November 9, 2008
By Heema Patel, North Wales, PA


The world was silent. All that could be seen, for miles on end, were houses, uniform and solid white. They were arranged in two adjacent rows stretching out past my line of vision. Thick, white, cement walls enclosed each house. I lived in one the houses. My house and the one next to mine contained the innocent. We all lived together in crowded and hushed quarters, secluded from the outside world. The others houses contained the evil. They kept us trapped. Everyone who was evil had lost something, maybe a family member died or they had lost a lover, and they took out their anger and emptiness by creating this development. Inside the development, they kept us, those who had never lost, isolated. I had lived here all my life so I did not know whether anyone existed beyond the walls that surrounded me. All I knew was that they were envious of us and wanted to eliminate us, the last of our kind.
I was standing in the middle of the single room that made up the first floor of one of the houses. No one showed any signs of stress or urgency. We were all acting normally, silently. Some old men were playing cards in the corner; none of them seemed to be winning. There was no furniture except the thin worn mattresses stacked along the walls that were used to sleep at night. Everyone was standing in small groups, heatedly discussing things in whispers. The scene unnerved me, and the white walls seemed to be closing in. All I knew was that danger was imminent. Something was going to happen to us. We had to escape. If we didn't, the consequences would be fatal. After all, we were the last of the good, and their mission was to eliminate us by ways still unknown to us. I resolved to put up a fight, an attempt. I would not go down without one.
I tried to shove into one of the conversations, eager to glean whatever I could about the situation, but the tight circles of people were unrelenting. I saw my father and rushed over to him, before he could be stolen away into one of the conversations surrounding him. As soon as I was within hearing distance, he began to speak to me.
'Stay inside,' he said.
' What?' I said confused. Did he know about my plans? ' Why?'
'Trust me,' he said. ' Leaving never ends well.'
With that, he walked away, bringing the conversation to an abrupt standstill. I was confused. That must have been some sort of warning, I figured. He thought I would get caught. This encouraged me to escape; I had to prove him wrong.

