The ShAr

Alina's life had always been like this. Bland. Dull. Hollow. Dot Corp had made sure of that. It affected everything in her life, even her best friend. And Alina hated it. But what if there was a way out? What if there was something that she could do to take a stand? Something stronger than a simple smile, or a kiss on her brother's forehead? Of course, something like this existed, but Alina could never imagine herself being part of it. Sophia had been, and look where that got her. This solution was called The ShAr, short for Shiller's Army. Alina was close to her breaking point, but how far was she willing to go?

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1. Chapter One- Sophia

Chapter 1

 

Alina closed the front door softly behind her, knowing the glare that her mother would give her if it was slammed. Donna hated noise, but Alina loved it. Speak of the devil, Alina thought, noticing Donna sitting in the living room, although it could hardly be called that. The apartment was so small that the living room, the kitchen, and the dining room were practically on top of each other. 

Alina’s mother turned around, her blank eyes connecting with Alina’s. Alina looked so much like her mother, and she despised that. She wanted nothing to do with her.

“Come watch,” she said. Alina stared at her. 

“I’m going to put my bag in my room first.” Donna didn’t respond, just turned back to the television painfully slowly, and Alina sighed, walking to her room that she shared with her younger brother. 

There were only two bedrooms, and of course her mother got to have a room by herself. Secretly, Alina was glad about that. If she had to sleep in the same room as her mother, she would probably die. And she didn’t want Max to be subjected to Donna’s awful, robotic personality.

The room was dark as she walked in, but she didn’t mind. Alina just turned to the right, where her bed was and sat down. She closed her eyes, putting her bag down beside her, and replayed what had happened at work. 

Nothing was really played back to her, because nothing really happened. It was a dull day, as usual, but especially dull because her coworker Sophia, who also was her best friend, wasn’t working. It had just been a usual day of checking people out at the market and stocking the shelves. Nothing special.

After a few minutes of basking in the quietness that existed without her mother, she opened her eyes and got up, going back into the living room. She couldn’t just stay in her bedroom. Donna would probably report her as “rebellious” to the Dot Corp, which was utterly stupid. There was nothing she could do about it, though, which angered her. 

She sat down on the chair that was farthest to the couch that Donna sat on, and curled her legs underneath her. She had thirty minutes until she had to leave to pick up her brother from school. Donna couldn’t be bothered. 

The television was playing a documentary on Dot Corp, which of course was on at this time. It always was, and Donna always tried to get Alina to watch it. Donna probably just wanted to make sure that Alina knew that Dot Corp “was their everything” and that she should never “defy them”. It was all very stupid to Alina. If anything, watching the program made her want to defy them even more. 

There were only five more minutes left of the documentary, and Alina basically zoned out for them. The narrator’s voice was dull enough to be able to escape. Then, after the documentary, the News started.

“Here’s the news for today: a woman puts up a struggle against the Dot Corp Saviors, and is Elected early.”

This got Alina’s attention. A woman put up a struggle? Who? It didn't happen often, so Alina was always very inquisitive. Almost immediately after, her question was answered, as a video of the struggle was played. There was shouting and screaming, and it must have been too loud for Donna, because she turned the volume down. Alina though, was frozen into place, her eyes on the screen, tears filling them.

“Sophia,” Alina whispered. Alina’s mother glanced at her, before sighing. Her daughter closed her eyes and put her head in her hands with her fist covering her mouth as if she was trying to suffocate herself. Donna just watched her daughter with an empty gaze. Soon, sobs were racking Alina’s small frame, rocking the big chair that she sat in.

“You knew her?” Donna asked. Her voice was monotone, as always. Alina hated her for it.

“Yes.” It was a broken whisper. She looked up, tears and snot coating her face. Donna looked away with disgust in those glassy eyes.

“Go clean yourself up.” When Alina didn’t move, she added “Now,” in a sour voice. Her daughter got up slowly, standing on shaking legs, her eyes roaming the room. 

