Although the world had advanced far beyond wilderness survival, it stopped advancing when it reached global control over humans, and free will. My parents raised me to be prepared for this day, we knew it would happen, it did to everyone born poor, in my generation, unless you could elude the governing bodies and escape, make it to the Oriel. You see, the government decided that the earths population was out of control, after many failed attempts at genocide, germ warfare etc. their solution was; send all able-bodied people at the age of 18, to the Moon. They made it sound like an honor, that they were the great generation who would colonize the moon and prepare it for future generations. What they didn’t tell people was, what really goes on up there. Backpack ready with just the necessities, flashlight, lighter, matches, first aid kit, binoculars, power bars, packets of seeds, two water bottles, gum, swiss army knife, small emergency blanket, clean t-shirt and pair of socks. Wearing my cargo pants that had many pockets, normally used to carry ID, scanners, cell phones, and tracking devices, mine now contained smaller versions and/or repeat survival items in the backpack and more packets of seeds, attached to a belt was my hunting knife, all items made for compact survival kits, on my body in case I lost my backpack while running, I removed all the usual devices, to avoid being tracked or detected. I hugged my parents. “Well looks like I have everything” “Are you sure, did you double check?” mom said choking back tears. I looked at my dad, he too had tears in his eyes “I’m sorry Kayla” “Sorry for what dad?” he slumped down in the chair, through his sobs “If I had had a better job, more money, you wouldn’t have to run.” I kneeled and took his shoulders “Dad, don’t be silly, if it weren’t for you and mom, then I would be getting onto that space shuttle headed into slavery or death.” he looked up trying to smile. Mom spoke up trying to keep calm “That’s right Thomas, thanks to your job driving an Embassy shuttle, when Kayla was three years old. You were blessed to be the driver, the night a drunk remorseful Ambassador spilled the entire story to you, and together with him, and a young girl, you started Oriel.” The Oriel was a safe place far from all cities and technology, dad described it like something out of the history books about self sustaining hippy communes. For some of my generation, it was the only alternative to the moon. It was a secret place; the government knew it existed but could never find. Although I’m not sure they tried very hard, and probably wouldn’t unless we became a threat to them. My parents talked a lot over the years about how hard it was to be part of the committee that chose the lucky group each year from our and neighboring cities. They described it as heartbreaking, knowing what truly awaited for those going to the moon and trying to inform others of Oriel without telling the wrong person that could destroy it all. Once the decision was made, and a week before they leave, they would receive a map written in code that led the travelers to safe houses along the path until they reached Oriel where they spend the rest of their lives. Another part of my upbringing was studying ways of living without technology or medicine. My main interest was in natural remedies for health and curing illness, and other medical procedures such as mid-wife and first aid and minor surgery. After spending the last ten years on this subject, I was positive I would make a good addition to Oriel and would teach others what I knew. Just then there was a knock on the door. Mom answered it, and in came my best friend since age 4, Jules and her parents. Jules parents had the same tear stained faces as my parents and Jules was dressed identically to me. We were ready. We all gathered in the living room for the final hour before we had to leave, the last time we would all be together. Jule’s dad spoke up first “I remember when you first told us about the truth” he paused “At first I thought you were crazy, but by the end of the conversation and the fact that you chose Jules to go, I ..” he trailed off in tears… Jules mom spoke up “We are just trying to say how thankful we are for your kindness over the years, and for saving our daughter” The next hour went by fast, all of us going over the story our parents would say when the recruiters came for us in 36 hours from now, and what story Jules and I would say if we were caught before making it to Oriel, not that it would matter, defection meant death. It would be a public execution in which our parents would be forced to watch. In some cases, just to send a message to the public, parents were executed if a missing child was not caught. We were not to concerned with this for our parents because of dad’s connection to the underground at Embassy level. The hour had passed, it was midnight, one hour left until curfew to get to the edge of town, we put on our hoodies, said our tearful goodbyes and left.
