The Provinces

January 22, 2013
By redlac11, BATTLE CREEK, Michigan
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redlac11, BATTLE CREEK, Michigan
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The boy looked down the narrow, dirty alley. His hesitation would have been clear to any bypassers, that is if there were any. After the attack from the Dictator Sage, only those who were crazy enough to defy him and take his wrath stayed. He would have to decide, if he didn’t-no-he couldn’t think about that, that crazy, unimaginable reality. The boy waited for a while and sat down. He closed his shocking green eyes and fell asleep. He was startled awake by a man in a dark coat. The man stood above him, his face a few feet above the boy’s. The man’s hoarse voice was distinct and clear as he said, “Kid I don’t have all day long, you either buy it or don't buy it.” But the boy walked away, his courage to faint to save his father. He would never forget the look on his mother’s face when he told her that her betrothed would die.

Angus Sage lay in a pool of his own blood. His father had left the room in his disappointment with having this ugly child. Angus dragged himself over to the shining mirror to look at his distorted face. It was never too ugly, actually he was quite handsome. His eyes were an icy blue that froze anyone who looked at them and he had nice pale hair and a smooth face. It was only the ugly scar on the left side of his face that had been given to him when his mom had been left by the Dictator Sage. His mom in a rage had brought the knife down on his face in a oddly clean cut. His father thought it was a sign of weakness, but no one would believe the beloved dictator was an abusive father. The new additions to this scar were a deep cut on his shoulder, a forming bruise on his right eye, and a broken leg. He gave himself a pitying look.
Just then his little sister came bursting into the room. It’s hard to consider 15 little though. Angus couldn’t deny his dependence on Julia. He couldn't stand the thought of ever needing someone as much as he needed her. She had eyes that were a deep brown that you could lose yourself in for hours and her hair was silky and dark as oil. Her skin was naturally dark too. Whereas Angus was as light as the sun Julia couldn’t be seen in night. Her face had shock on it, but it wasn’t the shock that turned Angus into his mad rage, it was the pitying look in her eye. She took three items out of her bag. The first was a bottle. Only god knew what the contents of it were. It had been made by the scientists in the Lab where they were trying to make ways to heal yourself quickly. She poured some on a sheet and wiped it on the cut. The skin melded together where the liquid was and the blood vanished without a trace. Julia stepped away and could hardly see the damage done. The next was a pill, she gave it to Angus who took it willingly. He cried out in pain as his bone moved to find its partner.
Angus stood up and reached towards Julia. She tried to dodge out of his reach but she was too slow. He grabbed her arm and twisted it making her drop the third item ,the knife that she was going to protect herself with.
“Now, now Julia, I always thought you were smarter than that.” Anger was rising up Angus’s throat like a snake as he snarled at his sister.
Julia whimpered in fear and clawed at the hand that was sending jolts of pain up her arm. “I’m sorry Angus. What happened to you, you didn’t used to be like this.”
Angus dropped her hand. How could he take his anger out on Julia.”Leave!” Angus bellowed. Julia stayed where she was though, holding her ground and Angus smiled one of his rare smiles and hugged her. He could feel her tremble in fear and let go of her. “You shouldn’t be afraid of me, Jules”.
“No one can’t be afraid of you for there is a missing part of your soul that can never be replaced.” she whispered.
Angus’s face turned paler than usual and looked taken aback. WIth a satisfied look on Julia’s face ,she left the room. the door slammed behind her, losing Angus’s last amount of self restraint. Julia could hear the scream from behind her closed bedroom door.

Chapter Three
Dahra Brooke's mom was cutting her hair. Dahra had wanted her fine blonde hair to be long but her mother wouldn't allow it. “ It would give those creeps on the street something to pull on.” She would always say. So here she was watching her delicate hair fall to the ground and listening to the hypnotic sound of the rusty scissors. She looked at her mother through the cracked mirror. She had her mother's hair and angular cheekbones, but her father’s hazel eyes. Not that she would know. Her dad was drafted when she was young and she can hardly remember him. When she tries it’s like trying to grab a bubble that bursts everytime it comes into contact with you. Dahra’s mom noticed her staring and gave her one of her million dollar smiles. Dahra sighed, if only she had a smile like that.
“What troubles you. ” Dahra’s mom whispered in her ear.
Dahra couldn’t tell her mother how she wished she looked different. Her mom was strong and fought for her family. The paychecks from the militia stopped coming in a while ago, so her mom had picked up an extra job working as a maid. Dahra didn’t want to add another stress to her list. “ Nothing” she replied in a nonchalant tone.
“Alright darling.” Her mom said while letting out a breath that she seemed to be holding.
“Mom?” Dahra asked. “Where’s Dad?”
“I told you sweetie.” Her mother whispered in her smooth voice. “He’s fighting for the beloved Dictator.”
“Why haven’t we gotten any money from him lately”
“Dahra I’m done cutting your hair, go play with John.” Her mom said hastily.
“ But what about Father.” Dahra’s tone was bare of emotion.
“Go play with John.”
“ But mom-”
“GO.” her mom’s voice jumped to a yell that was as rare as a new piece of furniture.
Dahra’s face turned as white as paper and she stared in shock, but held her ground. Her mom’s face showed all the pain and suffering that she felt and all the stress in the world in that single moment. “I’m so sorry...” and her mom ran out of the room.
John strode in without his usual cocky swagger. “What did you say to mom?” He asked harshly but not rudley.
“I asked her about dad.” Dahra said confusion choking her up, making her stutter.
“Never ask her about dad again,” John said in a strict voice “Come here.” He took her in his arms and hugged her for what seemed like forever.
“What happened to dad?” she breathed into his shirt.
“Dad’s dead.” John mumbled and repeated it again to himself, as if to make sure it was the truth.
John’s usually handsome composure was destroyed by grief as he wept silently. Sobs wracked his body as he started mumbling something ineligible. Dahra let go of him staring at him in shock. John whom she had never seen cry in her entire life, not even when he had broken his arm when he was nine, but when their dad who hadn’t been present for their whole life died, he wept a million tears. “I-I used to ima-imagine dad coming home and-and making mom’s face light up and play-playing ball with him and going on family picnics and-and....” John broke off suddenly his silent cries became audible sobs.
Dahra couldn’t bare to see the look in his eyes as he cried so she left to her conjoined room with her mom. She knew her mom wouldn’t be there. The privacy was too little in their small four room house. The room was painted violet, her mother's favorite color. The room had two old twin mattresses with a short table in between. An antique wardrobe stood next to the door that held her and her mom’s few pieces of clothing. She pulled out a hand stitched skirt made of a fine silky material that her richer father had bought for her mother when they were young. The skirt was thrown over the door to the wardrobe for her mother to wear. She reached in and grabbed a white blouse and faded jeans and changed out of her clothes made itchy by the haircut and took her brush and dipped it in the water that had been in the basin since the morning. She moved it along her pale skin and took off the fair hair that still rested on her shoulders. Then she threw on the clothes and put her curly shoulder-length hair into a tight braid. Dahra moved over to the mirror. She would never be described as beautiful or gorgeous but cute was still a possibility
She left the room and closed the the door behind her. The hallways cold floors bit her bare toes. John was in the kitchen making supper. The smell of rice floated into her nose making her mouth water. “Mom is crying in the bathroom.” John said, his superior attitude back, “I decided to make dinner.”
“It smells like heaven.” Dahra replied. Having skipped out on lunch had left her hungrier than usual.
“And that is what it will taste like.” Dahra’s mom walked into the room trying to hide the obvious signs that she had been crying but was failing in the highest proportion.
“Thank you, our Angel sent from heaven.” John said bringing a faint smile to Dahra and their mom’s face. It was a long existing inside joke in the family that had started with their father, seeing as though her name was Angela.
John got out three plates and put a small lump of white rice on all of them “Bon appetit.” John said laughing.
Dahra scooped it into her mouth in a way that seemed if she didn’t eat it fast enough, someone else would. At the end of the dinner Angela cleared the plates. “The soldiers march through town tomorrow.” She whispered as if trying to keep a secret, “Maybe we can see if dad is among them.”

Chapter Four
Julia took the long way to the training room. With all the events that had happened that day she needed some time to think. Her family was twisted and evil and she needed to get out of it as fast as she could. Sure, being daughter of the Dictator had some benefits like being untouchable or having the best food in the Provinces. But she also knew the destruction and fear that came with having the last name Sage. And then there was Angus. He was twisted, terrible, and kind to her. He had had more training than her and could easily kill her for seeing him so weak, but she felt that if she stayed she could help change him for the better, help him get out of the past. Running away seemed so easy and tempting but Julia was never one to take the easy way out.
When she finally arrived the instructor made her run an extra mile for being late, which was no big deal for Julia, she had been edging her way to five for a while now. Next they made her do self protection and attack. Julia already had killer aim with throwing knives and shooting guns. But her close range was weak. So weak that she was afraid one day she would be killed by Angus at close range. To finish off training they did the normal exercises, core workouts, bicep and tricep workouts, and the not so fearful rope.
Julia packed up her bags and changed into her floral summer dress. Outside she was expecting to walk to the public garden and wait, but instead saw a slender white car bearing the capitals symbol on the driver and passenger side door. The door opened with a slight click and a tall skinny man in his thirties with silver hair and very sharp features stepped out. “ Julia, it’s been a while, why don’t you come for a ride?” The man said in a rough deep voice.
Julia replied with a false smile, “I must admit I wasn’t expecting to see you here, dad.”
“That’s Dictator Sage for you in public.”
The car smelt of expensive leather and gasoline. When she touched the seat belt her flesh seemed to sizzle from the heat, “The A.C. must be set to hell,” Julia mumbled to herself, “Go figure.” Julia looked around. The car was new. She could tell from the moment she saw it, the old one had been as black as night.She looked around in disgust at the way the inside of the car looked.
“Sweetie you have to sit in the front.” The Dictator said with mock kindness. “I don’t want you to dirty that beautiful dress.”
“ Thank you, Dictator Sage.” She said with caring that would never exist.
She took a step into the front seat and saw Jeremy. He had once fancied her, and maybe he still did, but now wasn't the time to ask. “ Where to, Dictator Sage?” Jeremy asked.
“Home.” Julia said hastily, not knowing what her dad’s plans were.
“Yes home.” The Dictator said to Jeremy confirming what Julia said. He turned to Julia and stared at her like a hawk may his prey. ”Julia,” he said, turning her way, “I hear you’ve been helping Angus.”
Fear tingled down Julia’s spine, “I have.” The Dictator gave her a bone chilling smile.
“I’m sad to hear you brother needs assistance in everything, especially from a woman.” The Dictator said glumly, “I always saw the weakness in him.”
Julia was startled. She’d thought of him as many things. Cruel, vicious, intelligent, broken even, but never weak. “Angus is not weak, in fact he’s stronger than you.” A stinging, burning sensation grew on her face along with a red palm.
“Angus is weak and so are you for defending him” The car came to a slow stop and the Dictator leapt out and slammed the door behind him. Tears from the still burning slap still lingered as she looked over at Jeremy.
“Have a nice day, Miss Sage” was all he said. She leaped out of the car and slammed the door behind her.

He opened his green eyes wide. A dim light shown through the dirty curtains that cast a sickly glow across the room. Slowly, Zin got up to see what the noise he heard was emanating from. As he walked down, the steps creaked like the midnight’s music. His dark hair fell over his eyes and he swept it aside in a single brush. He looked around the room slowly. The kitchenette was small and old but it worked for his mother. He went to the door and pulled out the large kitchen knife that was used primarily for moments like this. The screen door was wide open and at it stood a beautiful girl with rich brunette hair and green eyes. “Camille, you scared me half to death.” Zin said with joy in his heart.
“Zin, how are you?” She said stepping into the house. She remove the heavy black coat to reveal an old fashioned black dress that billowed out from the waist down. Her white skin seemed to glow.
"You look like you've been doing well since I last saw you four years ago." He said a little fiercely. Who would have thought that a girl raised in the slums would become a military prodigy? "How are you?"
" I'm great but more on that later." She had worry in her voice, "How's mom?"
"She's great, she'll be thrilled to know your home." Zin replied. He couldn't say how long he'd been waiting for this moment. The family will finally be back together, well partially. Dad had died of the Disease a four years ago and all because Zin hadn't been brave enough.
The man stood above him impatiently and whispered, “You gonna buy it already.” ZIn had looked at him with all the fear in the world and started to run away and go back home. The dirty alley lingering in his mind.
As if reading his mind Camille smiled at him "Dad died because of the Dictator". Zin agreed, the Dictator let the Disease go to all the poorer places and kill off half the people in this overpopulated world. Unfortunately his father was one of them."I'm off to bed Zin it was a long ride home, and you by how tired you look you should go to bed soon also. Nice to see you again." Camille slowly walked up the old stairs and ZIn followed soon after. He lay in his bed for what seemed like an eternity before sleep brought him into it's tight embrace.
Zin woke up the next morning feeling fresh and alive. Camille was already awake and dressed. She was wearing a short white dress that cut off right above the knees. The smell of bread and butter floated into his nose. He took a deep breath, not knowing when he would smell this again. Camille turned and looked at him, pushing her curly hair out of her face. "Zin I have to tell you something-" she started but stopped, her gaze pointed just over his shoulder. He turned and saw instantly what she was staring at. Their mom stood in the doorway and was almost completely unrecognizable since the last time Camille had seen her. Worry lines were etched deep in her face and her dark hair had turned silver. Her face had a look that was always pained.
"Well this is a pleasant surprise, Camille." Their mom said still half asleep, "It's nice to know you're still alive."
Camille took three large steps and hugged her mom. “It’s nice to see you mom.” Their mom was surprised to find that her cheeks were wet. She turned to Zin with a curious look, wondering if he knew that Camille was coming home. Zin just gave her a shrug and a smile. She gave a faint smile but replaced it instantly with frown. If Camille was back, that means that danger was close behind.

