Feet down, head off of my pillow. Stand, shuffle to my closet. Pull out my faded coveralls. Put on the coveralls. Wait for the black light to turn on for us.
My name is Myrial Jinks, and I live in a world that has no light.
The Lantern switches on and all of us girls in year twenty-five finish strapping our coveralls, clicks sounding as we press the button, each signaling that we are dressed and ready for the day. Shuffle on through the muck until breakfast at precisely 7:15am. I braid my hair while we walk across town to the dining hall.
My world is orderly, never late, never early. Always the same. Every morning, children in years 0-3 are in the nursery, while children of years 3-10 attend school. Years 10-15 are at work in the mines, producing power so the black light will glow for us every morning. Those of us that are in the higher years, years 15 – 25, are being trained. I do not know what for, but they are being trained. I am being trained.
All of us file into a long,dim and grimy building where we are given a plate of very slimy oats and old coconut milk. Eating it is a tasteless, rubbery affair that we repeat every day. It used to make me throw up. But since I was three years old I have eaten this same stuff every single morning. I loathe slime.
Since I am twenty-five now, I am nearing the end of my training. Soon I and the others will leave this world and move on. I hope we will go to a world of light, instead of this muddy and dark one. Even more I am excited to see my brother Tom and his friend Sam. Since they left last year I realize more than ever, how much I depend on their teasing to keep me from being bored in this life.
Breakfast is over now, and we clear our plates, moving on to the training gym. As year twenty-fives we are no longer training ourselves, we stopped training in year twenty-two and our job now is to train the other years. Today I am working with the year seventeens. I hate working with the year seventeens. They don’t like me and they are always shoving me down.
There is only one person here, that is older than the rest of us. A man called Garretch. I don’t know how old he is, perhaps forty or forty-five. He lives in a mansion outside of our barracks. It always has lights on, even on the days when the black light stays off to save power.
He only comes out to talk to us from his balcony, when there’s been a power outage, or a riot. The year seventeens and eighteens like to start riots sometimes. Once I was even in one, because Tom and Sam dragged me with them. When they lived here I used to do lots of things.
At the end of today, I get to leave. Once and for all. Maybe I can go to my world of light. Right now I have to focus on staying away from a pair of year seventeen boys who think it is funny to force me into the corner and dump mud on my head before they case my braid in it. In this situation, all I can do is run. Stupid year seventeens.
Four hours later, I get off work and go wash the mud from my braid. After that I am to report to the mansion. Garretch will be showing us how to get to our next jobs. Information about these jobs is little, or even none. I still don’t know what I’ll be doing. As long as I get to see Tom and Sam again that’s fine though.
Garretch tells us to walk through a door, into the light. What we do while we walk through the hall that follows is unmentionable. Then, we will start our new lives.
A few people before me, then it’s my turn. Take off my coveralls, put on something new, a pair of shorts and a tank top–I feel underdressed–then grip the door knob. Feel the sweat of the person before me. They must have been even more nervous than me. The door knob is nearly soaked.
“Myrial Jinks would you hurry up please???” Garretch taps his foot impatiently.
Here goes nothing. Turn the handle until the latch clicks. Walk through the door, and it shuts behind me. The hall goes dark. I don’t like the dark. I’ve seen too much of it. Keep walking. Don’t freak out.
I curse when I hit a wall. Feel along it to find where I am. There’s a handle on it. Not a wall, a door. Open the door. Click. The hall floods with light and I step into my new life, meeting the outstretch fingers of my brother and friends that left last year.