Emotion Was a Tricky Thing
I reached my arm deep into my pockets and closed my hand tightly around the smooth purple lump inside. It’s color shone bright against the breathtaking blackness of my beige cargo pants. I shivered and wrapped my jacket closer around me relishing the heat it emitted. My chip buzzed and I scowled as it stripped me of my cold.
Emotion was a tricky thing. The Grand Triad didn’t take it lightly. I for one liked emotions. They made me feel real. My scowl pressed harder onto my face, threatening to stay and my knuckles closed tighter around the tinged apatite in my pocket. I felt like a depressed lost pig, walking around the streets at 4 in the morning. I grumbled. And I probably looked worse than I felt too.
I got out my keys and opened the door to my small apartment. I kicked off my shoes and headed to my bedroom. I didn’t bother changing, since I only owned one pair of clothes anyway so instead, I fell back onto my bed and did nothing.
Unfortunately, my chip didn’t seem to like that very much and bombarded my brain with random thoughts. I groaned and got up. The room seemed to jump at the sound before returning to a calm silence. On my bedside table was a lamp and a single chest. I walked over to the chest and ran my thumb against the familiar pattern. I reached into my pocket and took out the purple rock inside.
This rock was called apatite, originated from the Greek term ‘to deceive’ I slid the rock open to find a thin copper key inside. I took the key and put it in the keyhole of the copper chest on my bedside table. It opened it up to find a slip of paper.
The note was from my mother who had given it to me before she left. My dad had died by then and we needed money so she took up a job working for the Grand Triad. I missed her greatly but whenever I was having a bad day, I looked at the paper note and immediately felt better. Paper was a very expensive and rare thing to find these days and knowing that I meant so much to someone made me feel happy.I set an alarm on my phone for 7AM, took my tablets, and I whispered goodnight to the darkness before dozing off to sleep.
My chip burned in my neck and I shot awake. I was late. I jumped out of bed, took some breakfast tablets, and sprinted outside. I made it all the way to school before realizing that I forgot my shoes. Not wanting to deal with any Detentions today, I pulled up my hood and walked into the tall gray cement building with my eyes trained on my bare feet.
I walked into room 284B and glanced up. While the front of the room was clean and lit, the back was showered with cobwebs and was dim at the most. Three other people sat in the room, a buff blond dude with soft blue eyes, a short-looking brown haired girl with eyes that gleamed like gold, and another girl with jet-black hair and brown eyes. They all sat in the middle row and seemed close to one another. I sat down next to the black-haired girl and stared at my reflection in the shiny computer screen in front of me. My brown hair fell in bangs across my dull green eyes. My face screamed ‘sleep deprived’ and though I was on the thin side, I wasn’t scrawny. My skin was a washed-out caramel color and faded freckles dotted my cheeks. A blank expression settled on my face and I felt a headache starting to appear. The computers powered on and the word “Begin” formed on the screen in white font.
A wire ejected from the side with a plug at the end. I took the plug and put it in my chip. A steady stream of information started to make its way into my brain and this was only the beginning of a grueling day. After an hour-long period of history, I had math, followed by science, ending with physical training. For now, I sat back in my chair with my eyes closed while useless random facts made their way to my hippocampus.
The world war III of 2038…
The invention of dyglencium and fretencium, food and water replacements, in 2087…
The extinction crisis of the 3000’s…
The discovery of matallum in 3019…
The list went on and on getting bigger and bigger, as did my headache. Up to the point where I fainted in Physical Training class. That’s right. I fainted, I actually fainted. What kind of doofus faints on their first day of highschool? Apparently, I do. I woke up to an old lady with a kind face and grey eyes. She gave me a warm smile as I sat up.
“Ugh, what happened?” I mumbled.
“You sir, haven’t been taking your tablets. If you do not eat properly your chip won’t have enough energy to intake all this information and keep you conscious at the same time.”
She went on to lecture me about how dyglecium and fretencium were made to act as water and food for the body and how they implanted chips in the necks of humans so that we could breathe toxic air without dying and whatnot. I nodded every now and then so that it seemed like I was listening and I felt bad to ignore her but I really wasn’t in the mood.
