Lyra opened her eyes and looked around. Sun burst through the chinks in the metal blinds flooding the cell with light. She was alone. With a deep breath, she forced herself to swallow the nagging doubt that had dominated her dreams. Lyra was ready; it was time.
Every morning at sunrise, citizens over the age of sixteen came to take a sip of The Cure. Today, 4th of Purity, was Lyra’s sixteenth birthday, and her first time. Lyra could not wait. She stepped on to the teleportation panel to begin her journey from the confines of her cell to join her people outside.
It was bright: almost blinding. The street was deserted. It felt like it hadn’t been inhabited for years. Lyra turned the corner into a narrow side street, her fingers brushing against the rough concrete walls. Silence. Her heart pounding, Lyra advanced towards the Temple of Healing, the oldest building in The City, as its looming shadow dwarfed her silhouette.
The Cure. Many thousands of years ago the Great Scientists of The City made a breakthrough in medical technology resulting in the creation of a substance to heal all of humankind: The Cure.
Inside the Temple, her shoes squeaked on the polished marble flooring, but Lyra could only hear her thumping heart as she picked up speed. For so long she had dreamed of this. The collective echoes of the people’s choir bounced off the smooth white walls. She was nearly there.
The hall was long and well lit. People stood in rows wearing everyday garments. Some had made an effort – Lyra noticed a young boy had a white rose tucked into the breast pocket of his shirt. Most women wore their white jumpsuits with their hair up in a tight bun. Lyra spotted her parents standing side by side. Their hands hovered but didn’t touch.
The strong scent of sour lemons wafted through the air and up Lyra’s nostrils. Shakily, she lifted a hand to her hair and smoothed it down. The Song of Healing hummed so exquisitely by the citizens, and the peaceful, tranquil atmosphere would, on any normal day, have been enough to make Lyra drift off to sleep. But today was no normal day. Today Lyra, purified and rid of the diseases and dangers of youth, would join her people in communal prayer.
One by one, every man and woman stepped up to the podium, and drank from the crystal goblet of The Cure. Lyra watched as they returned: their eyes glassy, their expressions calm and serene.
Lyra let the music surround her, until only the butterflies inside her stomach flapped their petite little wings. Not long now until she would finally belong. Right now, she needed to focus. ‘Spirituality is the key to purity’. That was the message that all citizens were taught from birth.
After what felt like an eternity, it was Lyra’s turn to be cured. Slowly, cautiously, she progressed down the path. She felt the citizens’ eyes on her back as she carefully stepped onto the podium. The goblet was in front of her: twinkling in the light. Taking a deep breath, Lyra lifted her lips to the goblet. A warm, fuzzy feeling trickled down her throat as she gulped hard… then everything was calm. “I am pure,” Lyra whispered. She would never be alone again...