The first part of a new novel I'm working on.
|“This is the choice you will need to think through very thoroughly for it is the choice that will decide what you do for the rest of your life. Remember, the choices you make in the next two days will decide for us what you shall do for the rest of your life.”
“That man is crazy,” the young brunette exclaimed, pushing open the heavy door to the outside world.
“I would take him seriously, Lynn,” the equally young white-blonde haired girl shouted. The noise of the other students around them as they were released from the prison of school was deafening.
The outside light was bright and the breeze brought the warm whispers of summer with it. The police man on the corner stood at attention as the public school children poured out in bunches. Behind his thick black sunglasses, he surveyed each of the children as the monitor planes blew by over head. The sterile working buildings windows close to the school reflected the bright sunlight.
“Seriously, Michele, do you buy into what that guy said?”
Michele looked over at Lynn and shook her head in defeat, “Haven’t you read any of the handouts the teachers have been giving us for the past two months? If you did, you would know that he was pretty serious. The government has found that on Earth one it was the most effective way to prevent unemployment. Yes, it means you devote your life to one job, but the statistics show that more than 80% of the employed enjoy the jobs chosen for them.”
Lynn tossed her long hair in the breeze and stretched, her school uniform top pulling up to show her muscular stomach. Walking onto the grass of the park, the brunette tossed her heavy side messenger bag under the large elm. Michele shot her friend a disappointed look and swept up the bag and swung it onto her free shoulder.
“Lynn, we have to get home. If your mother finds that we wasted time in the park again she’ll tell my mom and I’ll be forced to do calisthenics before bedtime again.”
Lynn looked over at her and turned a cart wheel in the sun, the knee length skirt slipping over her thighs. Michele shrugged both her bag and Lynn’s bag up higher and started out of the park towards their joint living units. Since the original government wasted all the resources on Earth One back in the year 2113, the new government has been strict with Earth Two. The moving of people from E.O., Earth One, happened twenty years before Michele and Lynn were born in 2133.
Michele was always interested in E.O. since her first Earthian history class back in her sixth year of schooling. After that, Lynn became far more involved in sports and Michele moved into the intelligent aspect of school. Not to imply that Lynn was a moron, she just wasn’t as smart as Michele was.
The man that Lynn thought was a loony was the schools placement officer. After the tenth year of schooling, the students would be distributed to their proper training facilities. There they would be trained for the job that would be the first, last, and only job they would have. As she told Lynn, the government from E.O. had a problem with unemployment for the longest time, starting with the beginning of the second Cold War between Iran and the U.N. brought on by the U.S.
To solve the unemployment problem, the E.O. governments decided that the best way for the unemployment rates all over the country to go down would be to decide for those without jobs. When that proved effective after a series of failed tests, they started moving to younger and younger stages. College in all countries had become quite expensive and those who could have attended couldn’t afford it, so they only added to the employment problem. So after the college kids were taken care of, they moved to highschool students and shut down a majority of the colleges.
Sure, not everyone went to government jobs, there were people who became musicians, artists, sculptures, and even chefs. Not everything was as militant as E.O. had become during the second Cold War. Things only got better after they abandoned E.O. because the planet had become ‘unstable’. Atleast that’s what the history books said, no one seemed to want to elaborate on what happened with E.O.
With E.T. the governments were cautious with resources and started the employment programs immediately. So far everything had gone well, but every planet has its secrets; as does every country and government and within the country, the cities. There will always be secrets. Michele’s father worked for the government as an International Spy. He loved his job, and though he couldn’t reveal any details, he was more than happy to talk about the fun he had at work. His job description alone let Michele know that there was more to the E.T. governments than met the eye.
“Lynn, seriously, get your ass in gear because if I’m late, my mother is going to kill me! If I get in trouble, I’m gonna make sure that you get stuck being a Carrier Pigeon for the rest of your life!” she shouted, running away as fast as she could.
Lynn sat up from where she’d settled on the ground, “You can’t do that. You may be smart, but you aren’t smart enough to get into the governments computer and make me a Carrier Pigeon!”
Lynn stood quickly and gave chase. Though Michele was loaded down with her brains and two bags with a laptop each, as well as various lecture pads and music players, Lynn had a hard time keeping up. They grew closer to the living units for government workers, the guard at the gate opened it. Michele paused for a moment and saluted the uniformed guard and took off before Lynn even made it through the gate.
