Please Acknowledge - Judah Burstein

There is never any light in my farmhouse. Any time I want to go get my mop to clean up the spills that these lousy teenagers, if you could really call them that, make, I always trip over something. Sometimes a rake, sometimes a shovel, but whatever it is, it agitates me. Day after day, I clean up the messes of these damn “students,” and for what? To trip over some rusty appliance?

I don’t even know why they make us call them “students.” They aren’t learning anything. All they do is read, maybe write every once in a while, and have sex. If I were the headmaster, I would kick any couple out that I caught in the act. Last week I walked in on two doing it in the kitchen. I was close to grabbing the knife next to me and ending it right there. No one has any decency in this damn institution.

They’re probably learning all of this sex stuff from the adults too. In their classes, they must all sit around and stare at their porn mags and touch each other, students and teachers. All of the piles of porn mags have to be coming from somewhere. I think the teachers have giant piles behind their desks and the students get together and plan elaborate schemes to steal some of the mags. That’s why they are always asking me for black notebooks, so they can map out their next plot.

They think my notebook is some joke. Of course, I have my occasional doodle in the margin, but it’s never of sex or any of this “donation” stuff they’re always talking about. My job doesn't require me to deal with that stuff, so I don't get involved. All I have to do is give them the paperwork when they want to leave this place and go into the real world. I call this process the elevation.  The elevation is an emotional experience for both parties, the clone in question and myself, but I’ve recently been able to remain relatively detached. Yet there was this one elevation a couple of weeks ago that was different.

It happened the day after I gathered a dozen porn mags from the dorms. I was going to fix a busted shower nozzle that kept spraying hot water, spraying for so long that it ended up flooding the whole bathroom. No one could walk into the room because of the steam. There was so much steam everywhere that it actually started to rain from the ceiling. I had to walk up this huge hill to get to the dorm so I didn’t want to go back down to my farmhouse to get my rain gear. This one girl, Rachel B., saw my distress and volunteered to me her gear. Even though it was pink, I agreed to wear it to avoid a damn hike. When she gave it to me I grunted and shook my head even though, in hindsight, I probably should have been more respectful because Rachel B. knew responsibility. My guess is that she broke the nozzle by having rough sex in the shower and she felt bad that I had to clean it up. Most of the other students don’t apologize when I clean up their spills, which was why I liked Rachel B. She understood what was valuable. But she had to be completed like every other student, regardless.

The next day she came up to me, a little nervous, and said with vulnerable direction:

“Hey, hey. Keffers. Can you. Uh. Give me the forms so that. I can make. Elevation?”

I was used to the tone of this request so I did not bother to ask her to repeat herself.  I replied as usual:

“Please follow me.” I took all of the students who wished to make elevation into my boiler room. I had all of the paperwork in a box under the workbench I kept in there. There was a grimy window in that room that provided just enough light so that the students could read and sign the contracts. It was better for the room to be dark so that the students did not have to really see that they were signing away their lives. I began:

“If you are here, it means that you want to make elevation. If you choose to follow through, you will be permanently leaving the Cottages and entering the real world. Please acknowledge that you understand.”

Rachel B. nodded.

“I need verbal confirmation,” I stated.

“Yes,” she replied.

“You will begin in the outside world as a carer. You will remain a carer for as long or as short as we see fit. You will have little say, if any, about the duration of your service as a carer. Please acknowledge that you understand.”


“Do you have any questions so far?”

They never had any questions.

I continued: “After we terminate your service as a carer, you will began the donation process. This process is ruthless and your life expectancy will never be able to be determined. We will never be allowed to stop the donation process and we will never be allowed to speed up the process if you make such a request. Please acknowledge that you understand.”


“Do you have any questions so far?”

No response.

“You will never be allowed to disclose the location of this facility. You will never be allowed to return to this facility. You will never be allowed to discuss the nature of this facility with anyone, including other carers whom you might meet. The same rules apply for the facility in which you were raised. Please acknowledge that you understand.”


“Once you have completed we will cremate your remains and deposit them in a nuclear waste facility. You will re—“

“The ocean. What about the ocean?”

No one had interrupted me before.

“I’m sorry?” I asked.

“Ca-can you spread them out over the o-ocean? My ashes. I have always wanted to see the ocean. I read about it in Geography class and it seemed a-amazing.”

“The administration used to do that but they got complaints that remains were tainting the ocean. Some people even stopped going to beaches because of it.”

There was a pause. I turned back to my script but I could not form the words that were on the page. It puzzled me that they taught these creatures about the pleasures of life. This world is not theirs. They were created to give. They were created to die. Rachel B. was the nicest student that I ever encountered, but, even so, she did not deserve a different fate. Nothing that God did not create deserved to be eternalized in something that God did create.

“Please allow me to continue. You will receive no sort of memorial. Please acknowledge that you understand.”

She gave her final “yes,” and we both went on to sign our respective contracts, just like we were supposed to.