Thea Adira quietly kept her distance from the other women as they waited in line for their laundry. She was quiet, not because she didn’t enjoy talking, she just noticed most women turned their nose up at her personality and the way she looked. She was tall, standing around 5’11, with piercing jade green eyes and red hair. Other women considered her “pretty,” and that led to problems in certain situations. Her shapely figure would get looks of jealousy from many of the other girls. Thea knew it was not their fault. The daily lessons drilled it into their heads that other women were competition. It was the Women at the Table who constantly made them focus on being a “healthy woman.”
The area was the same dull brown that everything else was inside of the city. Bright white florescent lights gave even the bland shade of tan a slight sheen. She could change her scenery to whatever she wished, but rarely took the opportunity. It felt unnatural to her.
A male Judicator was standing off to the side of the line, most likely on assignment and guarding his post. His eyes were locked on Thea out of all of the rest of the girls. She frowned slightly at him, then turned back to her thoughts. She would never associate herself with a Judicator, let alone entertain his courtship. She would stay a Bronze for the rest of her life instead of trading her morals for Silver Citizenship.
A female’s ability to carry and create life was “greatly respected” by the Women at the Table. The daily lessons for food credits stressed on fertility and new life. They were filled with constant reminders about how important Women were for the future of humans. As a Bronze woman, one could be promoted to Silver if selected for the birthing process.
This translated to The Interface making women feel ugly and awkward for not looking like the models drilled into their heads daily. It was one of the main messages in the daily addresses- “Improve yourself to maximize your fertility chances.”
This affected Thea just as much as the other Bronze women, but she did her best to focus on one day at a time. It made for a catty environment. The “ugly” women hated the “pretty” women, and “pretty” women hated other “pretty” women since they were competition. It was a vicious cycle that caused most of the women to constantly treat each other as enemies.
The Women at the Table were very fair, gracious, and reasonable- at least according to the daily addresses that repeated this phrase every day. A Bronze woman was equal to a Bronze man in every way, the Interface lessons assured them of this. Women even had a slight advantage for advancement, since women could also be chosen for reproduction. A woman could advance to a Judicator, Watcher, or Thrower, to become a Silver. But unlike the men, a woman could also get lucky and selected by the Table by A.I. Genetic matching for reproduction purposes.
Thea spent her days doing her best to avoid drama. The other women weren’t her enemy, no matter how rude or condescending they were. They were all manipulated by the words from the lessons in the Interface. It was not uncommon to see someone break down crying in the street. Thea liked to spend time with those people. The saddest people can be the gladdest people when cheered up, and that helped to fill the void of purpose that Thea felt.
The Bronze Men were manipulated into studying harder for the prospect of being a Silver to earn the right to interact with women. The Red Light district was the final option for a Bronze Woman to make it to Silver. If they spent 7 years as an escort tending to the men with enough credit, you ‘earned’ your Silver Citizenship. This was absolutely and completely by “choice” of course, and the women still could ‘refuse’ any suitor they wished. (Allegedly.) The Women at the Table constantly affirmed that any woman working in the Red Light District to advance was a strong and independent woman taking her own future into her hands. Thea personally could never do that, but she also could not blame anyone who did.
The Bronze Women were constantly reminded that they were no longer under the oppression of the male hierarchy in the home, and they now had the freedom to live however they chose. It was always specifically stressed that Bronze women had the freedom to do what they wished with their bodies, as well as attempt to have whatever career or future they wanted.
She shuffled herself forward in line to get her laundry, lost in the silence of thought and doing her best to avoid eye contact with the Judicator who had been staring at her. She could feel his eyes boring into her backside; she chanced an extra look back at him and he was still staring, this time smiling. She looked back ahead. Disgusting. She would never stoop so low as to be with a Judicator, she would work the Red Light first. Their ego was a turn off and their false sense of morality disgusted her.