Her mary janes slapped the pavement heavily, she never was a very strong runner, and her living unit was just around the corner. The warm breeze stirred up again, bring the scent of freshly cooked food from the neighbors with it. With drool pooling under her tongue, she rounded the corner of the well kept streets to her own. She could hear Lynn gaining on her and she pushed herself hard, a laugh slipping through her lips.
Behind her Lynn giggled and as she rounded the corner to see her living unit, she stopped. Standing there, on the same well manicured lawn like everyone else’s was her mother. Next to her was her father. They both stood there as she remembered them, her mother in an ankle length white dress with her thin silver circle outline belt resting low on her wide hips. Her long black hair was loose and its ends curled gently as it brushed her tan skin.
Her father stood next to her, an arm around her bare shoulders, in his suit for work. The black suit set him apart from his mother though they stood together. His skin was a slight shade paler than hers. They had come from E.O. and the depleted ozone layer allowed plenty of sun in to tan any person’s skin. She looked quite different from her parents with her pale, healthy skin.
Stopping at the corner, she had a strange sense of dread as she looked at her parents. Behind her Lynn caught up and jumped onto her back, laughing wildly and clinging to her. When she realized that Michele wasn’t laughing as well, she quieted and slipped off her friends back. She looked at her friends face then to the living unit and stood next to her.
“What’s wrong, Michele? It’s just your parents.”
Michele shook her head and slipped her friends bag off her shoulder, handing it to her, “I have a bad feeling about this. Look at my parent’s face; they don’t look too happy to see me, they look awfully sad to see me right now. I just have a bad feeling.”
Lynn looked at her and shrugged her bag on as her mother came out of her living unit. For some reason, her friends mother looked as sad as her parents did. Slowly a thought crept into Michele’s thoughts. Could it be that she and Lynn had already been given their final jobs? She’d heard that some children with parents who worked for the government were taken for training sooner than later. Children with government parents tended to lose the privacy that normal citizens held so they were under constant supervision.
“Lynn, go home,” Michele managed. Her voice didn’t sound much like her own, it sounded foreign.
Lynn looked over at her and smiled, “It can’t be that bad. I’ll go home and I’ll see you tomorrow at school. Don’t forget to do your trig homework so that I can copy it tomorrow before class. Remember, we only have two more weeks till schools out; including this one.”
Michele waited till Lynn had reached the comfort of her mother’s arms and walked inside their living unit before sucking in a deep breath. Letting out the breath, she took a single step forward and watched her fathers arm twitch. Pausing, but not stopping, her eyes darted around, searching out the other living units. Something wasn’t right. She just had to make it to her parents; a few more steps and a few more deep breaths and she’d be fine.
Stopping in the middle of the street, she looked around again. By this time there were younger children coming home for the elementary that started three hours after the highschool did. Still nothing. Not children, no cars, no one. She heard the click before she heard the shot and she started running. This had to be a test. It had to be a test! Her parents faces didn’t give anything away, but she could tell her house wife mother was straining for control.
Jumping to the left as the shot rang out, the bullet embedded itself in the pavement were she’d been standing. Pausing she looked at the bullet hole for a moment and hurried faster, her laptop slapping her hip heavily. The shot rang out again and landed right behind her, barely missing her due to a burst of energy.
Her mother told her to rely on her instincts and so far everything had proven well. She’d avoided plenty of trouble because of her feelings. Again she dodged left and missed the bullet. She knew that if she kept heading left, they would start shooting ahead of her. She was within finger brushing distance when the final shot rang out. With a leap of faith she jumped for her parents, the bullet just missed her foot.
Latching onto her mother, she saw her father raise his hand. From the top of unit next to theirs a man with a sniper rifle rose from the rafters. It was a test. That was not cool, not freaking cool at all. Breathing, realizing she’d been holding her breath since she started to get shot at, she buried her face in her mothers dress. Her mother’s firm arms wrapped around her, bringing the scent of her jasmine perfume with it.
“I’m sorry to do that to you, Michele,” her mother whispered into her hair, “I’m so sorry. Your father didn’t have a choice.”
Michele continued to take deep breaths and nodded, gulping in the jasmine, “I’m not dead. I’m not dead.”
Michele’s father knelt beside her as the sniper drew closer. She could tell as the person approached they were young, perhaps not much older than herself. As they stopped, a few feet away, her father turned and nodded deeply. He would not be getting off that easy.
