The room was soft and the walls were made of cushion. Any sound that was made was immediately stamped out by the jagged edges of foam jutting out from the walls. It occurred to Isaac that he was now probably in some sort of recording studio. The very one where The Crest made spoke to the masses. Other than himself and The Crest, the only witness was a man on the other side of a large pane of glass. The director of this production.
“Please, Isaac, tell me what the point of all of this is.” The Crest said.
“We’re tired of living in your fantasy world where the worst people get to live forever and the good die young.”
“Who’s to say that we’re the worst kind of people? That’s your opinion, is it not?”
“You enslave children from birth and you constructed The Polling. All for what? Why did you do this?” Isaac said, strapped into a standing restraint.
“I did what had to be done. One could argue that if the ones that came before me did what they had to do, then I wouldn’t have had to take such drastic measures. Nevertheless, the Earth was dying and overpopulated. Only a drastic measure would have sufficed.”
The man towered over Isaac. Not in stature, but in confidence and attitude. Just the smell of his aftershave intimidated Isaac. To know that he was calmly shaving his face only minutes ago irked him. His black coat sucked all of the light out of the room. His white shirt only slightly contrasting the black hole surrounding it. The Crest’s tie was like a double-edged sword running down his sternum, the tip sitting just above his belt buckle.
The Crest studied Isaac’s face.
“Have I seen you before? You look awfully familiar.”
“You should know. You’re the one that plucked me from the womb.” Isaac seethed with anger.
“Wait a minute. You’re the crop? The one that got loose? You’ve caused quite a raucous around here lately.”
“How’s that Cultivator doing?” Isaac said facetiously.
“Yeah, Harvey wasn’t too happy about that. I wasn’t either, but I like to think that I’m an optimist.”
“Oh yeah? What was the silver lining on that?”
“Well, a crop had never woken up before. I’d say that’s a pretty big scientific milestone. Maybe even a milestone for humanity.”
“I’m sure you’d turn that outcome into some good, huh?” Isaac was growing impatient with the small talk. “What am I doing here, anyway?”
The Crest laughed. “You tell me. You’re the one that was so anxious to come see me. Did I foil your plans by putting you in these cuffs?” He grew more sinister in Isaac’s eyes. “Here, let me take them off.”
Isaac was baffled that he would let him out of the restraints, but he rubbed his wrists in delight. Slight trickles of blood leaving the indentions where the iron dug into his skin.
“How’s that Crop?”
As that name entered his ears, Isaac was almost forced back into silence. Like the mute had lived within him all along and Isaac was just a mask.
“I said ‘How’s that Crop?’.” He motioned to the director in the other room. “Fire ‘em up!”
It was like the man flicked the switch on a Christmas tree. Three cameras were suddenly illuminated with LEDs and Isaac now saw his reflection in what would make this demonstration live to everyone.
The Crest forced Isaac down on his knees in front of the trio of lenses that stood before them. Like a father presenting his shy and socially awkward son, The Crest stood behind Isaac. His hands gently placed on Isaac’s shoulders as if he would not let anything in the world harm him. Quite the opposite.
“Ladies and Gentleman of the Cloud City, the wretched Byways and everything in between. Let this be a day that sets history back on its plotted course. A course that was plotted by me so it’s only right that I correct the recent mishaps that have fallen over the districts.”
He moved his hands to pet Isaac’s head. Any time Isaac tried to rise to his feet, the surprising amount of strength forced upon him so nonchalantly kept him screwed in place.
“I know how many of you enjoy my frequent words of encouragement. Unfortunately, today I only bring words of disappointment and resentment. Especially towards those that have taken any part in this so called Daybreak. I think the weather has been pretty nice, don’t you?”
He laughed with such a devious smile that only one could learn in Hell.
“This here is Isaac. Most of you probably know of him as Crop.” He knelt down and got eye level with Isaac. The cameras panned down to meet him there. “He wanted so badly to come say ‘Hello’, that he put a poor woman in danger. If this is something that you condone then shame on you.”
He stood back up, again having his hands on Isaac’s shoulders. This time gripping them firmly.
