Augment | Teen Ink


April 7, 2017
By DrMitchellPhD PLATINUM, Riverdale, Georgia
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DrMitchellPhD PLATINUM, Riverdale, Georgia
21 articles 0 photos 14 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The only thing that will make you happy is being happy with who you are, and not who people think you are." - Goldie Hawn

The author's comments:

({[Author's Note: CloudTrain: Zephyr 483 - 62A is sort of a mouthful,  so I'm just going to abbreviate all CloudTrains to Trains and CloudTrain: Zephyr 483 - 62A will be abbreviated to Zephyr 483. Enjoy!]})

Author's Note:

Intrigued? ;) I really hope this elongated and expansive introductory chapter left you all a really good impression of 'Augment'. Also, please vote if you like the book so far or if you like the name 'Patrice', because I think its a great name.

I'm very excited to be writing this book, and I hope you're just as excited to read. After each chapter, I'm going to start asking a question or two that will have life-changing effects on 'Augment' in future chapters. So answer well.


QOTD (Question of the Day) - Pick a name: Stephen, Jermaine , Nathan, Xavier, Aaron, or Adrian.

"I pledge my allegiance, fealty, and obedience now and always, forever to my country," I spake into my CyPhone, voice raspy from waking much too early. Much to my somnolent dismay, my bedroom window allows a few rays of dull early-morning light into the room, turning the comforting darkness into soft light.

Nestled in a small concavity on my thick bed sheets, my ultra-thin CyPhone: Model TempestXZG records my little spiel. A soft pulsating noise fires from the device into the quiet safety of my room. Every word I recapitulate must be exact.

I shift my weight, wrinkling the straightened gray covers beneath me. The sound of my rasp fails to fade away, so my pledge feels more like sandpaper in my mouth than smooth water. I clear my throat as a hologram of the national flag bursts from my Phone screen, waving powerfully. It's crazy to know that everyone across the nation starts their day the same way I do, repeating the same message, the same promise, completely in sync. Millions of people inaudible and invisible to me yet loud and clear.

I continue, "My loyalty will never falter, my obedience will never halt, and my actions will always reflect these words: timeliness for the sake of productivity; control for the sake of order."

The wide flag flourishes itself again as a systematic message says, "The President approves your pledge. Now complete your daily duties with pride."

"Now and always," I reply dryly, and the hologram clicks off, vanishing with a swish. I slide my Phone into my hand, check my reflection in the mirror of my screen, and exit my room through automatic doors.

A moments later, my bare, brown feet meet with the white, piercing cold floors of the lavatory. I strip myself of my evening gown, remove the gray rubber-band tying my curly brown hair back in a ponytail, and trot for the shower.

-- -- -- Ж  -- -- --

After drying my body, untangling and curling my hair, brushing my flawlessly white teeth, and checking my weight, I through on the simple  outfit that my house planned for me wear: A black, plaid turtle-neck dress with a silver, metallic shirt/dress sewed onto the sweater, and black knee-high boots.


Like clockwork, I step into my apartment's bare kitchen, aligning my palms onto the cushy PrintPad. The Pad recognizes my hand-prints, then the lone refrigerated cabinet slides open. I reach for a NutriBar, and the gray doors lock themselves when they feel the weight of the Bar leave the cabinet.

I stride out of the kitchen, which hardly takes a second because of its small size. Padding across my living room, I sit on the sofa and begin to eat. I reluctantly tear open the plastic packaging of the Bar, spewing a few crumbs into my lap.

The nation issues portion-controlled NutriBars to everyone, regardless of economic standing. But the middle class always end up with the stale ones. The rich want the best and the poor need the best, so people like my parents and I get the worst.

I take a few more bites. The taste of the Bar is neutral, but it's the only option besides water. Besides, nothing beats a full stomach of NutriBars, even if they're a little expired.

The silence of my small house pounds into my ears, intensifying the sound of my chewing. I crinkle the NutriBar wrapper to soften the quietness. My parents left for the factories an hour ago, so I'm all alone in our apartment.

I slide my CyPhone out of my pocket, the time -- 7:42am -- displaying holographically when I lay the device on the sofa. Anyone between ages 14 and 17 must be on their CloudTrain by 8 o'clock sharp. No exceptions.

