"The sun is setting, Sal. It's time."
|Author's Note: All my stories will change after this series.A lot.|
The sound of the porch stairs woke Sal up.
She rolled over on the mattress, startled by the sudden noise.
There it was again.
Sal got up and trudged over to the window, which was darkened by the years of dirt and grime clouding over it. And neglect.
There was a man wearing all-black sitting on the chair that was left outside.
Sal turned away from the window and walked over to the trunk next to the mattress. She knelt down and opened it, feeling around inside in the darkness of the old house.
She pulled out a grey t-shirt and camouflage cargoes. Sal changed hastily and opened the door that led to the outside world.
"Why haven't you been answering our calls?"
Sal turned around to face the man. It was hard to see him in the fading light, but she could faintly recognize him.
"What are you doing here?" Sal croaked. The man laughed, which sent a shiver down her spine. "Never answer a question with a question. Now answer me."
Sal sat down on a porch step, staring at other houses in the ancient neighborhood. No one was outside. Most people were sleeping, so their conversation most likely would not be overheard.
"It's a risk. They may be listening."
The man shook his head, a faraway look in his eyes, as if he wasn't really there.
"You could've spoken in code."
"What if they recognized it?"
"They couldn't. It's impossible."
Seconds, then minutes passed in utter silence. The man stood up from his seat and knocked on the old wood of the house.
"The sun has set, Sal. It's time."
His big green eyes stared at Sal through the iron gates.
"Is it true? Did you really do what they said you did?"
A plump tear escaped from Sal's eyes and landing on her hands. She flung her hands away from her, trying not look at the boy who had captured her heart.
"I don't want to hurt you, Res. I never did."
"But why would you do it? I loved her! How could you?" Res' sobs filled the entire room with a tension not even the strongest man could break.
"Your mother was not who she said she said she was. You have to believe me."
"That's the point I'm trying to make! My MOTHER!!!"
"Forgive me, Res. Forgive me, please."
Res stared at her for a long time. His sobs died away, but the tension was still alive, at full charge.
After an hour, the guards removed her from the cage and Sal was thrown onto the rich earth beneath her.
"Get out. Stay out."
The car drove along, sounding like it would break any minute.
"How's your business?" Sal asked the man sitting beside her.
He shifted his green eyes to look at her for a little, then they went back to the road.
The conversation ended there.
Sal turned her head to the open window so the night air was completely thrust at her face. Sal squinted but didn't turn.
The car pulled up in front of a huge house, lit up with electricity. That we don't have, Sal thought.
She got out of the car and followed the man into the house, where she was led to an elevator. The man pressed a button and they were heading deep underground. Very deep.
Each of Res' pants as they ran gave a sharp pain to Sal's chest, as if he had a knife and was carving it. She knew what was going to happen.
She didn't stop it.
They stopped at the back of his huge house, panting, their clothes soaked with sweat.
He gave her a smile and wiped his brow. Sal furrowed hers and leaned against the brick wall.
"I'm gonna go get a drink," she said. "I'll come with you," Res replied. Sal shook her head. "I'll get you one." Res shrugged his shoulders, then nodded.
Sal slipped into the house. Instead of heading into the kitchen, she made her way into his mom's office. The president's office.
President Trainer was sitting at her desk, writing things into a notebook. She looked up when she heard Sal enter.
"Sal! How great to see you. Where's Res?"
"I came to get hi, a drink."
"Oh. Well, the kitchen's downstairs."
"That's not what I meant."
President Trainer looked confused, but then her mouth made a small 'o' when she realized what Sal was talking about. She hit a button on her desk, but she was too late. Sal had already plunged herself at her, making the president loose her balance on the chair.
They wrestled for a while, each person trying to get the dominant position. Finally, Sal flipped President Trainer over and pushed her back into the big glass window.
You could hear her screams as she fell to her death.
Sal and the man stepped off the elevator and into the bedroom of none other than President Resonant Trainer. Res.
Res was sitting at his desk, his hands folded in front of him. He eyed Sal as she walked towards him with the man.
Res sighed and put his hands over his eyes. "You can leave now, Igor." The man bowed and left the room.
Res pointed to the seat in front of him.
