Point of View:
Rage pulses through me as I storm out of SchoolOffice and into the concourse, tears of indignation, rage, and frustration burning my cheeks. I weave through the crowd of my peers, not bothering to apologize for bumping people. I try to keep from screaming, but only because doing so will get me in trouble with the guards.
School is a bunch of crap. I can't seem to do anything right. I'm failing something one day and excelling in it the next. Forgetting something that's been drilled into my head a thousand times, then knowing something I've never been taught. And the principal doesn't even try to understand anything. He's all empty threats and hypocrisy.
'Why do we even need a principal?' I think. 'Can't we just get a robot or something? Why can't I just be perfect at everything like Roxy?' Venting over things in my head can help calm me down. But, God, he made me angry!
"I wish I could just walk back down there and punch him in the--ah!" Someone sticks their foot out in front of me, and I fall to the ground. I turn and see Roxy and her clique walking off, laughing hysterically. I pull my hand up to cradle my head, which was jarred pretty hard when I fell.
'Forget about being like Roxy!'
A hand reaches out to me, offering to help me back to my feet, and I take it gratefully. The boy who it belongs to is an inch or two taller than me with a medium build and a wild look in his bright blue eyes. His hair is dusty brown, and falls almost into his eyes.
"Oh. Uh, thanks..." I mumble awkwardly.
"Jerks, huh?" He says with a nervous laugh. The boy picks up my bag, hands it to me, then runs off.
'That was weird.' I think, turning back towards the exit.
Pushing all thoughts of the boy to the back of my mind, I quicken my pace, all the anger leaving my steps. I have to get home, I have to see if I have gotten the envelope. I need that envelope, oh, how I need it.
As I walk, I pull a small disk-case out of my pocket and open it, revealing rows of tiny, flat, disks. I select one and insert it into a small slot in the materialization device (MD) on my wrist. I hold my wrist out in front of me, and my MD shoots out a ball of light at my feet. The light solidifies and forms a Sky-Rider, which has a stretched, ovate shape. I step onto it with not even a hint of hesitation.
I feel the slightly unsettling sensation of the board's AutoProbe seeping into my mind, creating the telepathic link needed to pilot the Sky-Rider. I command it to rocket forward, and it does just that, nearly as the thought itself forms. My flawless flight implies that I am no amateur.
I let out my ponytail and my wavy hair flows behind me, mixing in with the sweet scent of Crither blossoms and Ochewood trees. The ride to the transversals is my favorite part of the day: it's the one time I can relax. But relaxing is the last thing on my mind.
"The red envelope had better be on my desk when I get home, or that's another M5 bet lost to Phaiara."
The majority of students fly in a cloud, weaving in and out, over and under, around and through. Boarding--the nickname for Sky-Riding--is a favorite physical pass-time, and teens love the excuse of school to exercise it. Some will even plan a synchronized flight, creating amazing patterns in the air. I fly on ahead of the others, happy to have spent years of allowance on a brand new, top-notch Sky-Rider: I've gotten SO many envious glares.
After a few minutes flight, I leap off of my Sky-Rider and it dematerializes into a shower of light particles. I land awkwardly on the transversal platform, and get in line for a capsule. The lines progress forward at a fast pace. Probably because everyone has a sort of non-verbal understanding: you don't slow me down when I'm in a hurry, and I won't slow you down when you are. I get to the front of the line, and I open the glass door to the transversal.
Stepping in, I type "Hathrax" into the destination slot, and the doors seal shut behind me. Within five minutes, the door opens with a near-silent click, and I stride out onto Transversal Plaza 238, in Hathrax City.
I again materialize my Sky-Rider. The flight home is uneventful, though I am still dizzy from the transversal trip. I curse. 'I forgot to take my medicine!' The government-prescribed medicine is a must for anyone who uses transversals or even goes outside--which is everyone--unless you want chronic lightheadedness and pollution poisoning.
I arrive at House2, and leap off the Sky-Rider, which promptly dematerializes.
I step into the path of the front doors' retinal scanner, and a green light precedes the doors' opening. I walk into the building, check in, and ride the elevator up to Floor 17.
The house itself is identical to the old apartment buildings they had earlier in the millennium. The walls are a creamy white, and the floors are white carpet. The doors are a light gray, with white handles, and I consider them tacky, even though it is standard protocol.
