// OPEN VISUAL //
THE SOUTH POLE
A stone tower stands monolithic among the snow and ice. The castle is fashioned in the shape of a giant needle.
In a bedroom in this castle JUNIOR lies asleep in her ovaline grav bed. Above her is a holographic display of near-motionless stars and a moon drifting across a darkened sky. Her pillow vibrates ever-so-slightly and her eyes fling open.
(thinking) Soon Patra will be here with her over-cheerful demeanor.
The vibration moves from the pillow to her entire body. The gravity begins to drift away.
A voice is heard through the sky wall.
IT IS TIME, MY MISTRESS.
(CLEO)PATRA’s voice is the first thing JUNIOR hears each morning.
ARE YOU FINISHED REGENERATING?
JUNIOR presses a button on the inside of the chamber. The moon imagery flickers and dims. The domed lid scrolls away to reveal a stone room lit dimly. The room is scented with Lavender.
With the help of PATRA, JUNIOR climbs out of the bed. She is weak leaving the safety of the gravity-control. Her hands are delicate.
PATRA is the first, her favorite among slaves.
SHALL WE, MASTER?
PATRA is dressed in a slinky blue dress, glittered with sequins. Her head is shaved bald – refreshed twice a day – and her eyebrows are missing. But hair would mar her bright face. Her brown eyes seem hazel with intensity. She is slender, almost fatless, but her skin is soft and opaque with health.
PATRA kisses JUNIOR tenderly and holds her hand as she acclimated to Earth standard gravity. JUNIOR paces around the room carefully, slowly improving her posture.
When JUNIOR has adjusted to the rousing, she sits in a cushioned chair. It reclines.
PATRA lets loose JUNIOR’s bright pink hair. It is “hot pink” and soft like a child’s. But JUNIOR is no child. At about 23 years of age, the tiniest wrinkles have begun to sprinkle across her eyes. ‘Never smile, never squint, my Princess’ her mother has warned her. But despite the warning and as if in spite of her best efforts, her delicate hair paling, brittle at the ends. Today Patra will give a trim. It is the full moon, after all. Patra loves to cut the Master’s locks.
(thinking) I wish she’d hurry up. I’ve got to go troll Straud’s Wonder Wizards.
But it’s the bi-weekly trim. Patra will take her time.
SNIP. SNIP. SNIP.
The satisfying sound fills the space between the two women, wordless.
ANY PROPHECIES YOU WISH TO DICTATE?
JUNIOR pauses. She hadn’t expected this question until further into the cutting.
MOTHER, AGAIN. I WAS… MYSELF. SMALL. I HAD WET MYSELF DURING ONE OF THE LESSONS.
PATRA has stopped cutting and is brushing JUNIOR’s hair.
JUNIOR’s mother was known colloquially as the CHAIRPERSON, the head of the New Socialist Republic, or NSR.
She had become a… doting mother after the failure, or death, of her first daughter. The CHAIRPERSON, or PRESIDENT as she was known back then, had participated in a selective breeding program. She had numbered each embryo instead of naming them according to common convention. The first she had kept was her fourteenth, “QUATORZE”, whom she’d called “CAT”. JUNIOR was her thirti-first and thus given the mouthful of the name “TRENTE-ET-UN”. JUNIOR insisted that in the event of the death of a fetus, she should instead be “TRENTE”. Her mother conceded by giving her an earned name “GAGARIN”. Her birth certificate would read “TRENTE-ET-UN GAGARIN” but her mother called her “UNE”. PATRA was instructed by her mistress that if she ever needed to use a moniker, she was to be called simply “JUNIOR”. One last name never left the stone walls of the slave’s bedchambers: “my little JUNEBUG”.
Once the lengthy process of brushing and braiding was done, PATRA dressed JUNIOR in a long black dress. Nearly an hour had passed but only the slave was permitted to measure the passage of time.