I've never been late for my Train before, but I've seen a boy miss his CloudTrain a few years ago. The Screeners -- security guards --  had him bound with ElectriWrist cuffs and begging for mercy before I could even blink. Luckily, the train zoomed away just as the Screeners made the move to smash the boy's head into the ground.

That boy wasn't the only one who got screened that day. I got a partial screening for unlocking my safety belt and banging on the windows to get the Train to stop. The Screeners locked down CloudTrain: Zephyr 483 - 62A  and had me escorted away within seconds. My parents had to pay heavy fines for my direct violation of the national motto: timeliness for the sake of productivity; control for the sake of order. I endured a whole week of correctional therapy before the Screeners allowed me on the Trains again. At that point, no on wanted to associate with the black girl who got screened.

I mentally lock the memory away and finally finish my NutriBar while pacing into the kitchen. I feed the plastic wrapping into the skinny shredder installed into the counter. Leftovers are strictly prohibited, so throwing out my food isn't ever an option. The Screeners monitor everything at every moment, even my nutrient intake in my small little apartment.

Checking the time again -- 7:46am -- , I grab my dull jacket off the metal hook in the living room. I slide my arms into the familiar sleeves, pulling my hair out from underneath the collar. Then I step onto another PrintPad, and the bottom half of the window slides upwards once my footprints are recognized. After tossing on my sling bag, I climb out the square window and step onto the shaky fire escape, listening for my heels to clack signaling I'm stable. I watch the window clamp shut behind me, slowly revealing a crimson 46B-L so I know which window is mine when I come back home.

I turn away from the window to face the city and the surrounding skyline. Breathlessly smooth buildings intermix with each other, CloudRails connecting their flat roofs. But the real beauty is where the the sun looms in the distance, tinting the clouds radiant pinks, blues, and purples. I take a breath of the cool morning air, filling my entire body with a chill. The wind pricks at the back of my neck, sending light shivers up my arms and down my spine.

I take two steps towards the end of the fire escape and lean on the railing, too immune to the height to be afraid. The wind blowing softly on my back pushing my long, curly hair forward, towards my face. The ant-like Screeners in their iconic red uniforms dot the streets below. They position themselves at every street corner and on every CloudRail-lined rooftop I see. I turn my gaze back to the horizon instead.

All citizens are supposed to adore the city and hail the Screeners, but after my partial screening, I turned to the distance for some sanity. I'd be screened (again) if I ever said it out loud. The Screeners know everything, and their unlimited knowledge forbids citizens from disrespecting the nation. That's why the Screeners' motto fits them perfectly: freedom within limits; security over privacy.

Skimming my fingers up and down on the fire escape railing, I stare into the distance and lose track of time. I still don't understand what I did wrong that day when the boy missed his Train. I tried to help save him from pain but ended up hurting myself and my family in the process. Either way, there's nothing I can do about it.

Shaking myself out of my thoughts, I inhale more refreshing air with a sigh. I lean my weight onto the railing before beginning to mount the steps of the metal fire escape, taking them two at a time. Even though the steps are a bit slippery from the rain last night, I manage to make it from level 46 to 60 at my usual pace. My sling bag bangs against my leg as I climb the final steps of the fire escape. I hop with a loud thump from my heels onto the roof, earning sideways glances from the Screeners.

I ignore the Screeners as I walk across the roof, ducking under the spine-like CloudRails six feet above me. The Rails create a complex metal system of transportation across every rooftop in the city. I avoid stopping at pillar 4 where all my classmates are and decide to wait for the Train on the other side of the roof instead. Groups of teens talk mindlessly, parts of conversations lost in the wind. I walk by them unseen, stopping at my usual spot.

I pull out my Phone and check the time again: 7:54. The morning wind howls in my ears as the sun peaks from the surrounding hills, warming my backside against the cool winds. I scan the roof for no one in particular, but I find myself disappointed when I see the same sixty or so teens who live in my building. They talk and laugh in their oblivious groups, leaving me to watch them. I always thought I was good at blending in, but I'm beginning to think I was sticking out the whole time.

I wonder if all their laughter is directed at me but not for me.

