It was a green day. A muddy, military green. The Readers felt an eerie presence in the sky. Something was going to change. Of course, as always, no one knew what exactly, just that things were going to happen. I didn’t believe any of this. Not even when my mother told me today was the first green day in one hundred years.
Every morning at 5am the aluminium curtains fold open, shrieking, yearning to be oiled. The first ray of sunshine falls onto the metallic floor tiles and everything is henceforth uniform.
We walk across to the iron table, where a robot arm that hangs from the lightbulb serves us breakfast. As soon as we’re done, the Hand walk in to clean up after us. The only change we anticipate is the colour of our Transtainers the next morning. This morning it was a daunting earthy green.
At 16 years old I was the only one who hadn’t been ‘disturbed’ yet, but if anyone found out, it would call for long disgusted faces and several visits to the doctor. So I kept it to myself.
Being disturbed was looked fondly on in town. It made you old enough to understand life. You could decide what you wanted to do forever (when you turned seventeen). Whether you wanted to farm, deliver produce or any other mundane job that bored you till your death came. That’s if the Ghosts didn’t take your life first.
Readers were chosen from the children who were disturbed from an early age like twelve. They had a closer connection to the stars and could feel the Ghost’s wave stronger. Naturally it was impossible for me to become a Reader.
I didn’t understand how any of this worked, I just obeyed the system and dreamed of the possibilities the world outside this town had to offer. I often wondered were Ghosts even real? Or was this the universe’s way of telling us that the way we are living is wrong? It seemed a bit childish to me that we put so much faith into dead people’s spirits. I always had my doubts.
I was approaching my half birthday when I started feeling nauseous. Whilst walking to the Edu Hall I started feeling dizzy. My vision started fading in and out. Deep down, I knew it was the Ghosts. Everyone who is disturbed experiences these symptoms but I didn’t think anything of it. These symptoms could have been due to fatigue or because I had not eaten properly. So, I dismissed the idea and moved on with my life. Learning about the stars during the day and then back to our Transtainers for the night. Only six more months to go before I can get out, hang in there, I thought.
When green day arrived, my mother didn’t want me to go to Edu Hall. “You can stay with me today Alex,” she said.
We looked out the window while the Hand cleared our table and she surprised me by grabbing my arm. The Readers shuffled about on their tower in confusion. Looking here and there for answers, no surprise my mother was so anxious too.
“Mother, what do you mean?”
“I mean, it’s dangerous for you to go out.”
“Since when? You know what will happen if I don’t go. The whole town will question it.”
“We’ll tell them a Ghost was here, it’s fine. Don’t go. Don’t go,” she pleaded now with sorry wet eyes, begging me to understand something she didn’t explain. I didn’t want to go in but, I knew the consequences if I decided not to.
“I’m sorry mother but I can’t let them come here, if I don’t go to Edu Hall.” I said.
Mother looked down for a second, thinking, then replied, “OK, but promise to come straight back home. Do not talk to anyone. Not today.”
I tried to ignore her strange behaviour but, her voice echoed in my mind. It took a while but eventually the educator’s voice drowned hers and I had forgotten her warnings by the end of the day. Finally, the Reader’s tower bell rang seven times and the sky began to redden.
“Walk back together?” I heard from behind me.
Without a second glance I replied, “Sure.” It was only the boy from the Trans next to ours. We walked in silence, not a single word was spoken until he said,
I replied and we each entered our own Trans.
“Who was that?” Mother’s face was screwed and pale. I had never seen her like this before.
“Only the boy from the right Trans.” I started retreating to my bed. I was taken aback by her nervousness and before I thought to explain that we had only exchanged greetings she ordered me to go to bed without a meal. I don’t disobey mother but her disappointment in me had told me I had disobeyed her today. I listened as she scolded me and then finally went to bed guilty.
It didn’t take me long to fall asleep to my thoughts but I was awakened by the whispers outside our Trans. The curtains were sealed and our Trans was black, it was definitely late in the night. Who could be awake at this hour? Who is allowed out at this hour? My thoughts slowly picked up their pace. Are they trying to get in here? Where’s mother? Why are they getting closer? Where’s mother? The voices stopped. Where’s mother? I lay still on my back and blinked my eyes. Was I dreaming? Was this a dream? What is happening? I tried to open my mouth but it wouldn’t. Mother?
A low cackle grew in the darkness. My eyes darted around searching for the source. I felt a growl at the end of my bed and a shivering wave over my feet. It crawled up my legs on to my chest and around my arms. I willed my legs to move, my arms to move but they stayed put. I lay paralysed.
A whispering voice said, We have been waiting for your appearance for one hundred years. Finally our time has come.
It chuckled a low chuckle in my ear. I squeezed my eyes shut. The chuckling started getting louder until it filled the Trans. I wanted to shout, to scream but my body was frozen to the bed and my mouth just wouldn’t open. Go away, I thought, go away!
It laughed even louder and tightened its grip. The door began to shake violently and there was a slow drumming beat growing from within the darkness, making its way closer to my bed. Stop! I thought. What does it want from me?!
The laughter grew loud and then came to a sudden stop. The grip around me loosened and I could finally move my limbs. I looked around for a sign of the intruder but there was none. Only a dark figure that stood by my bed and stared down at me.
You have accepted to help us now Seaer. That is what you must do. Help us Ghosts. Help us.