The Archive (hoping for feedback)

The Archive
fiction short by Gabrielle B-G
Rated PG

There was once a little girl who had awesome powers. Her destiny was to be an outcast of the Technocratic New Foundations, and so she lives in hiding. In this new system, we’ve been made slaves to their murderous industry. These machines have carried out feats no human could nor would want to and have brought false peace to the world. We thrive behind the machinery; we are no longer casualties, but we are their accessories. The scientists who create our machines lead our industries.

The Great Foundation was the ambition of a powerful ideologue, Herbert Herald’s dream of the future. He wanted to rewrite history and re-shape the minds of everybody. The crazed religious suicides, anarchist violent anger, and overall dissent spark a cataclysmic dividend. The Great Foundation was supposed to be so many things. Instead of a golden age, the great awakening turned into endless tyranny and eventually silence.

In not too long, the God-chosen would wage war on the vulnerable. Believing it was their time to reign with their belief systems, they would deal an unforgotten blow to this dissent in the name of fighting terror, and pave their golden paradise with the death of the millions of resistors.Those chosen few went unscathed, and yet all would soon turn and beg for their salvation as this mass epidemic covered the planet and turned us toward extinction. And so the earth was remade. When the survivors couldn’t take it anymore, they begged on their knees to the Royal Elect to be saved. Then taken in to the remaining hospitals to be brainwashed, conditioned, and “cured.”

“The only price for truth is our happiness, and to get happiness we pay for perfection,” said the leader of a League of Dreamers. I could go on for decades about how we became so corrupt, but I must continue my story.
It was nearly four years after my brother was kidnapped from Meridia, that we learned of the threat.

The kidnappers were coming to “save us” and we needed to flee as far as we could in hopes of getting away from what the citizens seemed to want: a perfect life. All the roads that make up the highways are intended for “upper class travel” only. Much too expensive for us outcasts to afford. They are for the factory owners and military police. The rest of us? Well, if you’re bound through RFID INK, you are allowed to participate in some of society. Though, you cannot travel without a Lead who has Clearance.

Even worse, if you are not legally bound through RFID INK. you cannot get a job, and are not allowed anywhere in society because you are an outlaw. This is how the new system works and if you are not wanted in the system or unable to enforce it, you are an outcast. It is out of their mercy that they won’t kill us. Of course, we don’t want to be citizens anyways. That’s why my mother moved to Meridia. Outcasts here had joined together and formed a free society away from The Great Foundation’s. Instead of using money, we use the old method of trading one resource for another.

And so began our journey to the very place we feared and hated. My mother bought us tickets to board a large boat which would carry us across the water to AMERA. We were very scared that once we got to AMERA, they would send us back home. We were leaving, alone. Two young girls, outcasts, with no idea of where we were going.
There was always a hope that the “One” was still striving within me.
How could these horrible men be coming again? This time in search of not just little boys, but young girls to fight their wars.

“They’re stealing our little girls!” I had overheard my mother exclaiming over Tap-Voice. And then she read me the article in the Logi-zine.
“Men and women are once again equal in the eyes of the military.”

This was the big headline all over the news. It had been a law for years that because it was only a woman who could have children, women had to take up their responsibilities and leave the worker life to take care of children.
After the boys were well taught, “the disciplined youth” would be sent off to work and their mothers would spend the rest of their lives finding a suitable home for their sons to come home to. The wife would then take care of the kids and so on and so on. The problem was that most men in those days were finding it too inconvenient to settle down, they were always on call or traveling. So now since fewer women were having children, fewer soldiers were out on the battlefields protecting profit and defending the future. That was when a genius thought up a solution to this little glitch.
“It is brilliance, pure brilliance, if I do say so myself!” said The Great Foundation’s Step Lord Roth, “Now, I’m going to give you all a great Bible Lesson, though some of you have heard it many times before. In the beginning, God created two separate bodies to live together in the Garden of Eden.”
“They were called Adam and Eve and they lived in ultimate perfection and, it was through the great fruit of knowledge that we learned to think for ourselves. Some have said that God told us not to eat the fruit as a test. Well it was! It was a test of human strength! The strength to know the importance of sacrifice for happiness. The fruit was our creation, and the fruit was also our initiation,”

“Remember that all our greatest wars were fought because we knew that our right to freedom outweighed everything else. We knew that if we could win against Satan, as we all know it is the enemy of progress, that we would have our Garden of Eden. Well, my friends, where does all my talk fit in? Well, today marks our first step towards getting back to the Garden of Eden. It has been a very long time that men have forgotten to share the fruit of our knowledge with the female kind.”

“We declare that from this day onward, all females will have all the rights of men! Every single law shall be amended for young females and boys. No longer will a man be forced to leave his loved ones for battle or leave his children forever. Together we will march, side by side, man and female; fathers and sons will be armed with love for the females will join in our great victory. When the evil enemy has died, our bonds will not be broken. United we are one. We are one! Now I invite our female sisters to come taste of the fruit and rejoice in salvation.”

“Where’s Molly?”

Molly was clinging to the sink. She forced her hand onto the button. Then the sink splashed her face with a cool liquid. Slowly, she removed the suit. Quickly drying her hands and face, she stole a glance at the reflected image. Nineteen year old Molly stared back at her; hair cropped short and black, that awful washed out skin, and the hazel eyes of her father. “I never break down.” She said to the image. “I never lose my cool like this,” Molly said to herself.

