Here we go again! This story takes place in the same universe as Classified: A New Life, and if you haven’t read that, you should read it first. This is a much less whimsical tale, but one that I hope fleshes out the universe a bit more, as well as being enjoyable to read. It covers some pretty dark stuff as the story goes along, so read at your own risk. Here we go, and please do tell me what you think!
“Fuck!” Lily Bronsen snarls. She trembles with rage, wondering how the universe could possibly be so unfair.
“What’s wrong?” One of her roommates, Alex, pokes her head out of the kitchen; her blonde hair is tied up in a bun. Alex is a Neutral, and does data-entry for the CLASS branch in their area. “Did you bang your shin on the coffee table again? I keep telling Darren to pick a spot for it.”
“No.” Lily snaps, swiping angrily at her eyes and pushing her strawberry-blonde hair out of her face. “I got my results today.”
Alex comes over to sit next to Lily on the couch. “What’d you get?” she wonders.
“I’m a Little.” Lily says bitterly.
“Did you not know that ahead of time or something? I mean…most people don’t suck their thumbs when they get stressed out. Not to mention what happened last week at Shue’s place.”
“I was drunk, okay? It’s not like I piss myself regularly or anything.” Lily grumbles.
“What about the week before that, at the movie theatre? Or at the concert? Or the theme park?” Alex continues, listing off other embarrassing incidents, as Lily refused to call them accidents.
“Too much soda, drunk again, should have gone before we got in line.” Lily huffs, ticking things off on her fingers as she goes. “You got a fucking point to make, ‘Lex?” She growls.
“I think you know exactly what I’m saying. One is an anomaly, two is a coincidence, and three is a pattern. We’re at four in the last two weeks alone. I keep telling you to wear protection–it’s not like anyone will see it anyway. Besides, I’m not a Caregiver. I don’t mind helping you out or anything like that, but I shouldn’t have to carry around extra clothes for you either.”
Lily blushes. She had been wearing protection on all those occasions. Pull-ups just didn’t work for the magnitude of incidents she’d had, and she’d ended up leaking. She pats down her pockets, looking for her cigarettes and finds them empty. Fucking Darren.
“First of all, I didn’t ask you to do that for me. And secondly, what are you saying then?” Lily demands.
Alex sets her jaw. “You’d better watch your attitude, Lil. I’ve had a shitty day at work, and I don’t need to deal with your tantrum on top of it.” she snaps. “I’m saying you should have seen this coming miles away. I’ll go and get the ELK, and we’ll figure something out.”
Alex disappears for a moment, and then returns with the ELK and a small duffel bag in the same coloring. She opens the container, revealing four tablets, one each of green, yellow, purple, and a white one.
Lily tastes each of the colored tablets in turn, mostly to placate Alex while she thinks about how to proceed. She absolutely refuses to become one of them , no matter what. She’s already managed to escape one hellish environment where her every move was decided for her, and she’s not about to go through that again.
The yellow candy does taste pretty good though…
“So, you’re an L-3.” Alex says. “At least potty training is an option for you, that’s at least something positive…”
“How do you know that?” Lily wonders, smacking her lips at the taste of the candy.
“That’s literally what the candy is for. The colored coating only tastes good if your biological markers match with that Classification, or something like that, I’m not familiar with the science of it. It’s just to prevent panic attacks over the news.” Alex explains.
“You just gave me drugs?” Lily wonders.
“It’s just an anti-anxiety thing. Don’t worry. There’s a pull-up in the bag, and I’d like you to put it on, just in case. You’re pretty worked up right now, and I don’t want to clean up any puddles.”
Lily immediately stands up, offended and angry at the implication, even if it isn’t exactly off-base.
“Oh, fuck you! Really, Lex? I’m not a goddamn baby, or a puppy or whatever, I’m not going to piss on the floor.”
“Lily, you’re really trying my patience. I’m only trying to help you out. I might be a Neutral, but I’m this close to taking you over my knee, I swear. If you want to be treated like an adult, then act like it, and let’s have a civil discussion without all the cursing, okay?”
“Try it and see what happens, Lex.” Lily snaps, and marches across the room to retrieve her shoes and jacket. “I’m going out. I gotta talk to Bongo and Riceman.” Lily says, double checking that her wallet has actual Coin in it, and not just her card.
“Why? All Bongo’s going to do is try to sell you CHITs and fake IDs.”
Lily nods. “Exactly.” She zips her coat, too aggressively and makes for the door.
“Lily, what the hell are you doing? I know I’m not your Caregiver, but as your friend, this is probably the dumbest thing you’ve ever done. Those CHITs are really dangerous, not to mention illegal, and unless you plan on hacking the CLASS database to change your results, a fake ID is useless.”
“You’re not telling me anything I don’t already know.” Lily points out. “That’s what Riceman is for.”
“Are you insane ? You’re trying to prevent an inevitable biological process from happening with a drug that will at best, delay it, and at worst, kill you. And as if that wasn’t bad enough , you’re going to participate in cybercrime while you’re at it!” Alex’s voice gets progressively louder and she takes Lily by the arm.
“Yep.” Lily replies flippantly. “I will not be a Little. Look, only like, three people have ever died from doing CHITs, and I’ll be careful. I refuse to end up as a pants-shitting crybaby who’s incapable of living a normal life. Better dead than useless.” she jerks her arm free of Alex’s grip “ I can handle myself.”
She steps out into the hallway and slams the door in Alex’s face.
Bongo and Riceman’s apartment is surprisingly clean, Lily thinks.
The furniture is old and well-used, but they take care of the things they have. She tries not to fidget as she sits across from Bongo at their kitchen table. Her bladder throbs, but not too urgently.
She slides her pile of coin across the table to Bongo who counts it and nods, satisfied.
“I’ve gotta go make your new ID and get the CHITS counted out. Be careful with that stuff, Lily, I mean it. Any more than one a day and you’re in for a real bad time.” Bongo say seriously, his dark eyes intense. “They’ll help with the incontinence part of things temporarily. Keeping your cool, and making smart decisions is on you. The Doctor could probably help with a more permanent solution, but he’s on sabbatical and not to be disturbed for anything. This is the best I’ve got.” Bongo says. “And some of the side effects can be pretty wicked, so like I said, one every day.”
Lily nods again. “I get it.” She counts out another stack of Coin and passes it to Riceman. She’s just shelled out almost all of her savings, but if it keeps her from ending up in diapers, it’s worth it.
“And I can alter some things in the CLASS systems without getting caught, but it’ll only be surface level.” Riceman explains as he scratches at his stubble, his round face serious. “Any kind of deep digging, and you’re fried. You’ll be able to buy booze and smokes, and get into clubs and shit. But buying a car or a gun or anything like that is a no-go. And, don’t get pulled over either.”
“I can handle that.” Lily says, swallowing hard. “Is there anything else I should know before we do this?”
Bongo stares at her. “Are you sure about this? There’s no reset button for this kind of thing. Once we do this, you’re stuck. You can live as a Neutral for the rest of your days, but if you fuck up at all, game over. And, we won’t be able to help you either, for obvious reasons.”
“I understand. I’m sure.” Lily says, with a confidence she doesn’t actually feel.
“Okay.” Bongo shares a glance with Riceman, and both of them stand.
“Wait right here.” Riceman says. “We’ll be back shortly.”
In another moment, they’re gone, leaving Lily alone with her thoughts at the table.
What did I just do? Lily wonders.