Draped in grey as was everyone else in the hallway, zhe left the cube to go to work as zhe did every day, along with all the other drones in the building. The mouth patch had been put on squarely, to remove all temptation to say anything offensive, breath on anyone by accident. Eye blinders were set to the correct angle to ensure seeing below anyone else’s face while making sure one could still walk. Zhe had a freshly shaved head, though zhe had started to fill in parts to make the widow’s peak less pronounced. It would never do to be noticeable; one must only let the work shine.

Getting on the tube transporter, zhe noticed that the only seats available, even on this early trolley, were the ones reserved for the pregnant and as this did not apply, zhe continued to stand. Reaching up for the handhold strap zhe momentarily noticed the face of the passenger standing alongside, a nicely shaped oval. This face also had a mouth patch and blinders on and seemingly had not noticed the covert glance. Quickly looking down, zhe stared at the shoes of the other passengers, noticing the winter model was on a few of the people’s feet. Hoping that the glance would remain unnoticed, as whenever zhe accidentally let zher gaze stray.


* * * * * * *


Fluorescents buzzed above all the cubicles in the great room, occasionally flickering as the ballast for the light tubes started to age out in the distant parts of the hall. The padded kneepads of a utility suit allowed a full range of movement as zhe pushed the angled tip of the hand broom into each corner, allowing the slight amount of dirt to rise to the surface in this hard-to-reach spot, a spot each wall space had.  Zhe would brush a small space and follow along shortly afterward with a hand vacuum, then shuffle along to the next section of wall.  There, the worn carpet would still hold dirt though it had been cleaned in this manner the day before. As zhe worked along the edge of the room, the voices of the Greaters became a background hum, neither interesting nor distracting but still allowing a Lessor to pick out the voices on the overloud in the chance that it was something concerning.

About three-fifths into the normal day’s circuit, a pair of boots appeared within the vision of the blinders. Directly looking down at zher, the greater had a vague smile, polished hair, and the deliberate slouch of the upper caste. Young though, as if having just recently been certified by university.

“Please finish up and apply to Opportunity in one tenth. It has been noticed and needs discussion. Oh, and please be to wash up first.”


* * * * * * *


Fiddling with his screen, he didn’t look at zher when lecturing. “…The wall covers also need a deep scrub, and as your job is wiping down the glass at the atrium, this should be a pretty simple opportunity for you to shine at your job. Of course, cleanliness is your goal here at the center, which you have done a great job at as one of the window team. But there have been a few reports of your looking through the glass at objects and the Greaters beyond. As that is obviously the case, I would ask you to take the opportunity to tighten the field of your blinders to ensure that the looks up do not continue.  And as you were asked to wash up but left a streak under your left pinky nail, I feel that there is increased opportunity here to again teach you, again, that your job is necessary. Thus, the increased use of blinders, along with heavy scrub. Thank you, that is all.” His eye’s never left the screen in front of him.


* * * * * * *


Arriving back in the cube late that night, delayed due to the need to finish zher circuit of brooming and vacuuming, zhe set about disassembling an old pen. Taking the ink cartridge out, bending back an old safely pin that was twirled in string. Dipping the pin tip in the ink, allowing it to swell into the thread, zhe slipped the primitive tattoo needle up under the fingernail.  Feeling the small but bright pain, allowing zherself the only control zhe had.