The Fortress — Part 1

Entryway

“Move, bitches! Or we will shoot,” is all the guards kept repeating while waiving their rifles at us. We, the orange suits, were moving out of the room very slowly, with the assistance of the black suits. The blue suits, however, were standing on the sidelines. I noticed the blue suits wore a red cross on their shoulders. Maybe they were part of the medical staff. I had no idea what the black suits were for.

As we left the auditorium, we followed a series of corridors snaking their way through the facility. The way the corridors were made was to walk us through a good show, and a good scare: we passed by several areas, all of which had floor-to-ceiling windows serving as walls, and none of them wore blinds nor frosting. We could see inside of each room we passed by.

Inside one of the rooms, we saw a prisoner being waterboarded. The following room gave us the sight of yet another prisoner being tortured, this time it was electrocution with a car battery. The subsequent rooms gave us similar sights, and none seemed to jump out.

The staff performing their tasks did not seem bothered at all. It seemed torture on a Tuesday morning was as common as getting some Tacos for Taco Tuesday. Speaking of which, when I arrived here it was early Tuesday morning. Now, I cannot be 100% certain we are still on that day, although I’ll need to find a way to track time during my stay and know how long I am around. My gut feeling is they won’t make it easy for us to know what date it is.

We were all still walking through the corridors, and we eventually arrived at two sets of stairs. Some guards were standing in the way. They picked up a device and scanned everyone’s face. After someone got scanned, they were sent to either one of the stairs. The left staircase was the one where most people went to. I was sent to the one on the right. Along with a dozen or so other orange shirts. Two blue shirts followed, along with five black ones. Several guards came down with us and closed the march.

On the next floor, we were told to form another line. The rare few who dared talk or ask questions were instantly met with a powerful blow behind the knees. I stood, silent. The room was vast, yet seemed sterile. No windows were found around the room. Only two ways out existed: the stairs, which we came from, and a door at the other end of the room. The lighting was deficient and had a very orangish tone to it. It felt warm, yet creepy.

Ahead of us was a wide stainless steel table with some medical equipment on it. I could see a series of needles, nitrite glove boxes, swabs, and Band-Aids. There also was a device that reminded me of a Dyson bladeless fan. Several touchscreens were also laying on the table. All of it was wired, and not a single laptop nor tablet was in sight.

Several medical staff members were buzzing around the whole installation. They were working on getting ready to perform something, something which we would find out what it was sooner than we wanted.

The medical staff was not wearing blue suits. They were wearing generic white lab coats, with a shirt and a tie underneath. Protective eyewear and steel-toed shoes are something they all wore. They were all white men, too. They all had a well-trimmed beard, and their hands seemed manicured. What was that, some sort of bizarre dress code? Was this high school? Gawd, I hated that shithole of an institution.

The staff was finally ready and made a motion gesture towards the first orange shirt in line. I was number 7. The first one in line hesitated. Not for long, one of the guards raised their assault rifle and aimed at the person. Seeing this, hesitation disappeared, and they move forward. A medic used on the woman the same facial scan device as we saw upstairs and motioned her to sit on the chair.

At that moment I noticed we were a very homogenous group of people. Some of us were men, some of us were women. Chances are, there were others in the group that was also leaning non-binary like I am.

The orange shirt was a woman who was forced to sit down on a chair facing all of us. She violently protested, and in response, one of the guards hit her face with the end of his rifle. The impact injured her, and blood rushed on her face. During the few seconds, she was knocked out, a medic tightly strapped her arm on some sort of support, and another then gave her an injection. He did not warn her, and she shrieked as she was injected with something, something that seemed rather painful. In response, she spat blood in the medic’s face, sending a tooth flying in their face in the process.

One who appeared to be the medic team leader told the guard “Avoid any injuries, we need them all alive, whole, and in good condition. We don’t want a repeat of the last batch.” To which the guard grunted and responded, “she is still alive and will be able to talk.” The team leader gave the guard a death glare. The guard did not seem to give a fuck.

He turned his attention back to the other medics and asked, “How are her vials, and is she wired?” A medic, while looking at his screen, responded, “Her vitals are ok. The microchip has been implanted and is fully functional.” The team seemed satisfied, and the whole process was repeated for the remainder of the group. That is sans the hit in the face part. It always takes one to be a guinea pig and the others all fall in.

