It had been a strange few hours for the parents. It had started out like any day. Work, grocery shopping, kids playing, homework, dinner... It had been a strange evening for the parents yesterday. A letter would have arrived at their doorstep. Quiet literally. Just when the sun was hitting the horizon to sink down and set the world to sleep, a letter had been dropped on the door mat. It was sealed and clearly instructed that only the addressed person or people could open it, looking very strict and formal. The envelope wasn't white, it looked like some fancy parchment, it looked like old paper that had started to turn yellow. But it felt new in the hands of the parents.
The woman knew that everything would change for these people, but she didn't care. She wasn't interested in them. If it wasn't for their children, she wouldn't have cared to spent a single thought on one of them. And if it wasn't for the sake of easier access to the children and their abilities, she would have rather had them all out of the way. Forever.
But the parents would be here, right in front of her, and she would smile at them. They would be confused and scared, she had seen it before. They would have questions. The system worked. The letter worked. Every time. It was signed by the president, by the head of the military and the head of SYCEP. Adults trust people in uniform.
The letter... Sharp and short.'Dear [insert name here] and [insert name here],
This is about your child, [insert name here] [insert birth date and birth hospital here]. The president and government expects your presence on the [date] at [time], at [insert meeting place here]. Please bring your child. You are freed from work and all your adult responsibilities for that day.
With kind regards
[insert handwritten signatures here]
[insert telephone number here]
Of course that wasn't how the letter was phrased. There was some bureaucracy, gentle talk. But she didn't care for that. Important was that the letter was so clearly signed by the president, the head of the military and the head of SYCEP, that the telephone number was there and that the parents would call. And they all would. They would call and they would be reassured by a strict-enough, friendly-enough voice on the phone that the letter was no joke and the meeting was in no way to be dated to another time. And the time was always the next day. They didn't leave the parents much time to think about it or to come up with more conspiracy theories than they could in one night.
And they all showed up. Almost always.
She moved her hands down her black costume and arranged her hair that was pulled into a tight bun perfectly. Despite the fact that her clothes and hair sat perfectly, she didn't look strict. It was her face. That delicate, young face that just brought a feeling of truth and trust to any situation. And those warm blue eyes. The woman's lips were glistering in a soft pink, not much make-up was sitting on her face. She had to look natural but competent, trustworthy but smart, friendly but confident. And she played her role like no one else.
"Welcome!", she chirped through the room once she had stepped in, her heels clicking on the floor. She stood in the front of the room and looked at the parents, taking time to give any and each of them a smile, including the children whether or not they looked at her. "Thank you for coming. We are aware of the difficulties it caused for you to come here in such short notice. I am Erica Summers. And I am sure you're already very bored of my talking, so let's get to the things that really interest you." She gave them a chuckled and looked at her shoes for a second only, just a hint of nervousness.
"Special Youth Care and Education Program. That's what SYCEP stands for. We are an institute that was founded five years ago, with the help of the government and the president in person." She didn't mention the military. "The institute is nothing different than a school, or a nursery, a place for children and parents to connect and exchange their experiences." She paused to let that sink in and of course it only caused the parents to be more confused - some would show it openly and some would hide it. Why would a school be funded by the president? Why would a school be so strict about whether or not you came to their info meeting? Why would a school drop an envelope in front of the door, personally signed by the president?
"This institute, as many of you have surely found out already, does not appear on the world wide web. SYCEP - as the name strongly indicates - is for children who are special
. And all of the wonderful children gathered in this room certainly are very much special. Of course, any child is special in it's own way, any child is a bright light for our future and our country. There is no denying that. But your children have qualified for SYCEP. Don't be alarmed, all is well. Your children are being invited into our lovely facility. We offer the best education that you can receive these days - and we're offering it for free. We believe that education is something that everyone should have access to and that anyone should be able to afford. Money should never dictate how much knowledge we receive, am I right?" She smiled at the group charmingly and looked down for a second once more. "SYCEP offers individual education as well as classes together with other children. We offer parenting exchange and support groups, full and free health care for children as well as their parents, diversified free time activities - including a playground on our facility, swimming classes, educational and exciting trips for all children regularly and other free time experiences -, of course healthy and balanced nutrition and much more." Yet another pause. Let the information sink in first.
"SYCEP is a facility that only offers it's education to a selected amount of children. We will soon board a train that will bring you to the facility so you can create an own opinion on our program and our building and won't have to take my word for it." She chuckled softly. Then her face turned more serious. "Arriving at our facility, we also will have a discussion about the reasons your children have been elected to be allowed into this special program. You will be receiving the opportunity to get answers to your questions and be able to have a close look into our building, the surroundings, the education programs, the parenting group programs, the different free time activities and relaxation offers we can provide and much more!" She finished off with an exciting, kind, huge smile. It seemed innocent and truthful.
And before they know, they are sitting in a train with fancy seats that look more like couches than train seats really, and they're moving towards the facility. The woman is not with them no longer. She is somewhere else on the train, looking at screens, one leg above the other as her foot bobs up and down and her face is hard now, calculating and concentrating.