Lita was lying on a bed in the hospital room. Her newborn child, Kai, was sleeping in a bassinet near her bed. He was so small and beautiful.
How? How could these people think of killing an innocent newborn?
She remembered the exact words the doctor said the day Kai was born.
‘He is underweight, he is not healthy, he won’t last long.’
Last long? Kai is not some kind of manufacturing product. He is a baby and it isn’t his fault that he was born underweight.
Then the situation got even worse when the Citizons came. They read the law from the Law.
‘Any child born underweight, unhealthy, without an organ, with an extra organ, with any disease (mention in section B), or had any problem in any body part or organ, is not fit for the society, he/she must be executed the day he/she is born.’
Who? Who are they to decide who has the right to live?
After some pleading by Lita and her husband, they gave Kai one month to gain weight. Kai lost more weight during the first week but by the second week, he started gaining weight again. Now he was here, one-month-old and healthy-looking but still underweight.
The Citizons would come today to take him to his destiny.
Lita's husband, Akin, entered the room. He smiled as he saw his wife and his child, but it didn't reach his eyes. He came to sit on a chair near Lita’s bed. He started patting Kai softly on the back and singing a lullaby even though he was already asleep.
“Isn’t he beautiful?” Akin asked.
“Yeah, he is,” Lita replied.
She couldn’t say anything else because she feared that her voice might break.
How can I let them take Kai away from me? No, I can’t, I won't.
“Hey, Akin, listen to me,” Lita said. “Can you do me a little favor?”
Lita cut him off in mid-sentence.
“Take Kai and run away, out of this city.”
Akin was shocked; he couldn’t process her words.
Lita spoke again, slowly and clearly, “Take the baby and go out of this city.”
“Because people from the Citee are coming, they’ll take him away, kill him, and I can’t let that happen.”
“But what about you? You are so weak to even walk. How will we go?”
“I know I can’t walk, that's why I am telling you to take him away.”
“No,” he shouted. “I am not going anywhere without you.”
“Akin, why don’t you understand? Not everyone gets a chance; we’re lucky that we got one. The people from the Citee can be here any second. Now, the choice is yours.”
Akin looked at the baby and then back at Lita.
How can I leave her here? No, I can’t, I won’t. But….
Akin looked back at the baby. He was still sleeping, so small and innocent. How could he let him die?
…. I have to leave her to save him. I can’t let the Citizons hurt my family.
Akin knew the choice was his, either way, he would regret it later. So he chose what felt right at that time.
Lita handed him a backpack.
“It has everything you need, okay?”
Akin just nodded. He felt bad for leaving Lita here, but she had promised him that she will come once they are safely out of the city.
“You can get out,” Lita said, “of the hospital from the backdoor, there are fewer guards there. From there you can go to Street Five and then straight to the forest. Once you have entered the forest, no one is gonna come after you. If I-”
“I will meet you there.”
“There can be anything in the forest; beasts, savages, and who knows what else.”
“There is nothing you should fear.”
“Will you come?”
“Yeah, I’ll come, I’ll definitely come.”
Akin leaned in and kissed her.
“I will be waiting.” He said as he pulled back.
“You won’t have to wait long,” said Lita. “Now, take the baby and go.”
Akin moved towards the bassinet. He had never taken a newborn in his arms and the doctors prohibited anyone from touching Kai. His hands were shaking as he extended them towards the child.
How will I take him to the forest?
The child looked so fragile that it might break if not held properly.
Akin slowly lifted the baby and rested his head against his chest; one hand supporting his head another one at the bottom.
I will, for Lita.
He glanced at Lita, she was smiling, and there were tears in her eyes. He took the baby to Lita. She kissed him on the forehead.
“GO!” She shouted and Akin left the room.
Lita started crying the moment Akin left. She felt empty. The only family she had ever known was gone now. She finally stopped crying when she heard footsteps. Someone was coming to her room. She closed her eyes and pretended that she was sleeping.
