All I could see was a fierce bright light. Am I dead? Is this heaven? For years they had been threatening me with my death and I had shrieked in fear but this wasn’t so bad. There was a dull pain in my head but besides that nothing hurt. I was left to my thoughts.
“She’s awake” a man’s voice broke through to my dreamland with out invitation. Or maybe it was God. After all my surroundings looked like heaven. Or the bright light looked like what I would imagine heaven to be. Yet the bright light was receding in strength to a dim glow.
“No. Don’t leave” I heard myself whimper and I was suddenly aware of my surroundings and unfortunately it wasn’t the picturesque view of heaven. It was a boxed room, much like my cell, except it had carpet instead of concrete. The heavenly light was a dim, flicking bulb hanging from the ceiling, highlighting the lone table in the middle of the room. I moved to sit up and a wave of dizziness hit me, sending me spiralling back down to the ground.
“Easy there tiger” a soothing voice told me. A firm grip moved to under my arms, easing me up into a sitting position. I sneaked a look at the voice and it belonged to a ruggedly handsome man in his forties, who was unfamiliar to me. “You think you are ready to stand?”
I nodded gently and with his aid I stood and crossed over to the chair that was waiting by the table. I dropped softly into it, clutching my pounding head. The man took the chair opposite and sat staring.
“So what is it you want from me?” I asked, not allowing his fake smile to fool me.
“Maybe we should start with easier questions” he said. “My name is Commander Mathews but you can call me Jake. Now please state your name”
“You know my name” I interjected.
“But for the benefit of the tape” he nodded towards a spinning contraption on the table which must be recording the conversation.
“My name is Lux Hardwell,” I said. “Now please tell me what’s going on”.
“Okay, Ms Hardwell, well since you will be of age next month we are reviewing your trial” Jake told me in perfect English but it would have probably made just as much sense in gibberish.
“Come again? At age for what? Reviewing my trial? I have done nothing wrong” I was getting a bad feeling that being here wasn’t going to be good for me. I went to stand up and clamps of metal shot from the chair leg and restrained my ankles. The same thing happened on the armrests, keeping me pinned in place.
“Restraints are a safety measure. You must remain calm and answer the questions I ask,” he told me, his voice scolding. It was evident that his patience was wearing thin.
“Not until you answer my questions” I demanded.
“You are turning 18 in nine days which is the age where the state is no longer liable for your life” he said, shuffling papers in front of him. “Now back to the…”
“No, not back to anything. What do you mean the state isn’t responsible for my life? Is that who is keeping me here? Does that mean I’m going to be able to get out” I rushed, still tugging at my restraints, and scanning for an exit.
“Listen here. You are not running the show. I am. Now when I ask you something you answer, got it?” he snarled, his face contorting in annoyance. “Yes it is true the state has been keeping you here but what I need to know from you is how long have you been here?”
“For as long as I can remember”
“It says in your files from birth, so I can assume that is correct?” he asked, pausing for me to answer. I was stunned into silence. I have been kept as a prisoner since birth? Trapped like an animal? Beaten like a carpet? All since birth. “Ms Hardwell, answer the question”
“I guess… I don’t remember any different,” I mumbled, still in shock over the answers I was finding.
“Now, Ms Hardwell, on what grounds were you imprisoned?” he asked steadily as if this was absolutely nothing. He didn’t flinch at the fact that a baby had been kept in this horrific place for nearly 18 years. He just stared on at me awaiting my answers.
“What harm could a baby have possibly brought? How is it legal to imprison a baby?” I questioned my voice rising. I wiggled in my chair to break free of the restraints but the metal bit into my skin, becoming tighter around my wrists and ankles.
“For your trial, it is required for you to answer the questions with a simple answer chosen from either: yes, no or I don’t know” Jake told me, his voice cold.
“Then I answer with I don’t know” I replied, tears springing to my eyes. The restraints were starting to hurt and a red rash was becoming visible from the tightness.
“For the benefit of the tape Ms Hardwell, I will now read you your original sentencing and address the law of the Commonwealth of the New World that has been broken” he spoke as if he were a robot, reciting his lines for the hundredth time. “It clearly states here that you were imprisoned at birth due to breaching Code 52 subsection 19 paragraph three of which I will now read. ‘Any baby born without permission of the state, is to be taken by the state’. Ms Hardwell’s birth was also in breach of Code 52 subsection 20 paragraph one which I will now read. ‘Any child that is born any time after the birth of a child belonging to the same mother is automatically at the hands of the state and is sentenced to imprisonment til of age’” Jake stopped to turn the page and then continued to read. “Both codes were created in 2020 as a secure measure to enforce lawful population control and was issued by the then Commander, Mr P. Donovan. Ms Hardwell do you have any questions, queries or comments to add? Keeping in mind all answers are being recorded and reviewed as part of your trial”.
“Wait, so let me get this straight…” I started but needed to pause in order to process the mass overload of information. Was I hearing him straight? I couldn’t possibly have because there is no way someone would be so cruel as to imprison children. “You’re saying that I was taken from my family and imprisoned because number one they didn’t get permission to have me and two because I was their second child?”
“You are correct, is there anything more you would like to add?” He asked, flicking his eyes over to the clock as if I was an inconvenience to him.
“I would like to speak to my family” I demanded.
“That is not possible at this time…”
I cut him off and made my voice venomous. “I don’t think you understand me. I want to speak to them. Now!”
“Even if it were legal it would not be possible. It reads in your file that your mother was persecuted for having a second child and sentenced to death. Your father was sentenced to life in imprisonment for aiding your mother’s endeavours. Leaving the first child to have been abandoned and we have no record of her dating to present day,” he said icily but something flashed in his eyes. Sympathy? Sadness? She must have imagined it because his stone cold scowl was still attached to his face.
“She?” I whimpered. “I had a sister?”
I felt a gentle tear roll down my cheek and I let it. Yet I didn’t know why I was crying. How can you miss people you didn’t even know existed? I’ve never even seen a picture of them. For the past seventeen years its been me alone in this world and I guess knowing I once had a family wont change the fact that I’m still alone. I took a deep breath and stopped the tears from falling. Crying will only make me look weak.
‘I don’t want to know any more about them” I told him angrily but it was a lie. The biggest lie I have ever told. I wanted to know everything down to their shoe size but what’s done is done. It can’t be changed. “You said something about reviewing my trial, right? So I’m going to get out of here?”
“I’m sorry, Ms Hardwell…” he apologised, staring blankly at me.
“Please, call me Lux” I begged. A last name belongs to your family. Of which I don’t have. So I don’t deserve to have a last name if I have no one to share it with.
“Lux then” he sighed. He actually looked mildly sad. This couldn’t have gone good. “I have reviewed your case and I’ve been sent orders to stick to your original sentencing”
“Which is…” I paused waiting for the answer but I didn’t need him to verbalise what I already knew. I was going to die.
“Lux Hardwell… I hereby sentence you to death on the day you turn of age. Your sentence will be carried out in exactly nine days,” he said morosely. He scuffled the papers on the desk into a pile and slammed his hand against the machine that was recording. Tears were brimming at my eyes again and this time I just let them fall. Hard and fast. Jake looked at me as if he was going to say something but instead shut his mouth and left me in the room. I was alone in the room, locked to a chair. But that really paled to the fact that I’m going to be dead in nine days. I just sat and cried until I could cry no longer and that was the last thing I could remember.