Chapter 3 - The Annual Grand Boverick Festival
1729 days ago
Every year, the teachers all leave to journey to the Capitol to go to the Annual Grand Boverick Festival, where the teachers and watchers are rewarded for dealing with the Sanroke citizens. Since we´re the offspring of the people who could have contributed towards the destruction of our planet.
I was actually born in the Asylum´s hospital, and was separated from my mother at birth. She was set in a different Asylum for recovering mothers, while I was kept in this one.
I´m 14 now, which means I´m in the Third Form. There´s a form for every five years.
I bet you´re wondering about our blood. No, It´s not red. In fact, it´s a very un-appetizing, thick, black substance, due to another jab we had at birth.
We have this special chemical-water that we drink and bathe in. It looks and tastes exactly the same, but normal water is forbidden, as not only does it wash out our hair dyes, but it removes our lenses, the chemical in our blood that makes it black and it refills our tear ducts.
I´m seen as quite a trusted person in the watcher´s eyes, as I´ve only been in isolation once, as the average is about three times.
There are four trusted people in every form in every Asylum in Sanroke.
Our form´s is me, Aurora, Robin Cooker and Aster Lillison. Only one boy.
For the past four years that I´ve been in this form, it´s been everyone except me to look after the Asylum while the teachers and watchers are on their way to the Capitol every year.
Me, Millie and Aurora left to go ´outside´. It´s a barren patch of land, with mesh all around and on the top, too.
Grey smoke is being pumped out of a chimney 24/7 for whatever reason, meaning the sky is always grimly clouded over, and the sun is no where to be seen, let alone the blue of the sky.
The whole place reeks of eye-watering toxins, the chemical that they drench the earth of the outside to kill off all signs of life- grass, bugs, things like that.
There was nothing to do out there.
We simply conversed and built shapes in the mud, like everyday.
I peered out through the mesh and saw second form roaming about, then First Form next to that.
Life is so dull.
The most exciting thing that´s ever happened here was when a ´seagull´
circled one of the pointed roofs, and we all were fascinated.
Unfortunately, I didn´t get a glimpse of the ´orange´ of his beak.
The gull was quickly slaughtered upon it´s arrival.
We´re still not sure how it survived the toxic whiff of the chemical on
the barren land, or the sickly choke of the smoke.
Even now, the intoxicating steam tickles my throat playfully, the grim
clouds still sends a mask of suffocating bubble around my mouth.
I noticed the teachers lugging about leather trunks and dragging plastic
bags stuffed with dozens of files, papers and clothes.
"Ravenglass," Miss Yolksom said coldly. She tucked a stray
piece of mud-brown hair behind her bat-ear.
Her broad shoulder twitched.
I´ve studied Ma´am for the four years I´ve been in this form, and noted
her physical behaviour.
I´ve noticed that her shoulder twitches when she´s ´excited´ about
something. I´m not yet sure what ´excited´ means yet, but I think it´s a bit
like the time that I really wanted it to be tomorrow, because I would be having
bread and butter pudding for the first time.
It was actually quite dull.
Mainly because they had de-flavoured it to get all the colour out.
Anyway, Miss Yolksom stood in front of me, shoulder jerking away.
"As you know, you are one of the Trusted Four," she barked.
"Yes, Ma´am, I believe I am trustworthy," I lied.
"Positive." Ma´am nodded. "Anyway, I have a few jobs for
you to look after while we are all gone."
Ma´am led me to a mechanical chamber to be accessed through outside,
through the Third Form common room, through the huge, shared cafeteria, and
through that into the Teacher´s quarters.
It was cozy, with charcoal-grey, plushy sofas clustered around a black
coffee table, on which were black mugs filled with dull brown, steaming tea.
My mouth watered as the hot smell wafted under my nose.
"Through here," she said, shoving me harshly towards a
metal-plated door. My nose cracked painfully against the cold of the silver. I
felt my bone split slightly, and I thought, oh god. It´s coming.
I felt the telltale heat in my veins as the thick substance began to
slowly work its way towards the gap in my skin. It oozed in stodgy, warm drips
of black goo. I blinked solemnly and began to nurse my throbbing nose. The pain
I´m sure people in the Capitol would cry at this, but I felt no grief. I
merely dabbed at the wound.
Miss Yolksom, the charming woman, pushed past me to unlock the door with
a brass key. It clanged open to reveal a room filled with whirring machines and
grinding cogs- and a massive, metal box, dials ringing and hissing, bells
jingling and buttons bleeping. The huge pipe leading to the ceiling clunked as
more and more smoke spewed out of it into the outside world.
