Sticks and Stones

"By the end of this book you are going to hate me. Scratch that - By the end of this blurb you will sincerely hate me." ********* Akilah Ackerman and Asami Akuhei are step-sisters. Both share dark pasts and both have created dark futures for themselves. One is suffering from a mental illness and one is a manipulative back-stabber. One is trying to gain approval from the living, while the other is trying to gain approval from the dead. One is Psychologically Efficient whilst the other is trying to keep themselves sane. One is about to rule an entire nation and one is going to lose that and their history. This is no ordinary story about sibling rivalry...

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4. 2. Midsummer Murder

 

Humans disgust me. Nothing more than parasites corrupting and recklessly breaking things.

I've always had an issue with time. There either isn't enough of it or there simply is too much of it which causes some people to go out and still commit senseless acts of crimes. Time, one of two things that humans lack any control of- the other being death. Yet we still want to take control, still want that power over what shouldn't be in our possession to begin with, all because of our pride and ego. I hate not being in control. I hate disorganisation; however even I know that time isn't something you ought to be messing with. Being raised in Wall Douglas showed me how unethical people are with time – how it can mess up one's psychological efficiency and in turn cause you to have to end up rotting (closer to the poisonous outside and a disvalue to the constitution). One's PET result most of the time could decide the fate of your entire family and also acts as a way to keep those who serve a purpose to the prosperity of Imperia closer to the centre. I pride myself in living in accordance with God and the perseverance of man.

Douglas is the second ring of walls that are kept in safety in the dome. People who attain PET scores between 26 & 50 reside there- and I was one of them.

Ironically enough, I came from a family who served the land in one way or another (My mother was an Enforcer – tasked with the job of detaining criminals and advocating whether or not that person is fit for rehabilitation and my father worked alongside the system in being one of the select few to conduct the PET tests) Their PET scores were amongst the top in the land , they had the respect of everyone who walked alongside them – their decorated walls of certificates and medals could tell you that much.

Then I was born.

I got a 50. The daughter of an Enforcer and a Psychologist received a 50 on her Psychological Efficiency test! Our family suffered great humiliation – I was only 5 but I understood the severity of my failure. I'd go to the market square with father and the people around would shake their heads in distaste as if I just killed a man. I couldn't just hide or lie about my score either, as it was displayed on a billboard in the city centre for all to see.

My mother wouldn't look at me. She didn't even try to hide her disappointment. Her career, everything she had ever worked for, destroyed just like that – all because of her daughter, the one she birthed. Our dinners became much more of a chore than enjoyable. Father would come home, put his coat on the hanger, remove his shoes and go to his study for a while. Mother would come home, remove her shoes, put her coat on the hanger, grab a bottle of wine and go to her room. I would be taken to school by my father, endure the bullying, be picked up by my father at the end of the school day, go home and play with my dolls. That was the pattern of our household for about 3 months.

The week of my deportation to the Rehabilitation-Centre came and the dynamic of my family changed – but only ever so slightly. Father and I shared a lot more jokes and the ice more or less melted between us , the other children at school came up to me in their little groups and apologised for their behaviour but they all kept saying they didn't know. The stares of people became a lot more pitiful than condescending – and I just didn't understand why.

At the last dinner in my house, we were all sat at our usual places, father opposite facing me and mother on my right. We were eating Sukiyaki which my mother had prepared, we were just eating , no words , for a while.

"Father, when are they meant to take me?" I said in Japanese

Father just simply looked at mother,  who shook her head.

"She is going to find out anyway Suki, either you tell her or I will." Father argued placing his chopstick to one side angrily.

Mother took a sip of her wine before turning to me again

"Asami... truth is you aren't going to the Rehabilitation-Centre..."

My eyes widened in surprise and bliss as I jumped up and down ecstatically – I wasn't going to the Centre!

"Asami wa, suwatte!" Mother demanded, diminishing whatever joy I had in me at that moment, "Asami, sit down!"

I sat down and listened prudently

"You are ... we are... all moving to Douglas."

"We are? Why you two?"

Mother waved her hands in a way that said 'I can't do this' and walked out of the room leaving me and father alone

"Asami, your mother , well she in another lifetime was slated. Do you know what that means?"

I shook my head in confusion

"Well... When a person is detained by the police, their psychological efficiency is rated next to something called the Crime Efficient. It rates specifically the chance of them committing a crime, their overall danger to the public and what sort of crime they are most likely going to commit. If they feel like the criminal is beyond rehabilitation,  then that person is knocked unconscious and their memories are erased"

I took a moment to process this new information.

"So if you hurt someone badly, all  your memories are erased?"

