In the near future, World War III has finally begun. To save at least some of the population, Alicia and 3000 other under 17-year-olds are sent to The Marine, an underwater city, a safe haven, for two years to outlive the war.


1. One

War. Death. You can never stop being afraid. In the olden days they would send children to the countryside - we have no countryside anymore. How did this happen? Simple: stupidity. Somebody whispered a tiny piece of information even though they have sworn secrecy, somebody else found out and decided to take revenge, in no time countries started to turn on each other, blaming faults, I've heard even a nuclear bomb went off. And suddenly, BOOM! World War III. Mother never let me out of the house, even with a whole troop of bodyguards around me, since this ridiculous war began. She's frantic. I actually think she might have gone a bit loopy over the last few weeks. One day she just stayed in bed from morning to evening, and because our cooks all quit work (all of our service have quit work lately), there was nothing to eat. So I went out. Wish I hadn't. I grabbed a fifty-pound note off the kitchen table and carefully shut the door behind me. I turned to the street and couldn't believe my eyes. I had only seen this on TV - I didn't realize how terrible it was. Mother got all the windows and back doors barricaded, so I wouldn't have to 'see the world turn nasty'. Screams, gun shots, ruins of houses everywhere. Soldiers running, killing innocent people. There were splodges of blood everywhere. I turned back to the door knob, but remembered I had to feed the two of us. I was to afraid to even breathe as I ran down what used to be our road to the delicatessen, grabbed whatever from the shelves and paid as quickly as I could. I really wished I had never gone out, never seen any of this happen, wish I could suddenly wake up in my bed and pretend none of this was real. My eyes still half shut, half over flowing with tears, I could barely see what was in front of me. I tried to stop being such a baby, but how? If I could only tell myself I'm dreaming. No use, though. I wiped the tears off my cheeks when I realized I was staring at a poster attached to a pole. ATTENTION PARENTS 3000 children may be sent to The Marine - a fully-equipped, safe underwater ship - for up to two years, for only €2000 per month per child! There is hope for our next generation! Therefore do not fret, your young ones will surely survive the war and come back to you good as new, maybe even better. Only under 17-year-olds accepted. Hurry, before time runs out! For more information please call. Before I could stop myself I was ripping the piece of cardboard off the metal piece of junk and sprinting home as fast as I could. I had left the TV on so Mother would think I'm watching. And that's when I noticed the hole in my pocket. No pocket, no keys. No keys, no entry. I looked up at the window above the door - my room. If I could only... no, that's ridiculous. I rang the bell. Once, twice. Five times. Heard the peek-hole cover open, Mother shrieking. The opened the door and grabbed me, dragging me inside. As she was starting to open her mouth, ready to scream at me, I waved the poster in her face. She jumped back and took it from me. She mumbled the text as she skimmed it, then grabbed her phone and dialled a number. 'It's busy,' she declared. Did she really just call the poster-maker? Was she really so desperate to send me to some underwater, cramped little cabin? Without even asking me? 'Mother?' She raised her head from the phone screen to look at me. 'Did you..?' I asked. 'Well of course I did, why wouldn’t I? Look at you, you're all dirty, look at all those clothes I got you - there's useless now! I'm not having my daughter mistreated like that. Oh, and don’t look at me like that, honey, you know I care about you.' Anger built up inside me. Alright, I have to admit I wanted to go to that ship, so I never had to see the war again, but what was her reason? 'Mistreated'? What, because my clothes are dirty? I just saw people dying! How can she be so damn selfish? 'You choose, either you go there or you're grounded. Now, let's see what you brought us.' She snatched the plastic bag from me and reviewed its contents, making her way to the empty kitchen. Of course I wanted to get away from here. 2000 Euros a month is nothing for us, Mother being a famous fashion designer. But was I really dumb enough to go just because it says I should on a piece of paper? What if somebody put that up as a joke? What if it's a trap or something? I couldn’t believe how gullible Mother was. Preparing dinner I couldn’t stop thinking about it. What would it look like, feel like? Is it just children, with nobody looking after us? Kids always wish they were independent and would grow up already, so, would I be happy there? Mother kept calling, and it kept being busy. I started to think 3000 children already applied and there was no more space for me, that I was too late and had to live in this stupid war. War... They can drop a bomb on our house any second. And we'll die. If I go, Mother will get out of the house on time, instead of looking for me, and neither of us will die. If they gas us, Mother will save herself without forcing me to wear the one mask we have in the basement, if I go. I'll risk it. I'll go, and if it turns out to be a trick, too bad. I'll do it if it means saving Mother.
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