The morning was cold and windy. Dahra pulled her thin black jacket closer to her body. She looked over at her mom. Angela was wearing the skirt from her dad. She looked rather beautiful, Dahra thought. Too bad no one will be able to appreciate it but John and her. The crowd that had formed was large. They were all dirty from living on the street and begging for either food or death from the richer people in the crowd. She shivered both from the cold and from the sight of it. She looked over at John who gave her a reassuring glance. She smiled and looked around for any other faces. Toward the front of the crowd she saw Manda, a girl in her grade whose father had also gotten drafted. She had never been close, or in that case even friends with her, but she had always seemed nice. She was holding the hand of a boy who was about five. Manda’s brother she guessed. She turned around and Dahra gave her a ghost of a smile and she smiled back and shouted something Dahra couldn’t hear. The soldiers were starting to come into view and they looked as though they were going to a ball. They had black vests with white tux shirts and a dark green tie, the Provinces colors. Dahra realized she had no idea who she was looking for so she stared at her mother for any tell-tale signs of recognition. Her mothers face was blank, fading into a dark look that had fear and depression written all over it.
Angela kept looking, her faith never wavering. Half an hour passed then another and finally her face lit up. She started to run and her kids ran after her. Adam had aged a lot since the military had taken him away, but he was still the man that she had married. She called out his name, once, twice, three times and looked down to find that Dahra was staring at her. It was all too much. Angela fell to the ground and wept. John fell to the ground next to her and enveloped her. “He didn’t turn for your protection.” John said reassuringly but Angela knew better. He didn’t turn because he lost his feelings for her.
Dahra looked down at her mother and started burning with fury. She looked at the man that Angela had been yelling at. She started walking toward a rock that had been laying on the floor and picked it up. She ran toward her dad and shouted. “Adam.” He never turned. She took the rock and threw it at him with all her might. The rock hit it’s target. Adam crumpled to the ground like a rag doll.

Angus was in the Dictators room, watching him sleep. His anger still lingered from when he had seen the red slap on Julia’s face.He could kill him right here and now Angus realized. What an easy victory. But he had a revenge plan, and the Dictator was the V.I.P. He left the room and walked into Julia’s and laid down a little golden envelope. He looked down at her sleeping and smiled wistfully. He would never have her but he still loved her none the less. If he could have her he would be happy. Maybe even happier than if he was dictator. He kissed her cheek and left the room before she awoke.
Camille came back inside, her cheeks red from the cold. Her dark brown curls were pulled back into a ponytail so you could see the rest of her face. She was beautiful, like her mother had been when she was young. Camille had the American side of the family while Zin had the Asian looks. She was carrying a little golden envelope. She had an excited look on her face. “What is it?” Her mother asked.
Camille took a piece of paper out of the envelope and read it aloud, “The Yang residence is formally invited to a ball at the capitol by the Dictator and his family.” She finished reading and Zin grabbed her hands and twirled her around the room, set her down and did the same with his mom. They were all laughing by the end of it and talking excitedly about the ball. Camille and her mother ran to the room to gossip about the dance. Zin stayed and went outside. He couldn’t go to the Ball if his life depended on it. To him, the Dictator was a ruthless killer, but he was also intelligent and not someone you would want to make an enemy with. Zin calculated what would happen at a public ball, and decided eventually that it would be safe to go.
Julia woke up in the morning and shuffled her way to the bathroom. She brushed her tightly knotted hair and made little grunts of pain every time the brush got stuck. In one fluid movement she put her hair into a bun and changed into ripped jeans and a short sleeve t-shirt. She was about to leave the room when she saw a shining object. She looked at the mahogany bedside table next to her white canopy bed She walked over and saw a golden envelope she pulled out its contents and read them to herself.
You have been formally invited to:
A Grand Ball hosted by the Dictator and his family
Tonight at nine
That’s funny, Julia thought, she hadn’t known there was a ball hosted by her family. And tonight. She pulled out her phone and dialed a number. The phone rang a few times before someone answered. “Hello.” Someone said in a shaky voice.
“Meet me at the garden.” She said and hung up. She pulled on a jacket and wrapped a scarf around her neck and headed out the door.
The walk to the garden was only a few blocks away and she was there quickly. She looked around her twice to make sure no one was near. And of course no one was. If anyone had been they would have the Dictator’s wrath on them. She sat down and looked at the flowers that grew around them. Different shaded roses, stunning violets, vivid tulips, and tall sunflowers. Most people would be in awe of the flower but Julia knew better. She knew that all the flowers were projections from the Lab. A tall boy with straight brown hair came up and gave her a hug. They both sat down started talking. The boy started. “How are you Julia?”
She decided to give him the blunt truth. “Worried, Thomas.”
He put his arm around her shoulder and pulled her in closer., “What worries you?” he asked her gently.
“I think Angus is up to something .” Thomas looked like he had seen a ghost.
“What do you think he’s up to?” He asked, his voice breaking.
“I have no idea, but I would like to ask you something.”
“What's that?”
“Will you go to the ball with me?”

Dahra let out a shout of delight at knocking a grown man to his knees. She couldn't believe the thing she had accomplished, how John would be so proud of her. Two hands grabbed her arms and she felt metal close around her wrists. She kicked back in surprise and felt her foot collide with bone. She heard a shriek of pain and took off, but another set of hands grabbed her and shoved her to the ground. Blood started trickling out of her nose and she felt a searing pain in her back as someone dug their knee into her. She heard a deep voice say in her ear. “You are under arrest for assaulting an officer of the law, this act will be considered treason.”
They pulled her to her feet and she could see some of her fair hair streaked with red. The man who had thrown her on the ground pushed her ahead of him.She stuck her chin up and walked with her head held high. Dahra felt the stares drilling holes into her and heard whispers. She couldn’t quite pick out conversations but she got bits and pieces of them. Most of them were along the lines of “Can you believe she did that, defying the Dictator.” But a few of them were hoots and hollers. Like they were glad someone else had seen something wrong in the Sage family. Confusion burst into her mind. She was never trying to go against the Dictator. No this was all just one big mistake, they had to understand why she did it. But her confusion shattered into a million pieces when she saw her mom and John. They were fighting through the crowd trying to reach her, but they never will, Dahra thought. She would die for what she did. She would be an example of why no one messes with the Dictator. She stepped in the truck and watched them close the doors. Blocking her from ever seeing her family again.
Camille had ordered a car just for the occasion. She was wearing a black gown that flowed out around her and made her pale skin glow. Her mom was wearing a simple white dress. Zin was wearing his fathers wedding tux with a green tie. They got into the car and drove off. All the while Camille was talking about who probably got invited and who was wearing what. It was the social event of the year. They pulled up to an old looking building, probably a church before religion was abolished. There were dozens of people dressed in their best attire. Zin felt out of place and was dieing to go home. They waked up to the velvet rope and waited for a few minutes until they were at the front of the line. There was a big man there checking over to make sure the right people were getting in. Camille stepped up and flashed out the invitation and he made a grunt of allowance. They all walked in and stared in amazement. The lights all sparkled like little stars and golden curtains hung from the windows. In fact everything was gold, Zin realized. Even the envelope had been gold. Zin was instantly drawn into the fantasy world that it lured you into. His worries about the Dictator and any danger vanished from his mind. He looked around and spotted a gorgeous girl with dark hair and rich chocolate eyes. Her yellow dress hugged her body and made it look even more tan than it was, Zin let out an admiring whistle. He walked up to her and noticed she was even more stunning up close. “May I have this dance.” he whispered into her ear. The girls elbow flew back and connected with his stomach. She turned around to see him bent down and she drove her elbow into his back. He collapsed to the ground and only then did she kneel next to him.
“It’s polite to ask a girl when she can see you.” She said and helped him to his feet.
“About the dance?” He asked her wanting the chance to meet the girl.
“That depends.” She said a smile forming across her lips, her teeth shone like diamonds. “Don’t you think we should know each others names before we dance?”
“Alright, fair enough request. The names Zin Yang brother of Camille Yang, general of the army.”
“Nice to meet you Zin, The name is Julia Sage, daughter of the Dictator.” She said the last part with sarcasm in her voice. This confused Zin. Why would anybody not want to be in power? Then he realized he had made a fatal mistake. Julia was untouchable, and the trouble he could get in for approaching her without permission was serious. But her smile was reassuring and made him feel as if that law didn’t matter much to her at the moment, so he grabbed her hand and waist and started to waltz. He was actually quite good at it, probably from when his sister taught him because she believed him not to be a proper gentleman without knowing the basics. If only he could have a girl like Julia. But girls like her didn’t belong to boys like him.
Julia felt safe with Zin. She felt like she could live in this world with him forever, dancing and laughing at his little jokes but every fantasy had to come to an end. So when the band stopped playing the sweet song, they said their farewells and went separate ways. She was looking for Thomas when Angus came up to her. He grabbed her arm hard and she could feel pain in her arm. She screamed but no one could hear her over the music and chatter. “Who was that, that creep?” He asked violently.
“It was just a boy who called himself Zin.” She replied through gritted teeth.
“I hope he doesn’t mean anything to you.” Angus said and let go of her her arm. He turned around and walked up to a tall blonde girl with beautiful green eyes. She frowned. “What was all that about?” She asked herself silently. It seemed like jealousy, but was Angus capable of such an emotion. To be jealous meant to want something, but what did he want. Surely he didn’t want Zin dead. The sudden realization felt like a slap in the face. Angus was in love with her. She looked around the massive crowd to find Thomas, and dragged him into another room. “I figured it out” she said checking to see if anyone else was near them.
“Alright, so tell me.” Thomas said impatiently. It looked like someone was having fun.
“It’s not a ball, it’s an assassination.”
“Why should I care about a stupid assassination.” His voice slurred with alcohol.
“Thomas you have to care.” She pleaded.
“I don’t care Julia Sage so go away.”
“If you are such a terrible person that you couldn't care about someones life than I can’t be with you.” She turned and walked away, and from behind her back she thought she heard Thomas sat, “Good.”
Camille had lost sight of Zin, he had always been curious, but she was worried that he had gotten into trouble. That’s when she saw someone topple over in pain with Julia Sage standing over him. She recognized the tux instantly. Zin had tried to get a dance with Julia Sage. Camille almost toppled over laughing until she saw something behind the balcony curtain that wasn’t supposed to be there. A gun. She lifted up her skirts and started running. That gun had more than someone leaving it there. This was planned. She had no idea what the plan was, but she wouldn’t stand by while she knew about a possible murder. She looked around for anyone who could help her but saw no one nearby except for Angus. Thank god, she thought to herself silently. Angus may be scarred but he wasn't an idiot. She rushed over to him and whispered, “Angus.”
They had met once so she was unsure if he would remember her. But most people didn’t forget Camille. Either if its for her skill or her looks she had a way of lingering in peoples minds. He turned around and gave her his shark like smile. “And what do I owe the pleasure, Camille.” He said. She recognized an odd thing about him. He was happy. Angus was never happy.
“There’s a gun on the balcony. I think it’s an assassination plot.”
Angus’s face turned very pale and the happiness was replaced with a grim expression. He took her arm and pulled her outside for privacy, or so she thought. When they were outside he twisted her arm at an impossible angle. She screamed in pain but he had already covered her mouth. He walked her to a car and shoved her in. Right before locking her in he laughed and said, “Be glad I’m not killing you. You could still be useful. Besides I have some questions to ask you.” He tapped the driver window and Jeremy drove the car away. Camille looked down at herself. She was completely fine besides her arm. And he had done nothing to keep her contained but locked her in a moving car.
Angus definitely wasn’t an idiot. He had planned his own father's death. She looked at Jeremy. Angus must have paid him tons to get him to help. He noticed her looking and said, “Don’t even think about trying to escape, I will shoot without hesitation.” So Camille sat in the darkness as she was driven away from the assassination.
As soon as the car pulled away, Angus rushed back inside. The kill shot would have to be soon or someone else would notice. He walked inside and instantly located the Dictator. It wasn’t hard to find the only man wearing a gold tux. He was talking to a woman with silver hair when a boy walked up. Angus identified him instantly as the boy who had dance with Julia. He ran to the balcony. This was to perfect. He could take down his dad and Zin’s mom in two shots and lay the blame on the closest person, Zin. He took his aim and fired two shots. The crowd fell deathly silent as they watched the Dictator and a woman fall to the ground, dead. He ran down and faked the agony in his voice. He pointed at Zin and cried, “Arrest that man, he killed my father.”
Zin was taken away, too shocked to do anything. Angus smiled in pleasure until he noticed Julia staring at him accusingly.

