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Old 06-20-2008, 07:22 PM   #1
Tysyacha
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Untitled Work in Progress (please comment!)

UNTITLED WORK IN PROGRESS

Chapter One
WE'VE GOT YOU PINNED

Monday, September 6, 2060, 3:30 PM

I love my little Life Role Pin. It sits proudly on the breast of my khaki jumpsuit, marking me as a Student. My Pin looks like an open book, and that’s what my life is. In this brand-new journal, which my teacher says I have to write in as a project from now until I graduate next year, I’ll pour out all the details of my days, from the moment I get up until the moment I go to sleep. Okay, maybe not that much, but you get the idea. I’ll tell “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God,” as people used to say in courtrooms. Now they say they will “forswear all lies, both half and whole.” I won’t tell either kind in here.

My name is Veesha, pronounced exactly like it sounds, and I live in a Community Youth Home. There are twenty of them in our town, with each Youth Home housing eight kids between the ages of 13 and 18. (I’m one of the oldest.) When you’re over 18, you finally get to live in an Adult Home, and I can’t wait! Adult Homes are where each person has their own bedroom, and if you’re married, your husband or wife can move in with you. You still have to eat and hang out in the Common Area, but at least you have more privacy than in a Youth Home. Children’s Homes are even worse. Twice as many younger kids have to stay in a bedroom than the Youth do (four as opposed to two.) No more bunk beds or shared dressers for me when I turn 19!

Back to my Pin. As I said, it describes my Life Role, and it looks like an open book. I’m in school right now, so naturally I’m a Student and books are a big part of my life. When I grow up, or at least graduate, I hope to be chosen as a Vremenist. These are scientists who study time and perform fantastic experiments related to the space-time continuum. The name Vremenist comes from "vremya", the word for “time” in another language (oh, drap, I forget which one. The word I just used, "drap", is a combination of the words "darn" and "crap", but that’s beside the point!) Anyway, the Vremenists are some of the most revered people in our town, but they’re not the most useful. What I mean is that they don’t produce, and that’s what we’re all for. It’s only the very most talented, or the smartest or most beautiful, that don’t get Gears when they grow up. “Gears” are Gear Pins—if we get one, that means we’ll do factory work after graduation. Our town needs a lot of workers.

My Pin saves me from getting a Gear, at least for now. Students are expected to learn, not earn, and that’s that. We don’t even get what were known as “summer jobs” anymore, because we have year-round school with breaks in between semesters. Once you turn 18, though, all bets are off. Then you officially graduate, and you get Pinned.

You get a gray Gear Pin, or a silver Fork (meaning you serve food), or even an orange Helping Hand (you do cleaning and other manual labor.) If you’re lucky, you might get a red Cross (meaning doctor) or white Cross (nurse). If you get a yellow Apple, then you’ll be a teacher. One nice thing about the teacher Pins—there’s a symbol in the middle of the Apple that tells what kind of teacher you are. If someone’s Apple says “ABC”, they teach the Children who are newborns up to five years old. If it has a tree in the middle, they teach the Children who are six to twelve. If their Apple has a mortarboard cap, they teach the older Youth, thirteen to eighteen, who are on their way to graduation. There is no “college” after age 18, by the way.

If you’re even luckier, one of the kids in your class who’s deemed to have the most potential, then you get a shiny golden star badge, meaning “town council worker”, or the Pin I crave night after night, the genuine-platinum Clock for Vremenists. Only one person in each graduating class earns the highest Pin of all: Leader. The Leader Pin is made of a single flawless diamond, cut into pyramid shape.

Everyone wants to be Leader, but not everyone gets to.

There are two Life Role Pins that are thought of as “bad”, and there are two Life Roles considered that way. One is that of the Exile, who wears a Pin with a black X in the middle of a white circle. Every year on Leaving Day, all Exiles are brought before the whole town and jeered at. Sometimes people throw bottles and stuff at them, but that very rarely happens. Mostly the Exiles just leave our town for good after standing up on a stage for an hour, their hands tied in front of them with a black ribbon. Sad, huh?

