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In a world where everything is regulated by the System---- I was one of the weird ones: an extra-born. The third child of a middle class family, no one wanted me especially after I lost my eye while running with a pencil when I was five. Yes, there are still a few pencils around, even after the Digital Switch a couple decades ago. My eye was eventually replaced with a bionic one but only after a lot of prodding by my grandparents who had to convince my parents to pay for the operation.
Well, enough of my sob story--- what I really want to talk about is the System and its regulations.
1) It is against the law to do or choose anything without System approval.
2) The System chooses your job, housing, life-partner, and your identity.
3) If a citizen desires a status change, they must gain System approval. Unless they're an Inferior, then they must stay an Inferior. (It may sound unfair but it keeps the Order.)
4) Everyone must register with the System and you are under constant surveillance---- for your protection, of course.
(Wow, I sound like a brain-washed System drone, but I have to tell it to you this way or you might not understand why the Rebel Cause formed).
The System’s Laws has caused a lot of problems for my family, at least that's the explanation my parents gave when I was forced---- I mean sent to live with my grandparents in Irontown. This is where my story begins:
"I'm sorry you had to leave all of you friends, Wilhelmina." My nana tells me, oblivious to my cringe as she uses my full name. "I know Irnton isn't what you're used to after livin' in the City fer all your life, but it's comfortable." The elderly woman says, pronouncing Irontown the way inferiors usually do.
I nod, staring out the grimy window of the old subway train. I can't see anything through the layers of dirt, but it doesn't matter. I'm not really looking, just staring. The conversation I had with my parents replays itself through my mind. They had jumped at the chance to get rid of me because I was an extra-born. My parents had the two sons they wanted and a daughter with a mechanical eye is an unnecessary burden.
I am jerked back to the present as the subway car whines to a stop. My grandmother, along with the two other passengers, stands to get out of the car and I follow suit. Shouldering my backpack, I step out of the car and onto a rusty, metal platform. Looking around, I realize that the entire city looks the same as the platform. Grinning, Nana turns to me and gestures across the street to a set of old brick apartments.
“There it is. This is where your mom grew up. Right there in that very building and on this very street." She informs me as we follow a crowd of people into a tiny metal building. I try to smile but I can't imagine my mother, a woman who always dresses fashionably and never has a hair out of place, living here. "She prob'ly doesn’t act like it now but she was rebellious. You remind me a lot of her.” Nana states and points to the streaks of electric blue hair that frame my thin face.
This makes me smile and I touch my hair. "Really?" I murmur. I had always thought mom was okay but I never really got to know her because she was always at the news station.
“Yes, she was wild." Nana sighs as we ride an escalator to the Lower Level. I see a constant stream of people step quickly through two dirt-smudged, glass doors. We join the trickle of people outside and looming in front of us are the apartments I had seen from the platform. Nana and I pause at the edge of the street, waiting for traffic to clear before crossing to the crumbling, brick buildings. The inside of the building is cool with chipped white paint and water-stained ceilings.
She leads me down a hallway and stops in front of a door labeled 203. She produces a ring of keys from the folds of her baggy sweater and unlocks the door with a lot of jingling. "Well, here’t is. Home, sweet home." She announces and steps aside to let me look around. I look at the white haired woman for a moment before taking in my surroundings.
To my right is a living room with an actual television instead of a holoscreen. A low wooden table, decorated with books and an old-fashioned radio, sits in the middle the area created by an L-shaped, grey sofa. Knitted blankets have been draped over the sofa, giving it an old-time feel. I turn, feeling my grandmother watching me. She smiles encouragingly and I step further into the apartment. A doorway leads into a small kitchen with a yellowed linoleum floor. The smell of coffee fills this room and a few appliances add a more modern feel.
I'll get some dinner ready. Your room is down the hall, first door on your left. The bathroom is across the hall." She says and disappears into the kitchen. I stand very still for a moment, listening to Nana in the other room. This also gives my other eye a chance to process everything. Information about the house scrolls across my left eye in a sequenced code of zeroes and ones. I look around and my eye zooms in on my surroundings, detailing water damage and grey, worn places on the beige carpet.
“Wonderful," I sigh and shuffle down the hall to find my room. The room is meagerly furnished with a bed pushed into one corner below a window that gives a view of a neglected park. A dresser and desk have been crammed next to each other against the other wall. I cross the room and shove my backpack under the bed.