Seize the Day

April 14, 2010
When the Rebellion Began…
For as long as I can remember, I have always been under the control of the Global Welfare Incorporation. My name is Penelope, but everyone just calls me “Pen” for short, and I am a sixteen year-old junior recruit under the control of the thirtieth-century Global Welfare Incorporation, also known as the GWI. I was recruited, just like every other kid around the world, at the age of seven. The GWI took me away from my home in Paris and spirited me away to their training facility, where I have been trained in a multitude of unique subjects, including basic mind reading and manipulation skills, bomb assembly skills, and rebel elimination strategies. The students train for nine years in all of these subjects, but once they turn sixteen, they are programmed with a chip that allows the GWI to infiltrate your mind and body, allowing them to control you completely. If they say jump, you jump because your body tells you to, there is no choice. Sure, you may be able to ignore the command for a little while, you know, but in the long run, there is no escaping it. You can ignore a command, but it will haunt you the rest of your life. What's more, nobody, besides the rebels and the GWI, has any clue as to why the rebellion ever began; all we know is that if we don’t do whatever we are told, we get killed by the GWI. So, when you are assigned to one of three areas of expertise: the Programming of Global Populations, the Nuclear Bombing Squad, or Rebel Elimination, you don’t ask any questions, you just go with it. Obviously, this is no ordinary thirtieth-century school, and for nine years, this was my life, but today is my release day, and I will be free, or as free as anyone could be in the GWI system. I am on my way to pick up my career assignment, and from what I hear; their supply of assassins has been running low…

Six-Months Later…
Alright, Pen, I thought to myself, just take a deeeeep breath. I exhaled slowly, trying to calm myself on that dark moonless night.
“Pen, this is it” said my GWI supervisor, Xavier, through my navigator circuit. “Tonight is the night that you kill him!”
“Listen,” I said, “Just give me some peace and quiet for a little while, will you? Maybe I’ll be able to concentrate then!”
“Alright, Pen, but just be sure to remember that the company is not very pleased with your work right now. Just because you’ve been killing tons of people for a while now, doesn’t mean that I’ll go any easier on you. Besides, I just might have been listening in on a conversation at HQ about sending you back to the training facility for extra instruction” taunted Xavier.
God, I thought, why couldn’t I have gotten one of the normal supervisors? But no, I get Xavier, a young, worked up intern who can barely say a mere ‘Thank you’ or ‘Please’. I mean, if I’m the one being forced to kill people in nasty weather, and he just gets to sit in a nice, comfortable office, shouldn’t I at least be able to choose what type of supervisor I want?
“Pen, stop day-dreaming, did you hear what I just told you? You’re going to be sent back for more training if you don’t do exactly what I tell you tonight! You hear me?”
“C’mon”, I replied, “I’ve only been out of the training facility for about six months, and—”
“Just get on with it! We don’t have time to doddle around all day. If this rebel gets away, then the company is ruined for good! There is no turning back this time, Pen, because this man—Ivan Dennison—holds the key to the company’s destruction in the form of a tiny circuit chip! Now get a move on!” Xavier screamed as I began to fall once more into the muddle of thoughts in my head.
I slipped out from the alley way of the dark Paris streets, taking care to allow the inky blackness of the night to engulf me as I silently moved from one alley way to another. Then, just as I turned the corner of the third ally, I saw him, just standing there in the open streets on a moonless night. The unfortunate man’s name was Ivan Dennison, or so they tell me. He wore a white bandana around his wrist, which was a typical symbol for rebellion.
Expertly, I skulked around the abandoned sidewalks, slowly inching closer and closer to Ivan Dennison. The shadows seemed to almost be at my command, and as I moved into more visible areas, they moved with me.
I found a good hiding spot behind a large building, and waited for the perfect time to attack this new victim. As I waited for Xavier to give the command, my thoughts began to drift into worries and doubts as I prepared my mind and body to kill this man. Just be heartless, I told myself as I waited, It’s just another kill, one like any other. I kept repeating this mantra over and over to myself—it sometimes helped to at least pretend that I had some control over my actions. Still, I couldn’t shake the feeling that this kill was somehow different from all the others, maybe—
“Get on with it, Pen!” shouted Xavier, so I did, because I had to obey. And because I had to obey, I became exactly what the company wanted me to be: a cruel, cold-blooded killer, completely devoid of any emotion or disloyalty to the company. I was choosing to be controlled by them, now, I was at least in control of my opinion. So, it was then that I silently jumped behind Ivan Denison, expertly pulling the small knife from my black utility belt, trapping him in a headlock with the knife at his throat. I could feel his heavy breath, straining to remain controlled and collected in this situation.
“Kill him, Pen. Kill him now” said Xavier as I had the man in a headlock.
Then, with a cheerless grin, and some small tears in my eyes, I brought the knife to his throat, and killed him silently, just before he was even able to utter a mere “Help!”. I laid his body on the ground and began to search his pockets for the circuit chip that was supposed to be with him. But to my own surprise, I could find no circuit chip, and I began to become frantic in my search, pulling out every pocket I could find. As I searched, I could feel Xavier’s fury grow bigger by the second.
Suddenly, just as I was about to start sobbing at the failure to retrieve the circuit chip, I saw a knife flying towards me out of the corner of my eye. Dodging it, I jumped away from Ivan’s dead body, just before I caught a glimpse of a man running behind one of the alley ways.
My ears began to ring with the command in my head “Pen, run after him, NOW!” and for a moment I was slightly frazzled, because the man on the other end of my programming chip’s communicator was not Xavier, but the CEO of GWI. God, I thought to myself, this guy must really be on their blacklist if they want him badly enough to have the CEO talk to me!

