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It was the System that arose him from his deep yet incredibly brief state of unconsciousness, a fleeting few hours of sleep to break up the monotony of the day. When his brain had properly returned to its usual dithering oscillations, he offered a half-hearted gesture of appreciation, reciprocated by the System in the form of a beep, a flash of green light and a delectable smell that—to some—would have smelled like stale sweat. But to him, it was pleasant enough.

Clambering out of his bed, he threw on his clothes and strode down the impeccably clean white hall, maintained by the ever-helpful System. Sitting down and grabbing an edible plate in a single fluid motion, he grabbed hold of a plate, dumped a packet of cell-cultured meat onto it, mixed in an assortment of dried invertebrates, and began to crunch and chew vigorously. Over the years he had grown used to the sentiment of eating bugs like some insect-eating bat, and by now he had grown to enjoy it. Strong jaw muscles ground the food as he chewed, crunching and gnashing. With quite literally half the plate still laid in front of him, he decided he had eaten enough.

The System would probably disagree, but it always did.

But to his surprise, this time the System did not voice its dissent. It beeped and flashed green again, releasing the stame stale-sweat smell that he so enjoyed, and then called upon him to stand up and go to work, reminding him how his work rate had fallen. He picked up a small medipad, holding it at arm's length and allowing it to scan his body as he proceeded down the quiet corridor. A crackling click announced every door being unlocked and opened by System. An affirmative beep announced to him that, yes, he was perfectly healthy, and was permitted to go to work.

Opening the door, he made his way into the street. The usual cast of people were outside, heading in the same directions as they did every day, in the same order as they did every day, following the careful instructions of the Artifice. System bid him farewell as he joined the crowd, walking through a city lit by neon lights, brilliant colors that gave its inhabitants ease when darkness enveloped them. But the darkness had not arrived, supplanted instead by the eerie white glow. He recalled hearing that the sky was once blue, but the sulphur pumped skyward by the early machines—designed to counteract the world’s gradual heating—bleached it.

He was hardly a historian, though.

The crowd around him was, even to his eye, relatively uniform. Everyone dressed similarly, moved similarly, and something in the back of his mind told him that they even looked similar. But he had no reason to dwell on such matters, because now his workplace was coming into view. Its immaculate walls sloped slightly outward, almost painful to look at because of the reflected sunlight. Small monitors ran along the glass panes on either side, showing various advertisements for the latest cosmetics product or foodstuff. The phrase “¡ gud morning¡ ” was displayed on the monitor.

As the double doors swiftly opened, his head poked in as a guard that looked very much like he did wished him good day. He walked inside, letting the doors close behind him. After ascending the stairs for what felt like hours, he navigated through the various cubicles, detecting the faint scent of stale sweat emanating from those occupied by particularly good workers. He’d have to do better if he was going to get the same treatment. Sitting down on a suspiciously warm chair that not only felt suspiciously like raw meat, but also smelled like raw meat, he sat at his desk, and as soon as his monitor turned itself on, he began to input the regular strings of code at a faster pace. He needed to catch up, needed to get the serotonin boost.


His riveting work schedule was interrupted by the sound of something striking the window next to him. Glancing towards it, he saw a large crack in the glass, and a small rock lying on the windowsill. It was on days like this that he hated working so close to the Fence. The people on the other side—Outsiders, he called them—seemed awfully inhospitable considering all he wanted to do was work. He’d grown to slightly hate them over the years. The way they were so much dirtier, the way they seemed almost gaunt at times, the way they interrupted his work so often. The disdain was most assuredly mutual.

Another rock flew at the window, and this time it shattered. He furrowed his eyebrows, still typing, trying his best to ignore it. He couldn’t let his work load go down, otherwise he wouldn’t experience that sweet smell again. And what was the point of working if he couldn’t be given such pleasantries for contributing to society? In the street beyond the window, the yelling started up. Glancing half-heartedly to the window, he saw several Outsiders furiously stamping their feet and kicking at the edge of the Fence below.

Frustrated, he threw himself into work, hoping to drown out the racket, and kept typing until he’d finished a full string of code. The Artifice would doubtless treat him very well for his speed. Perhaps he would get a promotion, and have his workload halved. What joy that would be! But he decided it was better not to get ahead of himself. He preferred sticking with his steady pace rather than flying off in some overhyped pursuit of high productivity.

