Gone Lawn
a journal of literature
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Gone Lawn 16
Autumn, 2014

Featured painting, Old Dream Collector by Andrea Wan.

Featured Novel Excerpt
New Works

Sarah Navin

Have Faith

The Facility is the center of our community and our lives.

Our homes are the same beige as our skin; the walls sometimes look like flesh. They are sterile and colder inside than out. Each home is exactly as far from the Facility as its neighbor is, which is proper, because closeness to the Facility is godliness. No one should be godlier than his neighbor.

I sometimes think of leaving, but in the same way that I think of becoming a roach or tearing my skin off to let the sunless sky cool my bloody insides. Leaving is a thought with no value or prospect, as there is nowhere but here. I am assured, day in, day out, there is nowhere but here.

We wear gray. Bright colors are sinful; I believe that. They appear sinful. They distract us from the important things. There is nothing generous or diligent about bright colors.

We grow our hair long. To cut it would be to cut ourselves, and I'm sure my hair would bleed. I've never seen blood, but I'm told it has a strong color and colors are sinful. We are full of sin. We are ashamed.

The smog is blessed and it takes the color from us. We are grateful. It is regrettable that we can smell it through the masks. The gray cloth doesn't stop the smog from stinging our throats; in the summer, when the smog is especially thick, our voices are burned to a raw whisper. The smog makes our skin dull and our eyes whiter. My oldest neighbors have pearly eyes. Most of them cannot speak.

Summer is the worst time around the Facility. The roaches, shiny brown clicking things sometimes as big as the palm of my hand, are most plentiful in the summer and annually we must learn to coexist, for they are in greater numbers than us. We try not to leave our houses very much during the summer months, but we must, for Wednesday service at the Facility. We are only allowed on the first floor; we are only allowed in for service. To miss service is to ask for elimination and no one wants elimination. During service, we must be silent. We must listen to the Facilitators tell us how to be sinless; these are the important things. When a roach scuttled up my leg and back down again during service, I was silent. I am learning to coexist.

Aside from service, there is not much reason to leave our houses during the summer. As always, our food is delivered to our doorsteps every morning on metal trays. We wake early to reach them before the roaches do. There are synthetic sandwiches, synthetic apples, synthetic cookies. Our food is the same color and texture as our skin; we must be careful so as to avoid mistakenly biting our hands. Such an error may draw blood, and blood is sin.

Our houses create a wide circle. There are hundreds of us, maybe thousands. There are always infants, I think there will always be infants, and similarly there will always be roaches.

The Facility is tall, metal (like the trays beneath our synthetic food), and ten floors high. The smog doesn't allow us to see past the third floor, though. The smog makes us humble.

We have service in a bright white room. We must take off our masks and stand. The Facilitators wear white. The inside of the Facility smells different than our houses; my grandmother once said that it smells like "lemons." Grandmother says she remembers a time before synthetic food. I may or may not trust Grandmother.

The second floor of the Facility is the kitchen. The third floor contains the Query room.

When we misbehave, the Facilitators are merciful. They love us and they are patient with us. Praise the Facilitators. They take two of us into the Query room when we misbehave. My mother was in the Query room once, as a young woman, with another girl. They knelt and the Facilitators stood in a pristine white cluster.

"What are you made of?" The Facilitators asked.

"Sin." My mother and the girl replied. The Facilitators nodded.

"What is your purpose?" The Facilitators asked.

"To be clean."

"Why are there roaches?"

"Because we are not clean."

They continued asking questions that service teaches us the answers to. My mother says she was there so long that her knees went numb against the metal floor. Finally, the Facilitators asked,

"How old is the Facility?"

My mother immediately replied, "Ancient." The other girl paused before echoing my mother's answer. The Facilitators glanced at one another. One of them left the Query room. My mother thought she saw the girl glance at her, but she did not look back. A brief little "ding" sound rang out and the word "ELIMINATE" was instantly projected in bright lights on every wall. The girl began to shake and weep.

My mother clasped her hands and began to pray. "Praise the Facilitators."

One Facilitator ordered the others to take the girl to the Hot room. I don't know what floor the Hot room is on, or what's in it, but in service they tell us that it's an eternal summer.

The remaining Facilitator took my mother by the hand — my mother has been blessed — and led her to a windowed area, where she could watch what happened to the other girl in the Hot room and learn from it. My mother says I'm too young for her to tell me what happens in the Hot room, but I've heard her speak to my father about it.

She says the walls, floor, and ceiling of the Hot room were glowing the color of sin. The girl was alone inside. The Facilitator kept holding my mother's hand as she watched.

The girl knelt and began praying at first, but after a moment she stood and started yelling. She shifted from one foot to another and cried aloud. Her flesh began to warp and my mother looked down, but the Facilitator reached a hand over and tilted her chin back up. My mother watched and learned. She saw what happens to those who sin. These are the important things.

The girl was screaming now, thrashing on the floor of the Hot room. She began to change colors and her flesh slipped out of place. Soon, the girl was still and quiet. Her sin spilled onto the floor. The walls stopped glowing and a Facilitator led my mother home.

When someone visits the Hot room, the smog thickens. The smog is blessed.

Praise the Facilitators.

Sarah Navin is a young writer living on the coast of South Carolina. More of her work can be found in the Creepypasta archives under the username "RemovedFingers."