“Where’s Molly?” The voice screamed and a bolt of electric pain shot into the back of her head. “I think she must be in the restroom washing up.” “Well, why doesn’t she just come down here? They’re waiting for her. We need Molly to be ready…”
“She will be,” Aaron said through the swirling hum of the air conditioner. It usually went this way, just before a big presentation, this wave of anxiety left Molly with heightened awareness of her surroundings. She brushed it off as natural intuition, but would not reveal it to anyone. Not after what happened. Just then, another searing bolt of pain shot through her spine. She fell to her knees, naked and scared as the memories began to return her to Meridia.

“Molly…” her mother soon whispered through the window. It was a cage. “Molly. Mommy wants you to grow up big and strong. Don’t let them tell you what you are.” Molly watched as her mother sat down on the padded floor, beneath the towering windows. Her mother stared up into them as if she might never see them again, and then she looked to the floor. Molly’s mom folded her arms to her chest and sobbed. Looking in through those glass windows, Molly wondered if this was what it meant to feel cared for. This was not what she had asked for. Nothing was how it had been planned. Then Molly’s mother started laughing hysterically. The nurse guided eight year old Molly away to her new room in The Treatment Place.

Her small hands reached up and pointed at a moth that was fluttering as if an intrepid traveler beyond time. Victoria lifted the book up with one hand, and scolded Molly, then again attempted to teach her about the core of a solar star. “It’s time to listen,” Victoria said to little Molly. “It’s time for you to be quiet and learn from your teacher.” The tiles stretched out before them across the Pavilion. Large bulb-shaped lamps shined brightly against a dark black night.

Victoria was in love, at twenty-five, with a man named Chester. He’d been working at The Treatment Center for three years now. They both favored the little orphan girl. Molly loved to stare at the lamps to contemplate the light which beamed outward; she felt like it carried some secret. When she stared at the light, she had visions. They were images of people who were doing things in the past, present, and future time.

Molly’s father had flown away on a plane one day, he was recruited to the war. She had never seen him, and her mother? Her mother was kept locked up inside The Meridian Center; and when a normal child would be socializing and having fun, Molly was with the only family she knew. Her mother could not care for her. Molly grew up inside this institution because she had nowhere else to go. She was cared for by the people inside. The people there understood that she was too little to understand her place in the world. They knew she should be given a chance.

The master architects have designed a beautiful and imperishable paradise. They created virtual lesson plans for schools so that children could learn without teachers. Any child could play along, and any who refused to advance was disciplined and stabilized. Yet we are passive slaves, drugging ourselves into child-like complacency, to dance on the edge of defeat. The anti-revolution or golden era. It was an industrial dream turned nightmare, turned to mental hysteria. Machines began to dictate all; our information would be moderated by The Foundation.

As each opportunity has slipped away, we’ve learned to sacrifice our consciences for our sociopathic economy. As every minute escapes, a selfless mouth swallows another placebo. The world has lost all love and bliss. And so we prostrate ourselves to billboards and worship technological madness. That is how we have traded our souls for an empire of greed. That is how we have made a prison for paradise.

My name is Sarah and I’m fourteen. I was born away from Amera and the world foundations to the city on the sea. Merida is an island sea-port city built upon the ruins of the old republic after it collapsed at the dawn of the 21st century. Meridia is a weapon-based plutocracy that had collapsed after fascism spread to the West. It was once a safe zone for weapons and technology that were manufactured for all wars. These sprawling metallic mezzanines are all that I know as home. You could say I’m living a post-apocalyptic reality. Certainly nothing could have stopped the elites from taking over.

This is a different place. Here we are hidden from the outside. Workers are carried by the hovering plates across the water, as we toil endlessly on her architecture. What’s left of the human dream? They move us from place to place across the vast city on the water. Life in Meridia although isolated and depressed, was nothing short of the cruel existence on the soil of the past; nothing compared to life on the territory of a broken fallen nation. For many years, Meridia was the only place where people like us were left alone. My mother told me that life before the wars was much different, and that it was too hard to explain to a young fourteen year old girl. Somehow everything once beautiful had been stripped away just like lady liberty was stripped from America. Once revolutionaries, now dissenting heroes to a fascist regime of political oppression.

Mother emulated our government. It was the last and only government left outside the Foundation’s iron lies. In this unwanted realm of constant flooding and ghetto technology, we were the most free. And yes, there was always something innately calling to me. I was an anti-establishment rebel by nature — it was in our nature to crave freedom. It was in my nature to crave revolution. I remember how I would sit in my bedroom and stare out into the rolling waves. I felt a sort of dependency there. Perhaps it was even more-so a longing caused by ebb and flow of the tides. Every so often when I traveled across the water, I could feel a secret rage rise within me. I had a good family: my sister Molly, my brother Bobby, and my Mara my mother who loved and took care of us children. Of course, my father had left to join the militia the day after he witnessed Bobby’s birth so my mother has said. All families; even the higher class are forbidden to dodge the drafting imposed by the World Foundation.

This is one of the dreams I had as a little girl. I am standing on the edge of a high stone cliff, overlooking a vast blue ocean. A warm breeze tousles my hair, and suddenly a voice rises within me. It is as if the voice is breathing, singing, and crying all at once. The voice whispers, “Goddess of destiny…come back to the Stars.” A rush of calm settles over me. At once I fall to my knees, and tears start streaming down. The tears are everywhere, and they’re falling from the sky, forming light. The truth is, the word Goddess was never in my vocabulary. I did not know any feminine form of God existed. The Elect forbid the study of any religion aside from the science of God.

