The electronic clock shrilled ad nauseam, ripping him from a contemplative reverie, today, as it did yesterday, and the day before, as it would tomorrow. Counting days was irrelevant in the life of a well-to-do man, unless he counted days passed in total service to the Empire.
Lukian Valentin shivered, peeking from behind the cover of a heavy grey curtain, rough to the touch: each morning he woke before the clock and performed his secret ritual, sneaking behind the curtain and ogling the mysterious world below.
His dorm hovered forty-three stories above the central megalopolis of the Glorious Empire Daitya. The world below belonged to the underclass, the vast majority of Daitya’s population; their city sprawled from beneath him to beyond the horizon. They toiled in belching factories, lived in crumbling housing complexes, sought government assistance in austere skyscrapers.
Lukian was indoctrinated to show gratitude to the Empire, and to his superiors, for he was saved from the unknown hovel that birthed him--saved from that inevitable dirge of poverty stifling the millions below.
It was his private curiosity, this sleeping world behind the curtain. It would be construed as grave disrespect if anyone knew, in these quiet moments, that he couldn’t tear his eyes from the metal beehive circumscribing his boundaries, the glowing industrial sectors, the grid of roads for land transport, the quiet desolation of the underclass. A haze of smog obscured the horizon--the only horizon he ever knew--and he mulled over the puzzle of what lands existed in the distance, beyond his small world.
He was told it was nothing but more industry, more underclass, eventually impenetrable, snowy mountains and the frozen sea.
He shimmied to the other side of the curtain, staring momentarily at the rumpled heap of grey blankets on his single bed. In every dorm in the complex, the alarm clock interface was located across the room, activated by a SET chip scanner mounted in the wall.
It was impossible to disable the ringing, repetitive, irritating ringing, without climbing out of bed and scanning a wrist. Once disabled, the clock activated all the lights in the room, and the wooly curtains automatically rolled open.
Lukian blinked the last of sleep from his eyes. He stole another glance through the window: smoke spewing from factories, fire from the steel mills burning against the grey morning light, the addling commercial sectors with a neon omnipresence precluding the need for sleep. Between broken clouds swollen with gritty snow, elusive rays of sun shone like liquid metal: nothing ever changed.
Lukian panicked. Nothing changed: there was never a reason to stare. Staring was symptomatic of daydreaming--and daydreaming was an early indicator of psychosis.
He avoided inviting another therapy session at all costs.
He zipped into the washroom, throwing on the faucet, rinsing his face, brushing his teeth, shaving, raking a comb through short and sandy hair. He punctuated his grooming session with a hard slap across the face: no sense in looking dazed, the superiors would be all over him if he didn’t look sharp as a tack.
Lukian stuck out his tongue: always white, no matter how much he brushed it.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Sci-Fi/Steamy Romance
Rating – R (18+)