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Author's note: This is probably the first Story I have fully written and finished and liked. I got my inspiration just like BOOM! a what if? question.
The long awaited day had finally come, when John and Aimee’s first child was to be born. As they drove to the birthing hospital, each one secretly thought about what special gift they would select for their newborn.
“Age, job, marriage, beauty; I want her to have them all” mumbled Aimee, but loud enough so John could hear. Her nervousness showed as she fumbled with her purse.
“I know, but when we see the baby we will know,” answered John as he pulled their green sedan into the parking area of the hospital. John wanted to show strength for his wife’s sake; however he was worried about Aimee and the health of his new child. Selecting gifts was not as important as a healthy child; for if the baby was dead, there would be no selecting.
The staff rushed Aimee in and settled her into a birthing room. John followed behind. Nurses hurried along prepping Aimee for delivery. Medication was injected into her I.V. drip to assist with the pain. The procedure had started.
Aimee lay sleeping in her room, after a smooth delivery. Their new baby girl had been whisked away for tagging right after the birth. John sat in the chair next to Aimee’s bed watching the news. There were so many things to think about. The year was 2096, and parents were allowed to select one special gift to give their child upon birth. This gift could have great advantages in one’s life, but with the good there always comes the bad.
After what seemed like a life time, a young nurse with soft pink, shoulder length hair finally waltzed into the room carrying a small bundle. She handed the parcel over to Aimee with ease.
“Here you go. Is there anything I can get for you?” The peppy nurse looked down at the baby with a smile on her face. You could tell that she loved her job.
“No thank you, when will we be allowed to go home?”
“Right after the doctor sees you. He should be around shortly,” The nurse spun on her heels, and walked out of the room to tend to other patients.
John and Aimee stared at the baby. She didn’t look like much. She had small features, with eyes as dull as a winter sky. Disappointment filled their minds, and feelings of guilt ate at them. You were supposed to see your child as the most beautiful thing in the world. Tears filled Aimee’s eyes.
“Ah, Mr. and Mrs. Paisley, Parents of E13765!” came a booming voice. Dr. Runt stood in the door way of Aimee’s room holding an electronic pad in his hand. His name was very misleading, due to the fact that he stood a good six foot four, and took up a large portion of the doorway. His shoulders were wide, and his face gave you a feeling of security. Aimee imagined him being a farmer when he was younger working very hard and doing all the chores, but then she thought he looked too much of a city man to be doing any of that.
“The delivery went very well, and you have a healthy baby girl. You should be able to go home once you have made your selection. Good luck choosing,” said Dr. Runt as he exited the room.
“Let’s name her Emily,” Aimee said smiling.
“That fits her very nicely. I agree. Emily it is!” replied John.
Emily was a little baby, nothing special.
“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” asked Aimee.
It was a sad thing to say, but they both knew it. Their child had not looked special at all, quite dull and boring. They had to at least give their child good looks, for her to make it through the world. Even if the people that do get beauty live shorter, but they didn’t think that it was be very short since, usually they start the killings after age 50. The doctor returned into the room.
“Have you made your decision?”
“Yes, we choose beauty,” answered John.
“OK, I will be back with the birth card,” and the doctor left the room once again.
When the doctor came back it handed John the birth card and took Emily into the selection room. Emily was given wavy blond hair, brown eyes, coral pink lips, and a petite body figure. John scanned the birth card, then in disbelief started to cry. He passed the birth card to Aimee.
Name: Emily Paisley
Job: Grand Mall employee
Death: Age 16
"What? This can't be, there-there must be some mistake!" bawled Aimee.
"There is no mistake" Calmly answered the doctor "Have a nice day," and he started walking out the door.
"Wait!" cried John. "Can't we change this? We want Death instead; take away her beauty! We want death!" Suddenly John and Aimee both realized that this baby, Emily really did mean a lot to them.
"I'm sorry. There is nothing we can do. We cannot change what has already been done," With this the doctor left, before either one of them could say another word.
John and Aimee both took the time gathering themselves up and held Emily tightly.
"Emily, will give you the best life, you will have everything we can give you," John said softly gazing into Emily's dazzling, brown eyes. "Let’s go home now."
John and Aimee raised Emily just like any other child growing up. They played hide and seek and tag, and many other games. They helped her with whatever she needed. Sure every once in a while Emily got more than other kids, but no one really thought about it that hard. Years went by and on her 5th birthday she started school. School was not easy for Emily. She was picked on by the other children, and often times did not know how to deal with the frequent bullying. Emily’s crying and dislike for school was obvious to her parents.
