Scene Title Butterflies
Synopsis Fluttering sensations caused by a feeling of nervous anticipation.
Date November 9, 2017

The Outer District

Dirt is everywhere, it’s not clean here like at home. Where the bleached floors and counters hide the stench of life, and much more. The carpet here is too old and threadbare, she’ll have to talk to someone about that. Concrete would be better than this masquerade of comfort. It’s like they don’t even try, that is what makes it the most difficult. Such little care for their environment, but she’s been preaching for The kleenexes that she lined her chair with are more of a placebo than anything else right now, but it’s making her feel better about sitting in the questionable stains. Who knows what filth had been sitting here before.

"Five minutes, Miss Gerken," a man shouts, loud enough to hear over the din of the crowd outside. They said the room would be soundproof, that she wouldn't be able to hear the noise of the people. That she would be shielded from their faces and hollow glares. When she arrived, she was informed there was a change of plan. "Ready?"

He's not attractive. So unattractive, in fact, that it's almost offensive. His breath smells like whatever he was drowning himself in the night before, his clothes even worse. Like he's slept in the studio for days. Looking around, Hailey realizes that all of the others are the same. The stale scent of body odor and grain alcohol sticks to them like flies on feces. Like it’s a part of them now instead of something that could be sterilized away. They could all use showers. So disgusting.

There’s a twitch of her eyebrows as they knit together in a frown. The smell is making her nauseous and as the unattractive man passes her by, his odor bringing tears to her eyes. She disguises the wrinkle of her nose with a hand embroidered square of linen. Everyone here could use a lesson in betterment. She makes a mental note to inform her superiors of this place and its people. How can their city be a model if the people presenting their current events have the grooming habits of cattle.

In grim and stony silence, Hailey glances to the monitor in the corner and watches the footage of the ongoing war, of atrocities committed in the name of righteousness. Bodies piled up on the sides of roads, carrion birds pulling away flesh from bone, swarms of flies gathered over wounded. Horrific scenes whose causes are rooted in jealousy and lust for power.

Closing her eyes, she tilts her head back and recites the words in a whisper. “Today is a day for celebration. A day to remember our terrible past and a day to remember all the wonderful things that have brought us together as a community and a family… a reminder to the terrorists that even the strongest among them cannot overcome the power of the Outer District.”

Four Days Earlier

Surveying eyes have been more attentive in recent days than they have in the past, so time has been a luxury that neither of them could safely afford the other. It’s been hard. Harder still was the news he brought when he was finally able to sneak through to her apartment. Tears well in Hailey’s eyes as she stares down at the wrinkled papers littering the table. Frozen in fear, all she can do is pass a hollow stare to the man in front of her. He’s usually able to alleviate her worries instead of cause them, his ability to cocoon around her like a warm blanket is all she needs to feel safe. Her big lug, her moose.

“I can get us out of here tonight,” he continues, holding her gaze with a demeanor of absolute confidence. He’s been working on it for months, a way to get out, a path to freedom. “We don’t need anything, we can just start over. Just the two of us. Come on Hailey, you wouldn’t need to go through with what they’re asking you to do.”

“I’m glad to go through with it,” she insists but she knows that he knows better. She’s terrified. “It’s the least I can do for them after everything they’ve given me.”

“No Hailey,” his volume rises a little, causing her to hiss in warning. He’s not even supposed to be here, especially after curfew. “No one should have to do what they’re making you do. No one.” His shoulders slump as his expression softens and he reaches to wrap his arms around her. Pulling her close, he holds her head to his chest and cradles her, kissing the top of her head as he murmurs. “Please Hailey, for me. For us.”

“I can’t.”

The reply is simple enough and the explanation even moreso. She’s the DoEA’s spokesperson, their shining example of civil obedience. They both know what she’ll do, no matter how hard he pleads, no matter how much he plans.

“You don’t know what’s out there,” she continues, pulling away and turning her back on him. “There’s disease and filth, they live in literal dumps. I’ve seen the pictures that the patrols bring back. Their kids are dirty and dying, like those old Ethiopia commercials before the war. I can’t exist like that, I won’t.” Folding her arms across her chest, she swallows back the bile collecting in her throat at the thought of the living conditions outside of the dome. “I won’t be put in a box. Not again.”

She doesn’t need an ability to sense the heated anger coming from the man near her. Slumping into a chair, he places his hands over his face and scrubs at it until his fingers have tangled into his hair and he’s finally looking at the ceiling. “There’s no surgery or corrective therapy that will stop you from being you, Hailey,” he says, trying to contain himself. There’s a fear there that he might get caught, outside of his district and past curfew. “That you’ll consider doing it instead of giving us this chance…”

He never finishes.

He’s just gone.

Two Days Earlier

Her cubicle is in the corner of the room, away from the others. Hailey understands why it has to be this way, why she’s separate. She’s not equal. Even with the surgery, quick as it was, doesn’t give her superiors or the people she works with the peace of mind they need. Even with the chip, she could be dangerous. Even with the chip, she’s more like the terrorists than anyone else there.

The job is simple enough, tell the people the truth of what she sees. Reassure them that they are and ever will be safe. Keep the promise of the good life that they are provided. It warms Hailey’s heart and she’s happy to do it all. It’s her thank you for her freedom and the liberty to walk around every day.

The stack of files dropped unceremoniously on her desk earlier that day have laid untouched for the most part. She was a little too under the weather after her surgery to pick through them for news but the work had to get done. The first one is opened. Surveillance reports from outside of the dome, intelligence deemed within her classification that she can share with the people, and photos of conditions. From the back of the folder, another picture slips out and floats down to her desk. The latest terrorist captures and—

Slowly, she picks the photo up and stares at it, the contents of her stomach growing heavy and uneasy. This photo, grainy, black and white, is just like so many others that she’s seen before. A blood spattered wall, bullet holes, crumpled corpses beneath. Terrorists caught and convicted in quick military order. Every week it’s the same, every week there’s new faces. Today —

— Her Moose.



Hailey still has her eyes closed when she hears the lock on the door flip. Without sight, she can tell who entered, he isn’t like the employees of the station. He carries the stench of bureaucracy, the stale but sterile scent that everyone in the DoEA building shares. The type of man whose biggest worry in a day is how deep the paper cuts on the tips of his fingers will be. The type of man that she can only hope that her children will become. That all children can become.



“They’re ready for you now,” its his smile that first becomes visible when she opens her eyes. Meditation finished, she is both mentally and emotionally prepared for what comes next. “Remember your points, the cues, and there’s going to be a meet and greet after. We’ve picked up an assortment of SLC positives, ages range from five to twelve. There’s a bag of oranges near the table, you have almost enough for one each, so make your choices carefully.”

She nods, keeping her expression pleasant, interested and, most importantly, not asking any questions of her own. Her eyebrows tick upward at the shortage of supplies and her smile freezes. If the suit picks up on the cue, he doesn’t make any indication of it. Or care. She glances down to the floor and takes a deep breath inward, trying to calm her butterflies. She’s done this so many times before, it’s just one more time.


The lock on the door is flipped again and it’s held, waiting for her to pass through to the other side. “You’re good?” He finally asks, concerned about her pallor as others come into view. The door doesn’t quite close after she passes through it, there will be people in the room while she’s gone. There always are.

Her hand drops subtly to her belly, a motion hidden by the fact that her hands are clasped tightly in front of her anyway, and Hailey gives him the same small smile with a nod. “I’m fine,” she says, her tone serene and pleasant. She looks him in the eye and expands the demure expression, her twinkle teetering on the side of false. “Everything is fine.”

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