Lifer

Lifer by Beck Nicholas Read Free Book Online

Book: Lifer by Beck Nicholas Read Free Book Online
Authors: Beck Nicholas
Tags: Science-Fiction, Young Adult, teen, Dystopian, space
as a child. “I’m so excited,” she says in a breathy voice. “I just know you’ll love it.”
    With Lady’s hand tugging my arm, I stumble alongside her through a door and into a little hallway. Three identical doors lead off it. She steers us through the middle one. A strange mixture of fear and excitement pounds just behind my eyes. I don’t dare blink in case I miss something.
    This is my chance to get inside knowledge on the layout of their quarters. Selfishly, I want to know about the surprise too.
    I try to keep my bearings in relation to the level below. We turn into another small hallway. Here, there are three doors again, but these are not identical. The surface of the one furthest left is freshly painted. It’s the same bright yellow as the entry room.
    Her hand reaches out. Her pudgy fingers close around the silver handle. I hold my breath as her knuckles whiten on the handle and she begins turning.
    Then she freezes and her head twitches like she’s shaking an annoying bug off her face. Her hand drops to her side, and she steps away. “Afternoon tea first, don’t you think?”
    “Afternoon tea?” I repeat dumbly, following behind. I glance back over my shoulder at the mysterious door. If I was curious before, I’m now desperate to know what’s behind it, but I have no choice but to follow Lady, for this is my role.
    “Yes. That would be lovely.” She returns to the first hallway. “You don’t mind having it in the kitchen do you?” she asks over her plump shoulder.
    “No.”
    Maybe I was too quick to be glad Davyd left. Nerves settle in my belly. If I do the wrong thing while serving her tea, I will be sent away and lose this opportunity.
    But when we enter the kitchen she gestures for me to take a place at the intimate real wood table. I hesitate. Lifers do not sit for afternoon tea. Certainly not with Fishies.
    Nobody seems to have told Lady that.
    “Sit.”
    I obey. The muted color of the walls echoes the browns from the outer hallway. A framed picture of an Earth sunset claims pride of place on the wall. Everything is clean, fresh and warm. No scratches on anything, no stains, no arguments drifting from other families sharing too small a space. This is what I imagined when I pictured Samuai’s life away from me.
    Lady places a covered tray in the center of the table on a white cloth and lifts the lid. Inside is a perfectly round cake. My mouth waters and my stomach growls in a most uncivilized manner. Fluffy white icing tops a pale yellow sponge. I’ve seen such items being prepared in the Lifer’s kitchen for those on the upper levels but never had the chance to taste. Our food is plain, filling fare. All the better for hard work.
    “Would you like some cake?” Lady asks.
    I can hardly say no, but I’m not sure whether I should.
    She smiles and takes the decision out of my hands, cutting us each a small piece. “Enjoy,” she says. She speaks like we’re friends. Equals.
    “Thank you.”
    The way my stomach is churning, I’m more likely to chuck the cake back up than enjoy it. I use the small fork provided and break off a portion. With her watching me, I place it between my lips and the whole thing dissolves in my mouth with a burst of sweetness. “It’s amazing.”
    Lady’s brown eyes twinkle. “You know,” she begins conversationally as she stands and fills a small pot with boiling water from the tap over the sink. “You look just like your mother.”
    The next bite of cake turns to sand in my mouth. I cough, sending small crumbs flying into the small cloth I grab off the table. I mop up the mess and meet her gaze, trying to act like I didn’t just choke.
    I do look like Mother. I’ve heard it said before, but I didn’t expect a Fishie to have noticed. I didn’t think she’d know who my mother is and I nearly ask, before remembering Davyd’s warning. I have too many reasons not to talk about Mother here.
    Lady doesn’t seem to expect a reply, sitting again and

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