"Emily?" called John.
"Yes?" answered Emily.
"You know how the boys in your class push you around, steal your things?"
"Yes, it makes me sad, not nice of them"
"Yes, well do you know why they do that?"
"Because they don't like me"
"What?" She blinked her eyes and tilted her head.
"They like you, doing the stuff they do to you as a way of saying that they like you a lot."
"Really? But, why do they do that?"
"Because they think it will make them look all tough, they are trying to impress you”.
“Yeah” John smiled in an almost laughing way as he looked back at Emily and walked out the door. “Kind of funny if you think about it”.
From that day on Emily new that she was the prettiest in her year, and let some people get the best of her.
At age 10 she had finally met her best friend Quinn. Quinn had a medium black bob hair with really long bangs brushed over at the front and, green eyes. She usually wore some kind of dress or skirt and a T-shirt, and had natural good looks. Her parents had chosen her free will to marry whomever she wanted to. Emily and Quinn were like two peas in a pod. At age 13 Emily got a boyfriend. Even though the kids knew that the person they were dating they would never be married, unless their parents chose the freewill to marry. Emily's boyfriends name was Wesley, He was a bad boy. His parents chose a very high power job for him in the family business, everyone in that family would get chosen Job. Wesley almost forced Emily into going out with him. He was the most popular boy in their year, and she was the most popular girl, it made perfect sense. One day in spring time Wesley and Emily were on a date.
"Aren't the flowers blooming so pretty?"
"Yeah," Wesley started kissing Emily
Emily pushed him away "You've been smoking," she sniffed again, “and drinking." She gave him the death stare.
"Shut up. It’s not like it matter, I don't die until age 98."
"How do you know?'
"I found my birth card."
"What? But we aren't supposed to see those." She looked around franticly hoping no one heard him.
"My parents left it out, all I had to do was pick it up and look at it, now let’s get back to what we were doing before." He leaned in for a kiss.
"What?" he stopped.
"I uh, have to go." and she ran off without saying anything further.
"Love you too!" called Wesley sarcastically, then muttered a curse.
Emily wanted to find her birth card, and then she wouldn't have to worry. Right when she got home she started searching and searching. She looked for it in the safe of their house, drawers, and cabinets, under and over things. She found nothing. She slid down a closet door with a sigh. After a few minutes she heard the garage door opening and then the kitchen door closing. She quickly got up brushed herself off and walked downstairs to find that her Mother had just come home.
"Oh hi Sweetie, I just got back from work, your home early."
"I got sick" said Emily without a breath.
"Oh...Ok? Are you Ok now?"
"Yeah I'm feeling much better."
"Well, that's good."
A year went by and she broke up with Wesley, forgot all about her birth card, and started her first job at the City Mall. On her 15 birthday she had the huge party ever. Everyone was invited. There were drinks and foods of all kinds. Game tents, with things in them everywhere. In fact it was so big they had to rent out the city park. Emily knew something big must happen when she is 15 but she didn't really know what. People came up to her almost every 5 minutes saying “Happy Birthday!" and she barely knew any of them. Quinn, Noah, Oliver, and Emily mostly just hang out with each other; they had all been good friends ever since they were 10. As the party was ending she said her "Your welcome" and Thank you" to everyone. Emily wanted Quinn to stay and sleep over but her parents said no and they need to talk with her. That night John and Aimee walked into Emily's room where she was and sat on herbed with her.
"So what’s up?" asked Emily.
"We need to talk with you," declared Aimee softly
"If this is about the whole sex talk thing, I already know everything."
"No, it’s not that."
"It's secret; we aren't supposed to tell you..."
"I can keep a secret, what is it?"
"It’s your birth card" Spoke up John and pulled it out of his pocket.
"What?" Suddenly she remembered her looking everywhere for it and now here it was right in front of her. She knew something was wrong.
"We thought about waiting until a day before your 16 birthday, but we thought that would be too late."
"Just tell me already!" her parents were worrying her.
"You know how we chose Beauty for you?" asked Aimee.
"Well, death is the price we paid."
"W-what?" Emily said baffled.
"You’re going to die next year, probably on your 16th birthday," answered John as he looked away.
