Title: Paradigm Shift
Author: Harper Kingsley
Genre: sci-fi, mm
He sipped the coffee, wishing for milk and sugar, but grateful for something hot to hold in his hands. He had been waiting for what had seemed like a small eternity with dread growing in his stomach. Fear of discovery had evolved from a nagging reminder to something much deeper.
Idly he wondered what they would do to him. Would he be hailed as some kind of precious find, or would he find himself locked in some bower servicing Firsts until he produced enough children for the State? The uncertainty is what bothered him the most.
The line jerked forward and he went with it, coming closer to the doors and the doom awaiting him within.
Gregor calmly raised his cup to his mouth, sipping at the bitter coffee. The taste steadied him somehow.
@ space @
The sudden warmth of the building interior made him have to fight a flinch. His legs ached from standing for so long, but he knew there was no recourse for it. The building was only big enough to hold a certain amount of people and the appointments all overlapped so if he had tried to hang back, he could end up missing his slot and receiving a Public Sanction. He already had two on his record and he couldn't afford to pay the fines a third one would cost him.
He followed the line forward until he suddenly found himself in front of a nurse with a scanning tool. His throat acquired a hard knot and he watched as a woman received a prick on the finger and several red drops were dripped onto a white cardboard disk that was examined with the scanner, which gave a cheerful busy sound.
Gregor looked around as casually as he could manage and knew there was no way he was escaping, not with the dozen or so guards in his vicinity alone. He would give his blood and be exposed. There was nothing else for it but to act with dignity.
The woman walked toward the exit and the line drew forward until Gregor was next. He could feel himself swearing under his winter coat, but it was a cold sweat. His hands had clenched into fists, but he couldn't make them unfold. He could barely keep his teeth from chattering and he could feel the adrenaline he'd been battling all day suddenly increasing until all he could hear was his heart thrumming hummingbird fast and the voices of the people around him were just a confusing murmur of sound.
When the nurse spoke to him, he saw her lips move, but there was no meaning behind it. He let her guide him by the arm to stand in front of her machine. He felt the tug of the blood being taken, just a quick sting and only a few drops. And yet his fate was sealed.
He saw it on the nurse's face when her machine made a new noise and she gave him such a look of awe that he could *feel* his blood pressure dropping. There was the rushing sound of the ocean in his ears and a copper taste in his mouth.
His knees folded suddenly and Gregor dropped, unconscious before he even hit the floor.