Michele rose up off the ground and smoothed down the ruffles of her pleated skirt. Sucking in a breath and puffing her chest out, she walked over to the sniper and looked up at him. Way up at him. He was taller than her father and even against him, she barely reached the bottom of his chest, this guy she barely cleared his belly button.
He wore all black, thick black metal covering his forearms, shins, thighs, and upper arms. A heavy looking leather plate covered his chest. His short black hair was combed back and heavily tinted black sunglasses hid his eyes. Even though she couldn’t see them, she was certain his eyes were on hers.
“I know you were just doing your job, but I hate you,” she said slowly, calculating her words as they came out as well as her next step.
Slowly he crossed his arms over his chest and continued to look down at her. Taking a deep breath, she let it out and moved. She didn’t move out of his way, but her right arm raised and swung towards him. She wasn’t aware of what her arm was doing, but it must have been; the crook of her knuckles caught the side of the man’s face and followed through. She lifted herself onto her tiptoes just to reach high enough.
The man staggered slightly to his left as her parents shrieked behind her, “Michele! NO!”
Their cries came too late. She’d already hit him. I’m not dead. I’m not dead. she kept repeating to herself as her mother grabbed her arms and drug her inside the house. Her father watched them enter and, just before the door closed, she saw him turn to the sniper. As the front door clicked shut, her mother turned, her eyes blazing. Now I’m dead.
Later that night, after spending four hours in her room laboring over her homework, she opened her bedroom window slowly. Her father had forgotten to set the alarm again. Pulling on her heavy black jacket over her school uniform, she slipped out of her room through the window. Unlike everyone else, there was no ivy latter next to her window; she had to shimmy the drain pipe.
Slipping to the ground, the inky black of night hiding her escape, she crept along the side of the house to the front. The streetlamps illuminated little circles of light on the pale sidewalk. She could stay in the shadows and no one would see her. Just in case she glanced at her plasma watch. The digital display read 22:45. Soon the night patrol would come around and then disappear. She would have one hour to get what she needed done.
As she hoped, she only waited five more minutes, crouched next to her mothers Crayberry bushes before the night patrol rolled through her cul-de-sac. As predicted, they breezed through and disappeared in the opposite direction as herself. The Crayberry bush was fragrant this time of year, smelling much like the roses on E.O. was said to have smelled with a little of something else no one could place. To her, the Crayberry bush issued forth the fragrance of Crayberries.
Darting from the side of the house she started to the end of the street she’d come down but a few hours earlier. Looking to her right, all the lights in Lynn’s house were dark, as were all the lights in every house at this hour. She turned to the right in the direction of the gate and approached slowly. The guard may have been out doing his nightly rounds, but the cameras were still on, alerting him to any movement by the gates.
Darting across the street she looked to her watch again. 23:16. The cameras around the guard house would be set to change views at 23:20. She only had a few seconds to get through the gate without being caught. Everything was up to time and proper calculation. Watching the screen of her watch she raised her right hand as the seconds counted down. As soon as it hit 23:20 she rushed out of her spot and dove over the gate rail.
Landing on the ground she rolled up to her feet and turned. As she looked up at the camera, the small red light clicked back on. She was home free. Rising from the crouch she’d been in, she walked away from the front gate back towards the school. The place where Lynn had tossed her bag was the meeting place.
The neighborhood was unusually silent. There were no stray cars heading home after a very late night at work or a fun time at one of the bars. There wasn’t a sound. No music emanating from anywhere. No footsteps; no wind to rustle the tree’s leaves. Nothing, just silence. Considering the odd things that had happened earlier, Michele moved with caution, sticking to the ditch to the side of the road. She was almost there, but needed to stay out of sight.
Suddenly she stopped. She’d heard something. Her gut told her to run for a cover spot where she could see them, but they couldn’t see her. Looking around, moving as little as possible, she caught sight of a small dug out in the ditch she was hiding in. It was deep enough in the wall that no one would notice her if she crawled to the back. She would have a perfect look at them.
Creeping away, she didn’t stop still she’d reached the dug out. Then, as she turned and slipped inside and started towards the back, her face forward, a light flickered on. The soft yellow light swept through the ditch. Daring a peek, she couldn’t see the features, but someone was standing there and they were looking for something. The light moved up and down the ditch and she could make out the form of a gun resting against the shoulder of the searcher.
