My Ranking Points
It is I, Nevergreen. I took a long break from this site, but welcome to my new Series, The Flower Society (it’s much more serious than the name suggests)
My name is Aviva Rose. I am the narrator and antagonist of this story. I watch the protagonist from afar, and plot to kill them.
But something goes wrong.
As the woman started tying the carton, I let my eyes flicker back from her to the colossal wheels towering at around 20 metres and the scaffolding reaching the 30 metre ceiling.
“And there you have it!” beamed the woman, brushing back her caramel curls, her long fingers deftly tightening the seal of the small carton, and pushing it into the awaiting clementine-orange bag stamped with the seal of Commonwealth two – a pen and a sword crossed. Her voice suddenly became hushed as she whispered under the consistent and reliable chatter of the factory workers. “When the bag is full, yell for Audrey – loud, mind, above this lot – and she’ll take it and replace it with another bag. Just remember – don’t let the seals break.”
With that threat hanging in the air, the woman turned away and sauntered down the aisle, skirts swishing.
“Positive,” I muttered, beginning to seal the ever-growing pile of cartons with the small piece of thread attached to the top. The massive wheels ground together beside us, just inches away from the closests workers, and I was in awe of how silent they were, just the slight sound of rubber against rubber. We owed that to the Canaries, of course, slight 12-year-old girls who risked their lives to dash in between the ever-moving, dangerous and gigantic cogs of the Engine and rub oil-soaked rags on the metal.
The Conqueror, an Engine Warrior, was halfway through its building process. After all the cogs were finished, we’d need to cover it all in metal and rubber.
One month previous to this day exactly, I was climbing into the small control room of a basic first draft of The Conqueror. After recklessly smashing some keys like the teenager I was, I was demoted and instead of being a Tester, I was demoted to the lowly role of Sealer.
Each year, the Commonwealth, all of them from One to Nine, had to rustle up an Engine Warrior and they would fight each other to the, well, not death since the Warriors weren’t alive, but a humiliating defeat and embarrassment for the Commonwealth it originated from .
In my nineteen years of watching Engine Warriors, I had never seen a Warrior so big. It towered over double the height of last year’s champion, and that had won the title of Largest Warrior. I was proud to be contributing to the effort of building it, but still one question nagged at me.
I pushed it down and sighed, shoving the entire pile of cartons into the bag. What would happen if another Warrior was tiny, and managed to work it’s way into The Conqueror’s engine parts? It could, say, drop a small part of itself, leave The Conqueror, and the person in the control section of their warrior could hit a button and make that piece self-combust, therefore defeating the point of having complicated machinery. Improbable, but not impossible. Things like that have happened before, and it was not pretty for the person in the control section of the victim Warrior.
“Hey,” I said casually to the girl beside me, not being able to hold the query in any more. “What’s in these cartons, anyway?”
She looked at me with her eyes that somehow managed to be void of emotion and horror-filled at the same time.
“If you don’t know, you shouldn’t find out.”
Spooked, but only slightly, I inhaled the sawdust-filled, smoggy air and started to tie the carton’s thread.
The bag was full. Several cartons were threatening to tip out and spill on the ground, maybe explode like the woman had warned me.
“AUDREY!” I yelled, not knowing who Audrey was. “AUDREY!”
A thin, emaciated white-blonde haired girl that curled down to her waist with eyes that I couldn’t see the colour of because she was looking down nervously came up to us, hauled the bag away and dumped another clementine-coloured bag where the previous bag was.
I continued with that for hours on end. The arms on the clock slowly crept across the face, much slower than normal. The grime stuck to our aprons. It was the most boring job in all of the Five Commonwealths, but at least it paid well. I pushed my long, breast length brown hair out of my face just as the loudspeakers bellowed, “DAY SHIFT HAS ENDED!”
Everyone started to leave. The Canaries climbed down out from the cogs of The Conqueror and walked down the tin steps towards the ground in almost military-like formation. The nonstop talking became even louder. The Night shift workers came in, their clothes pristine white in comparison to our dust-coated and stained uniform.
Rubbing my eyes only to discover I’d painfully forced dust deeper into my optics, I started the long walk to the bus station, leaving the factory on top of the highest hill and looking at Commonwealth Two’s city night lights. The moon had come up, and the wind was chilly, biting at my ears and nose. I pulled the scarf I had self-knitted tighter around my neck and mouth and started walking a little faster.
The moon was really beautiful, a hazy white. I waited outside the bus stop on the mainly empty road.
I saw the bus approaching, a two-decker black vehicle. I waved my pass at it and felt someone tap on my shoulder.
“Yes?” I said whilst turning around, impatient. “What?”
“Aviva -” he said, pulling his hood tighter around his head, pushing his dark-brown-coloured curls deeper into his hood.
“No – not – you’re not -” I spluttered, stepping back just as the bus pulled up, filling the air with the scent of petrol.
He pulled his hood back, revealing golden eyes.
“I am. Now get on the bus. We have much to talk about and little time to talk.”
“You’re not really him, are you?” I said cautiously, sitting at the back of the bus, trying to ignore his golden stare boring into the side of my head.
“Exra Le’Fever? I am,” he said casually.
“SSSH!” I squealed, slapping him. “Sorry,” I said sheepishly, a moment after. “But people could hear. You know you’re wanted?”
“Who cares about being wanted here in Commonwealth Two?” he said airly. “Anyone could be wanted. You could be wanted. That old cat lady asleep at the front could be wanted.”
“Unlikely,” I muttered. How I came to be talking to the twenty-year-old serial killer of Commonwealth Two, I had no idea, but one thing was clear. I wasn’t about to turn him in.
I turned to face him. His golden eyes showed only the slightest flicker of fear.
“You’re not going to hand me over, are you?” he said doubtfully.
“Nope,” I said, smiling. “In fact, you’re right. I am wanted”
Steathily, I sneaked my hand into my heavy leather bag and pulled out a perfect, pristine navy blue rose, taking care to avoid the thorns.
His eyes were wide with shock, but he was smiling. “My oh my, Mistress Rose, you do live up to your name.”