Fiction Science Fiction Teens & Young Adult

Ga Gong. . . Ga Gong. . . Ga Gong.

My eyes flutter open at the sound. The gong only sounds one day a year and before it’s never really mattered to me. But today I shutter at the sound.

Ga Gong. . . Ga Gong. . . Ga Gong.

Todays the day I’ve been awaiting and dreading my whole life. My graduation.

I stare blankly at the ceiling and recall learning about graduations on Earth. Kids walked across a stage wearing large robes, shaking hands, giving speeches, and getting diplomas.

This graduation won’t be anything like that.

My name is Tyler Scholes and today determines my whole future, who I will become, where I will live, how much respect I will receive. I hate it. I hate it all. The world I live in, the system we’ve developed.

I swing my legs over the side of the bed and sit up, elbows resting on my knees, I stare at the outfit hanging across the room. A simple white jumpsuit, and black boots. The graduation uniform.

I stand up, get undressed, and force my body into the shower. I believe in a world where everyone is respected and treated equal. But maybe that’s only because I didn’t grow up respected. I was born into Ona, the lowest social class.

I let the water run down my face, into my eyes. They tell us everything is equal. Before the age of 18, everyone goes to the same school, enrolls in the same classes with the same teachers.

All our food is the same, at least during school, and all extracurricular activities are free. They tell us that we are all given the same opportunities. But that isn’t true. I was born into Ona, the lowest social class. School was equal, but I came home to a small, simple home located in an ill respected part of town.

I feel the water rolling down my face and trickling down my body. My parents receive low rations, so I never had toys or nice clothing. I never had a Thanksgiving turkey or a Christmas ham. I never had respect from my peers.

They tell us everything is equal, but that’s not how I experienced things.

I step out of the shower and pull the white jumpsuit over my body, slide my feet into the black boots and look at myself in the mirror. I wouldn’t consider myself handsome. I’m tall which is good, but I’m skinny and awkward. There isn’t an ounce of me that’s athletic. My dark brown hair is always a mess. But my eyes, I’ve always liked my eyes. They are a striking green.

Ga Gong. . . Ga Gong. . . Ga Gong.

There’s that gong again. My body shutters.

I head out the front door and down the street. I need to clear my mind before graduation and there’s only one place where that’s possible, the rooftop of an old factory. I head in that direction.

I desire to be something great. I want my life to mean something, and I want to make a difference. Today will determine whether the life I want is possible. Later today at graduation, I will be assigned my social class.

Our society only cares about three things: intelligence, creativity, and athletic ability.

Two weeks before graduation all the 18-year-olds take three exams. One for intelligence, one for creativity, and one for athletic ability.

From the time we are born, we’re taught to nurture and build our abilities in each of the areas. Before the age of 18 we are technically not part of any social class. We live with our parents in their assigned class until graduation. . . until we are assigned into our own social class.

Once assigned, no one is allowed to change their class.

I reach the old fence surrounding the factory and find the spot where I can crawl under. I’m especially careful today since I’m wearing the white jumpsuit. It wouldn’t do me well to show up with a dirty uniform.

I slide under the gate and head to the rooftop. I love it up here. It’s the only place I can really think. From the roof I can see the whole city. I glance down at the Ona shelters, and I’m filled with hate. I hated growing up there. But it wasn’t because of the house I grew up in or the food I had.

Sure, those things were unpleasant, but I hated growing up there because of the way it made me feel. I wasn’t respected by my peers, I was cast aside and left out.

But the worst was the look on people’s faces when I passed by. It was a look of shame, a look of loathing. Growing up in Ona meant I was despised and that’s why I hated it.

My gaze shifts to the Arriba shelters, the homes of our highest social class. That’s where I desire to be. Their homes are large and beautiful. Their children are well fed and cherished.

Being in Arriba means you are respected and loved by everyone around you. It means you are a contributing member of society, and you have a bright future ahead of you. That’s where I want to be, that’s where I deserve to be.

Ga Gong. . . Ga Gong. . . Ga Gong.

