‘I just...Never Thought I’d Meet Another Person Insane Enough to escape.’
Who Ran
“Good morning, children of 2057!” The speaker in my bedroom blared,—as it always did in the morning—which normally would’ve woken me, but I’d been awake all night. With one thing on my mind. I dragged myself out of the cold, hard bed they gave us to sleep on and walked into the small bathroom I had to myself.
“The first meal of the day will be served in the commissary at 210:49 in the morning,” The speaker then blasted, informing us that breakfast was soon. I groaned, for all I wanted to do was stay in my room and plan out how I’d do this.
But if you weren’t in the commissary by 210:49 each day, you’d be punished. I’m not sure what the punishments were, for they never told us, but there’s a girl who got punished and she’s been traumatized ever since. And she can’t tell anyone what her punishment was, either.
See, I live in Afrencia; a place once known as South America, in the year 2074. The government made this decision in 2030, before I was born, to separate everyone into groups based on what year they were born in. Like, there are these huge buildings (I mean, like, huge), that everyone born in that year has to basically live in. Since I was born in 2057, I live with seventeen-year-olds like me. And only seventeen-year-olds.
The 0nly people who aren’t seventeen are the people from the government who run each building. They’re the ones that perform the punishments, run the intercom—which is the speakers—and things such as that. They also decide how we will keep time. Each building has a different way of tracking time. The way we keeps ours is somewhat random and a bit confusing at times. First time of the morning is 30:7 and then every hour, those numbers double. But the worst thing about all of this is definitely the fact that we’re all split up based on our ages.
And because of the separation system, I’ll never see my parents. I’ll never know who they are and what they do. I’ll never know if I have a sibling. The only people that know anything about their family are the ones that are twins, triplets, etc. And that’s because they’re forced to share a bedroom and bathroom in order to conserve space. Otherwise, they probably would’ve never found each other, because, as I said, the building is gargantuan.
And there’s something else about these buildings. You can’t leave them.
I slipped on a t-shirt and jeans, stuffed my hair into a bun, and headed down to the commissary. Once I got there, I filled my plate with fruit and porridge. The food wasn’t bad, actually. I found Andre, my best friend, and sat down next to him at the table he was at.
Time to do the thing I’d been thinking about all night.
“Hey, Andre?” I started.
“Yeah?” he put his spoon into some yogurt he had gotten.
“Have you—do you...uh,” I stuttered.
Andre started to shovel yogurt into his mouth.
“Do you wanna break out of this place?” I finally asked.
Andre widened his eyes and swallowed his yogurt.
“Are you kidding me, Eden? Do you want to die?” Andre asked in disbelief.
“No. But I just—I think the government’s hiding something.”
“What do you mean? And anyway, why would you want to know about know it? It’s not like you could do anything,” Andre argued with a confused expression.
“What I mean is why would the government want to keep us all locked up? I mean, we’re useful at this age. We could do work. Why are they holding us back? And, I personally think I could do something,” I protested angrily.
“It may not make sense, but it is what it is. And you are not running away,” Andre snapped.
“Sorry, Andre, but I am. So I guess I’m going alone.”
“Eden, you can’t be serious. You heard about that kid, right? Mason, I think his name was,” Andre looked at me, a sad look on his face.
“Mason Dunn, I know. He died looking for his parents, didn’t he?” I recalled.
“Yup, I’m pretty sure he did. And I don’t want you to die,” Andre said, finishing his yogurt.
“I know you don’t. And I won’t.”
“Huh? And why is that?” Andre raised an eyebrow.
“I just—I won’t. I can’t. This has been what I’ve been thinking about for years now. I’m ready,” I told him.
“How can you be ready for something you don’t even know what is?” Andre challenged.
“God, Andre! Do you have to doubt everything?” I yelled at him.
“You know escaping won’t work. It’s stupid, Eden. It’s stupid. Besides, why would you want to leave this place? It’s got everything! Food, sports...me,” Andre’s voice trailed off.
“Why would I want to stay where you are?” I roared.
Andre started to study my face, specifically my eyes.
“Eden, have you gotten any sleep?” he questioned worriedly.
Darn it. He noticed the dark circles under my eyes.
“So what if I didn’t?” Andre was really ticking me off at this point.
“Eden, look. I love you—I mean, as a friend. And I’m kind of...worried about you. I mean, you’ve got to be insane to even think about breaking out of here,” Andre’s voice was soft.
“Oh, so I’m insane now, huh?”
“No, that’s not what I was saying. I’m just—”
“Done talking to me. That’s what you are,” I snapped, picking up my food and moving to a different table.
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