The doctor's office was as bleak as ever. Dingy and grey, like a painting washed of its color. And the people leaving the office were also devoid of color.
I walked over to the desk, manned by a robo-receptionist. "Good morning," her tinny voice said. "How can I help you?" It was rather disconcerting to talk to the receptionist, who was merely a round, flesh colored ball, sitting on top of a spindly set of appendages.
"I'm here for a doctor's appointment," I said, loudly and clearly, so that she would understand.
"What is your name?"
The reception clicked a little, "You have an appointment with Doctor Mint in thirty two minutes. Please take a seat in the waiting room. Have a good day."
That was that. I moved over to the room and sat down in one of the hard, plastic benches and reached over for a magascreen. The flexible screen showed a picture of some smiling children, not interesting but, still, reading material. I heard that in the olden days, they were called magazines and made out of paper!
The magascreen was thoroughly boring, I didn't care about little kids, especially the perfect ones shown on the screen. Rolling my eyes, I set it down on the table and leaned back against the wall, closing my eyes.
"Excuse me? Could I please sit next to you?" A light male voice asked.
I opened my eyes and saw a tall, handsome young man, standing above me. "Of course," I gestured to the bench. "Have a seat." I spoke formally, knowing anyone could be listening.
"Thank you," he replied, equally formal. "My name is Dylan Maple."
"I am Katia Rose."
"It is a nice day in Flora," Dylan commented in the stiff manner dictated by society.
I nodded. Flora City always had beautiful weather. But, the weather masked those who ran the city. After the invention of modern technology, the government was able to monitor everyone, everywhere, all the time. And what was to stop them from creating a perfect world?
That led to the Mandates of Flora, the famous seven statements dictating the habits of Florans:
Citizens shall be polite and courteous.
Citizens shall not harm other citizens.
Citizens shall help maintain Flora City.
Citizens shall obey all laws.
Citizens shall connect with the community
Citizens shall stay loyal to their city.
Citizens shall strive to make Flora City a perfect place.
That last mandate was the coverall. It forced you to obey every wish, spoken or silent, of the government- or risk the consequences.
And sometimes, they added a final reminder, We will be Watching. Just to let us know that we would never be safe from their meticulous eye. We would always be monitored and had to keep up our guard at all times. But, they could not touch our minds; that was the one thing that we kept safe.
Dylan now tried again to engage in conversation, "You are a Flower." He commented on my name. In Flora, people are grouped into different sectors of the city: Flower, Tree, Herb, Fruit, Vegetable, Weed. And they are named accordingly. One could tell much from names.
"You are a Tree," I responded back.
"Flowers have delicate and pure beauty," Dylan quoted a line of poetry describing my sector and the inhabitants. Anyone whose genetic makeup was considered extraordinary was sent to Flower. Most were women. None were required to work.
Now, I was obliged to reciprocate. "Trees support the world." The twin of Flower, Tree was mostly men and consisted of those with a powerful genetic makeup. They too were not required to work.
"Katia Rose," the robo-ceptionist called, "Proceed to room 343."
I stood, and said, "Goodbye, Dylan." I was glad to leave, while conversation in Flora was always polite, Dylan's words had been stiff and artificial.
"It was a pleasure, Katia."
Without a backwards glance, I moved down the hallways, to the correct room and opened the door by scanning my palm. As always, the sensation tickled as the beams of light, alternating hot and cold, passed over my hand. But, I had long sense stifled the laugh that might normally accompany the tickle. Laughing for no reason was grounds for detainment (due to insanity).
Inside the small room, Dr. Mint was waiting. She was a tall woman, with deep black hair pulled into a severe bun. Her eyes were also dark, and slanted upwards. I couldn't tell if she would be kind or overbearing. "Good morning, Katia," she nodded, "How are you feeling today?"
"Fine, thank you," I replied with a smile.
"Are you ready for your scan?" Dr. Mint asked.
The doctor moved over to one of the walls and pressed a switch. A tingling sensation flooded my whole body, and I gave an involuntary shiver.
"Sometimes it does feel strange," Dr. Mint laughed at my reaction, "Don't worry, the effects are only temporary."
The sensation cut off without warning and Dr. Mint looked over at a large screen, attached to the wall. "Well, Katia," she said. "You look fine to me. You are in very good health. I congratulate you."
That was expected. "Thank you."
"Hmm," the doctor paused. "It seems you are a bit low on your vitamins. Not to worry though. I'll give you a pill now and get them to adjust your meals." She reached over to a table and pulled out a thin screen. "If you would place your thumb here," she indicated to a large square.
I nodded, quickly reading the form. There was the doctor's name. Alicia Mint. An Herb. Herbs always worked in public service, though their jobs were comfortable and easy.
Then, I placed my thumb on the screen, pressed hard, then removed it. With a click, a small pill descended from a tiny tube in the wall. I picked it up and placed it on my tongue and instantly tasted a burst of flowers.
"It should be rose flavored," Dr. Mint smiled, "I see that it is one of your preferred flavors."
"Thank you," some doctors were not as considerate as this one.
"That should be all, Katia," Dr. Mint told me, "Have a nice day."
I turned to leave, "Thank you, again, Dr. Mint."
The pill must have had some tranquility powder in it, for I suddenly felt happy and peaceful, all anger washed away.
But, even the pill could not hamper the effect of the adrenaline that flooded my system when I entered the lobby and saw a body on the floor.
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