“You have to get out, Sarah!”
They said to run or the men would catch me. I didn’t know where to go, and I knew the officers wouldn’t let me escape. They approached on either side of the doors. Hal locked the doors to delay the officers.
"Get out!" He yelled. I finally figured out what he meant.
He meant to climb out through the window. The window was small, but I was able to fit right through. I slid out then with just enough time to sneak away and I ran and ran in the opposite direction. I was running as far as I could get from the hundreds of booths, booths with men, men who would find me. They were men without souls but who were armed with guns; so many chemicals and so many entertaining delusions were made to keep them happy. It was the way the system worked. How did no one see me? I caught a glimpse of what appeared to be a conscious man in the window, yet his eyes were so fixed. His stare was so focused on nothing but a point on the horizon.
The traffic and the noise sent me spinning in circles, and the flashing lights made me nauseous. I could go to the right and follow the line all the way to the end, but would this line ever end? I could follow the left, and I knew less about where that would lead other than darkness and possibly more guards. Where was the end? I kept turning around in circles. Cars were on every side of me soon.
I got sick and sweat rolled down my face. The fear had sent me falling to the ground as the world collapsed beneath me in a big jolt. For a while I lay there without sound or light, in between the lines of a never-ending highway. It felt like it was over, but by some strange coincidence or awesome luck I was picked up by Anna the “outlaw” of science.
Anna was helping children just like me. She’d rescue them and hide them in her authorized emergency vehicle which was able to go anywhere. Anna, who had once been a doctor’s assistant, saw me. She had jumped out and quickly grabbed me.
She took me in and put me in the ambulance so fast that not even the guards saw her from that distance. Then she drove me in right through the checkpoint. I was laid on a bench in the back, and when I regained consciousness I saw more benches filled up with people. I found myself with other children. Some of the children looked sick and some looked sad. Was I being rescued again? Soon, many of the children introduced themselves and told their stories of how they got there.
“Where are we going?” I asked.
“Where we can be free, of course.” was Anna’s reply. “A long time ago doctors were free to roam the highways in search to save the sick and dying. All you had to do was press a red button, the ER radar button, and we would be able to find you anywhere. That was when ambulances had all the same rights as the police did. “Save and protect.” That was our motto. Half the roads were blocked off for safety travel. Signals connected to our vehicles, would trace us through the shortcuts to every emergency imaginable. We would come to you.
I felt proud of my work. And really, it was the only way we could have done it. If we didn’t have those roads available, we couldn’t reach anyone in time through the traffic. There isn’t even a point for the safety roads for us anymore. All the doctors have been called to aid the soldiers in our foreign money wars. People are sick everywhere, but there’s no one left to help them. That’s why we are fleeing to The Wasteland.”
“Don’t you have to stay here and help all those people you were talking about?”
“Even if we tried, there is no chance,” she replied. “The roads have been blocked off from us since we were called away years ago. Let’s just hope our New Foundation can help itself.”
New Foundation? What kind of a foundation was this world built on? If nothing else, I knew we had to find my sister in The Wasteland. I was going to The Wasteland to find my sister at last. If this was the only place left we could go, then no matter what we were going to find her; if my sister knew it too, she would be trying just as hard as me to get there, to find me…as least I hoped.
“How big is The Wasteland?” I asked. Anna didn't reply and so I figured she didn’t know.
The thought of finding my sister brought new hope and life back into me. I was feeling less nauseous. I was lucky. My brother, Bobby, was not so lucky. Maybe I’d find him someday too. I had been thinking about my brother a lot. He could be lost by now. But the thought almost ripped out my insides. I had to be calm and be happy to be stay alive now. I had to blend and I had to pretend. When you lose hope, you lose all chance of survival; hope is what keeps you alive and keeps you struggling to do what is right. As long as I knew I had a chance, I could keep myself alive.
The world would never have my confession. I was fleeing, escaping with souls who also would never give up. We had reached a resting area where we had found a safe place to park. Anna told us that at last we were allowed to run. We ran around these long-deserted fields, feeling so much liveliness and happiness. It had been three months since I had been outside. The air seemed clear and perfect. This was a small taste of paradise! We ran in our bare feet as far as we could go. Anna never called us back, so we kept going. The ocean was becoming faintly alive in me. We kept running. It was as if God had decided to greet us and I think God also was hoping we’d find what we did. At first, I thought it was the ocean. I was so excited.