The truck was so dark. It also smelled like death. She had lost track of time a while ago and no longer knew where she was. She knew where she was going though . Prison Camp. To be more specific a Concentration camp where they worked you so hard that your rebellious thoughts had no time to form. She thought of her family, the pain she had seen on their faces before the darkness had enveloped her. The truck stopped abruptly and her head smacked hard against the metal wall. She rubbed her head and sat still. Dahra wondered what her mom thought of her. Did she think she was brave and kind, or stupid and naive. She took a deep breath to clear her mind and noticed the air getting thin. Fear struck her like a dagger and she pounded on the door. SHe could die from suffocation. She pounded for what seemed like hours until she turned dizzy and passed out on the ground..
She was falling in a deep hole. She tried to grab on to the walls but they were slick with blood. The ground beneath her was invisible and she felt a sense of fear wash over her. Suddenly the walls became bright, and on them were limbs of humans,all cut up and gory. They start to grab for her, to make her part of the wall. She screamed but no sound came out of her mouth. The walls changed and suddenly they were all on fire, the flames trying to lick her. A hot sensation grew on her left arm and she looked at it to find it burned. The scene changes again and all she can see is the ground. Coming closer, and closer, and closer until her face is right above it. But she won’t fall any further. One of the cut of hands is holding her by the neck of her shirt. The hand pulls her into the wall until all she can see is the darkness.
Zin was sitting in the truck dealing with the loss of his family. He had been accused of shooting his mother and the Dictator. He was also sure Camille had gotten away by now. Zin’s head bobbed up and down when they hit a bump, and he was reminded of when his mom had rocked him to sleep when he was a child. He fell into sleeps arms soon afterward.
He was standing in the middle of a large room. He was dancing with someone, though he couldn’t tell who. He was surrounded by a mass of other people, and dancing and at the very outskirts of the group was his mom dancing with his father. The song was sweet and beautiful, but when he looked up at the band their flesh melted off their bones, leaving nothing but skeleton and smile.
The song quickly turned vicious and gothic, and the crowd pushed in toward the center and the girl he had been dancing with disappeared. He looked up at the balcony and saw a gun pointed at his mom.He tried to shout her name, warn her. But she was focused on his dad. He ran against the crowd but he kept getting pushed back. He yelled at her again and she turned to smile at him and redirected her attention back to her dance partner who had suddenly changed to the Dictator. There was a huge erupting noise and a red spot formed on his mother's chest. The crowd vanished and he ran to his mom but the red spot had grown to the front half of her dress. The same noise was heard again and a similar thing happened to the Dictator.
The crowd reappeared and started to dance around the dead bodies. He watched in amazement at how oblivious they were. He yelled out not expecting anyone to hear him, but everyone turned dead silent except for the skeleton band. They rushed at him calling him a traitor and a murderer until he could see nothing but the mass of bodies. He saw a flash of a sharp object and was stabbed in the chest. Once the crowd thought he was dead they all went back to dancing except for the girl he had danced with earlier who just stared at him...
Zin woke up in a cold sweat and looked around. He was still in the truck with the bare walls and the stained ground. He wondered who else had been in the truck before he had and what they had done to stain the ground. He wondered how long he had been sleeping and where he was now when he heard the door click open. The sunlight burned his eyes and he had to blink quite a few times before he could see in it. Outside the door stood two heavily armed men. He was grabbed roughly by the arm and pulled outside. He looked around. Zin was standing in the middle of what looked like the Capitol. There was a small metal door in the middle of the street and one of the men opened it. Inside was a long staircase that led to nothing but darkness. The bigger of the two men pulled out a flashlight and started walking down the stairs. Zin was hesitant to go down but the other man behind him prodded him with his gun and he reluctantly went. The first thing Zin noticed was the advanced cells. They were glass so you could see the half starved prisoners that they held captive. The next thing he noticed was a large room where hundreds of people were shoveling loads of garbage into a burning inferno. There were other rooms like this one though. Braking open rocks with pick axes. Digging deep trenches for sewage. It was the Province’s labor camp. Zin wondered what terrible job he would have. He was shoved into a large prison like the rest and sat down on his cot. He wondered about Camille and came to the sad realization that she was more than likely dead.
Julia was disgusted with the cruel smile on Angus's face when he had shot his father. She had no doubt in her mind that it was him. The way he had instantly accused Zin, the smile when he saw him being taken away. She had realized that it was jealousy that she had seen on his face. Angus wanted Julia. She shuddered. He was dark and twisted and would do anything he could until she was his. She pulled out the knife from her belt and walked close to the door. She knocked very gently three times and walked in when there was no answer. What she saw frightened her. Tied up and laying on the ground was Camille. Julia rushed over and started to cut open the knots but heard footstep. She looked at Camille who nodded at her. Julia dove under the bed just as the door opened. She looked out from her hiding place and saw Angus walk into the room and give a vicious smile to Camille. He turned around and walked over to his shelf. From it he pulled a long coiled whip. Angus unwrapped it and turned to Camille. “What have you told the Colonies?” He asked her with a calm composure. When she didn't answer he smiled at her and said, “I don't want to scar that pretty little face of yours.” She shook her head and he cracked the whip against her bare arm.
She was still wearing the dress from the ball, which meant that she had been enduring this for a long time. Julia felt nothing but respect for the girl who lay on the ground in front of her. She heard another crack and a screech of pain but otherwise Camille stayed silent. Angus gave a confused look and went back to the shelf and pulled out a long knife. He walked back over and put the flat side of it on her face. “How would you like to hear a story?” He asked her. She said nothing so he started it.
“Before the Dictator was the Dictator, he was a normal man like any other. He was also in love with a beautiful woman. The woman was kind and gentle and eventually returned the feelings that he had for her. The woman's name was Amelia. Amelia was the pearl that everyone wanted but she had picked the soft and caring Dictator.” Angus said the last part with sarcasm. Julia was shocked. She had never heard him talk about his mother before.
“They eventually fell in love and got married. But her father didn't approve. So they left the Colonies. They bought a house in the slums but that didn't matter they would tell each other. As long as they had one another they would be happy.” Angus took a deep breath and continued on.

“The Dictator eventually realized that Amelia was unhappy, and that she wanted a better home. So he ran in the famous last run for president of the Province's. When he lost he was fearful that Amelia would leave him, too blind to realize that she loved him and that she would never leave him. So he assassinated all of the other runners and came into power illegally. Amelia started to become afraid of him. She stayed with him in fear that if she left, she would be killed. Eventually the love re-sparked though, and she soon became pregnant with a child. He loved her even more after this and cared for her with his whole being. She thought what he was showing her was love but it was only hope of having a good heir. The child was born and they named him Angus. Soon the Dictator fell in love with him. And with this his love for Amelia disappeared. He left her for a younger prettier girl. Amelia was devastated and in a blind rage, she cut her sons face open on the left side.” Angus stopped telling the story to push down a sob.

“The Dictator came home and found his son laying in his blood and his used wife gone. Angus reminded the Dictator too much of Amelia and reminded him of weakness. So he kept the child around to abuse him. The child broke and turned into this.” he said smiling. Julia felt what was coming next and she fought the urge to go out and help Camille. She stayed under the bed watching in horror.

Angus started to talk again but his cool composure was gone. Now he looked angry and scared. “ No one has ever felt my pain. The pain of always being called weak. The fear that no one loves you, not even your own mother. So I figure its time someone else felt my pain.” And he turned the knife sideways and started to cut the left side of her face. He did it slowly, savoring her every scream. Julia put her hand over her mouth and tried to hide the scream that was forming in the back of her throat. When Angus was done he said, “ It's too bad you didn't come out to help her Julia. She might not look the way she does now.” Camille let out a whimper of pain and Angus left the room with a satisfied smile

Dahra woke up in a dark room all alone. She looked around and saw nothing. She wasn't in the truck anymore. She could tell because the vibrations from when the car hit a bump were gone. “Hello.” She said and heard the pathetic tone of her voice in the echoes. “Hello.” She repeats and it comes back as firm and strong. She waits but hears no response. She crawls in blindness until her hand reaches a wall. She stands up and walks the length of the side of the room. It’s very large considering the size of her old house. The wall was bare except for a small switch. She flipped it up and the lights flashed on. The other walls were bare but the one made of glass that gave her visibility of the prisoner in the room across from her. He must be new here like her. He was a normal looking 14 year old. He had asian features and long straight black hair with green eyes that glowed in the dim light. “Hello” she tried one more time. The boy looked up at her misery giving his features a dark look. Having his attention she said, “My name is Dahra and I was wondering if you could tell me where I am.”
“Zin, I’m Zin and you are underneath the lovely Capital.” Dahra looked at him in amazement. She hadn’t expected to be beneath Earth. She had always thought of the Labor Camps as being in a desert, impossible to escape from. The thought of dying without ever seeing sunlight again scared her more than never seeing her family again.
“How long have you been here, Zin.”
“It’s impossible to tell there are no clocks to mark the hours and no sunlight to mark the days and nights. I’ve gotten no food yet though, so I would guess about a day.”
Dahra looked at him. He looked brave and strong and smart but her mother used to always tell her, “Never trust first impressions, people are never who you think they are with them. They will always try to be the positive side of themselves but never who they are in their hearts”. Zin didn’t look like he was trying very hard, and why should he be there was no one to impress but her. And it wasn’t like she was the most beautiful girl in the world.
Zin was looking at her too, like she was a new disease under a microscope. “How old are you?” He asked her politely.
“Fourteen, you?” She asked, wondering if her first impressions were correct.
“ Fifteen.” He said nonchalantly.
“I don’t want to die here Zin.” She whispered.
“Neither do I.”

Camille touched her face where she had been cut. Her hand came off bloody. She cried but tried to stop when the salt touched her cut. A hand touched her shoulder and she swung her hand back but missed her target. The hand pulled her up to her feet. She stumbled through the hall with the help of the hand. She looked over her shoulder and saw Julia walking with her. She was brought into an open room with a window that pointed to a forest one of the few that remained. There was a large canopy bed and plenty of mahogany furniture. She collapsed on it and fell asleep...
Camille woke up fully bathed and wearing new a black outfit. She wasn’t too worried about how it happened but rather who did it. She was no longer in Angus’s room which was a good sign. She turned around and saw a dark skinned girl. Julia. The girl smiled at her and asked, “How are you.”
“In pain.”
Julia smiled sadly at her. “I’m afraid that the scar is permanent but you still are lovely.” Camille stood up and looked at her reflection in the mirror. She ran her hand along the pale scar that had been carved in the side of her face. Her hand started to tremble and Julia grabbed it and steadied it.
“I never told him a thing. But I trust you not to tell anyone my secret. Can I trust you.” Julia nodded and Camille continued. “When I was first enlisted into the army I was thrilled. A woman called Jenny Parkers recruited me but went missing after the first time I’d met her. A man that went by the name of Christopher Hagan replaced her the next day.“
“Christopher was a charming man whom I fell in love with instantly. He was the one who noticed my potential. We trained every day but he could never beat me in a fight. I could kill a man blindfolded. Eventually I was brought higher into the army. Angus was up there too. I never enjoyed fighting. I always wanted to spy. It sounds so childish but eventually I decided to make a move. I went in on a session of the leaders. The Dictator, Angus, the Dictator’s old wife, and the former General of the Army.”
“The things they talked of were horrific. They planned of mass murder on the colonies. Of unleashing a weapon so destructive they would never be able to rebuild. I fled the army that night to warn the Colonies. When I returned the General was dead and I was filled in his spot. Angus met me that night and fooled himself into thinking he was in love with me. He killed Christopher and acted wonderful toward me. I had no idea that it was he who had killed my Christopher. Angus thought he loved me and told me the Province’s plots. In turn I told the Colonies. Now he must know what I told them.”
Julia gave her a look. Camille knew she would never know her knowledge but she saw Julia shiver. If stone hard Julia shivered at her story than she would shiver at what Camille would say next. “Angus declared himself the new Dictator.”
The girl he was dancing with was gorgeous. Every time he told a joke and she laughed it sounded like music. He looked at her and she smiled, her teeth as white as pearls. She was beautiful and Zin couldn’t take his eyes off her. He heard distant shouts but they didn’t matter to him, he was with this girl who took away all his worries. She looked into his soul with her chocolate brown eyes and said, “I love you.”
Zin took her and kissed her but he still heard the shouts. They were coming closer but he still couldn’t understand anything. The girl took him by the hand and pulled him away from the screams and gave whoever was making them a horrifying look. He turned away from the girl with all his willpower and saw his mom with a bullet wound in her chest screaming for help on the ground. He looked at her and saw his father take her hand and run away with her while her body remained on the ground. Zin went back to the girl like nothing had happened. “Zin” she said, her voice sounding like Dahra’s. “Zin, wake up.”
Zin sat straight up and looked around. He saw no one there and fell back asleep.
He was sitting by his father’s bed and holding Camilles hand. His mother was standing beside the two of them and stroking his hair softly. His dad let out a weak cough. But that would not have been his ailment. Little blisters were all over his body that kept breaking open and bleeding. his skin was a purple color like a bruise and he was struggling to take breaths. “Dad won’t you come play catch with me.” The boy asked.
His father too weak to say anything shook his head and the boy looked at him sadly. His dad pulled him and Camille in and whispered, “Sometimes in life, when everything is going wrong you can look at yourself and ask who really loves me, and sometimes the answer may be hard but you can always look upon one another and find love.” He then pulled his wife in and said, “I love you oh so much and I am so sorry that I couldn’t be with you longer.” He then took his last breath and died. His mom never looked older.
He woke up breathing heavily. The last time he had had a dream about the day his dad died, he was a young boy. He remembered the look on her mothers face that night. Like everything that she loved was gone in the world. He missed his dad just as much as she did, but he wasn’t allowed to show it. If he had gotten the medicine from the man that lived in the Colonies, his dad would still be alive. But he had been eleven at the time and Camille had been fourteen. He couldn’t live in the past though, it would only make him miss his dad more.
He looked into Dahra’s cell. It was identical to his. then he looked at her. She had short blonde hair and a very angular face. She was tall for her age and looks older than she said she was. He wondered what she had got sent here for when all the lights to the underground prison flicked on Dahra bolted to her feet and pulled her hair back into a ponytail. She looked at Zin and mouthed, “What’s going on.” Zin just shrugged at her, not really knowing either.
“WILL ANY NEW INMATES PLEASE REPORT TO THE CAFETERIA IN 5 MINUTES” a voice said over the intercom. The glass doors to their rooms slid open and they stepped out of their cells and walked to the cafeteria with the help of the guards. The cafeteria was large and white. There were hundreds of tables that spanned the area and at the very front of the room was a raised platform with a African man standing on it. “Welcome to our facilities.” He said his voice rich and smooth. “We run on a one strike basis. If you break a single rule, we will push you to your knees and drive a bullet through your forehead.” Zin looked over at Dahra and saw fear displayed on her face. The man continued on, “What we do down here is the work that no one else in the Provinces wants. Your jobs will be to dig the trenches for the graves. I am the head of staff here and whatever you do will be brought to me.” The guards grabbed them by the arms and brought them out of the room. For the first time Zin was worried he might die here.