I hopelessly take my hair out of it's messy up-do , curls blowing in the wind. Suddenly I hear clanking from behind me. I turn around as Nicole throws her sling onto the roof. She pulls herself over the ledge of the building instead of leaping like I do.

I scoot a few paces away from her, watching her with my arms crossed. Her blue eyes search for anyone, everyone, except me. I turn away from her and concentrate on the zippers of my boots instead, reminding myself that I'm better off without her as my friend.

My heart beats hard against my ribs. She shouldn't have ditched me after my partial screening. I guess that's why Mom always says its best to stick to your own kind than branch and have a broken life.

"Hey, guys!" Nicole yells across the roof. My former group of friends greets her happily. "Wait for me!" They are all stupid sons and daughters-of-b****es! If I'm feeling really petty, I just might fraudulently report them for major crimes. That'll serve them right.

As the words escape her lips, a newer, stronger burst of wind fills my ears. I tilt my head upwards to watch the white CloudTrain halts with precision above the middle of the roof. As soon as  CloudTrain: Zephyr 483 - 62A stops, the pillars supporting the Rails shift to form ladder rungs.

Everyone on the roof begins to climb the rungs, and Nicole and I hurry over to pillar 4, the ladder for 17-year-old's. After waiting a few seconds in line, I climb the ladder and follow the rungs through a circular opening in the CloudTrain's floor. I step off the ladder onto the bleached floor, shuffling out of the way so Nicolette can dismount from the ladder, too.

We pull out our CyPhone and hold them face-down over the Tracer, a podium-like data collector. An aqua blue striplight scans the faces of our Phones, casting blue shadows onto the white ceiling of the train. The strip of blue light shuts off and our names display, verifying that we boarded our CloudTrain on time. Nicole looks into my eyes, and I see her visibly shudder. She hurries away from me before I can speak.

Defeated, I strut,  chin up, towards my seat in the back of the Train, walking past rows of noisy teens with their CyPhones out. I pass rowdy guys and loud girls, hoping that I don't get hit by someone's airborne lip gloss or something. Slipping into my assigned seats in the back-most row, 9L, I settle my weight into my aqua seat. I scan my phone against the armrest, awakening my chair's previous settings. The seat tilts to a 85 degree angle, the window fade to 100 percent transparency, and the air vents open.

I glance at Nicole and the other girls around me, staring especially at the boys that won't quit yelling. Unfortunately, gaudy behavior slides under the radar as long as it "promotes long-lasting friendships and intimate relationships." I struggle not to roll my eyes or snicker at any conversations because I'd get a minor screening for that. The dialogue around me starts to blend together.

"Didn't you hear that--"

"I know she went to--"

"But she had to, I mean--"

"Such a--"

I tuck my CyPods into my ears as I try to block out everyone's voices. I can't stand all the gossiping and rowdiness people my age have, so I look out the window for a while before pulling out my Phone and finally choosing a song. Thank God the government let us keep vulgar and entertaining music. At least I can pretend I'm not a complete outcast if I have CyPods in my ears.

I notice Nicole calling someone. I look up from my Phone as my ex-friend stands to greet her boyfriend. She embraces him and they kiss, making a lip-smacking noise as onlookers hoot.

I look away, still disapproving the approval of minimal kisses on CloudTrains. The seat next to me is empty for a reason, and I couldn't be happier. Instead of having a boy there like every other girl on this Train does, I toss my sling on the seat with a small thud. Perfect. As if on cue, a monotonous voice blares over the speakers, silencing everyone. I pause my song, take the pods out my ear, and listen to the speakers.

"Welcome to CloudTrain: Zephyr 483 - 62A. Please take a seat and wait for your safety belt to fasten."


The belts on the side of my seat click around me, locking me into my seat. I shift the belt and gaze out the window, watching distant Trains on their rooftops.

"This CloudTrain will be departing in 3... 2... 1," the methodical voice counts down. The Train lurches forward, pushing me against my seat belt before releasing me to rest against the seat. Buildings in the skyline outside my window transform into a rush of blurred colors. I turn away from the window before the sight gives me a headache.

The speakers begin to recite the morning announcements. "Today is Monday, March 3, 2107. It is 57 degrees outside with pollution levels at a low 17 percent."