The other bad Pin is the Bottle, meaning a baby’s bottle, which means that you’re known as an “EC”, or Eternal Child. Eternal Children are people whose minds think differently than ours—they would have been called “disabled” in the past or even “mentally retarded”. If you’re Pinned as an Eternal Child, there’s no real future for you except to spend the rest of your days living in a Community Care Home, making arts and crafts some people might buy.

Sometimes if you’re an EC, you get sent to work in a place—a Therapeutic Workplace, or “TW”—that’s like a factory, but it’s not a real factory. You don’t wear a Gear Pin if you work there; you still wear a Bottle. I’d rather wear a Helping Hand than do that, even though I really want the Clock. TW’s aren’t such great places to work.
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Old 06-20-2008, 07:52 PM   #2
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Very interesting so far. So is this like a journal of this Veesha's life?

This book kinda reminds me of The Giver, so far.

I think that it is a pretty good start!


Last edited by Rev7; 06-20-2008 at 07:53 PM. Reason: added a word.
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Old 06-20-2008, 07:55 PM   #3
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Yep, and as for The Giver, it's kind of supposed to remind you of that.
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Old 06-20-2008, 11:53 PM   #4
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That makes sense then.

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Old 06-21-2008, 01:31 AM   #5
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It is rather... different than what I am used to seeing... A well thought out system for a story, and very descriptive and complete...

As criticism, it seems a little... unrealistic... But fictional stories/science fiction do tend to have some interesting realistic aspects... Don't get me wrong- you're a great writer and this is a great story setup, but I'm more for action-packed war stories...


Please feed the trolls. XD
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Old 06-22-2008, 05:53 PM   #6
Tysyacha
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Untitled Work in Progress: Section 2, Chapter 1

For those of you keeping up with this (thank you!!! ), here's more:

When it comes to the people in our town, no one wants that Bottle, or that X. Only the worst rule-breaking or the worst misfortune gets you one of those. I try to be good!

If I’m going to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth here in this journal, then I have to tell you something else: I’m one of the “EC’s” in some people’s minds. I have a moderate case of cerebral paralysis, or damage to the parts of the brain that control my big muscles. According to the tests I took in school, I have a high IQ, but not such a high level of mobility. My teachers say that I’ll never end up in a Care Home (I “deserve much better”), but I don’t know. I know a few kids in my class who might end up there if no one does anything. Who decides if they will or not? The Staff and teachers do, not the EC’s. It’s not fair.

That reminds me—I forgot to mention another Life Role and Pin. Staff are the people who monitor what we do. Our town relies on them to keep order and make sure everyone follows the rules. They’re kind of like police, except they don’t carry guns and arrest people. Every time we do something wrong, it goes in our file. Staff keep files and records on everyone, from the lowest Helping Hand to the highest Town Council Worker. Even the Vremenists aren’t immune. The only one who doesn’t have a file is the Leader, and that’s because s/he’s the one who’s in charge. The Leader keeps tabs on all the files and the Staff, and that’s why when a Leader’s chosen, it has to be done very, very carefully. We don’t—we can’t—pick the wrong one.

As for Staff, the Pin that they wear looks like a little spiral notepad with a red pen lying diagonally across it. That’s because when they monitor us, they carry a spiral notepad and red pen with them, in much bigger sizes. You can’t tell a Staff by looking, though, at least not from far away. We all wear khaki jumpsuits, for one thing, and our heads are shaved. Only when you look closely can you tell if someone’s wearing a Staff Pin. The weird thing is that all of us jump when someone comes near us wearing any Pin with red or white in it. We’re too scared it might be Staff.

If you get two hundred Red Notes in your file, then you’re automatically exiled. Red Notes are just that—observations that Staff write with that color pen, the ink red as blood. No one of us knows how many Notes we have in our file, whether red or black. That’s just the way it goes.

