Book 1: The Dawning (Chapter 1) by Robin P.

Posted on November 28, 2013. Filed under: General Information |

Chapter One

FENRI

Freedom. That was the only word that Fenri could think of as he stared out into the open meadow with gently rolling hills. The forest of Evergreens that surrounded the meadow and the school cut St. Mann’s Junior Academy of Illinois State from the outside world. Who cares about the outside world, spat Fenri in his mind. He was perfectly content here. Why bother to go out into the outside world, where anything could happen?

So once again Fenri’s thoughts drifted away from the droning voice of his chemistry teacher and the glowing screen of his textbook. Sitting in Room 147B always made him like that. It wasn’t that Chemistry was boring – in fact, he had gotten a blue ribbon and a gold medal at the previous two science fair with his hands-on Chemistry project, and tactile activities were always challenging when you had the ideal thing to work with – the Third Gen VeloCT smartpad. But it was just the fact that he loved to just simply gaze outside, through the panes of the robot-washed and sparkling windows, at the smooth, grass-green meadow, so clean, so pristine, so…

“Fenri Renison! Will you please pay attention to your classwork?” Ms. Galvingston scolded in her sharp, authorized voice. Fenri snapped to attention and fumbled with his VeloCT desk. The moment he accidently looked up at Mrs. Galvingston’s frowning face, he unwillingly flinched. Ms. Galvingston’s eccentric blue eye had that effect on her students. She had gotten the bionic eye during an Emergency Bionic Surgery 18 years ago (everybody knew this story – the aged chemistry teacher was almost a legend, and there was even a rumor that her organs, lungs, and even her heart was bionic, which Fenri ridiculed), after a violent plane crash in the Cascade Mountain Range. The accident had crushed her temples (along with her eye socket) and her ribcage, fractured her thigh and shin bones, and twisted her joints. So far, she was the only known survivor of the tragic accident. Now she was a Cyborg – three-fifths human and ⅖ bionic – and she had, fortunately, become a teacher here. Well, at least she was a teacher. Most cyborgs were treated like slaves, being forced to do hazardous labor with minimum or even no wages, illegal to get a job, and forced to live in cramped apartments in the outskirts of metropolitan cities. But here, the aged high school Chemistry professor had an entire suite room to herself, which she considered unfair for the others of her kind.

Once again, Mrs. Galvingston resumed her lecture about laws of thermodynamics. Fenri’s eyes glazed over, and his mind wandered into the open meadow once more.

The next day, Fenri trudged into class and dropped himself into his usual designated seat, prepared for another long lecture. Ugh, Fenri thought to himself. Can’t she leave us alone for one day, especially the last day of school?

As everyone began shuffling into their seats, the chemistry professor marched in, dressed formally in a suit, shiny black heels, and long, dark grey pants. She stood primly behind her podium, holding a stack of large beige envelopes in front of her. Everyone leaned forward in their seats to listen to her.

“Today, as you know, is the last day for you to be here at St. Mann’s Junior Academy of  Illinois State,” began Mrs. Galvingston. This aroused nervous murmuring and rapid whispering around the classroom. Fenri stayed quiet in the corner, but dozens of thoughts jumbled around in his head. Leaving school – the only place he had known ever since he was a toddler! What could he do now? He had always relied on St. Mann’s campus for everything. Delis, cafes, malls, even public arcades had been built inside the giant campus of the Institute. For Fenri, leaving all of this behind, just to be put into the wilderness of the metropolitan cities was unimaginable.

Mrs. Galvingston cleared her voice and sat down on her tall stool, as rigid as a person could be. Or maybe because she isn’t fully a person… Fenri thought as he listened on.

“Each and one of you has either been assigned to a job, or will be – and maybe forever – unemployed. I apologize for that, yet it is the Head Magistrate’s decision, which I cannot alter.” Her gaze softened a bit, but her eyes were still as hard as obsidian. “All students are going to be traveling to their designated areas by MagLev Trains – do not start groaning about its outdatedness, it is still fast enough to carry you from one shore to another in half a day – and will get an orange envelope-” she held up a large envelope with a red stamp sealing it, “- which contains your train number, destination, your job, grade reports from the past 12 years, and your PIG (I know, it spells “pig”, and it’s nothing to be laughing about unless you’re an immature 5 year old). The PIG-your Personal Information Gadget- includes your electronic birth certificate, your physical status, and et cetera information that characterizes you in a specific way. You are to keep this on all the time, and should be wearing this even at home and even, In. Your. Sleep.” She emphasized each word, tensing more and more. Fenri thought about how his roommate, Theo, had been that way when he was babysitting the 3rd-schoolers, and they were poking around at an innocent mouse, which Theo thought was absolute cruel behavior and told them to stop at once. But why would Mrs. Galvingston be acting like that in this situation? Even she, from what he noticed, had a small, watch-like thing (probably the PIG) on her wrist that always faintly glowed, whether light or dark. Mrs. Galvingston blinked, and then sat back with a sigh.

