Authors: Katalina Gerard
The Perfect World
By Katalina Gerard
Copyright © 2015 by Katalina C. Gerard
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
Printed in the United States of America
First Publishing, 2015
Cover Art Designer:
All characters written in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real people, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
To James Altucher, whose books inspired me to continue writing and finishing my own
And to all those who listened to my story and encouraged me to keep going, this one is for you.
A sharp wail rang out, disturbing the silence that permeated the room. The walls were stark white, matching the outfits worn by the attendants of the patient. They wore white masks over their faces and white gloves on their hands. Tools and machines were scattered about the dimly lit room while the fluorescent lights hummed quietly, but incessantly. Blood stained the plain white sheets of the bed, as the final moment approached.
One last cry was heard before the deed was done, and then a new voice made itself known with a cry of its own. The attendants quickly cut the umbilical cord and cleaned the newborn child, and once the baby was properly cleaned, they wrapped him in white cloth and took him away.
The child’s cries echoed down the darkened hallway as the attendant carried him to the room where all the newborns were kept. Once she reached the room she listlessly entered the code into the keypad and was granted access.
Locating an empty crib, she placed the unhappy child inside of it and walked over to an old computer against the wall. She pressed ‘Enter’ to begin the standard procedure. The machine whirred on and asked its first question.
The attendant pressed the M key.
“Date of Birth?”
01/01/2150 was typed into the interface.
“Understood.” The computer wrote back. “One moment, please.”
The white-clad attendant patiently waited as numbers and letters rapidly filled the screen. A few minutes later, the computer had come up with its answer.
“Number Four at Unit 287. Name Chosen: Cyrus Wright.”
As soon as the machine had completed its program, her white-gloved hand pressed the arrow keys until she selected the ‘Print’ option. Another tap of the ‘Enter’ key and a printer came to life in the background. A moment later, a long strip of paper had printed out and came to rest on a black tray.
Picking it up, she tore it in half and walked over to the crib holding the newborn boy. One numbered strip was placed on a clipboard that hung on the right side of the crib. The other with the chosen name on it was wrapped around the baby’s left wrist. Her job now complete the attendant exited the room to resume her duties.
Thus it was that Cyrus Wright was born into the perfect world.
Cyrus first became aware of himself at four years old. He lived in a small room with white walls and one small window. There was very little to accompany him in this tiny white room. One of the objects was a foldout bed, which was designed to be pulled out of the wall when needed and pushed back towards it when it was not. The sheets that it came with were a gray color and felt scratchy to him when he ran his hand against them.
A white-colored dresser with three drawers was placed next to his bed. His shirts were placed in the top drawer, and there was a different colored shirt to be worn each day. There was a white shirt for Sunday, a blue one for Monday, a green one for Tuesday, an orange one for Wednesday, and so on. The shirts were always worn in order, no matter what. He wasn’t quite sure why it was, but that was how it was ever since he could remember.
The second drawer contained four pairs of pants. They were all black with two pockets on each side. The pant color rotated weekly, so this week they were black. The next week, they would be white. The week after would be black. The week after that would be white and so on and so forth for the year.
The third drawer contained seven pairs of underwear and seven pairs of socks. These were all stark white and matched the color of the walls perfectly. Cyrus often wished that there was another color of socks he could wear, but it was always white. The one pair of black sneakers that he wore every day sat beside the third drawer. They had a thin black sole with thick black laces that he had trouble tying on his own. He had recently gotten a new pair of them as his old ones had gotten a hole in them. They looked identical to his old pair of shoes.
Across from his dresser was an old brown desk with a matching brown stool. The stool was made of wood, and it wobbled a bit when he sat on it because one of the legs was short. The stool had two bars between its four legs, which he used to climb it when he wanted to sit down. The desk itself had two drawers, both on the right side. The top draw was much smaller than the bottom and contained one black notebook with a black pen. The bottom drawer was empty save for seven small storybooks and a white, plastic cup. Each book had a black, numbered cover. Inside, all the words were black and were the same size and shape.