"We don't want you to die, so we made a plan to tell you what you need to do now," said Aimee
"There is a hidden passage way under the rug in the basement closet, when the day comes you hopefully will be at home, the government will knock on the door, and you go through the passage way into the forest."
"What if I'm not at home?"
Emily had heard about in class why they kill people and select their age of death. Ever since the Great flood of 2051 happened. The Great Flood of 2051 was a flood that carried a plague. The Flood washed up the whole West side of America. Everything the flood touched had the disease, After a year the whole West side of America had died or moved more out east, pretty soon only Connecticut was left, then only a city. Once it ended the city panicked and they knew they had to put order on people to keep balance. The government had to decide for everyone, they also had to kill people to keep City Population, since there is only one city left.
Days and months went by, not a day that Emily didn't think of her death to be. She had packed and unpacked until she knew she was ready. She put in her survival kit her parents got her, some clothes, and just add water food along with a water bottle. It finally came to the day of her Sixteenth birthday. Her family came together and cried as if she was already dead. It was her funeral.
That night she waited and waited, but nothing happened, three days went by and she thought it must be over, maybe they did make a mistake and I'm not really going to die. After a week went by she thought she was safe. That is until one day she was lying on her couch watching TV and she heard a loud bang at the door.
"Government, open up!" A man wearing nothing but black yelled. She knew what this meant. She rushed down stairs and grabbed the backpack in the closet and lifted the rug, pulled back the floor and ran. She ran so fast she didn't even know she was sprinting. She closed her eyes as rivulets flowed out. When she opened her eyes she was in the middle of the forest. She slowed herself down, taking in the surroundings. Next thing she knows the World went black and she fainted. When she woke up there was a boy standing over her with a Knife in his hand up to her head and the sunset through the trees.
“Who are you? You are a spy from the government here to take me back! Aren’t you?” Emily could see the panic in the boy’s eyes.
“No! I ran away, I’m just like you.” Emily pleaded trying to calm the boy down to get him to drop the knife “I just ran away, the government is trying to kill me.”
“Oh, so you’re a DR?”
Emily had never really realized that she was one until now she was speechless.
“You’re a Death Runner” The boy said as more of a statement then a question
“Oh yes, why did you run away?”
“The government wants me to marry a girl I hate” He looked away and finally threw the knife in anger
“Oh that sucks” The conversation was starting to become awkward. The Boy held out his hand to help her up, “Names Henry, and you?” She took his hand as he lifted her up
“Very nice, come with me, I’ll show you my camp site” Henry said as they started walking. “You can stay with me, if you want.”
“I’d love that” She smiled at him with her twinkling eyes.
When they got to Henry’s camp site she set her bag down and she got some food out.
“I’m starving.” moaned Emily.
“Me too, It’s late” They both unpacked some food and started to cook it on the camp fire.
“I hope this isn’t wrong to ask but, what selection did your parents make?”Asked Henry shyly.
“Beauty.” Emily looked away “What about you?”
“My parents got in a fight over it, they decided they would just let the government deiced, of course they were more than happy too” They stopped talking for awhile and just cooked and ate their food.
“We will be moving more west soon, I’m planning on getting out of the city, starting a new civilization” Out spoke Henry.
“But that’s plague zone”
“Not anymore, it’s probably all gone now” He lay on his back and the moon glistening down on them “I bet there is blooming trees and flowers, and all kinds of beautiful things” Gazing up at the stars with gleaming hazel eyes. He shook himself out of his blissful state, “So are you in, or should we part in the morning?"
Emily thought for a moment, what would happen if he left me, I would be so alone, and how would I survive? What happens if I go with him? I will be dead either way.
"I want to come with you" She sounding confident, thought her heart pounded with Adrenalin. Henry seemed so calm they both closed their eyes but only Henry really slept. She laid restless heart pounding in her sleeping bag. In the morning she woke up to the smell of just add water oatmeal. The smell of Oats filled her nose; she lifted her body out of the bag to see where it was coming from.
"I hope you don't mind, I took your Oatmeal, I thought we could share" He spoke kindly. She would have been mad at him but something about how he sounded and looked made a change of mind. His smooth clean lighthearted yet in control voice, brown shagged hair, he was only a few inches taller than him, older, about 17 years old. They ate together gobbling up their oatmeal, then packed up and started moving west.
They explored days and nights, several weeks went by and they still had not moved out of the state. Henry had an old map of what America looked like before. One day while hiking up a mountain they saw a wild bear and its cubs. They walked closer to get a better look, only about five feet away, they hid in bushes.