“The MagLev Trains will carry you to the nearest station to your designations. From there, you are to report directly to your designation officer, and show him your PIG. Then you will be given a key and a check specially written for you, and head to your home building.” The Chemistry Professor folded her hands in front of her on the podium and neatly put back the envelope in the pile, where it had originally belonged to. “When your name appears on your desk and it rings softly, come up and take your envelope.” She pressed a small blue button on what appeared to be a Gamma Mini IX – the newest version of the VeloCT remotes.

A ring sounded somewhere to Fenri’s left (which was, basically the whole entire classroom, since he sat directly next to the right wall. Alan Agrithorn, the class artist, slowly rose out of his seat and nervously marched up to the podium. He took his envelope, and listened to the Chemistry teacher whisper something in his ear, nodded, then returned to his seat. Next, Hiram Anderson , the class clown, walked up to receive his envelope, but this time, the professor whispered nothing to him. He saw Hiram give a little cheer when he opened his envelope. Next went Hannah Burinsky, the class fashion model, then Ivan Cori, then Jacqueline Delendez, and so on until Fenri’s desk chimed a high B note, and “Fenri Warrenburg Benedict Renison” appeared in big bold letters on the screen of his desk.

Fenri slowly got up on his feet and walked to the podium, where his Cyborg professor stood with his envelope in her right hand. Her gaze pierced him, but when he took his envelope, the teacher leaned over and whispered, “Life goes on. Do not worry,” and sent him back to his desk. He slowly took his grade sheet out and stared at it.

 

FENRI DAMIAN RENISON

Grade 12 | Age 18

SCHOOL YEAR MARKS

Key: E=Exceeds Expectation, G=Good, S=Satisfactory, T=Tolerable, F=Failed

Grade 1
Classwork: 100.0% E/Participation: 99.8% E

Grade 2
Classwork: 98.5% E/Participation: 94.8% G

He scanned toward the bottom of the sheet…

Grade 12
Chemistry: 92.0% G Calculus: 79.4% T
Language Arts: 85.1% S Technology: 98.7% E
History: 67.3% F
Earth Sciences: 88.9% G

Fenri studied his grade sheet, not too surprised about his low grades in History and Calculus. He always failed to hand in the homework on time and forgot the test dates, and of course, that was why his Technology grade was so good. No tests and minimal homework, and lots of on-spot creativity – that had been him. But now, he felt a pang of regret as he eyed his grades. He looked up and saw the aged Chemistry professor give out the last envelope to the class “dictionary” Oscar Zhou, then looked at the room of children like someone would at a funeral. Most of the kids were either grinning or fist-pumping the air as if they had just won the lottery, but Fenri noticed several students were gloomy, looking at the second sheet of paper. One girl named Gail Pedington was even shedding some tears.

Fenri sighed, then pulled out his second paper. Unemployed – have a good lifelong vacation! It sounded as if it were an advertisement for a summer vacation to the bahamas. Fenri realized that just a tidbit of more effort in his schoolwork could have given him an employment. He seemed frozen for a second, taking this in. He wanted to cry like he had for the last time so many years ago, when he was 7 years old and had been punished for knocking over his teacher’s antique 1921-made vase.

It was then that he saw that a lot of his friends were unemployed, too. As he scanned the room, he spotted Theo’s grave expression and Hiram Garren’s tearful eyes, and he, too swallowed hard not to show any grief. At least I’m not the only one, Fenri tried to soothe himself. It wasn’t working. Come on, Fenri Renison. Cheer up. You don’t have to worry about waking up at 4 in the morning now. You can relax at home.

What home? Fenri’s other self spat back. An internal argument began raging inside him. You know what it’s like to be unemployed. You stay in the restricted areas, surrounded by 3D full-color cameras on the streets. Cheer up? Go cheer up when you die in hell! Fenri slumped and put his face in his hands.

Yes, that’s right, crooned the voice in his head. Despair, Fenri Renison. You didn’t know what you were doing. You thought you would just clean-pass, didn’t you? All you did at night was not studying – either going to the Entertainment Center with the girls or sleeping way too early! You’re not a genius, you’re barely just a little orphan that never knew his mother, got abandoned and —

“Stop! Stop!” Fenri screamed. The whole class fell silent and turned to stare at him. Fenri took in a deep breath and realized that his shirt and face was drenched in sweat, and his hands were shaking and banging softly against the table. “Sorry,” he apologized hastily burying his face in his arms and moaning under his breath. He could hear Mrs. Galvingston explaining that for 2 hours after the end of the school day, everybody would have a bit of free time, and then they would be given 45 minutes to pack, and then 15 minutes to board designated trains after saying farewells. She said it without much emotion, but he could see the pity and disappointment in her eyes.

