Past The Fence

Past the fence: the answer always seemed to be no.
Everyone grew up asking permission. It was good to be scared. The worst thing that you could do behind the fence was to be born ugly. They liked to find the ugly ones in particular—and before they disposed of them they made them beautiful and bland. The ugly ones always died impassive.
Sometimes you could sit and stare through a rare hole in the fence. You might see a flash of green. The People Behind The Fence liked to imagine what was out there. No one remembered.
The People Who Watched were almost positive that all the ugly people were gone. Of course there were urban legends—bits of myth passed among them that were disturbing but mostly lies. They certainly did not see any of the ugly people when they looked at the neat little houses or the padded play-places. They did not see any babies in the infirmary with insufficient features or sickly little bodies. The People Who Watched, it seemed, were more beautiful than any of the beautiful ones. They had a diagram of a face for each year of life. Are your eyes far enough apart? Is your hair the right length? Is your nose small enough? The children always hoped they matched the diagrams.
Exercise was mandatory and each person was dieted carefully. Most of the children were a good size and their laughs were pealing bells that were out of a baby-food commercial. They weren’t alone and The People Who Watched were always there anyhow. Occasionally there would be an oddity. A child who liked to ask unanswerable questions and stare at the dark looming figure of the Fence. An unfortunate malfunction, a glitch. These were disposed of like the ugly ones.
The People Who Watched could all remember an ugly strange child. It made them uncomfortable because the strange ones were smart and the ugly ones were dangerous. Smart and dangerous: synonyms that manifested themselves in one person. The obliviousness was lost on these children and The People Who Watched always hoped one wouldn’t grow to adulthood. There were plenty—a frightening many—when the fence was erected.
The People Who Watched lived in rooms in a large white building. It was industrial looking and not altogether a blot on the flat landscape. Their bland and largely impersonal apartments were on the last two floors. The rest were for the official business of The City. The majority of the rooms on the first two floors were soundproof. Each room was made of two adjoining rooms: dank and musty. The first room could be described as unpleasant, although it was but a four-walled chamber (the walls were titanium but they were covered in plaster and painted white) with fluorescent lights that were not on. There was a locked door to the other room.
The adjoining room was brightly lit. Its walls were made of plastic and drywall—far less sturdy than those of the other. There was a table in the center which had straps attached to it and a chute in the floor next to it.
There were the ugly people and the beautiful people and The People Who Watched but there were also The People With Knives. The People Behind The Fence were largely unaware of the People With Knives. The People Who Watched were made slightly uncomfortable by them. They knew they were strange and unnerving but they also know they were necessary.
The first room was often filled with the ugly ones. The lights were off and the room was crowded. No one could see anyone else’s face in the darkness. Everything was quiet and the door opened letting in a burst of light that startled the people in the dark and the ugly people in the room were less one. Everything was quiet and then you heard a gasp and then everything was quiet again.





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