It was bland, and it killed her. Tan walls, tan furniture, nothing bright or spontaneous. The air was hot and stuffy and made Alina want to choke. Her entire life made her want to choke. Her feet carried her to the small bathroom that she, Donna, and her younger brother Max shared. It was about the size of three very small showers. It was made up of only a toilet, a sink, and a shower, with little space in between each. It was made for one person, not a family of three, just like the rest of their apartment.

Alina took deep breaths, standing before the sink. She carefully took a facecloth out of the drawer under the sink and put it under the faucet. When it was soaked in water, she brought it up to her face, shutting her eyes. 

She immediately wished she hadn’t.

The image of Sophia’s Election was playing back to her, over and over again behind her eyelids. The screams, the shouts, the people, the tears, everything. 

Being Elected was not good.

Elections happened to everybody when Dot Corp thought it should happen, but sometimes, when somebody did something too rebellious, or did something to do with The ShAr, they were Elected early. Being Elected was exactly the same as being brainwashed, it was just a nicer (and weirder) way of saying it. It was what Dot Corp was all about. As far as Alina knew, it was basically putting a filter over your mind, erasing all colors and making you incapable of loving, feeling, smiling, and laughing. Basically, it erased all worries of rebellion. Those who were Elected early had a brand on their forehead. It looked like:


It meant Early Election. It was a bad mark to have on your skin. And now, Sophia carried it, and she had been brainwashed. Perfect, just perfect. 

Sophia Bernard was Alina’s coworker, and only friend. They both worked at the South Grocery Store, well, the Sophia that Alina knew used to. But, there was only one thing that they had in common: they hated Dot Corp. Seemingly, that was an awfully good thing to have in common.

Sophia had been 25 years old, 9 years older than Alina. The age would’ve been weird, but it was nice having someone to talk to. Both of them felt isolated in the type of world they lived in-- so they did have more in common-- and it was amazing to be able to share how you felt with someone who felt the same. Sophia had been a pretty girl with the ugliest secret that existed to society. She had been part of The ShAr (pronounced like char, except with a sh sound instead of a ch sound). 

The ShAr stood for the Shiller’s Army. The ShAr was really a resistance group to Dot Corp. It was put together by a man called Amos Shiller, who was done with Dot Corp and how they were “ruining” the world. He had liked to use the term “invading”. Amos had been 24 years old at the time he’d created it, and the day of their first meeting had been December 14th. In the time that the group had lived, he had gained 34 followers. They had all been burnt to death on January 14th at the same place that their first meeting had been held. It had all been very sad and poetic. Alina had been 4 years old at the time.

Although the original group had died that day, the idea had lived on, and somehow it had turned into a group that was well known and well supported. Dot Corp still hadn’t given up, and they probably had more followers, anyways. The entire affair and war was all very secretive and usually hushed up. Once in a while, though, a ShAr member was used as an example. Sophia was one of them. It made Alina sick to think about.

She wiped her face and then put the face cloth down, staring at herself in the small mirror that hung above the sink. Looking from far away, it looked like a relatively clean mirror. Looking up close, it was obvious how much grime was on the edges. She sighed.

Alina was a normal girl. She had shoulder length blond hair, and pretty blue eyes. She loved her eyes. She loved the color. A small spattering of freckles dotted her nose, and she was grateful for that. Not a lot of people had freckles, or anything that seemed human, and it made her feel more centered. There was a pale scar by her right eye, and many kids at her old school used to be scared of her because of it. It wasn’t totally abnormal, but they had never seen a scar on someone’s face before. They had never seen a face that was even slightly disfigured. It was a change, and change scared them. Alina embraced change to its fullest, excluding anything to do with Dot Corp, though. Alina was pale, and thin. Too thin to be healthy, she always thought. Her clothes always hung on her shoulders and it made her feel hollow inside. She longed for something to make her feel full. 

Maybe it was finally time to join The ShAr.

Maybe that was the “full” feeling that she longed for.

Too bad that her only connection to it was dead.

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