Holding her breath as the light swept over the hole she hid in, Michele waited. The light clicked off, and as her eyes adjusted, she could see her searcher didn’t move. Her legs were beginning to cramp up and ache when the person finally moved away and back into the darkness. Even though they were gone, she remained still. When her stomach stopped clenching, she moved out. Checking her watch the soft blue light told her it was twenty till the zero hour.
“Shit,” she swore under her breath.
Climbing out of the ditch, her feet sliding as the dirt shifted, and into the clearing she looked around. Under the large tree in the middle of the park she could see someone standing there. Her stomach was tense, the person who was searching the ditch had to still be around. Moving quickly but quietly she started for the tree, pulling her jacket tight. She wanted nothing to give away who she was.
“Michele?” a male voice whispered as she entered the wide shadow of the tree under the two moons.
“Michael?” she whispered back, her breath held.
There was a soft sigh of breath and a figure dropped down from the lowest branch closest to her. The familiar scent of the smoked Black salmon wafted towards her. It was her Mikey. Michael was the first born son of the General of the Army. Seeing him was forbidden by both their parents due to rank issues. So far, that hadn’t stopped them from coming to the tree every two weeks to see each other. They mostly made out till the zero hour then they both had to return home. Strong hands closed over her waist and bunched up her heavy sweater jacket between the fingers. Soft lips on her neck.
“What kept you?”
“Mikey, what are you doing?”
Shivers traveled over her body as his hands moved under her jacket and up over her breasts. His body pressed against hers as he pulled her closer and closed his mouth of hers. His leg moved between hers.
Instead of stopping he pushed her up against the tree, his mouth on her neck again. One hand released her breast and traveled down to reach under her skirt, fingers curled against her thigh. Putting her hands against his chest she tried to pushed him away, but he gripped tighter to her. The hand under her skirt slid under her soft cotton panties as the hand on her breast pulled it free from her bra.
“Michael!” she managed to raise her voice without shouting as his hand moved between her legs.
Mikey released her but didn’t move away from her, “I’m leaving tomorrow.”
Michele took his face between her hands, “What? Leaving for where?”
His lips curled into a pained smirk, “My assessment is finished. I’m leaving to go into the military tomorrow afternoon. Being the first born I get to follow in my fathers footsteps and become General of the Army.”
She frowned and released his face, “So you were planning on taking a little something from me before you left? You know we can’t do this! What happens when I’m up for Mate and they find out I’d been de-virginized way before that time? Can you imagine the consequences?”
Before she finished her sentence her stomach cramped up again. Something very bad was about to happen, she could feel it. She heard the click of the gun, as did Mikey. They both looked around and he backed away from her. Pushing away from the tree, she grabbed hold of the male’s heavy jacket and pulled him back to her as the first shot rang out. It just missed them both.
“RUN, MIKEY!” she shouted, starting towards the ditch.
Michael turned away for a moment then started after her. Looking over her shoulder as she ran, she stretched out a hand to him. Silence engulfed her and she became painfully away of her own breathing and her racing pulse. Something was very wrong, something bad was going to happen. She swallowed and tried to slow her heart. The gun clicked a second time and the shot rang out. True to its mark, the male staggered and a shallow gasp of pain escaped him. Stopping Michele brought him to her chest and fell to her knees, holding him against her. Warm liquids ran down the front of her skirt from the hole in his back.
“Mikey, my Mikey, why did you go this way?”
A smile crept across his face, “I’d defied my father much already. I just wanted you. I don’t care if I’m supposed to stay away from you, I want to be the only one for you. As you are for me.”
He coughed hard, a splattering of blood coming up with it. Her tears welled in the bottom of her lids before sliding soundlessly down her cheeks. Their streaks were a testament of her love for the man she couldn’t have. Their age didn’t matter. She was two years his junior at 16. Their parents stood between them, like Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare must have known what would happen to them. There was a click of a gun again. Sirens were sounding and drew closer.
“Mikey, I lo…” the shot cracked the night a third time.
Michele heard the thud as the bullet bit into her flesh and through her but she felt no pain. She looked down as her vision blurred to see the stream of red spreading down her jacket to drip onto Mikey’s face. His eyes held no life. He was dead and she was to follow him. Her heart ached as the bullet nestled deep within its valves. Her life was over before it even started. Why?
The sirens were close, but it was already too late for them, she knew it. Her breath stopped and her vision gave way to black as bright red lights pierced the night around her.