John looked over at his mother wondering how she was keeping it together. He sure wasn’t. First off he had seen his father that he thought was dead, believed was dead. Then his little sister had hit him with a rock and had been taken away. It was just him and his mom now. All alone in the world. She was still wearing the skirt. She hadn’t changed since the march through town. But she still cooked and cleaned and looked after him. He thought of his sister and what she was doing now when a girl knocked the door. He opened it to reveal Manda, Dahra’s friend. She walked into the house with an essence of emergency and shouted out, “Angela!”
John looked at her in confusion, “What’s going on?” he asked her but she held a finger up to him gesturing one minute. His mom walked into the room in a rush and gave John questioning look. Like he knew himself.
“You have to get out of here and run.” Manda said. “You aren’t safe they're looking for you everywhere. They’re going to kill you for raising a rebellious kid who assaulted a soldier.” He and his mom stood still, processing it, so Manda pushed John and shouted, “GO!” Manda ran out of the house and walked across the street at a hurried pace.
John took his mom by the hand and started running towards the back door. He got outside and looked around to see if there were any soldiers. When he didn’t see any, he started to run toward town square. There were hundreds of people there and it would be easy to get lost in the crowd. He and his mom rushed to get to the center and turned left. There was only one place they would be safe now. The Colonies.

Dahra was on her first day of duty. The earth beneath her made her feel like she was on the surface again. The artificial light laughed at her though. She looked around for her mother to comfort her and noticing she may never see her again was a slap to the face. A heavyset man stood at the door, shooting anyone who went crazy and tried to run out of the door. A strong woman who looked like she had been here for a while came up to her and spit at her feet. She lifted her shovel and swung it at Dahra with all her might. Dahra jumped out of the way but fell to the ground in her clumsy grace. She looked up at the heavyset man who was watching the scene with amusement. The girl smiled at her and laughed and she swung the shovel again. The blow sent a bone rattling vibration through her body and she felt her whole body go loose. Dahra swung her foot out like she would have done with John and the girl fell to the ground. The girl looked at her shocked and laughed again. “My name is Bettie, and no one messes with Bettie.” The girl was in mid swing when a arm grabbed her and pulled her back. Dahra looked up and saw Zin standing over her offering her a hand. Bettie was lying on the ground behind him with a big bruise on her face. Dahra took his hand and was pulled to her feet easily. Zin walked away and Dahra was left to continue her work. The repetitive motion was somewhat relaxing, the simple routine in digging a shovel into the dirt and pulling it out .
Then the dead bodies were brought out.
They all looked like they had died the worst kinds of death. Starvation, abuse, rape, murder, and disease. They had all been at least a week old and smelt like they were all rotting away. She picked up one of the children. It was so pale but it was also dark purple like the child had been severely beaten and his whole body was bruised. She tossed it into the pit like it was a sack of potatoes. She fought back tears as she threw in body after body and wondered when all this madness would end.
Zin had saved Dahra’s life. He didn’t know why he had done it but it had felt right. Maybe something about her reminded him of Camille. It could be her beautiful look, or maybe her defiant attitude towards everything. The guard at the door blew the whistle and the group started to walked toward him. He shrugged at Dahra and they followed the rest of the group. They walked down the dark halls and into the cafeteria where they had met the head of staff. The men and women were all lined up in front of a machine that spit food out at you. Dahra was in front of him and he tapped her shoulder gently. She turned around, still shaken up from Bettie and the dead bodies. She let out a sigh of relief and whispered, “Thank god it’s you. Thanks for what you did earlier.”
Zin nodded as an acknowledgement of the thanks and said, “How bad do you want to get out of here?” Dahra’s face turned hopeful and peaceful as she thought of running free in the Colonies with John and her mom. Then reality kicked in and she realized the impossibility of escape and looked up at him.
“How do you intend to do that?”
Zin thought about this for a few minutes and smiled at her and said, “I haven’t the slightest idea, but one day I will find out how and on that day I want someone to be with me to celebrate my success so I’m asking you. Do you want to escape?”
“I’d love to escape.” she said and then to herself, “I need to escape.”
Zin put his hand out and said, “So we have an agreement.”
“We have an agreement.” and shook his hand.
The line to the food machine was long so they talked. They talked about life before the prison. Dahra had grown up without a father like Zin and she had turned out amazing. She had a brother who was kind and smart, but immensely cocky. She had grown up poor with very little to eat and little to wear, but her mom had always taken care of her and made sure she felt safe in their house. She had a few friends but mainly kept to herself and she always imagined the day when her family crumbled apart. Zin felt bad for her and instantly took pity towards her, but he knew that pity was not what she wanted. He could tell by the fierce expression in her eyes that were trying to hide all emotion she could without bursting open like a broken dam. She was falling apart slowly but surely and she needed someone who could help her. But no one could ever be that person because of the tall wall she was slowly building around herself.
“So what about your family?” She asked after the long pause.
Zin felt his face display sorrow and tried his best to wipe it all away. “They’re all dead.”
A guilty look spread across her face. “Oh.” Zin was glad she didn’t say she’s sorry. Because how could you be sorry for something you didn’t do. Instead she changed the subject as quickly as possible. “Do you have any ideas on how to escape.”
“Not yet but we’ll have to get out soon.” They had both seen what had happened to the people who had been there too long and they didn’t want to end up like that.
John and his mom were hiding out in an abandoned building for the rest of the night. John felt sure that they had reached their house already and were hot on their tail, but his mother couldn't have walked another step. He knew they needed to get going but he couldn't bring himself to wake her up. Manda had been brave to warn them, to put herself in danger to save their lives, and he had to make sure that she didn't do what she did in vain. A bright light passed through the blinds and John ducked as fast as he could. He stood back up and shook Angela awake. She sat up straight and he pulled her to the ground. She was about to ask him what was wrong, so he held up a finger and motioned to the window. The bright light passed around again and he bolted up the stairs. His mom followed slower than he had hoped but at least she was moving. When he reached the top of the stairs there was a loud banging on the door. Angela started to move faster and made it up to the top a few moments before the door broke in. They went into the narrow three person bedroom and threw open the window. John climbed onto the sill and jumped onto the balcony of the next door apartment building and his hand wrapped around the rail. He pulled himself up onto it and shouted for his mom to jump over. She shook her head and turned toward the soldier who was running up the stairs.

Angela knew she couldn't make the jump and it saddened her to have to leave John alone in the world, but maybe he would cross the border safely without her. She saw the light bouncing as the soldier who controls it walked up the stairs cautiously. She looked at him when he finally came up the stairs. She almost smiled in relief and whispered, “ Adam.” The soldier threw his arms around her.

“I thought I'd never see you again, and when I did at the march I couldn't remember anything about my life before the army.” Angela was smiling and when he touched her cheek it was wet with tears.

“I thought you were dead, Dahra and John thought you were dead.” she was bawling now her head resting on his shoulder.

“How are they, the kids?” he asked.

“John is fine, he looks just like you and he's caring and cocky, but Dahra, she's grown up a lot. She has your eyes you know. But she threw the rock at you and was taken away. For all I know she's dead.” he let go of her and pointed to the balcony.
“We're going to jump over there and join John, OK.” She nodded and climbed on the sill and jumped. She landed right next to John and Adam next to her a few moments later.
The second week of the work was uneventful. They had all the materials they needed to make their escape but they needed the right time. The plan was quite simple really. First they would break the cameras in their room so that the head of staff wouldn't see them. Than they would break the control panel that kept the door shut. Dahra would take out the guards quickly and quietly. They would then run up to the stairs and wait until the traffic died down. Finally they would go and find an abandoned building and escape into the Colonies and Zin would find Camille.
He heard a loud metallic shudder that occurred only when the street door opened He looked across the hall into Dahra’s cell and she had the same questioning look on her face. A tall built man came walking down the steps examining the people in the cells like they were zoo animals. He was pale and had a scar running along his face. Zin recognized him as Dictator Sage’s son Angus, the one who had accused him of the murders. He instantly hated the man who looked like his dad’s death meant nothing to him. He stopped suddenly in front of Zin’s cell and said to the head of staff who was walking with him, “That’s the one.” The head opened the door and Angus walked in. “Hello Zin, long time no see.”
Zin looked at him and pretended not to know who he was. “Angus correct.”
Angus laughed at him, “It’s Dictator Sage II now.”
“And what do I owe your presence, sir.” Zin replied with a large amount of sarcasm.
“Now that I’m in charge I thought you should know what really happened that night.”
Angus watch hope light up Zin’s face, “You know that I didn’t kill your dad and my mom now right.”
“Of course we know that, why else would I be here?”
“So you're going to let me out of here?” he was so happy and joyful. Angus would have fun crushing him.
“No Zin. You see if the word of who the real killer is gets out, I could get in big trouble.”
“But why would you get in trouble for letting me out of jail and putting the killer in?”
Angus smiled cruelly, “Because I killed them. And now that I have put your mind at ease I am very busy running the Provinces.”
Zin watched him leave the cell and waited until he heard the heavy door close before he cried.
Angus had taken over his dad’s old office. It felt so right to be in charge. His father’s office’s walls were painted a dark green and every piece of furniture was dark wood, elegant, and very expensive. He looked out the window and saw the glowing beautiful city that his father had started and thought of all the ways he could make it better and more respectful and loyal to him than they had been to his father. Dictator Sage I had never been a good leader. He was too weak, but Angus would be tough. If someone defied him he would have his soldiers hang him publically. Have them be showed as an example. He smiled. He would not make the same mistakes that his dad did. His dad made them think he was kind and understanding. But Angus would be neither of those. He would make them realize that he was all business and justice. Someone knocked on the door and burst in before he could let them in. It was Julia. She was beautiful, and now that he was Dictator, she was also his. She looked furious. “How could you do that to Camille?” She asked.
“ What do you mean?” Angus replied smoothly.
“You cut her face wide open.” Julia said impatiently, “What you did was torture an innocent girl for not giving in to you.”
“Come now Julia, she was a traitor to the Provinces and she needed to be punished. With no one in charge I had to step up.”
“No one asked for you to step up and find out what she did.” Julia said furious.
“Come one Julia, do you really think that I should have let her get away with what she did.” Angus replied talking like he had thought of every possibility.
“I don’t think you should have gotten away with killing dad.” She said trying to hide all her emotion.
“He was never my dad. You may leave now.”
“This conversation isn’t over.” Angus looked at her and just stared like he couldn’t believe what she just said.
“I’m In charge now Jules, and what I say is the law.” He said like it wasn’t anything new in the house.
“The Provinces will never accept you as their leader.”
“Are you challenging my authority.” He said starting to lose the composure he had worked so hard on keeping.
“Of course I am!” She shouted.
“Well I guess this conversation isn’t over.” Angus slammed the door and locked it.
Camille started to wonder where Julia was. She wanted to say goodbye and thanks before she left but it didn’t look like she’d have the chance. She turned toward the window that led to the forest. She could live alone in there. She had always been an independent person but she didn’t know if she could live in the woods alone. She walked over to Julia’s desk and took out a piece of paper and pen. She scribbled down a quick note and went back to the window. Her room was on the second floor, so it wasn’t that much of a drop. She jumped out of it and landed softly on the ground. She walked into the forest and never looked back.
The stench of dead bodies was overwhelming. Dahra pulled her t-shirt up over her nose and continued to work. She had been doing this for weeks now and her back and arms were hardened with muscle. She lifted the dirt and rock again and threw it behind her. She looked over at Zin. They had their plan set on how they would escape. It was perfect, but they had to wait until the timing was right. He said it would have been last week, but a little girl had been brought down and they had wanted to get her out of here then. But she died soon after she arrived from exhaustion. The plan was now in a week. But Dahra wasn’t sure if she could do it, even if it meant seeing her family again. The hole she had been digging was big enough now so she dragged the body by her feet and noticed that the person resembled Zin slightly. She had his nose and mouth and size. “Yang, get over here.”
Zin came over at a light jog and stopped instantly when he saw the body. He sat down then and wept. He took the brown locks in his hand and pulled on them gently. “She was my sister.” He said, his voice breaking halfway through.
The girl was stunning. The only flaws on her were the scar on her face, the slit open throat, and the half ripped out hair. Zin tried to stand up but fell back to the ground. “The tag says they found her body in the woods, do you know who did this.”
Zin’s face turned cold, “Oh I know, I definitely know.”
Julia had been the one to find Camille’s body. It had happened deliberately. No one would accidently kill a girl. When she had found her body, Camille had been covered in blood and half her hair had been ripped out of her head. She walked slowly back to the house after they collected the body. She looked on her desk and just as she had thought, there was a letter there. She opened it up and read it slowly.
Dear Julia,