For many years, Meridia has been the only place where people like us are free. My mother taught me many things about life after the war. She spoke of a radical government called The League of Dreams, that still fought The Elect. But, we had never talked about religion and we never brought up my father much less did I know his name or location. In this unwanted realm of constant flooding and ghetto technology, I was free. Yet, there was always something innately calling to me. I would rebel — it was the star buried deep down to the core of the world, calling me to my destiny. Bobby grew to be taller than Molly, even though he’d be the youngest in the family. He also liked the color blue like the ocean. Mara was beautiful to me. My name is Sarah and I am the oldest of three.

The story I am about to tell you is one of searching for meaning in the past and the future of this world. This is the story of how I came to find out what my freedom really means to me. It is a story that only outcasts and dreamers and revolutionaries will ever understand. It begins on a beautiful day in the City of Meridia. Mara had prepared a feast for the three of us children. We were just getting ready to sit down to eat when suddenly Molly pointed toward the window. She pointed a small finger to where the water pull was.
“The water is bubbling!” Molly said then asked innocently, “Why is it doing that, Momma?”
Before our mother could answer, we saw a dark metal machine rise up out of the small gap in the platform. There was printing on the machine that read: peacekeepers
Through the machine’s window we saw men in dark suits with flashing armbands and helmets.

“No no no,” Mara yelled in panic, “The peacekeepers are here!”
I remember these unfamiliar men as they piled out and barged onto the platform toward the house. They smashed through the glass door and threw stuff on the floor. Then they handcuffed Bobby like a criminal. Then they turned to our mother and started interrogating her about a card that was to be pledged to, the growing economy, and about her failure to participate in the financial future of AMERA. They threatened to take us all if she would not comply…then…

I remember there was a cry and suddenly it was all chaos around me. My sister was screaming as cups were being shattered across the floor. I couldn’t see anyone anymore. The room was consumed by dark clouds. I remember a sudden black smoke before I passed out. My brother was gone when I regained consciousness. Molly was in laying in heap beside broken glass, and Mara was outside staring at the pool of water where the machine had disappeared. They took Bobby away from us. I knew we would never see him again because we had failed to participate in the future of AMERA. I knew that the war was all the mattered. It was all the treasures for the rich consumer highways. I knew that even though I’d never seen one; that the giant spider machines and super planes were also were part of the scheme.
I saw it all in my head. Spiders, planes, monsters swallowing up the ocean. In nightmares I saw my brother. He was standing in the wreckage of a machine in the ruins of a tall tower. White crosses and rubble marked the graves of all that remained of the people there. He would sit in one of these giant machines, and he would watch another free society go up in flames. Flames for dollars: burning dollars and burning futures.

But, the economy was growing. It was growing so fast that people had to race to keep up with the progress. Then there was a new set of laws established. These laws were a tactic meant to inspire pride. The Foundation had created a new constitution. My mom told me that it was a constitution built on consumerism and hypocrisy.

Mother began to re-tell the story of how the West had lost its grasp of power. It was when the New Foundation was still small. Secretly, The Foundation was devising a plan to divide the world sizable lands. They plotted to deal a blow to freedom, toward dissent, and a step in the direction of their plans for an Empire. People would lose. Machines would rule their cities.
It was in the after-math of all these wars that plans of order came to the forefront. Still, The Foundation’s new laws weren’t there to protect the people; they were to enslave them to royalty. They caused the division, and now they forced us to buy our unity back. The Foundation killed anyone who spoke up to defend a simple principle: freedom from control, from being told what to do and how to do it. They killed the ones who spoke for our freedom to live on each of our own terms. Hedonistic savants thought they had outwitted God the prophet.

If the way was to freedom and prosperity, how then could we explain why people were being forced to die to uphold this principle? If the way was new hope and cities of paradise, then why were only the rich allowed the golden highways to reach them? In a few years, sadness and darkness would be cast over our millennial dream.

It was nearly four years after my brother was taken from Meridia, when my mother told us we needed to escape. The kidnappers were coming to “save us” and we needed to flee as far as we could in hopes of getting away from what everyone seemed to want: the perfect life.
It was still morning when we made it to the coast of AMERA. The coolness felt more comforting than the night before, and yet waking up in a foreign place left us feeling so empty, lost, and gone. We were like abandoned sea shells. Where was that creature inside of us? So we did as we had planned all along, and jumped out of the boat to swim through the darkness, seemingly unnoticed, and made to the secret entrance at the port.

We were lucky because it was too dark for anyone to see us. And although Meridians were allowed to travel to AMERA, there was a price that we weren’t willing to pay for this legal travel. It was six miles when we finally made it to the beginning of the highway. They would not expect their missing passengers here.

You had to be crazy traveling without a license, but where else would we go? We wanted to make it out as far as we could from where they would find us. We were going to find the last free settlement. There, we would be safe. Or at least we hoped. Back then we didn’t know all of this, of course. We had a map and the words, flee or die, still fresh in our minds.
“How much further do we have to go to get to the nearest gas station?” Molly asked.
“We have three and a half miles before we reach it.”
Molly, being my younger sister, had never heard of city stations. She was afraid and yet determined to survive.

“When are we going to ever see mommy again?” Molly had asked between tearful sobs.
“Soon,” I would say, “As soon as we find our brother.”

I knew that our chances of survival were small. When we reached the gas station Molly said she wanted to go into the building. The trucks were lined up and men were unpacking. Molly and I were to try and get into one going toward the west. But Molly insisted on going to the bathroom. I was caught and a man behind the counter took me back for questioning, but no one noticed my sister.

