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THE TALENT WARS
I winced as an electric current shot up my arm. I glanced down at the tedious device on my wrist, wondering what I had done this time to activate the little monster. I rubbed my arm tenderly, trying to make it stop twitching, but to no avail. I studied the piece of paper in my hand. I had folded it in such a way as to make it look like an airplane. A simple, mundane action, but the Officials must have thought this was something only a superior mind would accomplish. As if this small process was a pivotal step in becoming an aviator.
I was always someone to watch. Ever since the Great Act of Equality, every human is required to remain average. You cannot be below or above the bar, or you will be punished. Either by getting zapped whenever you mess up, or, the more crucial punishment of the two, you are to be placed in The Talent Wars. The Wars are a simple way to crush anyone who has any sort of special ability by placing impossible obstacles in front of them; setting them up for failure.
This, of course, is one of the only sources of entertainment, considering books went extinct years ago; authors were categorized as too talented, too creative, and too extraordinary. Competitive sports were done away with as well. Anything that someone could excel at was banned; except The Talent Wars. Every year, the public would turn on the television and watch.
They weren’t particularly entertaining to me. The reason being, the conclusion was always the same. No one ever won. The government was in control, and The Talent Wars were their way of reminding us of that. Now, the overall consequence of participating in The Talent Wars as an Extraordinary Participant was the loss of whatever you had been previously capable of. For instance, if you had been very beautiful, then you would more than likely lose your face. If you could run very fast, you would lose your legs, and so on.
All of this sounds very grotesque, but, the contestants swear the process of eliminating their talent was painless. A part of me thinks that this is all a lie to secure their safety. After getting my face removed, I don’t think I would mess with the Officials again either. Of course, I could never voice my opinion.
The mechanism on my wrist, or a Moderator, could only detect what I did physically. My thoughts were safe from the government.
I had always been smart. But there was really no way of them ruling that as illegal, because I kept my mental superiority to myself.
There had been some argument about my appearance. My mother fought the Officials, saying that I was very plain looking and completely average. But the Officer who had reported me disagreed, saying that I was prettier than the typical seventeen year old girl. My mother had shaved my head to make me uglier, but there was still conflict. I am going to court today, hoping that I am proven innocent.
“Jane?” I heard my name being called, and knew it was time to go into court. I didn’t like my name, but my parents didn’t have a lot of options. You could only name your children after the Approved List of Ordinary Names. At least I wasn’t ‘Sue’ or ‘Shirley’.
I followed the woman who had called my name into the large courtroom. I took my seat, and waited for the verdict. The Judge Official looked at me for a long time, before saying: “You are above average.” He said as-a-matter-of-factly, tapping a pencil annoyingly against his nose.
My mouth gaped. This was a surprise to me. I had thought the Officer who had turned me in was a lunatic. I had never been intrigued by my reflection, and assumed others weren’t as well.
I was about to protest against the given verdict, when a man walked into the room. He was an officer (I could tell by the dark blue clothes he had on, unlike the light blue attire all other male citizens wore). He handed the Judge an envelope, and then briskly walked out of the room without saying a word.
The Judge opened the envelope with irritating slowness. When the contents were finally released, he let out a whistle. I thought this deserved a zap from the bulky Moderator on his wrist; whistling was a talent not everyone could do. But I didn’t see him get electrocuted.
He peered at me. An amused expression on his face.
“Well, lookie there! You’re the next Talent Wars contestant.”