I stare out the window, the tall buildings blurring before my tear-streaked face. My anger bubbles inside me, boiling flames licking at my broken heart. The frowning face of my younger sister mimics the discontent within me.
The government had promised. We deliver the mutated DNA samples, we earn our freedom. Yet again, we find ourselves moving to a distant, unknown city. Yet again, my heart aches for the comfort of my old home. In my entire life, I have never before loved a place so much as Hawaine.
I nervously bounce my robotic leg, as we leave the newly restored cities of the old United States and drive across the endless ocean. I drift off to sleep to the sound of the ocean waves slapping our car, to the beat of my anguished heart.
I awake three hours later, and find, much to my surprise, we have crossed about half of the warm, shallow waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Up past the rows of seats, I catch a glimpse of the City of Atlantis, previously thought to be lost. 200 years ago, the Atlantic Ocean’s waters became considerably shallower, which was when the City of Atlantis was rediscovered.
A few minutes later, we retract the claws protruding from the base of our car, and float to shore. I gladly follow my older brothers out of the car and immediately fall to the ground. I always forget how dizzy I am after a long car ride.
Quickly, before I forget, I take my water purifier from my belt and remove the lid. I fill the container to the brim with the salty ocean water. The bell dings exactly two minutes later, alerting me that the water is safe to drink. I quickly add the water to the dehydrated spaghetti before it cools down. I share the pasta with my twelve year old sister, Emma, who has been sulking since we left Hawaine.
Matt and Mark share a small cake to celebrate their birthday, and they blow out their nineteen candles. I give each of them their presents, under the watchful eye of the government officials escorting us. For Matt I bought a new pocket knife from the Amazons in Batalla, not a weapon according to government standards. For Mark, I bought a book originally written a little more than 300 years ago, in the year 2019.
Our final destination is Fingoli, a small island off the coast of Eurasia. We’re told the average temperature is 90°F, but due to the island being formed within the last twenty years, it is unlikely the average will continue to be stable. Apparently, there are barely any trees, and it is deemed unlikely we will come upon another human. Even the mutated sort.
I look over at Mark, resting his new book on his six mechanical legs as he reads the first few chapters. Three years ago, when all of us were still in the military, Mark had an accident which resulted in him losing his legs. Rather than cry about it, he searched for days on end for the perfect parts and built himself six new legs, weaponized and ready to fight. Mark notices me staring and slides a bookmark in between the pages of his new book.
“So, what are you thinking about in that tiny little brain of yours, little sis?”
“You’re hilarious. Just remembering when we were in the military. You know, when we weren’t being ‘escorted’ to a random place in the middle of nowhere by government officials who stole our weapons.” This earned me a nasty glare from the leader of the group, but I just grin at him and turn away. Matt turns to look at me, and quickly looks at the ground.
Mark says, “Right. Well, those days are long over. No sense dwelling on the past, or you might miss the future.”
I try to hide my confusion at Mark’s words, because this was the code phrase we’d been using since we were little, meaning hide and run away.
“At midnight, wake all of us up and we can watch the stars shine their light on us.” continued Mark. I was hard-pressed containing my reaction to the oddity of the words coming from Mark’s mouth. Maybe he wanted all of us to wake up and escape.
“Okay, will do. How’s the book?”
Mark held up his copy of Lost in the Jungle, “It’s pretty good I guess. So, this guy gets lost on a tour of this rainforest, and it’s in this place called South America. One of the old continents, perhaps. Apparently, he has limited supplies or something.”
When I read the book, it was about a photographer lost in South America, not a guy lost on a tour. Mark is definitely trying to tell me something. We have limited supplies, we’re lost, in a way, and we are sort of on a tour with the officials.
Mark whispers to me, “I’ll give the signal.”
I glare at him and laugh to make it look like another one of his jabs.
“Can we explore please?” Emma whines.
“Sure Emma.” I walk beside her toward the city, where most of the crumbling buildings stare sadly at the slowly sinking sun.
I wake up on a hard marble floor, freezing cold. I look around. It’s pitch black. The face of my watch emits an eery light, and the time is 11:57 p.m., three minutes before the time I need to wake everyone up. Mark is already awake, quietly packing our things into a burlap sack. I shake Jamie, our aunt, awake and quietly explain the situation. Matt stands up, and he wakes Emma up. Matt picks up the burlap sack, and quickly hides our small robot. Kyle, our uncle, sits up and we start whispering instructions on how to escape. We silently creep out of the immense hall and run for the car. I hear a shout behind me, and turn to see what happened. One of the guards has Kyle.
Kyle yells, “Keep going! Don’t stop no matter what.”
Tears stream down my face and I continue sprinting for the car. I hear a strangled moan next to me, and I see Mark on the ground, his arm twisted in an unnatural position. He pushes Emma forward and I yell,
“Emma! Sprint. Run as fast as you can.”
Both of us look away from Mark and Kyle and run for the car. Emma screams when she falls, and I quickly set her back on her feet. I start to run out of breath as we near the halfway point of our sprint.
Barely ahead of me, Jamie slows down and takes Emma’s hand. All of us run as fast as we can, when Matt runs toward us from the car, slightly out of breath. This strikes me as odd, considering he just sprinted to the car and back. I push the thought from my head and listen to what Matt says.
“All the entrances to the car are blocked by guards. They’re just behind me. We have to run away.”
We turn to run in the other direction, only to find we’re surrounded by guards and government officials, pointing their high frequency rifles at our heads. Kyle and Mark are viciously shoved inside the circle along with the rest of us. Jamie walks toward the outer edge of the guards, Emma with her, and over half the rifles are pointed at her and Emma. She shoves Emma behind her and quickly backs away. Matt simply walks out of the circle, and someone hands him a rifle.
Matt says, “The government hired me to detain you if I learned of any escape plans. In return, I would get my old job back.”
We stare at him in shock, betrayed by our own family. I can’t believe Matt would be this selfish. Tears pour down my face as Mark stares in horror at his twin.
“You are under arrest for failing to comply when imprisoned by government officials. Put your hands up or we will shoot.” Matt’s voice is as cold as ice. Mark rushes toward him, fist raised as Matt raises his gun, finger on the trigger.