On top of his desk sat a computer monitor, black speaker and its power system. It was a flat screen monitor that was black around the outside. The power system was equally black in color with a black wire that plugged into one of two outlets in the room.
The computer was used for educational purposes only. He couldn’t turn it on by himself. At certain times during the day, it would switch on and he would participate in a group lesson. Often times, they would be simple vocabulary lessons. A word would appear on the screen and a monotone voice would pronounce it. The system would momentarily pause, then it would say his name. Once it did, Cyrus would repeat the word for the machine. Twelve other voices would also repeat the word after their name was called. They were the voices of other children who lived on his floor. Cyrus always enjoyed hearing the sound of those voices, if only briefly. These lessons occurred three times a day, normally after a meal had been delivered via the food slot.
There was a circular slot above his bed where food was dropped. Normally, it was some kind of packaged or dried food. Occasionally, a brown bag would be dropped with a sandwich inside of it. He would fill the plastic cup that sat on his desk with water from the sink in his room to go with the meal.
The sink was by the left side of his dresser, and there was a mirror covering a cabinet above it. The cabinet was locked, but the only contents inside of it were a toothbrush, toothpaste, a comb, a brush and a roll of floss. He did not know why he wasn’t allowed to access these things when he wanted. He just wasn’t.
Currently, he was sitting up in his bed waiting for his visit from the floor caretaker. Her name was Ms. Linda, and she came up to his floor three times a day; once in the morning, once in the afternoon and once before bed. She was a small, short woman with a severe look that was accented by her short, close-cut hair that clung to her head and ended at the nape of her neck. Her eyebrows were thin; her eyes were cold grayish brown, and her mouth was set in a firm line. The color of her long sleeved shirt varied by what day it was, but it was always accompanied by black leather gloves, black or white trousers and a pair of black boots. It had been this way for as long as she had been visiting him. He never knew why this was. Whenever he asked her about it, he never received any satisfactory answer.
Waiting patiently, he heard the familiar click of the lock and Ms. Linda swiftly walked in. Her motions were always purposeful, and she loathed to waste time. After all, the young boy knew that she not only visited him, but the other children on the floor as well. She had duties to perform, a tight schedule to adhere to, and she made a point to always be on time.
“Good morning, Ms. Linda,” he said with a small smile. “How are you today?”
“Fine,” she replied flatly, closing the door behind her. Her voice had a rough edge to it, one that complemented her brusque talking style. It could have been that it was the natural tone of her voice, or it could have developed the edge from lack of use. No one really knew except the caretaker herself, and she wasn’t telling.
Cyrus nodded at the curt response, the same one he had received every time he asked that question. He never really knew what he was expecting when he asked her that, but he secretly hoped that one day the answer would be different. He imagined that one day, maybe, just maybe, she would sit beside him and tell him something about her day, her work, her life, or just anything. He didn’t know why that scenario appealed to him so much, but it did.
She took one look at him, and her face immediately fell into a scowl. He grinned as her hands went to her hips, and she sighed with impatience.
“Honestly, child, why are you still in your bed? You know which clothes you’re supposed to wear today.”
“Well, I wasn’t sure,” Cyrus hedged as he tried his best to look conciliatory, “so I thought I should wait for you to help me.”
“You weren’t sure, huh?” Ms. Linda said with a raised eyebrow as she walked over to his dresser and began pulling out his clothes. “Just like you weren’t sure yesterday? Or the day before that? Or the day before that?”
“Yup,” was his simple answer.
She looked at him after he spoke with a look of exasperation. Cyrus just smiled innocently back and watched as the corners of Ms. Linda’s mouth twitched a bit. The young boy never knew why he was so fascinated by that movement, but he was. He had some desire to see the thin line of her mouth move into some other shape. He knew by acting the way he did, he could pull a small reaction from her, which he tried to do every time he saw her.
“One of these days, I’m going to make you a list of the clothes you’re supposed to wear each day and then maybe you’ll stop having this recurring memory problem.” She spoke as evenly and unemotionally as possible. “Come on. Get up so you can get changed.”