This is it, I thought, there is no way I can make it out of this one. I told him I was lost. “Why is such a girl so young far away from home?”

“Where are your parents?”

“I don’t have any,” I lied.

He said he would let me go, but for a small price.
“Work for me for a few days, and I’ll forget this ever happened…” Then he smiled a shining white smile.

I would cry at first, every night, thinking of my sister, Molly. She was my sister. She was the only person I had left. She was my family. She was gone.
I was scared and alone. I spent my days toiling away like some slave girl. I mixed and poured chemicals and substances into the water. I began operating their new highly technological machines. In this daily routine I supplied my lonely days with smells from the sea substituting the smell of chemicals, gasoline, and smoke.

When I stocked the shelves, I secretly held the seashore freshener close to my nose. It smelled artificial and made me nauseous, but I craved the smell so much. When the boss was out, I would pull out the air freshener from under the cash register and silently daydream of the sea.

I had gotten so used to the patterns of work and the shifts, but most of all I think the fumes really got to my head. I began to forget nearly everything about my home and my past life. Time simply slipped away. I just knew that I really like that smell. I longed for it and craved it.
Then one day I woke up and the smell was gone. I searched in vain for anything recognizable. I had lost my sense of taste and smell! My mind felt empty all the sudden. I had to get out. The fear of losing my senses had woke me up. I hadn’t known how long I had been there but I knew I had to get out. I walked out the door of my bedroom, out of the office, and stood for awhile in the middle of an empty lot until I finally remembered. Inside the doors, all my answers were inside that giant truck.

I was about to try to find out how to get into one when a Jeep spotted me. They told me to get in the car. I figured that maybe I should, if only to find Molly. So I climbed into the back seat. I was cramped with two women in the back seat and in the front were two men. The women were much older than I was and kept asking me questions.
“Who are you,” they asked and then, “Where do you come from?”

I didn’t remember. They were a little unsure about my honesty. At first they didn’t trust me and thought I was odd. But, when the guy in the front asked me how long I had been at that place and I said, “As long as yesterday and tomorrow and forever,” they realized that I had been a prisoner. So they gave me some magical candy.
“It’s good for you,” they said.

I got really happy and soon we were laughing and talking together. We were all high, I guess. I fell asleep for a good while and when we stopped again I was awake and feeling nauseous again. I was truly better, they told me, and sure enough I could remember everything.
“It’s the laughter,” they said. “It’s good for the soul.”
I had never heard of a soul before.
“What is a soul?” I asked.

“Oh. It’s what keeps you alive.” The driver said this with such uncanny certainty.
“You mean like the ocean?” I asked him.
“The ocean, well, kind of like the ocean…I guess.” He got quiet then and I didn’t feel like asking any more questions.

I had had enough of the candy after that, and when I had a drink of that special water my sister was all that came to mind. “Where is my sister? Does my sister also have a soul? Maybe she escaped. Could she have been caught? Do you think she reached the wasteland?”
After awhile, I got up my courage to ask if they could help me find her. “Please. Will you help me find her? Her name is Molly.” They agreed to help me find my little sister.
“She could be anywhere, though, and the chances of finding her are rare,” said the other man in the passenger seat.

We spent two weeks looking for her, but by Monday our spirits were getting soar. If only I hadn’t been captured, I thought. The one thing that did make us stop was when we reached an unexpected checking area and this is what I remember hearing Oh, no. Do you see that ahead? Crap! We’re in this together alright! Do you think we’ll be able to make it through there? I don’t know. Just be still….

They said that all of their cards were counterfeits and that they had mapped their route perfectly. Well, up until looking for Molly, they had been certain there was no new tracking booth along here. We slowly approached the end.
“You have to get out, Sarah!”

They said to run or the men would catch me. I didn’t know where to go, and I knew the officers wouldn’t let me escape. They approached on either side of the doors. Hal locked the doors to delay the officers.

“Get out!” He yelled. I finally figured out what he meant.
He meant to climb out through the window. The window was small, but I was able to fit right through. I slid out then with just enough time to sneak away and I ran and ran in the opposite direction. I was running as far as I could get from the hundreds of booths, booths with men, men who would find me. They were men without souls but who were armed with guns. They were men who were officers, yet just who were they protecting?

Toll booths had to be more efficient so they decided to make hundreds upon thousands of toll booth rows. In the rows upon rows, people would stare blankly ahead, waiting for hours at times. When would it be their turn? That’s all they ever worried about or cared about anymore. But so many chemicals and so many entertaining delusions were made to keep them happy. It was the way the system worked. They all chose, of course, to buy these tools that created their personalized bliss. There were no warnings. There were no dangers. There were no labels. It was simply how you did things.

I didn’t understand any of it. How did no one see me? I caught a glimpse of what appeared to be a conscious man in the window, yet his eyes were so fixed. His stare was so focused on nothing but a point on the horizon. He didn’t look up when I screamed into the car.
So I kept running until I realized there was no where left to run to. The traffic and the noise sent me spinning in circles, and the flashing lights made me nauseous. I could go to the right and follow the line all the way to the end, but would this line ever end? I could follow the left, and I knew less about where that would lead other than darkness and possibly more guards. Where was the end?

I kept turning around in circles. Cars were on every side of me soon. Car horns poured into my ears. “Get out of the way! Get out of the Way! Get out of the Way! Get out of the way!” Everyone was suddenly screaming at me, but no one moved their mouths. Their eyes were still focused on that one point. I was not sure what I was hearing.
I got sick and sweat rolled down my face. The fear had sent me falling to the ground as the world collapsed beneath me in a big jolt. For awhile I lay there without sound or light, in between the lines. It felt like it was over, but by some strange coincidence or awesome luck I was picked up by Anna the “outlaw” of science.

