Cyber Carnality -Chapter 7- Sophia

Posted: May 2, 2014 in Creative Writing, Novel, Science Fiction
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

As she returned to the main building the room had started to empty out. Couples were making their way playfully to the pods which lined the far wall. Her return went more or less unnoticed. A few guests looked her way when they heard the door creak open, but they quickly turned their eyes away when they realized who she was. By the looks of things her outburst had branded her as she had feared.

Soph made her way as quietly and quickly as she could to the front doors. She stopped to collect her jacket and left. The night air seemed to have grown cold in the few moments she had spent indoors. The slight breeze was turning into a bracing wind with clouds building overhead. You could sense the storm coming. The wind was strong enough that for a second or two Soph thought she might be blown away from here and all of her troubles.

The staff were running about bringing anything that could come indoors inside and activating protective shields over the rest. With the preparations it looked as though there was acid rain in the forecast overnight. One of the many reasons the cities were in ruin was the lack of protection the people had from this factory-induced phenomenon. Here they had cleansing shields which would filter the chemicals out of the water, allowing the rain to come in and rejuvenate the plant life. In the cities these shields did not exist. If you were out in the rain for long you could get chemical burns on your skin. Soph had been pulled in out of the rain on one of her first days in the city by a complete stranger. Growing up on an estate much like the Archer’s she hadn’t known the damaging effects; only the cleansing feelings of cool water falling on a hot summer day.

Soph made it to the car before her mother’s voice broke into her head disrupting the memory abruptly.

“How could you? We raised you better than that!”

How rapidly word travelled always astonished Soph. A part of her had been foolishly hoping that she would be able to break the news to her mother herself. “Mom it wasn’t that bad it was…”

“You spoke, aloud in that company? Are you crazy? You’ll be lucky if we can get you joined with one of your fellow ghetto dwellers at this point! That’s what you wanted all along isn’t it? To shame your family and marry one of those rats!”

“Mom, no calm down” Soph’s head was pounding. She could feel the rage in her mother’s tone. Feel the hatred and disgust which her mother felt. “It was an accident. I was surprised. It wasn’t my fault”

“Oh, no I suppose it wasn’t your fault. It’s our fault for allowing you to live away from home among the people you do. Our fault for not reining in that spirit of yours. You do realize that your father and I will be lucky if anyone in that circle ever speaks to us again. We will be lucky if the shame you brought on yourself does not come down on the family as well.”

“Mom, honestly I think you’re over reacting. It was not that big of a deal.” Soph knew it was a lie as she thought it. She knew that her mother was probably concerned with reason. But agreeing with her wasn’t going to change things and wasn’t going to make anything any better. “It will be fine. I promise. I’ll be okay.”

There was silence for a moment and then her mother replied “Come over darling. Your father and I want to see you. Your birthday is coming and we want to see you before then.”

Soph was slightly relieved that they didn’t want to just disown her now. She agreed and re-directed the driver to her parent’s home. The drive from the Acher’s would take several hours so Soph settled in to sleep, leaving the link on so that her mother could check in on her location when she inevitably worried. She stared out the window as her eyes slipped closed, letting her eyes follow the edge of the horizon as it rose and fell in the distance, the rhythmic motion of the car rocking her to sleep.

***

The ground fell away from under Soph as she ran away from the mountain. Trees and rocks were falling all around her. She wove and dodged ducking under one obstacle then jumping over the next. The sweat beading off her was causing her hair to mat to the back of her neck. The world around her was crumbling, coming to an end. Somehow Soph knew that it was her fault this had happened. She had caused the mountain to cave in. But she did not know how.

The sweat on the balls of her bare feet was beginning to cause her to slip on the rocks as she ran. Soph fell, tearing open her leg on a broken branch. She barely got back to her feet in time. The ground gave way under her as she jumped ahead to where there was still solid ground. Soon that started to give way too.

She was running up out of the hole now, out of the chasm she had somehow created. Somewhere up ahead the world must not have been falling in on itself. Somewhere up ahead she must be able to stop running to check the wound on her now pounding leg. Her pace grew slower.

She was beginning to fall backward into the hole below her. She clawed at the ground which was falling away from her feet and fingers, desperately trying to grab a hold of anything firmly. No matter what Soph reached for it feel way, or pulled her down further into the abyss. She began to call out, to scream. She felt something grab her shoulder pulling her further down. No shaking her…

***

Soph jolted awake in a panic. The arm on her shoulder was that of her father silently shaking her awake. Time Soph thought as she worked to regain her composure, 5 O’clock, came the silent answer from the link. “Hello father” Soph thought forcing a smile to cross her face as she twisted herself upright and stepped out of the car. Normally she would have greeted him aloud but after the events of the night before she was not about to rock the boat with her usual insistence that the link was unnecessary in a situation such as this.

Sophia” was her father’s limited reply and he turned away heading towards the house, not bothering to reach out a hand to help her out of the car or invite her to walk with him. Soph stood and followed, trying to shake the feeling still lingering from the dream that the ground was falling from under her. After a few steps her confidence in the ground’s sturdiness returned and she looked up at the house rather than watching her feet closely with each step.

