It was a cool day, and a slight breeze ruffled young Joseph's hair. His arms hung loosely by his side and his sister Rosa was skipping along beside him. They were walking down the white and pristine street quickly, trying to outrun the dimming of the sun. Joseph pulled his bag close to him, as they neared their home. It was a small apartment, one in the hundreds that filled the modern city. Pulling out his ID, he swiped it against the screen on the barred gate. A soft green illuminated his face, and he returned the ID to his lanyard and they entered. Rosa shakily scanned hers, and rushed in to meet her brother, it was dangerous to get caught by the Vollstrecker after dark. They trudged up the stairs, Joseph occasionally looking behind him at Rosa. Her small lips pursed as she concentrated as she struggled to climb up. Signing again, he lifted her onto his back and carried her the rest of the way. Sliding the ID again they made their way into their shabby apartment. Their apartment seemed centuries behind the others. Joseph stared out at the twinkling lights wistfully.
“Joey, I’m hungry!” Rosa wined pitifully. Annoyed Joseph turned around. Silently he walked to the cupboard and aggressively took out the stale bread and jam. He pushed in in front of her not saying a word.
Lip quivering, Rosa asked, “Joey, are you mad at me?”
“No,” snapped Joseph, “and I thought I told you to call me by my actual name, Joseph.”
“Sorry,” whispered Rosa. She knew that it was better to agree than fight with Joseph if he was in a mood. Joseph felt a twinge of guilt, but he pushed it down. He would never get accepted to the ministry if he was weak. Strength, honor, efficiency.
“Rosa, you understand don’t you? There are ten rules of Kommunistiese…” Joseph began.
“Yes, I know,” protested Rosa, not wanting to hear another one of her brothers pro ministry speeches.
He continued on without a pause, “First an obligation to work, second is sharing, no one is entitled to private property, Third, immigrants and rebels have no rights, and lastly and most important education for all.” finished Joesph with conviction. Rosa just stared at him, silently eating her meager bread and jam.
Joseph snapped out of his daydream, and added, “finish your assignment and tasks now, mother and father will be home soon,”
Rosa a nodded and mumbled, “okay,” her mouth full of bread. Joseph wrinkled his nose, “manners,” he chided.
The university where the two siblings studied was called the College of Liderii. It was a fairly large school, shabby but neat. There were dozens of classrooms in the building, all old fashioned, unlike the sleek modern ones in the center of the Duitsland. At 0730 hours, children poured into the school. The young girls in their grey smocks, and the boys in their grey jumpsuits. All of them carried a ministry regulated backpack and tablet, the most luxurious thing most of them owned. Stoic teachers lined the hallways, in front of their classrooms. Wearing something similar to the children. The sound of boots striking the white floor was thunderous, and Ms. Tovar a new teacher stood paralyzed in front of her classroom. She remembered the ministry's words as she closed the door behind her. Ms. Tovar stood in and waited for the customary bell to ring. As usually it rang right on time.
“Children please stand,” she recited out as if she had said every day of her life. They all stood in unison. Poor children, she though. They raised their right hand and began to say, “I pledge loyalty to the Ministry of Stadt and to the code, strength and honor will leave us victorious ,” Monotone and dull, she noticed only one boy who said it with conviction. Scanning her tablet quickly she found his name, Joseph Mugabe- one sister Rosa Mugabe. Ms Tovar watched him as he sat down and began to take his quiz. He was the first to finish, and the first to get everything right in a total of 5:28:49 minutes. She felt her face grow warm, and before she dismissed the class she motioned for him to come over to her desk. Cautiously he approached her. She could see anxiously him in face, thinly veiled by a mask of calmness. “Is there a problem with my assessment?” He asked, his voice laced with authority and dignity.
“No, not at all,” Ms. Tovar assured him quickly, “I was just wondering about your test-” she began.
“What happened! Is there something wrong with it?” questioned Joseph, the panic had returned.
“No, you did nothing wrong, I was just wondering how you did it so quickly?” asked the nervous teacher.
“I studied the night before, and looked over my revisions in the morning,” affirmed Joseph.
“Alright, would you mind if you took a quick test for me, just to see if you are at the right level?” asked Ms. Tovar. They both knew it was a lie, nobody at the academy ever got reassigned, it just wasn’t anything that ever happened.
“Okay,” said the teen suspiciously, he sat down and pulled the tablet test up. It was a simple test the ministry had given her four years ago. Ms. Tovar still remembered the memory clearly, if only she didn’t. The one thing that offered her a way out was the one thing plaguing her. She sat back anxiously, the rules said that she was not able to give the test, and Ms. Tovar was sure that the ministry would discover her little experiment before 0345 this afternoon.