I glace at where the sound is coming from, the colosseum, located in the center of the city. In an hour from now, I will be standing somewhere down there, awaiting my fate. I stare at the building in a trance, unable to shift my gaze.

I’m startled back to reality when I feel a hand on my shoulder. I glance up to see Michael Whitmore, my best friend, also wearing the white graduation uniform. He’s also from Ona, so he gets me. We’ve been friends as long as I can remember but he was always treated a bit different than me. He has blonde hair, blue eyes, and a good build, which are typically the physical traits of an Arriba child. People treated him better because of that. But deep down, we were the same, children born into Ona.

“Hey Tyler, you know we have to be down there in an hour right?” Michael says nodding to the Colosseum.

“Yeah I know, I needed to clear my head before going down” I reply.

Michael gives me his hand and I stand up. I glace at the Arriba homes then turn and head back down the abandoned stairs. Michael and I walk along the street in silence, I don’t think either of us have much to say right now. The silence gives me time to think.

I think about how unfair the system is. We are divided into three classes, Arriba, Betra, and Ona. Class is determined by your total score on the graduation exams for intelligence, creativity, and physical ability.

Technically there is only one difference between the classes— the number of children you are allowed to have. Our society believes in natural genetic evolution. If the genetically best members of society produce children, the theory is that their children will inherit their premium genetics.

So, the members of Arriba, or the genetically best, are encouraged to have as many children as possible. Betra, our middle class are allowed two children and Ona, my class, are allowed only one child.

Technically that is the only difference. But in reality, that’s not the case.

All members of society, regardless of social class are allowed to choose their profession. But rarely do people stray from the socially acceptable professions of their class. Typically, members of Arriba are the doctors, the politicians, and the business owners. They are our highest performing members of society which means they make all the rules.

Members of Betra typically work under those in Arriba, they sometimes hold positions of power but rarely achieve great success.

Ona, the lowest social class, is typically stuck with the jobs the other two classes don’t want. We are the cleaners, the service workers, and the cheap labors. Rarely do we amount to anything in our professional lives.

The government tells us that profession doesn’t matter. They tell us every job is important and needed. So, our rations, or our income, isn’t based on which profession we choose. It’s based on how well we do our job and how much we contribute to society.

Everything is about productivity. In theory, someone from Ona could work as a janitor and make the same rations as a doctor from Arriba. But it never works out that way.

Our society seems to be completely fair. People are assigned classes based on what makes them valuable members of society. After that we can choose their spouse, choose their profession, choose their home. And how much we earn fully depends on how productive we are.

We have full freedom in life with everything, except the number of children we are allowed to have.

It all seems fair, but that’s not how I experienced things. There is a distinct difference between the social classes. People rarely choose a profession outside of the social norm and hardly ever marry outside their social class. Those in Arriba always receive more rations and those in Ona are practically left to starve. Nothing about this system is fair.

I feel a tug on my sleeve. “Hey Tyler, you there?” Michael says. “You zoned out.”

“Yeah sorry, I’m nervous.” I say glancing at the ground.

“How do you feel about your tests?” Michael asks optimistically.

“I don’t know. I feel good about creativity, but that’s always been my strong area. And you know how I am with physical ability, I’m complete trash. So, it really comes down to how I did on intelligence” I say. “How do you feel?” I ask him.

“I’ve been training for this my while life; how do you think I feel?” Michael responds sarcastically.

Ga Gong. . . Ga Gong. . . Ga Gong.

That’s the fifth sound of the gong, which means its time. The doors to the Colosseum swing open, Michael and I walk in.

We take our seats on the stage. This year there are 30 graduates so there are 30 seats positioned in a circle on the stage in the center of the Colosseum. There is a circular hole in the center of the stage that drops below the Colosseum. 

The whole city is required to come to the graduation ceremony, so I watch at people file in and take their seats. Arriba always takes the front rows, Betra behind them, and Ona at the back.