So, that’s what it was, a microchip. But why would they inject that in us?

We could have easily outnumbered the staff. Judging by the violence they used, and the lack of remorse they have, we would not have done a rebellion for long.

They injected me with a microchip as well, and it was not as painful as I thought it would be. The staff looked at me, puzzled, as I did not show any signs of pain whatsoever. I was as calm and passive as an elderly blind dog.

They did notice, however, my self-harm marks on my forearms. What does not kill you makes you stronger, they say. I say that is fucking bullshit.

I did notice on their screen they had some info about me. And they had quite a lot of intel there. I was not surprised because this place is sponsored by the government. How else would they obtain all that info?

File number: 2311–793
Name: Morgan Lex Green
DOB: 02/29/1984
Height: 5’8”
Weight: 235 lbs.
EYE COLOR: Silver
HAIR COLOR: Red
AGAB: Male
G. IDENTITY: Non-binary
SSN: XXX-XX-XXXX

Address history: ************************************

Employment hist.: Unknown

And the list went on.

Screencap from The Fortress’ Unified Database

After we were all injected with the chipped, the medic team leader told us to follow instructions in the video he was about to play. The voice sounded extremely generic.

“Dear newest members of The Fortress. You have been injected with a microchip proudly produced in our laboratory. The Fortress, and its parent corporation, take pride in using materials and components produced in their network.

“This chip will serve as your ID during your stay in our facility. You will be prompted to present your left wrist every time a staff member asks you for your identity, whenever you want to get your medication, your meals, and other things. We do not use any keys in this institution.

“This microchip is also a way for us to keep you on leash. The way it was designed, the microchip is linked to your nervous system. If you disobey the rules we have established, we will activate the pain sensor, and you will be brought to your knees. Believe us when we say we do not want to experience this pain.

“If you attempt to remove the microchip, it will explode. It will be painful and most likely kill you along the way. It can detect attempts at removing it from the wrist and will feel the air.

“If you are here today, it is because you are a threat to the government and the institutions it represents. By your actions, you have brought instability to our great nation. We cannot risk having you being free until you have been properly reeducated.

“Your lives are ours now. You will do as we dictate. This is non-negotiable.”

Everyone looked in disbelief at their left wrist. Everyone save one person, who did not have a left forearm and instead were staring at their right wrist.

I was not impressed by that video.

Sweet. Fuck. All.

I have survived many murder attempts and so many hate crimes in the past, they were certainly not scaring me with their microchip. I was glad they didn’t have my employment history listed on there. At the very least it was not accessible on this lab computer, and most likely they simply did not fully know who they were dealing with.

Chances are they very well knew I was a transgender activist, after all, I was quite vocal in the news, denouncing the systematic oppression. I was also a freelance programmer who did all sorts of things. I specialized in digital security and worked for various clients who were based overseas. I never knew what they did precisely, as my work was purely system-related. And as long as my payments were wired to my bank account in Nassau, Bahamas, I would continue to see nothing.

Snitches get stitches and end up in ditches.

Throughout all these years, no one had bothered me with my source of revenue. I was declaring I was doing various artworks (which I also did) and paid my taxes on stuff I brought from myself. The government and the treasury left me alone. I sure wish it was not going to change today. Well, I had other fish to fry now and would need to look at the question of the finances as soon as I made my way out of here.

As I looked at my fellow prisoners, I finally understood why we were here. What's more, I also recognized someone in my group. Together, we previously planned and attended various protests against the President and his armies of supporters. They always said they would not let themselves be caught alive while the President and his organization would be in office. I need to get closer to them and find out what happened. More importantly, we need to find a way out together.

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Unless otherwise indicated, all the names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents in this story are either the product of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

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Programmer, translator, writer, gamer, game maker, cat mom. I write mostly thrillers, mysteries, post-apoc short fiction.

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Eve F. R. Kirchner

Eve F. R. Kirchner

Programmer, translator, writer, gamer, game maker, cat mom. I write mostly thrillers, mysteries, post-apoc short fiction.

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