Father chuckled ever so slightly and continued

"No Asami-kun, they erase the memories linking to what led them to commit the crime, but it is possible for the worst amongst the worse to lose all their memories in regards to their past. Anyways, they are then re-educated to the ways of Imperia and are given a second chance to redeem themselves. "

"But what does that have to do with mother? " I asked,  taking another bite of my food

"She was one of them... And since you got that 50 on your PET but one of your parents is a Re-educated criminal, the System views that as the fault of the parent and so they have to come with you. "

"Oh." I simply replied before excusing myself from the room and made my way upstairs.

On my way to my bedroom, I could see through the small bit of mother's door that was open, my mother clutching a bottle of wine in one hand and off all things a cigarette in the other hand. Her expression looked empty as though she had just spoken to death himself. She was mumbling something unintelligible. I just watched her for a while, the guilt really beginning to hit hard as the truth has dawned on me

I broke my mother.

She saw me and threw the bottle drunkenly at my direction, which triggered me to run to my room and hide under the covers in fear.

I tearfully tried to fall asleep as my parents recklessly bellowed at each other through the rest of the evening. 
 

My father didn't have to come with us, but he did. He said that he would rather drown than not be with his family - and that thus lead us to our new 'home' in Douglas. The house wasn't so much a home , more like a shell that we so happened to use to cover our heads with. Unlike Johnson-Garrett (The name of the ring that we used to live in) , the houses presented a very medieval look to them. Technology wasn't as advanced there as our old place- but we managed. Father found a job as a blacksmith, mother began working as a cleaner. Our family eventually found its niche amongst the others and we found ourselves being accepted and welcomed into the community.

I had decided to pay for my mistakes soon after we left Johnson-Garrett. I found myself practising hard in learning English (the most spoken language of the people) , improve in my subjects and revising our land's history. In the meantime, I had also begun relating to the words of the Bible and adopting a purer way of life. All this to impress my mother... 

Our relationship never really recovered after the move, I never really understood why to be quite honest, however, it was my mistake that led us to this situation and that was something that I could never forgive myself for.

*********

They used to call him the most ruthless being to have ever walked the earth.

Now I live with him.

Akilah hates her father and for a while, I hated him too. He was  responsible for the break-up of my parents' marriage, however, I found that I could in a strange way relate and understand him. My step-father has this ethic to work that I highly admire, his focus is only on attaining his goal for his country's sake and nothing else. To sympathise and pity doesn't solve the issue at hand and that is something I 100% agree with. We have spoken, only once. It was on the day I arrived. I saw the piano that stood in the centre of my brand new bedroom and instantly ran towards it I awe- I wanted to play on it like my father did sometimes when I was little but I couldn't. So I sat on the stool and randomly started pressing keys in the hope that something like Fur Elise could be produced - no such luck obviously. I kept playing until I burst into tears (partly due to my failure and partly because I missed my father). My step- father so happened to have stood by the door for a while, watching silently. He approached me and gestured to me to move over, I did and he began playing Flight of the Bumblebee  like a professional. I watched carefully, impressed.

"No reward is worth it if you didn't work for it, Asami." My step-father said after he'd finished

"Someone with your PET has to work hard to really reap the rewards of living here- it won't just be handed to you on a platter , so stop crying and start putting some real effort." he left the room after that.

It was probably the best advice ever given to me.

I resumed my learning the very next day and asked to begin tuition lessons in the piano and violin, ballet and eventually languages (French, Spanish, Italian and German) These things not only gave me the ability to focus but also the spirit that drives me every day. I live to win now and I refuse to let the undeserving to take first place positions that I clearly deserved.

 

Alexi Kuznetsov.

 

Her PET was among the higher ones. Her record was spotless - up until 6 months ago. As she attained the position as the head dancer in our prestigious group ( something I worked very hard in attaining) she was under constant scrutiny , though somehow she managed to hold down her own . I probably would have let her be if it wasn't for mother displaying her disappointment in me not getting the coveted position. I didn't want my mother to think I failed so I took action.

Alexi Kuznetsov is seen to have drugs in her bag and locker. Alexi Kuznetsov is found to have a pregnancy test with three claiming to be the father. Alexi Kuznetsov slammed on social media. Alexi Kuznetsov, calls in sick again - is she trying to hide a guilty conscience? Alexi Kuznetsov found dead.

On the Sunday of the happenings, I attended her funeral alongside the rest of the members, school and her family. After that, I managed to buy a bench dedicated to her outside the ballet studio. After that, I was named head dancer. After that , mother said she was happy with me.

*********

Date: 8th August 2118

Time 6:36pm

I head to the dining hall after my ballet lesson, to find a spaced out , silent Akilah. The food was on the table cold and untouched. I call her but she doesn't respond , so I decide to approach her properly

"Akilah are you alright, you look as though you've seen a ghost"

She seems to have slightly gotten out of her trance , though she doesn't look me in the eye

"Akilah, you are starting to scare me now, did something happen?"

I turn to walk away defeated when she says ever so quietly

"Your mum... your mum is dead."

 

I keep walking.

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