The last wave of settlers is scheduled to arrive tomorrow, 200 more inhabitants. The settlement seems crowded already, but I guess another couple hundred won’t make a difference. They say almost five thousand are here already. My father has worked for Steinmetz since before I was born. He was one of the first to arrive, the rest of our family arrived several weeks later. Dad is an engineer, worked on the team that designed the habitation units.
I thought that the children were just brought along for future generations, but I found out today we were really brought along for labor. The youngest of us have school first thing in the morning, those of us older than 16 are evidently done with schooling, officially at least. This morning was a rude awakening.
Unlike the first four days, we spend today working. I guess the first four were orientation. Some of my new friends were sent down into the mines. From what I’ve been able to gather, the settlement sits atop an enormous quantity of gold and silicon, coincidentally two elements we all but completely consumed on Earth.
Luckily, I suppose, I was not assigned to the mines. I am being trained for the security detail. I awoke this morning to a text telling me to report to sector 7C and to check my locker for my uniform. I found there a heavy jumpsuit, dark gray denim with a patch over the left breast. “SSS” or Steinmetz Settlement Security.
The uniform was stiff and scratchy, I now have a chaffing rash inside my thighs, but at least I’m not in the mines.
The last wave arrived mid-morning today. It was really depressing to see the wonder and excitement on their faces, knowing that probably half of them are destined to ten-hour shifts in the mines. Rumor has it that some are worked six days in a row.
My squad was ordered to supervise the arrival, to guide the new settlers to their habitation unit. I got to see inside of another unit for the first time. It was exactly identical to our own, except with a purple stripe on the wall instead of orange.
I met a girl today, her name is Cassandra. Beautiful curly golden hair, tall and curvy. We talked a bit as we walked, she’s from Pittsburgh and we joked about how she “escaped.” I hope I get to see her again soon, and that she doesn’t get assigned “resource collection.”
There was an accident in the mine today. I was in the monitoring room being trained to use the software when it happened. It started with a quiet rumble, then a sudden crashing jolt like an earthquake. The supervisor bolted from the room and we began to follow after. He ordered us to stay, so we did. So, I put my new knowledge to use and watched what I could with the cameras, but I never saw anyone but security come up out of the mine. That is, until the shift change. The first shift came out of the mine covered in filth as usual, replaced by the second shift in clean jumpsuits. I clocked out, never did see my super again today.
Word is going around that several workers died in the accident yesterday, the number varies from a couple to two dozen depending on who you’re talking to. I asked my super about it and he told me it was none of my business. I guess it wasn’t.
At lunch today, I decided to hang back in the monitoring room. I went through each camera in search of Cassandra, but never found her. I guess it’s because I don’t have access tot he habitation cameras. Maybe I’ll find her after she gets her work orders. Maybe she’ll even be assigned to SSS.
I received at text about an hour before shift change today: “ALL: report to auditorium @1630.” Shift change is at 1700, so I was excited to get off early. The excitement only lasted until the assembly began. It was part “welcome to the colony” and part stern warning. Things we are not allowed to do, places we’re not allowed to go, and, weirdest of all, questions we’re not allowed to ask. After the meeting, dinner in the mess hall. I looked around for Cassandra, but did not see her.
Only one thing happened today that’s even worth talking about, but boy is it. At lunch, one of the miners got up on a table and started shouting. Something like, “I know the truth! The truth they will never tell you! We’re all going to die here!” A couple of SSS guards grabbed him and dragged him out while he continued screaming, “We’re all going to die here!”
Today should have been the day that Cassandra was assigned, but I was unable to find out where she might have been assigned to. After the interruption during dinner last night, everyone in the colony seem son edge, like as if we all know we want to talk about it be are afraid. People seem to look at us SSS members as though we have the information. I guess we do, in aggregate, but we’ve been given very clear instructions that we are never to talk about anything we see or do int the course of our duties, even amongst ourselves.
I learned something interesting ‒ maybe frightening ‒ today: there are a large number of jail cells located beneath 7C. One of them, of course, is occupied by our dinner interrupter, but there are others. After my shift, I tried to explore the colony, walking around in uniform trying to act nonchalant. I ended up outside purple habitat, but the door requires a purple id chip. I tried my own chip, it didn’t work. When I turned around, an SSS guard stood right behind me. “No one is allowed access to any habitat besides one’s own,” he said softly but firmly, with a sly grin.
I’ve been led to believe, via rumors, that the miners have been forced to work for their eighth straight day, a leas ones that have been her long enough. I tend to believe this, you would too if you saw the defeated looks on their sallow faces. I’ve been made to work too, today is my sixth day. My job has to be significantly easier, though. This afternoon, I was given orders to report any group of miners talking amongst themselves by marking the feed.
I awoke today to a text: “R&R report to gym @0900.” I thought it a bit odd at first, being told to report on my “day off” but hell, I thought I’d be working again today. It turned out to be an orientation and tour of the colony’s rest and relaxation units. There’s a gym, basketball, volleyball, tennis, exercise and weightlifting equipment. There’s a movie theater, a bar for the adults, and a computer lab that connects to the Earth Internet, although very slowly. I spent my entire allotment texting my friends back home. Now, as I sit here at the desk in our compartment, the grim reality sets in: I’ll not be going home.
At lunch today, I saw a couple of the miners I reported a couple days ago doing dishes in the kitchen. It seem like the light in their eyes had gone out. I mention this to my dad and he very rudely told me to shut up, now. Back at work I decided, from today onward, I’ll only be logging pointless marks, just to test the system and, maybe, throw off the data.
I saw Cassandra this morning. I was in a crowd of people headed to work when I saw her about 15 meters in front of me. When I tried to push my way through to get to her, I was interrupted by a strong hand on my bicep. It grabbed me so hard it hurt then pulled me through a doorway I had never seen before. Inside was my super and a man I had never seen before. I guess the unknown man was the one who grabbed me. He was a jacked, muscles on the the teeth type of guy. The super is the one who spoke. He said, “Your marks yesterday were all bad. You have been given very clear instructions. If you cannot, or will not, follow them, there will be repercussions. Do you understand?” I silently nodded, yes. Just as quickly as I had been snagged, I found myself heaved back into the throng. Cassandra was nowhere to be found.
The air in the colony for the past week or so has been filled with noxious tension. Each day more than the last. Sitting in the monitoring room, just watching my own terminal, I was interrupted by one of my associates. He shouted, “Oh my god!” and we all turned to look. “You all need to see this.” Of course, all of us needed to see it, so we gathered around his terminal to see a mass of workers piling out of the mines. The were marching. After about three seconds, his feed was cut. We all stood there silently for about a minute. Then the super walks in the room and tells us we saw nothing. If only it were that easy. It would seem that a revolt has begun.