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Authors: Clint Gleason

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PENDING
By Clint Gleason

 

Text copyright © 2014 Clinton A. Gleason

All Rights Reserved

 

Cover art by Artrocity

 

This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters,
places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously.
Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely
coincidental.

 

CASE FILE 579129-248686

 

CODE NAME: TRENT’S JOURNAL

DOCUMENT DISCOVERED IN PACIFIC
OCEAN 3 FEB, 2547 AD.

ESTIMATED TO BE WRITTEN BETWEEN
2150 AND 2204 AD.

EVENTS FORMULATED BASED ON
RESEARCH, MINIMAL RECORDED DATA, AND DAMAGE.

OMITTED ENTRIES DEEMED NONESSENTIAL
TO PROJECT AND/OR TOP SECRET.

THOUGH NOT WRITTEN BY SUBJECT,
FINAL ENTRY IS INCLUDED WITH CASE FILE FOR ANY POSTLIMINARY RESEARCH.

ENTRY 1

 

Can’t think of anything to
write. I hate oatmeal. Wish I liked it, since they feed it to me every morning.
Do they have anything else for breakfast? I heard there are sugary cereals that
start out firm. Not immediately soggy like oatmeal is. At least give me some brown
sugar or even fruit. Strawberries would be good.

They let me swim, and I do
it all the time. I love being in the water. There is a simulated sun above the pool
on the ceiling, and I imagine what the real sun would feel like. I’ve seen pictures
of it, but it’s not enough. I need to feel it on my skin. I’ve heard it’s good for
you. I don’t understand how that kind of heat couldn’t catch you on fire, even from
outer space. I wonder how much everything in the universe is linked.

Sometimes I let myself sink
to the bottom of the pool and I don’t come up for a while. The grownups used to
dive in after me, but then they realized I would come back up eventually and wasn’t
trying to drown myself. The pain from holding my breath makes the relief I feel
once I surface pleasurable. I don’t know why. Maybe because I’m in control.

They tell me that writing
in a journal will be good for me to express my feelings. They promise not to read
it. I don’t know if I believe them. I guess by writing this, I’ll know if they’re
lying or not. At least I’ll have someone to talk to, sort of. I’m lonely.

I steal things from other
kids and even the supervisors. Stuff I know I’m not supposed to read. Magazines
mostly, even ones with naked women. Aside from the naked ones the rest are about
the surface and how much we all contribute to those lucky enough to live up there.
It seems odd that the articles of the magazines mostly consist of the same subjects
except for the naked ones. There are no articles in them, just pictures. They were
torn out.

ENTRY 2

 

I’m Trent. Not sure if I mentioned
that yet. Well, that’s kind of silly considering I know who I am because I’m me.
I guess it’s for anyone else who has to read it in case I die or something, or if
I have amnesia some day and need to remember my own name. It isn’t likely, but I’m
not going to “waste the eraser” as my fellow journalists have said. You never know
what’s going to be good or not. I read that in a magazine, but I can’t remember
which one. Bet it was about up top. Ha-ha.

I was born in this facility.
Facility Three, that’s what they call it. Not sure what goes on at the other two,
but this is the one where the energy is created. We all help. That energy is used
for the rest of the country, and I’ve been told everyone in America has the same
work commitment that I do. Mine is thirty years, so nineteen left. Feels like forever.
It is forever. It won’t get here fast enough. I can’t wait to see what’s up there
and join society. It’s what I think about the most.

The work is exhausting physically.
I think I just need to eat more. They give us vitamins to help. Mentally, I’m OK,
but I never tell them that. I don’t think the doctors can tell. I’ll keep it a secret.
I’m hooked up to those couplings most of the day, and I feel the extraction circuits
doing what they do. I’m hungry all the time, even though there are regular breaks.
I still wish they’d let me take more breaks though. It takes a lot out of me. I
need to eat to sustain that energy, but I’m afraid to complain because none of the
other workers seem to be as affected as I am. I’ve also tried to ask them about
it before, but when I have, I’m usually stopped. No talking during work time. If
we’re disciplined during work we could have time added to our work commitment.

It wouldn’t be so bad if they
let us socialize more. I wish I had friends, like the ones up top that I read about.
Maybe I’ll bring it up again when the timing’s right, when I feel as though they’re
in a good mood. It feels important. The handbook says to bring up anything that’s
life threatening. Being alone feels that way to me.

***

I was ranked thirty-two today!
They’re always encouraging me to do better though, even though I tell them I do
my best. There is a list posted daily, and the ones in the top ten are announced
over the loudspeaker. I’ve only been on it twice, but it hasn’t been for a few months.
They’re constantly reminding everyone of how well the ones on the top of the list
are doing.

That doesn’t get annoying!

