Chapter 1

Written by: annetteconnor

     Telecommuting from home caused a huge increase in suicides. So Labour Centres were created that allowed people to see each other but never actually get near each other, with all the necessary sterilization procedures to make it safe. And it worked, or at least I believed it did until today.

     Arriving at Tampa Labour Office 23, I slide into my glass-walled cubby. I can’t help but scan the other work cells to see if anyone is staring at me. My eye catches the familiar sheet of blond hair cascading across the back of a black task chair and my heart squeezes painfully. Lillith. I have spoken with her often, via text, intercom and Skype. About work. About life. Hints of a hopeful future when we can catch a movie, grab a bite to eat and maybe a couple of drinks. Together.

     I realize now that I will never get to hold Lillith’s hand, or smell her perfume as we walk along the beach. I wanted to make my mom’s spaghetti and relive the noodle scene from Lady and the Tramp. She said it was her favorite movie growing up. But in less than four days now, I won’t be around to do anything. In less time than that, I won’t care about anything but getting it over with.

     A hand creeps to my stomach, where bandages and light swabbing lay beneath the plaid button-down oxford I wear. I realize, as I check nonchalantly for seepage from the growing, pulsing sores on my abdomen, that I wore the shirt she liked. Lillith turns at just that moment and I snatch my hand away. She smiles brightly and waves hello, turning quickly back to her computer.

     Bright new day, Eric! Welcome to the rest of your life. The text appears in the lower left corner of my screen with a soft, melodious ping. A green key with Lillith’s employee number shows that it’s a private message, kept away from the main servers. If I erase it, it’s gone forever, which is why I’ve never erased any of her messages.

     I nearly vomit right there in my task chair. Does she know? Did she realize what I was doing, checking my bandages? Before I can compose myself and think of a reply, another text comes through.

      I hear them. It’s a beautiful song, Eric. I'm going to help you. Lillith turns again, her hair swinging happily and her brilliant blue eyes sparkling with laughter and promise.

     You’re crazy, I bash into the keyboard, fear pounding with every keystroke.

     Just wait five minutes in the garage after shift. What have you got to lose? Better yet, look at all you gain!

     I hold the image of those promising eyes as I break several laws and risk infecting innocent people. As my will waivers, a van slams to a halt beside me and for the first time in what feels like a lifetime, hands reach out and pull me in.

Comments

This is a clever mix of sci fi and reality. What an amazing start to the serial! So well described the scenario was completely believable!
Well, what can you say. Annette, already published with one book, has a unique style and is very adept at mixing reality with Sci-Fi. This piece shows 'far out' imagination as far as plot is concerned and a clever overall dark mood that pulls the reader in. I loved the opening paragraph that sets the overall scene for the chapter. Great chapter and I hope we are going to read more from Annette.