I stand in front of the retinal scanner to my room, and the door clicks open. Another flood of white, as the motion sensor detects that I have entered the room, and the lights turn on. I quickly and anxiously survey the room my heart beating madly. My eyes fall on my desk, and there is a red envelope.
I gasp. 'It's here! My life can finally begin!'
My heart soars to the skies, and I dash to my desk. In my rush, I trip over my anti-grav desk-chair and send it careening across the room. I use my desk to pull myself up, and I grasp the cold metal of the envelope. The envelope scans my fingerprint, identifying me as the recipient. It clicks open and I rip out the mini-disk inside, thrusting it roughly into the disk-slot in my computer. A life-sized projection of a well dressed, professional looking woman appears on the ground in front of me. The message activates:
"ASHEIK JAIDE HATHRAXELLEY, THIS MESSAGE IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE WELL BEING DEPARTMENT OF MINOR INDEPENDENTS (WDMI). A RECENT LAW WAS PASSED BY THE ESTEEMED Xavier Aerthas IV, AND IT HAS BEEN DECIDED THAT DUE TO THE RISING NUMBERS OF PARENTLESS MINORS, THE WDMI IS LOWERING THE ADOPTION AGE LIMIT TO FIFTEEN. YOU ARE NO LONGER ELIGIBLE FOR ADOPTION. THE RESPONSIBILITY OF YOUR CARE SHALL BE LEFT TO THE WDMI. YOUR EVERYDAY LIFESTYLE WILL CHANGE NONE, BUT YOU SHALL LIVE ON YOUR OWN UNTIL YOU TURN EIGHTEEN. WE WISH YOU WELL."
The lady disappears. I cannot tell if the lights turned off, or the tears in my eyes are blinding me, but I begin to cry silently.
'My life hasn't begun. It just ended.' I slowly place my head on my desk. I always knew that it was unlikely for anyone to want to adopt a seventeen year old, but still...there was always hope. And now there is not even that.
'I have no reason to go to school. I have no reason to try at anything. I'll never have a mother's love, now. I won't have a father's admiring gaze fall on me, proud to call me his own. I'll never have brothers or sisters to share memorable times with. I'm incapable of having the life every person I know loves and thrives in. I can't be anything more than a worthless nobody, shuffling along, praying nobody notices me. I'll never...'
I can't seem to stop. I know deep down that what I say isn't even partially true, but I do need to face my fears. I've grieved so many times over this and asked myself 'why?', but it's time I changed my perspective. I need to listen to my fears if I'm to know how to help myself. I just pray I don't begin to believe them.
Point of View:
I finger the emergency transversal protocol chip in my pocket, my heart picking up speed. I've felt this way before, but never so strongly. "Oh, God, they've gotten closer." My pace quickens to a power walk, then to a run. I weave through the crowd of adolescents, attempting to blend in. The feeling I get...it erupts from deep within my chest, an unprovoked, overpowering fear and the overwhelming impulse to run far away. I haven't a clue what causes it, but the last time I ignored it, I lost my family.
I hear a shriek, and whirl around nervously. Ah. It was just those bullies, Roxy and Vanessa. The girl they had tripped is sitting on the ground, a murderous look in her eyes as she watches them walk away, snickering cruelly. I walk over to her and help her to her feet.
"Oh. Uh, thanks..." She says quietly.
"Jerks, huh?" I laugh nervously. I pick up her bag, then hand it to her, glancing over my shoulder anxiously.
I turn away and continue my run towards transversal SB, forcing myself to shake off the last five seconds. I make myself slow down, remain inconspicuous. Frantically, I press the button to close the transversal doors, and let out a breath of relief. I had decided to skip the Sky Rider trip today, not wanting to take the risk of exposure to...whatever is the cause of the feeling. Besides, I am moving into a new apartment block today, so I should probably keep my new location a secret. I myself don't even understand all this secrecy.
I set the transversal for the city "Hathrax," then for "House Block 2." Seconds later, I appear in front of the building marked H2. I walk inside hurriedly but cautiously, check in with the main computer as a new resident, then ride the Elevator up to floor 16. Stepping into the hall, I see the rows of doors lined up, all the numbers faded and nearly illegible. I look down at the number printed on the welcome packet handed to me at the front desk: 21716. I count the doors in my head, silently praying that I don't miscount.
