide shoulders and very wide hips coupled with work that kept her active each day.

And on her wrist, the wrist of her right hand, which lay at her side, was a solid iron ring. It perfectly matched the choker around her neck, and both seemed impossible to remove: no clasps, no buckles, no seams. She ran her fingers once again over the back of the choker, in hopes that she had been wrong the last however many times she had done it.

She wasn’t.

Her thin, hooded eyes opened slowly and gazed sorrowfully at the ground. I’m doomed. They’ll leave me here for another few hours, decide what to do with me, and that will be that. Goodbye Shera. She didn’t want to look, but she knew she would anyway, and she might as well get it over with.

Craning her neck to her left, she peeked at the far wall. It was hard to see through the yellow field which burned her fingers when she tried to touch it earlier. But, four large red digits took up the top third of the wall, and easily shone through clear enough to see. 21:32.

A shiver raced itself down her spine, and her face snapped itself back to rest against her knees. One hour left. Then it’ll all be over. For me, at least.