Auto Dale: Chapter 5
Posted February 22nd, 2019 by Ninasilverrose
in British Columbia
2 years ago, Kate had been taken to the faculty hall for the first time. It was a large building with a dome-like ceiling, having colorful paper cranes hanging on threads. It was only one story high, well on the ground, the entrance and the rooms the only things made of wood. The rest was see through glass, letting in the sparkling sunshine.
The educational preceptor had walked up with a smile on her face, handing Kate her golden name tag and uniform. She remembered her excitement at that time, going to register as a pupil in the registration booth. She had heard many children a year or two older than her speak about the Faculty hall, about the educational preceptors, and the things they taught there. It had got her all excited and pumped, and she was not disappointed when she entered the coolly A/C'd building, stepped on the smooth white tiles and watched the paper cranes sway about.
The uniform consisted of a black skirt that reached her knees, a white dress shirt for the warm weather and a green sweater for the cold and of course, the golden name tag, which everyone wore in Auto-Dale after the age of 6. Everybody was supposed to know and be polite to everyone, and plus, it avoided the embarrassment of having to repeat one's name or ask for it again. Of course, nobody had a name before they were 6. It was given to them on that gleaming name tag, the same time that they became pupils in the Faculty hall. Before that, people were referred to by nicknames, randomly chosen. Sometimes it was, sweety pie, sometimes they were just called girl or boy. Kate's was, she remembered, very vague. Nobody knew what to exactly call her, as she didn't fit into any nicknames.
At first, her parents were afraid of her becoming one of the Uglies; the individuals that had their white masks taken away from them and dragged away to the Outside. The Outside was a scary place to most citizens, as they didn't know what lurked out there and felt safer in Auto-Dale, protected by the APB and the Handy men. Kate hadn't heard of anyone ever making it to the Outside; either because they never came back, or came back, but after about 1 minute of being in the Outside. That didn't count as knowing what the Outside was like and what was actually there, despite the propagandas.
Kate's nickname ended up being several; Cat, darling, pookie, muffin, etc. She was called so many things, it was almost comical to try and respond to all of them. Once a nickname was taken, it only became free to take again once the person turned 6. Then, a new-born could acquire the nickname. Kate has felt bad about hogging all the nicknames, but her mum had told her that it was alright, and that she hadn't chosen for this to happen. Besides, there were plenty more nicknames for the new-borns to take.
Every subdivision, or commonly known as household, was allowed to have 2 girls, 2 boys, or just a girl and a boy. The babies came from the Handy-men, whom got them from the Outside. Nobody knew how, or when babies were made; they only knew that the Handy-men would bring them a baby if they required it. Kate didn't remember where she came from or if she even had another home. It was common knowledge that babies didn't have any parents when they were made, and the Handy-men did them a kindness by bringing them to a home.
As Kate stood beside the stranger, heart racing out of her chest, trying to keep her composure. The APB waited patiently for an answer, its mechanical eye flicking back and forth from Kate to the stranger. She felt him stir slightly, then inhale sharply. Hesitating for a full second, the man lifted his head to meet the glowing eye of the APB. Bad idea! Kate's mind went into panic mode, as APB could recognize expressions and emotions as easily as they could flick those eerie eyes. And then, just like that, the man spoke:
"Uglies are bad people that are taken away so everyone can stay pretty." His voice was calm and collected, as smooth as butter. The creatures eye flickered, turning on and off several times, until it finally turned its head towards us again.
" Very good, Citizens! Have a wonderful evening, and remember to report any uglies you see!" And with that, the APB turned around and began its patrol around the town once more, as if nothing had occurred in the street. The stranger let out his breath in one exhale and took the mask off his face, looking as nervous as Kate felt. He grinned at her sheepishly, and held out a hand. Kate eyed it hesitantly.
"Um, hi. My name is Ben." Finally reassured that he was safe to interact with, she took his outstretched hand and shook it, unable to help the smile forming on her lips.
"My name is Kate."
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