The day was coming to a close soon, in another 40 minutes she would get her 2nd half hour of alone time. The line crawled forward slowly, with nobody saying anything to the other. The afterglow of the dinner D.O.S.E. must have also been a part of the silence, but an occasional conversation could be overheard.
Thea didn’t normally come here after dinner but she wanted to go on a long walk tomorrow, uninterrupted. The park was beautiful, except for the occasional drunk strewn out in the grass with a pint of liquor. Thea didn’t even mind them; She supposed it did everyone’s soul good to be out in nature enjoying the sun. It truly gave her a small sense of reprieve, being outside.Who was she to say someone else shouldn’t be there too?
Thea felt it had been long enough since she last checked if the Judicator was still staring. She pretended to stretch and twisted around. He was still standing there, staring! He attempted another smile and this time nodded towards her.
Thea deliberately grimaced at him, and shook her head “no.” She waited for his face to fall to make sure he got the hint, then looked away. Hopefully that would give him the message that she wanted nothing to do with him. Thea made it a point to look forward the rest of her time in line.
She grabbed her laundry and proceeded home. Dusk had set, and a cool summer night’s breeze had set in. Thea hurriedly traversed the few blocks until she had made it back to her dwelling. The clean laundry took no time at all to fold and put away, just in time for her to take a shower during her alone time. She grabbed her pajamas and hopped in the bathroom.
The hot water relaxed her completely. The stress and depression melted away for a few brief moments as she allowed the shower to steam the room. She didn’t allow herself to get too comfortable and made sure to finish before the hot water ran out. She quickly finished her shower and got dressed in her pajamas.
She had just stepped out of the bathroom, when Thea heard a sharp rapping at the door. It was her alone time; it made no sense for someone to be at her door this late in the evening. Immediately her curiousity was piqued, but her nerves were slightly on edge. This was a very strange occurrence, her friends would have just Interfaced with her if they wanted to come over. She tentatively walked towards her front door to her small apartment dwelling.
“Who is it?” she timidly called at the door.
“Judicator inspection, ma’am.” replied a gruff voice from beyond the door.
“Judicators? At this hour? What on earth…?” Thea said nothing as she walked forward and unlocked the deadbolt. Slowly she turned the handle and swung the door open.
It was the Judicator who had been staring at her earlier while she stood in line for her laundry. He strode in without being asked, and didn’t even glance at Thea as he confidently brushed past her. The Judicator whistled as he stepped in and began looking around. “This is a mighty nice place for a Bronze lady such as yourself.”
Thea left the door open on purpose. “May I ask why I am being inspected, Mister Judicator?”
The Judicator walked around lazily, eyeing her artwork she had created on the walls. He called over his shoulder “you can close the door, this is going to take a while.”
Thea did not like this at all, but she did as the Judicator told her and shut the door. He continued his pacing, giving an occasional “hmm” at her various pieces of art. Thea stood at the door way with her arms folded, patiently waiting for the man to leave.
He continued to snoop through her belongings. First, the bedside table. He rummaged through her various pens and diaries to her blushing dismay. Apparently her innermost thoughts and feelings held no desire to him; he threw the books down and began to rummage through her dresser.
The situation already had Thea on edge, but it became extremely uncomfortable when the man pulled out a pair of her underwear and brandished them towards her. He smiled a devilishly confident grin as he looked at Thea up and down.
“What color is the pair you are wearing now?”
Thea’s anger broke through her fear. She was in no mood to play these games. He was extremely creepy and she must have not made her intentions clear enough at the laundry. Men sometimes needed direct confirmation that there was no interest, or at least some of the lessons from the Table had told her that.
“I’m sorry I did not tell you this at the laundry station, I have no interest in you, Mister Judicator. Please know I did not intend to mislead you, or give you any false inclinations.”
The Judicator’s face made no change as Thea spoke to him. The same creepy smile stayed exactly how it was, possibly grew bigger. He threw her undergarments aside as he looked Thea dead in the eye. “You didn’t mislead me at all. I just don’t care how you feel about it.”