The noise of footsteps got louder and louder until it stopped at the door of Lita’s room.
It’s the Citizons.
The door opened and at least three pairs of feet walked in. One of them whispered something to the other.
Lita opened her eyes slightly to take a peek. There were three people; one man, two women. Lita closed her eyes as one of them, a woman, a nurse came towards her.
“Hello, Ma’am,” she said kindly.
Lita didn’t open her eyes. She was trying hard to breathe evenly. Her heart was beating very fast, her end was near.
At least Kai is safe.
“Don’t pretend,” said the man, “we know that you helped them to escape.”
They knew. There was no need for explanations. Lita was guilty and they had caught her.
Lita slowly opened her eyes.
I must face this.
“Arrest her!” The man shouted.
The other woman, a small, fat lady, started walking towards Lita but was stopped midway by the nurse.
“You can’t take her,” she said, “she is so weak, she can’t even walk.”
But this did nothing to stop them. The man took out a gun-like weapon, pointed it at the nurse, and pulled the trigger. There was a loud noise as the bullet left the gun. The bullet hit the nurse and she collapsed on the ground, that very instant. Dead.
The small woman took no notice of her and walked over the body to Lita.
She is brave, she is strong...
Akin was now standing on the edge of the forest, Kai in his arms, not sure of what to do.
They had safely come out of the City. Their most difficult part of the escape was the hospital. Akin had to fight off some guards at the backdoor to get out of the hospital. It was a tough fight but at last, Akin won.
I was lucky because the guards didn’t have guns that can kill people in an instant.
He kicked a stone, absent-mindedly, on the road. The stone rolled on the road and then suddenly disappeared at the place where the forest and road met.
Akin looked at it, eyes wide open. He blinked.
What just happened?
He carefully lifted another stone from the road and rolled it towards the forest. It disappeared again.
Where did it go?
He did this again and again, Kai balanced in his arms until he believed that the stone really disappeared.
What to do now?
He thought of going back to Lita, accepting his crime. But he knew the value. Lita wanted them to go away, he couldn’t waste her sacrifice. He had come this far now he couldn’t go back.
He looked at Kai, he was still asleep.
“Mummy loves you,” Akin said to the baby. “I love you. You will be safe where we are going. You will be happy, that's what your Mum wants.”
He kissed Kai on the forehead and entered the forest.
Are they all alright? Is Kai safe? Did they make it out of the city? OR Are they in some room like this, giving trials?
Lita was sitting on a chair in a room made up only of glass. All four sides were made up of glass. She knew that people were observing her but she couldn’t see anyone through the glass.
“State your crime,” a voice said.
It came from nowhere in particular but at the same time from everywhere.
She knew this voice. It was the same voice who asked her the same question about a month ago at the hospital. But at that time she had Kai in her arms.
“I helped my husband and my son, who was guilty of being underweight, to get out of the hospital.”
“This is your second crime?”
It was not a statement, it was a question.
“State your first crime,”
“I gave birth to an unhealthy child.”
“You know your punishment?”
She knew the punishment; she knew she would be executed but...
“Today evening, at 6 o’clock”
…at least Kai was safe or she thought so.
“Is that clear?”
Someday Kai will understand why I did this.
Lita closed her eyes and waited for death to come.
This is amazing. I just can’t believe this. How is this even possible?
Akin was now standing in front of what should have been thick forest but instead, there was grass, only grass for miles and miles with mountains rising far in the distance. He turned around to take in his surroundings. He couldn’t believe his eyes because where there should be a whole city there was just grass.
Where am I? Am I dreaming? No, I can’t be dreaming. The Citizons would have arrested me by now if I was dreaming.
‘All dreams are monitored. Any person dreaming anything rebellious or against the Citee or the Citizons is classified as a criminal, he/she must be executed the same day of the dream.’
What kind of Law is this? There is this word ‘executed’ in every law in the Law.
His train of thought was broken when Kai started crying, actually crying, for milk, for food, for…… his mother.
