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I live in a large utopian city named High Life. This city was organized about five years ago, and is a very independent society. They don't accept any exports from other cities, despite the advice of many members, including myself. The city's officials managed to separate themselves from the rest of the country by persuading the government. They aren't exactly the most trustworthy people, though. The government is a communist state, and the decisions they've made so far have all seemed to benefit them alone. I was assigned to be the supervisor of HighCorp, the main manufacturer of the utopia. Since I am the supervisor, I never really work there, all I do is look at cameras and make sure everyone's working. I'm really a security guard, but the town official says I'm a supervisor, so I guess I'll go along with it.
One day, I was about to leave the building, but my boss, Jared, caught me on the way out, about ten feet away from the exit door, and asked me to look at the plans of a new building. I knew that I wasn't supposed to be the one to look at the plans, as this building had been built on five times, each time for a new line of production, and I'd never been asked about this. The manager insisted, however, and I had to. Failure to meet the expectations of your higher-ups in this place could result in not only you, but your whole family being exiled. I had to agree.
Jared talked me through the plans. I didn't really pay too much attention, until he said that the new building will have twelve work-rooms, like the current one.
"Sir," I began, "With all due respect, there are only eleven work-rooms in this building."
He blinked twice, and his faced tensed up the tiniest bit. Jared could lie a lot better than most people that I knew. But I was different. I knew how to lie better than almost anyone else in the whole city of one-and-a-half million-something people, and I could catch someone lying even better.
"Oh," he uttered, "My bad. I'm under a lot of stress with this job, and..." I stopped paying attention all together, and began to study his expression. "... I can barely support my family at this point..." His jaw twitched three times. His eyes flicked to the exit door five times. "I could get exiled if I don't keep everything under control..." He started taking slightly shallower breaths. He knew something I didn't.
At the end of the talk, I said, "Okay, I get it," and headed towards the door.
His lie was very believable. The city had very strict rules about everything, from what you can protest, to where you can't have a certain side-dish with a certain entrée. The latter is meant to "keep kids healthy," but I don't believe a word of it. The only reason I knew he lied was that I could tell a lie with the tiniest change in body language.
The next day, I asked Jared if I could work overtime. He said that the night watcher would be taking care of my job, but I told him that I could switch off with the night guard. He said he'd alert the night guard of this, but I told him to not worry about it, and that I would do so myself.
The moment I saw the boss leave on camera, I left the camera room. The camera room is only about thirty feet away from the entrance door, so I've really only been in that thirty-foot-long area. I walked to the end of the hall. The door said, "Door 11: Manager Office." I'd never been called to the office. I wasn't interviewed, since I was assigned to this job. I opened the door slowly. No one was in there, thankfully. No guards in sight.
The room was like you'd think: A desk with neatly stacked papers, tool drawers containing paper clips, a stapler, pencils and rulers, a computer, a printer, and a filing cabinet off to the side. I opened up the computer. No password. I clicked the "Building Map" icon. It opened up, and there were eleven rooms. After seeing this, I was about to close off the computer and look elsewhere for the twelfth room. But the cursor changed to the hand icon as I pushed the cursor to the exit button. I stopped moving the mouse, and clicked at where the hand icon showed up.
To my knowledge, only one floor existed. I selected Basement.
There really was a twelfth room. At the highest point of the map on the floor, there was a staircase. On Floor 1, there was a janitor's closet in the exact place where the Basement had a staircase.
The janitor's closet door was locked. I had a paperclip in my pocket from the office, just in case it was. The lock popped open. I opened the door. I had never seen inside this door before. At the other side of the closet, there was another door. This one was unlocked.
At the bottom of the staircase, there was another door with a wire covered window. I looked through it.
Children and adults alike were working at machines all over the long, rectangle-shaped room. Most had several weeks' worth of dirt all over their bodies. Clothes were tattered and old. A few had blood on their arms, and lashes on their backs. Whip marks. Guards were stationed at various points in the room. At the end of the room, there was a sign:
CRUELTY IS THE PUNISHMENT FOR IMPERFECTION.
After examining what I could see of the room, I saw a familiar face. My friend, Xander, who had been exiled due to his brother's crime, was working at a machine, too. I realized that all of these people were those who had been exiled.
I heard footsteps coming down the stairs. I rushed to the side of the staircase. I felt a jolt of electricity flow through my body for a split second before passing out.
I awoke on a cot. Around me were the people I had seen in the room. The person lying next to me had a tag on the back of their shirt.
EXPIRATION OF WORKER: 6-30-22
Ten days from now. The man was an older person, who awoke when I shook him to ask what was happening.
He told me, "Ah, you must be the new slave. Your family arrived just ten minutes ago. I'm guessing you need explanation."
"You see, I'm about to die. But not of natural causes. I will be burnt to death in a furnace ten days from now."
I looked at the back of my shirt.
EXPIRATION OF WORKER: 7-12-76
My seventy-fifth birthday.
"But wait," I whispered, "I don't know why I'm here."
"Yes, you do. You're here for watching us through the door."
"No where in the ridiculous amount of laws does it say "exile" is the consequence of seeing what shouldn't be seen."
"No, not that. I meant seeing real life. In many places, this is very realistic, and commonplace. Punishment for crime is reward."
"Reward? What do you mean?"
"You can see now. Everything you saw before this was a dream."
"Wow. So original. When can I go back to the dream?"
"For me, it's ten days from now. For you, it's 7-12-76."