Anna was helping children just like me. She’d rescue them and hide them in her authorized emergency vehicle which was able to go anywhere. Anna, who had once been a doctor’s assistant, saw me. She had jumped out and quickly grabbed me. She took me in and put me in the ambulance so fast that not even the guards saw her from that distance. Then she drove me in right through the checkpoint. I was laid on a bench in the back, and when I regained consciousness I saw more benches filled up with people. I found myself with other children. Some of the children looked sick and some looked sad. Was I being rescued again? Soon, many of the children introduced themselves and told their stories of how they got there.

My story, I found out, was different than many other stories. Most of the children had been abandoned; some had never seen their parents and some had escaped the most hostile conditions. It made me feel different and a little guilty. How could I possibly ask about my sister? The question was like a hole eating away at my insides. Deep down, it was sucking my life away. Too much fear, too much sickness. It had made me feel desperate and cold. I just couldn’t feel like I used to…not for anyone. I was alone, still alive… but always so alone.
“Where are we going?” I asked.

“Where we can be free, of course.” was Anna’s reply. “A long time ago doctors were free to roam the highways in search to save the sick and dying. All you had to do was press a red button, the ER radar button, and we would be able to find you anywhere.
That was when ambulances had all the same rights as the police did. “Save and protect.” That was our motto. Half the roads were blocked off for safety travel. Signals connected to our vehicles, would trace us through the shortcuts to every emergency imaginable. We would come to you…I felt proud of my work.

And really, it was the only way we could have done it. If we didn’t have those roads available, we couldn’t reach anyone in time through the traffic. Sadly there isn’t even a point for the safety roads for us anymore. All the doctors have been called to aid the soldiers in our wars. People are sick everywhere, but there’s no one left to help them. That’s why we are fleeing to the wasteland.”

“Don’t you have to stay here and help all those people you were talking about?”
“Even if we tried, there is no chance,” she replied. “The roads have been blocked off from us since we were called away years ago. Let’s just hope our New Foundation can help itself.”
The words shot like bullets to my chest. New Foundation? W hat kind of a foundation was this? If nothing else, I knew we had to find my sister in The Wasteland. I was going to The Wasteland to find my sister at last. If this was the only place left we could go, then no matter what we were going to find her; if my sister knew it too, she would be trying just as hard as me to get there, to find me…as least I hoped.

How I would find her…now that was a question…“How big is The Wasteland, anyways?” I asked. Anna didn’t reply and so I figured she didn’t know.
The thought of finding my sister brought new hope and life back into me. I was feeling less nauseous. I was lucky. My brother was not so lucky. Maybe I’d find him someday too. I had been thinking about my brother a lot. What were the chances of meeting him in The Wasteland? Were there any? He was taken to war, not the end of all wars, not for a free settlement but a war that stomped out freedom. I knew it.

He could be lost by now. But the thought almost ripped out my insides. I had to be calm and be happy to be stay alive now. I had to blend and I had to pretend. When you lose hope, you lose all chance of survival; hope is what keeps you alive and keeps you struggling to do what is right. As long as I knew I had a chance, I could keep myself alive.

The world would never have my confession. I was fleeing, escaping with souls who also would never give up. But unlike the others, I knew someone who was waiting for me on the other-side. Unlike the others, I still had a family, didn’t I? Even if I couldn’t find them, they would remain a part of me until the end. No matter where they were, I wanted them and needed them. I had to hold them and to love them and protect them. I knew they all loved me back. Family, friends, home: a lullaby in a storm, a kiss goodnight, but not a final goodbye.

For what seemed like an eternity, we traveled. We had to hide the ambulance when we stopped. We were following the current of desperation. We were not always feeling hopeless, and we talked and joked every once in awhile. I met this boy, and we would talk about everything. Our hopes and fears. He would say the nicest reassuring things to me. I would be sad and he’d make me feel better. When we would have to stop for supplies, he would always hold my hand because I used to be so afraid of getting caught.

His hands were so warm. It felt like I was being pulled into rays of sunlight when I was next to him. He never left my side. We both knew how much we loved each other, but we never said it. Maybe it was because we were surrounded by people, or maybe it was one of those things that went without saying. The end of the world couldn’t tear us apart, but sadly enough, it had to. We had reached a resting area where we had found a safe place to park. Anna told us that at last we were allowed to run. So we ran around these long deserted fields, feeling so much liveliness and happiness. It had been three months since I had been outside. The air seemed clear and perfect. This was a small taste of paradise!

We ran in our bare feet as far as we could go. Anna never called us back, so we kept going. The ocean was becoming faintly alive in me. We kept running. It was as if God had decided to greet us and I think God also was hoping we’d find what we did. At first I thought it was the ocean. I was so excited. “It’s The Sea! It’s the sea!” I cried out. As we came to the bank we cried out for joy while Jess, who was the boy I loved, picked me up and swung me around in his arms. “Listen up my fellow citizens and welcome to paradise; really, it’s the best thing you could ever dream of. Look into the future!” Jess yelled out. Then he grabbed me.
Before I knew it I was being drenched underneath the water with Jess. When I stood up in the water, Jess looked at me with those big brown eyes shaded by streams of red hair.
“I guess that’s it. The leader broke the rules.”

They all ran and laughed before everyone else jumped in and for once swam away our terrible curse. We swam until we all had to come in before we would get sick. Everything was fine, we thought, until we reached the ambulance.

