“After all, tomorrow is another day,” the breathless, oddly accented voice drawled. K3A hurried to straighten up her workplace. In another five minutes, the loudspeakers would repeat the message, at which time everyone’s station had to be clean and in order.
Five minutes after the second announcement, all the workers would be lined up, quietly awaiting the third repeat of the message, which signaled the time to set out for their dormitory. Once there, they would have exactly thirty minutes to tend to their evening ablutions before the voice sounded one last time and signaled lights out.
Old Gemma, who refused to answer to A2F, once told her that the
voice came from something called a movie, whatever that was. She didn’t care where it came from; she only wished it would be still. Sometimes she felt like throwing something at the speakers, but she knew she’d never dare.
K3A unclenched her fist and smoothed her face, hoping that none of the cameras had caught her face. Emotions were frowned upon. She did not know who made the rules, but she did know that infractions were dealt with severely. When the loudspeakers sounded again, her station was spotless, so she stepped down, stowed her apron and got in line with the others, waiting for the third announcement. It came, stuttering a bit.
In the dorm, she quickly took out her night clothes and made her way to the stalls to wash up and prepare for the night. Tens of girls, yet the only sound was the splashing of water and the slight rubbing of faces. In the same wordless decorum, they returned to their room and made ready for bed. With a sigh, K3A settled in for the end of another gray day.
The routine was so well ingrained in her, that she could count off the seconds remaining before each signal. She expelled a breath, and then began her silent enumeration of the seconds till the last night call. Afterwards, she would sleep deeply till a new message would sound in the morning, calling them all to “rise and shine and give out” their glory, glory. Another odd message. What glory did she have and whom exactly should she be giving it to?
Five, four, three, two, one. K3A counted down and closed her eyes, ready for the voice. Silence. Had she miscounted? She opened her eyes and looked around. J4F, in the bed across from her, was looking around in confusion. So it was not just she who had miscalculated.
Seconds turned into minutes, and still no voice sounded. Such a thing had never happened before. She warily lifted herself on one elbow, and seeing no reaction, no electric flashes, sat up in bed. All was still. No jolt of pain. What would happen if she got out of bed? Rustling sounds from around the room made her realize she was not the only one entertaining mutinous thoughts.
“Psst, H9Z,” she called to the girl in the bed nearest her. “What’s happening?”
Odd, they slept in neighboring beds and worked at nearby stations, but she had never spoken to her. Conversation was not encouraged, unless necessary for work. Only Old Gemma would talk to anyone willing to listen. The scars running up and down her body hadn’t been enough to teach her better. K3A wondered where Gemma was now.
H9Z shrugged, wide eyed and voiceless. But others dared more. K3A could make out shadowy figures sitting up in bed and hear whispered voices from around the room. A sudden feeling of elation swept her out of bed, where she found her legs moving in odd patterns that she had no recall of ever having learned. The same spirit seemed to call to others as well, and soon, the room filled with girls moving about dreamily—more girls upright on the floor than in bed. Joyful, tinkling sounds filled the air as K3A discerned faces transformed by upturned lips. She raised her hands to her mouth and traced her own lips, identifying the same arc she saw on the faces around her.
Who would have thought it? Their ‘other day’ had come tonight.