The sky was green, again. Alya said that when they built the world the sky was always blue, and bright. Now, she said, it was broken and didn’t always do what it was supposed to.
Wilm lay on his back, watching a patch of darker green glitch and stutter across the sky. He thought it looked a bit like the LP logo tattooed on his inner wrist. He held his arm up and compared the two. There was a certain similarity, like a person on all fours. Alya said it was something that used to exist in the world outside.
Wilm had never paid much thought to the world outside, he was happy with this world. He rolled over a little and pulled a tuft of sweet, red grass from the ground, stuffed it into his mouth and chewed as he pondered.
Alya said the world outside was broken too, like the sky. She was the oldest person he knew, and she never seemed happy. She was a B, he was an F, but the number beneath their tattoos was the same so they shared a crib. It wasn’t common to share, and it was cramped, but neither of them minded.
Wilm rolled round and upright, into a sitting position, he wondered where Alya was. He could see his fellow Fs lying around him, gazing upwards, occasionally stretching for a handful of grass. Further away a small group of Gs were gathered.
Alya didn’t come out to the fields a whole lot, she didn’t eat much. Wilm thought this was probably why she was sad a lot of the time.
He struggled to his feet. That was one advantage Alya had in being thin, it was never this difficult for her to stand up. He ambled towards the main building. He ought to spend some time with her before they took him to the world outside. The Fs in the cribs next to theirs had gone last week. And they were moving Gs into the lower numbers already. They would come for him soon.
He was happy here, but this world was just preparation. Looking at the new Gs he saw why, they were unsteady, unthinking. He plucked a bunch of yellow leaves from a bush and munched on them as he made his way back. He was ready for the world outside.
There were thin men at the cribs. Outside men in white coats. They were gabbling to each other in their outside language and pointing at the glowing slates in their hands. Two of them noticed him and came down the path towards him. Wilm smiled at them and held his tattooed wrist out.
They looked at his outstretched arm and then at each other with raised eyebrows. One shook his head and the other gabbled something they both laughed at. They checked his tattoo and consulted their slate, then nodded and led him back up the path towards their vehicles. The backs of the vehicles were wide open and there were ramps leading to large empty spaces, white-walled and smooth like a wider version of their cribs.
He told them he just needed to see Alya to say goodbye and turned towards the cribs as they passed, but they seemed to understand him as little as he understood them. Strange to think he would be living in their world soon.
He gestured, trying to make them understand. But the more he tried to move away, the rougher they got, shoving and pulling him towards the vehicle. One of the men poked him in the side with something that sent a spike of pain through him, like nothing he had experienced before, making him spasm and almost fall over.
The thin men laughed.
It was no good, they were determined and he was all bulk, no strength. As they manoeuvred him up the ramp he looked back and saw Alya at the cribs. She looked so sad. One of the men was patting her affectionately and talking at her.
Wilm smiled and yelled at her to let her know that he was OK and everything would be fine. She wouldn’t be alone, they would probably move a G into their crib soon so she would have more company. Then one of the thin men jabbed something sharp into his neck and the world washed away to nothing.