Inside, someone was crying. We found Laura and she’d hurt her leg really badly, and passed out. It was Anna who was crying because she had sold all her leftover supplies to get food for everyone. Laura’s knee was bleeding really badly. Everyone was scared and didn’t know what to do. Were we going to have to go back to try and get some bandages?
Some of the boys took off their shirts and the girls brought their blankets in. We poured water on it and held it with the shirts and blankets. It seemed like we had helped. It was all we had. Anna said we would need more.

The thing that scared me most was her unconsciousness. She just lay there as if she were dead. We had been so happy and careless that we hadn’t expected anything this bad. Where was God now? Surely he hadn’t planned this; had he? We decided to go back and try to get supplies. It was all we could do. We couldn’t let her get infected. Laura woke up within the hour and was screaming in pain.

When we had reached the place she was silent. It was so dark outside and the sight of the place sent me shaking. This time I knew I was ready to throw up. Jess tried to comfort me, but I could see the fear in his eyes. Anna looked back at us then and said, “Remember. No matter what happens we will always be together. You are my family, after-all, and nothing will tear us apart.” She got out and ran to the gas station while Laura was lying half unconscious and really pale. I wondered why it was taking so long.

Someone said, “They are probably questioning her about needing bandages at so late at night and why she wasn’t at home with her children.”
“They could be arresting her,” another kid said. “Maybe they know she escaped the war.”
Nobody spoke after that. Even after it was said, the words echoed in the engine. Finally, the silence broke but not by Anna.

“Please get out of the ambulance! All passengers are under arrest for trespassing and violation of safety codes. Get out now and no one will get hurt!”

No one moved a muscle. We were all so scared. What now? We can’t die, I thought. I ran up and opened the doors. One girl cried out, “NO! SARAH!” Suddenly, streams of men came charging in with electric clubs. The men were screaming, “QUIET! NO ONE WILL GET HURT. COOPERATE OR SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES.”
I ran before they cuffed my friends’ hands and pulled them away from each other. They were told not to speak and were threatened with weapons. I spun and dodged and kicked and no one cuffed me. “JESS!” I screamed as I ran, “I’m sorry Jess! I’m so sorry. I didn’t want anyone to get hurt!”

I couldn’t say goodbye to Jess but I saw a longing in his eyes. A tear rolled down his cheek. Then I was caught off guard as a tall man lumbered towards me. I couldn’t think of anything else to do, so I kicked the man right where it hurts most. Then I ran. I was running with the beat of the ocean crashing behind me.

The cars were zipping by as the men chased me. They could never catch me. I had life inside of me. I had visions of sunlight and wet sand, not dark streets and flashing lights. Not of screaming headlights and honking horns and angry voices yelling into your ears. Not machines, sending fear to the very insides of you. Beware of us! We are mad! That was their language. That was the language of the new foundation.
I was crazy with fear. I knew I couldn’t possibly outrun those men. I kept looking forward but all I could see was the highway, the endless road to oblivion. I ran faster. Maybe, just maybe, someone could help me. Who could? I mean, how could they?

Then a car came up to the side of the road and a man yelled out the window to “Get in!” I hurried up, and the men were so close behind me. I was fast enough to make it right as the stranger was forced to slam the door of a big cargo truck before he swerved to the right.
All the police cars were gathering around on us. We sped forward zooming as fast as we could, stalked by our predators like fresh meat. “Who are you? Little Girl?” He asked me. The police could keep pace it would be impossible for them to reach us in the moving traffic.”I’m Sarah,” I said. “I have to get my sister.”

“Why? Is she lost?” I felt like I had so much to explain with so little time. “Because everyone is!” I yelled as we quickly swerved to the left and again to the right. We sped up fast and looked like all was clear, then the man slammed on his breaks. All the lanes were filled with police vehicles.

We looked up to realize the police cars had surrounded us and the men were getting out. I climbed on the back of the truck through the window and yelled in fear. I felt a jerk when suddenly everything was moving again. The police force had gotten back into their cars…but why? It took me a minute before I realized the truth. They were going to crush me.
I held on tight in the cargo area as the driver sped up again. There were only a few lanes that citizens were still using. When the driver, who I didn’t know, swerved too fast, I practically flew in the air and landed on top of another car. The guy in the truck yelled to me. “What the heck are you doing?” I couldn’t listen this time though. It was the best for all of us. The traffic jammed again and I leaped onto another worker truck as it honked so loudly I closed my eyes.

The traffic would start again and all I knew was I had to jump. With the slight movement I braced myself; the angry driver sped in all directions trying to get me away. I stood level and then I leaped as hard as I could to the destination. I was flying, and then I was landing. I landed on the back of black truck this time. Then it sped up so fast that there was no possible way for me to jump off. It went like this a good long time until the traffic stopped and the man yelled out.

“Do you want me to help you?” He asked.
He told me to stay low and he would take me there. Finally he got out and helped me into a hiding place in the back of the truck.
The sun was out and it was beautiful, or at least I thought it was the sun…it took away my fear and feeling of danger. I had lived. I felt free again and momentary peace. I traveled with this man who called himself Leonard for so long. Maybe I thought I could trust him. Then I realized the mistake I had made.
I read the large glowing sign.


There they stood. These were the people I wanted to get away from. I wanted to cry. There were guards and police waiting outside a large fence. Then doors closing were behind us as we drove along an ugly winding road.