"I didn't think bears existed anymore." whispers Emily.
"Me too, I thought the Hunters of the past killed them all, or the plague killed them." Henry spoke in normal voice. The bear looked over straight at them and started walking near them.
"See what you did! The mother bear is coming to kill us now-" hissed Emily but before she could finish Henry covered her mouth up.
"Shut up..." Henry was trying not to get seen but before he could notice the bear was on its Hind legs ready to pounce on them. Emily grabbed Henry and pulled him away from the bush. An adrenaline then just flashed into her system. She began picking up rocks and throwing them at the bear to make it go away. Then by accident she hit one of the mom’s cubs. This made the mother bear furious. She thrashed her claws in the air on her hind legs and lunged right onto Emily. Emily pulled out her knife just as the beast fell on her. The moan of the beast was heard for miles. The bear was collapsed dead on top of her. Henry stood frozen just watching in horror. Emily all the sudden had a flash of power; she was in charge or this now dead beast. She used all of her might and lifted up the bear then threw it to the side, looked at her shirt to see the blood stains and sighed.
“Henry” Emily Yelled to wake him from his hypnosis.
“You-you just, and-“
“I know, now let’s find a River so, I can wash up.”
She took Henry’s wrist to guide him since he was so in shock he couldn’t move. She packed up their stuff and put their own stuff on each of their backs. They started walking more toward the west. If the bears were around here there must be some water nearby. Eventually they did come across a river.
“You go lie down and rest while wash up, no peeking” Emily softly spoke as if she was his mother setting him down into bed. Emily walked outside and took her clothes off and hopped into the river, it was Up to her belly so she sat down so only her head would show and cleaned herself off with the water, it wasn’t like shampoo or soap but it would get the dirt off. They both had not washed for quite a long time now. After she finished washing up her body she grabbed her dirty clothes and started to wash that. Once she was fully done she took a towel and washed herself up and put on her last pair of clean clothes. She brought about 5 different pairs of clothes. Emily hung up her clothes just as Henry was getting out of the tent.
“How was your rest?”
“Good, I feel a lot better, sorry about that whole thing that happened, I just always thought...“
“That I was week? It’s ok that event even surprised myself” She smiled “It’s your time to wash up”
Henry walked down to the river where he undressed everything but his boxers. He washed himself up and then also did his laundry. Emily went spear fishing downstream where most of the fish were. They ate fish that night.
In the morning they began their routine up again. Pack up, head west, and stop if they needed to. As they were walking they looked behind them.
“I can barely see the city now, I think we are out of the city forest” said Emily trudging up a hill
“Yeah I agree.” He replied in a relief.
When they got to the top of the hill Henry saw something peering out of a tree. Emily whispered to Henry about the eyes she saw.
“You think is a human,” he muttered back.
“Let’s go see,” Emily started walking closer with a knife. She jumped right in front of the figure then in shock dropped her knife.
“It’s a girl!” Emily yelled to Henry. Henry went to where Emily was.
“How old are you?” Emily asked in her motherly voice again.
“Seventeen,” answered Henry as he arrived to the tree they were by.
“Not you idiot, hers,” She punched him slightly.
“I’m ten…” the girl shyly spoke.
“I’m Henry, and this is Emily, what’s your name?” Henry said smiling at her
She shyly smiled back “Stori, Stori Lynn”
“Ah ok Stori, so why are you out here?” Henry was in charge of the conversation now.
“The government wanted to kill me.”
“They kill that young…Why?”
“I wasn’t doing well; I got bad grades and didn’t participate in anything.”
“Oh, I see, how long have you been out here?”
“A few months.”
“Do you have anything left?”
“Ok, well. You can come with us, Welcome to the team.”
“What team? It’s more like a group” Spoke Emily leaned on a tree next to Stori’s.
“Come on kid” Emily said in a commanding voice “Let’s keep moving, we have a few hours until sunset”
They headed west again for hours then as they started to see the sun set they set their things down and set up camp. While Stori was getting firewood Emily and Henry were setting up everything.
“She’s shy, I don’t see much use in her” Emily said as she was setting up the tent.
“I know, but maybe she just needs to get used to use, and besides, she has nothing,” Henry said putting up his tent.
“Are you saying we need to take care of her?”
“Yes, and she will sleep with you in your tent.”
They finished up setting up right as Stori finished making the fire.