I broke into a full sprint, running after him like some half-wild dog. I chased him around alleyways and store fronts, riverbanks and art galleries, all around Paris. As I ran after him, HQ was on my circuit, shouting information at me.
“Pen, listen carefully, after a quick ID scan on our database, this man is one of the rebellion leaders. His name is Samuel Taylor, but he just goes by Sam, got that? Anyways, we have just recently discovered that only a day ago, this very same man planted a false piece of information in our computers, a piece of information telling us that the rebels had a circuit chip that would be able to destroy the GWI. This entire thing is a trap, Pen, and we don’t know what he is going to try to do, so just be careful, and kill him as fast as you think you can. Got that?” I didn’t reply to the information being spitted out for me to hear, I just kept running, as fast as I could, to just get this over with.
And after a short while, he began to stumble, and eventually, he collapsed next to a stray rubbish bin in an alleyway. He just lay there, sprawled on the ground.

I stopped giving chase, but I decided to hide right behind the corner of a nearby building, just in case this rebel had any more of those knives. I watched him warily, ready for him to throw another knife. But slowly, he managed to get up, and he bravely addressed the inky blackness of the night.

“I know what you want, Pen, but you’ll have to kill me for it” he shouted to me.

“How-How do you know who I am?” I asked, standing my ground.

“It’s just my job to know, okay? Now—“

“No!” I replied angrily, “It’s not just your job to know, tell me the truth!”

“Pen,” he said urgently, “For God’s sake, just listen—“

I interrupted him yet again, “Look, Sam, if you want to tell me anything, you are gonna have to tell me the truth! How the heck am I supposed to trust you, when you won’t even tell me how you know me? Hmm?”

He was silent for only a moment, until, with a great sigh, he told me the truth.
“Alright, fine then, I’ll tell you, but you won’t understand”
“Try me” I replied, and I walked from behind the building and into the dim moonlight, so that he was able to see me. Still, I watched vigilantly, never taking my eyes off him.
I was able to see him grimace before he told me.
“I know, Pen, because I was the rebel who planted that piece of false information in the GWI’s computers. I was the one who meant to send you, and only you here, because I need you to know something very important. I need you here because of who you are, because of who your father was. You know what I mean, Pen. I worked with your father for a while, and apprenticed him, he was an extremely talented rebel for his time, Pen—” he replied, but not before I could interrupt him, yet again.
“Stop! Just stop, will you? What does it matter that my dad was a talented rebel? That never stopped the GWI from…from…” I couldn’t finish the sentence, and we both stood in silence for a brief moment.
After a little while, Sam said “Pen, please, just stop and think about what you are doing for one second!” That was when I lost it. And by lost it, I mean that I was furious.

“I am thinking, you idiot!” I yelled at him, “Do you think that I have no feelings about what I do? Do you think it’s easy, being programmed to do whatever some dim-wit in the company tells you to do? You think it’s easy to kill people all the time, people who are trying to do some good in the world? Do you?!?” I screamed back at him. He frowned at my reply, but stood tall as he replied.

“Just listen to me, will you? What I have been trying to tell you is that there is a way to break the programming that the GWI has put on you, Pen! And before you interrupt me, asking me how in the world that would happen, I’ll tell you: you just think about it! You just have to believe in it, really, just—“

“Oh, really?” I interrupted, speaking softly this time, “Then give me some proof, and give me a way!” I waited for him to reply, but all sound around me was drowned out by the sound of the CEO of GWI, saying “Pen, kill him. Your banter has been a great amusement to us here at GWI, but really, we do have a fairly tight schedule to run.”
That’s when I was forced to pull the move, sliding up behind him and pulling the small knife to his throat, I stood there in a suspended moment, knowing that the GWI would soon command me to kill him.
“Pen” The CEO reprimanded, “You will kill him on the count of three”. Sam didn’t struggle; he just stood there, as calm and collected as anyone could have been. Even if I ignored the command to kill Sam for the time being, I would never be allowed to completely ignore it. It would haunt both of us, forever, and I would have to kill him. Silent tears began to fall from my eyes as I pondered this.