“Well, then. Class is dismissed. Farewell to you all, and may you have a fine rest of your life.” They all nodded and had a last fleeting glance at the piercing blue eyes that they would never live to see again. Or so they thought.

✵✵      ✵✵      ✵✵

Fenri had arrived at his dormitory, and was taking in the cozy, suitable, and rather messy room he had known so well ever since he started school. Just then, he saw Theo stumble in, still staring at his paper.

“Whoa, whoa, steady there, man,” Fenri grabbed his best friend’s shoulders to stop him from falling on the floor. Theo grunted a small “thanks” and sat down in a pile of his month-old pile of unwashed clothes.

“Gonna have to vacuum this place and wash all our clothes before we go,” Theo muttered, putting away his envelope in his rather enormous suitcase he had bought at cheap price last year in a yard sale. ‘Only used twice in the past 2 years!’ the sign had read, indicating a beaten, green-grey colored gigantic mass of a suitcase. Fenri half-grinned, the corner of his mouth twitching up, at the good memories of previous years.

“What’re you smiling about?” It wasn’t meant to be scornful, but it sounded like it amidst all of the moody-Theo atmosphere.

“Nothing,” Fenri fixed his face and sat down on the jelly-plastic bouncy chair – the last one that came out in 2119 before they went out of stock – and fixed Theo with a near imitation of Mrs. Galvingston’s piercing gaze. “So, my good friend. Where are you designated for? Which one of the unemployed condos?”

At the ‘unemployed condos’, Theo’s gaze narrowed. “How did you know I was unemployed?”

“Your expression. Duh.” Fenri pointed out matter-of-factly. “Answer my question. Hey, I’m unemployed too, anyway, so don’t look at me like that. You don’t look like yourself.”

“Humph. Alright then, have it your way. I’m assigned to Designated Unemployed Development #214C in Denver, Colorado,” Theo read off his paper. “What ‘bouts you?” Fenri was amazed. Normally, Theo would make a big deal about grammar.

“D.U.D. #1A in Manhattan. great, huh? I heard that Manhattan had the 3rd most crime rate and accident possibility, along with pollution in the world, following Los Angeles and Beijing, China. I might as well get tattoos and turn into one of the dragon-tattoo gangsters. Totally frisk.” Fenri chuckled nervously, hoping that a light joke would lift the mood. No success. Theo lowered his eyes and managed a forcefully taught grin – more like a straight line – on his face.

“Yeah. I hope I’ll manage to find a job somewhere in the Ski lodges – don’t look so surprised. I know I want to work at the car generator, but from what I hear, it’s occupied by Blue-collar Bots.” Theo grimaced. Blue-collar Bots were cheaply made, yet well-equipped robots made in the mid-21st century, and updated with skills until 2120, where they received no more evolved. They were named after the Blue-collar workers, which had been, in the 21st century (and as he had learned in history class) – people who did handiwork and labor that were not professionals.

Fenri let out a long string of breath, then fell backwards onto his bed. “I hope you do get a job, and I would rather like it if I do. You know we still have a chance to? Also, from what I researched a month or so ago, the unemployed receive monthly packages of food and a few bills of money. Comes from taxes, I guess.” Ever since oil had been word-wide banned ever since the Petroleum Depression in 2051 because Petroleum and natural crude oil supply had dropped to an alarming 7% left, tax had been reduced, and less money was spent, therefore used mostly on Electric, Solar, Plasmatic, and Ionic Energy. Leftover tax was stored and given out to the unemployed in forms of cheap food and a few bills. There were unemployed, still, especially in the 3 biggest Metacities (NYC, Chicago, Los Angeles) that were not receiving these resources and starving or becoming criminals. Fenri shuddered at the thought.

Theo shook his head and stood up steadily, rubbing his hands together. “It’s going to do no good, ranting about what failures in life we’ll face. I’ll remember you, Fenri Renison, for the rest of my life. I hope I’ll meet you in the future.” Theo grasped Fenri in a tight hug, then shook hands. Theo looked like he was about to cry. “Good-bye, man. Have fun!” Theo left the room, leaving Fenri staring at the doorway.

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2 Responses to “Book 1: The Dawning (Chapter 1) by Robin P.”

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Nice story Robin

very interesting story


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