AN: I feel no need to add a disclaimer because the names, places, and characters involved in this story are in no way related to any other piece of writing. The basic idea was based off the Uglies.
I swirled the purple pill around in the plastic cup the wall screen had produced for me. As I did, I wondered, as I do every night when I take it, what was in the single, glistening purple capsule. Once again, I reminded myself that it was not my place to wonder, only to enjoy life.
"Chris, take your vitamin," the robotic voice of my room chided me gently.
Something whispered in the back of my mind, "Chris, do you really believe that is a vitamin?" I mentally told that annoying voice to shush, what else could they possibly be? Everything here in Euphoria was happy and peaceful, with nothing to worry about.
I picked up the glass of water next to me and downed the pill. Suddenly a tingly haziness set over my body, the world was a little fuzzy at the edges but I felt great.
"Chris… Chris, snap out of it…" the voice warned, but it was drowned out and I forgot all about it.
I clumsily walked over to the bed; the covers automatically slid back for me, and then tucked me in as if by unseen hands.
"Lights off. Play Beethoven's 5th, quietly," I mumbled, and was soon lulled to sleep by the ancient music.
A few hours later I awoke in a cold sweat after having a nightmare, a bad one. I've only had a few nightmares in my entire existence of twenty one years, so I'm not accustomed to the bluntness of the images or the outrageous thoughts within them.
I sat up, "Lights. Stop the music. Now."
The room immediately obeyed my request, "Christine, are you alright?" I saw one of the high-tech cameras zoom in on me, probably checking my blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, and other vital signs.
I concentrated on slowing my heart and breathing. "I'm fine," I told the room. "Turn on the shower." I knew the bathroom would give me time to think because that was the only place in the dorms that wasn't under constant surveillance.
"Yes, Christine," replied the room.
"Don't call me Christine!" I snapped. "Please, don't," I corrected myself in a calmer, cheerier tone.
I heard the sound of water slapping the memory plastic at the bottom of the tub; I was just realizing how everything in Euphoria was safe, and fool-proof in a way where none of us could get hurt. Like the plastic in the shower, hard enough to stand on, but soft enough if we fell, it would just conform to us and cushion the fall. The nightmare had opened my eyes to so many things, how all of us were completely under the dictator's control, how the 'vitamin' was certainly not a vitamin, and that we were all prisoners. The voice was right, and what type of vitamin has that much of an effect on people? It almost reminded me a tranquilizer. We are half-zombified lapdogs to Euphoria's dictatorship.
I quickly walked to the bathroom, and doused myself in water, including my clothes, to hide my heat signature. I sat down heavily on the edge of the tub, what now?
"Stop taking the pill, Chris…" chimed the voice. The voice I had been ignoring for quite some time, now.
I contemplated this, and slowly formulated a plan, I was running high on adrenaline, which, my guess is, burned off most of the pills affects. My parents, who I haven't seen since I moved out of their dorm on the other side of the world to my own, personal dorm, always said I was unusually bright. They didn't say it like it was a good thing. My mother and father said it in exactly the opposite tone, a sad, regretful tone as though they knew something I didn't.
I won't take my pill anymore, I decided. Then I assessed how I was feeling, I hadn't ever felt this way before. I've never been unhappy, or angry, or sad. All these emotions swirling within me were only things I had read about, a hobby few people indulged in these days.
I waited until my clothes had dried until I left the fool-proof bathroom. I climbed back into bed, acting as normal and happy as possible.
"Room, please write a letter to my parents requesting they come visit me," I order cheerfully.
I inwardly rolled my eyes at how obedient the idiotic machine sounded. I had to be careful when in my room, which was under constant surveillance, the relatively large dorm used to be my paradise, now; it only reminded me of a prison. I needed out of this room now.
I dragged myself out of bed and woke up the giant touch screen lining one whole wall of my bedroom and checked to see if any of my friends were up. My best friend, Shevaune, was up and not that far away, only ten minutes by hover board.
I hovered above the throng of people that were standing in front of the Dorm of Arts. Some of them were drunk with more bottles of champagne in their hands, others were dancing to the music that was blasting from unseen speakers, and the rest were playing pranks on their friends. All of them were happy. Obnoxiously, scarily happy. I ducked low into the crowd, avoiding the drifting camera that was keeping a track of every bottle of champagne, every song that playing, and every single person that was there. I don't need a record of me being there.
"Shevaune!" I called to her, seeing her curly brown head bob in the crowd.
"Chris!" She yelled back, rising up on her own hover board. She laughed when she saw me, "You came dressed like that? Head up to my dorm and use the wall screen to order some new clothes and fix your hair." She playfully tugged a strand of my black and red streaked hair which was mussed and snarly after my shower and few hours of sleep.
I reluctantly agreed, knowing she wouldn't talk to me until I did.