Point of View:
I hear the door click, and lift my head off my pillow. The door opens slowly and a boy steps in. My eyes widen in fear, and I scramble into a sitting position, pushing my back against the wall.
"Who are you? What...how did you get in?" The boy stands there gawking in confusion.
"Ah...uh..." He blinks. "I-I'm Drake. And I used the retinal scanner."
My hand leaves the emergency button on the side of my bed.
"How'd you use the retinal scanner? It's programmed to let only me and my friend in."
"I don't know. I guess I miscounted doors. Maybe it glitched or something. I dunno." He turns to leave.
"Wait!" I say, walking over to him. I frown. "Do I know you?"
He looks thoughtful for a moment. "Umm...oh! Hallway. School. Roxy tripped you."
"Oh, yeah! Thanks for helping me" I frown again. "Wait, your eyes were grey. Now they're blue."
"Oh, they do that sometimes. Apparently yours do, too."
"Your eyes were grey, too. Now they're brown."
"No they weren't--actually, nevermind. Why are we talking about eye color? More importantly, we need to get you out of my room and into yours. I assume you just moved here?"
"How'd you guess?" He mumbles.
"Then your room number should be on your welcome packet."
"Oh. Hah. I, um, sort of threw that out. I'll...just...go get it."
"Oh. Right. Okay. Well, I'll just...look it up." I say to the empty air where he had been standing seconds before. If he threw it out, it's probably compacted with the rest of the trash.
I walk over to my computer and activate the telepathic link. I direct myself to the people database, and search "Drake". I scan the long list of "Drake"s and select the result with his picture. I see that not much of his profile is public. I scroll down to his room number and see that it is 17--one up from mine. Underneath this is a notice.
"Hmm. A notice?" I select it, and read:
Reward of M5 million
Charged with Treason, Illegal
Chemical Warfare, and Murder
My heart stops. A wanted teen refugee was standing in my bedroom not twenty seconds ago. I stand there completely frozen for five seconds, then rush to the side of my bed and press the emergency button. I grab a baseball bat and hide behind my bed.
Ten seconds later, he walks in, and looks around confusedly. "Hello?"
I leap up from behind the bed and slam the bat down towards his head, but he seems to have been ready for it and leaps to the side.
"No! Stop!" He hollers.
"Get out!" I screech. "Criminal!"
"No!" He dodges another swing. "It's a lie! I'm not a criminal!"
"Exactly," I huff, kicking him against the wall, "what a criminal would say."
He growls frustratedly. "Dask it! Just...you know what? I don't care anymore. Do what you will. We're all going to die anyway."
"What's that supposed to mean?" I ask raising my bat threateningly.
"You called the Feds, I assume. You think this hasn't happened before? They're going to either gas or burn this building to the ground, regardless of whether I'm in it or not."
"And why would they do that?"
"Because they don't care." He laughs. "You think they give a dask about anyone? They just want me. They don't care how they do it. If I escape, they just blame the whole thing on me anyways."
"What did you do to get them on your tail?"
"I know a secret about them. Something that would change the way we live if it got out. And they want me dead for it."
A bag drops onto the ground by the door. I turn my head and see Phaiara standing there, gaping at us. "What? What the heck is going on here?" She asks, taking in the scene.
Only now do I realize how strange we look. Him in his rumpled school uniform, back against the wall, me with one arm blocking him from the door, another holding a baseball bat inches from his face.
I shake my head and blush. "No. He's Drake Jobral. Wanted for murder, treason, and arson."
Phaiara's eyes narrow. She runs over to me and wrenches the bat from my hand, pointing it at Drake. "Get over there. Call the police or something. And you. Get. Out. NOW."
"I already called the Feds. But he says this has happened before and they either gas or burn down the building where the report originated from."
"Wait, what?" Phaiara's agitated voice raises another pitch. She turns back to Drake, who hasn't moved an inch. "If what you say is true where has this happened before?"
He looks at me, then back at her.
"Farthicox and Saales."
Phaiara blanches. "God, Asheik, he's not lying. I watched the news and those were the same places that have recently been gassed. Carbon monoxide poisoning, it said, but I didn't believe it for a second."
"Unless he's the one who did it." I mumble.
We stand there for thirty seconds in absolute silence, no one sure of what to do next. Suddenly, I hear a strange knocking in the ceiling.
"What the...?" We look up and see an air vent in the wall.
"Get out!" Drake shouts, rushing for the door.