I would like to thank you for all that you have done for me. I promise you this though. When I return, Angus will take his last breath. I will free you from his evil just as you freed me. Remember me and my promise to you as it will come true unless I die. I will miss you friend, but I must tell you one thing before I go. Angus told me in his torturing that when he got the information, he would kill me. Angus told me he had killed his dad and my mom and framed Zin. Angus is not to be trusted, but feared. Be safe and stay far away from him.

Yours, Camille Yang.

Julia read over the letter again. She couldn’t tell anyone how much she wished that Camille had killed Angus. To be honest Angus scared her. But Angus scared everyone. She had to get Zin out of that jail. She went up to the window and saw the tall glass apartments that were stacked directly next to each other. The worlds population had jumped to 50 billion this year, even though her dad had tried to wipe half the people out with the disease. She wondered what type of home the two of them came from. They were both well mannered and kind. But they always wore a sad look in their eyes. She wondered what had happened in their life to make them so sad.
She turned around and changed into her fighting gear. Tonight was the night that she challenged Angus to the right to Dictator. She was worried beyond belief. She walked over to the shelf in her room that held her weapons. From it she pulled out two long silver knives that flashed when the sunlight bounced off of them and stuck them into the whip she used as a belt. She then grabbed a set of poisoned darts and stuck them in her boot just in case things went wrong. She walked to the training room where the fight would occur and pulled her hair up into a tight bun so Angus would not be able to pull her hair. She saw him walking a few paces in front of her and she ran close behind him and dove behind a tree. He was talking to a short man with no hair. the man was carrying a small gun in his hand, a tranquilizer. Angus said a few more words to him and the man left. Julia stood behind the tree for a few more minutes and took it in.Angus was scared he would lose and planned backup. She took one of the darts out of her boot and threw it at the man. He fell to the ground and Julia pushed him into the rosebush. She quickly left him behind and continued on her way to the arena. Angus had quite a few tricks up his sleeve and Julia was worried if he had called any other reinforcements, but at least Angus wasn’t going to kill her.
Zin had come back still crying, his eyes a puffy and red. When he had said it was his sister, Dahra imagined John laying there and realized that she had to get out tonight. She looked around her room. Its security high-tech and that was saying something for the advanced world she lived in. There was an old toilet in the corner along with a small bed with a wood frame in the other corner. She looked at the security camera and smiled. She walked to the bed and pulled out the nail that she had discovered lose a few days ago. She took it and went to the cameras blind spot and thrust it up. The camera broke and the glass that was supposed to protect it shattered to the ground. She picked up one of the pieces and cut her hair short after it having grown so long. She then grabbed a rubber band and braided her hair in her old fashion. She looked over at Zin's cell and saw that he had caught on and had grabbed a piece of his shovel that had broken off a week ago and was already beneath the camera.

She walked over to the springy mattress and slit it open with the nail. She reached inside and found what she was looking for. As they had been digging, they looked for things that might be of use that had been buried long ago. She then held a kitchen knife in one hand and a pocket knife in the other. She ran to the door pane, completely shocked that the guard hadn't noticed what she was doing. She took a deep breath and pushed the kitchen knife through the panel where Zin had told her to. The glass slid open and the guard swore and ran into the room, but Dahra was prepared. The knife was through his heart before he saw it coming. She grabbed the gun off his dead body and ran out of the room. She typed in the password she had seen Zin's guard do a million times and he was out of his cell, already holding a pistol. The alarm started to wail and scream at them. That's when things started to get hard.

A group of guards ran down the hall and started to shoot. Zin pushed her across the hall into her cell and rolled into his. He gestured to her and they waited for the guards to pass by. Dahra ran to the bed and reached in. She pulled out clear fishing string and unwound it. She then tossed it to Zin who carried it to one of the poles that held the place up. He tied it around that one and Dahra followed his lead. The guards ran past and toppled to the ground like dominoes. There was something comedic about it. Watching them fall, hearing their shouts of surprise. Zin came out from the cell and shot at the men. Blood spurt out of their chest like water used to out of the dried up Old Faithful. Dahra tried to stand up but felt a sharp pain in her leg. She looked down at her leg and saw a chunk of her leg missing from where a bullet had hit her when Zin shoved her. She touched it gently and her hand came back wet and warm. She was losing blood, and way too fast, but if she wouldn't get out alive Zin would, She dragged herself out into the hall to help him fight the oncoming rush of guards. She shot her gun and felt it kick in her hand, but the pain was welcoming. One of the guards fell to the ground clutching his leg. She shot three more times and another guard fell to the ground. She heard noise behind her and saw two men carrying needles Dahra shot one of them and watched the red grow on the too perfect white uniforms. It was mesmerizing beautiful. The other man plunged the needle into her . She screamed and dove into a state of oblivion.

Zin stood fighting alone now that Dahra lay on the ground hallucinating and screaming. They were getting closer to him and Zin and he knew if he lost he would die. He heard someone behind him and felt the needle go straight into his arm.

All he can see is darkness. He turns around and sees a small light in the darkness. A tiny hope. But the light becomes extinguished. He is lost in a world with no hope. Another light pops up and he starts to walk closer. But the light stays the same distance away from him. A false hope. And the light stays lit. The next light he sees is brighter than the rest of them. He walks towards it and it grows hotter and hotter the closer he gets. He steps into the light and smells burning meat. It makes his mouth water. He looks down at his hands and arms and they are bubbling and boiling like a liquid. His body if on fire and he is dying slowly. It's a hope so strong that it's going to kill him and destroy his every last fiber. He looks around but all other hopes are gone, disappeared in the light of the strongest hope. He screams and screams but the hope is too strong to let him go, it stays with him as he tries to run. The scene changes quickly and Zin is swimming in freezing cold water but something is weighing him down. He looks around and sees his whole family just below the surface. They can't break through the top to reach him. They're all drowning and he can't save them. He grabs for Camille but her dress evaporates around his fingers and when his hand retreats in surprise, the dress regrows. He frantically grabs for her but his hands go through her face, blurring it so much that she doesn't look remotely human. He swims away from her and she sinks further down, but he realizes that he can't save her and he goes to his mother. She's further down than Camille was. He tries to grab her but can't reach. Her screams are lost in the water and he worries that she's running out of breath. She reaches her arm up and screams again, but this time he can hear it clearly. He grabs for her had and it dissolves like Camille’s. He leaves her to fall deeper into the water and watched her disappear. He feels lighter, with less of a burden on him. He turns and sees his dad who is just below the water. He tries to pull him up but his dad swims away. He had the Asian features that he inherited. He had let his dad die before and he wouldn't' let it happen again. He reached for him and his dad shook his head. His dad sunk below the surface and Zin felt lighter than he had ever before.
Angus stood in the training room waiting. He wondered where his backup was. He didn't doubt that he could kill Julia. It's just that he didn't want to. Julia walked in and pulled out a long sword. Julia liked fighting old style, but most people had to. Almost all of the guns had been destroyed in efforts of peace. It hadn't worked out well. He drew out his sword and spun it around twice. He walked up to her and whispered in her ear, “Are you sure you want to go through with this.” Instead of answering she swung her sword quick as a whip. Angus blocked it easily, but was caught off guard and fell back a little. Julia took the time to ready herself for his attack. She wanted to play defense. All the better for him. He swung the sword to the right quickly and turned direction halfway through and cut her arm. She dropped her sword and quickly grabbed a knife from her belt. She threw it at him and it caught him in the shoulder. He pulled it out and let it fall to the ground. Julia threw two more and both missed as he walked closer to her an awful look on his face. She unwrapped the whip from around her waist and wrapped it tightly around his legs. He knew she could send him to the ground from this position. She flicked her wrist and Angus fell to the ground with a loud thud and she picked up the sword and put it against his throat.
“And you thought you could beat me by cheating.” She had a disappointed look on her face.
“So you caught my back up, well done Jules.” He smiled at her cruelly, “But you still haven't beat me yet.” He pushed his feet under hers and she moved the sword out of the way so Angus wouldn't die as she fell. Angus rolled over pinning her arms and legs to the ground. He whispered, “You never could kill anyone you loved.”
“Alright Angus, you win, now get off of me.” She said a scowl forming on her face.
He stood and wiped himself off. “It's Dictator Sage II now.” He walked away from Julia laughing.
He had won and now no one stood in his way of taking over the Colonies and the Provinces and uniting them into one super army that would kill anyone who tried to stand in his way. He was in control and no one could ruin his mood no one at all. With the fight lingering in his mind he went into the office with a big smile on his lips until he saw Thomas sitting in his chair. “What are you doing here.”
“I got rid of her and now I want my reward.”
“You killed Camille. My Thomas I never saw it in you to do it. So what do you want?”
“I want Julia.”
Zin came back into reality slowly. He blinked the sleep out of his eyes and looked around. He was tied to a chair in a dark red room with a bright shining light. A man came into the room wearing a dark suit with a red tie. Zin recognized him as the head of staff. He looked at Zin and said, “It’s good to see you’re awake.”
“Where am I?” Zin asked. He looked around the room and saw that the bright light was emanating from a window. Sunlight.
“You are in the aboveground complex to the prison, where the staff lives.”
“Why am I here?”
“So many questions child. Actually I was hoping you could tell me the answer to that one.”
“All that I can remember are the dreams that I had.”
“Why don’t you tell me about those.”
Zin looked him in the face and saw all the hatred and evil in it. What was wrong with this man. What had happened in his life that had made him so miserable. “How about I don’t tell you until you give me a little information.”
His brow furrowed in frustration, “Like what?”
Zin smiled. “What happened to Dahra?”
“Who’s that?”
“Don’t play stupid with me.” Zin was masking his worry with anger. What if she was dead and he hadn’t been able to save her.
“You care for her, don’t you. She’s fine. I just got done with her and we threw her back in her cell. So I answered your question, now you answer mine.”
“Why do you want to know so much?”
The head of staff looked worried, “TELL ME!” He bellowed. So Zin told him the whole story. The dream about hope and how in the end it killed him. Then the dream about the ice water and his family, all the while he took it in like it would save his life. It saddened Zin to see a man so desperate about a dream.
“Why did it concern you so much?” Zin asked again.
“Because dreams hold the key to the door of someone's soul, and once you open that door, you can figure out the persons deepest secrets. Then you can control this person. The guard outside will chaperone you to your cell.” Zin turned around and walked outside. He was above ground and he would have to memorize the way up. He had a new plan.
Dahra’s nightmares had been the ones had plagued her since she had been a child. They weren’t anything important. But they were hers. She couldn’t give them up. She remembered as a child waking up screaming and her bed soaked with sweat. She remembered her mom rushing into her bed and wrapping her in her arms and telling her everything would be okay, and when she looked over her mom’s shoulder she would see John standing in the doorway with a concerned look on his face. Then her mom would let John take her bed and she would climb into Dahra’s bed.
When the H.o.S. asked her to tell him her dream she couldn’t even start to tell him why she wouldn’t. He was furious and he kept yelling at her, but hardly anything scared Dahra after she had that dream. He worked on her for hours and she still didn’t talk. The nightmare had left her terrified and she had no mom or John to help her. She started crying and the H.o.S looked at her like she was crazy and they sent her out of the room. She walked down the halls in a deep depression and faced the fact that she would never get out of this place. She heard a soft click as the door to her cell opened and she was thrown in it with no gentleness. Dahra looked across the hall and saw a new boy in the cell. It was still Zin but there was something different about him. He stood taller. His eyes had a light of hope in them. He looked somewhat happier than he had been the whole time she had known him. He looked at her and his smile widened, “Dahra, I have a brand new plan and I know this time we can escape.” she looked at him somewhat puzzled and she started to cry. “What’s wrong Dahra?” he asked, and Dahra felt like he really cared.
“I had a dream.” her voice shook as she told him.
“Me too Dahra, me too.” Zin tried to comfort her but it was always him at home who had gotten comforted.
“In the dream I was with my dad and we were having fun and dancing. Then these men with no face came up to him and he turned around and shouted for me to run, to look away. I stared as he tried to kill them, to stab them in the heart. But the knife came out with no blood. He screamed to my mom And she came running outside with John trailing behind her. The faceless men turned in her direction and opened what looked like mouths and gave her a big grin with shark like teeth. She screamed and tried to run but what had once been John was now one of the creatures and it blocked her path. My dad picked me up and pulled me to the side. He whispered, ‘Dahra, you have to be strong. For John, for your mother, for me, and most of all, for you.’ I stared at him as his eyes shrunk back into his skull and his nose sunk into his face leaving nothing but his shark grin. My mother was surrounded by these things and I called to her to run, to fight them off, but she stood still like she knew this was going to happen all along and there was nothing she could do about it. I ran into the pack and they all backed away from my mother, like they were scared of me. The things howled and shrieked and ran away. My mother and I stood alone then, and sat on the porch. Waiting for John and my dad to come back. Early the next day John came back and sat with us waiting for my dad to come back until our flesh rotted of our bones.”
Zin stared at her and said, “ Dreams are either what you want the most or what fears you have. Not realities, and usually not anything that could happen. But dreams are smart. They sneak in little bits of reality and a dash of your memory to access what they know could either destroy you or make you happy beyond belief.”
Dahra nodded slowly after a while and whispered, “Goodnight Zin.”
John didn’t trust Adam at all. This wasn’t the dad he remembered. His dad had been kind and patient. Not that Adam wasn’t. He just wasn’t his dad’s type of patient. Adam had a more serious demeanor than the fun loving type his dad did. His mom was head over heals in love with him, but who could blame her. She hadn’t seen the man in thirteen years. He was just worried that she wouldn’t be able to see the truth from the lies. “So what’s the plan, are we just going to follow Adam to the Colonies.”
His mom looked at him like he had sworn at her. “This is your dad, call him that.” John had never seen her so angry before. She had a dark rage behind her eyes.
Adam smiled at her gently, “Don’t worry sweetie he probably doesn’t trust me. It’s not like he has seen me all the time like he should have.” John missed Dahra. She would’ve heard the fakeness of his voice. “When I fought them we had to take back roads to get into the Colonies, so that’s the way we’ll go.”
“And why should we trust you. You changed ,dad.” He soaked the last word with sarcasm.
“Because I’m your only way to safety.” his mom gave him a look of concern and turned back to Adam. John knew he could make it across without him. He decided tonight he would leave them tonight and travel alone. Adam walked back a little and said to John, “I don’t expect you to trust me but you owe it to my mother.”