“One” said HQ, and the knife at this throat pressed closer, and I could feel his body tense. Tears were now streaming down my face, like only once before, when I had made my first kill.

“Please,” I begged to Headquarters, “I can’t do this!”

“Pen,” said Sam, “You can break the program!”

“Two” It was like a blow to my head, and once again, my body started working without my conscience’s consent. The knife was now drawing tiny droplets of blood from his neck.

“Please,” I pleaded with Sam, “I don’t have a choice!”

“Pen,” he said, “We always have a choice…Remember, Carpe Diem, ‘Seize the Day”

There was a brief understood silence as we waited for the final command to come from Headquarters, a moment of silence filled with unspoken words and unforeseen shock on my part. My father had uttered the words, Carpe Diem, just before he died. He had told me to “Seize the day”. We stood there, in that eternal moment, then came the time for Sam and I to part company

“STOP” I yelled.
It was like a whirlwind knocked me over, as I fell to the ground, closing my eyes at the same time, trying to shut out the intense pain spreading throughout my entire body. The agony was moving throughout my body, like an uncontrollable disease. Then, in the whirlwind of pain and darkness, there was one ray of light, memories, that were flashing rapidly throughout my mind. I saw my mother and father, smiling as I blew out the candles on my birthday cakes. I saw the men, who took me away from my home, dragging me as I screamed, helplessly, for my mother and father. And I remembered my first kill: my own father, who had been a rebel himself. I saw the pain on his face and the tears that streamed down my own face as I was forced by the GWI to kill him. I saw events from the past: the start of the rebellion, where many had died in a bloody battle. I saw things happening in the present: the GWI’s computers breaking down, unable to handle to mass amount of power that I had transmitted to their computers after breaking through their command. I saw the building collapsing, and the rebels running in and out of the area, cheering. I saw the future: a new beginning, rebuilding the destruction the GWI had caused, but getting better, because the GWI had been defeated. I felt all of the sadness, and remorse that I had ever felt in my entire life. I felt the hatred towards the GWI that I had pushed to the back of my mind my entire life long, until now. Now, all of my emotions were released—along with my memories, my visions of the past, present, and future—into one small ray of light in my body, which grew with more memories added to it, spreading throughout my entire body and pushing against the darkness, against the pain. Then suddenly, as quickly as the pain had come, it was gone. My body was consumed with light, and I felt my body begin to heal the left-over pain inside of me, and gradually, the brilliant light inside of me ebbed away, and left me in the cobblestone streets of Paris.
I thought about opening my eyes many times, but decided to just lie there, in that eternal peace. I thought about what I had just seen in the present, trying to piece together the visions I’d had, because if what I had seen was true to what it looked to be—if the GWI’s computers broke down and exploded because of the energy transmission that was created by me breaking out of their control—then I was free. Suddenly, it dawned on me: everything was silent, and then I knew that I was free. And I knew that I was free, because for the first time in my life, since I was seven years old, there was no more noise inside my head.
Finally, after what felt like a long time, I opened my eyes.
I was not in the streets anymore, but a rather large and beautiful park. I then noticed that I was lying on a park bench, my head on Sam’s lap. He must have carried me here when I had passed out, and then he must have fallen asleep, unable to suppress exhaustion.
I got up carefully, taking care to not wake Sam, and made my way through the park, taking in the beauty of it all. Eventually, I made my way over to a small pond in the park, surrounded by large oak trees. Then, I sat down on the edge of the pond, took off my shoes, and dipped my feet in it, feeling the cool water move around my feet. A few rays of sunlight began to climb over the horizon, and through the trees, making the water sparkle in the sunlight.
I watched, as the new morning began, the sunlight reaching over the trees to me, and I pondered my father’s last words, Carpe Diem, seize the day. It reminded me that no matter what may be going on in this strange world I live in, a new morning will always arrive. A new day will always begin, and today, I am free once and for all, to seize the day.

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This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

Grammy said...
May 6, 2010 at 9:52 am
An engrosing story, which is well written and interesting.
JamieJ said...
Apr. 27, 2010 at 2:37 pm
Well written story, very intresting. Keep on writing!
BurriedInBooks replied...
Apr. 28, 2010 at 3:05 pm
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