“My legs feel funny,” Cyrus said, making a meager attempt to lift them. “They’re tingly. I think they’re sleeping.”
“Oh, you little—” She stopped herself from completing her sentence by putting a hand over her eyes and sighing. “Pat your legs so that the feeling returns to them. Go on, try it.”
He did as he was told for a minute or so before he spoke to her again.
“They feel a little better, but I don’t know if I can’t stand up. Can you help me stand up?”
Ms. Linda studied him for a minute, then shook her head and walked to his side. She wrapped her arms around him, just under his armpits and lifted him from his bed. He put his hands on her back and leaned his head against her shoulder. He enjoyed the warm feeling of being close to her.
A moment later, his feet gently met the cold linoleum floor, and he was released from her grasp. She looked down at him with her arms crossed as he stood beside her.
“See? You’re just fine, aren’t you? Now, get dressed while I get your toothbrush out.”
Obediently, he pulled off his light blue pajama shirt and put on a green long sleeved shirt. As he continued to get dressed, he heard the jangling of keys and the snap of a lock. Ms. Linda was the one who had the key that opened the lock on the cabinet, and she opened it for him once in the morning and once in the evening. When he was done changing, he turned to see her standing by the sink with a toothbrush in her hand.
She beckoned him forward with a wave of her hand, then grabbed the bottle of toothpaste and placed a dab of it on the brush. His caretaker gave him the toothbrush, then walked to the desk to pull out his plastic cup. She filled it with water as he moved the brush through his mouth, thinking how foul this disgusting paste was and wondering why he had to do this every morning.
Once Ms. Linda was satisfied that Cyrus had thoroughly brushed his teeth, she pulled the stool from the desk over and handed him the cup of water. He swished the water in his mouth, then hastily spat it into the sink. Rinsing off his toothbrush in the sink, he handed it back to Ms. Linda, who replaced it with a comb.
“Straighten out your hair,” she instructed in a no-nonsense tone. He ran the small black comb through his thick hair as he examined the boy looking back at him in the mirror. The boy had thick, disheveled brown hair that remained messy more often than not, even after he combed it. His eyes were a bright hazel green, and his face was already sporting a few freckles on otherwise white skin. His nose was neither too big nor too small, but it had a small bump at the top of the ridge that kept it from being completely straight. Beneath his nose was a long, thin mouth with small teeth inside.
Bored with looking at a normal expression, Cyrus started making faces at himself as he attempted to straighten out his hair. After the third warped facial expression, Ms. Linda frowned and took the comb out of his hand.
“I think that’s as good as it’s going to get. I certainly don’t have time to watch you make faces at yourself.” She placed the comb back into the cabinet and locked it again. “Now, where is the trash from your breakfast? I need to dispose of it.”
Cyrus pointed to the top of his dresser, which he could reach if he stood on top of his bed. Seeing what she was looking for, Ms. Linda grabbed the remains of his food and headed for the door. As she opened it, she gave him the same reminder she gave him every morning.
“Computer class should begin in one hour. Be sure to participate when prompted. I will be back in the afternoon to dispose of your lunchtime garbage and bring you your alphabet worksheets to be completed by this evening.”
“Wait,” Cyrus said as she started walking out the door. “Do you have to go now?”
“Yes, I have to go now. I have a schedule to keep,” Ms. Linda replied automatically.
“You really can’t stay any longer?” he asked again, trying to stall her more than anything else as he knew what her answer would be.
“No,” She said shortly. Without another word, she left the room and closed the door behind her. He heard the familiar sound of a lock clicking and sighed. He jumped off the stool he’d been sitting on and went back to his bed, lying down. He stared at the ceiling, lost in thought.
Cyrus had asked Ms. Linda to stay longer before. She always gave him the same answer. He didn’t understand why he wanted her to hang around longer than she had to. The severe woman wasn’t much company or really all that friendly. Still, he couldn’t help but wish that she would stay with him longer than a few minutes in a day. He hoped that one day somebody would.