She sat, staring at the bright digital screen; waiting for the words to come to her blue painted fingertips. The manager would be making his round soon to check her word count and make sure daily quota’s were made or exceeded. These check ups did not cause anxiety for Adina, as she was one of the top producing script writers in The Cloud. Most of the scripts were typical, cut and paste stories of; birth, school, job, relationship, marriage, kids, retire, and death. Occasionally, she would receive a outline that called for a teenage pregnancy, mid-life affair, or even a traumatic death. It was easy work writing scripts.
“Adina! How’s my best writer doing today?” bellowed Adina’s production manager.
“Good Good, just finishing up script number five, already ahead of schedule for today!”
“Great, good girl! I know you workin hard, so Imma gonna focus on catching the gremlins slackin’ off, so if you don’t see me again this shift I’m dragging lazy slaves to The Celestial Task Master’s office for retirement. You on the other hand, always my best, my favorite. My next trip to earth, I’ll bring you back a new rock for that silly collection of yours”
“Really?! Gee thanks!! I will double my word count, I promise!” exclaimed Adina.
The production manager drifted away, content with his empty promise to Adina.
Papers started flowing out of the delivery tube, and pilled up next to Adina. Each outline was written and sealed with wax by the Celestial Taskmaster. The sealed letters then traveled through a vacuum sealed tube system that ran throughout the entire writing complex . Every human’s destiny was outlined with important life events, however it was up to the script writer to fill in the blanks for the mundane, day to day activities. Depending on the competency of the script writer, a heavy load was writing for 20-45 humans daily. They were taught to write quickly, efficiently, and un-creatively so that quotas would be made.
There were two types of script writers. Most of the writers were taken at very young ages, before 5 years old, from earth, and put immediately into school. They learned writing, high performance quota output, and the system of leveling up. The lowest position were the writers, who could level up to managerial positions. Demigods ruled over managers and were granted opportunities beyond the script writing. There was a legend that existed, that a demigod, Zonotron, was promoted to god status were he was given the freedom to leave The Cloud.
The second type of script writer were the ones who were captured and enslaved as older children. Most of them were not motivated by quotas, promotions, or freedom. They wrote the stories they needed to. Although some of them became extraordinary creative writers. This impacted their ability to output mass amounts of scripts due to the effort and focus on perfecting one story. Generally, the managers allowed this creativity because of previous slave uprisings.
Adina was the first kind of script writer. She wrote as much as she could, for as long as she could, with dreams of becoming a manager. She had been script writing all of her childhood, adolescence, and now young adult life. Many writers had been promoted to managerial positions, before her, which impacted her confidence each time. Was she not producing enough scripts? Was her writing not good enough? Why was she not promoting?
Aser had been in the cubicle next to Adina since childhood. He was brought in when he was adolescent. Taken from planet earth when he was identified as being a gifted writer. His stories were fairly good, but he was a slow writer, and always distracting Adina.
Asher slid his roller chair across the hallway to poke Adina, “Yo, Adina. What’s up? You hear there is another promotion happening today!”
Adina typed aggressively attempting to ignore Aser...
“Damn girl, you workin’! You want that manager position don’t cha? When you gonna give it up? You know they’ll never promote you...” Aser continued poking Adina in the ribs.
Adina stopped typing, tears burst out of her face.
“WHOA! Easy girly. No need to cry over spilled letters”
Adina sobbed, “Why would you say that to me? You know I’ve wanted to be manager forever!”
Aser shifted in his chair, slightly uncomfortable, until his face formed that look he gets right before he told the pure unfiltered truth, “Adina, I’m sorry to tell you this, but you will never be promoted”
Adina sobbed even louder.
“Shhh, quiet! Don’t bring a manager over here to check on us” Aser scooched closer and hugged Adina. She sniffled, wiped the tears from her glasses and snot from her nose.
“Adina, you know I can only speak the truth, and the truth is, you work way too hard, you’re too good of a writer for them to promote you. All these gremlins that have moved up before you wrote at least 50% less scripts and 50% less quality than you.”
Adina’s eyes welled with tears, “you really believe that Aser?”
“Adina, its the truth! Think about it. Why else would they not promote you. You are going to be a writer until they retire you. Or until you start producing less quantity and quality.”
Aser watched as it started making sense to Adina before he whispered, “Adina, there is only one way out of here for us”
“What do you mean, 'out of here' Aser?”
“I cannot tell you here, now. Come to my room after lockdown tonight.”
Adina shocked and almost offended said, “Aser! You know I cannot do that! There is no co-ed mingling in the cells, besides how would we get past the automatic lock in?”
“Here” Aser handed Adina a neon green glowing rock that was carved like a beetle.
(Adina drawing by Alex Kmeto, Coloring by Zon Carvalho)
“What is this?”
“Its an ancient Egyptian scarab; it has the power to break through The Cloud's code”
“Where did you get this? How do I use it?”
“Just put it on the ground near your door after lock down. We better get back to work before anyone gets suspicious”
“Yea... you’re right”
“See you tonight?”
“ok...what’s your room number?”
“700th floor, block 70, room 700” asher slid his chair back across the hall and began typing sarcastically fast, not even writing real words. He looked over his shoulder to make sure Adina saw his hard work ethic. She laughed, turned back around and refocused on her last sentence before Aser distracted her.