“Done,” his clear voice rang out startling her from her contemplation.
“Already?” questioned the surprised teacher.
“Yes,” a hint of doubt shadowed his voice but it was gone as soon as it was there, as if she had imaged it. Swiping her hand across the tablet, she viewed his results, her eyes widened, the intelligence test showed a score of 279. The boy was a genius almost one hundred points over her own score when the ministry had tested her. She looked up at him, “How did you do it?” she questioned angrily. For the longest time she had been hoping for somebody with a higher intelligence score than her, to take the ministries eyes off of her. Ms. Tovar was surprised at her own emotion, but not one of happiness , but of anger and frustration, but most of all pure disbelief. She lept forward, scaring the poor boy, snatching the tablet out of his hands. Startled the boy, jumped out of the seat, to escape her wrath.
“How did you do it!” screamed the hysterical teacher.
“I don’t know what you are talking about?” stuttered the student.
“I mean how did you score this high? It is impossible, did you cheat-” she yelled.
“No, no not at all, I just... learning has always been easy for me, I still work hard, it just comes naturally,” the boy said. He was worried now, had he done something wrong? Was his chances of ever getting into the ministry ruined. She sighed, rubbing her face she closed her eyes for a second.
Joseph took this opportunity to finally voice his concerns, “What is going on? Why did you even have me take this test if all you were going to do was yell at me, you know what the ministry had to say about unregulated assignments. I don’t even though why I agreed-” Joseph's tangent was cut off Ms. Tovar reassuring him.
“You are a fan of the ministry?” questioned Ms. Tovar. She was surprised most children hated the rigid structure of their life, but as they matured they learned to respect it, but not like it.
“Of course, strength, honor, efficiency are the three words I live by.” responded the confident boy. All shred of fear, doubt, or emotion was gone from his face. Replaced by a cool mask of indifference.
“Maybe, you would like it there,” pondered Ms. Tovar outloud.
“Like it where?” asked Joseph. Confused by all of the events that had occurred his afternoon.
“How would you like to work at the ministry?” Ms. Tovar asked with a small smile.
“Very much so, a-and why are you asking me this?” Joseph responding, feeling foolish, as if a bad joke had been played on him.
“Come with me,” she had responded vaguely. She grabbed his arm roughly, and pulled him out of the college.
“Where are we going?” protested Joseph as he walked along the teacher. It was a long trek before they even go out of the slums of Stadt. After an hour, they had reached the edge Ministry. Joseph stared up in awe, he had only seen the Ministry in his dreams, just the real thing far surpassed his expectations.
“W-Why are we-we here?” Joseph was able to stutter out, it was as if the breath had left his lungs. Ms. Tovar stared softly down at him, remembering when she was as excited as he was. For a moment she felt bad, for what she was about to do. She quickly pushed her guilt out of the way. The ministry had made her like this, it was their fault. They had destroyed every shred of compassion and morality left in her.
“Come on,” she said roughly pulling him into the building. They were quite a scene, a teacher pulling a young student's arm, half dragging him across the pristine floors. They were both underdressed, the shapeless grey smock and jumpsuit, around all of the silky black suits that the Ministry officials wore.
“I need a meeting with the Minister now!” declared Ms. Tovar.
“I’m sorry miss, the Minister-” the reception started.
“Just tell him Emma Tovar is waiting for him,” informed the impatient teacher. She pulled Joseph into the lobby, and onto the couch. They sat in silence, watching the men in black suits walk by. Strict, robotic, with lifeless dead eyes. Why were they so sad thought Joseph, they should be honored they were working at the Ministry. Joseph only looked once questionly at Ms. Tovar, the rest of the time he was gazing around as if trying to take in all of the scene before him. He tried to push the feeling as if he had forgotten something down. Was Rosa alright, had she got home safely? Maybe he should check on her, Joseph thought to himself. After all he did want want to walk in the Ministry wearing a black suit for the first time, though the black did seem deathly, and prefered the grey. The sky dimmed to a majestic midnight blue. Not before long they were summoned up to the highest and utmost secretive chamber of the Ministry by two guards wearing slate grey suits. Everything was lit up with dazzling rights, and the ride up the lift only seemed seconds, but part of Joseph missed carrying Rosa up the long flights of stairs, and the long walks home with her. Life is going to so much more different he thought to himself, an odd mixture of happiness and nervousness, with only a hint of fear. The two guards stood aside as the exited the elevator. All that was standing in front of them was a set of double doors, and Ms. Tovar gentle grasped his arm and tugged him out of his trance and into the waiting office. He looked up and his breath caught in his throat.
“Hello Joseph Mugabe, it is quite a pleasure to meet you, please sit down” The minister asked with a sinister predatory smile.