Our files not only keep a record of what we’ve done (right or wrong), but also our medical history, birth history (who our personal Lifegiver was), a very brief list of our hobbies and interests (we’re allowed to pick three), our names and other personal information (of course), and our grades at school. I wish I could erase those, even now.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m very proud of my A’s. I just wish I could get into my file and blot out my B’s in math and the “pity C’s” I always get in “PF”. Physical Fitness is my worst class, for obvious reasons. I’m not thin at all, but I’m not completely fat, either. The main reason I hated PF is because of my physical awkwardness and utter lack of coordination. That, and the kids laughed at me. I ask you: have you ever tried to do the Flex Arm Hang (hanging from a gymnastics bar) for more than one second when you know you just can’t? A passing grade was five seconds. Sheez! Who do our PF teachers think we are—Olympians?

If there was ever a Pin to describe our town as a whole, I’m not sure what it would be. A lot of times I think it would look like a house, one of our many Community Homes, in a light and neutral shade. Comforting. Other times I think the Pin would look like a “No” sign—a big red circle with a diagonal line down the middle. Too many rules. When I’m really, really happy, I think the Pin would be made in the heart-like shape of a Lifegiver wrapping her arms around a baby in a blanket. A hug, a symbol of love.

But sometimes—I can’t even write down the words here without getting the shivers—I see this veil in my mind’s eye. A four-layered veil, where all the layers come off.

Can I write this, dear journal? Do I really have the guts?

Okay, here goes: In the quiet darkness of my mind, when I’m really thinking about it, I imagine this veil with four layers, like a bride’s. Only, the layers start coming off one by one. When the first layer comes off, I hear people laughing, like at one of our Community Picnics that we have every July 4th. So far, so good. When the second layer comes off, I hear quiet conversations, like at our Town Hall before one of our monthly meetings. I can’t really tell what’s being said, but people are talking. When the third layer comes off, there’s just silence—dead silence. And then, when the fourth layer comes off, there is silence again. Only, the veil is gone, revealing a small black hole.

This scares me, but not as much as what happens next. Black holes typically suck everything, even light, into them, getting bigger and bigger, but this one doesn’t. At least, not really. It gets a little bit bigger, but not much. It dangles right in the middle of space, above a grassy field.

That black hole is watching. Waiting. Biding its time.

For what? Me? I’ve got to find out, before I go crazy!

Maybe I’m already crazy. I should just forget about it.

Maybe I should erase that part. Drap! I’ve written it in pen! I know what the teacher will probably think: Veesha needs to start taking medication; perhaps Prozac or Ritalin. Maybe both. Of course, it’s only in my imagination that I see the veil and the black hole. Everyone’s allowed to have their own imagination. Come to think of it, it’s one of the few things we are allowed to have, no questions asked.
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Old 06-22-2008, 06:19 PM   #7
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Another great addition Tysy!

You can definately tell that these people are restricted. That, for me, is the only real way to describe it.

Great job though Tysy, and I'm sure that you know that you have done a good job. Keep it up.

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Old 07-01-2008, 07:40 PM   #8
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(The third installment, and I'm glad you're enjoying this so far...)

Oh-my-gaw! I’ve written five and a half pages already in my journal. If this keeps up, I won’t have any pages left and the year will only be half-over! I’d better slow down. On the other hand, once I start writing I just can’t stop, and besides, I like whole numbers, so I’ll write an even six.

Let’s see—what else should I tell you? Maybe you’re wondering if I’m a boy or a girl. I think Veesha sounds like a girl’s name, so if you guessed I’m a girl, then you’re right! I’m sixteen years old, and my best friends at school are Ashlee and Yuri (who I hope wants to go out with me).

Some people think Ashlee’s a snot and spell her name with too many e’s when they write notes about her in class. The thing is, she’s nice, but very hard to get to know. Even the prettiest girls have their dark sides, the sides they’d rather not show to anybody. Ashlee’s shown me her dark side, her vulnerable side. She wants to be a Cultural Ambassador (“CA”, which is kind of like a model, but more of a spokesperson for what’s ‘in vogue’ in our town.)