John stopped in his tracks and stared at him. “If anyone owes someone something, it’s you owing me and my mom and Dahra. You know Dahra don’t you. Beautiful blonde girl, looks just like my mom. Yeah well guess what. After you left, and I know you chose, she had nightmares that you would never come back, and she couldn’t trust anyone but me and my mom. And finally when we were starting to get things back together. The paychecks stopped coming, and we all thought you were dead. My mom was broken and Dahra raised a wall around herself that even I couldn’t break. And when the wall did break she got arrested. Great job you did at supporting your family.” John continued walking again and fell ahead of the group.

Angela walked up to Adam and whispered into his ear, “He’ll warm up to you eventually, the loss of Dahra is just too fresh.” but he wasn’t too sure anymore.

Manda was worried that they would find out she gave them the tip. She was pretty sure that they wouldn’t. how would they spot her out of the three million people who lived in her little area of the slums. She was taking her little brother Eric out on a walk. Her mother remarried after she had thought her father had died. She had tucked her curly long red hair under an old beanie. Her brother’s seventh birthday had been a few weeks ago and now he thought that he was much more mature than everyone else. He walked ahead of her and spun around. “Hey slow poke, why don’t you try catching up to me now. He printed down the street and she started at a light jog. When he thought he had beat her he slowed down and she started to sprint. She grabbed him by the sleeve and turned him around.
“Here’s the deal. I’ll race you home and winner gets bragging rights.” Eric spit on his hand and put it out for her to shake. She took and and said, “Three, two, one,go.” She took off at lightning speed and knew she would beat him. She risked a fleeting glance over her shoulder and saw Eric passing her. She decided he needed the win and let him pass. He jumped onto the porch step and jumped up and down shouting at her and telling her how slow she was. She laughed at him and shook her head. Then she saw the guard at her door.
He grabbed her arm, pushed her to her knees and shouted in her face, “YOU ARE BEING FORMALLY ARRESTED FOR ASSISTING A WANTED CRIMINAL.” he pulled her back to her feet and shoved her into a truck. All the while she heard her little brother calling her name and crying.
Dahra could hear the girl sobbing in the cell next to he. She looked across at Zin and he had a pitying look on his face. Dahra hated pity, it was such a pointless emotion. She wished she could see what the girl looked like. “Hello, is someone there?” Zin looked up at her and smiled at her with thanks for starting the conversation so he wouldn’t have to.
“Who’s that?” the girl asked with a shy voice.
“Dahra, Dahra Brooke. You?”
“Manda, Manda Smith. Dahra is it really you. We all thought you were dead and John and your mom. Oh god Dahra I just can’t believe you're alive.” Zin gave her a funny look but that didn’t matter to her.
“What happened to John and my mom, how are they?”
“A few weeks ago a soldier came to our door and asked us to help him locate them. Eric took them to an abandoned house on our street while I went and warned them. They ran last I knew and I got arrested for assisting a wanted criminals.” she laughed sarcastically, “Mrs. Clare always told us a good deed would give us good and look where it got me.”
“Thank you.”
“I mean it Manda thank you soo much.” Manda didn’t come up with a snarky comment right way. Dahra got why she would be mad.She had saved two lives only to ruin her’s. She looked across at Zin. She gave him a wave of the hand that told him everything.
“How would you like to get out of here.”
“Who’s this.” Manda was back to the girl Dahra knew her as. Shy, beautiful, and smart.
“My friend Zin. We tried escaping before you came and failed. The only thing is they never killed us.”
“Alright so what’s the new plan?” Manda asked.

“First I take out the guard by the door to my cell by making a lot of noise and luring him into my room. I then change into his clothes and disguise myself as him. After that I take you and Dahra to the H.o.S. who lives above ground. We get up there and he gives you his punishment. Dahra then takes him out and we get a clean escape.”

“That sounds like a perfect plan. Let's just try to go into the house where the guards live and pray not to get caught. Then we can go and talk to the man who runs the place and hope we can kill him. Flawless Zin. Absolutely flawless. And where do you suppose we go after we escape. Find an abandoned building and find out it isn't abandoned. I'm not trying to cut you down, it's just your plan isn't exactly bullet proof.”
Zin looked at Dahra and rolled his eyes but Dahra just shrugged saying that she agreed. “I get that it's not perfect. It's just a new idea that I came up with after the H.o.S. toyed with my dreams. You haven't been here as long as us so you wouldn't know half the things that go on in our lives.”

“You don't know half the things that have happened in the outside world.”

“What's going on in the outside world.” Dahra interrupted the argument hastily. It could have been considered a fight.”

“Angus sage is now the Dictator. Julia Sage went missing off the face of the Earth. Soldiers are getting orders to shoot anyone who breaks the law since his rein. Mine was considered his father's because the original crime, yours, was before he took over. The people are getting less food because the dictator thinks that they are spoiled enough. Half the children starved in our slum this year Dahra.”
Zin looked at her skeptically. “How do you know this?”

Manda frowned, “You really don't trust me, do you? I had to go on walks everyday with my little brother, my mom made me walk him because she didn't think I knew him well enough. One day on one of these walks we were rounding a corner when I overheard two of the guards talking. We stopped and listened in and by the end of the conversation we had full knowledge of the gossip.”
Zin stopped arguing and climbed to his feet. She was smart, resourceful, and sarcastic. Zin liked her, “Alright Manda, you're okay. If you want to you can join us and help us improve our plan. But we might have to see what you look like first so we know who you actually are.”
Manda turned on her light and took off her hat letting her red curls fall onto her shoulder. Her green eyes looked identical to Zin's, bright and piercing. She was short and tiny and beautiful. Manda noticed him staring and said, “Alright you already saw what I look like and I know I'm just a huge piece of eye candy. So however hard it may be for you, please stop staring at me.”
Zin laughed at her and a tiny smile formed on her face. Manda looked at him and realized he looked slightly familiar. “Oh my god, I know who you are.” Manda took a step out of the light, “You killed the Dictator and ruined all of the peoples life, it was all your fault.”
Angus looked at Thomas in shock. He couldn't give him Julia. He had waited his whole life for her and right when he had her, some one else wanted her instead. “You, Thomas, can have anything else or anyone else except for her.”
Thomas burst out laughing hysterically. “You love her, you're sick brain is in love with your sister. She'll never return your feelings.”

“And who's saying has to return the feelings.”

“So what, you're going to make her love you. Love is not a one way thing, Dictator Sage. Forcing her to love you will only make her resent you more.”

“What makes you think that me giving her too you will make her love you.”

“ I have a chance still. I am human. Not some monster who would kill their own father. I can still show human emotions that she can show back.”

Angus couldn't believe what Thomas was saying. Angus had a beating heart in his chest that felt emotion just as much as anyone else. He was no monster that killed just for sport. Life was a gift, but not everyone deserves that gift, certainly not his dad of all people. What Angus did was take the gift away from him that he wasn't supposed to have in the first place. It was hardly unfair but justifiable. He had every right to do what he did. And now someone was calling him a monster for helping the whole world. “How dare you call me a monster, I am a better, stronger man than you. You have insulted me and my family and that is a major violation of the law. The penalty is death sentence. But I like you Thomas. So here are your options. Get out of here and never speak of this again. Or you can take the real death penalty.”

Thomas stood up and his chair fell to the ground. “You always get what you want, don't you. You will die alone one day and Julia will never love you or me. I can live with that. But can you.” Thomas left the room closing the door behind him. Angus couldn't live with the fact that Julia would never love him. So he wouldn't. He left the office and walked to her room. He knocked on the door and waited for a few moments. He walked in after a while and saw her fast asleep he kissed her cheek and left the room quietly. Why could he only show kindness to her only when she was sleeping. It truly was creepy, but showing emotions to her face when she was always furious was hard. But when she was asleep she was peaceful and kind. He was more in love with the sleeping Julia than the awake one.

Angela woke up and John was gone. He was just gone. Vanished. She was still half asleep and still processing it slowly. She looked around again and saw only Adam. She knew John didn't trust Adam, but she didn't expect him to leave right away. She had wanted them to get to know each other. Sure, Adam had changed a little bit but he was still the man she had married. She loved him and she had wanted John to love him too. They were a family. Her Adam John and Dahra. And without Dahra the family fell apart and shattered into a million pieces. Now John was gone to and who knows how far away he was now and if he was dead. She missed him already. He could be lost and starving. Calm down she told herself. He's only been gone for a few hours. He's probably fine on his own. Chances are by tonight he'd' come back for her. He'd have to. He at least loved her even if he didn't love Adam. He was smart and resourceful. If he didn't return he would be fine on his own. He would live. Adam made a huge yawn and sat up. “Where's John?” he asked

“I don't know but we have to find him. He could be in danger."

“Alright let me wake up.” Adam stood up and walked over to the backpack filled with food. He pulled out a granola bar and ate it quickly. He pulled the backpack onto his shoulders and started to walk towards Angela, “Where do you think he's going.”

“The same place we are headed. The Colonies.”

“So that's where we are going.” Adam started to walk in the direction of the Colonies through the towers of apartment buildings that were conjoined together. Angela started walking close behind him. She didn't know how long it would take for them to find him but eventually they would. Then Dahra would find them and their family would somehow glue themselves back together. She needed their family to be back together so it could actually be a family again.

The street was worn down and had potholes everywhere. Adam and Angela had to watch the ground to make sure they wouldn't trip and fall. The path to the Colonies would be hard and full of challenges, but if that’s what she had to do for John, she would do it. For John she would do anything.