The Train pulls to a stop at an intersection, and the loud voice continues to list the news. A dark CloudTrain zooms by at its fast speed, jetting down the Rails towards the high school. Black Trains always carry the upper-class students, or the people that'll be Screeners or leaders instead of farmers or factory workers like the rest of us.

The speakers announces a report about new construction sites as CloudTrain: Zephyr 483 - 62A makes a 90-degree turn. Once the Train is fully turned, it picks up speed again. The announcements make its last statement before clicking off.

"There are approximately 157 more days until the 220th Autumnal Equinox."

A small wave of fear bounces around my stomach. I've been dreading this Equinox for a long time because it's my Equinox year. From what little I've heard about it, my life will reduce to misery unless someone--

An ear-piercing alarm blared across the Train, the power blacked out and unlocked my safety belt. Instead of re-buckling the safety belt like everyone else does, I jerk my head to look out the window. (Total "white girl in scary movie" moment). The Train lurches, and I'm knocked out of my chair, hitting my head hard on the seat in front of me. Phones clatter to the ground, and bags launch forward.

I turn to grab my armrest as the Train shakes again, this time filling my ears with the sound of squealing breaks. My stomach jams in my throat, and students scream as my body slams against the window, now the floor, sending shots of pain through my arm. I grunt in agony as my stomach drops, somehow realizing that we're in midair. We're heading for the ground sixty stories below us.

Screams echo around the Train as I watch the greyed pavement come closer and closer, gravity pressing on me from everywhere. My voice catches in my throat. I'm much too afraid of dying to make a move towards my safety belt or my seat. Terrified out of my mind, I squeeze my eyes shut and hold onto the armrest as tightly as I can. My fingers slide and loosen their grip.

"Patrice!" someone yells, sending the ear-splitting sound of crunching metal into my ears. The impact forces my fingers to let go of the armrest. I fly and hit the ceiling, banging my head so hard that I black out immediately. I presumably hit the floor, unresponsive.

The author's comments:

Author's Note:

Sorry for the short chapter. I just really needed to get this out before I lost my inspiration. Other half of the chapter to be released soon in Chapter 3!

I gasp awake, taking in huge gulps of air. My body jolts upright on a cold metal table as pain shoots through my lungs. With blinding amounts of effort, I groan, my voice echoing through the room. The sound intensifies in the pounding silence. Already a headache begins to form behind my temples, beating into my skull like a hammer.

I crane my neck, looking around the harshly-lit room. The area is completely empty besides for myself and the table I'm laying on. I squint in confusion. The room is foreign to me.

"What the hell?" I mumble under my breath. My voice strains because of the aches in my body. I look around the room again before carefully touching my sore ribs. I can barely tap them without my hands shaking. They hurt so bad.

I writhe at the pain, laying back against the cold table again. Everything hurts, stabbing and suffocating me. I breathe in a few shallow breaths of sterile air, the effort unbearable. What on God's Earth is going on with me? Where's my apartment? Better yet, where the hell is my CloudTrain?

Recollections of the Train accident flood my mind, but they don't explain why I'm in an unfamiliar room. As the table freezes my backside, I try to remember how I got here or why.

My mind wanders. Maybe I should just slide my eyes close and drift away into an eternal sleep, forgetting I ever woke up here... but where is everyone? My ribs throb in an empty response. I know I need a doctor, yet no one is here with me. Unjustified fear pounds through my chest. I soon realize I can't fall asleep... I'm too scared.

I shiver against the table. Slowly sitting up again, I skim my thumb across my clothing: a skimpy, white hospital gown contrasting with my brown skin paired with my bare feet. Maybe this is a hospital? Something deep inside me flutters like a nervous butterfly. This must be some kind of a sick dream. There's no way this is real.

I lug my legs over one side of the table, my back and ribs igniting. I pant again, digging my nails into my palms. I've never been in this much pain before, and it makes me want to curl up in a ball and cry. Once the flares of pain settle down, I feel my heartbeat pumping in my ears. The lack of sound is tortuous, threatening.

A chilling voice shatters the silence of the room. "Welcome to the Augment Project," the voice draws out.

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