Authors note: This is the backstory of Adira's Father in Flawless Imperfection, so I would suggest you read that (if you haven't already) before you read this story. Thank you! :)
Destiny. It’s your destiny. The words swirled around my head, making me want to scream. But I refrained, knowing that my parents would be downstairs.
All my life, my parents told me that someday, I will be the next great Equal, that it was my destiny. That I would do things no human has ever done before. And I used to dream about that day, the day I become an Equal.
Equal. The word itself was an oxymoron. Being an Equal has perks that no normal person would have. When a person is picked to become an Equal, the Chip inside them would be deactivated. However, usually Equals wouldn't be able to attend the Matching, a ceremony where people of the age 23 would be matched together.
But my parents were special. They were the most respected Equals in the Union, and the lead Equal had given them an exception: they could be Matched together.
And after attending the Adoption, which is a ceremony every 25-year-old couple attends (having a child of their own was illegal), they got me.
Of course, that left me with some exceptions as well. I was the first person to be born as an Equal. I never had the Chip in me because of my parents. Some people would say that I was very lucky, to be born as an Equal. But I also had expectations that no normal person would have: everyone was counting on me to accomplish exceptional things as an Equal.
It was my destiny.
“Number 248! Please come downstairs, your Father and I want to talk to you.” My Mother called.
“Yes, Mother! Coming!” I inwardly groaned. What could they want this time?
As I trudged downstairs, I saw a remarkable sight.
My parents were smiling.
Even without the Chip, my parents were always the strict kind, and they seldom smiled.
“Mother, Father? Is something wrong?” I asked cautiously.
“No, no. Actually, it’s the exact opposite,” my Mother beamed.
“Yes, we have amazing news,” my Father added.
My parents looked at each other, grinning.
“You will start being an Equal tomorrow!”
“This officially makes you the youngest person to become an Equal! Oh, my son, the youngest Equal ever!” My Mother almost squealed.
Even with my parents beaming at me, I felt frozen.
This was the day I’ve been waiting for my entire life, the day I’ve been dreaming about.
But I thought I would feel happier. More accomplished. I was just a 20 year old who suddenly had the Union’s most important job placed on my shoulders, and I could already feel the invisible weight pulling me down, suffocating me.
No. I tried to convince myself. I’m happy. Very happy. I have to be happy.
“Wow, that’s great!” I tried smiling, but a grimace appeared instead.
“It really is,” my Mother smiled affectionately at me, not noticing my discomfort.
“We are very proud of you.”
“You better get some rest, we are leaving bright and early tomorrow!” Mother reminded me, her smile still set on her face.
“Yes, Mother. Good night Mother, Father.” I nodded at both of them and then headed back upstairs.
As soon I was out of sight, I collapsed onto my bed. What is wrong with me? I should be happy. And yet, I felt the exact opposite. I probably just need sleep, I’ll feel better tomorrow. I closed my eyes and let my mind drift off.
The sunlight streamed into my room, awakening me. I sat up and rubbed the sleep from my eyes. Today’s the day. The day I become an Equal. I tried smiling, but couldn't quite get the smile to stick.
“Number 248, we will be leaving soon, so get ready!” Mother called.
I went to my normal sized closet and picked out the male everyday outfit: a white button-up shirt with black pants.
I glanced at the mirror, making sure I looked presentable, and walked downstairs where my parents were waiting.
“Let’s go,” my Father said as he started to head out. I nodded, and then followed him, my Mother right behind me.
I sat in the backseat of the car, my parents sitting in the front row talking among themselves. The car ride passed rather quickly, as I was lost in my own thoughts.
Before I knew it, the car pulled up at the entrance to the Equal Tower. The 30 story building loomed over me, casting a shadow.
“We’re going to have to leave now, 248. You have to go in there alone,” my Father said.
I nodded nervously, and glanced one last time at my parents before I headed in.
The inside was laced in white. I guess it was supposed to make the building feel more modern, more advanced, but it only gave me more chills.
“Excuse me, Sir. Might you be Number 248?” A lady asked, her name tag reading Number 204. I glanced at her, and almost fell back a step in surprise.
Of course I've always knew that not people were Equals, but this was still my first time talking to one. She stared back at me, a blank expression on her face.
“Why, yes, yes I am. And who might you be?” I asked, shaking myself out of my stupor.
“I am Number 204, and I am the janitor.” The only place that had a janitor was the Equal Tower, as all the other business buildings offered the same jobs. “Please, come with me.” 204 beckoned.
I nodded, and followed her up the long, winding staircase.
We arrived at floor three. “Sir, I shall get going now, enjoy your visit!” 204 smiled and left, leaving me standing in the doorway alone. Wow, it was almost like she wasn't in control of her mind... which I guess isn't so far from the truth. The thought did not help my increasing nerves.