Manda was horrified. She had seen what Dahra had done and didn’t think it that wrong. Dahra had tried to get her dad’s attention, and when she didn’t, she tried a different way. But Zin had committed the cold blooded murder of his mom and the Dictator. Dahra didn’t know that he had done this. She knew it from the sound of her voice when she denied it for him. She already knew what her mother would say about him, “Stay away from that type of boy. He’s nothing but trouble and you know it.” but nothing about him shouted out to her that he was trouble. And his perfect happy attitude was not what you’d expect in a killer.
She had had her meeting with the H.o.S. yesterday and he finally told his name as Mr. Ross. He was intimidating but not as bad as the usual thief that she ran into on the streets. She would be working in garbage disposal and was wishing she had what Dahra and ZIn had. She walked into the room and the heat was the first thing she noticed. It felt like she was walking into the center of a star and her skin was melting off her flesh. The next thing she noticed was the light. She thought she was above ground and staring at the sun. She felt hope spark in her chest until she remembered where she was. She walked the rest of the way in closing the door behind her and missing the cool air. The man at the door handed her a rake and pointed her into the direction of a tall Indian man. “Hello, my name is Aamod and I will be helping you learn today.” he had a slight accent in his voice that made it slightly difficult to understand him. He was a respectable kid from the way he kept his distance away from her and talked to her kindly. “It’s quite simple really. Your job is to rake the garbage into the burning inferno down there. If you have any questions just ask them for Aamod and almost everyone here knows me.” he walked away and started to push the garbage towards the center. Manda had no idea where she was supposed to go so she walked down the slope that led to the fire. She stopped at a considerably safe distance away and started pushing the garbage down like Aamod mas doing. She looked over at him and he gave her a quick approving nod. She continued the work and by the time it was lunch break she was dripping with sweat and dragging her feet in exhaustion. She walked slowly into the cafeteria and looked around for Zin and Dahra and located them at a little table in the very corner. She turned around and smiled awkwardly at the man who was standing behind her and instantly face front again. She didn’t notice anyone older than thirty. DId they kill you for turning old and not getting work done.The thought worried her. She would work as hard as she could and be thrown out like trash. The line to the food machine was moving faster and Manda ordered the gross mac & cheese. She pulled the tray out and sat it on the table next to Dahra. The table was black and dirty from years of not being cleaned like some of the other stuff in this place. “I hate my work so much.”
“It couldn’t be as bad as throwing little children into a hole like they never had a life.” Dahra had greif written all over her face.
“I felt like I was burning from the inside out and like I would start to sweat out my blood. It may sound like I am over exaggerating, but it was terrible.”
“Don’t worry, it wasn’t so bad after a week or so. I can’t say I’ll ever get used to it though.” Manda hated to tell them this but she let it out.
“They toss you out when you turn thirty. Shoot you right between the eyes like a dry cow. You are useless to them old and weak. But why thirty. One hundred is old now of days. Thirty is actually quite young.” Dahra’s face turned blank. She looked over at Zin who was already looking at her.
“Bettie, after the day she attacked you we never saw her again. She wasn’t old but she was older than any other workers there. I thought they killed her for fighting, but now I’m not so sure from the way that the guard was looking at her. Like it didn’t matter what she did.” Zin had a mask but behind that mask Dahra and Manda saw raw emotion. He cared if people lived or died.
“Did you really kill them?” Dahra asked the question before she had a chance to. Zin’s mask fell off and showed them all the emotions that his brain could hold. Pain, suffering, and just a little spot of happiness.
“What do you think?” he asked his voice shaking a little, showing his emotion through his voice. “Do you think I killed my mom and the Dictator.”
Manda looked at Dahra, “It doesn’t matter what I think. The only thing that matters is what truly happened. Did you do it Zin.” Manda asked the question this time and she was scared to find the answer.
Zin dropped his defence. “I was standing right next to them, talking to them laughing with them, and they both dropped to the ground dead. I had no idea what was going on. Then I was accused by Angus. He visited me in my cell a week ago after he had been accepted as Dictator. He told me that they had found the real killer but that they wouldn’t let me go because he was the real killer. He told me no motive as to why he did it or blamed me but now I’m stuck down here.”

He had a sad look in his eyes but he pulled his mask back on quickly. He looked like nothing had gone wrong, like he had no vulnerability to him. He hadn’t lied, or at least she didn’t think he had. He showed such raw emotion when he was talking, like it hurt him to tell them this.Zin didn’t seem like the type of person who’d lie either. Anyways if anyone had killed the Dictator, wouldn’t they be proud of it, glad that they had killed someone so powerful so easy. Manda didn’t know, but if Dahra trusted him than she did too.

Julia was afraid of Angus. He wouldn’t kill her now. He loved her. He would make her love him back. But she couldn’t love him, he was her brother, and loving your brother is wrong and disgusting. Angus would torture her, she knew he would, he was twisted and he would do whatever he could to get her. Which means there was only one option left. She would have to kill him or run from him. She had tried to kill him, but she wasn’t a cold blooded killer. So for the first time in her life Julia wouldn’t go the hard way. She would have to run away from him. To the only place that was safe at the time, the Colonies. They were told to be more peaceful, more advanced, more, well, perfect. And maybe that’s what Julia needed in her life, a little perfect instead of insane. She would go the easiest way too, through the woods that were right next to her room. Her dad had let her pick it out and she knew that this was the way she would have to go if she ever escaped. She packed her bag full of comfortable clothing that she could move around in easily. She walked to the kitchen as quickly and quietly as possible. She stuffed some food into her bag and went back to her room. For some reason she felt a little connection to Camille as she dropped her bag out the window and then jumped out herself, landing gently on her feet. She picked up her bag and put it on her shoulders. She looked at the path ahead of her and knew it would be around three hundred miles until she reached the Colonies, but she would walk those three hundred miles, and then she would reach the perfect country. She started to run. She knew the first ten miles like the back of her hand from long walks, and after she finished those ten miles, she would only have two hundred ninety miles left. She started to run before angus would look for her. It looked like she wouldn’t be able to save Zin or the Provinces. She never thought she would go to the country that her’s is fighting, but Julia had no other choice. Eventually she would come back and help, but right now she needed to run for her life.
The ten miles weren’t so bad. It took her only a few hours of running to get there, but she hadn’t had an early start, so the sun was already setting. There were no beautiful sunsets anymore, the smoke from the factories blocked out all the colors. Maybe there were some in the Colonies though. She gathered some wood and started a fire. She pulled out a mini cereal box and ate the whole thing. The sugar swelled up on her tongue and it tasted like nothing she had ever tasted before. She didn’t feel tired so she plucked one of the sticks out of the fire and used it as a torch she walked a mile further in around fifteen minutes. She set another fire over here and went to sleep in the sleeping bag she brought.
She woke up the next morning and saw a pale fair haired boy standing over her. At first she thought it was Angus and she pulled out a knife and jumped to her feet. She looked him over and realized he didn’t look all that much like him. His eyes were hazel and he was tall and skinny. “Who are you?” she asked her voice startling cold. He looked at her in shock and a sort of calm respect.
“John Brookes, may I ask what Julia Sage is doing running in the woods alone?”
“That depends, may I ask what you, John Brookes are doing in the forest standing over me?”
“It doesn’t really matter, you already asked the question without permission. My sister was arrested and we were being chased because we helped raise her and in some odd way it was our fault. Now we’re on our way to the Colonies”
“Who’s we? I only see you.”
“Answer my question first, what are you doing in the woods alone?”
“Running from someone. Now you?”
“I was with my mom, then my dad who I haven’t seen in thirteen years joined us, so I left them.”
“O.K. here’s the deal, if you can keep up, you can travel with me, I’m headed to the Colonies myself. But if you want to try to save your sister, I’ll bet you she’s in the labor camp right under our feet. It’s your choice but I’m headed out.” Julia started to walk away but John stood by her side.
“Dahra’s gone now and I don’t know how to get her back.” she looked into John’s face and saw agony scratched into his handsome features. It saddened her to see him like this, even if he was a complete stranger.
Dahra walked back to her cell slowly. Zin was accused of murdering two people when he really didn’t. There was no justice in that, but there was also no justice in this world. Manda seemed to be holding up well too, but she didn’t belong here just like Zin didn’t. Dahra was the only one who had committed a crime and she was the one that deserved to be here working her butt off. They were planning on escaping tomorrow and she had already pocketed a gun from a guard. It was stuffed deep in her mattress. “Zin, what guard is on duty tomorrow?”
‘“I want to say it’s Brown on duty for me and Marks for you and Manda.”
“Are we going to kill them, because when Marks was talking to me yesterday he mentioned having a wife and kids and we can’t take away someone's father.” Manda’s voice was weak there and Dahra knew she was talking about her dad.
“I’ll see what I can do Manda but it looks like we either have to kill him or lock him in a cell.” Zin looked clueless as to why she was talking about this.
“In the trash I found some black spray paint, full to the top. I say we paint Zin’s cell. That will definitely draw Brown in.” For some reason there were never any guards at night. Maybe because the H.o.S. wants his dreamers to go undisturbed while they are sleeping. Brown was a big guy with just as big of a heart. But they needed to get him out of the way. locking the guards in their cells was the safe way. Marks was calm and peaceful but very strict. Dahra had gotten to know the guards well this past week. They liked to talk to pretty girls she guessed. She fell into a deep sleep and dreamt a pleasant dream.
She was playing in the backyard with John. He was laughing and running away from her saying that she had cooties and that she was gross. Whenever she would touch him ,he would run inside, wash his hands, and run right back outside to torment her again. Her mom had just gotten a paycheck from her dad and she had made cookies for her and john, a very rare treat. She asked her mom what the occasion was and she said, “It’s your fifteenth birthday sweetie.” Dahra took one of the cookies and shoved it into her mouth whole. The chocolate chips were still warm and gooey a and a stream of chocolate ran down her face. It was the best thing she had ever tasted in her life. Her mom gave one to John and he ate it greedily. She ran back outside after she had another cookie and walked to the park. She swung on the swings and stopped instantly when a older man came up to her. She tried to run away but the man grabbed her by the shirt sleeve. “All I need is money.” the girl searched her pockets and came out empty handed. The man shook her hard and shouted, “WHERE IS YOUR MONEY.” there was a loud clanging noise and he fell to the ground revealing a worried John behind him. “Let’s go home Dahra.” she followed him to the house and when he opened the door he said, “Don’t tell mom about this.” when they got inside their mom smiled at her. She made noodles for dinner that night and she and John hardly ate a bite.
Dahra woke up the next morning smiling. That was one of her best memories. The part with the cookies. It had been her fifth birthday ten years from now. It was the only time she had ever had chocolate. Today was her birthday and she was getting the best gift of all. She got to escape from the labor camp. She looked over at Zin’s cell and it was painted dark black. The guard was walking up and he noticed it right away. He banged the combo in and the glass door slid open the guard looked around and still didn’t see Zin. He walked in and Zin jumped out locking the door behind him. He walked quickly towards Marks and said, “Imagine never getting to see your family again. Got it. Okay give me your clothes.”
Shockingly, Marks stripped down quickly and handed his clothes over to Zin. Zin opened Manda’s door and pushed Marks in while Manda ran out. He shut the door quickly and opened Dahra’s. He walked them to the second door that led into the house. The door opened with a light swoosh and a metal ladder fell down. They climbed up it quickly, their shoes making loud noises against the metal. The door was at the other end of the hall, but the plan was to get to the roof and jump to the building next to it. The stairs were carpeted and red as blood. They ran up them at full speed, sprinting to get to the roof. Manda was at the head of the group, then Zin, then Dahra. When the stairs stopped at the top story, Zin knew exactly where to go. Across the hall was the H.o.S room and it had the only ladder that led to the roof. Zin knocked on the door lightly and mocking Marks voice he said, “I have two prisoners who got in a fight.”
“Bring them in and make it quick.”
Zin walked in pulling Marks cap down to hide his eyes. He pulled Dahra and Manda in gently and pushed them into the front of the room. The H.o.S. laughed a dark laugh, “Well, well look what we have here. Dahra, nice to see you again. Where’s your boyfriend, Zin” Dahra’s face turned crimson red and he laughed again, “And who do we have here. Manda I believe. I remember seeing you at your orientation. Quite a beautiful flower you are. And am I wrong to think that you’re crimes are connected somehow. You know each other too, I can tell by your scared glances at one another.” He laughed again and walked towards Dahra. He started to play with her hair while saying, “Are you ready to tell me about your dream yet sweet pea.” With the pea he pulled her hair and brought her to her knees with a shout of pain. Dahra’s hand went to her belt at lightning speed and pulled out the gun. She pointed it at his heart and pulled the trigger. The blood that was spilling from his chest matched the color of the ground. Dahra stepped over him and went to the ladder. She turned around and saw Zin and Manda staring at her horrified.
“I get what I did wasn’t the plan, but he was hurting me.” Manda snapped out of it and walked to the ladder, her feet making splashing sounds as they hit blood. Zin walked behind her, but he was still horrified. Dahra could see it in his eyes. The building next to theirs was a little shorter and Manda jumped first, tripping on her feet as soon as she reached the other side. She fell down on the roof and gave them a thumbs up sign. Zin was the next to jump. He planted a kiss on Dahra’s lips and landed like a cat right next to Manda. Dahra had difficulty staying on her feet when she landed, so Manda and Zin steadied her. They broke into the penthouse apartment and stole a few articles of clothing for all of them. Dahra was wearing sweats and a black t-shirt like Zin, and Manda was wearing a mint green sundress. They walked to the elevator slowly and waited until it came up the two hundred stories. When they jumped in the elevator it rocketed downward and started slowing down at story twenty. It stopped at the first story and they bolted into the crowded lobby. They ran outside and stopped, not knowing where to go from there. None of them really expecting to actually escape.