Yuri’s smart. I mean really smart. Smarter than me. His IQ’s off the charts—I’ve heard it was tested at 204. He’s like Einstein or Stephen Hawking. He wants to be a Vremenist after he graduates. Go figure! I’m hoping we work at the Observatory together, the place where people study space and time. Wouldn’t that be wicked wonderful?

How many pages have I written now? Seven? Oh-h! This time I really am going to quit, because it’s time for dinner here at our Youth Home. I’m going to the Common Area. Good night, my journal, and I hope to see you soon!

Chapter Two
GO SHAVE YOUR HEAD

Friday, September 10, 2060, 7:10 PM

Today was both awful and great at the same time. As my great-great-great-grandparents might have said, “Thank God it’s Friday!” On Friday nights, I usually plop down on a couch in the living-room section of our Common Area and “veg out” with my Youth Home groupmates. It wasn’t my night to pick what to watch on TV, though. It was Allison’s turn, and she wanted to watch “Decadent Mavens”. That show is about four glamorous married women who don’t live in Communities like ours, and thus don’t follow rules. They cheat on their husbands, ignore their kids and everything, and it’s the stupidest show I’ve ever seen. Not because the Mavens don’t follow any rules, but because they all talk like girly robots—“Ow! Did you see how I broke a nail?” and, “Oh-my-gaw, look how high the bill is for my latest body-lift! I’m totally broke.” Maybe Allison likes that show because they all talk like her. Although—could Allison have adopted her way of thinking and acting from the Mavens first? It was very hard to tell.

Anyway, here I am up in the room that I share with Eve, writing in my journal! I don’t mind. Eve’s down in the Common Area, but if I know her, she’s doing some knitting or crocheting and not watching “Decadent Mavens”. Eve’s nice, even nicer than Ashlee, and she makes me things sometimes. I have a hand-crocheted quilt on my bed that I really like, from Eve, although the Staff at my Youth Home want me to throw it away. It has too many colors. Too many loud colors, like red and yellow and neon green. Sheez. If the Staff had their way, everything would be beige and brown, white and shades of gray. Even black is too strong for them. If I could convince Eve to make me a peach-and-white quilt, it wouldn’t be too bad, but I like this one better. Bright colors are supposed to energize you, not make you want to go to sleep, but every time I see Eve’s quilt, it makes me feel calm and secure—not hyper at all.

Where was I, before I started talking about all this? Ah, yes: today was both awful and great. You know how some things never go out of style, like saying cool (even now in 2060) and wondering whether a boy was going to ask you to the Spring Gathering or not? Well, bullies never go out of style either, and mine’s a big one. Her name is Jessica (“not Jess” as she always likes to point out), and she always calls me “EC” because of the way I walk. She likes to barge past me and whisper “Care Home”, or make a soft “twuh” sound for “TW”. That’s where she thinks I’ll go.

Jessica is a terrible Student, though, and that’s the only thing I have going for me in this case. See, all of our heads are shaved, boys’ and girls’, but if you earn good grades, you get to show a tiny bit of hair, like a buzz cut. I’ve dyed my “fuzz” red, as I like to call it. It feels like the fur of a newborn kitten, once it’s all dry and fluffy. I have to keep it trimmed, though, or the Staff write a note down in my file. Probably a red one, though for minor infractions like that, it shouldn’t be red. Red Notes are usually for serious stuff.

As for Jessica? Her report cards would spell “A FOOD, FOOD” if you only added the O’s. The “A” is in Physical Fitness. That’s Jessica’s favorite class, and her favorite one in which to tease me. Torment me. She backslides into obscene old-timey language, even in front of the teacher, calling me “retard” and “moron”. The other kids laugh, of course, all except for Eve, who’s in our PF class and wants to rip Jessica a new one. I hope Jess has a lot of Red Notes.

It would be absolutely great if she got exiled! Hah!

For now, though, I have to settle for Jessica having a completely bald head. Shiny as our school’s floor, it is, and I hear she uses special moisturizing gel to keep it gleaming. That wouldn’t surprise me. She has a perfect, oval-shaped “chrome dome”, but that’s the only thing that’s beautiful about Jessica. The rest of her is ug-ly, inside and out.

