These are different times, so different from the stories I was told about our history. Mama Nancy used to tell tales of people filled with hopes and dreams to conquer the odds and seemly achieve the impossible. Her description of what was sounded so beautiful. It left me wishing I was born during those times. Truthfully, it sounded like a fairy tale, and we all know what they say about fairy tales; they never existed.
Apparently, there was once equality among us. I was told we once lived in a sect-less society where the family unit was sacred and valued. Kids were shown unconditional love; they weren’t exploited and valued based on their usefulness. They could dream and be filled with so much hope for their future, encouraged to love and be loved by friends and family. Sadly, things changed.
This is Urania, and things are completely different now. For one, kids aren’t allowed to grow up with their families anymore. They are groomed in the children's halls until they come of age for an outing ceremony.
Each time I think about my time in those halls, I don’t seem to recall any memory. The first-ever memory I recall was of the day I was outed. I was 10 years old at the time, which is the normal age for the outing ceremony. It was the first and worst day of my life.
It’s been 11years since that day and I still have nightmares about it. I have never stopped asking myself if there was something I could have done differently to change the result of my reading. I remember hoping it was a wrong reading altogether. I even tried to convince myself that a second reading would give a different result. I just needed to be tested again and everything would be fine.
As they dragged me out me of the hall, I hoped my screams would save me from the doom they had sentenced me to, but they paid me no mind. They just went on with the reading of the next child. I guess I wasn’t the first child they heard screaming like their life depended on it.
They called me a parasite, meaning I had no value. I existed at the mercy of others. Since I had no natural gifts, the least I could do was to serve the ones that had, so they said. People like me were called an abomination to Urania. I wasn’t even given a birth name. No one tagged a parasite was. We could keep the serial numbers given to us at the children’s hall, but that was the only means of identification granted us.
They assigned me to the fields, to labour on a Royal’s farm. It took me seven years of extra labour to have enough money to buy a name for myself. I chose Evelyn Bolt. There is no hidden meaning to why I choose the name. It just sounded right at the time.
There are many others like me, “Parasites”. We are the most populated sect in Urania. I heard it bothered the royals that the number of abominations kept increasing yearly and the thought of this always gladdens my heart. I should at this point establish that any discomfort to the royals gladdens my heart.
* * *
It was a horrible day, as usual. That was nothing new. Aside from the fact that my slave driver was meaner than usual, everything else remained the same. He seems to be the new lead actor in my nightmares, but with his current decline in character, these nightmares are just going to get worse.
Although life as a parasite was hard, I quit complaining about it when I turned 16. As parasites, we were the labour force of Urania. We are the builders, cleaners, guards, farmers, gardeners, tailors and providers of all other menial services. We offer these services to the families we are assigned to serve. It would have been fine if we are paid for our labour, but as parasites, we are regarded as slaves. We are forced to serve without pay. The little stipend granted to us at the end of each year is said to be undeserved. They make us work tirelessly daily, control us with the help of the slave drivers assigned to us, and deprive us of the Zeluxe pill leaving us to decay.
Some families are kinder than others and provide their parasites with the pill to slow down the decay process, but very few families provide enough and no parasite could afford the pill, so decaying was inevitable.
My slave driver has never been a nice man, but his attitude towards me and the seven others assigned to him has worsened considerably over time. There was a cruelty to him I had never seen before. I avoided him as much as I could because of this. I didn’t want to be at the receiving end of his next angry outburst. I had no proof of my suspicions at first, but the foul smell that soon began to ooze off of him confirmed to me his decay process had accelerated rapidly. No one else seemed to smell the odour, but my senses had never been wrong.
Even though there were no physical symptoms of decay on him which was the reddening of the eyes and the darker colouration of the skin coupled with disgusting-looking sores, I knew he had lost control of his decaying process the same way I knew something bad was going to happen to Mama Nancy. It had been a gut-wrenching feeling I just couldn’t ignore at the time. I haven’t been able to put my fingers around what made me so sure, but I hadn’t been wrong.
I still remember the slap I received when I told her that her serial number was going to be called on the next roll call. How could I ever forget it? Aside from my slave driver, no one else had had the pleasure of hitting me. You see, fighting was prohibited in the halls. And even if it wasn’t, no one had any energy left to engage in any physical alteration at the end of a full day work.
After that incident, she never spoke another word to me. A week later, her serial number was called, and that was the last time I saw her. Her expression when she was being dragged out of the hall has hunted me ever since. I saw great fear in her eyes, one I had never seen from her before, she was usually so composed, her expression unreadable making it impossible to figure out what she was thinking. The most alarming thing was that her fear wasn’t directed at the guards, it was directed at me. It’s been five years since the incident and I still haven’t been able to figure out what was so scary about me. I had nightmares about it the first couple of months after it happened. Honestly, I still do sometimes. The actors in my nightmares changes with the season, the only constant in these dreams is me.