Lucid

~The Sequel to 'Little British Girl~
- Decide which side your on -
Three and a half month after Luci kidnapped her birth father, Xander Moore, Elia and her friends are on the run. Both north and south are engulfed in complete and utter chaos, and the resistance and the rebellium are gaining power through an alliance. Both sides want them out of the way, and they have nowhere to be, nowhere where they belong. The four friends must choose a side, the alliance, or the government, a decision that will forever haunt them all.
Nothing is certain, nothing is safe, nothing is lucid.

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13. Chapter 13

“Ever since I was a boy, all I ever wanted to do was help people, you know, make a difference in the world. Most boys grow out of this hero-ambition, and to some extent, I did, but that didn’t stop me from dropping out of college to become a PA in some vague hope that I might end up leaving an impact on the world.” My father explains, we’re all sat in his small living room, coffee and tea in hand, listening intensively. “I was assigned to help out a young and promising politician, Xander Moore. He was barely a man at that point, the same age as me. We got close, became friends even- he was a different man back then, you know, ‘pure’...anyway, Xander was going on a trip to the south alongside a big team of others, and he wanted me along for the ride. He claimed it was because he needed someone to make notes for him, but really, he did it because he knew how much I wanted to see the other zone. I wasn’t disappointed, just walking down the streets of New London made me feel ecstatic, as if I were walking on the moon.” I smile as his words trigger memories of my own, walking around California just a year or so ago with Daniel, exploring the other side of the world. “The meetings were dull, and the formalities were tiresome, but that didn’t stop me and Xander from making the most of the trip. One night, we decided to go out drinking, exploring the southern night-life. There was this bar, worked mostly by young students in need of some cash, full of beautiful women. Xander was beside himself, I wanted to move along, not too bothered by all the girls, but he wouldn’t budge. He started chatting up this red-head waitress, playing around as per usual. I just stood in the corner, letting him have his fill. Then, this waitress carrying a tray of drinks tripped over my foot, and spilled a selection of unhealthily coloured drinks all over me. She apologised and took me into the staff area to clean me up, and even got me a free drink to make up for it. We got talking, she told me her name was Catlin, and that she was working her for a few weeks to pay her debts. She was...different, not exceptionally beautiful to be fair, but that seemed to make her more real, all these other girls with plastic faces just couldn’t compare. I knew we were leaving in two days, so I took a leaf out of Xander’s book and went for it. She seemed flattered, I don’t think she was used to getting hit on, we went back to her place and...well, you can fill in that gap yourselves. The next day I went back to a very chuffed Xander, who spent most of the day bragging about the night he’d had. We attended our last meeting and packed our bags, but I realised I’d left my wallet at the bar the night before. So I went back and fetched it, and Catlin ran over to me, telling me she was pregnant, and that the child had to be mine. Conflicted, I ran, too scared to fully register what had happened, what I’d done. I returned to the north and tried to move on with my life, forgetting about my adventures with Catlin. Xander grew older, more tired and firm, he started working me harder, treating me like an employee instead of a friend. I began to dread each working day with a heavy passion. I’d think about Catlin in the south with our child, raising it all by herself, a part of me wished I’d never come back to the north. Still,I stuck with my job. One day Xander asked me to do some research into the history of the zoning system, ready for a speech he had to give. He was vice-president of northern security at the time, newly promoted. What I discovered unsettled me, with full clearance I was able to see every secret, every trick, every sin...and it made me doubt everything I thought I knew. I’d become Xander’s PA to make the world a better place, but what I found told me that all I’d done was re-paint the gates of hell. I couldn’t take it anymore, and nearly six years after the trip to the south, I quit, on the exact day I thought my child would have turned five.”

“I was premature, it was five days later.” I tell him, setting the facts straight. He smiles at me, placing his hand on my knee.

“I moved out here and got a part-time retail job, keeping a low profile. I haven’t done anything else since.” He finishes his story, shrugging towards the end.

“That’s quite the story Mr Ryans.” Daniels says, leaning back as he runs it back over in his mind.

“Call me Steve.”

“Um...Steve? Sorry to ruin this touching and slightly awkward moment with us all, well, thinking mostly, but you mentioned discovering something, what was it?” Annabeth speaks, breaking the solemn atmosphere.

“I discovered many things when I was granted full clearance for the research task, but two of them still haunt me today. The first was the main reason I left the service. When searching through the information about life before the zones, I found an old video tape of a meeting, it was about China. They were worried, apparently China was close to achieving superpower status among the other countries of the world, and America was falling into debt and crisis. Worried about growing powers elsewhere, and domestic issues in the US, they decided to take action. Do you all remember learning about the terror attacks at school?”

“Yeah, apparently there was destruction and warfare everywhere in some countries, with terrorist groups rising up. It was one of the reasons zoning was initiated, to ensure peace. If America had more land to develop weapons, the terrorists could be stopped.” I recall my old history lessons.

“Well it turns out 86% of those attacks were faked or staged by the american government to scare the rest of the world. Afterwards the terrorists were rounded by and silenced. America didn’t even use the land for weaponry in the end.” He pauses to let his words sink in, “The world agreed to let america have half the planet to develop food and other resources, and to give them back to the south. It worked to some extent, world hunger and poverty ceased to exist, and a utopian planet was born. But this utopia was based on lies and deceit and american fear. China could no longer flourish in the south, and America won. Years later, all we have is the censored history books to guide us on the events of the past.”

“Zoning wasn’t initiated to save the planet from poverty…” I trail off.

“It was initiated so america could create a worldwide hierarchy with them on the top.” Annabeth finishes my thought, staring down at the floor. “I-I always knew something was wrong with the system, but I never imagine- well, I just thought it was wrong, I didn’t think it was ever meant to be wrong.”

“When I went to tell Xander, to open up his eyes, I discovered he already knew, and that he didn’t care...he took away my full clearance and put someone else on the task, sending me off to do some filing instead.” My dad sighs, burying his head his hands, “It was then I realised my old friend was gone. Xander was just like the politicians who initiated zoning, selfish and corrupt.”

“You said you discovered two things, how could you after he took away your clearance?” Daniel realises, staying on task. Unlike the rest of us he’s able to just digest this information and move on.

“After that day, I couldn’t just continue like normal. I did some more digging, this time into the files I had permanent access to, Xander’s. I found...something.” He seems to change his mind after his first sentence, not telling us the whole story.

“What? What did you find?” Annabeth pestered him for more, like a dog chasing a bone.

“You can tell us, we can take it.” I assure him, leaning closer. He just shakes his head, staring off into the distance, something unreadable painted across his face, a cold glint in his eye.

“I knew Xander had done some bad things...but I didn’t expect anything so awful, so soulless- I deleted the file from the database, and hid the paper copy among meaningless rubble. Report A341, it was-”

“Wait.” Max cuts him off, rummaging through his bag, “Did you say A341?”

“That’s the one, why?” Max keeps on digging, and pulls out a plastic wallet, I recognise it immediately as the set of files we stole from the facility.

“This file contains reports A250 to A350.” Max reveals, opening it up and pulling A341 out for us all to see, before handing it over to my father for him to examine, “Is that it?” My dad opens it up, and reads the first few lines of text.

“This is it…” He shakes his head, breathing heavily, “Have you read it?”

“Not yet.” I promise him, setting his worries at ease.

“I’d advise you never do,” he warns us, “Whatever you think of Xander Moore, no matter how much you hate him, this will still shock you.”

I look down at the report, I know Xander Moore is a monster, but it seems like whatever’s inside that plastic wallet proves he’s even worse. I’ve never thought of anyone as worse than a monster, and I’m sure I never want to.

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