I could put out more energy,
a lot more, but we’re only allowed to output as much as everyone else. There’s a
gauge at every station, and I was told that any more than the maximum level can
short-circuit the workstation. Less workstations means less energy outputted, so
damaged equipment is attributed to the worker, and the resulting disciplinary action
is more time added to your work commitment. It’s crap. I wish I could produce as
much as I was fully capable of and shorten my work commitment. If I could do that,
I’d be up top in a few years.

They say that to get on the
list would require more concentration. It isn’t about the sheer amount of energy
produced but the volume that the facility requires for the day. They say that when
I think of other things, it takes away from the energy I produce. Well, how long
can you concentrate on the same boring thing, day after day?

They don’t know this, but
I’m always thinking about other things, mostly about up top. In fact, I barely focus
on energy production. I could do my job in my sleep.

ENTRY 3

 

I asked about spending time
with the other kids, and they said they’d look into it. That’ll have to be good
enough for now. At least they’re going to try. We’re either working or learning,
so just being around them in the classroom isn’t enough. Kids need to spend time
with each other alone so they can do normal kid stuff. I don’t even know what those
things are, but I know that I need to do them, especially with girls.

Not sure what happened, but
now they keep me hooked up to a small portable workstation when I sleep. Maybe what
I was thinking was obvious. The vitamins make me confused sometimes. They haven’t
read my journal, because I still have it, and I place tape over the end of the pages.
If they were to open it, I’d know, but I guess I could have been recorded while
I wrote in it. I’ll casually cover the page as I write from now on. Maybe I’m just
being paranoid.

They said that all I do will
help, so if producing energy can happen while I sleep too, then I should. When I
asked why, they said that it will look good on my work commitment, and when I asked
if they would take time off of my work commitment for helping more, they changed
the subject.

ENTRY 4

 

Ever since they started hooking
me up at night, I’ve had to start taking meditation classes. They say with that
much output, I’m getting better at producing energy. When I asked if I was getting
more powerful, they corrected me by saying “better” again.

What’s wrong with being powerful?

Apparently it’s possible for
the energy to branch off and hurt a coworker, but I’d never do that. The new vitamins
supposedly help, but they’re more annoying than anything. They restrict how much
energy I can output and put me in this constant fog as if everything is in slow
motion. The classes aren’t difficult. They just feel like a chore. The only day
we don’t have to go to them is on Sundays.

What else do I have to do
for Facility Three?

The only good part about the
classes is there are other kids there. So more time with other kids is nice, but
we still aren’t allowed to talk as much as I’d like to. There are even a few girls.
One of them kept staring at me. She was pretty.

ENTRY
5

 

Cake! They brought me cake!
I’m ten years old today. They brought me a chocolate cake. I asked for it, begged
for it, and they brought it like they said they would. I like them. Every one of
them. They sang to me, and I got to blow out candles, and then I got to eat two
pieces.

Two!

I didn’t even care that they’d
brought me oatmeal this morning. I asked them if they were going to bring me cake
and they said no, but it was a lie. All I had to do was make some energy, and then
they brought me cake.

The other kids from my regular
classes and my meditation classes were there too. We laughed and played games that
I’d never heard of before, board games and all kinds of stuff. There was a lot of
laughing and talking, and it was like it wasn’t just my birthday, it was all of
our birthdays, and I thought about reminding them that it was my birthday, but I
didn’t. I didn’t want to spoil everyone’s good time, including my own.

The girl talked to me a lot,
but I didn’t ask her what her name was. I wish I did. Next time I get the chance
I will. This is the best day of my life!

ENTRY
6

 

(ACTUAL ENTRY: 354) SUBJECT
APPROXIMATELY 13 YEARS OF AGE.

 

Saw Charlotte again today.
She likes to talk to me. I’m going to write in my journal like I read in the few
books they’ve allowed me to read. When the characters talk, the back and forth,
they use quote marks. Dialogue! I want to remember. I need to remember. I want it
to read like a real story since I don’t get the chance to read many. Might as well
write my own so I can make it exciting for when I read it later.

She’s so pretty. Can’t concentrate.
Hard to make energy. Keep thinking about her. Want to hug her and kiss her. I think
I love her.

ENTRY
7

 

MOST ENTRIES LOST.

HIGH PROBABILITY SUBJECT DESTROYED
ENTRIES.

PROBABLE THAT ACTUAL ENTRY
IS 1,132.

NUMERATING ENTRY—INCORRECTLY—AS
ENTRY 7 FOR CHRONOLOGY.

SUBJECT APPROXIMATELY 22 YEARS
OF AGE.

