Little British Girl...

- Decide where you belong -

In a world split into two zones, north and south live separately. The sole-superpower, America in the north, and every other country lives in the south. Trespassing is punishable by death.
When Elia, a British citizen, wakes up in the northern zone she is forced to trust local cop Daniel to keep her safe. With no memory of how Elia came to the north, and no recollection of why, she and Daniel decide to try and figure it all out. But along the way secrets are uncovered, allies are made, and Elia begins to play dangerous games, with tragic costs.

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7. Chapter 7

I’ve never been much of a ‘shopper’. To me, clothes are what we wear to avoid the humiliation and discomfort of walking around naked. I do, however, appreciate the instinctual need to wear nice clothes, and I do make a deliberate effort to buy nice clothes when out and about. The definition of ‘nice’ is different to each person. In my case, I like simple clothes. The most edgy thing in my wardrobe back home was a black and white stripy jumper. Mostly I wear comfy jeans, trainers, and tank tops. That’s just my view of ‘nice’.

I am currently trying to explain this to the over-enthusiastic shop assistant. She keeps on suggesting things to me I can barely pronounce, and asking me if I want to ‘try something new’, even though I made it perfectly clear all I want is a new pair of jeans. I spilt soup on my only pair yesterday, and Daniel, being Daniel, had decided to use my misfortune as an opportunity to test me. He’d sent me out alone to go and buy a new pair, he said I needed to get a better understanding of the city, he thinks I might be here for a while...I suppose I agree with him. After all, we have little information to go on, and until we get more details about my dad, I might as well try to settle down and get more comfortable here in the north.

“I’m gonna go fetch some new things from out back” the assistant winks at me, then bounces off to the storage room. I cringe. All I want is a pair of jeans, and she’s trying to get me to buy the whole store. I’m slightly tempted to run for it whilst she’s gone, but I’d hate to be rude, and I do really need a pair of jeans. I’m wearing Daniel’s right now, but they’re far too big, and the most unflattering pieces of denim I’ve ever put on. She comes back with tons of things for me to try on, I force a smile and thank her, heading to the changing rooms.

As soon as I’m out of sight, I chuck it down on the floor. I search through the piles of nylon, cotton, and various other fabrics, until I find what I am looking for. In all fairness, she did find a good pair of jeans for me. They’re slim-fit and a nice distressed blue colour. They fit too, which is always the first prioritory. My friend Rebecca back home once bought a pair of shoes just because she liked the look of them, they didn’t fit and she was too lazy to return them, they just collected dust at the bottom of her wardrobe for months before she at last donated them to a charity shop. I give the fitting room assistant everything but the jeans, and head to the till, handing over the money Daniel gave me. I have a little left over, so I decide to add a keyring to my purchase. It’s a simple black silicon cube with the words ‘I’m a capeless hero’ printed on it, and when I see it he comes to mind, it will make a nice gift, he deserves a ‘thank you’ after all he’s done for me.

I walk slowly on my way back to his apartment. I take time to appreciate my surroundings, and how lucky I am to be here. I know I’d rather not be, but I must be the only, or at least one of a very small number of people, whose ever seen the opposite side to the planet of which they were born on. I’ll never be able to come back here once I leave, and I want to make sure I notice everything while I have the chance to. It’s not the differences of the north compared to the south that shock me, it’s the similarities. When I lived in the south I was left with only my imagination to satisfy me, and I imagined both a rich futuristic land, and a poverty-ridden one too. Now I’m here, I see it for what it is. The North. It’s no better or worse off than the south. It’s simply the north of the planet.

I turn the key in the lock of the door, and step inside.

“Daniel? Daniel I’m back.” I call out, walking in backwards due to my full shopping bags (he’d gotten me to do the grocery shop too). I place the bags down, turn around, and freeze.

My hand shoots up to my mouth as my mind tries to register what I am seeing.

The apartment is in tatters. The sofa is overturned, plates have been smashed, and worse of all, there is blood on the floor. There are definite signs of struggle all around me. After a few seconds of just standing there, unable to move, I finally jolt to life. There’s a notice on the counter, I pick it up and read it.

‘This notice is to clarify that Daniel Sanders has been arrested and will face trial for assisting the breaking of The First Law.’

I well up as I read it, unable to help myself. ‘Assisting the breaking of The First Law’, that was him helping me. I broke the law when I came here, and he didn’t hand me in...in fact, he helped to create a whole new identity here.

...And now he’s going to face trial because of it, because of me.

My stomach churn and churns around and around, I feel light-headed and have to sit down. I’ve never felt a guilt like this before. Most of the time if I step out of line I can find a way around it, I can apologize, or lie, or try to hide the mess I made...but how can I fix this? The simple answer if that I cannot. I have sent a man to the courthouse. I have sent a man to his doom. This is the worst kind of guilt, for it is both unignorable and unforgivable.

I am sat on the floor with my back to the wall, looking around at the life I destroyed, unable to find the willpower to get up. Among all the thoughts circling among the clouds of my mind there is a whisp of a question, what now? Do I just sit here and give in? What do I do next? Without Daniel, I am an alien here, all lost and alone and abandoned. I have no help in getting home, nor no one to look out for me whilst I am here. I am stuck.

Using whatever pride there is left in me, I stand up, and typically begin to tidy up the mess. Maybe if the apartment looks less distraught I’ll feel a little better? It is, after all, a lot harder to be positive in negative surroundings. I shove the sofa back into position, and pick up the fallen chairs, arranging them around the dining table. I sweep up the broken glass from the smashed vase, throw the flowers in the bin, and scrub the damp carpet from where the water was spilt.

I am arranging the cutlery back in the draw when I see it.

It’s nothing special to the naive eye, but I can see it’s true meaning clear as day. The scraps of black fabric, thin plastic, and a more solid plastic card, all of which have been cut up with scissors. It takes me less than a minute to piece them together and confirm what I already know...it is Daniel’s Police ID. They came here, ransacked his home, violently arrested him, and then they cut up his career.

That does it for me, whatever spark of hope that had previously fueled me is gone. I drop to the ground, I literally drop, as if my legs can’t hold me up anymore. My entire body droops and I shrivel up, my hands in my knees, to an onlooker I’d resemble a dying daffodil. There is no strength left in me except the strength that keeps me inhaling and exhaling. I feel like I’ve been sprayed with a hose, my face is shining with my tears, their cold touch biting my cheeks. Nothing seems worthwhile, nothing seems justified, and above all nothing seems helpful. I am a dying daffodil, spring is over, and I have to face up to the fact that I am not meant for summer. At the same time as feeling lifeless and delicate I also somehow manage to feel frustration and aggression. I want to punch a wall. In fact, if it were not for the fact that I have just tidied the apartment, I would probably be kicking and hitting every object in my path. I hate the government, I hate the zones, and I hate myself...so so much, I really, really, really hate myself right now-

I think I might just lie here. Yes, I think I might.

Too exhausted for any major movement, I recline backwards so that I lie with my back on the cool floor. I do not care that it is hard and uncomfortable, I am too tired to care. I shut my heavy eyes, and try to think of other things. Once I am awake, then I will move forward, but for now, I might as well just lie here.

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