“Good job” congratulated Henry. They ate some just add water noodles. Stori had three packets. They had a little chit chat about no important things then went to bed. Day went by as they headed more west until they found themselves in a meadow dried out like a desert.
“But, it’s supposed to be all green, and pretty, and-“Henry fell to the ground.
“Welcome to the plague zone.” sarcastically spoke Emily.
He got back up and brushed himself off, “Maybe if we walk a little further it will get better.”
They started walking fast with no patients.
“I’m tired,” moaned Stori quietly and slowed to a stop just as they entered a city.
“That’s ok, you rest out here while Emily and I go explore.”
“Ok,” Stori sighed sitting down and drew in the sand wither finger.
They walked into the abandoned city.
“Whoa...” Henry spoke in awe.
They went all over the place, to downtown of the city where clothes stores and other kinds of stores were all open.
“I’m guessing when they evacuated this place it was all the sudden, like during a business hour, no one had time to stop and think.” She looked around and saw the now broken down cars in the middle of the street
Henry was too busy looking at old electronics. They went to a few stores and picked up things that they needed. Just as they walked out of the last store they heard a scream. With panic in both of their eyes “Stori” Emily and Henry dropped their things and started to run toward the sounds of her screaming voice. Emily and Henry finally had come to the spot Stori was supposed to be at, she was gone. Emily started to cry “We couldn’t get here in time…”
A teardrop ran down Henry’s cheek and he used his hands to act like binoculars.
“Black, I see a black dot,” he turned to Emily.
“The government got her? They have been searching for us?” Emily’s voice cracked in sadness even more.
“Let’s head back before they get us too,” Henry reached out his hand. They walked back in town and grabbed their stuff.
“Wait!” Henry made her stop. “Check your body to see if you have any weird spots appearing.”
“The plague, this was we can see if we have it, I read about this in a book.” They checked their body.
“I don’t see any.”
“Me neither” He sighed in relief “I think the plague died out, just like I hoped.”
They walked until they found a hotel. They walked in and grabbed the key to the master suite.
They carried their stuff upstairs and walked into the room. Emily sat down on the bed and cried; when she opened her eyes she glared at her Tattoo on her arm, her eyes narrow. She knew she had to do it. She grabbed the knife and a cloth out of her backpack and ran outside into the town square. She kneeled down. The knife brushed the skin with a taunting glimmer. She held her breath and held the knife up to the ink. The tip of the knife pierced her skin. Blood trickled down, leaving a trail of scarlet. It was surprising, how easily, its lid in. She felt sick. The agony sent a jolt through her spine, but she had to keep going. The flesh let out more blood, she pushed it forward, and an agonized wince left her lips. Emily clenched all the muscles in her body, no going back now. She tore her arms free and with it, the tattoo. Agony seized her body; Emily instantly cocooned herself in a bubble of pain, biting her teeth to keep in a scream. Reaching over in agony she grabbed the cloth and bandaged up her Bloody arm.
Henry came outside of the hotel and saw her lying on the ground.
“Emily!” He screamed rushing over to her “What the hell did you do?!”
She glanced at her tattoo lying on the ground still in agony.
“You cut off your tattoo ID?” Henry spoke in shock. “We need to get you help, but we can’t go back.” Henry went into panic mode. Emily got up with a grunt, “It’s ok, just help me to the hotel room, and get some water” winced Emily. Henry did just that, he carried her into the hotel and sat her down on a bed. Gave her a glass of water and went to go get a bucket of water. After he did that he helped clean her arm and bandaged it up. “You’re crazy!”
“I don’t want to be a part of the society, they do horrible things. A ten year old shouldn’t have to get killed by the government just because she didn’t do a lot of things!” Emily yelled in anger. Then shrunk herself back down in pain.
“You need to rest.”
“Fine” Emily knew it was no use arguing she couldn’t do anything anyways.
While Emily was resting and healing Henry went and searched the town for supplies. One of the things he picked up was some duct tape so the cloth around Emily’s arm could hold tighter and better. When he got back he set the stuff down and also went to bed. Days went by and Emily was starting to heal. A huge scab covered her arm, pretty soon that scab would fade away and it would look like she never even had a tattoo in the first place. One day Emily was changing her shirt and Henry was behind her. Henry saw a dot on the back of her shoulder.
“Emily” Henry asked worried
“What?” She Replied
“You have a Yellow dot on your shoulder” He bit his lips trying to hold in a cry. “We have the plague after all.”