I thought about what she’d said to me today. She was in a more talkative mood than usual, which was a bad sign.

“Hey, EC, how’s it going?”

I rolled my eyes. “You know my name, Jessica.”

We were standing right next to the Wall of Honor, where our academic grades were posted in glass display cases. All of us Students were ranked highest to lowest, though we were appropriately separated according to age (Children 0-5, Children 6-12, and Youth 13-18. It wouldn’t be fair to compare the youngest kids to those who were about to graduate). As usual, though I don’t mean to sound snotty, I was near the top, and Jessica was near the bottom.

“You think you’re so special. Always better than everyone else.” Jessica gestured toward our grades on the Wall. “Well, you’re not. All you’re good for is messing in your diapers and bawling like a baby. Like you did in PF.”

“I don’t wear diapers,” I hissed, gritting my teeth, “and I was 10 when I cried in PF every day. I’m way over that.”

“Really?” Jessica grinned at me with a soul-shattering smile. “You look like you’re about to right now. Big girls don’t cry, remember?” She took a slight step toward me.

That was it. She’d hit a nerve. Back when we were younger kids, Jessica and I had been sort of friends, and she’d tried to help me get over my crying problem. She’d formed a club called the “Big Girls’ Club” and told me I could join. The thing was, our number-one rule was that you couldn’t cry. “Big Girls Don’t Cry” was our motto, and I always wondered if I’d ever truly be a member. Two other girls had also joined the Big Girls’ Club along with us, and they were sort of my friends, too, but they hadn’t made up that rule. Jessica had, and it made me think the real purpose of the club was not to make me tough and “tear-free”, but to humiliate me and make me want to cry even more.
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Old 07-01-2008, 08:42 PM   #9
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I really liked this chapter. You describe her experiances very well. Good (in your case, great) description just makes the story come alive. I see it as a movie, just in my head. Those are the best stories, books, and fics. I'm sure that you already know that though. You have skill in that area. I also like how you added humor.
Quote:
Not because the Mavens don’t follow any rules, but because they all talk like girly robots—“Ow! Did you see how I broke a nail?” and, “Oh-my-gaw, look how high the bill is for my latest body-lift! I’m totally broke.” Maybe Allison likes that show because they all talk like her. Although—could Allison have adopted her way of thinking and acting from the Mavens first? It was very hard to tell.
This just cracked me up!

Exellent job Tysyacha, and I am looking forward to the next chapter, as always.


Last edited by Rev7; 07-01-2008 at 08:42 PM. Reason: wrong smiley. :D
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Old 07-02-2008, 02:13 AM   #10
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It is getting interesting... I must say, however, that it is hard to keep up with all your stories at once... You have quite the imagination.


Please feed the trolls. XD
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Old 07-02-2008, 02:41 PM   #11
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(Arcesious and Rev7, thank you so much for reading this and commenting! You two make my day because it seems like sometimes nobody pays much attention to my fics that aren't about Star Wars. So, kudos to both of you, and here's another installment! )

Today at school, after Jessica so nicely reminded me of the club that proved I was not a “big girl”, I gave her the biggest, hardest shove that I possibly could. She went staggering backward, her books and papers flying out of her arms, and it was all she could do to keep from falling on her rear end. It was kind of funny, but I was so mad that I couldn’t laugh. I couldn’t even cry. I stood there and seethed, leaning forward, trying to think of a real zinger.

My mind was a total blank until I saw the tiny stubble of black hair that was starting to sprout on Jessica’s head.

“Go shave your head, Jessica!” I roared, my face hot.

Unbeknownst to both of us, we had started to draw a crowd. I heard several kids go, “Whoooaaah!” or “Man!” They were smiling at me for a change, though, and not Jessica. Most of the time, the others around me at school either ignored me or sided with Jess and the other bullies.

A Staff member walked up to us. “What’s going on?”

