Smells like Waffles

By Olivia Daly

Alannah Velvet was walking down the street, wearing the latest mandatory GlobalTex Creation. It was horrific. It was sticky, uncomfortable, and sweaty. Very sweaty. Ever since she was ten she had hated the 3D printed clothes they were forced to wear by the dictators that were GlobalTex.  It all changed when her mum brought home black velvet curtains she had stumbled upon in a derelict house one day. The contrast between the slippery velvet and the harsh 3D lines reminded Alannah and her mum what they had been missing since GlobalTex took the government contract and controlled clothing rations. If Alannah closed her eyes, she could still remember the sense of velvet slipping through her fingers, this made her feel excited even now, it made her feel closer to her mother, who had mysteriously stopped coming home. That was ten years ago.

The towering, macabre building loomed in front of her. She walked tentatively up to the door. She stood on the héng, waiting while it took a 3D body scan, before a disembodied voice uttered “Salutations Alannah”. The heavy double doors, which had been recycled from the church where her parents got married, so her mother said, swung open, revealing the Lego-like tunnel lined with previous 3D printed GloabalTex Creations in glass cabinets, they dated all they way back to 2020. The thick rubbery feel of the tunnel air with its unusual scent depressed her as she got in the lift and asked to go down to the 76th floor – the electronic voice dutifully replied and the elevator hummed into action.

The intoxicating smell of waffles got more intense as the lift descended and the doors opened onto floor 76, one of the many melting chambers. The GlobalTex building was underground and it used geothermal energy from the Earth’s core to power the melting machines.  The floor contained huge vats filled with melting GlobalTex Creations; it was the biodegradable PLA used for all of the Creations which gave the whole building, even the town its distinctive smell of waffles. Alannah liked watching the Creations melt, because she thought they were hideous, void of any personal or creative appeal. She mused how GlobalTex had destroyed all the happy memories associated with textiles. Because of them, she couldn’t put her Dad’s vintage army jacket on that smelled like his fancy Cuban cigars, or remember the touch of her mother’s coarse work apron from when she sewed with her, all her memories associated with clothes had been wiped out when GlobalTex had called for all wardrobes to be emptied in the name of recycling. You could not feel serene in 3D printed GlobalTex Creations, and the fabrics were not the same, they didn’t flow with the breeze but made you feel clammy and restricted.

Alannah walked across the cold and sterile floor, to put on her 3D hazmat suit. She walked up to the vat, and went to check the machine that was melting the plastic was at the right consistency.  She sighed. It was going to be another long day.  She got through the day by dreaming about dress designs in her head, and put them in her Figáro Microchip arm-plant that had been implanted when she started working for GlobalTex. Her father had shown her a way to disable a part of the GlobalTex chip transmission so that none of her private messages or her designs were fed back to GlobalTex. It was risky, but Alannah knew when her chip was on the list to be monitored, and anytime that happened, her sister, who worked monitoring the chips, would wipe her violations from it. May, Alannah’s twin sister, was the only family Alannah had left. Alannah is 1 hour younger but you wouldn’t see this as May was more responsible and wiser than Alannah and Alannah always acted the juvenile.

NeVai, the creepy but cute robot that controlled the room temperature, the vats and the recycle chute, woke Alannah from her daydream, “Its time to rock n roll like its 1969 Alannah!” She had reprogrammed NeVai to say this; she loved this kind of music and saw this misused catchphrase of the 1960s rocker on a poster in her grandfather’s old trunk. She hung up her suit, took the lift back to the surface and started the arduous walk home to the Velo Tower.

Nothing had prepared her for the shock of her life when she got home. The security door was smashed, glass littered the floor, and no one was to be seen. The héng security box had been ripped off the wall. Alannah saw that May had been baking before she had been disturbed. The footprints in the flour spilt all over the floor showed May had been dragged across the kitchen and out of the door. Alannah found a pool of blood on the floor behind the work counter. She guessed immediately what must have happened.   Staying calm and collected and without panicking she wiped her arm-plant chip, picked up a week’s worth of food supplies, grabbed her hidden dress designs and sleep bag and walked out the shattered door. GlobalTex would be back and she had to disappear before they arrived. She hesitated, turned back and ran back to rescue the one thing that meant the most to her. She pulled out her Swiss Army knife, prised up a floorboard and pulled out a black velvet cape her mum had made her. It was the only garment that GlobalTex had not yet destroyed.