I left for home early that day and watched random stuff on Youtube all day. Youtube was a really old software and when I say really old, I mean really old. It had taken a whole week, just to get the app downloaded on my iPhone 17C.
Around 3AM, I heard a crashing sound and I woke with a start. My phone was still playing what looked like a video of a singing gummy bear. Weird. Around me, almost everything looked exactly as I remembered, except for one thing. A single plastic star sat on my bedside table. It was placed right where my chest was before. Keyword: was.
My eyes shot open at the sight and my body went still. My chest was missing. I scoured my small apartment for any clues, anything at all but all I could find was that stupid gold star. I was sitting on my bed staring at the star when someone knocked on the door. I ignored them the first three times until I decided that it was probably important. I winced in pain when I got up and dug my nails into my skin. Ever since the break-in, I hadn’t taken my tablets so I was pretty weak. There was something else too, but I wanted to tell my mom about it before telling anyone else.
I opened the door and there she stood. My mom. Her hair was down and her brown curls were cut at her shoulders. Her eyes were emerald-green, not unlike mine, which looked like carbon copies of hers. She wore a navy blue uniform with gold stripes going down the sleeves. She was shorter than me by now, though not by much, and a few of her hairs had gone gray, but her smile hadn’t changed one bit. I enveloped her in a huge bear hug as my eyes started to tear up. No, you will not cry in front of her. You’re stronger than that. I wasn’t stronger than that. Tears escaped my eyes and I smiled big. From lack of practice, my jaw tired quickly from the gesture but I couldn’t stop. She pulled away from the hug and I guided her to the bed. Neither of us had said a word yet but the silence was endearing. The first thing I asked was, “How long are you staying?”
Mom’s smile quivered a bit at this but nevertheless, she responded, “Only for a day. I heard about the break-in so I was granted leave to make sure you were okay.”
I nodded. I intended to use the time I had well.
“So, are you okay?” Mom put her hand on my shoulder, concern shining in her green eyes.
I nodded again. Apparently too vigorously because my neck flared and I bit my lip from the pain.
This didn’t go unnoticed and my mom looked at me questioningly, like moms do, and pried with a stern tone, “Drake?”
My shoulders slumped and I broke. I told her about the chest missing and she nodded sadly, but like she knew there was something else, and it wouldn’t surprise me if she did. When I finished she looked at me for a second with her eyebrows furrowed as if to say What aren’t you telling me? I sighed deeply and straightened, ignoring the pain in my neck.
“There is something else…”
She motioned for me to go on.
“During the night of the break-in, the robbers left a plastic star on my table. On the back, it had an address. So I went to the address and ended up at a local Grand Triad business building.
(Drake now somehow gets hurt and his chip is damaged.)
My mom’s face flickered with emotion and I looked down. I felt a hand on my shoulder and I turned to face my mom.
“Sorry,” I mumbled.
She shook her head and chuckled, “You have nothing to be sorry for. Tell you what, why don’t we have a movie night tonight. I’ll extend my leave and since your birthday is coming up, we can pick out a nice gift.”
I smiled in agreement.
How the Past Is
“Everyone lookout, she’s gonna blow!” It was the town herald, again. He was a very good herald don’t get me wrong but he was a worrywart. If one, just one, rock skids down the canyon, he will order an evacuation of the entire area.
I rolled my eyes and shifted to look at the forms of my half-awake siblings. Still half asleep, I complained drowsily, “Say aye if you want to strangle him.”
“Aye,” chimed my brother Augustus.
“Aye,” repeated our baby sister Margeret.
“That’s not very nice,” reprimanded my older sister Irene.
“Nobody asked you,” retorted Augustus.
If you’re wondering, Augustus is 3 years my senior, and Irene is 20 years old but an old maid. My baby sister is 3 years old and doesn’t understand much. What she does know is that the herald is bad because of the number of times we curse him. Our parents died in a landslide 2 years ago when an earthquake destroyed 2 feet of cliff, plunging anyone on it to their death. The incident left everyone on high alert and in panic-whenever-the-herald-announces-evacuation mode. Our next-door neighbor burst in screaming her head off. “Get up lazy children! We need to evacuate.”