“Veesha shoved me,” Jessica fumed. “Really hard.”

“She was teasing me,” I shot back, “calling me ‘EC’.”

The Staff member looked disappointed. “All right, girls. You know the routine.” She pulled out her notepad and red pen. I shuddered. She was going to write Red Notes on us.

“I apologize for my words and actions,” I rasped, my insides turning to water and my throat to sand. I felt sick.

“And I also apologize for my words and actions,” replied Jessica, her mouth turned up at the corners in a smirk. She waited for a moment, and I started to bend over to pick up her scattered books and papers. Would I fall down if I stayed like that? My legs were shaking all over.

“Don’t bother,” said Jessica, allowing me to straighten up. “Staff Marcie will help me, so you just go on to class.”

I couldn’t believe my ears. “Thank you,” I mumbled, so relieved that I didn’t consider the possible motive for what she said. I regained my balance and started walking down the hall in the opposite direction, toward Citizenship class.

That was when I heard a hiss behind my back: “Exile!”

Jessica had surely said it, but a cold chill suddenly wormed its way down my spine: what if it had been Staff Marcie? I couldn’t imagine a Staff member using such a serious threat as an insult, but then again, there had been two females standing very close to me during the write-up.

My dearest Journal! It would be the end of the world if I got exiled, or at least the end of my world. Outside of our Community’s limits, the borders of our town, there are nothing but woods and abandoned roads that no one travels much anymore. You could walk for miles and not see a single soul, or car. We still have cars, though if they’re not of the hybrid or purely-electric variety, you get a Red Note in your file for owning one. Exile means shame, loneliness, the isolation of a single star as it appears at twilight.

Not that it would be all bad. I’d be outside, and I wouldn’t have to follow any rules. I could go where I wanted when I wanted, and there wouldn’t be any Staff looking over my shoulder or lurking just around the corner, waiting to catch me off-guard. I could go naked if I wanted.

Still, what is life without love? What is freedom without friends? If I had to abandon my world because of the rules I broke, or if someone had it in for me, then I know I’d die.

I don’t have any survival skills, physical or emotional, that would help me to live “out there”. I’m safe in here.

Good night! I’m feeling tired and drained, because this took a long time to write. Is my face wet? Ype (pronounced yip), I thought so. I kind of hoped I’d be able to write this journal entry without dissolving into tears, but no dice. Oh, well. Maybe next time I’ll write something cooler—and happier. I sure want to. “Thank God it’s Friday”, indeed…
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Old 07-02-2008, 05:44 PM   #12
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I certainly hope that Veesha doesn't get Exiled. That would be horrible.

I think that it would be really difficult to live a life like that. Just thinking about it...really shows you what freedom we have.

Jessica seems like a really, really mean girl. I feel bad that Veesha got a red mark.

Good job with this chapter!

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Old 07-02-2008, 07:04 PM   #13
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Want to hear something even sadder?

"Jessica" is based on a girl in real life (also, incidentally, named Jessica) who began the real-life "Big Girls' Club" in an effort to get me not to cry. I could never tell whether she was my friend or my enemy, at least not back then. Naturally, Veesha is me, all but the shaved head and khaki jumpsuit (and age. I was once 16, however, and I did cry in PE almost every day when I was about 10. So, you can kind of consider this autobiographical. )
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Old 07-02-2008, 10:28 PM   #14
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This story makes me glad about the great freedoms we have, like Rev7 said. Someone needs to get on into that story and overthrow the government in this story!


Please feed the trolls. XD
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Old 07-03-2008, 12:27 AM   #15
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Want to hear something even sadder?

"Jessica" is based on a girl in real life (also, incidentally, named Jessica) who began the real-life "Big Girls' Club" in an effort to get me not to cry. I could never tell whether she was my friend or my enemy, at least not back then. Naturally, Veesha is me, all but the shaved head and khaki jumpsuit (and age. I was once 16, however, and I did cry in PE almost every day when I was about 10. So, you can kind of consider this autobiographical. )


I am so sorry. I have gone through similar events, I guess. I was made fun of a lot before I moved. The good part is, its not like that anymore. I have sympathy for you, for I have been through similar things. I pity Jessica because I think that you could easily whup her butt in a writing contest!