I feel like I am in a fishbowl. I can feel hundreds of eyes on me, judging me, trying to guess where I will be placed. Every other year, I have been them, looking down on the graduates passing my judgement. It never occurred to me how that would make them feel, until now.

Now I can’t help but glance over at the other graduates. I’d known these people my whole life. We all went to the same school, took the same classes. By all accounts, they should have been my friends.

But I hated them, I hated all of them except Michael. We were the only children from Ona in our class. But that is typical. Most graduating classes have 1-2 Ona children, 10-15 Betra children, and the rest are Arriba. A result of our societal rules regarding repopulation.

Ga Gong. . . Ga Gong. . . Ga Gong.

The sixth sound of the gong calls for silence. The whole Colosseum falls quiet, you could hear a pen drop. The hole in the center of the stage begins to rise, and our leader, William Wright, rises up into the center of the stage.

“Welcome,” his voice booms throughout the Colosseum. “We are pleased to honor this year’s graduates; may their scores reflect truth.”

The crowd applauds, then quickly falls silent.

William continues, “As tradition states, we will review the graduation process before announcing this year’s assignments.”

A polished, pretty woman walks onto the stage and begins reading:

“200 years ago, Earth sent a pod of 1000 people to a newly discovered planet, with similar properties to Earth, with the intention of colonizing the planet. The people sent had a variety of talents and abilities that would be needed in the new world. For 5 years, we thrived under the direction of Earth’s scientists and government.

But everything changed when we lost contact with Earth. As a result, we had to learn how to survive on this new planet alone. The conditions were harsh, and food was becoming scarce. We had to adapt.

 Our leaders formed the class system, formatted based on genetic evolution. All citizens were given three tests, one for intelligence, one for creativity, and one for athletic ability. The top 15% were given the name Arriba, the bottom 10% were given the name Ona, and everyone else was called Betra.

Our leaders believed that genetic evolution was the only way we would survive long term on ***. So, those in Arriba were encouraged to produce as many children as possible. Betra were allowed 2 children, and Ona were allowed one child.

Our leaders determined that children should be given equal opportunities to determine their own social class. So, before the age of 18, everything is created equal. Two weeks before graduation, all 18-year-olds are given three tests for intelligence, creativity, and athletic ability.

The top 15% are assigned Arriba and the bottom 10% are assigned to Ona, the rest are assigned to Betra.

This system had served us well for 200 years. Every year our society evolves, and the graduation exams become more difficult, ensuring that our society is constantly becoming better. As always, these graduates are the best we’ve ever seen.”

William steps back onto the stage and says, “thank you Miranda.” He gestures for her to exit the stage. Then takes his place in the center and addresses the crowd.

“With 30 graduates this year, five will become Arriba, 22 Betra, and three Ona. Our highest score this year was 29.5 out of 30, all class assignments are based on percentages in relation to the highest score. As always we will announce the top scoring graduate first. May their scores reflect truth.”

With that, he calls the name of the first graduate, “Owen Anderson.” Across the circle from me, Owen stood. William calls out, “With a score of 29.5, Owen is assigned to Arriba. Congratulations, may we all strive for excellence like yours.”

William continues down the list. Three graduates are assigned to Betra, and one to Arriba.

“Michael Whitmore”

My best friend stands, and William announces, “With a score of 25, Michael is assigned to Betra.” A large smile crosses his face, and he sits back down next to me.

I lean over and say, “Congratulation’s man, I’m happy for you.”

“Thanks, finally getting out of Ona,” he excitedly whispers back.

William continues. Two more to Arriba, seven more to Betra, and one to Ona. That leaves two for Arriba, eleven for Betra, and two for Ona. I still have a good chance of making it out of Ona.

Eight more to Betra, one to Ona, and one to Arriba. That leaves three spots in Betra, one spot in Arriba, and one spot in Ona.

“Tyler Scholes”

That’s my name. I stand, my hands trembling, heart racing.

“With a score of 18, Tyler is assigned to Ona.”

My heart stops. I am assigned to Ona.


November 11, 2021 21:47

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