Ma´am patted it as if it were an old friend.
"Listen up, Ravenglass," she hissed, grabbing me harshly by my upper
arm. I obeyed and let her drag me up close to her face.
I felt her rancid breath tickle my nose, and held back the urge to
sneeze up some other black chemical that they´ve concocted.
"This machine is very hard to work, so you better listen up,
"Positive," she huffed.
She threw me back with a flick of her wrist, throwing me against the
I entered a brief moment of confusion, not understanding why she was
treating me so harshly: A, because I´m one of the Trusted Four, and B, because
I´m the one who´s running this place for a month.
I gasped for air for a few seconds, regaining my breath, then rejoining
Ma´am by her side.
She pointed out several dials and levers, all sorts of whatchamacallits
and thingamajigs, and random buttons that need to be pressed at certain times.
I couldn´t take it all in, so I didn´t really bother to listen too well.
By the end of our 30-minute session on the smoke machine, I only
understood the meaning of the power button and the rather handy cup holder.
Next, we journeyed out to the Outdoor shed.
It was quite much a pile of rotting, splintering wood, only upright by being
wedged into the soft mud.
"This," Ma´am began, grabbing my face and thrusting me towards
a bottle on the ground. "This, my girl, this is Lifeaway."
"Lifeaway?" I repeated, puzzled.
"Yes, Ravenglass, now pay attention," Miss Yolksom says
sharply. She picks up the plastic bottle and threw it into my hands. I studied
it- the fluid inside was thick, grey and clumpy, and rather unappealingly fluffy, like clay.
"You pour it on the ground," Ma´am said, demonstrating. The
Lifeaway flopped unimpressively in a mound of grey goo. "And you rake it
Miss Yolksom grabs a rake and combs through the Lifeaway, massaging it
into the muck. It gently dissipates within the time it takes to rub it in.
"Remember that, child," Ma´am says, grabbing my tee and
throwing me to the door. The chemical scent awakens a sickly whirlpool in my stomach.
She shows me a bunch of other stuff, like keys and times and resumes.
Eventually, she grabbed my tee and threw me into the Third Form Common Rooms.
She hurled a dozen brass keys after me.
"You better take good care of the old place, Ravenglass," she growls.
"Yes, Ma´am," I reply calmly, retrieving the keys and scraps of papers.
"Keep them in your trunk, understand?"
And with that, she turns and heads out the metal door, with all the other teachers.
Faraway, I hear a minibus come to life with a soft purr, like a cat. It chugs farther away...and I´m left in the dark, with Aurora, Millie, Ryder, Felic, Luka Aralong, Octavia Rayshine, Faye Lobelia, Tashie, Winter Crowbite and Scout Sledgesweet. Aster and Robin were probably helping out with the First Forms or the Nursery.
What is light, I wonder?
There are no lights here.
Apparently, they help you see in the dark.
Our dried carrots are there for that.
But rumour has it that there´s a massive light beneath the clouds and smoke, a very pretty one that warms you.
It´s hard to imagine a massive carrot floating in the air.
Even though there is no light, it´s still possible to see, because of the slight aura that this Massive Light might give us.
But, for now, it´s darkness all around.
We use touch to see in the ashy blackness. Aster and Robin make a human chain out of us in the usual order picked by us- Robin holds onto Aster, Aster holds onto me, I hold onto Aurora, Aurora holds onto Millie, Millie onto Octavia, Octavia onto Tashie, Tashie onto Felic, Felic onto Ryder, Ryder onto Scout, Scout onto Faye, Faye onto Winter, Winter onto Luka, Luka onto Paige.
Tashie managed to escape her isolation by apologizing.
We don´t have ´love´ here, but if we did, there are ready-made little couples.
Most famously amongst Third Form, Tashie and Felic.
I think it was the time when they were both in Isolation together, and they were so lonely that they made ´friends´.
Next is Winter and Paige.
They seem quite similar personality-wise (though everyone is), as they think similarly. Whereas, Tashie and Felic couldn´t be more different if they tried.
The last couple is Aster Lillison and Robin Cooker- both never been in Isolation. They´re considered the Goody Two Shoes.
Scout and Faye have persuaded us that they´re only good friends.
I would like to get to know Ryder a bit better some time, but for now, we´re just acquaintances.
I stand up and make my way along the wall in our chain, and the telltale jingle of the keys on my belt warn me that I need to do my jobs.