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Old 07-08-2008, 03:56 PM   #16
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(Author's Note: I have changed Veesha's name to Eva since I last posted, in honor of the Biblical primal female and WALL-E's dearest love. The character who was once "Eve" is now "Kate". Enjoy this installment, and please keep the comments coming! )

Chapter Three
I’LL STAND AT FOUR

Saturday, September 11th, 2060, Patriot Day, 4:00 PM

It’s been almost sixty years to the day since the United States (and the world) changed forever. Today in 2001, two planes that were hijacked by terrorists from the group al-Qaeda crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York. Our town held a Commemoration Service this morning which everybody attended, but before I tell you about that, I’d like to tell you about the dream I had last night. Strange, but I wonder if the two are related.

Our Youth Home has one computer in the Common Area, which everyone can use. Each of us gets a thirty-minute session every day, which can be shortened to fifteen minutes if people are waiting. Most of them do homework, e-mail or instant-message their friends when they use the computer, but I play games. My favorite one is a role-playing game, where I use different strategies to make my way through a science-fiction world. It’s set out in space, and I play a female soldier intent on saving the galaxy. So far, I’ve only made it to level seven, but the highest is 60.

In my dream I was on the computer, playing a game as usual, but this was a different kind of game—a “sim” or simulation, which I don’t really like. At the start of the game, I was on level one, trying to gain enough political power to free some aliens on my home planet from slavery. I eventually did, reaching level four, and then the game gave me three options: CONTINUE, STAND or QUIT.

Technically the game wasn’t over, because—and this is the scary part—there were three more levels. Four of the levels, which I had already achieved, were lit up in bright orange on the screen, arranged in a semicircle from right to left: Level 1 (Peon), Level 2 (Delegate), Level 3 (Senator) and Level 4 (President). I slowly moved my mouse pointer over the other three level markers, which were gray-shaded and as yet unachieved, and what I saw freaked me out:

The marker for Level 5 was labeled Dictator.

The marker for Level 6 was labeled Emperor.

The final marker, for Level 7, was labeled Omnipotent.

I had the option to CONTINUE, but I chose to STAND. This meant I would remain on Level 4 by choice and have that be the official end of my game, though it was not the official end of the game. After I turned off the computer and went down to the basement in my dream (I was in some sort of a house, but not my Youth Home), I met a tall old man with long, silver hair tied back in a ponytail. (Is it actually called a “queue”, or is that only in Great Britain?)

The old man told me the terrible secret about the game, or at least what would have happened if I chose to progress beyond Level 4. It turned out that there were actually two more planets out in space to try and liberate (or control), and the way to achieve omnipotence on Level 7 was to combine all three of them into one, melding the other two planets’ suns into the one sun on your home world as well.

If you chose to pursue that last option, the final level of power, you ended up killing two-thirds of all the aliens and creatures on the planets you controlled, which ended up turning into one big planet in the end. The remaining third, which was still alive, became completely obedient to you.

I woke up stiff with fright, unable to move. Luckily Kate was still fast asleep and didn’t hear my rapid, shallow breathing. I looked at my watch: it had been 7:00 AM then.
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Old 07-09-2008, 10:40 AM   #17
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(Another installment...)

Now it’s 4:00 PM, and the quiet time of reflection I had at the park during our Commemoration Service hadn’t completely erased my uneasy feelings about the dream. More likely, it was a nightmare, although I tend to reserve the term “nightmare” for gory dreams and stuff—ones where people are trying to chase me and kill me. I almost never have them, but when I do, it’s usually because I watched a scary movie on TV the night before with the other kids at my Youth Home. Jason likes to pick those.

I also have nightmares—real nightmares—about Jessica.

