Sector 9

What would you do if you found out your whole life was a lie?

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3. Chapter 3: Maddy

May 27th

    I hadn't known what to expect of the Wander. No on in Ipsum was even certain if it existed. After the original outbreak of The Changing, everyone began to whisper of fleeing to The Wander. As far as I knew, me, Zoey, James and Donovan were the only ones to act.

    Of course, Sector 6 had erased any trace of The Changing from Ipsum, including the memories of witnesses. I knew it was only a matter of time before the Enforcers came to inject us with amnesia.

    It was too late for any of our parents. James even had to leave behind his little sister, Nora. Zoey didn't have any siblings, lucky for her. The Enforcers had not come for us yet, because we had all been at my house in sector 1, and they had started in sector 2. They had already stolen everything from us: our families, our freedom, our tongues. So we decided to search for the Wander.

    It was hard to find the entrance to freedom. It’s gate was fluid among the sea of tongues at school. Adults, especially from sector 6, declared such a place to be non existent whenever they heard us speaking of such things.

    But they were wrong.

    It was pretty easy to locate the gate. There was only two spots in all of Ipsum that were suitable for a gate, because they were the spots with no cameras in vast areas. Conveniently, they were both along the train tracks near the outerwall of sector 4.

    It was James that found the true entrance. He had been running his fingers along the wall, when he found a loose brick. He hooked his fingers around the outside, pulling it out of the wall. Instead of revealing a doorknob or a keyhole, the only thing behind the brick was a small painting of a blue flame. James brushed his fingers over it softly, and we heard a loud, buzzing like noise. Then, to our immense surprise, another brick had popped out of the wall near eye level, and a bright brown eye peered out from behind it.

    “Name?” The voice had demanded, revealing that the speaker was a boy, probably the same age as me or near it. I answered, and the voice rattle off a couple more questions concerning how we found the entrance, why we wanted to come to the Wander, and so on.

After a lengthy interrogation, the brown eye suddenly disappeared from behind the wall. I could hear yelling from the other side, but I couldn't make out what they were saying. I looked at James, my eyebrows raised, but he just answered with a shrug.

    “How's the weather down there?” Called a squeaky voice, and I snapped my head back, looking up. A scrawny boy with sandy hair peeked over the top of the 20 foot concrete wall. I stared at him in awe, and he giggle, thoroughly enjoying himself. “Well, come on up, then,” He said, tossing down a thick rope with knots tied at regular intervals. “We haven't got all day. The next train comes by in 10 minutes, and I don't want to scrape your bodies off the tracks tomorrow.”

    “I guess we’re off.” Said James, looking with regret back to the city. He reached forward and seized the rope in his fist, beginning to shimmy up it with surprising haste. I began to climb up after him.

James had made it look so easy. He was already at the top of the wall, staring over it with his jaw dropped, but I was only halfway up.

“Mads…” He whispered with awe. “You have to see this!” He glanced down at me, still struggling towards the top of the rope. He reached down with his hand as he repelled down the rope and pulled me up. Then he helped up Donovan, who was right on my tail. Zoey remained on the ground, looking unsure.

“Zoey, c’mon!” Said Donovan, reaching his hand out to her, even though she was far away. “We will get a new start now!” Zoey knit her eyebrows together, analyzing the rope and how far it was to the top.

“I can't do it,” She whispered, and the defeat in her voice pained me. “Go on without me. I have to get out of here before the train comes.”

“No, Zoey-” I began, but before I could finish my sentence, James pushed me aside and began to slide down the rope. “James!?”

James jumped when he was halfway down the rope, rolling smoothly to stifle his fall. I could hear the train approaching from a distance, and Zoey’s eyes widened with terror. James ran to her, crouching down. I couldn't hear his words over the puffing of the train engine, but she climbed on his back, and James sprinted back to the rope.

James climbed with tremendous speed, the train’s headlights illuminating him and Zoey. He flattened himself against the wall, and the train whooshed by, only just nicking Zoey’s back.

“James!” I screamed, at the same time that Donovan yelled Zoey’s name. The train sped on, like the fate of my best friends life didn't hang in balance. But when it passed, both of them were fine, if a little frightened.

        Donovan and I grabbed the rope, pulling with all our might, and foot by foot, James and Zoey began to inch up to us.

When they finally reached the top, James collapsed on the top of the wall, breathing heavily. I ran to his side, he deflected my concerned comments, instead pointing with a shaking finger over the wall. I turned my head, and felt my jaw drop to the floor.

 

 

    The Wander was...wild. Untapped. Pure.

 

Trees of a quality I had never seen before sprouted freely from the ground in any spot they pleased, unlike the garden of Ipsum. They weren't the same size or color, like they defied everything about the trees I knew. Some of them had bright red bulbs hanging from their branches, and I wondered why the Wanderers had put them there. Water trickled across the group in a silver vein, like it had a mind of it’s own, silver in  the moonlight from the cloudless, starless sky. The ground was uneven, like the stars had sculpted a face into it with their light.

But even more astonishing than the nature was the people. They, in themselves, were even more wild than the flora and fauna of The Wander.

