The Sky Looms In | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 03, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, October 03, 2019

The Sky Looms In

The clouds crumbled and poured, turning KORT dark. Bags after bags rolled in, umbrellas after umbrellas strolled in. There were some spaces un-mushroomed, reckless, and unkempt because this particular quarter of the year had in store nothing but more and more void.

My room was on the fifth floor. I had to make five rounds to make sure all my bags were put in my room. I shared the room with two other girls, one resembling the other such that anyone would think that they were siblings. We weren’t allowed to ask, though.

Our resources for communicating outside were scarce. We weren’t allowed to speak of the process, let alone speak ill. Our contribution will change the world, they said, we will be leaving a part of us behind that would sustain on earth (and beyond) forever. We may not be remembered by our names, but our ideas will live through.

After running back and forth with papers and documents and taking an obsolete IQ test, we were informed that we would need to starve for the entire day. They had told us to not have breakfast that day so that we could take whatever test we were supposed to before eating for the day. However, they insisted that there were more tests that we had to take and sent us to a dim-lit roomw.

A woman in her mid-30s stood before us. Despite her small stature, she had an air of assertion that swept across the room. They said that she was the worst thing about KORT. Her countenance seemed kind but we could never be too sure. The tests were run and before we knew it, they were done. We realised we were scared in vain and too early. The worst was yet to come. Before we were sent to sleep, they gave us each a cup of milk. My initial hesitation was evident. We all knew that every activity, meal, session were for the purpose we were avowed to serve. I felt guilty even doubting the required action, deciding to drink it in one gulp and get it over with. I regretted it almost instantly, the milk tasted great. I looked out at the sky from the stuffy and dirty verandah. The gray clouds blanketed the sky I had heard so much about.

We were awoken early for breakfast. My headache was at its worse, the milk hammering from within. I sat up and looked left, both my roommates were asleep.

I called them both by their given names here at KORT, “Wake up, we can’t be late!”

“I don’t want to go,” one of them cried, the one with the long hair and clear skin, attributes that will be gone by the end of this.

“You have to,” I pulled the quilt off of her, “We cannot risk this.”

She groaned and got up with the biggest frown on her face. The other girl woke up quietly and walked across the room, her eyes dead. I helped the former girl get ready and did so myself before we helped ourselves out the door and rushed toward the dining hall. I took two slices of bread, butter, and eggs. I quietly munched on my food and looked around. Everyone seemed desolate as if the contribution we were about to make did not matter to them. I was appalled at their selfishness, but who knew, I probably seemed the same without realising it. The rest of the day was spent in uneventful agony.

The next morning we had to wake up just as early. My headache wasn’t as bad and I took charge to wake up the girls in my bedroom again. We weren’t allowed to speak much among ourselves, the bond that this may ensue would only lead to misery. But again, the chances that we may even remember one another were ghastly.

We were asked to dress up for this conference, detailing us on the necessity of this and our timeless contribution. The breakfast was better that morning. The conference went on for three long hours, the man at the front was trying to waver any opinion of ours that may not be similar to his. Toward the end of it, they lit candles all around the room. They could’ve burned us but instead, they are putting us to use.

At night, I came back after having eaten all the meals planned for the day. They were stuffing us. I tried to finish my assigned work but was failing miserably. The woman assigned to supervise our floor called us out for an impromptu meeting and kept us hanging about for an hour. I took leave early and came back to my room, only to be perturbed by my roommates’ random chanting and wails. Mine hadn’t started yet. The sight before me was scary. If I could, I’d have attempted to run away. However, the impossibility of this very situation helped me convince myself, yet again, that the contribution that I was making to mankind was the only essential and my existence without it was worth being thwarted. I quietly worked on, wishing they would allow us to wear headphones and access to music. I heard some girls laugh and feared their consequences. 


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