'Sleepwalking in The City'

"Hey, 'Galileo'," sneers Chris, sarcasm dripping from my name, "Love the outfit, where did you download it…" he stops to laugh at his own oncoming joke. "Punks'R'Us," he doubles over snorting violently along with the rest of the Boyzone boys. They sit in pods that hang from the ceiling in front of a long metal table. "H…h..hilarious," I mutter, keeping my head down and walking over to the vendors, hands curled so tightly into fists that my nails dig into my palm. I type my order into the screen above the hatch and a loading bar appears indicating how much time is left until my food is ready. I tap my foot and hum lightly under my breath, releasing the anger that has built up inside me. I imagine myself turning back around and punching Chris straight in his stupid face, breaking his nose. I smile satisfactorily to myself, lost in my fantasy. A hand lightly touches my shoulder and I jump, swinging round and raising a fist up ready to attack, coiled like a spring. A small girl looks up at me, her eyes round with fear, she cowers against her friend. I mutter my apologies and turn back to the hatch which is beeping loudly at me, my order was ready. She had touched my shoulder to tell me this. I apologise again before walking quickly out of café, making my feet move as quickly as possible without breaking into a run. Running is strictly banned. What is happening to me? I had nearly attacked a defenceless girl who hadn't done anything wrong… It was all because of these stupid dreams, I wake up every morning feeling like I haven't even slept that night. I walk straight to the bathroom, slamming the door open so it bounces violently against the wall and comes hurtling back towards me. It pounds into the tray causing it to flip up and spill its contents all over me. Great…just perfect. I growl out loud dumping the tray and what's left of lunch into the bin, a blue light flashes brightly and the food is incinerated. I walk over to the sink and try to get out the worst of the food stains on my grey shirt. I splash water on my face to cool it down, the anger slowly seeping away as I take deep breaths. In and out and in and out. I look up at myself in the mirror, my dark hair is messed up from me constantly running my hands through it. My face looks thinner than usual, my eyes sunken into my face with fatigue. The black rings around my eyes, my signature look, are rubbing off. I grab my leather jacket out of my bag and throw it on over my top to cover up the stains. I don't bother looking back in the mirror, I won't like what I see anymore than I usually do. Some of the Gaga girls seem to find me attractive…I don't know if that's because of how I look or that I'm different to them…dangerous. I often hear them tittering and murmuring, their heads bowed as I pass them in the corridors, commenting on my muscles or my jaw line. I ignore them, they're all idiots anyway. Clones of the Zone, slaves to Globalsoft, I could never like them when none of them have had an individual thought in their lives. I run my hand through my hair absent mindedly as I storm down the corridor. I'm not in the mood for Bio-Chem but if I miss another class I will be in dire peril of failing and not graduating next month. My teachers liked to remind me of this at least once every period while I sit there staring out of the window. Which, coincidently, I do during the whole of Bio-Chem, I just don't care about how clever Globalsoft was when they came up with self replicating goldfish using the molecules of a plant or whatever our teacher is going on about. So when the ringtone goes off to indicate the end of school I leap to my feet immediately. Everyone turns to look at me and heat creeps up my neck towards my face. "Will you please sit down WWW/Gordon !" my teacher says monotonously, she's not even phased by my random outbursts or 'disruptive behaviour' as she puts it. I immediately stare at the floor and sit back down in my seat. It clicks that I hadn't heard the bell at all but instead heard it in my head, not that that was anything new. I sigh and fold my arms against my chest, staring out at the dull landscape through the window I'm sat next to. This side of the school looks out over the Wasteland, it's the desert that takes up over half of Planet Mall. It is a clayish red colour that is daily whipped up by strong winds meaning that there is nowhere on the planet that is free from its dust. I spend most of my lessons on this side of the school wondering what it would like to walk out there, walk out there and never turn back. Whether I would find anything, anyone, one of the other cities before I died of dehydration or hunger or exhaustion. The answer was: probably not. We are hundreds of miles away from any other civilisation, from any other life. Not that it would make any difference if I made it to one of them, it would be same as it is here, just smaller. They would all still follow Globalsoft blindly into killing their individuality and their hope. I shouldn't be thinking like this, it could get me arrested or killed, but that didn't really matter. Not anymore. It wasn't like I actually had anything to live for. Suddenly the room is bathed in a warm glow emanating from the various holograms of our leader's face rising from each of our desks. Fantastic. "Ladies and Gentlemen of Planet Mall, it is time for our daily bulletin. I am happy to say that everything is normal today, the sun is shining, the water is flowing and Globalsoft is happy to bring you the latest new updates for everyone's tabs." Everyone robotically reaches into their bags and takes out their tabs. I exhale slowly watching them all, moving at the same time, eyes almost glazed over, watching in submission, following. If you didn't watch closely or, in fact, get updates from her every single day you would mistake her demeanour as friendly and likeable. Killer Queen, Globalsoft's president was far from friendly or likeable. The closer you looked, the more you could see this in her updates. How her smile doesn't reach her eyes, which are cool and calculated, she is smart, deadly smart and that would be a good thing for me to remember. If I could bring myself to care enough what would happen if I forgot. Everyone in the classroom bursts into identical whoops of glee as their tabs ping, notifying them that their downloads are complete. This was their life, waiting for the next update to bring them a moment of elation before being plunged back into a sea of monotonous similarities and obedience. But it wasn't mine, I don't know why, I don't know why I seem to be the only person awake whilst the rest of the world sleep walks. But that is just the way things are and there is nothing I can do about it.

"Left, right, up, down!" yells the official from Globalsoft who comes to the school every morning to do the daily workout session. I liked them a lot more than I care to mention. It meant I didn't have to listen to a teacher going on and on about things I, frankly, didn't care about. It meant I could lose myself in the adrenaline and my own thoughts without being yelled at. However it did mean I had to listen to the crappy Globalsoft top charts, this filled the rest of the year with glee, of course. Like the Gaga kids, the music was all just the same, it was pre programmed, it had no heart, no soul. All the lyrics spoke about finding true love and obeying the law, they were brainwashing the kids into doing exactly what Globalsoft wanted them to do. I think that is the only reason we have any kind of music at all, because it is useful to them. If it wasn't then, poof, it would be gone, along with all of our musical instruments. They had been banned, anyone found trying to make music would be arrested. "Faster!" screams the official, his perfect hair slightly out of place and sweat forming on his brown, threatening to run down his wrinkled face. How had he managed to get this job? Who wants to be up at 7am in the morning to get a whole bunch of kids to exercise? I'm pretty sure the answer wasn't the guy standing in front of us. He permanently wears a frown on his face and never seems to have a whole lot of patience. That could just be because it is 7 in the morning…but I think it runs deeper than that. Finally the school ringtone blares out, signalling that we have exactly half an hour before first lesson to get changed, get some water and relax. I grab my bag on the way out, guzzling water from a metal bottle. I wipe my top lip and sling my bag down onto the bottom step. This is where I usually sit, nobody tends to bother me and I don't bother them. There are 12 steps outside of the school made of marble which is extremely cold, even in this heat. The entrance is made up of two giant metal doors that seem completely out of place with the marble pillars. The school is a miss match of different eras. Globalsoft couldn't be bothered to update all of it, so we had top security systems and tiny wooden chairs that gave you the worst splinters. Other cities were like that too, Globalsoft only really cares about the City, which is of course all up to date, a clone creating factory. The others are made up of parts old and new, things left over from the wars and even from times before that. My half an hour was up, I begrudgingly get up off the stairs and make my way to lesson.