“It’s the sea!” I cried out. As we came to the bank we cried out for joy while Jess, who was the boy I loved, picked me up and swung me around in his arms. “Listen up my fellow citizens and welcome to paradise; really, it’s the best thing you could ever dream of. Look into the future!” Jess yelled out. Then he grabbed me.
Before I knew it I was being drenched underneath the water with Jess. When I stood up in the water, Jess looked at me with those big brown eyes shaded by streams of red hair. We swam until we all had to come in before we would get sick. Everything was fine, we thought, until we reached the ambulance.
Inside, someone was crying. We found Laura and she’d hurt her leg really badly, and passed out.
It was Anna who was crying because she had sold all her leftover supplies to get food for everyone. Laura’s knee was bleeding really badly. Everyone was scared and didn’t know what to do. We were going to have to go back to a station to get supplies for Laura. It was so dark outside and the sight of the place sent me shaking. This time I knew I was ready to throw up. Jess tried to comfort me, but I could see the fear in his eyes. Anna looked back at us then and said, “Remember. No matter what happens we will always be together. You are my family, after-all, and nothing will tear us apart.” She got out and ran to the gas station while Laura was lying half unconscious and really pale. I wondered why it was taking so long.
Someone said, “They are probably questioning her about needing bandages at so late at night and why she wasn’t at home with her children.”
“They could be arresting her,” another kid said. “Maybe they know she escaped the war.”
Nobody said a word after that. Even after it was said, the words echoed in the engine. Finally, the silence broke but not by Anna.
“Please get out of the ambulance! All passengers are under arrest for trespassing and violation of safety codes. Get out now and no one will get hurt!”
No one moved a muscle. We were all so scared. What now? We can’t die, I thought. I ran up and opened the doors. One girl cried out, “Why, Sarah!?” Suddenly, streams of men came charging in with electric clubs. The men were shouting, “Cooperate or suffer!”
I ran before they cuffed my friends’ hands and pulled them away from each other. They were told not to speak and were threatened with weapons. I spun and dodged and kicked. “I screamed as I ran, “I’m sorry Jess! I’m so sorry. I didn’t want anyone to get hurt!”
I couldn’t say goodbye to Jess but I saw a longing in his eyes. A tear rolled down his cheek. Then I was caught off guard as a tall man lumbered towards me. I couldn’t think of anything else to do, so I kicked the man right where it hurts most. Then I ran. I was running with the rush of the ocean waves crashing behind me.
The cars were zipping by as the men chased me. They could never catch me. I had life inside of me. I had visions of sunlight and sand, not dark streets and flashing lights. Not of screaming headlights and honking horns and angry voices yelling into your ears. Not machines, sending fear to the very insides of you. Beware of us! We are mad! That was their language. That was the language of the new foundation.
Then a car came up to the side of the road and a man yelled out the window to “Get in!” I hurried up, and the men were so close behind me. I was fast enough to make it right as the stranger was forced to slam the door of a big cargo truck before he swerved to the right. All the police cars were gathering around on us.
We sped forward zooming as fast as we could, stalked by our predators like fresh meat. “Who are you? Little Girl?” He asked me. The police could keep pace it would be impossible for them to reach us in the moving traffic. "I'm Sarah,” I said. “I have to get my sister.”
"Is she lost?" I felt like I had so much to explain with so little time. “Because everyone is!” I yelled as we quickly swerved to the left and again to the right. We sped up fast and looked like all was clear, then the man slammed on his breaks. All the lanes were filled with police vehicles.
We looked up to realize the police cars had surrounded us and the men were getting out. I climbed on the back of the truck through the window and yelled in fear. I felt a jerk when suddenly everything was moving again. The police force had gotten back into their cars…but why? It took me a minute before I realized the truth. They were going to crush me.
The traffic would start again and all I knew was I had to jump. With the slight movement I braced myself; the angry driver sped in all directions trying to get me away. I stood level and then I leaped as hard as I could to the destination. I was flying, and then I was landing. I landed on the back of black truck this time. Then it sped up so fast that there was no possible way for me to jump off. It went like this a good long time until the traffic stopped and the man yelled out.
