TITLE: SEASON OF THE SOULLESS
GENRE: YA Near-Future Science Fiction
Seeing so many smiles made the stale air easier to breathe. My eyes flitted over my eleven sisters huddled in small groups around the great room: chattering, squealing, fidgeting with their identical, blonde braids. All caught up in the excitement watching the BioLife staff enliven the sterile ward with a Thanksgiving feast. The first in our seventeen years.
Invisible strings tugged at my ribs, urging me to join them, to lose myself in the rare revelry. And I wanted to. Oh, how I wanted to! But a second string pulled even harder. One I seemed unable to resist.
Alone, I claimed my favorite stakeout spot, slouching against the ward’s library. The shallow, metal cabinet held exactly one hundred and fifty-three paperback books describing wonders from the outside world. All censored by the doctors, of course. Chosen to stimulate our growing minds. Despite my faultless memory, I’d read each twenty times.
I surveyed the room. Four black-clad, female soldiers, armed with Tasers on their hips and rifles across their backs, flanked the stark hallways leading to the classrooms and sleeping cells, keeping my sisters and me herded in the great room. Kitchen staff, again all women, donned in knee length aprons bustled around the dining table laying out rich-scented foods normally banned from our strict diets. Then, there was Gladys—the night warden who, as always, was wearing her eye-damagingly bright skirt-suit too tight and enough paint on her face to supply our art class for a month.