The room was blindingly white. I squinted at the overhead fluorescents, they burned my retinas with the power of a solar flare. Gasping, I dropped my gaze to the smooth, plastic flooring. Institutional beige, stretching blandly across the small space.

I squeezed my eyes closed and balled my fists against them until black spots flashed in my vision.

I was cold. Shivering in the unrelenting light.

The voice spoke from somewhere above me.

‘Drink water,’ it said.

Automatically, I walked to the table. It was nothing special, just an old-fashioned food dispenser, basic, flat and ordinary, with a central bank of buttons to select a choice of nutrients.

I pressed a button, ‘Water,’ I croaked.

A transparent beaker appeared, lined in light as it solidified on the base plate, printed in 3-D. The clear liquid inside sloshed as my shaky hand picked it up. I spilled water on my tunic, as I brought the beaker up to my lips.

It was a blessed relief to drain the cup dry, my mouth and lips were parched and cracked.

‘Put it down,’ said the voice, ‘stand away.’

I did as I was told. The empty cup vanished, recycled into its constituent atoms, ready for the next person to call it forth.

I thought about breaking out. I thought about rushing to the door and screaming for my father, for my brothers, but I knew, I knew that no-one would hear, no-one would come.

I was a criminal. I must pay the price for my crime.

‘7594-alpha,’ the voice said, ‘sleep.’

The lights switched off, as one, and I was left blinking and suddenly blind in the darkness.

I was a criminal. I must pay the price for my crime.

I curled up on the soft material of my sleeping pallet and stared into the darkness. My crime.


I wanted to explore control and punishment here as themes in this short piece. This stems from an interest in dystopia as a genre. 


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