Muse Moment

Muse Moment: A Subterranean Setting, Perhaps?

Muse Moment

I have to admit, I’ve been editing more than writing these few months. However, I did manage to squeeze out a bit of time to write a short. Unfortunately, we (the editor and myself) made the discovery that this could be the start of a novel, rather than a short.

So while I’m keeping most of this for my eventual short, there are going to be some changes towards the end. Therefore, I hope you’ll enjoy this little thing I conjured up.


The Volunteers
Joelyn Alexandra

My real name is X25, and I’m leaving SubTerra Singapore.

Stripped bare of its natural resources, everything on the surface Earth became toxic to touch, breathe, or consume. World leaders have let the waters rise in the last bid to save the planet. And retreated a fraction of the world’s population underground, hoping for the day until Earth repairs itself, while the people lived in momentary darkness.

Our visionaries knew of this, and Singapore become the Central Core, thanks to its extensive working subterranean network thanks to the Mass Rapid Transit back in the day. Regardless, it remained a fact that while the network and self-sufficiency prevailed, equality did not, and crime soon came to be rampant. However, facing a declining population, criminals soon had the option of invoking Arena, where you literally fought for your freedom.

Battle in the Arena is often fierce, and some may argue, a sadistic form of entertainment in a world where electricity and wireless internet had to be rationed.

If a criminal lost, his or her strengths will be absorbed by the Arena Volunteers, people who have volunteered to fight. The absorbed body is then thrown to feed the recovering planet.

If a criminal won, he or she had a choice to either become an Arena Volunteer or go free with a black mark.

If an Arena Volunteer lost, he or she just regenerates.

Yes, regenerated.

Arena Volunteers are cloned upon death, though their souls are not said to follow. Every day, at least 3-4 Volunteers go through regeneration, forgetting the last however many lives before them. Yet, people still line up for this job.

They escape unemployment – the Arena Committee took care of them and their family, regardless of the number of families amassed through their different lives. Contracts bound Volunteers for a specific number of lives, with a huge payout at the end.

They escaped intense labour – despite the high death rates in the Arena, the responsibility of most Volunteers was to train, consume, and not die.

They obtained honour – offspring of Arena Volunteers are not bound to the Arena, but had a better path paved for them. Status got you far. At the same time, some criminals volunteered after a victory either out of guilt or gratitude.

You can say the community is tight-knit. And it is. At least, until the people start only remembering our clones and clones’s clones. But not me.

My name is X25, and I remember all three of my lives.


I hope you’ve enjoyed this little teaser, and you can take a look at the rest of my other Muse Moment works here.

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