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If you grew up in the town of Hope, the outside world would not exist. Nothing was real beyond the gates. You are about to read a story about a girl who let her thoughts drift for a few seconds. These few seconds led to consequences that could rattle the very foundations of Hope.
Lina Bright woke up at dawn, just like she did every other morning. The sky was a rosy pink with specks of orange and gold. Birds chattered and a slight breeze blew threw her curtains. A smell of dew and damp earth filled her nose mixed with the floral perfume of her mother’s garden. The day couldn’t have been more welcoming. But, Lina did not want to be welcomed; she wanted to curl up under the covers and go back in to that dreamless darkness. That’s against the Rules she thought.
The Rules were what was engrained in every citizen head since they were born. They were even whispered to the pre born children by their mothers. Every single soul knew them by heart. The Council made sure of everybody knowing the Rules. Everybody knowing the Rules was a rule. If you disobeyed, you were sent outside the gates, and you could never return. Of course there were leniencies with small children and the feeble minds.
Lina knew that sleeping in was wrong, and somehow the Council always knew what everybody was doing. There was that one time where she had taken a match from the kitchen and had hid in the bathroom. She stared at it for only a few minutes in the privacy of her own home but the police had come before the thought of lighting it had come to her head.
They had knocked on the door informing her mother and father of where she was and what she was doing. They told them that punishment was necessary. The sting of the ruler was distant from her memory but the lesson of disobeying stayed.
The most respected and withheld rule is that no one questions the Council and no one questions the order of which things are held. This guideline was the structure of the entire town. This rule was now the last structure of humanity.
She slipped out of bed and into her bleached white tunic. This was the common garb for everyone under 18. Then the clothes were traded in for white trousers and dresses. The wardrobe was for equality, despite the fact that everybody had different hair, skin, and eye color. At least the concept was there, she would think. Lina had been taught in school about the days in the old world where people would judge people based on looks. The thought was appalling and savage to her.
The morning chores were finished by seven, and by seven thirty she was at school. Every morning the students, ages five to seventeen, had to go to the great lecture hall where, in unison, they recited the first twenty rules. And heard the story of how their civilization had risen out of the ashes of humanity, and how there was nothing beyond the gates but the empty, barren wilderness. The headmaster would speak of how hard work and effort were the backbone in keeping the town alive. He told the children of how the old world failed by letting corruption and greed destroy the innocent eyes. That the Rules were what made the community perfect, therefore keeping all of their lives perfect.
From the elders to the newborns every life was perfect. The second someone threatened to change that, they were eliminated. It was that simple, the fear of the gates kept the citizens in check. They were taught that fear was not an imperfection, it was a necessity.
Lina had this speech memorized; she had heard it every single day since kindergarten. Her best friend Beth leaned over to whisper something in her ear, but Lina ignored her knowing that they would get in trouble for disrespect. Once the lecture was over they left for their classes. History was first, again criticizing the barbaric nature of the old world. This class was held for half of the day. The lunch was given to the students for their attentiveness. The gift of lunch was used as a lesson to show that persistence and effort always reward.
After lunch the smaller classes such as math, science, and English were held. After core classes the students had gym working in the cotton and rice fields. The school day concluded with a half hour lecture on how the subject they were learning contributed to the community and how it perfected Man’s former imperfections. Everything was for the societies benefit and their future.
Beth and Lina had always walked home together, but that day Lina had not gone straight home, instead she took a detour along the creek that followed the wall around the community. She would trace her finger along the steal gate. It had to have been at least twelve feet high and two feet thick. She never wanted to know what was on the other side. No one did, it was a rule not to think too much about the other side.
But how much is too much? These thoughts scared her, because it revealed the loopholes in her law. These were the few seconds she truly had alone, where she could feel like a moment was hers. She couldn’t get in trouble for walking home.
The day had been like any other, but why was it starting to feel different? There was something in the air. She looked up at the sky, asking for an answer when she didn’t even know the question. When she looked up something had flickered in her vision. There was a bird, and it had come from the other side.
This was impossible; no living creature could possibly live on the outside. The bird was larger than any other bird she had ever seen. It looked like an old world bird she had studied in her science class. It had a least a three foot wingspan and was a dark brown with piercing eyes. It swooped down, screeching as it flew by her. She watched something fall from its claws. Then it diapered into the sky.
The object that had fallen was a piece of cloth, and the cloth was an extinct color. Red. The only time she had seen the color was in the preserved documents from the old world. Lina stuffed the cloth into her pocket and started to walk again.
The cloth and the bird were impossible. There was Nothing outside of the gates. If you went outside, it was your death. Nothing lived and nothing ever would. But something had come from the other side. Something was wrong. She picked up her pace, almost running back home. What if there is something beyond the wall? She thought. That’s when a police officer stopped her. He stepped right out of nowhere, and right in front of her. She crashed in to him and fell back onto the ground.
“You have violated the second highest law of not thinking too much about the outside. You shall be arrested for treason.” He stared down at her. She looked up at the faceless man and something clicked. “But how much is too much? I was staring at the wall. And, thinking about the barren world beyond it. That is hardly much of a thought.”
Anger flashed through his eyes. “You have now violated another law by speaking back to an official.” He took his handcuffs off of his belt and reached for her. She pulled away, and a look of surprise passed his face. He had been expecting her to comply. Before he could grab her she turned around and ran as hard and as fast as her legs were willing to go.
There was only one place she could go. The caves. There were two officers behind her now as she ran. Just as she arrived at the tunnel she looked back they were a hundred yard behind her and they were getting closer. She ran into the darkness with one hand on the wall for a guide. She gained distance from them and had avoided the light of their flashlights. She kept on running through the cave until she saw a light. The light was faint, but she realized that it was because of dusk not distance. She finally reached it. Then turned around gasping for breath, she had lost them for a few moments. Their voices were audible from the mouth of the cave. She sucked in one more breath than ran through the forest. Lina looked behind her one last time and realized the wall was behind her she was outside of the town. The forest was full of living things. Her life had been a lie.
The shouts behind her grew loud. Her body was now numb from exhaustion; it had been hours of running with only a few short breaks. She started to see something break in the trees. There was a cliff in front of her. She came within a few yards from the edge and then stopped and slowly turned around too the police officers. Why did they follow me? She thought. All of their faces were blank, they just stared like robots. “Come back” one said in a monotone. Lina inched closer to the edge and looked down.
It was black there was nothing there, nothing beyond the cliff. She realized that there was literally nothing beyond her except empty space. That was when she slipped or was pushed. It didn’t matter, what only mattered was that she was falling into a dark abyss. The faces of the police men blurred as she fell. Her scream was lost in the darkness.
“It’s alright Hope, Calm down Hope” The doctor said. The girl was huddled screaming in the corner. The screaming stopped after a few minutes. Hope rocked herself in a corner whispering the name Lina. Her mother stood in the doorway silently weeping. The doctor looked at Hope’s mother and tried to explain the girl’s situation. “She is suffering from a severe case of schizophrenia. Hope has created an alternate universe in her mind. And often, it seems that her world falls apart. Leading to a breakdown, which; leaves a small window for us to help her before she lapses back into her world.” He sighed looking at Hope. “It is quite a difficult situation.”
Just as the sentenced ended Hope sprang up and bolted for the door screaming. The nurses at the door caught her and held her down as they gave her a shot. Hope’s eyes glazed over while they laid her on the bed. Her mother was in hysterics, one of the nurses reached over and handed the woman a red handkerchief with a hawk embroidered on the front.
Lina Bright woke up at dawn, just like she did every other morning. The sky was a rosy pink……………