I shook my head, trying to get the thought out of my mind. I cleared my throat, adjusted my clothes and knocked on the wooden door. The three sharp knocks echoed into the hallway.
A man around my Father’s age opened the door, smiling. “Oh! You must be Number 248, the legendary Equal. Come in, come in!”
I smiled back nervously, nodded my thanks, and entered.
At the front of the room was a lady dressed in all white, indicating her high status.
The lead Equal.
She, as well as the other members of the room, smiled at me. “I am Number 784, the lead Equal. You arrived just in time for our special announcement.”
Announcement? Announcements in the Union were quite rare and did not happen very often. I wonder what it is.
The lead Equal nodded at me to sit, and then continued. “As you all know, we have implanted the Chip in almost everyone’s minds at birth,” at this she winked at me, “and it was for the good of everyone. No one will ever hate one another anymore, because everyone is the same!” Some of the Equals laughed, but I didn’t understand what was so funny.
“But, I’ve been thinking,” she continued. “We have so many people at our command, so many! So why not use that to our advantage?” She paused, before continuing, “Now, I know what you’re all thinking, ‘we shouldn’t have an advantage, we should all be equal.’ And I totally agree, but that only means that my plan would be more important. Let’s take a look at the rest of the world,” she pointed to a map. “Here, in Ilira, people are not equal. They all look different, and even worse, they think differently! This means that they could think horrible thoughts and no one would be able to stop them. This is where my plan comes into action. I think that it’s awfully unfair that we’re the only place that is perfect. And I think that we should make everywhere the exact same, so that no one would get hurt. Seeing that we have a province full of people, I say that we can train them and help make this happen by taking it over. We could implant the Chip in everyone’s brains, so that no one would ever think negative thoughts! Once we have control over the whole world, everyone would be happy!”
People started nodding, “I mean, isn’t that our goal? To make everyone happy and equal? So who is with me to make this world a better place?” She finished, and everyone cheered at this.
Well, everyone except for me.
Take over the world? I had first thought that being equal was great, but now I’m not so sure anymore. I’ve always had the luxury of being myself, without the Chip implanted in me.
And I shudder to think any differently. What would happen if I was just another citizen that had the Chip? What would happen if I was just another mindless zombie? My mind wandered back to Number 204, and how she wasn't in control of her mind, and of her thoughts. But the worst of all, is that they wouldn’t even know they were being manipulated into an army, they have to follow the Chip’s orders.
“Number 248? Isn’t this a great plan?” The leader asked me. I looked up, and found everyone’s eyes on me. I have to agree. Thinking these kinds of thoughts would probably land me in big trouble, maybe even with a Chip implanted inside me.
“Yes, of course! I was just in shock that you could come up with such a good idea!” I responded, hoping that they couldn’t see past my fake smile.
She nodded, as all the Equals continued talking about the plan, perfecting the details.
“Excuse me, may I be excused? I need to use the restroom.” I stood up, unable to stand it any longer. The lead Equal nodded, and I almost fled the room.
I need to do something! I can’t let them carry out this plan. But what can I do? The best thing for me would probably be to pretend to go along with it. I sighed, rubbing my head.
And then something caught my eye.
I walked inside, and the room was empty. That’s not surprising, as the next Adoption is in about 3 days. I looked into the cribs, looking into the eyes of the crying babies. They wouldn’t have the Chip inside them yet, as they were still too young. I need to find a baby that would be able to change the Union for the better, to show everyone that being Different isn’t all that bad.
Even though all of them had the same features, a specific one stood out to me.
Her name was Number 1027.
“I am so sorry, 1027. You’re going to have a very hard life ahead of you. But hopefully one day you’ll forgive me for choosing you.” I brushed a lock of hair off her forehead, but then froze. She is going to be very lonely, the only Different person in the Union. I should give her a friend. I walked over to a male baby, by the name Number 1098.
“You two are going to make history.”
Then I remembered something I read from an ancient book. A book about letter names. “I’m not going to call you Number 1027, I’ll call you… Adira.” The name fit perfectly, as Adira meant 'strong, noble, and powerful.'
"You're going to be all that and more." I smiled sadly at Adira as she slept on, not yet knowing the weight of responsibilities that were just placed on her.
Of course I would still have a lot to do, I probably would have to attend a Matching, and find a family for 1098. Just so they could live what seems like a normal life. I need to make sure they don’t get the Chip implanted in them.
The future is and always will be a shade of murky grey, and I have no idea what it may bring. All I can do is make sure 1027 and 1098 go undetected, and I will do anything it takes for them to succeed, even if it means giving up my destiny.
After all, destinies aren’t set in stone.