The yelling from the street grew louder and louder, and his anger built up. These accursed Outsiders were really getting on his nerves. He knew why they did it. They wanted to dismantle the establishment built up so diligently by the Artifice, simply because they didn’t get enough food. He thought that they were really quite stupid for not grinning and bearing it, considering how he himself would be perfectly happy to do so if it benefitted the city. They were just jealous. A bit of hunger never did anybody any harm. Another bang.

Another rock on the floor.

He’d had enough.

He threw the rock back out the window, hearing it strike the ground. Now the Outsiders focused their attentions on him, yelling in a language that seemed so similar to his own, yet also so different. The System had told him to ignore such insubordinate behavior from Outsiders; he wasn’t meant to respond after his initial request. He was compliant, and didn’t listen when they started to scream incoherent obscenities at him. Actually, he thought he’d been quite polite about the whole thing. But unfortunately for him, and his productivity, they disagreed. More stones were thrown. They began to punch and kick the concrete again.

And he’d had more than enough.

On his monitor, there was a special program. One that he was instructed only to execute if the Outsiders got too … rowdy. Today, he thought, he had the perfect opportunity to use it. With disgust flooding his mind, he tapped the screen, navigated to the button, and tapped it. The dialogue “¿ ar u sur? ” popped up.

He pressed the affimative button.

Nothing happened for a few seconds. Then the Outsiders started to scream, running away from the Fence as fast as they could. From the trees near the distant mountains there was movement. Slow at first, but quickly increasing in rate. An enormous, spider-like leg emerged from the ocean of greenery, followed by another. And another. Their titanium exteriors gleaming, three of these great machines descended upon the Outsiders, their inconcievably tall limbs carried them effortlessly nearer. They were the physical extensions of the Artifice, the bodies it used to dispose of those who harangued those it cared for, tended to at all times. People like him.

He continued with his duties, glancing back and forth as these harvestman-like marvels of engineering outside got to work dealing with the pests. On one level it seemed almost satisfying to watch the Outsiders’ pale, skeletal bodies being cut in half by the hydraulic cutters of the machines. But deeper down, in a part of his mind that he repressed, he knew something that years of conditioning could not erase. His subconscious, fine-tuned by millions of years of evolution, gave him knowledge he'd have preferred to erase altogether.

The man had just consigned his fellows to a horrible death.

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Cornco- *splutters and dies* (talk) 01:31, 25 July 2022 (UTC)[]

A bit of a different kind of concept from your usual topic of writing, but executed fairly well. I myself am working on a similar idea about a bleak, monochromatic, futuristic society where everyone is controlled by some unseen authoritarian force, and this story certainly helped inspire me in some aspects of that.

From the beginning, the details you provide of this dystopian setting were easy to envision and painted an effective picture. I liked the bug-eating, the backdrop of the city, the fact that the sky had changed; I thought it all fit quite smoothly. I was a bit lost regarding the stale sweat smell, though? Not really sure how that was supposed to emulate a reward.

I'm also not really sure about the notion of companies/government agencies (whichever one features in the story) letting their own employees take care of potential security issues in such a way that the protagonist does, especially when those employees are mere desk jockeys. If this is a society in which everyone's actions are heavily controlled and people run the risk of facing severe scrutiny in the workplace, then I don't think it makes much sense to give low-level employees that level of autonomy, even if no-one really cares what happens to these "outsiders" so long as they go away. The window shattering I think was a step too far. At that point you would expect something to happen on its own, like the spider machines just being deployed automatically, with no need for human intervention.

There's also no reference to any of the main character's co-workers regarding the outsiders. If this guy is some low-level grunt then I'd find it unlikely that he was working completely on his own. Even if other people don't notice the disturbance somehow or if they're all away on break or whatever, this should obviously still be mentioned, as there's no real way for the reader to infer that. Though, doing it that way is kind of a missed opportunity for some worldbuilding in my opinion. Maybe instead of just killing them on his own, some form of debate or conversation ensues between the protag's colleagues, ultimately ending in the same outcome but allowing for people's thoughts to be expressed in a way to develop the environment of this world.

There are some minor technical issues here and there like where commas should be that aren't and a couple of misspelled words, but that's no big deal. Overall, this is a decent piece that I hope you can expand upon effectively. Sorry it took me so long to get around to reading it.