The clearing over the wall was buzzing with dark life. These people weren't dressed in grey, but cloaked in an assortment of colors, like the plumage of a bird in the pages of our sector textbook. Their hairstyles were not identical like I was used to, but worn in styles I had never seen before. Some of them carried long black boxes with metal tubes at the end, and had them slung over their shoulders or held stiffly at their chests.

“Alright, cupcakes. Get off the wall before someone spots you.” Said a stocky girl from the bottom of the wall. She was carrying one of the boxes as well. She held it away from her body, as if it would come alive and bite her at any moment. I wondered what a cupcake was, and why I was referred to as one. James took my hand and we jumped down onto the platform were the boy stood, and he opened a trapdoor for us to climb through. We began to descend down a rope ladder, followed shortly by Donovan and Zoe. When we landed, the stocky girl stalked forward with her box trained on our faces, studying each of us in turn. She stopped on James’s face, tilting her head to one side. The girl next to her opened her mouth, but Maxine shook her head at the girl, and she promptly closed her mouth, looking resigned. She moved forward, prodding at our bodies. A little girl no older than 8 followed her lead, also holding one of the boxes.

“What’s that?” Asked James, poking the tip of the tube on the end of the box held by the stocky girl. The girl yanked it out of his grasp, like James had burned her.

“It’s a gun, idiot!” She snapped. “Dont touch!” Evidently, James didn't understand that any better than I did.

After a bit more prodding, our captors nodded to each other.

“They’re clean.” Said the littler girl. She motioned to two more kids near a concrete building to our left, a boy probably around 12, and a girl of the same. The boy seized James’s arm, and the three other girls grasped ours, guiding us towards the building.

“Wait!” Said James, scowling. “That’s it? No questions? We’re just part of you now?”

“No,” Said the boy at his left. “You still have to be questioned by Jared. Then you will be clothed and equipped by Octavian.” James looked at me with his eyebrows raised. I shrugged back at him, and we allowed the four kids to guide us into the building ahead.

The room inside was simple. In the center sat a mahogany table with 4 chairs around it, and a light hung from the ceiling overhead. In the middle of the table there lay an old, leather bound book and a plate of round pieces of bread. On the back wall, there were 3 closets, all of mahogany.

“Maxine,” said a deep, reassuring voice. A man stepped into the light, wearing a comforting smile. He had skin the color of soft leather, and he smelled of leather, too. He held out his hand and shook each of our hands. “You have done well. I hope you have not troubled our new Wanderers too much?” He raised his eyebrows at the stocky girl, Maxine.

    “Nothing to worry about, Jared,” Said Maxine, looking at the floor. “Watch out for that one.” She added, nodding at James. “He is not the brightest. Touched the tip of my gun, casual as you please.”

    “Well, we must remember that they don't know of such things Maxine. Now you better get back to the gate in case anyone else comes. Off you go.” Our guides left, heading out the door. Maxine stopped before leaving the building, turning back to look at James.

“I’m sure you will have an interesting time. Look forward to hearing your story later.” She sneered, and followed the other guards out of the building, closing the door behind her.

    “Welcome to the Wander,” Said Jared grandly, holding up his hands. “I know you are probably a little confused. Allow me to supply an introduction.” He coughed into his shirt before continuing. “The Wander was formed by Sectorist who realized how corrupt the government was. They formed it with no government, so there could be no corruption. They placed authority in the hands of the people. The original Wanderers decided on a few simple rules to protect the Wander and all that is symbolizes. The first: An eye for an eye, unless deemed otherwise by both the questmaster and the gatekeeper. The second: Once entered the Wander and confirmed a citizen, a wanderer may not go back to the Sectors unless instructed by the questmaster. The fourth: Never, ever, may any Wanderer reveal the location of the Wander, nor shall they supply names to anyone who may try to obtain them. Quite simple, really.”

    “Who would try to get the names of Wanderers?” Asked Donovan, looking alarmed.

    “That is not of your concern at the moment. Now, I have a couple mandatory questions to ask before I clear you to talk to Octavian. The first: how did you find the entrance to The Wander?”

    “Oh, it was simple,” Began Donovan, casting a proud look at me. “Maddy maps the cameras that appeared in the daily news. There are only two spots that a gate could be placed without the security monitors noticing.”

    “Oh, I see,” Said Jared, stroking his beard. “Well, you certainly are the first ones to use that strategy. Usually our questmaster sends some agents into the city recruiting, so it’s quite unusual for someone to stumble upon our living space by accident. Next question: Do you plan on staying in the Wander for the continuing duration of your lives?”

    The others looked at me nervously. I snapped to respond before Jared could notice their expressions.

    “Yes. There is nothing left for us in the city.” Jared, evidently, wasn't as dumb as I had made him out to be. He raised his eyebrows and flicked his eyes from me to the others. After a moment's silence, he seemed to drop the subject, and refrained from probing any further.

    “Alright. It all seems to be in order. I will record your information in our book of citizenship, then take you down to Octavian to be suited up. He will then take you to an advisor who will explain life in the Wander. Good luck to you all.” Jared stood, motioning for us to follow him, and loped out into the clearing under the falling moon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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