| EXTRACTED FROM NEĒREĒ TĀU /
HOME LOT 2807 OF 81SUB / 30.8.3433 / 7:18āam |
| KNIJÄ: TWO WEEKS, TWO DAĀYS OLD |
We cannot take it anymore. Knijä’s birth is now public knowledge, this information now synced into everyone’s U-feed and U-calendar. People are beginning to show up at our entrance. Immediate family, friends and co-workers have U-mailed, U-called and arrived at our home lot, yet we have not let a soeūl in. Those in our inner circle are beginning to grow suspicious.
Knijä was everything we wished for at first. Gleaming blū eyes and a bare scalp that would eventually fill with the shimmer of blonde hair. She was meant to be passive and quiet. Yet in a few short daāys Knijä is a mere shadow of what she was in the Receiving Room.
We cannot allow anyone to see her, no matter how much we wish we could show her off to the whole of Metravā. In the darkest, deepest, most secretive place in my braāin I cannot help but think something is wrong with Knijä. I feel it every time I look at her.
She is not like us.
Anxiety begins to boil within meē as I feel an advert pulse. “Try AntiNeg-Thought Medīcation todaāy as a supplement with your First Meal! U-mans do not think negatively, so you should not think negatively either!”
The advert is splattered up in front of meē in distracting pixels, startling meē as I end my conversation with Dr. Singkū.
“She should be over shortly,” I explain to Noeāl as he holds Knijä, his arms wrapped around her protectively.
“You should not think that way,” he cautions.
“I know.” I pinch the pixels so that they disappear into the air like a film of popped bubbles. “Parents are not usually challenged like this, Noeāl.”
He looks as if he is about to say something, however his stare just lingers in the room.
“U-chip: music, home playlist,” I command. A soft background of music instantly drifts throughout the room from the Home Receivers in our multīspace.
I allow the comforting Synthetī music to wrap around meē like a soft embrace. I cocoon myself in this as I try to not let my mīnd wander to darker territory. Remember what we were taught in edūcation, I tell myself. Do not think differently and do not be different. There is no ‘U’ in conformity.
Suddenly my U-chip pings with a notify from the home lot, letting meē know that someone is at our door. “Noeāl,” I call out as I make my way to the front entrance.
“Doctor,” I greet in the most neutral tone that I can manage.
“Do not worry, Mrs. Tāu,” she says with the oddest twinkle in her eye. “I am here to explain as much as I can.”
| EXTRACTED FROM NEĒREĒ TĀU /
HOME LOT 2807 OF 81SUB / 30.8.3433 / 7:21āam |
Moments later, we are sitting in front of her in our multīspace, Knijä on Noeāl’s lap and tall glasses of Waterlite in front of us. Dr. Singkū inspects our daughter, nods and looks us both in the eyes.
“I need to turn off your U-chips before we can talk any further,” she almost mouths.
“Turn off?” Noeāl asks, raising his eyebrows.
“Not so loud,” she urges him. “Command the Receivers in your ears and home lot to turn off and then put out your wrists.”
I look at my husband, meeting his stare, both of us knowing we have no choice. What else are we to do in this circumstance? We both talk into our U-chips, commanding the Receivers in our ears as well as the Receivers in our home lot that connect to our U-chips to turn off. We put out our left wrists and Dr. Singkū presses down on them both firmly. Our U-chips pulse after a moment, notīfying us of their shutdown. They then remain silent.
It takes a moment to realise the difference, the absence of the constant hum of the U-chip operating throughout my body. I feel cold. Indifferent and incomplete. I reflect back to when I first woke in the Begin Centre of 81Sub Memorial. My mīnd feels clearer and free, almost as if someone has unhinged a wiring or has lifted a roof off my braāin.
“I feel strange,” Noeāl admits out loud. “Everything seems too—”
“Sharp?” Dr. Singkū asks. “Clear? Unfiltered.”
“Yes,” we both say at the same time, and I look at my husband in a knowing gaze.
“Well then,” she looks to the right and a strange sound echoes from the entrance, almost as if she was waiting for it.
“A knock,” she explains. “U-mans do not knock, they notīfy their arrival.”
“What is a knock?” I ask.
“It is the sound of a knuckle rapping on a surface, something that would put our perfect skin at risk,” the doctor says with a grate to her voice. “There will be a package at the door for you.”
