The Fence

“Haven’t you ever felt like there has to be more? Like there’s more out there somewhere, just beyond your grasp, if you could only get to it?” - Final Word Count: 3984 - Top ten in the More Than This Competition :D

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2. Running

   I’m breaking into a run. Damn it! Why do people always intervene? It would be a lot simpler if we could just co-operate.

   Sirens screech. Lights awaken. Thankfully, I don’t hear barks. The troublesome racket will stop soon and return the night to its soundless slumber. It always does. Most defences are placed around the Cream’s homes and they rarely come over this side of the Fence without the dogs. As soon as they stop searching, I can stop running and get on with what I came to do.

   Dawn grows closer as I run to the horizon. I’m low on time tonight. My heart beats faster in protest as I speed up, the ache in my legs joining it but my head wins. I can’t let the sun chase away these precious hours.

   Finally, I can’t hear anything but the wind. The Shieldsmen disturb nature too much. I slow, much to my body’s relief, but my mind is still sprinting.

   Counting the bushes lining the Fence, I come outside my next house. I hated this part of town. There was so much uncertainty surrounding it. They’re not as clever as the Creams, but they're very dedicated to getting into the top ranks there. Mostly kids, there’s enough prey sure, but there’s still little chance they’ll follow me. I’ve still got to try though.

   Gardens now back onto the Fence and I try to avoid the barbed wire at the bottom of them, there to stop us “beasts” getting over. At least these people protect themselves more often, using guns rather than calling and waiting for the Shieldsmen. I even got hit by a kitchen spatula once! But that was in the good old days when I wasn’t so tired of this life. I was free and that was all that mattered. However, even freedom seemed to have its chains.

  My head spins in the direction of a clash. Ducking, a garden's back light flashes on. People turn the corner of the house.

   Leaning back into the brambles, I try and find a blackberry somewhere on the branches I’m looking through. Nothing. Hundreds accompanied the leaves when I was last here.

   My thoughts quieten as voices grow louder. The light catches something shiny.

   A small crowd of people mutter among themselves. However, one woman stands away from them. Then, she starts heading towards my hiding place. I swear she looked right at me, but grief makes you blind.

   Followed by a man, I freeze. It’s a Shieldsman, right there in front of me! His rounded helmet gleams into my eyes but I don’t even blink. They were the one of the few things I feared and I was glad to have the Fence blocking me from their world.

   Talking low, I can just catch what they’re saying under their breath.

   “So… you’re sure he’s…” the woman chokes on a sob, “gone over there?”

   “I’m afraid so, Madam. We saw a boy running from this house away with one of them.” The Sheildsman had no sympathy in his tone; only fact and arrogance.

   “But are you sure it was him? Blonde hair is very common around here and everyone trains to be a runner so are all quite fast… you could be mistaken…”

   “He’s been missing all night. He ran from this house. He had running kit on. Plus he has the motive. Your son fits the profile perfectly. It is him.”

   That’s when the woman lost it. She cried so loudly it was like she was a young baby wanting its bottle. Looking back, the crowd summoned the Shieldsman to bring her to them, probably wanting to cover the commotion. Placing his arm awkwardly around her shoulders, he forces her to move. The back light flicks off.

   She’d be punished now. That’s what the crowd were doing there and mumbling about; trying to decide on the severity of their sentence. I couldn’t make out whether she was crying for the loss of her son or for how much she will suffer for raising a Failure; for raising someone as low as a “beast”.

   I had no time to worry about her. This meant just more hard-work down the drain for me. I had tried for weeks to get that guy over with me. He kept putting it off because of his running try-outs or his final running test or his running ceremony blah blah blah. He claimed that he really wanted to go with me but he was so close to getting in with the Creams and had been practicing his running for a free ticket in for years. Really, he meant that he’d come with me if he didn’t achieve the better offer.

   Why didn’t I come sooner? He must have been stringing others along too, hence the lack of blackberries, and now he finally made up his mind to run with another monster on this side of the Fence. Perhaps he failed his running award thing and wouldn't have had a chance in the final test, but honestly, I couldn't care less anymore. His frightful fate was nothing to me any longer.

   He would have been my final catch. He would have been the last one I’d have to turn before I could get out of this hell-hole. I could have been far away from this Fence, but he’s on another’s tally-board now. They’re one step closer to getting away but I’m still one from my goal.

   I have one hope left for tonight. One hope before I’ll have to give in to the only human traits left in me; tired and with an empty heart.

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