I set out to gather my friends; I had to admit I was too scared to attempt escape and risk getting caught alone. I forged a winding path through the crowd in search for them. I noticed a head slightly shorter than the rest nearby, it was my friend Laura. She was energetic as always, though now she seemed almost frantic, an dher black curls were bouncing up an down in agitation. Beside her was my other friend Christiana, who was the complete opposite. She was shy so she was hiding behind her short, straight brown hair. We formed a circle of our own, and began to share what information we knew. Unfortunately, nothing was news to me. Both of them were just as confused and uncertain as I was.
'We can escape together, ' I whispered. ' We have to make an attempt'
Laura nodded her head in silent agreement.
'We would get caught,' Christina stuttered, ' This could be a mistake.'
'You're right,' I consented, 'but staying here could be a mistake too. Either way we have no idea what is going to happen to us. Escape is the best choice because then we at least have a chance.'
She relented, looking down in defeat.
In a series of hasty and overlapping whispers we formulated a plan. We would head to the second floor to get a glimpse of the outside through the window there, and choose the path that we would make. I knew there was a window there because my father had told me about it, but I had never seen it myself. Those that went up to the window usually attempted escape afterwards. I had always wanted to escape but I had always felt unprepared. There were so many things about this development that I did not know about; I had felt as if time would bring more knowledge of the outside world with it. Now, 14 years later, I was still as confused as ever, and waiting had been completely useless. Now, I had a feeling that time was waning, and everyone was talking in tight circles passing along what could only be bad news. The urgency of the matter propelled my hasty ideas of escape.
''and after we get to the window, we can outline the path we will take.' I told my friends, 'then we can leave and follow the path outside.'
We did not know how much time we had, so we had to make the most of it. I glanced around the room, everyone was too caught up in their own conservations to notice our absence and the fact that we were all crowded together would conceal us from the eyes of those who knew us and would attempt to stop us. We made our way to the straight white staircase, and climbed up to the second floor. Upstairs it was empty and eerily quiet. I trembled as I walked unsteadily toward the opposite wall. I immediately felt a need to hesitate, to take time to think things through. But time was temporary, so I just kept walking ahead, fumbling as I reached out my hands in search of the opposite wall. My breathing seemed much too loud, and realizing this only led me to take more ragged and noisy breaths. I called out the names of both of my friends to make sure that they were still with me because, all of a sudden, I was scared that I would be stranded and that I would wind up alone. I breathed a sigh of my relief when they answered back. My hand felt something rough and light. It was the curtain. The darkness in the room was pervading my thoughts and not allowing me to concentrate. Fear gripped me, and I did not want to lift the curtain for fear of what I would see on the other side of the window. I kept imagining that I would see the face of one of the evil staring right back at me. Laura and Christina made no move to lift the curtain, so I knew it was up to me. It had been my idea to escape in the first place. I braced myself and whipped the curtain aside before I could think twice. I gasped and my pulse immediately quickened. On the other side of the window was merely a dark, still and almost serene night. Although this scene appeared unharmful, the very thought that I would soon be out there, exposed, sent shivers through my body. I realized then that we would have to cut across the yard of one of the evil to get out the development. For some reason, the evil had not constructed a wall to separate our house from the one behind ours. All the other directions we could take were blocked by wall, so this was the only path. I tried to get a glimpse of what was beyond the development, but an even higher wall that cut off the development from the rest of society blocked my view. I fruitlessly stood on tiptoes, but the wall was at least 20 feet high and I could not see over it. Our planned seemed doomed, but I felt recklessly daring, and encouraged Christina and Laura to follow my lead. We would improvise, that was the only choice we had left because I was not going to give up. I had already gotten so far. But I could not help feeling like the wall was missing on purpose.
I closed the curtain and I turned back around. We all crept toward back toward the stairs in the silence that accompanies fear. We swiftly descended the steps and were back on the first floor. Nothing had changed and everyone was still their tight huddles, as if they had not moved at all. I felt as if time had stopped for everyone except my friends and me as I led them to the door. The space around the door was empty, because people were too scared to be near it. We were not allowed outside and those that left were never see again. The evil punished everyone caught outside the house. No one turned in our direction as I turned the door knob. Its cold metal sent a shock throughout my body. I felt electrified and alert, and I gave one last look around to see the solemn faces I would never see again before pulling the door open. The night air rushed into the room, and a breeze caught the air. Still, no one flinched, no one bothered to notice.
We snuck out of the house. Unseen. I knew that there was a forest behind the development. Its ominous branches leading into the unexplored dark. We had to sneak into the forest. And upon reaching it, we had to run and never look back. And then we could be free. Nothing would stop us. Our feet padding on the dry soil, adrenaline rushing through us. But first we had to cut across the yard of the house behind ours, and race into the forest beyond.
We were not caught immediately after we stepped outside like I had half expected, nor were we found when I closed the door behind us. I noticed that I was holding my breath, making my best efforts not to make any noise at all. The night was quiet: no owls, no crickets, and no muffled noise from the other houses filled it. The hollow night did nothing to alleviate my worries, I felt as if everyone in the whole development were watching us with bated breaths waiting for us to get caught.
Now we were in the yard of the evil, the unknown a few inches away. One of the evil turned on her porch light, she had sensed our presence. We tiptoed over to a bush and hid behind it, muffling our breathing. One of the evil came outside, and peered into the yard. All of a sudden my friends start moving. I whisper to her, telling her to stop. She might catch the evil's attention and foil our plan. Instead she just keeps moving, waving her arms, completely oblivious to my whispers and the consequences. We were spotted. The evil one mad her way over. She knew. We knew. Nothing was said. A jolt of panic flowed through me. I noticed that all the walls were covered in lanterns. The neighborhood was a glowing jem that penetrated the dark world. I looked up at the stars. Despite, all the lanterns, the sky was pitch black and I could see all the stars dotting the sky. They were beautiful and bright. I couldn't take my eyes away. I came to a sudden revelation. The evil suddenly had a smile on her face. The world is too bright to allow us to see all the stars, even in the darkest places, the millions upon millions I was looking at right now would be hidden. That is when it hit me: this world was not real. It shattered.

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