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The Last Believer
Believe: to have confidence or faith in the truth
I am the last one. Not the last Impure, and certainly not the last human, but I am the last Believer.
Never, in my sixteen years upon this Earth, have I ever witnessed an act of a Believer. Not even a scintilla of a sign of their presence. And therefore I must assume that I am the final one. And I have decided to die Believing.
The year is 2236, and nothing is the same. Clothing is regulated, schools are infiltrated with Suspicious Activity Monitors (Or as the brainwashed children affectionately call them, S.A.M.s.), and creativity is extinct. Or so they think.
The flesh-covered drones that lecture us for ten hours every day have stuffed us with lies. They are not teachers, but dictators. They have told us how Believing used to have a different definition. It revolved around heroes and religion, society’s rules and government. According to the Pure, it caused fighting, backstabbing, prejudice, and even war. Which is why Believing is no longer an option.
My pale gray sweater rustles with the breeze that escapes through the automatic doors. You can barely tell where it ends and my matching gray pants begin. But you can see the slightest bulge located above my left gray sneaker, where my tracking bracelet is strangling my freedom and cutting off my circulation. The shining steel feels more like a gun pressed to my head than a microchip-filled accessory attached to my ankle.
Nobody else is in the hallway. Only one Impure is allowed in the corridors at a time. Right now it is 2:55, my turn to roam. Five minutes to myself.
I can feel S.A.M. watching me. His red laser eyes are pointing straight at me, sensing my body heat. I’m walking as if everything is normal, so as not to alert him, but I can feel my heart beating against my ribs. I try my best to keep my breathing regulated as I slowly turn around the corner and step into the next corridor.
Finally, I see her. Cassidy. She is standing at the end of the bleached white hall, reading today’s lunch menu off the activity computer. Even from here I can spot the section of her scalp where they shaved off a patch of her hair. The two pale, upraised lines of a Pure seem to glow as I draw nearer to her. Like radioactive tumors clawing their way down to her neck. The scars are fresh from her surgery, pale risen lines of freshly healed flesh among the tiny pricks of hair just beginning to grow back. They are inhuman and repulsive. The sight of them makes me gulp.
Cassidy seems to hear the disgusted swallow that slithers down my throat. She turns with a manufactured smile plastered to her face. Her once beautiful eyes are now glassy and lackluster; the same color as our everyday uniform. Her smile falters only the slightest bit as she stares into my still green irises and I can tell she is afraid. Nobody wants to get too close to an Impure. To them we are lepers. We are disgusting. We are dangerous.
Impures and Pures cannot touch, not even for a simple handshake. It is forbidden. Pures can come in contact with each other, but only through the touching of hands or arms. The only time it is acceptable to get closer is when reproduction is needed. But Pures and Impures are not allowed to come in contact at all. Ever. Which is why I must make this quick.
I grab her arm and her eyes widen with shock. “Lea, what are you-?” But I don’t let her finish. I can’t let S.A.M. hear. In order to shut her up, I do the unthinkable. I hug her.
I feel her body stiffen and her breath catch in her throat. I’m so close I can trace my finger along the X-shaped monstrosity disturbing the otherwise constant flow of deep brown hair. But I don’t. Instead, I whisper so low that not even S.A.M. can pick it up, “Good-bye.” And then I start running.
I don’t look back, because I know there is only a matter of minutes, maybe seconds, until she alerts the drones. My once best friend shall now be my worst enemy. The reason for my downfall. And I cannot bare to look into her lifeless grey as she condemns me.
Besides, I have one last stop to make. I have to see Ethan.
Ethan was almost on my side. Almost a Believer. I could see it in his eyes as he read books, not the electronic replicas, but the real thing, and was immersed in the stories of our ancestors. I could see it in the way he moved, so graceful and carefree, even when passing S.A.M.s or the drones. I could see it in the way he smiled at me that he wanted to Believe. But that was before they got to him. They altered him mind, his very personality, until he was Pure. But not before I fell in love with him.
Of course he doesn’t know. Nobody knows. But they will soon find out.
Automatic doors still slide open for me, which means they haven’t figured out what I’ve done. My tracking bracelet hasn’t been entered into S.A.M.‘s Wanted Database. I still have time.
One left turn and I see the Library of Approved Reading. Ethan is sitting where he always used to sit, in a plush, blue armchair that used to match the color of his eyes. But a smooth metallic touch screen pad replaces the soft crinkle of paper, and his sapphire eyes have been turned to stone. My heart flutters as he looks up at me. Even through the boring mask of gray, I swear that I still see a sparkle of hope in his eyes. Or at least, that’s what I have to tell myself. Hope is all I have left.
When I reach the automatic doors I nearly smack into them. They refuse to open, which can only mean one thing. They have figured out what I am and are trying their best to stop me. I don’t give in that easily.
My foot swings forward and connects with the glass with an earthshaking BANG that echoes down the destitute halls. Tiny fragments of translucent door rain down as cracks crawl across the frame. Ethan leaps from the chair and takes a shaking step backward as I kick the door again. I penetrate through the fragile web of glass and feel splinters shredding through cloth and flesh. Alarms are blaring overhead, but I ignore them. I’ve made it this far, and I’m getting what I came here for.
As I walk toward Ethan, broken glass crunches beneath my feet and the ragged edges of the broken doorframe slice open my arms. I feel as if I am walking over thin ice as goosebumps disfigure my skin and chills caress my body. I am still moving, but he is frozen, whether in fear or fascination I am not sure. Either way, I’m taking advantage of his idle state.
I seem to slide across frosted floor as I stare into his brainwashed eyes and say the words I’ve been holding in for months. The three forbidden words that have given me the courage to Believe.
“I love you.”
The words escape my lips and burst forth into the air they have long been denied. They are not whispered, but spoken, and spoken with clarity. It no longer matters whether S.A.M. hears or the drones see. All that matters is the moment.
Another step forward and we connect. I press my lips to his, and at first I can feel his resistance, his Purity. But as I wrap my arms around my neck and pull him in close, I can feel his muscles relax against mine. To my surprise and pleasure, he does not pull away. Instead, he leans into me and I into him. I let my spirit sink into his and savor the rhythmic beating of our hearts, united at last. What is considered so wrong by so many actually feels like the most natural thing in the world. I want it to last forever, but forever is never an option.
Even above the screams of the alarm I can hear the heavy stomps across the shattered remains of the door. I am well aware of the drones entering the room. And I am even more aware of the sounds of gunshots ringing in my ears, and the sharp pain of needles piercing my back. Hot, burning liquid runs through my veins and drips across my vision to blur the world around me. I can feel myself slumping forward, Ethan’s arms catching my numb body. I know my time has come. I pray to the higher Being, whatever his name may be, and tell him that I am ready.
Silently, I forgive Cassidy for turning me in. I don‘t blame her, I blame them. I curse the very existence of the Pure and their distorted sense of right that has taken over our society. Everything has been mutated and cleansed by the creation of Purity. For that I hate the world. But at the same time I thank it. I thank the world for Ethan as I stare into his eyes. Through the haze I see two halos of bright, shining blue.
They have taught us of the wars and depressions that came along with Believing. But they left out the peace and the happiness that Belief has to offer. The peace and happiness that I have finally achieved.
To believe means to have confidence or faith in the truth.
I have faith in a higher Being.
I have confidence in my actions.
Love is truth.
My eyes drift closed with the weight of sleep, but I am still aware of Ethan’s arms around me. I breath him in, and fill my lungs with life. My last breath of freedom before everything goes dark.
I am the last Believer.