Her dorm, unlike mine, was completely filled with classy-looking glass tables and ornate furniture where as my room, in the Dorm of Music, was filled with chic chrome and leather furniture. I ordered up some new clothes and fixed my hair then headed back outside into the throbbing music to try to explain some things to Shevaune.
"So much better!" Shevaune squealed happily taking in my dress and hair.
I tried a tactic I was almost certain would work. I plastered on the biggest smile possible and gushed, "Shevaune, I just thought of something totally cool to do that would totally make us legends!"
"Oh my god! Tell me! Tell me!" She was practically jumping up and down on her hover board.
"We should stop taking our pills! It'll be so cool! Just to show people we are breaking the rules!"
"Oh my gwad that is so totally rad!" She giggled.
"Just make sure to keep it a secret. You can tell more people but they need to keep it a secret, too. Okay?" I slowly said each word so her half drunken mind would hopefully understand the concepts.
"Okay this will be perfect!" Shevaune said, practically tipping over on her hover board. Had this been a bad idea to tell her? If I was going to make a change I guess this was the first step.
I plastered on a smile like this was all some big practical joke and not an attempt to show the government that we are people, not just animals that could be tamed and forgotten without a shred of free will. I knew that it was not just the current dictator, George Washington the twenty-sixth, that had screwed up humanity this bad. This went way back to before my parents were born, and probably even my grandparents. I couldn't do this alone, no way; I was going to have to contact the Oblivious, the fabled army of rebels that had stopped taking the pill, too. Rumor has it they live around the edge of the city, hiding from the government. I had no clue what the government does to rebels, but I would bet my shiny new hover board that it didn't lead to hugs and puppies.
I was on my way home when I realized I couldn't wait another day. I needed to find the Oblivious now. So I hover boarded faster and better than I ever had before all the way to the edge of the city, where (hopefully) I would befriend the members of the Oblivion.
I reached the edge of the city, quickly, because the Dorm of Arts was on the outer side of the town so its inhabitants can paint the wildlife and plants. I glanced back at the twinkling lights, only able to hear the faintest buzz of party music. I took a deep breath and ventured into the foreboding darkness of the primeval forest. The rhythmic noises of the birds and frogs and crickets set my teeth on edge, turning every nerve into a livewire, causing me to look left and right and shift my weight ever so slightly… right into a woven net.
I growled in frustration, now what? I was tangled in a net on the forest floor; my hover board was a coupe yards away in a grove of trees, and absolutely no one knew where I was.
I heard a slow, soft crunching of leaves, made by careful, knowing feet behind my Oak tree.
"Looks like we got a live one," I heard someone call, a raspy, man's voice.
Three or four figures rounded the tree and shined a light in my eyes. I put my hand up to block the blinding light.
"Watch it!" I snapped. The light moved from my eyes.
"Well, well, looks like someone forgot to take their pills, now," said the man, in that rasping voice, I couldn't see is face in the darkness but I could tell he was tall with broad shoulders and a beard. "Who are you and what are you doing on our and, girl?"
'I'm Chris… and I was looking for the Oblivion. I think I just found it. Now, for the love of God, get me out of this ridiculous net!"
Someone, a woman, stepped out from behind the man; I decided to call him the Bearded Man, and yanked the net off me.
"It's not so 'ridiculous' when you depend on it for food, missy." The woman muttered.
Bearded Man reached down for my hand and helped me up. I finally saw his face, he was older, probably mid to late fifties, with graying hair and a beard and kind blue eyes. "So, Chris, is it?"
'You just wandered into the woods alone on your hover board and in your fancy dress to find the Oblivion?"
"Not the best idea, I reckon," Bearded Man said. "Alright, we can't stay out here, it'll get pretty cool soon enough and that fancy dress of yours probably won't do much for you. Follow me. Oh, and my name's Spencer."
"And mine's Darla," chimed the woman.
"Phil," said the guy behind Bearded Man, aka Spencer.
"Beck," said the girl next to Phil. She was about my age, maybe a little younger. She waved.
"Um, hi," I said awkwardly.
"Let's go,' said Spencer, and he began tromping through the woods.
Their headquarters was a mile or so more into the woods, past a series of traps and hunting equipment, look outs, and other warning devices. Then into a cave, through a door, down a tunnel and over some booby traps and finally reached the base of operations. A diverse group of about twenty people standing around a table looking over some sort of building design, muttering softly amongst themselves, until Spencer cleared his throat.
"Everyone, this is Chris, she has, in my opinion, a great plan," he said, addressing the now engrossed group.
"We've a been discussing how we need to do more, instead of just sabotaging pill shipments, messing with the government's security systems, we need to make our presence known to the public, so they know that we are here and they can come to us," Spencer announced. "They need to know there is a different option than to be brainwashed by the pill."
Suddenly Spencer turned to me, "Do you know the exact effects of the pill?"