“Do you want me to help you?”
He asked as he drove down the winding road and when we reached the end, I saw the letters reflecting my worst nightmare coming to life.
WASTE LAND CORRECTIONAL FACILITY GARBAGE MANAGEMENT
There they stood. These were the people who did this to me and to my family. Then doors closing were behind us as we drove through the gated entrance.
“Welcome to the Wasteland,” my captor said as he smiled.
We were greeted by people in blue scrubs.
“What do we have here? Hmm. She looks bright enough. What is the trouble with her?”
“She tried to run away, numerous times, and I can’t watch her anymore. She also…” He whispered into the old guy’s ear and I thought he said said family. I screamed and then suddenly someone put something on my eyes, everything was darkness and oblivion.
“You are not blind, child, you are free and happy. Now come with me to a beautiful world…” The voice began lulling me into a virtual dream and a virtual world. There was nothing but blinding white lights covering the walls and the floor and the ceiling and every time I blinked out of the dream, I felt pain. I only felt pain.
“We can see you and we know everything about you,” a voice said from the walls. “We can see all your memories, and we can make you live them as if they were your own. We can take you on a journey that will never ever end. Let's play the game pretend!"
I began to feel my stomach turning in on itself.
"You can live forever, or you will think you can when you join us. No, we’re not all trapped like you are. But you are a failure. You are garbage. You are lucky to be given such paradise in America’s New Foundation. You get happiness and paradise. It’s all you ever dreamed of and more. Don’t be mad, get glad! Don’t be sad, be happy!” The booming voice came from everywhere and it wouldn’t go away. I wanted it to stop but I was afraid to show them that I was resisting.
“Are you sure about that? This one still has light in her eyes.”
I tried to understand. When I opened my eyes and saw that I was still inside I felt true despair for the first time in my life. Then I jumped off into the space even despite my fear. I saw a group of girls with stars on their hands. I began to hear the words. "She was one of the star children." I screamed, “I am not yours to control!” I felt myself regaining consciousness as faith and hope returned once more. The voices turned into nothingness. “Oh no!” I moaned…I woke up and saw people looking down from over me. Then I looked down and saw blood all over my stomach. At my side stood my friends and at my right stood my sister, Molly. My eyes got really wide as Molly simply nodded.
"Maybe the dreams we forget upon waking are real, after all."
The Engineers were looking for Faith, Molly had been found. She was somewhere in district 12 isolated in a holding cell of the Center of Meridia. The city on the sea, but there was a trick, another girl who appeared to resemble Mara had appeared on the time screens of the future. That is, after the world is covered in water and only Brazil remains and computers can control constellations. Molly must have had another sister.
The deadly storm was close as they waited for everything to change. Adam was using the breathalyzer machine; he was drunk and high at the end of the world.
Samantha found the last two humans left in the airport; they were staring calmly into the windows shaking from impending doom. The socialists may have outlived the war and the super virus, but could not outlast the damage done to the air and sea; what was left of America, the souls of us spinning and flying as the lands sank beneathe the water. The hurricanes were going to finish the job for us and what was left of Europe.
“Are you sure about that? This one still has light in her eyes.”
I tried to understand. When I opened my eyes and saw that I was still inside I felt true despair for the first time in my life. Then I jumped off into the space even despite my fear. It was emptiness and darkness. I knew I would remain floating the dark space forever.
I began to hear words. They were mocking words of others who could see me. They told me it was my stupidity that brought me to that place: it was my foolishness and failure to cooperate. I told them I wasn’t theirs to control. I told them that the war was over. Then I screamed, “I am not yours to control!”
“Are the dreams we forget upon waking real?”
They didn’t know how Sarah found her brother and pulled him from the wreckage of the city that never slept. We do know that the soldiers saved the city on the sea. That a leader was born who was made into a weapon and then became like God. That the beast sleeps under the city and he is in love with the world we know. That the future does not end with an explosion and that there is a plan for all of us, we just don’t see it until we can blink and open our eyes; somehow different from the big empty universe, and the story of the star children has yet to be told. Mara tossed her book of dreams into the ocean between worlds.