Adam and Angela had found an unlocked car and started to drive it to the Colonies. After seven hours of driving they saw the first Colonies building. It was nothing like they had in the The Provinces. It was a little tiny cottage, but to them it was huge. A skinny woman with rosy cheeks and her blonde hair tied up in a bun came outside to find out who’s car was making the noise. She looked at it and noticed it had trademark Provinces design. She opened her mouth in shock and stared at the car as it pulled into her driveway. Angela was the first to get out of the car and ran up to the woman. “Listen, I know you have no idea who we are but we are running away from the Provinces because they were going to kill my entire family. Please you have to help us.” the distress in Angela’s voice made her sound weak and fearful. The woman looked at her for a few moments then let out a sigh.
“Alright, you can stay with us for a few night, but if we are in harms way you have to leave by tomorrow morning.” the woman's voice was a little high pitched but still had a serious tone to it.
“Thank you so much.” Angela nodded at the car and Adam stepped out of it slowly. He walked up to the woman and gave her a hug.
“You can’t imagine how much this means to us.”
The woman smiled kindly at him and said, “Believe me I can. This is my husbands home. I met him when I myself ran from the Provinces after the last election. He kindly let me stay in his home for a week, that week soon became a month, then a year. It would be my pleasure to let you stay here.”
They walked inside and the warm air was such a difference from the winter air outside. The house had a homely feel to it that welcomed the two newcomers into it with open arms. “My children are sleeping so you’ll have to keep your voices down a little. They will be surprised to see you so just say that you are my cousins from the Republic. That’s where they think I’m from. They can’t know the truth until they are older. If you walk up the stairs, the second door on the left is your room. If you don’t mind, I’m going to bed.”
The woman was about to leave when Angela asked, “What’s your name?”

The woman smiled kindly at her, “Amelia, my name is Amelia.” She walked into her room and closed the door behind her. Adam started to walk up the light wood stairs and Angela followed him. He turned into his room and collapsed on the bed and felt the bed shake slightly as Angela collapsed next to him.
“Where do you think John is?” She asked.
Adam looked up at the ceiling and just stared at it like there was a piece of art on it. “I have no idea my Angel ,but I’m sure he’s on his way.” She put her head on his shoulder and started to cry quietly.
Julia was so much faster than John. He was trying hard to keep up with her, but he didn’t have the training that she did. They had gone one hundred miles in the past week and if they kept going at this pace, they would be there in two weeks. But Julia was scared that Angus would find her before she crossed the border to the Colonies.She turned around and looked at John who gave her a crooked smile. He was nice and sweet, but he wasn’t exactly her type. He wasn’t strong mentally and he was a funny boy. He thought he could get any girl in the world, but in reality, he had probably had his heart broken on multiple occasions and the funny boy act was probably a wall to hide the pain. He liked her, she could tell, almost all boys did. She looked around and saw nothing but trees and shrubs. “I’ll be right back.” She said before pulling herself into the tree adjacent to her. She started to climb at inhuman speed and was at the top within a minute. She turned in a complete three-sixty. The Capitol was far behind them and there was nothing but more trees ahead of them. She climbed down slowly and accidentally put her hand in a spot of sap making her hand sticky and dirty. She almost reached the bottom and saw John waiting for her just below the last groove in the tree. She jumped when she thought she was close enough and landed lightly on her feet.
John looked at her patiently and after a moment of quiet said, “Well, what did you find.”
“There’s nothing but trees for a good distance and it cuts off abruptly.” she said, not exactly worried yet.
“Alright, so let’s start moving.” together they walked to the edge of the woods, waiting to see what would come next.
Angus had looked everywhere, and yet he still couldn't find Julia. She couldn’t disappear into thin air. So where was she. He had heard she was gone from her maid. The maid said she hadn’t left a note or anything behind but she had seen her pack her bags and run away. Chances were she was deep in the woods somewhere, running from him. He had realized she thought he was a monster too a long time ago, but he didn’t think she would leave the Provinces without a trace. He was furious and depressed at the same time. This house was so empty with just him and the workers. He needed her to make it home, she made everything home. He would send half his population out to find her, he wanted her more than anything else in the world. To hold her and hug her and kiss her were the only things he wanted right now. He didn’t need to run a country as long as she was by his side. He walked down the stairs to the office taking long strides. He had a very important phone call to make. He pulled out his phone and dialed the number in.
“Hello.” He recognized the voice as the H.o.S.’s wife. She sounded sad and depressed.
“I’m looking to talk to the prisoner who calls himself Zin Yang.” he said and found himself very impatient.
The woman took a deep breath, “I’m very sorry sir, but ZIn escaped along with two other prisoners earlier this morning. They killed the H.o.S. so a new one will have to be assigned. Good day sir.” the phone clicked off and all he heard was the buzzing sound of no reception. The only other person who knew the truth about his dad besides Julia was on the loose in only god knows where. It was impossible to find people now of days. There were just too many of them that there were almost identical to each other to be able to find someone. He had no one else in the world for him. No family whatsoever.
He was going to look for the person who had ruined his life. Zin would be found and sent back to his prison and the two people he cared enough about to bring them along would die.

Manda walked through the Capitol quickly. The buildings towered higher than skyscrapers above her head. Manda had heard that the Colonies had made cities that floated in the air anchored to the ground by a chain. She had no idea where Dahra and John had gone, but she knew where they all were headed. They would meet at Manda’s house to see her family and afterward go to Dahra’s to see what was left. The crowd of people was huge, impossible to find your way through. She kept getting pushed from behind and prodded at with a variety of items. She started to walk faster, her green dress flowing out behind her. She looked at her pale skin. It seemed to glow from staying in the dark for so long. She had kept her cap through all this time. Her hair hung loose around her shoulders. It was still the same red it had been and was as curly as ever. Dahra had cut it a little longer than shoulder tip length and had cut her bangs so they covered her forehead. She hadn't liked it like that, but if she hadn’t moved her bangs, they would’ve died her hair blonde or black. She felt a cold gaze on the back of her neck. She flipped her head around and looked frantically behind her. There were too many people to tell who the one was. She turned back around and started to walk faster. The tingling sensation on the back of her neck wouldn't go away. She turned sharply around a corner and waited to see if there was anyone that had also stopped and started to look around. She saw one person who stopped for a brief second and started to start walking again. She walked close behind him and stayed quiet the whole time and followed him to the place where he was going. The boy had dark slicked back hair and a nice pressed suit. He turned around and pulled her into the very tiny alley and pushed her against a wall. “Who are you and why are you following me?” His breath was heavy like he had been running.
“Jessica, my name is Jessica.” She lied not trusting him.
“Well Jessica, you can stop following me now.” With that he left and Manda walked quickly to the train station. She was going home. The station was packed full and she had only enough money to buy second class. She walked in the car and sat their for a while until it took off at the speed of light. The scene of the outside cities went by quickly but she could still recognize her city as soon as she saw it. It halted to a sudden stop and she almost flew out of her seat. She waited until everyone was off the train and walked slowly from it. She walked to center square and saw her mother there walking Eric. She started to run towards them. “Mom, MOM!!” she shouted her mother turned her way and smiled at her. Eric sprinted towards her and hugged her legs. She was definitely home now.
Dahra and Zin had snuck on the army train. It was headed straight to the Colonies border. Dahra had begged him to go, so she would be able to find her family. He had agreed to her request after a long while. The train was faster than some of the others had been. She was sitting in between two very tattooed woman with muscles that stood out like mountain chains. Zin was across the train giving her reassuring smiles every now and then. She touched her lips remembering the kiss he had given her on the rooftop. It had been placed so carefully, so gently. She didn’t know if she loved him yet, but he was attractive. She remembered the moment she had met him. She had thought she was going to die without seeing sunlight. The train started to slow down until it came to a complete stop. She hopped off the train first and saw Zin land right next to her. They started to run at full speed, and before anyone noticed, they were gone. Zin stopped and looked around for a place to go and saw a forest a few miles away. They started to run again and after around twenty minutes they had reached the edge. He pulled her in his arms and kissed her full on the lips. She didn't pull away until she heard a boy shout out her name. She turned around quickly and saw a beautiful girl with dark skin and dark hair. “Zin, I want you to know it wasn't you.”
He looked at her and nodded, “I know Julia, trust me I know. Camille is dead Julia.”
“I know Zin, I’m so sorry that that had to happen to her and you, but it was Thomas, it was all Thomas.” Zin probably had no idea who Thomas was but he nodded at her in thanks again. A boy with blonde hair ran through the cover of the trees and picked Dahra off the ground in a huge hug, “John.”
He let go of her and she dropped to the ground. He looked at Zin and said, “I’m Dahra’s brother John.”
“Zin.” Julia started to walk away and Zin followed close behind. Together the four of them walked across the border into whatever else followed. They kept walking even when it got dark. The trail they were traveling on was rough, so they had to go slowly but they saw a shining light at the end of the trail, and it was the only beacon of hope that lay in the distance. They drew closer to the light and noticed the light wasn’t the usual type of the light that existed in the Provinces. A quiet muffled gunshot rang out and John fell to the ground, a hole straight through the center of his head. Julia and Zin put their hands up by their heads. Zin looked over at Dahra and shouted for her to do the same, but she was dead to the world. She dropped to her knees next to him. “Wake up John, you have to wake up now. This joke, it isn't funny. You have to wake up.” s\She pounded hard on his chest crying. Someone grabbed her by the arms and locked her hands behind her back. But she had lost every last bit of fight in her body as soon as she had put her hands on his chest and felt nothing. The three of them were pulled into the back of a truck and taken away to another prison. Julia prayed for the first time in her life for someone to save her, and felt like someone was actually listening.
Amelia had received the phone call late that night. She wasn’t the leader of the oligarchy, but had been voted into it by the people. The phone call was about three teens who had crossed the border line. She had woken Adam and Angela instantly and drove all the way to the prison closest to the area they were caught. She stepped out of the car first and Angela came with her. The teeth chattering cold was nothing like the warmth of their little home. She walked as fast as she could without running her feet crunching in the fresh crisp snow. THe smell of pine worked its way into her nose and she inhaled it deeply. Amelia told Angela to stay where she was while she checked and she pushed open the door and looked around. The prison was a dark gloomy grey that showed death and despair on cold winters nights. A young girl sat In the first cell. It was almost impossible to find her because her dark skin and black hair blended in with the night. Amelia spoke in the softest voice as possible, “What’s your name.”
“Julia.” The girls voice was final, like she wasn’t going to give away anything else.
“Full name and we’ll let you and your acquaintances go.” Amelia’s voice was still soft but stern.
Julia held her gaze with a sort of defiance to it but after a while bowed her head in defeat, “Julia Sage.”
Amelia smiled at her kindly even though she knew that her father was a killer. “Alright, well my name is Amelia and I have authority to let you out if you tell me the other two people.”
“The first is Dahra Brookes, she was traveling with her friend Zin Yang, who was falsely accused of murder when they found us.” Amelia instantly recognized the last name Brookes, but wasn’t it a boy they had been looking for.
“You said us, was there anyone else we should know about.” Julia’s eyes were sad beyond belief.
“There was another boy, Dahra’s brother, John. He was shot and killed on contact though. Unless you are worried about the dead coming back to life, you should be fine.”
“I’ll go get the keys then.” Amelia walked outside quickly and nodded to Angela. She walked over to the guard post and took down an access card and opened the three cells. Julia walked out and stared at Zin and Dahra. The door slid open quickly and a gust of cold air burst in along with Angela. She hugged Dahra while whispering, “I love you.” Angela’s eyes swept the room looking for something and she asked, “Where’s John?”
“He’s dead mom, John’s dead.” Angela fell back into Dahra’s arms as she cried, her tears smacking the floor in a perfect rhythm.
Julia looked up at Amelia with a shock of recognition of Angus’s mom but she kept her mouth shut the whole time until they got home and were behind closed doors.
Manda had realized a few hours ago that Zin and Dahra had left her. She was safe with her family now, but what she considered safe wasn’t exactly a good definition of the word. She could hear her parents snoring through the paper thin walls and knew that the Provinces would fall someday.
Angus had gotten the news the next day that four people had tried to cross country border. He had no doubt it was Zin and his crew with Julia. He ached for Julia, missing her with all his heart. He needed her, longed for her. But she was untouchable as long as she stayed in the Colonies. He had connections sure, but he couldn’t trust anyone but himself anymore if he wanted to get her back alive and in one piece. He wanted her more than ever now that he couldn’t have her. But Julia wasn’t his only problem. The Provinces were dissolving and getting ready to rebel against him while his entire army was off fighting guarding the border. He couldn’t call them back or there would be armies coming in from the Colonies and the Republic. He really didn’t have to worry about the Arctic to come in through water. They were mostly peaceful people anyways. He felt something coming. It could come from his love of Julia and the destruction of The Colonies or a mass war stretching through their whole continent itself. Whatever it may be, he would have power and Julia in the end, and not even The Colonies would stand in his way.

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