 

Things are different now.
I haven’t socialized with other people since my birthday party all those years ago.
All I do is work and go to my room, the pool, the gym. I was told that things had
to be different after a certain age, to focus on each individual’s work commitment.
Not sure why that would make a difference. It doesn’t make sense. Fuck it.

I’ve decided to start writing
again. Not going to burn what I wrote anymore. I regret it now. They reminded me
of her. When it was wonderful to be around her and talk to her. Look at her. Even
kiss her. Before her work commitment was up. Before they took her from me.

Maybe it will help. The pain
is nearly unbearable. I can feel it inside me, though I can’t tell exactly where
it is, possibly in my stomach and chest. I wish I could find it, shake it and wake
it up, make it stronger, or destroy it so it would stop hurting.

Don’t feel like writing anymore
today. Maybe tomorrow.

ENTRY
8

 

I’m drinking coffee. They
actually encourage it. I like it because it helps me stay focused. Think I’ll have
another cup now. Glad I did. So tasty and rich with its deep, bold flavor. I’m writing
about coffee because I don’t know what else to write about. It’s been a while, but
I remember from class that if you just keep writing something important could arise.
Class. All those fucking classes.

I heard one of the Facility
Three employees say fuck when I was a kid, and I liked the reaction it got, so now
I say it whenever I want to piss someone off. It works. I’m also constantly saying
it inside my head when I have to watch another one of those damn videos that show
the sunshiny goodness of what the others and I do for the surface, where I am not
yet. Pamphlets, classes, and videos every week ad nauseam. The same thing over and
over shoved down my throat. Do they not realize that it’s only a matter of time
before I get so full that I throw up?

Keep having sticky dreams.
Can’t stop thinking about women, so I think about the surface often, what will happen
once I get up there, and who I’ll meet. Everything I’ve done has prepared me for
it.

My room is littered with the
few magazines that they let me read.
UP TOP
is my favorite. It’s filled with
stories of what people want to do once their work commitment is up. They’re mostly
inspirational stories about how much people enjoy creating energy and how it helps
those on the surface.

I’ve received the annual magazine,
and they keep hinting at how they’ll include pictures from up top and all sorts
of information about the surface, but the editorials keep stating that they’re backlogged.
Sounds like bullshit.

When I get up top I’m going
to meet a woman and have a family. It’s what I want most. There are no women who
work at the facility right now. Well, none that I’ve seen. Maybe it’s why I’ve been
thinking about them so much. My desire for them is intense, all consuming; it’s
all I think about. It isn’t just the sex that I want—that I think I want, since
I’ve never had it—I also want a relationship.

It can’t be healthy for a
man in his twenties to not have sex. I’ve heard as a man gets older his desire slowly
dissipates. Well, mine hasn’t done that yet, and I don’t want to wait until it dissipates
before having sex. I can’t. I feel like I’m going to explode. The sticky dreams
seem to help for a bit but not long enough.

More coffee.

I wish I could use my power.
I’m referring to it as my power from now on, though not around management. I would
conjure a woman for me during the night. It’s getting to the point where I can’t
sleep very well, and it’s affecting my work during the day.

***

I ran into a technician in
the hallway. “Could I spend time with some women?”

The technician clearly wasn’t
ready for that. He looked at me as if I spoke a different language. He tried to
hold back his laughter but couldn’t. He wasn’t in charge, and even though the things
he said weren’t what I wanted to hear, I hoped he’d relay what I said to those who
were in charge.

“Questions are against protocol.
You know that.”

He was clearly in a hurry.
Even more so because I was questioning him.

“Getting lonely in there,”
I said.

“Punishment for questions
will be more time added to your work commitment.”

He went to move past me, but
I stepped in his way. “How long have you been rehearsing that?”

He didn’t answer.

“Are you listening to me?
It sounds like you had that ready no matter what I said.”

The conversation was a struggle.
Those vitamins made it difficult to respond as quickly as I would have liked to.
The tech seemed nervous and was all red in the face. There was no reason for him
to be. Maybe he had a personality disorder.

“Do I really need to be taking
those vitamins?”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa now, you
gotta keep taking those. You stop and more time will be added to your work commitment.”

I’m so fucking sick of hearing
that. If it’s true and not just a threat, that would be terrible, except no one
has ever said that actual time has been added. I’d be smart to continue to ride
the line of it actually happening. I need to know stuff.

“I know you aren’t in charge
of anything. Threatening me isn’t going to prevent me from asking questions. Questions
won’t add time to my work commitment. Those threats work with kids, not adults,
which I am, and adults have needs. I’m sure you know what I mean.”

“I can’t—”

“But you can talk to those
who can. I work hard for Facility Three. I deserve some release. Do you understand?”

He fidgeted with his clipboard,
pretending to be looking at something. “I have to go.”

I stepped aside and allowed
him to pass.

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