Despite the years it had been since she had come home, the house looked exactly as she remembered it. The home was similar to the Acher’s estate in style, though considerably smaller, more cottage than mansion. The sandstone walls were worn and faded with ivy growing up one side of the home. It was well-kept but still had a feel of age to it, as though someone had frozen the home right before it got too old to live in and right after it had started to lose its charm. The house had character, but the charm was fading. One wouldn’t call it a cozy home, sturdy and enduring where better words. It had stood there through generations of her family and would stand there for many more.

Inside was a sharp contract to the outside. From the moment you opened the door you were transported from the world of the enduring to the world of the temporary. The interior was decorated with the trends of the day, every item of furniture new, the paint colours were all but fluorescent pinks and greens the opposite of the grey tones that had covered the walls the last time Soph had been home. The floor was hardwood covered by area rugs and large sitting pillows. Curtains draped down every corner. It looked like a cross between the opium dens and 1960’s hippies houses which Soph has seen in a history of interior design book she had read at some point or another. The look was said to be “all the rage” these days and advertised constantly in the city. Her mother had always been one to follow these crazy trends, which though advertised never seemed to catch on for more than a month or two. For her mother it was nothing more than a way of proving she had the means to change her world when she wanted to and a conversation starter at the many parties she insisted on throwing to help them “move up” in the world.

Soph’s father pointed towards a chaise, one of the few pieces of actual furniture in the room “Have a seat Sophia” came forcefully into her head. “Your mother will be in shortly. I will arrange to have some tea prepared” Soph had hoped her parents would let her sleep a little longer before their interrogation started. Apparently she would not be so lucky. Soph obeyed her father’s request and he turned to ‘arrange’ for the tea, by which he meant have the help bring it.

Soph fidgeted while she waited. She was still in her dress which was becoming increasingly more uncomfortable the more awake she became. The corset was twisted and starting to pinch, the fabric becoming itchy and stiff. She hoped that she would be offered the chance to go to her room and grab whatever clothes remained here, or borrow an item of her mother’s. When fifteen minutes ticked by and neither her father nor her mother had returned, let alone the tea, Soph decided to venture off and see if she could find something more suitable for this time of morning; or, at very least, something she could wear without a corset built into it.

Soph slowly made her way out of the main room. Peeking over her shoulder as she went, half expecting her father to re-enter the room and yell at her for leaving her seat. She moved into the darkened hallway at the far end of the room. She did not turn on the lights; Soph did not want to wake her mother if her mother was still asleep. Every time the floor boards creaked her breath caught in her throat and she stopped moving for a moment. She felt as though she was about 6 years old, sneaking out of her bedroom to watch early morning cartoons, trying not to wake anyone in the process so she wouldn’t get in trouble. Only this time she was trying to make her way into her room, not out.

When she finally got to her door her mother’s voice drifted into her head “Sophia where are you darling?” So close and yet so far.

“I’m about to go into my old room mother. I’m looking for something a little more suitable for this hour of the day to wear.”

“Okay Darling, hurry back.” Soph let out a sigh of relief. Happy her mother was being reasonable this morning, “Your tea is growing cold”

As if that were possible, her parent’s tea cups were ‘ever warm’ keeping their contents all but scorching hot. The worst case scenario would have the tea be too cool to burn her tongue, yet still more than warm enough to provide the comfort of a hot beverage. Even if she took an hour the tea would still be warm.

Soph entered her bedroom closed the door and all but tore off the dress. She rummaged around her closet until she found some old sweat pants, a hoodie with her high school crest on it and a worn out t-shirt. The type of clothing which you never bring to your new home as you never plan on wearing it again, but for some reason your parents never get around to throwing out or donating.

Soph’s room, like the clothing she left behind, was the only room in the house that she assumed hadn’t changed since she had moved out. The walls were still a powder blue, the colour she had chosen and insisted on painting herself in her early teens. The walls were still covered in corkboards with photos of high school friends and posters of various underground bands and artists pinned to them. Her teddy bear was still sitting propped on her pillow. The bed was made with the blankets and sheets she had owned since childhood. This room was the only thing that she didn’t think would ever change. Unless… the thought began but Soph stopped it before it spiraled out of control. She refused to think what this room would become if she weren’t to marry before it was too late. She refused to think about how she would become nothing but a memory, if that. She refused to think that this room, the one place where she would feel at home and safe not matter how long it had been since the last time she had been there, would be torn apart if she failed her family. Every reminder of her would be purged from her parents’ lived, whither they wanted it or not. The purge was a part of the failure to make quota. The Neopuritans would send in a team to erase every physical reminder of who Sophia was. They would not erase her parents’ memory of her, nor anyone else’s, also a part of the punishment. One could not enforce quota if the punishment for failing to reach it was not remembered. But her parents would forget her nonetheless. The slow fading of memory when first they forgot the sound of her voice, then the look of her face, then her name would be their punishment for failing to raise a ‘good citizen.’

Soph shook away the thought. Maybe that was what her dream was about. She was causing the world of those around her to end due to her failure to conform. She wasn’t one to put much meaning into dreams, but maybe that was the reason for it. Soph pulled on the clothes she had pulled together, took one last look around the room and headed back down the hall to the room where her parents were waiting for her.

Soph refused to love someone who thought the demands of quota were reasonable. She refused to marry someone she didn’t love. She refused to allow sentiment and nostalgia to convince her that not marrying was the wrong thing to do. She would fail to meet quota. She would accept the punishment. She would live the best life she could where ever that punishment took her. Soph only hoped she could get her parents to understand her decision.

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