Sarah awoke on the cold steel floor and immediately regretted it.
Her head was spinning, nausea filling her senses so completely that the only thing she could focus on was the feel of the metal against her naked body.
Hang on, why was she naked? The last thing she could remember through the fog in her brain was being forced to walk home from her work-cycle after missing the Mag-Lev thanks to her colleague Daniel delaying her departure by hitting on her yet again.
Another wave of nausea hit as she opened her bloodshot green eyes to survey her dimly lit surroundings. She could just about make out the blue paint on the walls and floor of the gloomy container she found herself in and something else which she couldn’t quite identify in the darkness, another person?
As the receding dizziness allowed her to think once more she decided to investigate the shape, raising herself up, first onto her knees and then to her feet, leaning against the smooth metal wall both for support and as an attempt at modesty, to hide the lack of clothing she had suddenly become very aware of.
“Hello?” the way the word croaked from her dry mouth surprised Sarah, how long had it been since she’d spoken? “My name’s Sarah, is someone there?”
“Sarah is it?” A male voice that sounded like it originated in a throat full of gravel came drifting back to her across the stale air of their surroundings, “I’m sorry Sarah, but you’re just MEAT now girl.”
“What do you mean MEAT?” She asked indignantly,
“No offence meant love,” the voice continued, “I’m talking about the vid-show”
“Wait, that dumb show about the clones?” She vaguely remembered a couple of bored evenings spent with an ex-boyfriend who was a fan. It was something about clones being made to fight each other wasn’t it?
“That’s the one love, you sound like a smart girl, so what do you suppose they need to make a clone?”
“Genetic Material… Oh god!” she raised a hand to her mouth in disgust, “They can’t do this!”
“Sad to say, they can and they have poppet. The Network’s the biggest thing on the planet right now, you really think they can’t see to it that enough creds find their way into enough of the right hands to let them do whatever they want?”
“Oh God!” Sarah sobbed, falling back down to her knees, the noise of the impact reverberating around the metal holding area.
“I don’t think he’s listening sweetheart.”
“We have to get out of here!” She could feel the panic rising in her chest.
“Not much chance of that either I’m afraid, that feeling like you might vomit at any second? That’s a gas they pump in here to keep us nice and compliant.” She found the man’s resignation at their shared fate infuriating beyond belief! She was about to ask him how he could be so matter-of-fact about dying in this dark little box when the sound of approaching foot steps caused the words to be lost somewhere before she could utter them.
“Best be quiet now love,” The man continued in his calm, deliberate tone, “odds are they’re coming for you, what with you being the fresh meat and all.” her rage and indignation were replaced by fear and panic as she heard the faint sound of numbers being entered onto a keypad. With the sound of metal sliding against metal the chamber was suddenly filled with light as two gas-masked figures approached her cowering, naked form. Undeterred by her cries they roughly grabbed an arm each and lifted her to her feet. Try though she might, the gas had robbed her of the energy she needed to struggle or break free, as they began to drag her out of the room she looked back at the battered form of the man she had been speaking to who was now visible thanks to the light from the doorway. He turned to face her, grinning through what teeth remained, the shock of seeing his face almost caused her to vomit.
“Don’t worry love! It gets easier after the first time, once you’ve no eyeballs in their way!” He started laughing, as he grinned the gaping empty sockets beneath his brow contorted into horrific mirrors of the maniacal grimace of the near-toothless maw below them, “We’re all just MEAT now!”
The broken, wheezing laughter of the blinded nameless man filled the room. Sarah screamed before a blow to the back of her head ushered in welcome silence and darkness.