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Originality Report

Hannah is an aspiring science fiction writer from Boston, currently residing in Krakow, Poland. This is her first published piece, which she is pretty excited about. She is currently finishing up her first science fiction novel, which she is also excited about. An excerpt can be found on her website, hcbialic.com.

"2% originality." The robotic voice clanged out through the headphones as a thin receipt printed out of the wall. The boy frowned heavily, pulled the headset off, and then hung it hurriedly behind him. He jumped out of the seat, and rushed towards the exit, his cheeks flaming with embarrassment. The receipt drifted to the ground unclaimed.
The students still waiting in line shuffled nervously.
A girl, the same age, took the seat he had vacated and put on the headset. She waited for the scan to complete, sweat slicking her palms.
"12% originality." The girl's expression dropped. She removed the headset and hung it as the boy before her had done, then dejectedly vacated her seat, limply grasping the slip of paper.
"16% originality."
"22% originality."
The robot scanned, spat the report and printed receipts, boy after girl after boy. They all left the chair frowning in disappointment.
The headset buzzed atop a boy's soft black curls.
"89% originality," the robot spat out without inflection. A grin replaced the boy's contemplative countenance. The line collectively studied him in surprise; accustomed to the routine of sit, listen, frown.
The boy placed the headset behind him with pleasure then relinquished the chair to the next in line, a squat and pimply girl, glaring at him with jealousy.
"Good luck," the curly-haired boy smiled.
She glared at him and took the seat with a huff as she donned the headset.
The boy exited the Originality Office, clutching his score with a bounce in his step, and headed down the hallway to the exit. In the space of a second, a panel in the wall to his right slid open and sucked him in, like a vacuum would swallow up a forgotten strip of lint.
The boy was deposited in a box-sized room that forced him to curl up his knees and wrap his arms about them. The robotic voice rang out over an intercom, seeming louder in the lack of light. "11% obedience."
The room filled with a sickly sweet gas, seeping out of the walls with a hiss as it tickled beneath his nose. The room seemed to shrink in the darkness. The boy screamed as oxygen fought for space in his lungs and subsequently lost the battle. His screams quieted and were soon replaced by the muffled hiss of the gas.
"18% originality."
"24% originality."
"8% originality."
"82% originality." A smile stretched across the girl's features. She clasped her hands to her chest. The line had dwindled to five students, all waiting for their Originality Report. They didn't smile with her, only looked more impatient. She shirked the headset and dropped it back on the rack, tearing the receipt from the wall as she stood.
The small group parted to allow her exit, wrinkling their noses as she passed.
She had only taken ten steps before she disappeared from the hallway, seemingly sucked into the wall.
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

Author Comments

This story began as most of mine do, with a starting line and no purpose. It quickly evolved into a very drastic expression of my opinions on group thought, and its associated dangers. On how easy it is to pine for something when there is accompanying social reinforcement, without knowing the consequences that follow.

- Hannah C Bialic
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