Author: Ethan Kahana
Erika Glass sat nervously on her wood-frame bed with her back hunched while the celebration was at full force just outside her window. Like every other bedroom in the city, the walls in her room were covered in an array of checklists and a relatively small number of achievements. Additionally, a single, large brightly framed mirror with differing zoom and focus abilities hung on the wall. Erika stood languidly and peered outside, lights bouncing off her face from the festivities below. Different sized silk covered individually chosen body parts of each person dressed only in underwear, their excitement palpable for tomorrow’s annual regeneration process. Fully clothed, Erika lay down in bed, turning her body to avoid the mirror as her first test day loomed the next morning.
At sunrise, the alarm went off in Erika’s head and she smiled sweetly and curtseyed to her mother, who still had 2 large pieces of patterned silk over her self-proclaimed “stubby legs” from the night before, and grandfather before sitting for breakfast. Her father was still in bed, per usual. With a mouthful of eggs, she motioned violently at her mother to get rid of the coverings. Ignoring the good luck wishes from her grandfather, who at 80 had just turned too old to partake in the regeneration process, she and her mother left the house.
While the other children around her discussed excitedly which part of them will be chosen for regeneration after their Assessment for Perfection, Erika stood silently. They all stood in Regeneration Square surrounded by classic-looking buildings with large glass windows overlooking the mountains. After her head was scanned, she looked up to see an arch with the words Perveniemus Perfectum, meaning “We will reach perfection”. Erika entered her testing room.
The room was divided for each person using temporary walls. As Erika entered the bay with 8128 illuminated on the door, she noticed that she was surrounded by mirrors on all 6 sides. As the carillon played Mozart at exactly 8:00, a voice entered Erika’s head. “Welcome to the Assessment for Perfection,” the voice said.
The coolness of the room hit Erika’s bare skin as she felt her eyes dilate and felt like she was hearing something even though she was sure that there was nothing there. Many different tastes flooded her mouth, ranging from what she recognized as cake to grilled salmon to broccoli. “I wish that they hadn’t ended with broccoli,” Erika mumbled to herself, grimacing. The voice in her head laughed. Erika didn’t know if this was her own thoughts or the test monitor.
“Physical assessment complete. Now you will complete the mind assessment,” the voice said.
Erika felt as if she were taking a pop test in math. She never paid attention in math.
She walked out of the room with the sense of dread that she had performed terribly on her AP while her classmates were exiting their rooms gleefully, with some joyfully singing the city anthem, “I am stupid, I am ugly, but one day the people here will love me.” Erika covered her ears as she ran through Regeneration Square.
She stopped at the sight of hundreds of people gathered around the punishment area, chanting the anthem almost manically. She just screamed as she saw her father’s gaunt face. “What is punishment for avoiding perfection?” the voice in her head that she recognized as head of the Regeneration Department yelled.
“A new beginning,” the city screamed.
“The brain regeneration of Dr. Glass will commence,” the voice in her head enthused as the town cheered for the “New Dr. Glass.”