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The Resistance

The Resistance

Titel: The Resistance
Autoren: Gemma Malley
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Chapter One
    Overhead lighting, bleak and uncompromising, shone down into the small room like a prison guard’s searchlight, picking out every speck of dust, every mark on the cheap carpet, every smudged fingerprint on the window sill. It was a room which, Peter suspected, had been used for many purposes; the ghosts of its former occupants clung to it like cobwebs.
    ‘Tell me how Peter is. Tell me what he’s been thinking about lately.’
    Peter looked into the eyes of the woman sitting in front of him and sat back in his chair, circling the gold ring around his finger. The ring had been the only thing he’d had with him when he was found as a baby.
    The chair was padded, obviously intended to put him at ease, but it wasn’t working. He rarely felt comfortable. Anna said it was because he liked to make things difficult for himself, but he wasn’t sure. He figured that it just wasn’t in his nature to feel too comfortable. Comfort made you lazy. It was the easy option.
    ‘He’s been thinking,’ he said, smirking to himself as he adopted his counsellor’s use of the third person, ‘that his life sucks. That it’s monotonous and boring and that there is very little point to him.’
    His assimilation counsellor frowned; Peter felt adrenaline zip through his body. She was taken in. She looked concerned. It was a rare display of emotion – her face hardly ever expressed anything other than passive interest, however much he’d tried over the past few months. He studied her face. Her skin gave the initial impression of a light tan, but under the harsh overhead light you could see that actually it was covered in bronzing powder, little particles of orangey-brown dust nestling into the ridges around her eyes, around her mouth. She wore turquoise – a jacket and matching skirt. Her neck sagged. But Peter’s eyes were drawn to her hair, which somehow didn’t work. It was brown, with strands of blonde in it. At least, the hairs looked brown and blonde; they were white really, coloured regularly, religiously. Any sign of old age had to be eradicated. It was pathetic, he thought. Appearances were all that counted to people who took Longevity, not what lay beneath.
    ‘Very little point to you? Peter, what do you mean by that?’
    Peter rolled his eyes, feigning boredom. ‘I mean that, before, I felt like I had a purpose. I knew what I was doing, knew why I was doing it. And now . . .’ He trailed off, leaving the sentence hanging in mid-air.
    ‘And now?’ his counsellor prompted.
    ‘And now I work in a small laboratory doing meaningless work, I live in a house I loathe, and I barely earn enough money to heat it, let alone buy books for Anna or food for Ben. I got her out of Grange Hall to be free, to enjoy life, and now . . . now I feel like it was all for nothing. I thought I was going to do something with my life, achieve something. But everything . . . it feels like everything was for nothing.’
    His counsellor nodded thoughtfully. ‘You feel that you’re letting Anna down?’ she asked.
    Peter sighed; even in this contrived conversation he found the idea of letting Anna down hard to contemplate, even though he knew it wasn’t true, would never be true.
    ‘Maybe,’ he said, shrugging.
    ‘I’m sure she doesn’t feel that way. Anna is a very sensible girl. She understands how the world works, Peter.’
    Peter raised an eyebrow. Anna had seen her assimilation counsellor for just a few weeks; had been discharged from the programme early. So practised was she at gaining the trust of authority figures that she had managed to convince her counsellor in no time at all that she was no threat, that she would make a good, diligent citizen. It was something that Peter admired and resented in equal measure – she was only good at it because she’d had to be to survive at Grange Hall. Peter, on the other hand, had been unable to resist the odd caustic comment, the odd misplaced joke; several months later, he was still having to come every week to convince his counsellor that he could ‘fit in’ to society.
    Peter crossed his arms and adopted a different look. A look that would tell her he was lost, that he was weak, that the Authorities had successfully crushed his spirit.
    ‘I just want to provide for her,’ he said, forcing himself not to smile at the look of understanding that crossed the counsellor’s face.
    ‘It’s money that you’re worried about?’
    ‘Money, boredom . . .’ He sat forward in
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