“Welcome to the Wasteland,” my captor said as he smiled.
We were greeted by men in green uniforms, and taken in through a large door that opened and shut like a knife on the ground. I looked around at the hundreds of children in white uniforms. Some looked happy. A kid was hanging by his feet with a mask over his head; another girl was sleeping in a plastic bubble.

“What do we have here? Hmm. She looks bright enough. What is the trouble with her?”
“She tried to run away, numerous times, and I can’t watch her anymore. She also…” He whispered into the old guy’s ear and I thought he said something about mother. I screamed and then suddenly someone put something on my eyes, everything was darkness and oblivion….I woke up and I couldn’t see. They blinded me. I screamed and screamed until finally I heard a voice booming from somewhere, maybe the wall?
“You are not blind, child, you are free and happy.”

“Now come with me to a beautiful world…” The voice began lulling me into a virtual dream and a virtual world. There was nothing but blinding white lights covering the walls and the floor and the ceiling and every time I blinked out of the dream, I felt pain. I only felt pain.
“We can see you and we know everything about you,” a voice said from the walls. “We can see all your memories, and we can make you live them as if they were your own. We can take you on a journey that will never ever end. Let’s play the game pretend!”
I began to feel sick.

“You can live forever, or you will think you can when you join us. No, we’re not all trapped like you are. But you are a failure. You are garbage. You are lucky to be given such paradise in America’s New Foundation. You get happiness and paradise. It’s all you ever dreamed of and more. Don’t be mad, get glad! Don’t be sad, be happy!”

The booming voice came from everywhere and it wouldn’t go away. I wanted it to stop but I was afraid to show them that I was resisting. I sat there and never moved. The lights bore into me. I don’t know how long I was in there. It felt like a whole lifetime. I saw things, beautiful things and terrible things but none of them were real. I remember that beautiful final moment. It was the end. The program shut itself off. I was in blackness. I was told to stand up and walk forward.
“Press the red button!” The wall said. “I was afraid, but I touched the wall and it opened to reveal a series of buttons and a window where I could see the people who were watching me. They didn’t look surprised, they didn’t look upset or anything. They looked right through me.
I wasn’t sure. I only saw my tears reflecting back from their hollow eyes.
The program was over, and I had lost sense of time and relativity. I was put into a room with the others. The others quietly whispered how they had overcome the program. We quickly set to work on our escape plan. No matter how hard we deliberated, we couldn’t think of a way out of this metallic prison-cell.
If you didn’t contribute to the economy in any way, you were treated like scum and forced to live as complete outcasts. It wasn’t that simple to even be an outcast though because all citizens were equal. We were treated like celebrities even in our own jail cells of cities. No complete “citizen” in America could go hungry. All the money was distributed equally to all who paid for freedom. Consumers were satisfied with their brainwashing products, and company owners were always fifteen steps ahead in society than the workers. Outcasts were slaves, garbage, discards of the new era.

So we figured since they thought we were brainwashed or stuck in fantasyland, they wouldn’t try very hard to contain us. The men came in one day and escorted us out of the cell through hundreds of other people. We faked the blind stare and pretended we could only respond to those commands. Other people were looking with disgust at us as they pushed us and tied up our hands.

One of the officers made a comment, “Don’t waste that strong rope, men! You won’t even need to.” Then he looked into my eyes, I almost blinked. He continued joking meanly.

“Are you sure about that? This one still has light in her eyes.”

“This one was put into the Infinite Project, there’s no way she’s still aware of her surroundings.” I wanted to scream. Then the guards shrugged and with mocking laughter untied our hands. We were led into some sort of metal cage. Once the wall we’d been pushed through started closing my heart was pounding. We figured no one could hear us now so we began to whisper what we thought we should do. The two boys thought we were done for. The other girl and I said that they were planning on drowning us like pests.
It was pretty easy to tell this was true by the fact that there was water dripping from the walls and the giant pipe behind and in front of us. It was horrible because we realized that there was no way for us to escape. The pipeline in front of us, that we were sure led to the dirty river they were talking about, was barred over. The other pipe, we guessed, was where the water would pour out from. It was also barred off.

There was only one solution. One boy was very skinny and looked like he could fit, with some work, through bars in the exit pipe. We decided to try to fit him through. He didn’t want to go in of course and thought it was a bad idea, but it was the only way. We thought that if somehow he could get to the other side, he might be able to open up the bars so we could escape. It was so dark that it was too hard to tell where anything was. The plan was so foolish at the time, but our insane desperation was what was driving us. It took a lot of twisting and turning and help before he got out.
He searched forever but could not find anything that would somehow assist in our escape.
“I’m going down,” he said.

He slid down the pipe, but all of the sudden we heard this big thump.
He yelled that the opening was sealed up and he was stuck inside. We screamed and yelled to him. Suddenly the pipe behind us began to stir. With a huge gush water blasted out it went straight through the cage into the sealed pipe where we knew our friend would drown.

“No!” I screamed. It must have been some kind of power that took over me because it felt like I had taken over the machine that was set to destroy us all. I knew I had. Somewhere secret, an insane source of violent light, had surged from within my anger and rage. Something I rarely had been allowed to express.
I was not about to lose another friend. It seemed that every friend I ever made I was forced to lose. I just couldn’t. I began shaking the cage. I kept shaking it and shaking it. Screaming and crying all at once. My friend was going to die! We were going to die! It was all over. We all grabbed on to the top of the cage and helped each other’s feet up so that we were the highest possible.