“Yeah, whatever,” agreed Augustus.
“Pathetic excuses of humans” cursed the neighbor while running out the door and down the lane to join the rest of the village on top of the medium-sized hill 1 mile away.
“Well, everyone let’s go,” Irene ordered. Then she got up from the room that served as the bedroom and walked into the kitchen that had barely any tools. Just a fireplace and some rather large jars to store food and liquids. Our door remained open from when the neighbor flung it aside so we sprinted out and —carrying Margaret— climbed the hill where the rest of the village was located.
“It was a false alarm,” declared the herald.
“Thank you for warning us well ahead of time,” the mayor said with worry in his tone.
While walking home from the emergency gathering, Augustus was having a total tantrum about not getting enough sleep and the durned herald which I have to say I agree with. I was just about to enter our house when a piece of paper came flying out of the canyon and caught a breeze blowing into our house. Irene caught it and read out loud,
“Your presence is requested at the Initiation Ball and Ceremony commissioned by the Remember.”
“What on earth does that mean,” asked Augustus.
“Canyon,” Margaret blurted out.
“She might be right,” I acknowledged.
“Okay everyone, here is the plan”
In the dead of night, we all took some essentials and grabbed a sled made out of iron to resist the rocks and the plants. Approaching the edge, we tied the materials to the second sled and mounted the first one with Irene in the back and me in the front. After three pushes, the sled started a steady descent from the level ground by the edge to a small slope to a solid freefall into nothingness. After about a minute of falling, we landed on something impressively soft and blacked out from the impact.
Opening our eyes, we were in a very fancy room. Like one made for a king. The room was huge with several doors branching outward to several other rooms. Paintings and elaborate curtains framed the walls and huge beds were lying around with lace canopies hanging from the bedposts. I sat up immediately and searched quickly for everybody else. Thankfully, they were all there. Noticing an open wardrobe, I walked over and peeked inside. There were 4 white and blue suits. One for Irene, one for Augustus, one for Margeret, and one for me. With a smile on my face, I changed into the ultra-soft, very flexible piece of clothing with a free hood. It felt so comfortable that I kinda wanted to flip in it so I jumped and leaned back at the same time and next thing I knew, my feet landed perfectly on the ground. I just randomly did a backflip without any experience. After a quick victory dance, I heard a groan. It was Augustus.
“Flipping pancakes cause they’re snacks. What?! Where?! Who are you?!”
“Dude it’s just me.”
“Oh okay. Mind passing me that suit.”
Irene woke up shortly after with Margeret sleeping next to her.
“Where are we? What is up with the suits?”
“Question 1, don’t know. Question 2, they are super comfy, and over there,” answered Augustus.
After Irene had changed, the door mysteriously opened revealing two people in solid black suits standing there with glasses on and some long contraption that had a trigger. It gave me the creeps.
“Creepy,” Augustus whispered.
“Yeah,” I agreed.
After several turns down a surprisingly plain passageway, we reached a ginormous pad with several winged things (later known as jets) and sleek small things with four thick wheels (cars). We were boarded on one of the jets and flown downward into the canyon before turning sharply and entering a tunnel carved in the rock. After a few more minutes of silence, the jet slowed down and used more machines to land slowly onto the platform. We were ushered out by those men in black suits into a building with many other young children all wearing the same suit. They gave us weird looks when we passed but didn’t come closer because of the men in black. After climbing several flights of stairs, we reached an office. The door automatically opened and we were shoved in.
We were standing in front of a desk that was white, scratch that everything was white except the man in front of us who looked a bit too orange for my taste. But then, he spoke!
“Have a seat, my dears,” he drawled.
“My name is the Remember,” he continued.
“I have invited you here because you have special gifts that are very useful. Irene can charm people into doing what she wants. Augustus is a master at stealing. You, Winifred, know parkour and Margeret is omniscience.”
Just then Margeret let out a scream. “He destroys! Bombs!”
Irene stared at Margeret then turned around to face the Remember. She smiled a very, very beautiful smile and said, “Spill.”