“What is inside?” Noeāl asks, intrigue filling his face.
“Everything you need,” she explains, leaning over the table and wrapping her fingers around our daughter’s tiny hand, “for little Knijä to blend in.”
| EXTRACTED FROM NEĒREĒ TĀU /
HOME LOT 2807 OF 81SUB / 19.2.3434 / 8:22āam |
| KNIJÄ: FIVE MONTHS, 21 DAĀYS OLD |
The last five months and 20 daāys have been strenuous and endless with chaos and new experiences. The doctor did not explain nearly as much as we would have liked and was unable to abate our many questions. She insisted that all would be answered but, for now, we needed to be satisfied with what we were given.
The deliveries come on the 2nd of every month without fail and without us ever knowing who has placed the box on our home lot doorstep. We have noticed that it usually happens when the daāy resets and a small ‘knock’ makes us aware that the box had arrived.
“Why her, why us?” was the one pressing question that I asked the doctor, one that I felt must be answered before she left.
“I wish there was a more complex answer that I could provide you, Mrs. Tāu.” She exhaled and the neutrality in her face faded into something else, perhaps sadness, an emotion that we usually do not possess. “The reality is that there is no elaborate explanation. This was an act of fate. Knijä was selected at random.”
“So what is to happen now?” Noeāl asks. “Are we to just wait?”
“Unfortunately,” the doctor’s expression falters for a moment, “yes. There is nothing we can do but move at our current pace. Any quicker and the entire project would be compromised.”
The doctor turns our U-chips back on after that, and even though I feel normal and appeased once again with the U-chip’s technology coursing through meē, a part of meē still feels unsure. Our daughter continues to grow and change, and nothing could have prepared us for this.
“I will get the rattle!” I say to Noeāl who is holding a red-faced Knijä in his arms. “She adores that rattle. That will pacify her!”
We learned very early (or more assumed, given the lack of information) that Knijä’s U-chip does not sync to Peār. It is fully functional in a superficial capacity but it does not update and therefore it does not calm or neutralise her unfiltered emotions. She is a force to be reckoned with.
“Okay, Knijä,” I bend down in front of her and shake the rattle. My hair is in disarray, my forehead is crinkling in stress, my breathing is abnormal. “Here is that rattle you love. Now, my dear, shhhhh!”
I say it low and soft, much like I wish for her to be. The inability to update means that Knijä’s teeth are coming through at a meticulous pace, a process that appears to be tedious and excruciating for her.
“Perhaps we should give her some more of that numbing cream we received?” Noeāl bounces her on his knee as her screams escalate.
“Yes, I will go get it,” I say as I inelegantly rush out of the multīspace and enter Knijä’s private space. The boxes that have been delivered to us are neatly placed on a shelf and I put my hands into the most recent one.
Each box contains unusual objects, unseen and unknown to us. They are accompanied with brief descriptions and directions, along with explanations about things we need to be aware of. Crying, for instance, is something that our daughter does when she is in extreme pain. These instructions are touchable, real and have texture. They are printed on a thing called ‘paper’ and are done so to prevent Peār from knowing a word of this.
The most recent delivery contains a set of perfect U-man toddler teeth, which we are meant to adhere to her gums in 27 daāys. This is apparently when the update for toddler teeth usually occurs.
We somehow have to put these fake teeth over Knijä’s real growing ones until she is old enough to do it herself. We have to make her blend in, a task that is proving to test us as she is not of age to understand that she needs to be passive, neutral and grey. She needs to blend in. No colour and no differences.
I take the clear tube of gel from the box and race into the multīspace.
“Here we go,” I say, applying a strip of the cool gel on my finger and running it along her tender gums. The burn and pain is dulled and, even though her eyes are still wide with concern, she calms at my touch.
“Much better, my sweetie.” I cannot help but smile at her gnawing at my fingertip, something so foreign, so unusual. I deflate to the floor and try to regain my breathing.
I love her. I know that much. But I also know another thing with all of my heart: my daughter does not and will not blend in. No matter how many deliveries are sent to us.
- The Cure will be published in full on Monday the 15th of August.
- The Cure is written by J. R Knight, illustrated by Paul Ikin and edited by Kayla Marie Murphy.
- The first 15 instalments of The Cure will be published week by week on The Knight Life. This chapter is in two parts, and the next instalment (Delivery Part Two) will continue this Thursday.
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