The water filled up to the very top of the cage where we were, but then it stopped. The cage bars lifted and the water rushed us into the pipe. We fell down a long dark tunnel and eventually flew out into a giant river where we were rushed by a heavy current downstream. Water was pulling me under and pushing forward at an intense speed.
I was worried for my life just as much as I was worried about my new friends’ lives. The thought of once again losing my only companions was also just too much to bear. Bits of debris flowed everywhere. The river was disgustingly orange in color.

My arm got slashed by a sharp object, and then I was caught by something triangular in shape, some kind of pyramid in the stream. I had rushed right into it. As the river rushed me forward, I tried to get a hold of it, but it was too slippery. I fell directly on to the top point of the triangle and could feel it pierce into my stomach.
It was a terrible pain. As blood poured out, all I could think of was the horrible pain. Finally, I managed enough strength to pull myself off of the edge and hold myself in front of the object so I couldn’t be rushed away. I waited there, for what seemed like hours. I was waiting for the end.

My friends were already dead by now unless they had found some way to safety, and even if they had they would never find a way to me so in a sense they were dead no matter what. All my hope seemed to be carried like the blood from my cut, by the current: far away. My tears began to pour out. Pitiful horrible sobs began to break free from my troubled mind.
Thoughts of nothing but despair and sadness filled me. Dark shadows clouded my mind. I could almost feel the empty roads, the dirty streets, and the mindless people. I could almost sense the dying lives of all who rebelled. So many people tried to stop it. I felt the pain as the last light in me flickered out.

The rebel me vanished into a wild dream where I was walking for miles on a long desolate plain. People cried out to me in all directions. They were hungry people. They were starving people. People who were alone just like me. Finally I came to a giant cliff. I began to climb it. With each step regaining more of myself. I began to feel lighter too. The air began to smell cleaner. As I turned to the sky I noticed it had no longer looked black, but grey and as I kept climbing it eventually turned to a clear crisp blue.

I was almost to the top. I focused so much on the cliff that when I finally got up to the top I was taken aghast by what I saw. There was a valley of beautiful flowers and green grass. There were great big trees with fruit I’d never seen. Everything beautiful that had ever been on earth was there. Feeling true happiness overflow, I smiled. It was a something that I had done so long ago. This was only the beginning. There, sitting in a patch of daisies, was my sister Molly. I tried to call to her but she didn’t seem to hear me. Finally she did hear me, and turned around. She was smiling and waving. I began walking towards her. But then, just as soon as I got to the valley all the beauty began to disappear.

I cried out to her and she cried out to me but it was no use. We both watched each other silently as she faded into nothing. The sky grew dark again and the horrible wasteland returned. I was so confused and full of disbelief. I wondered if I was really dead or in some sort of dream I could not wake up from. Was I doomed to wait on this mountain for eternity? I decided I should try to climb down, but there was nothing down there. On every side of me was black dark space and I was left there alone and trapped. I lay down and dreamed again. I dreamed of how things could have been if none of this had ever happened.

I tried to understand. When I opened my eyes and saw that I was still on the cliff I felt true despair for the first time in my life. Then I jumped off into the space even despite my fear. It was emptiness and darkness. I knew I would remain floating the dark space forever. But then I began to hear words. They were mocking words of others who could see me. They told me it was my stupidity that brought me to that place: it was my foolishness and failure to cooperate. I told them I wasn’t theirs to control. I told them that the war was over. Then I screamed, “I am not yours to control!”

Red light filled the darkness, then colors. I felt myself regaining consciousness as faith and hope returned once more. The voices turned into nothingness. Finally…but then suddenly, everything was pain again. Pain! The program hadn’t ended. “No no!” I moaned…I woke up and saw people looking down from over me. Then I looked down and saw blood all over my stomach. At my side stood my friends and at my right stood my sister, Molly.

She looked so little with her hair slightly tangled and her face so childish, unlike mine. She didn’t speak to me for a minute and then her face turned slightly red. She was holding back tears, “I missed you.” Then she reached over and hugged me close.
And then the tears started streaming from my face, “I missed you!.”
She just stared. “Do you think it’s too late? I want to find Bobby.” Then another girl put a hand on her shoulder. They took me to a place hidden by giant boulders; there they helped to bandage my wound.

“I waited for you for so long. I waited until it became dark. I thought you would come back,” Molly told me this as if she had wanted to say it for so long. I felt like she didn’t want to say anything. She continued, “I started crying and was confused. I decided my last hope was to get into the right truck, but I wasn’t sure which one. I finally saw the name that you had mentioned and tried to get in but this cruel man caught me.

He took me to what they call The Wasteland. They tried to control me, to drown out my thoughts with rules and games. But something happened. It was like a miracle! Like I took over! I found these people here, these people Sarah…she whispered into my ear, “they came from stories. They told me you would be coming here. They knew you were special, that we both were. We are survivors.”

“I’m glad you’re all alive,” I said but I was shaking, “How are we still alive?”
Molly replied, “We can’t let ourselves die. Because of her.”

I didn’t know what to say. I had found her; I knew it in my heart. This was the real Molly. And that huge building with fences and police men and tortured children…could not break the bond of two sisters. I looked down to see the shadows. I was so amazed at how these people were surviving, living, and eating under the watchful eye. Were we Angels?

“The Dreamers will save us all.”

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Super long post…i didnt read single paragraph…it was lovely tho…

Well the people who did read it liked it.

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I’m a schizophrenic with the attention span of a goldfish. No slight.

Try to get it published. Editors read and have a handle on things. I don’t.

It’s good your writing…I wish I had the brain to do it…read the first half…was ok?? I’m no expert!