Akin sat on the ground, took his backpack off his shoulder, and took out Kai’s milk bottle.
“Now you'll be safe,” Akin whispered to Kai, “like your mother wanted you to be.”
Akin was lying on the soft grass looking at the beautiful cloudless blue sky. Kai was sleeping soundly on Akin’s chest. Akin felt so happy and so ….free.
He wanted to lay there forever. He wanted to sleep but he feared that if he slept, he might wake up in his bed at their apartment.
Our apartment, Lita’s, and mine.
Lita? What about her? How will she come out of the city now? Is she alright?
Akin lay there thinking about Lita when he heard the noise of a car’s engine. He took Kai off his chest and sat up straight.
In some distance, there was a small truck coming towards them. Akin stood up, Kai in his arms, and waved his hand at the newcomers. But he stopped when he heard a familiar voice behind him call his name.
Lita sighed and sat on the bed. There were still 6 hours before her execution and this wait was driving her nuts.
Lita was locked in a cell which mostly looked like her interrogation room. All walls were made up of glass but this time Lita could see through one of them. In front of her cell was a similar cell. An old woman was sitting inside the cell on a bed. It seemed like she was sobbing. Lita tried to draw her attention, she shouted and banged on the glass but nothing happened. The glass was soundproof and bulletproof. She tried again once, twice, thrice. After the third time, she gave up and sat on the bed, sobbing.
She hated every second of her life she spent without Akin and Kai.
Lita didn’t hear it, she felt it. She was lying on her bed when she felt commotion in the corridor outside her cell. She sat up and looked out. The corridor was dark at first but after a few seconds four people; two male, two female, came running towards them. One of them, a black-haired girl ran towards Lita’s cell and started typing something on the keyboard outside the cell. All the others were doing the same. After typing for almost a minute, she nodded and smiled at Lita. The front glass of the cell started lifting. Lita looked at activities around her, with her mouth wide open. The glass was fully up by now. The black-haired girl entered the cell and took Lita out in the corridor. Once all the prisoners were in the corridor, the other girl started speaking.
“Hello, everyone. I’m Valeria and these are my friends, Adela”-she pointed towards the black-haired girl- “Kano”- she pointed towards a tall muscular boy- “and Ezra”- she pointed towards the other boy- “we came here to save you all, to take you all out of this city. We have planned for this day for almost a year and now the uprising has begun. You are getting a chance to get out of this city. So, are you with us?”
“Yes,” Lita shouted before anyone else could even understand the question. Soon, everyone else joined them.
Lita now felt something more than happiness, something she hadn’t felt for a month. Hope.
As Lita came out of jail, she felt like she just entered another planet. Fights were going on everywhere, the Citizons v/s the People. The Citizons had their special guns while the People were fighting with everything they had, their arms, their legs, knives, daggers, etc.
Some other people also joined them in the escape. Valeria and her friends took them safely to Street Five and gestured them all to run to the forest. Lita couldn’t run so she just walked behind all the others. Ezra was leading them while Valeria, Kano, and Stella were watching the rear. They had also stolen some of the Citizons’ special guns.
After running, walking in Lita’s case, for a few minutes they reached the forest. Ezra entered the forest without hesitation and he ….disappeared?
Lita looked at Valeria for an answer. Valeria nodded and said, “I don’t know how this works, but I know that we’ll be safe outside of this city.”
Soon they were at the place where everyone had disappeared. Lita hesitated but entered the forest.
Akin turned around at the mention of his name. Lita was standing there with a bunch of other people. He couldn’t believe his eyes. He felt every emotion at once, happiness, shock, anger, everything. He couldn’t judge which emotion was the strongest maybe… happiness.
“Who are you?” said a boy, who finally noticed that Akin was there.
But his question was answered when Lita ran towards him and hugged him and Kai. She had tears in her eyes. She took Kai in her arms and started talking to him while Akin looked at the truck coming towards them.
Now we all will be safe.