“Shame on us?! Shame on you! I was raised in those factories! My whole life I was used for the extension of a generation so far gone that you’ve stopped advancing! Your values and your morals are so deteriorated that you are willing to destroy future generations for a couple of years tacked onto the end of your worthless lives!”
The Crest reared back and punched him in the face to shut him up. Isaac’s body slumped to the floor before being pulled up again. That exertion cracked the cool and calm facade of The Crest. His hair now unkempt and he breathed heavily. He pulled a knife out from inside his coat and put it to Isaac’s neck.
“You see. This is the kind of rage that we have been working so hard to stomp out.” His words were broken by breaths. “I know you in the Cloud City get it. You live it everyday. The struggle of making that sacrifice of planning out your family for the betterment of humanity. It’s hard, I know. But we get it done, don’t we?”
His twitching fingers gripped the knife in his right hand. His left held Isaac’s face in place.
“It’s people like this…right here! That want to make all of that sacrifice null. Your children are down there giving their lives so that we can live on and you want to take that away from us, Isaac.”
The metal scraped Isaac’s neck with every jerk and pull creating a rash like no other.
“Look at him. Just like a crop. Silent in obedience.”
Just as the chrome blade seemed to thirst for his blood, Isaac grabbed The Crest around his legs and knocked him down to the ground. His knuckles ached as he dug them into The Crest’s face with two right crosses. Isaac found it poetic that the man’s face was marred with his own blood.
As The Crest was recovering from having his face smashed in, Isaac ran to the studio door and locked it from the inside. The director meeting him on the other side just a second too late.
Isaac grabbed the nearby Double I machine and rolled it over in front of the cameras. He gave The Crest another fist in the face for good measure and to buy him some time to set the thing up.
“You people are insane.” He said almost hysterically. “You’re complete lack of the will to do good in the world is utterly disturbing. I have first hand experience of what it is like down there in The Byways and the factories. Have any of you even stepped foot outside of this city?!” He was so excited that he half expected an answer from the cameras. “The only way you people seem to be able to learn is through trauma and tragedy.”
Isaac hooked up the machine to his arm before holding The Crest down. He straddled his body, punching him whenever he was too much to contain.
“I’m glad that you are all here and are able to witness the next tragedy. Maybe you’ll change now. I hope you’ll change.”
Isaac pierced The Crest’s arm with the other end of the tube and pulled the lever. Isaac’s own blood clashed with The Crest’s and the man began to scream profusely.
“His body is being poisoned from the inside out. It is very painful. Like an instant rush of sickness flowing through your veins. I’ve experienced it at the hand of The Cultivator and your Sentinels.”
Isaac rose from the man’s squirming body to face the cameras. The Crest continued to scream in agony. Isaac kept slack on the blood tube to ensure the needles stayed in place.
“Daybreak will continue to act until all life is given a chance to live. We’re good people pushed to extreme measures. You must understand. This was the only way to get your attention.”
Laughter and chuckles broke through The Crest’s agony. His body like those of crops laying on concrete slabs.
“This is the man you follow?” Isaac pointed at him. “A man willing to commit genocide to retain power?” He watched as The Crest struggled to gain a kneeling position. “With your help, we can make the districts a safer and better place without all of this death and bullshit!”
The Crest yanked on the blood tube, pulling it from his arm. Isaac’s blood still flowing through his veins, every movement hurt. He couldn’t blink his eyes without wincing in pain. He rose to his feet, Isaac’s words nothing more than muffled madness to his ears now.
He grabbed Isaac from behind and put the blade to his throat, slicing it open. Isaac’s hope turned to a gurgle of sludge pouring from his neck. He fell to his knees, covering the hole almost as if he didn’t want anyone to see.
The Crest fell to his knees as well, unable to stave off the poison in his veins any longer. His arteries felt like solid rods branching off within his body now.
“Going out just like you came in…silent and still.” He spoke a shallow tone before falling face first in a mix of Isaac’s blood and his own.
Isaac remained kneeling for a moment longer. His reflection of himself gasping for life would be the last thing that he saw before slumping over into the floor of blood.
Sentinels beat on the door, trying to pry it open. The director frantically switched off push buttons and levers. The cameras faded as power left them.