Author's note: I had some inspiration from Hunger Games, as well as my own love. This is the longest story I... Show full author's note »
BurningIt was a day like any other. The sky was a sickly orange. The air was thick and hot. I woke up to the sound of the bells. I thought it had just been another drill. I got up to file out like usual, calm and orderly, like they tell us to. But my mother rushed in with nothing of calmness or orderliness. She threw suitcases at my floor and told me to pack as she rushed to my sister’s room. I knew right away that this wasn’t a drill. With two suitcases and a hiking back pack filled with my most important belongings, I followed the traffic of my town in our stuffed van towards the highway. Highway 506, or better known as the Freedom Highway. Our freedom towards the space ship that rested on all of the land of abandoned Canada. Our freedom from our planet Earth, and out to the stars we hoped would give us a new home.
But no, that’s not what happened…
I was left behind. They forgot me. Our empty driveway had skid marks of my father’s rushed driving as he pulled my family away; without me. I ran outside, screaming for someone to take me. The town around me was silent. It was getting hotter. I was sweating and struggling to breathe. The air was too thick for a panic attack. It got hotter. I stumbled towards my house, my home. My empty home. My empty house. It was no home without my family. Why did they leave me? It got hotter. There was a deep red dragon on the roof. I could see it from where I was on the ground. It was too hot. The sky was getting brighter. The dragon flew off into the yellow brightness, and I fell into a deep blackness, screaming with the rest of what little life I had left as the voice of my sister calling my name filled my ears.
“Harmony…Harmony…Harmony! Harmony, wake up!”
I sat up straight as my sister, Melody, shook me. I blinked around, un-fallen tears falling with the movement. My night gown was stuck to my sweaty body. I hugged my sister tight. I cried on her shoulder as the nightmare faded away. It was never really gone, it was always there at the back of my mind, but I was able to at least shut it back there when I was awake.
“Shh…it’s okay,” my sister whispered as she rocked me back and forth. Her dark brown waves tickled my cheek. I hid my face in her hair, I hid into her vanilla smell, and I hid away from the reality of what happened on Earth.
Then I sat up. No, it couldn’t be. I looked at my projection, to see what would be outside if I had a window, and there it was. Earth. Black and smoking and dead. Except it wasn’t right outside. This feed was coming from a droid light years away, showing each and every person on the ship what our world looks like this year.
I turned off the projector.
“Today is Tribute Day isn’t it?” I asked without emotion. She nodded and ran a hand over my hair. She smiled sadly and didn’t say another word as she kissed my forehead and then walked out quietly. Today was hard for her too. Today was hard for everyone.
I pulled on a nice dress, well, my favorite dress, a vintage baby blue evening gown, a family heirloom that was passed down for who knows how long. It was one of the few I could grab from my closet. It was one of the few pieces of original Earth clothing I had left.
I was twelve when the Sun’s explosion burned the Earth to a crisp. I am seventeen now and I am still having scream inducing nightmares about dying in that fiery heat.
In less than an hour my family and I shuffled out of our quarters into the hallway and then out into the enclosed “streets”. The streets are like those in Italy, some can barely fit a person, and others fit a few hundred, but they all have the same height buildings towering overhead. Our streets have ceilings of the floor above us, but they have projections covering the metal beams. Tonight the stars and nebulas shine above us. This was one upside of the ship. The night projections are amazingly beautiful. We followed behind the crowd.
We filed into the assembly hall. The ship is separated into regions. Each region is named after the most populated city in each original 50 states of America. The capitols of each region are the capitols of the states. The capitols house the region’s government. The ship has six decks, the top most, and smaller deck is for the President and the crew, the four below that are for the citizens of S.S. America, and the bottom most is for all of the animals we could fit. Each of the four large middle decks have 12-13 regions. S.S. America is carrying over 400,000,000 Americans, as well as those who were left behind in other countries, those who were taking the last ship out. This is why it was built and departed off of Canada. The S.S. Canada had a 30 year head start, and America used the land to build. My family and I are living in Jacksonville. Florida was our home state, so we chose Jacksonville.
Jacksonville has 200 assembly halls, so that each district has one. They are as big as a football stadium, built like an amphitheater. They hold about 100,000 people. We all waited for everyone to enter, the blank hologram screen showing the empty stage. The feed was from Tallahassee, the capitol, so each of the halls could see the same thing. The familiar tune of our anthem started and we all stood up to sing. We all sang out The Star-Spangled Banner, and then sang the last lines out strongly as the music died. Then we chanted out the New America paean.
…And may the stars’ arms welcome us,
May they always be our home.
I refused to say the last line. Earth was my home.
A noise of the thousands of people sitting down echoed through the hall. People adjusted to get comfortable as they all whispered to their neighbors. I stayed quiet, my face blank as I stared down at the stage. The region’s four parliament leaders stepped onto the stage and silence rand loud. No one coughed, no one breathed. The silence was too contagious, no one wanted to make a noise, let alone move. Everyone waited tensely as three of them sat down on throne-like chairs and the fourth, the head leader, stepped to the front of the stage. He spoke as if he was talking to us from two feet away, but his voice was loud, erupting softly out of silver speakers that lined the perimeter of the hall.
“Citizens of Jacksonville! I welcome you to our fifth annual Tribute Day on our new and temporary home of the S.S. America!”