Anyway, it was a beautiful day at the park this morning. For September, it was still quite warm, although not hot and humid like summer. I wore my lighter-weight khaki jumpsuit for the occasion, and here on Patriot Day, most of us kids liked to wear American flag pins, as we did on July 4th. The adults and Staff usually frown upon such things, believing them to be “vain trinkets”, but we don’t care. No one really stops us or threatens to write notes in our files if we wear the flag pin. It’s meaningful and patriotic.

Once everyone in town had gathered in the middle of our Central Community Park, around the actual American flag, the Commemoration Service began. It always starts with patriotic songs—“My Country, ‘Tis of Thee”, “Grand Old Flag”, “God Bless America”, “America the Beautiful”, and of course, “The Star-Spangled Banner”. Once in a while, someone will start up a chorus of “Yankee Doodle Dandy”, although that song is generally considered too merry and upbeat for a memorial of September 11th.

I loved singing. It felt like July 4th all over again, although for an entirely different reason, and with no fireworks. All of our voices lilted together in great waves, bobbing up and down with the pitch of the music. Some of us were the low-toned bases of the waves—the boys and men—and the girls were the waves’ middles and crests. High-pitched as my voice was, it still wasn’t as high as it had been in 7th grade, and so I’d moved to mezzo-soprano.

After the singing came the silence—the sad silence of remembrance as we thought about the 3,000 people who died in the World Trade Center attacks. It was why we’d gone to war with Afghanistan, and later Iraq and Iran. Syria and North Korea were next, according to the official reports on the news, although President Stark hadn’t quite gotten around to them yet. It made me ask myself why we weren’t also remembering our fallen soldiers, or the thousands of civilians, Iraqi and Iranian as well as American, who had died as a result of our various wars. Collectively, they were known as one big “War on Terror”, but in my mind our fear had increased instead of decreased. I didn’t feel any safer since I’d learned about September 11th, or the more-recent terror attacks on the Pentagon and White House in 2052. Those two buildings had almost been bombed to the ground, as the WTC towers had been, but fortunately for us (the U.S.), our intelligence had gotten better and we were able to fortify them both before the terrorists had their way.

It was part of the reason we lived in tightly-knit Communities. Spread out all over the place, living in our own little worlds with our own little lives and families, we couldn’t do much, but together we could make a stand—a real stand. Terrorists were no match for human solidarity.

Some people (“wackos”, as we called them at school) had other ideas about the present state of our country and why we lived as we did. They said that the whole “War on Terror”, started and perpetuated by the events of September 11th, which we commemorated today, was actually a “front”—a cover for what was really going on. According to them, the real reason we were in such dire straits was that our government wanted to control us, every one. They wanted to hide this, so they started a perpetual war. (Wasn’t there even a 20th-century novel written about this kind of thing? I believe it was called 1984, by George Orwell).

See? What’d I tell you? Wacko! Fortunately, none of us kids believed it. We knew better. The adults could pay attention to these theories and even consider them true if they wanted, but in our minds that was a stupid thing to do—one of the stupidest, in my opinion. If our government wanted to crush us, why did it build us these nice, safe Communities in which to live? No one went hungry here or had to live on the streets. Everyone had health care, and they were given a decent funeral when they died. What used to be called “paupers’ graves”, and even reports of dead bodies in trash bags being tossed into Dumpsters for burial, were a thing of the distant past. The 19th and 20th centuries were over. We lived in the now, and it was good.

As I thought about all these things at our 59th-annual Commemoration Service for September 11th, the only sound to answer me was the crisp waving of the American flag. It curled and unfurled in the breeze, and I thought it moved like a snake and an Olympic gymnast’s ribbon all at once. “Don’t tread on me,” a patriotic motto had once read, and I glanced fearlessly up at the flag’s rippling red and white stripes against the harsh blue of the sky. You betcha.
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Old 07-09-2008, 02:53 PM   #18
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I love it so far! Very interesting dream that Veesha - Eva had. I wonder what will come of it.

So where exactly does Eva live? I am assuming that it is the United States.

Very nice chapters though, I am really enjoying this. Keep up the marvelous work.

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