1. to regard or treat as of little value or account.
  2. to vilify; depreciate.

Three bells had sounded before noon. There were murmurs of news.

The machines were ground to a halt. That never happened, not even for Christmas or Founders’ day.

There was an important notice. Everyone was ordered to file into the great hall. They had to forego their 15-minute lunch.

As usual, a recording of the universal anthem was played while everyone saluted the flag before business was discussed.

Captain Trevor, the assistant manager stalked back and forth like a caged animal.

“Let me first say that everyone must meet their quota today before leaving work,” Trevor said.

Slight murmurs of confusion arose. Quota completion was a normal daily demand. Three bells were never used for something routine.

“There is reason to believe that this morning at O 800, Team Delta were successful in their endeavors,” Trevor said, rubbing his left eye.

Tension filled the room. He couldn’t be saying what it sounded like he was announcing. His face was devoid of emotion. It felt like a cruel joke.

“After a 38-year search… Team Delta believes it may have found a source of fresh water in Sector 7.”

Audible gasps could be heard throughout the hall. The news seemed impossible.

The government had searched for almost 40 years for water! No source had ever been found. Just hours ago, the morning announcements had been the usual, with the announcers vilipend of the Southeast region, including Sector 7.

Trevor held up his hand, quieting everyone.

“Samples have been taken and tests still need to be run. There is no word as to the size of the source, but the area is being sectioned off and guarded as we speak,” he said. “But everyone who resides in Sector 7 must get their belongings and leave work in order to be relocated today, before sundown.”

Gasps arose again.

“You will receive your new housing assignments on a first-come, first-served basis, once you arrive at your former place of residence.”

A ripple of panic shot through the crowd.  The long-awaited discovery of water was the best news they’d had in decades, but it had cost them their homes.

“And remember, you must meet quota before leaving work today,” Trevor said again. “Everyone dismissed.”

People looked around at each other. Some were crying. Others looked stunned.

But Larita Swoen kept her eyes on Captain Trevor. She couldn’t shake the feeling that something was not right and that he was lying.



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