I hesitated, "No… not precisely. Except I'm fairly certain they are some form of behavior modification…"
"That is true. They are a kind of neurological tranquilizers, disabling the ability to feel any form of pain or anger, or, frankly, any bad emotion that might contradict the government's power. The pill turns you into a docile pet that can be easily trained, usually."
I was stunned; they had actually been changing my brain? "Is… there any permanent damage?" I whispered.
"It really depends on dosage and who the person is, I'm sorry," Spencer said sadly. "There is no way to know for certain."
I could move past this. I can, I reminded myself. "So, if Shevaune snaps out of it soon, nearly the whole city should be sobered up by the time we get it together. Until then… can I stay here?"
"Of course," said Spencer.
"We never turn away any help," added Beck.
"And we never send people back to the city unless they really belong there, as in, city spies," continued Phil.
"You can share my room," chirped Beck. "If you don't mind, Darla?"
"Whatever, as long as you don't screw with my stuff, I don't care one way or the other," she rolled her eyes and walked out.
"Sorry about Darla, she's always a little touchy with new recruits."
So I stayed, training, helping, and preparing for the next two weeks. Occasionally sneaking back into the city to plan with Shevaune and her group of recruits, Shevaune was no longer a half drunken party girl; she was a cold, fearless leader. Who, at this point, would do anything to stop the government's tyrannical rule.
And I feel the same way. So I ran and went through practice fights, I exercised and used battle strategy, I helped repair old hover boards and skates and some ancient hover shoes (I, mean, c'mon, hover shoes? Really? Talk about old school). I was ready. Completely and totally ready for the all out, every-man-for-yourself, war we were about to start. Everything was coming undone, creating blissful chaos.
When the day came, everyone was prepared, but that didn't stop me from coming down with a major case of the butterflies. I geared up with shaking hands, knife, crossbow, and map. Everything to carry out our plan, everything should have been perfect.
Our 'army' of about 40 something people stowed away on a truck load of pills and when it stopped at the warehouse we all jumped off and met Shevaune and her people, making our numbers rack up to two hundred or so.
"All right, everyone clear on the matter?" Asked Spencer.
"Yes, sir!" We responded.
We split up, some of us heading to the center of city, some of us infiltrating the Dorms and some of us doing a little B and E into Central Committee of Commands and Technology. I was in the first group. The one with highest risk and danger, I will admit since I no longer take the pill, adrenaline was my thing.
So we stealthily made our way through the city, all the way to the seat of power without a single problem. "Too quiet," I murmured.
"I can guarantee they weren't exactly expecting this," replied Spencer.
Phil grinned, "Good." He slid his gun from the holster.
I slid a bolt into my crossbow. Darla unsheathed her katanas. Spencer readied his weapons and so did everyone else. We stormed the capitol building. We didn't let anyone get in the way. This was our mission. I easily threw the doors open to the president's office.
His face was stricken with panic and terror, seeing our unseemly group of people storm through his office, threatening him.
"We really don't want to hurt you," said Spencer to the still, tormented looking president.
"Speak for yourself," someone muttered, maybe Phil.
This distracted us just long enough for the oh-so-scared president to hit his conveniently located panic button and summon up some ninja-like guards that took all of us down in under thirty seconds.
"Hey!" Cried Beck.
Spencer punched one of them in the face.
"Get off me," I yelled and spat in the guard's face. The guard that had me pinned jammed something sharp into my neck that sent me into an immediate sleep.
I awoke with a dull throbbing in my head, I as locked in a bare room with everyone from my group, I scanned the room again, no, not everyone, some people were gone, and I hated to think where. Some people were still asleep, some were just awakening, and some were whispering with others in frantic voices.
Spencer was sleeping next to me, I shook his shoulder. "Spencer! Wake up! C'mon, please! Spencer!"
He groaned and rolled over, "Chris?"
"Yeah. What happened?"
"They drugged us."
The single locked door at the other end of the room slid open; a lone masked figure entered the room. "Silence." He opened a bag and began clipping handcuffs on everyone and pulling a black cloth mask over their heads. He shoved the masked and cuffed figures out the door. He roughly clipped the plastic cuffs on my wrists, pulled the scratchy mask over my face, and threw me through the door into someone else's grasp. Ten minutes or so later something was wrapped around my neck. A noose. I was right about the hugs and puppies thing, it appears.
Tears began to stream down my face, soaking the cloth.
The man began to speak again, "Right to assembly, suspended." I heard someone pull a lever and a quick snap. "Right to habeas corpus, suspended." Snap. "Right to legal counsel, suspended." Crunch. I began to sob. "Right to verdict by a jury of peers, suspended." Crack. "All persons found guilty of rebellion, or aiding a person in rebellion, are hereby sentenced to hang by the neck until death." Snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap….
I was next… snap.