And that is what the Remember did. He talked about how he is from the future and he wanted to rule the world by wiping out all old humans and once kids complete their training they get brainwashed for life and non-important stuff. Once Irene stopped smiling though, he was instantly alert and started trying to find out how much he had told them but thankfully they were out of the room by the time he realized he had told them everything.
“Guards, arrest them.”
They took off and ran through the school trying to find an exit. Failing because the school was bigger than they thought so they “gently persuaded” someone to escort them out.
Apparently, Augustus stole some blueprints that illustrated the bombs and their targeted explosion points.
“Where to now,” asked Irene.
“Look, that cave, it has some interesting things located in it,” Augustus pointed out.
“Guns,” Margeret said.
“Weird child,” I mused.
“Winifred, stop stalling and get us some guns,” ordered Irene.
If I’m forced to… Well alright. I ran and flipped onto the next platform while kicking some black suit guy in the process. Just keep running and flipping was all I told myself. After landing, I ran inside to a door guarded by two men. They just looked at me like I was a weakling.
“Why hello there,” I drawled sassily.
Alright everyone, the show is over. Nothing to see here folks. Go home. Or maybe…
I walked out carrying approximately 10 guns, a few long cylinders and small circle things with tabs. Margaret was staring at them for about 2 minutes before walking over and picking one up.
“No, no, no, no drop it, drop it now,” Augustus started sputtering.
But then she pulled the tab and threw it and it exploded and almost made the ledge we were standing on break.
“Mental note: those things do that,” I commented.
“Welp, rrrruuuuuuunnnnnn,” came a random voice (just kidding it was Augustus who spotted the security behind them.)
We all took off and sprinted in the direction of the tunnel’s exit but it was a bit farther than we thought. “We need a lift people’s,” came a panicked Augustus.
Irene thought for about ten seconds before turning to one of the guards.
“Excuse me, sir, can you pilot a jet for us,” she said while batting her eyelashes.
“Sure miss,” the guard answered.
“Disgusting,” protested Augustus.
“Agreed,” I acknowledged.
“But we got a plane, so no complaints, am I right,” I fired back.
“Yeah,” agreed Augustus.
Doing a 180 and running backwards to the launchpad and with a charmed guard guarding us courtesy of Irene. Hopping on the “borrowed” jet and flying out of the canyon tunnel to quickly put an end to the plans of the dictator and world-domination.
Landing the jet on the edge of the top of the canyon, we all scrambled out and ran to the village. Not a moment too soon though because we saw everyone staring skyward at giant carriers with their flaps open ready to drop the bombs worldwide.
“We need to go to the control center to shut down the planes,” I realized.
“Everyone, let’s go,” commanded Augustus.
So we backtracked to the edge of the canyon again but realized we couldn’t get down.
“Platform,” Margeret squealed to answer our question.
To the left of us was a floating platform (Augustus stared at it for 5 minutes trying to figure out how it was floating) containing a blue cube in the center on top of a pedestal that was aiming laser beams at the floating ships. The laser beams were pulsing at several intervals, almost like a code. No matter, we had the guns we needed to blast the guards and the cube. Running and shooting simultaneously to try to reach our destination. (Sidenote: only I made it to the platform.) Skimming across the cool, white tile, I took aim and was about to destroy it when a sudden flash blinded me and made me stumble. The Remember was in front of me and holding control. I realized that it controlled the platform and that he wasn’t actually here.
“Your time is up,” the Remember said ominously. He pressed a button on a thin metal sheet and the platform started plummeting with me on it. Panicking, I shot and broke the cube causing all the planes to stop working and fall, crushing the bombs and anything under it. My siblings jumped and landed safely on the falling area but with no way to save ourselves, we continued falling and falling and falling until we hit rock bottom and our vision bled red until there was nothing left.
Ten years later…
“That was the story of Winifred and the Remember. How did you like it?”
“Mommy, was it true?”
“Well, yes it was true. The society exploded along with the cube. We have all of this metal and these memories to prove it,” she said gesturing to the very futuristic house of the shiny stuff metal.
“But never, do you hear me, ever investigate the remains.”
“Yes, mother but no promises.”