Dawn tried to make out her reflection in the pool beneath her bare feet; tried to decide if she was still herself. It was too shallow, though, and instead she glared right through it. Wiggling her toes to disturb the water, Dawn wondered if it would be wise to drink something soon. She had been told she would need much less nourishment on Kakisto – they had altered her system for that to be true. So, no, she was not thirsty. But she did feel an impassioned desire to have the things she once needed and wanted.
Dawn had not been the rebellious type in her past – but that was the past. Nowadays, she often found herself fantasizing about anything that would upset them or disrupt their plans. Kneeling down so that her knees rested upon the rocky surface, Dawn bowed her head to the puddle and took in what little she could. She knew it would not do much to change things, but it felt good to resist. If she had been strong enough to not follow their instructions to begin with, things might have been different. Instead, she had let them steal her from her home, degrade her body and mind, and transport her to a life of endless experiments and hard labor.
It had been a quiet night when they had come. After an arduous journey, Dawn and her sister, Callie, had been hiding out under a mountain’s cliff, trying to get some rest. The troops were coming, but they were always coming, so it was as good a place to stop as any other.
There had been a few things Dawn wanted to tell Callie, but she couldn’t form the words. She was creating a dithyramb in her head, set to a montage of all the good times they had had together. Dawn had known it was coming to an end. How long could they really run for? Their dark skin was beginning to itch and burn in the blazing sun, their voices becoming hoarse in the crass environment.
The government had claimed the Trade was for the better; that the sweltering sun and world water depletion had made our world uninhabitable, but somehow the rich folks were all managing. They were building fancy protective homes – homes they were refusing to share.
All these thoughts and more danced in Dawn’s head as she drifted off.
When they awoke to the Troops hovering over them Callie tried to run but was promptly gunned down. Dawn watched it happen; the sound of the gunfire pierced through her ears and boomed inside of her head. And then, everything fell silent.
Callie’s body bounced up and down before going limp. A blanket of sand swirled about her, subsequently working its way into Dawn’s eyes. She didn’t rub them, didn’t soak them with tears, didn’t breathe. It seemed an eternity before she tried to gasp for air and project her sadness. But even as she did so, the sorrow and shock simply sat there, in her gut. Silent.
Kakisto had no oxygen, false gravity, very little water, and a variety of unrecognizable plant life the Troops claimed would be sufficient sustenance. They also told her that she could stop fighting for air. Dawn tried to gasp again, and again, but could only feel an unenthusiastic pounding against her chest when she did so. There was no sound, and no scream – unless she was sleeping. In her dreams, the screaming never stopped. But then she’d wake; and of course, there would be no sound. There’d only be the gnawing sensation that it was time to get back to work.
Dawn had been on the Harvest squad for a month, and was sadly excited for the day’s rotation. Digging pools would be a welcomed change of pace. That’s how she knew she’d been altered. Dawn was not herself anymore. In fact, Dawn wasn’t sure she was a person at all anymore.
But at the pools she would drink. With pride and resentment, she would drink. Her own silent rebellion.
Shyla Fairfax-Owen ©