We couldn’t risk being driven by our parents, we walked through the back alleys towards the edge of town. As we moved quietly, watching carefully for scouts and roadblocks, each intersection we looked all directions before crossing; I was about to step out thinking the coast was clear when Jules yanked me back and pointed up. Directly overhead was a scout drone. We got against the wall as close as we could, hoping it hadn’t sensed our movements, it continued scanning down the alley, thankfully missing us. One block straight ahead was our first connection point, but to avoid accidentally leading anyone there, we were to turn right go to the fourth building, turn left and circle back. Just as we turned into the alley of the forth building we heard sirens behind us, then yelling, we turned around to see if it was us being chased, with a sigh of relief we saw, drones chasing a homeless man, Jules closed her eyes not wanting to see his fate. Moving faster now circling back, glad that the drones were busy, we didn’t have time to feel for that man anymore we had to keep moving before his fate was ours. Back at the contact point, we stood against the wall in the shadows, our pulses began to race as we heard footsteps approaching from around the corner. A tall man appeared, my heart pounded and then he spoke “Oriel, is that you?” simultaneously we replied “It is an beautiful night?” he flashed a light to the street ahead, and a light flashed back. “Get in that vehicle, it will take you to the next stop” “thank you” we said, as we approached, we noticed it was a recruiter van, was this a trap? Jules looked scared “Did your dad tell you it would be a recruiter van?” she asked “He didn’t know, just that as long as they said the message, we would be safe. And don’t give your name or ask theirs.” Standing outside the van listening at the side door they heard; knock, pause, knock knock pause, knock. Kayla responded with knock, knock, knock. The door slid open and they rushed in. The woman returned to the drivers seat, turned around and said” buckle up, and do not speak at all during the trip. I will be turning the monitors back on in a minute and they will hear everything said in here. Understand?” “Yes” I said “But where do they think you are going?” “I am on a supply run, two hours from here, I will drop you at the next point just before that city. Now quiet please or we all die” The silent ride seemed to last forever, then finally the van slowed down, the driver clicked the communicator “Hey guys, Im stopping for a minute, I got a leg cramp okay?” “Ten four Lucy, I told you driving was a hellish job” the person on the other end laughed” “You were right Steve, as always, okay check back with you in Five” “Roger” with that she clicked off the monitor, turned to us and said, “End of the road girls, head that way” she pointed towards a small tree lined path that was once a road leading to a building off in the distance, the only building for miles, and a forest behind it, in the far distance stood a mountain, all slightly visible due to the full moon. “There should be someone there waiting for you, so don’t dawdle” her face softened “Stay against the trees, and Good luck.” We thanked her, got out of the van, and stretched “She wasn’t kidding about cramped legs” Jules said “I agree, lets go”
Nearing the building, a growling dog emerged from the last tree, frozen in our tracks until a woman stepped out as well “Winston SIT” the dog sat immediately and wagged its tail. “It’s a beautiful night” she said “Oriel is that you?” we replied. Entering the large abandoned building we were led to the center room, with no windows and only the door they came through, which she closed behind her and switched on the light. In it was a large table with fruit, a row of beds, and a sign with an arrow that said washroom. “Welcome, this phase of the journey is a two hour stop over, we have to make sure no one was followed, if you were then the entire chain can not be discovered, only the first part.” She smiled “I know, it is a scary two hours, but there is food, drink, bathroom and beds if you wish” she continued on “I apologize right now, I’m a talker, this time of year is lonely, I stay here for the month waiting for each set to arrive and leave. Yep just me and the dog, and he doesn’t say much hahaha” she rambled as she played with the dog and he enjoyed every second of it. After stretching out on the beds, and listening to our hostess chatter non stop for two hours the alarm clock rang and she said “Well its been great. Time to go” she bounced up and the dog started jumping “Who’s a good boy, who wants to go out? Who?” she looked at us and said “Give us a minute to check the perimeter, be right back!” we were gathering our bags when she returned, “OK its all good.” We all walked out and around to the back of the building. She pointed straight ahead through the woods, “Walk that way until the sun starts to rise, if you are fast enough you will have reached a small cabin at the end of the trees. SAFE HOUSE!” she squealed, then turned and walked away, dog jumping beside her. Suddenly she turned back around “OH ya, good luck, thanks for the chat, bye bye” then continued to walk away.
As we continued our journey through the woods, I was breathing in the air and enjoying the peacefulness, not sure if I would ever feel this again, I wanted to enjoy every second. Jules I imagined was doing the same as she walked quietly beside me. What seemed like only moments had actually been longer, the sun was rising and just ahead was a small cabin, sitting on the front porch was a woman in a rocking chair. She spotted us, reached beside her and brought up a large gun “HALT!” we did. She walked towards us, gun held steady, “It’s a beautiful day” she said “Oriel is that you” Jules said, she lowered the gun and guided us into the cabin. “Welcome, this phase is your final stop, tonight you will go to Oriel. Today you will stay inside, out of sight to the drone scouts. Understood?” “Yes” in unison. As she poured us coffee and asked if we hungry, to which we replied yes, she handed us a selection of muffins, cinnamon rolls and fruit. Through out the day she told us that she had escaped the moon 15 years ago with the help of an ambassador. Sadly they were never able to get anyone else out ever again, so they, along with another man, designed Oriel to at least save some of the young from the moon. My heart swelled knowing she was speaking of my dad, Jules smiled at me. She continued about how her life there included, working the mine, being beaten; and sterilized to control population; how now she is so grateful for everyday here on earth, and how she would die to protect Oriel. She spoke of Oriel telling us of how beautiful it was, and that it didn’t feel like it was inside the mountain, there were so many natural skylights that it felt like being out in the open, the gardens were designed in multilevels, under openings that the rain felt through, self watering from it and the seepage off the rock walls each morning. There were tunnels leading everywhere throughout the mountain but all led to a large opening with a huge pool of pure fresh water to swim in. There were hundreds of natural caves that people used as private dwellings, all the cooking was done at the top, the constant smoke out of the mountain kept people away thinking it was a volcano that may erupt again some day and the drones avoided the smoke. The people there were an incredibly happy close community. She asked us about what we thought we could bring to the family. I explained my desire and Jules explained her skills in sewing by hand, cooking, and making the medicines that I would need. The day was ending, and we had talked over everything about Oriel. The woman got up and said “Welcome to the family” we were confused, this was just a little cabin, no mountain, no village. She walked over to the kitchen island, lifted the countertop up, revealing a staircase down into a tunnel. “This is the way home, live free and be happy” she handed us our back packs which we put on, then handed us each huge baskets of fruit. “Never show up empty handed” she smiled then we entered the tunnel and headed for our new life.