Diana is the only civilization left on Earth. Thank you ~Wistful Rune~ for the ribbon!
|“Sorry, sorry,” muttered Skylie as she hurried down the corridors of Diana, her home and city. |
Other commuters moved impatiently out of her way, not wanting to collide with the skinny fifteen year old. Skylie pushed her dark hair out of her face, cut around her ears in Diana schoolgirl fashion. She was late for school and her teacher, Ms. Reynolds, would be sure to chastise her. A bell sounded somewhere, and everyone stopped—the people walking, the janitors roving with little carts, the peacekeepers in their policy vehicles. Only the faint music, which often was masked by Diana’s busy chatter, did not cease. It was a strange sort of tune of instruments Skylie could not recognize. They had metal flutes, and metal drums, but this music was played by a more fluid spirit, not metallic at all. The speakers, attached to the lights along Diana’s corridors, were never turned off, never stopped to play that music, even during the minute of peace.
Skylie disliked the minute of peace that all Diana citizens took part in. If it wasn’t for it, she might be in time for school more often. Skylie looked furtively around. A stout man holding a beaten briefcase was staring at the floor. A tall lady with artificial blonde hair was scratching her nose. Skylie took one step, then two, closer to the school building. If she could just round this corner—
A whistle blew, and Skylie froze. A peacekeeper, a short woman with cropped hair and a mean, scrunched up look in her eyes was twirling her whistle around stubby fingers. “Please rise for the Pledge of Allegiance,” said the familiar fruity voice over the speakers. “I pledge allegiance to the Monument of the Reminder of Civilization. And to the government, for which it stands, one peoples, under God, necessitated, to do the good at the city’s supplication.”
Skylie did not really know what this pledge meant, but she said it anyways, mumbling, with her hand to her heart as the peacekeeper scrutinized her suspiciously. The fruity voice came back on with the announcements, and Skylie desperately hoped they would never end. The peacekeeper was tapping impatiently on her leg, and Skylie had the feeling that the peacekeeper felt the same way about the pledge and minute of peace that Skylie did.
“Name, neighborhood, age, number,” the peacekeeper said as soon as the announcements died down.
“Skylie Sanders, Neighborhood 2R, 15, 76459-91290,” said Skylie monotonously. She snuck a look at the peacekeeper’s badge. Lauren Stiles, age 38, neighborhood 3P, number 59874-53791.
“You do know that it is in the constitution of Diana—the constitution, mind you—every citizen has the right to the moment of peace.”
Skylie nodded in what she hoped was a humble and remorseful manner.
“You have been very disrespectful, Miss Sanders, and I’m writing you up for insubordination to the commandments of Diana. You have taken away my minute of peace, you have disrupted the normal and law abiding lives of the citizens around you, you have shown your blatant insolent soul in your actions, but most of all, you have broken a law that has been kept for centuries.”
“Citizens also have the right to not use the moment of peace,” said Skylie suddenly, and she clapped her hand over her mouth. The words just slipped out.
Lauren Stile’s face turned bright red. Her cheeks inflated, and the veins in her neck stood out. Her short frame stretched to its max and the glowing, ugly face moved only millimeters away from Skylie’s own.
“You, little girl, are not a citizen of Diana until the age of sixteen. You have no rights. You should not even be speaking.” Lauren Stile began to scribble furiously on a sheet of paper. “I will be filing a subordination mark, and recommend you to be marked as a blatant disrespecter of the law.”
Disrespecter isn’t a word, thought Skylie, but didn’t dare say anything out loud.
Cole Brent sat at the back of the classroom. The moment of peace and pledge had just ended, and Ms. Reynolds was talking to them about a vocabulary quiz or something or another. Ms. Reynolds was young, with honey-colored hair and intelligent green eyes. Cole liked her a lot, as most students did.
There was a musical knock at the door. DUT-duh-duh-DUH-duh-duh. Cole imagined the knocks against the backdrop of chimes as Ms. Reynolds strode over and opened it. A panting Skylie Sanders slid over and took a seat.
“Skylie, you’re late again,” called Ms. Reynolds.
“I’m sorry, Ms. Reynolds,” said Skylie meekly.
Ms. Reynolds looked her over for a moment, then said, “Skylie, we need to talk during break. Okay, please open your math books to page 212, section three—simplifying complex polynomials. Now, Cordelia, if you could start reading at the top of the page…”
Cordelia stood up and began reading in her normal prissy voice. Cordelia lived in level four like he did. Their city was divided into five levels. No one lived on the first. The second level neighborhoods were small apartments, very run down. The third level was a bit better kept. Fourth had all the important officials in the government and other eminent people. Cordelia Jones’s father worked in the energy department, with his own father. His class was full of fourth levels, in fact. The kids were divided up into three tiers—gifted, standard, and deficient. This was the gifted tier, of only ten students, and few second level kids ever made it in.
“Thank you Cordelia, now Skylie…” Skylie stood up and began to read it a clear, confident voice.
Cordelia scribbled something on her palm note taker and passed it to her best friend, Angelina Patterson. Both giggled and looked pointedly at Skylie. Cole knew what they thought of girls like Skylie, whose uniform never fit right, who didn’t wear matching accessories, who didn’t have all the gadgets. He had heard his father speak of the second levels often, too, in that same condescending voice.
“Can’t believe they overflow your school with all that riffraff. Bad influence,” he would boom.
Secretly, Cole didn’t think so. He admired Skylie, in a funny sort of way, of her forced haughtiness, of her ability to hold her head high past the sniggers of Cordelia and Angelina, of her competitive spirit, her place at the top of the class. Or perhaps he sympathized with her because he was an abnormality himself. He never seemed to reach his father’s expectations, never seemed to fit into the mold of his level four classmates. He liked spending time alone, so he considered himself lucky to have his own room—even in the fourth level, some kids had to share rooms. Diana was crowded, but it was the only existing civilization in the entire universe. The Planet that the moon encircled could not have supported life—its nuclear radiation was too great for any living being, except on the remotest parts of the two poles. Cole liked learning about The Planet, as well as the other ones, so far away. Diana citizens were great explorers—they had landed on asteroids and created bases on planets, to mine for resources very scarce on the moon. Cole wanted to study The Planet when he grew up, which, although over a year away, seemed very far off to him right now. At the end of tenth class, students applied for the jobs they were interested in, and hoped they would be accepted into the programs they were looking for.
Cole looked around his classroom to find everyone staring expectantly at him.
“We’re taking out our laptops now,” Cordelia said in a superior whisper. Cole took his out of his desk without looking at her.
“Skylie, you really need to get to school on time,” said Ms. Reynolds exasperatedly.
Skylie did a nondescript shoulder shrug. “The nursery opened late today and I couldn’t just leave my sister by herself.”
Ms. Reynold’s eyes softened around the corners. They were covered in sparkly green makeup that matched the bangles and beads on her neck. “Well, try to make more of an effort, Skylie. You’re a very bright girl, with lots of potential. You could go very far in life.”
Skylie nodded. She had never figured what that really meant. Lots of potential. Go far in life. But she smiled all the same.
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