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Remember (Pt. 1)
The government takes us at infants. We are returned when we are ten years old. We aren’t supposed to remember anything, but we always remember our parents.
But me? I remember everything. And those aren’t my parents.
I stood at the door of an apartment, well furnished, with a nice, homely look to it. I remember it was cold, with snow falling like glitter from the sky, catching the light of the streetlamps and throwing it in all directions. The perfect night, really.
Except for the two strangers standing in the doorway. She was brunette, hair swept over a white sweater and jeans, a genuine smile on her face. He was tall, one arm around her, the other extended to me, offering me safety, welcoming me into the warmth of a home I could call my own.
I almost regretted not knowing them.
I almost wanted to go in.
But it didn’t seem right.
The guards behind me gave me a little shove towards them, and it was enough for the woman to put her arm over my shoulders, and the man to close the door, shutting out the world I knew for certain, and trapping me into one that was new, perfect, but utterly wrong.
That was seven years ago.
And for seven years, I’ve had the same questions burning in my mind.
Why was I taken? And who are my parents?
My clock beeps at me; 1:23 am, on the dot. I shut it off quickly, rolling out of bed. The first rule of sneaking out of the house- do it when your parents are in a deep sleep. I don’t see my parents the morning; school starts early, so I see them at 6 o’clock every night, which buys me a whole day.
I make my bed, prop open the window. I unzip my backpack and double check that everything is in there. Extra sweatshirt, socks, gun (stolen from my dad, which he won’t notice until at least next week), and of course, identification, with the words RED473828 on it. It puts me at age 19 instead of 17; believable, but just old enough to be walking around without suspicion.
I wriggle out of the window into the dark, dropping down to the sidewalk. Cool, but not too cold. I check my watch; thirteen minutes until the next patrol walks by, which means they’re at the subway station coming this way.
I’ve planned to take the subway down to the capital, where they have the best tech in the country, possibly the world. See, if I’m going to find my parents, I’m going to need a certain little thing called facial recognition.
Except I can’t use the one at home; that only takes pictures, and they’ve got to be real good ones too. No, I need something a little more high tech.
The capital has a facial recognition program that can run off memories. Incredibly useful for finding criminals, enforcing justice and all that. But it’s going to help me find my parents. Unfortunately, you have to hold a pretty ridiculous amount of clearance to even be in the same building as it; either that, or have a load of money lying around, neither of which I have. But I do have the floor plan, and I have my brain. Hopefully, that’s good enough.
I check my watch again; 1:46. The patrol should be a few blocks down, right out of sight. Perfect.
I slip down the street and into the subway station, the lights flickering off. I had planned on the station being deserted, which means I will be the only one on. The trains run all day and all night, even after curfew, which I’m counting on. No one will check my ID. The only thing I have to be careful of is patrols, which shouldn’t be too hard.
The automated train pulls up. The doors open, revealing rows of seats and a darkened interior. I get on, and the door seals shut with a hiss.
The dark keeps me from being seen by the security cameras. I set my backpack down and lean against the window. My thumb rubs the silver ring around my finger absentmindedly. My watch beeps at me. 2:00 am. Four hours until the wakeup call, sixteen hours until my headstart is over. I rest my head against the cool aluminum, closing my eyes and drifting off to sleep.
I jerk awake when the train comes to a stop. The doors automatically slide open, and I hold my breath on the off chance that someone is standing outside the doors.
Let me clarify something.
The population of Westmere is around 2.4 million people, which is relatively small compared to big metropolitans like New Chicago, which is about 9.4 million. But we still have a large enough population that our subway system gets swamped during rush hours. So, as a somewhat helpful solution, we now have four doors per car, two on each side. So it’s a relatively dangerous thing to hope you won’t get spotted in a deserted subway car.
But no one steps in to the car, and the doors start to close. I exhale a sigh of relief.
A foot stops the door from closing last minute, and they slide open. I duck down in between the seats, pulling my hood up and pressing my back as far as I can against the wall. A tall figure steps on and takes a seat facing away from me. I stay perfectly still. Usually patrols run in groups of two, but you never know. It’s too dark to tell if they have a uniform on. The train slides forward, the dull, rhythmic thudding loud enough for me to breath without being heard. When the train pulls up to the next stop, he gets up and, as the doors slide open, he glances left and right, and then disappears.
I hold still for a couple seconds more, unable to believe that he didn’t notice me. But I don’t have much time to rest, because just then the sound of voices drifts down the tunnel.
I stand up and press myself against the wall, the cool metal seeping through my sweatshirt. Better to be ready to run then get caught sitting down.
Footsteps. The mystery man trying to sneak out, by the sound of it.
The voices stop, accompanied by two familiar clicks. Safety’s off.
I silently take out my gun and get ready to fire. I start to aim around the corner…
“Halt!” The patrol guard yells, and I snap back around the corner.
“Why?” A male voice asks tauntingly, with a brashness that’s about to get him killed.
“Who do you think you are? Put that gun down and get on your knees!”
The guards advance on him, and he takes a quick breath in, getting ready to fight back.
I see my chance.
I bolt out of the train, heading right for the street opening. If I can make it there, I’m home free-
“Go get the other one!”
What? The other one?
I put on an extra burst of speed as the patrol guard whips around the corner, shooting. I don’t dare waste ammunition, not when I have a chance at outrunning him. I can still hear the other guard in the distance. He’s putting up a good fight. I round the corner, intent on getting to the fire escape, where I can scale up to the roof and shoot.
But I never get there.
A gun comes out of nowhere and suddenly there’s a muzzle in my face and one in my back, holding me there.
I tense. There’s no way out, and I can’t plead innocence, not after running away.
The first guard comes up, bringing a cuffed and struggling young man with him.
“Let’s get these two locked up.” His grip on my arm tightens.
“And you’ll find out what the Elector does to rebels.”
Well. This is an issue.
I’m not a rebel.