The air the room had gone from creepy, to horrifying. Thea did not want to be alone with this man anymore. Maybe she could run into the street. She turned to open the door.
“If you leave, or even cry for help, I’ll turn off your light right now.” Thea turned to see the Judicator’s smile had dropped, and he had a mask of deadly seriousness on it. His hand hovered above the control pad on his side, like a gunslinger in the wild west. Thea stood there trembling for a moment as she held onto the handle. He could kill her with a hand movement.
She had a very fast conversation with herself, and was not pleased with the outcome. She took her hand off of the handle and turned toward the Judicator, head hung low. Thea had managed to avoid a situation like this for her whole life. Many of the women she knew had been in this exact horrifying place that she found herself in. This was a Judicator, with complete authority over her. Most had said the best thing would be to go along with it… She wanted to vomit.
The Judicator moved towards her slowly; his smile had returned and he swayed cockily when he walked. He didn’t even look at Thea as he reached past and locked the door.
“Now you’ll find that the nicer you are to me, the nicer i’ll be to-OOOOFFFF”
The Judicator collapsed as Thea’s knee drove right into his groin. The man rolled on the ground moaning as Thea ran into her washroom and locked the door. There was no way that bastard would touch her if she was alive. Thea desperately started to look around the bathroom for some sort of weapon to defend herself with. She grabbed the only thing she could find in the room.
Thea’s adrenaline was skyrocketing. She trembled as she tried to listen outside of the door. The man’s voice was muffled and in pain. “ughhh… Well that was stupid!… ungghh… now I have to kill you.” His muffled groans started to mix with a sick and twisted laugh. “unnngghh…hahaha… You know that door can’t stop me, right?!” The insane laugh that followed placed pure terror into Thea as she trembled in the bathroom.
Thea heard the man roll around for a few minutes, breathing hard and moaning again. He took his time as he gathered himself, obviously not worried about someone coming to find them. Thea checked the time- there was still 12 minutes of alone time. She couldn’t live stream what was happening to her if she wanted to.
Quickly she tried to call for help through her Interface. The Judicator had already cut her offline. Thea heard the man struggle to his feet, still muttering to himself. “You just made the dumbest decision of your pathetic life. I’m going to make you scream.”
Thea was shaking uncontrollably as she heard the man breathing right outside the room now. She could she the shadows of his feet under the crack in the door. He fell against it and slowly started to pound his fist against the frame, all the while laughing his deranged laugh.
Thea had never experienced terror like this.
“HELLOOOOOO, SPECIAL DELIVERYYYYYY!!!” screamed the man, pounding harder on the door and laughing maniacally. Thea could hear her own heartbeat as she stood in the small lavatory. That sick bastard wouldn’t touch her.
The pounding stopped and she heard the Judicator tap on his pad.
The door unlocked and the Judicator kicked the door open, falling in the bathroom with the momentum of his gigantic kick. He laughed as his smug face was thrown forward. “Well hello-”
Thea brought the shower curtain rod down on his head with every ounce of strength she could muster.
Blood streaked down between the man’s eyes, and a confused look went on his face for a moment. He feebly began to reach at Thea when she brought the shower rod down on his dome again, this time dropping him instantly.
Thea’s breathing was rabid and uncontrollable. Wild eyed she started at the man, praying that he wouldn’t get up again. A few seconds passed, which seemed like an eternity. A small pool of blood had formed beneath his head, and his body laid there completely motionless.
Suddenly, his right leg spasmed. Thea screamed in sheer panic and violently began smashing the mans head with the shower rod, again, and again, until the mass was no longer recognizable.
She kept pounding until the solid thunk made against the floor instantly replaced Thea’s terror with horror at herself for what she had just done. She looked at the rod as if it had somehow possessed her, and threw it away from her as if the rod itself is what caused her to do this deed. She began to bawl as she dropped and fell back against the wall, sliding to the floor in a heap. The reality of her actions sunk in immediately.
What would happen to her for murdering a Judicator?
Next Chapter: Coming Soon!