Sal stared at the seat, then to him, then to the seat, then to him....
then she ran back into the elevator, pressing the button to the garage. She was not ready to face him, not just yet.
Sal woke up with a start as soon as she realized she was dreaming.
She looked around her old house, making sure everything was in place.
Then she laughed.
And laughed some more.
There was no way she was ever going to see Res, cough, President Resonant Trainer again. No way at all.
She got up from the mattress and walked over to the kitchen, where she grabbed a glass of goat milk and walked outside to the porch and sat down.
Sal sipped her milk while enjoying the morning sunshine. Kids were outside playing, adults were heading out to work, and the older young ones were heading off to school. It was a normal, but still perfect, day.
Sal went back inside and changed into the clothes she was required to wear everyday. Grey shirt. Camouflage cargoes. The clothes branded her, and she could never change. Criminal. Killer. Stay away.
Salonika Crater had been a criminal ever since she killed the former president at 18. Instead of living with the rest of society, she lived in a secluded area that was separate from the rest of the world. It was almost it's own city.
Every criminal lived in what people called 'Rag Town.' They were poor and desolate, and lived with their children- if they could find a mate willing to live with them and never leave until they separated. The children stayed until they were 18, then they were allowed to leave.
Sal was stuck there forever.
Sometimes she regretted what she did, but other times she didn't. It was her right. Her duty. Sal wasn't bad. She was actually perfect before she got involved with 'The Rebels' at school, and she became the face of the new rebellion. Which eventually led her to killing her former best friend and new president's mother.
Sal finished her milk and set it on the porch. No one would take it. They had no need to.
There in Rag Town each house was supplied with things the previous family had left. You got what the previous criminal got. You weren't allowed to bring anything from your past life. In fact, you were to forget your past life. It didn't matter, anyway. You would never go back to it.
What was the point of stealing when you were already a criminal?
Sal got up and walked across the road orphanage. It housed all the kids who were not yet 18 that lost their parents. The children had no choice, anyway.
Sal walked in and waved hello to the all the kids. Some were getting ready for school, and others were playing or still sleeping. It seemed that everyday a few more children would appear. Space was running out.
"Where's Montana?" Sal asked a kid pulling on some worn out socks. The children were different, unless they were criminals themselves. They wore the same clothes, except it came in all different styles for their needs.
The kid pointed to a girl tying grey ribbons in her silky blond hair.
Montana was 9 years old. Her father had stolen a car from a dealership. Her mother was 17 and living in Rag Town when her father arrived. They got married, and not too soon after that, had Montana.
Unfortunately, when the Rebellion came, they went out to fight.
They never came back.
Sal had adopted Montana by spirit. She felt so sorry for her that she named her, cared for her, and cried when she cried- she was the mother Montana never had.
"Monty!" Sal called out. Montana looked op and her face broke out in a smile when she saw who was calling for her. "Sal!" She ran up to her, grabbing her camouflage bag on the way.
"Ready for school?" Sal asked. Montana nodded and waved to a girl who was eating moldy bread. Times were hard for the orphanage, and they couldn't afford food for their growing numbers. They usually accepted donations from people.
They climbed down the stairs and started walking to the bus stop on the corner.
"Their doing a unit on the rebellion at school."
Sal quickly turned to Montana, who had a sad look on her face.
"Who are you, Sal? Are you my real parent? What is this place?"
They reached the bus stop and Montana turned to face Sal.
Sal hugged Montana as tight as she could. She didn't want to let go.
"Why the sun stops shining,
When the darkness is rising,
I'm always there for you..."
The familiar song made Montana calm down. She forgot her earlier questions as Sal rocked her side to side.
The rumble of the old bus made them pull apart.
"I'll see you after school. Stop by at the house and we can go to the puppet theater."
Montana smiled again. "Great! I'll see you, then!"
She was about to climb on the bus when Sal remembered.
She reached into the pocket of her cargo pants and took out a cookie, lightly frosted with pink icing and yellow sprinkles in the shape of a happy-face. A delicacy in Rag Town that Sal had received from an outside visitor.
Montana's smile grew even wider. She took the cookie and pecked Sal's cheek, then climbed onto the bus.
Sal didn't stop waving until the bus was just a tiny speck in the trees.
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