The Living Fabric

“The Living Fabric” is a short story by David Taveras. Still in construction, the story recounts the experiences of a first person narrator who lives in a futuristic, repressive society where your “uniform” is sewn directly into your flesh and conformity is not a choice, but a law. Printed below is an excerpt from this story.

I woke up with a start; that recurring nightmare came again… though was it even a nightmare? I look down to try and confirm that yes, the sutures are still there. All meticulously lining the pungent red sleeve around my arm. Yet they aren’t there to hold the fabric together, as I’m reminded almost every waking moment of my life. No because a quick glance under my sleeve would reveal to me where the sutures lead, right from the inside fabric to my arm within.

I can’t help but gag a little everytime I so much as think of it. Hundreds if not thousands of tiny little sutures coming out of my skin and leading into this sickeningly red fabric. Fabric that almost seems to move on it’s own, almost breathe when I’m laying down in bed staring at the blank ceiling– or blank floor if I’m not in the mood to lay down. It almost seems alive, parasitic even.

After I was done contemplating the horrors of my reality, I begrudgingly made my way out of bed and walked to the door. Heading out to be greeted with a familiar sea of red uniforms making their way down the hall, I soon joined the red mass. Uniformly, we walked; not a word was uttered; no one stepped out of line or stopped, and no one showed an ounce of expression on their face. We all knew what would happen if we did. Originally, we were making our way to the mess hall like we did every day. We’d be served the same grey and tasteless gruel, a substance that we willingly put into our bodies, but never seems to come out. Not that any of us would really be able to, but the need to do so has never once bothered me. Like a lot of things about this place I’ve tried to come up with my own theories. Maybe the uniform absorbs it through, maybe the food breaks– if we can even call it that– breaks down into the simplest form of nutrients and absolutely nothing else once digested. But like many things about this place I’ll probably never know.

But we didn’t go down there today. Much to everyone’s confusion– I could even spot faint glimmers of bemusement on the faces of my fellow captives, possibly the most emotion I’ve ever seen in this place– a loud beep was heard through the halls, and a voice rang out “All students make your way to the main lobby, the ceremony is about to begin”

We were herded like cattle without a shepherd to the center. A large velvet room with spotless floors and strange decor hanging above us. Although completely silent, I’m sure everyone in the room felt the same as I did, anxious, curious, maybe a twinge of excitement had in that mixture. I still attempted to keep a calm composure despite this. Witnessing first hand what happens to those who act out in at all is one One student in particular stood out in my mind. Unlike most of us, sitting stiffer than gazelle directly staring at its predator, he’d always fidget about. Mindlessly and meticulously moving small objects is n his hands, pivoting his pivoting his foot about the ankle and rapidly lifting his heel up and down, and constantly shifting position in order to find comfort in those horrid desks. Not many teachers took to kindly to this— although I hesitate to call them that, they’re appearance may look Human like from a far, but up close their proportions leave them with gangly and bony arms with a face that almost drops of the skull. These things look like they crawled directly out of the uncanny valley— warnings would be ensued to any restless student from first the teacher, then well the uniform. As if one of the teachers gets agitated by a student, they stop what they’re doing extend a bony finger towards the accuser and let out an unintelligible screech. But if the offender continues to act out, well from what I can tell a sharp pain seems to affect them, at least that’s what I can gather from the hurling over and intense screaming that accompanies it. And like any other commotion it’s ignored on our eyes, as their too busy staring at the lesson going on in front of the class to notice.
        I myself have never had this punishment happen to me, but I’ve seen it a fair amount of times. Students don’t bounce back from them. I remember coming back to class one day to see a puddle of blood where the student was huddled over in pain. And at that assembly, that’s what we saw, the flayed corpses of those some of those students. And a firm reminder of what we’re here to, not to learn, but to be obedient.