Futurefic AU, angst
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
If my blood can save lives, maybe I should come forward... - Clark Kent, "Resurrection"
I don't have a name.
I live in a little white box. I've always lived in it, as long as I can remember. It's exactly long enough for my cot, and wide enough that I can take ten steps from my cot to the wall. There is a toilet, a shower, and a sink across from the cot, and in the perfect whiteness of the door there's a slot where a tray of food appears three times a day. There's a mirror over the sink, and one bright light overhead. It's very, very clean and smells of disinfectant, and I never leave it.
When I look in my mirror, I see a boy with dark, wavy hair and green eyes looking back at me. That's all there is to see, really. The wall is white. The sheets on the cot are white. Even my clothes are white.
For a long time, I wondered if everyone in the world lived in a little white box. The doctors and teachers that I saw every day, did they live in the same sort of room? Obviously if they did, they got to leave their rooms sometimes, because they came into my room.
I didn't like it much when they came in, but I figured it was better than being alone all the time. Being alone was boring. When they came in, they spoke curtly to me, and then they took blood out of my arm. They still do, every single day. There's a little badge on the front of their white coats that says LexCorp: Making the World Better Through Medical Technology, with their name on a tag beneath it. When I was younger, I couldn't sound out the names, but now I can read them all.
The teacher helped me learn to read. She started with books that had sentences like the cat ate the rat, but those were easy. Before long she had me reading other stories, stories with much bigger words.
"Subject displays the typical rapid learning ability and excellent memory," she'd scrawl in her notes. (It took a little while, but I learned to read upside down pretty quickly, too.) At first I wondered what that meant. Typical for what? Was I just like everyone else? But if I was, then my memory wouldn't be excellent... it'd be ordinary. Average. At least that was what I figured.
Anyway, before long I was reading big books with no pictures. And as I read them, I began to realize not everyone lived in a little white box. In fact, it seemed that no one did. People lived in houses, and had parents, and families-- all words that I didn't quite understand.
"It's fiction," she said shortly, when I asked about it. "Fiction means it's all imaginary."
"So in real life, everyone lives in a box?"
"Of course," she answered, and scribbled some more notes. By now she'd realized I could read her writing upside down, and took care to tilt her clipboard so I couldn't read it at all.
I didn't quite believe her, but I had no actual proof other people didn't live in boxes. And really, why would I live in a box, and everyone else live in houses? Why would everyone else be able to travel around on bicycles, or in cars, and go to places like malls and stores, when I couldn't ever leave this box?
By now, I knew it wasn't a box, not exactly. The right word for the place I lived was cell. I lived in a cell. I'd read about cells in stories. When people did something wrong and went to jail, they lived in a cell.
I began to worry that I'd done something wrong. Maybe I was in jail. Maybe I'd done something illegal when I was younger, and that was why I was here. The idea tormented me. It scared me. Maybe I was a terrible person who'd done terrible things, and just didn't know it.
Every day, they drew blood from my arm. The doctors always touched me with a certain caution, as if physical contact with me was mildly disgusting, and they never smiled at me, or even looked me in the eyes. The syringe they used had a glowing green jewel on it, and it made me feel icky. They told me more than once that having blood drawn made everyone feel bad. I didn't like it, because it felt like my skin was crawling and my stomach was tying itself up in knots. But it was just part of my life, something that happened every single day, and I guess I'd gotten pretty used to it.
The doctors talked among themselves sometimes, with no concern for the fact that I was in the room.
"You'll note that the blood continues to retain its healing factors," one said once, holding up a vial filled with my blood, "no matter how many duplicates of the original genetic material are made. Cancer, heart disease, mental disorders... all are rapidly becoming a thing of the past, thanks to the almost miraculous qualities of this substance."
The assistant, who seemed more tentative, spoke hesitantly.
"But if the subjects were ever allowed rights, then all the progress we've made..."
"Rights!" The first doctor laughed coldly. "There can be no human rights for something that is not human."
"But the editorials in the Daily Planet... the rallies... the senators who support the cause..."
"There is no cause," the first doctor snapped impatiently. "There are only a few overly emotional fools who would pull us back into the Dark Ages, when people died of so many maladies that are almost entirely gone now. Do you really suppose the public would tolerate returning to the days of death and suffering? Do you really suppose the public cares about rights?"
The assistant looked embarrassed. "I suppose not..."
The first doctor sighed. "At any rate," he said, a little more gently, "the subjects are terminated before the onset of adolescence, in order to avoid the development of the secondary abilities that were displayed by the original subject. The public would never tolerate the manifestation of such abilities, and we both know it."
"I suppose you're right," the assistant admitted. "I simply worry..."
The conversation faded as they left my cell, but I heard others like it, over and over again. They tended to speak as if I wasn't there at all. But no matter how much I listened, I couldn't quite understand it.
It seemed as if my blood was valuable somehow. As if by giving it every day, I accomplished something worthwhile. Somehow, I dimly understood, my blood had to do with the words they all had stitched onto their white coats: Making the World Better Through Medical Technology.
But what, I couldn't guess.
The days slid by, one like another, dull and tedious and endless. The monotony was broken only by the hour or two when my teacher visited the cell, and the doctors came in to draw blood and make their notes. I had little to think about, and slowly, I started to wonder what was outside my cell.
Not about what the greater world was like. True, I liked to lie on my cot and dream about movies and bowling alleys and farms, to try to picture them in my head. But a more immediate question nagged at me-- what exactly was right outside my cell door?
The walls were soundproof. I couldn't hear anything, not even footsteps approaching. I never knew anyone was coming until the door opened. And when the door opened, and I snuck a peek outside, all I could see was more whiteness. A white corridor, I guess, just as glaringly bright as my cell.
I asked, but no one would answer me. And so, more and more, I began to wonder what was down the corridor.
I tried more than once to open the door, but it wouldn't open. Nothing I could do would force the handle to turn. There was no way of escaping my box.
Slowly, I came to realize that was what it was. No matter how much they told me everyone lived this way... I just couldn't believe it. It didn't make sense. Everyone couldn't possibly live in a small cell, having blood drawn every day. There had to be more to most people's existence.
There should be more to my existence.
Oppressed by the relentless drone of monotony, I began to dream of escape. And slowly, my dreams turned to plans. Simple plans, of course, because I was still very young. But over the course of the months, my quiet acquiescence to fate slowly shifted into a grim determination to escape.
And today, when the door opened... I ran.
I brushed past a white-coated doctor. She gave a little squeal of panic, as if touching me had frightened her somehow. As if it had repulsed her. But maybe she was only startled. She grabbed for me, but I dodged to the side, avoiding her grasp, and ran down the corridor as fast as I could.
And then my mouth fell open.
The walls were stark white, and they rose high on either side of a wide central courtyard, which was surrounded by a clear plastic railing. As I raced down the corridor, I saw that on this level, there was a cell every twenty feet or so. From outside, the walls of the cells appeared to be transparent. You could see in, as if the wall were made of glass, but I guessed the occupants of the cells couldn't see out, any more than I'd been able to.
And every cell had an occupant.
Stunned, I ran on, looking into each cell. Every cell-- every last cell-- held a dark-haired little boy with green eyes, a little boy who wore the exact same face I saw in the mirror every day. A little boy who probably had blood drawn from his arm every day, exactly as I did.
There were at least fifty cells on this level, and as I ran, I looked up and down, seeing that this wasn't the only level of cells. There were levels above and below, and everywhere I looked, I saw myself, over and over and over again.
There were dozens of me.
Hundreds upon hundreds of dark-haired, green-eyed boys with no name.