Prologue- The tithefur.
“The Greatest and the worst thieves in the USSC are the tithefurs, those who refuse to give back 1/10th of what they were given by the state. Anyone who denies the State 1/10th of what they own, including one of their 10 children, shall be put to the sword.” The USSC’s declaration on Crime, Section 4.
Annabelle West frowned as she checked her mail. Most of the letters were from the government, talking about how great they were, and about the yearly tithe, where a citizen had to give 1/10th of what they owned. However, they could not ask her to give her children away, until the youngest one turned 10 years old. She had 10 children, as the law decreed that, unless you are infertile, you have to have 10 children, and her youngest had turned 10 the week before. She knew this, and was not surprised when she saw the children tithing letter.
She picked it up; nervous on which child of hers she had to break the news too, which child she would have to tell to run. She did not want to keep this law; she loved her ten children to much too just give one to the state. But which one had they chosen? Michael? Tom? Will? Edward? Alex? Lucy? Miriam? George? Alice? Or Xavier?
She was expecting her eldest child, Michael, to be tithed. He was the golden boy of the family, good at sports, smart, and as good as gold. Slowly, she unopened the letter, and gasped.
“Dear Annabelle West,
We have chosen to tithe your daughter, Alex West. Please give her to us tomorrow, so that we can decide on what she should be as state property.
The Government of the USSC.” The letter read.
Her daughter, Alex, was a genius, but rebellious, always trying to just challenge the government a tiny bit, by dying her hair, importing clothes from the North, and wearing Doc Martians, which made Annabelle prefer her over her other children.
No. Not Alex, she thought.
Just then, the door to the apartment opened, and her children who were not at university returned home, including Alex.
Alex had decided to dye her hair bubblegum pink, and she was wearing her school uniform (Gray shirt, Gray Skirt, Black shoes, gray socks) and she was about to go to her room to change into her normal clothes. However, Annabelle stopped her.
“Alex. You’ve been tithed.” Annabelle cried.
“Oh, f...” Alex began.
“Don’t use that language in my home.” Annabelle scolded her child.
“Sorry, mum. I wasn’t expecting to be tithed, and now I gotta go to the government and hand myself in as a tithe.” Alex replied.
“No. I’ve told you this before. Pack your bags with everything that you need. I’ll you 3000 Dens and Run. Just Run. I’ll die, so that you can be free. Get to the North, you’ll be safe there” Annabelle West sighed, handing over the money needed to her daughter.
“What about my siblings?” Alex asked.
“They will still have dad to look after them, and they cannot tithe people with less than 9 children at home or university, they’ll be safe from government control. You just have to run.” Annabelle replied slowly.
“Ok. I’ll dye my hair brown before I leave, so that no one can recognise me, and I’ll go.” Alex cried, “Goodbye.”
Annabelle watched as her daughter packed her bags, dyed her hair, and left home. How long would it take them to realise that she was a tithefur? Would Alex get to the North safely? Or would the Government get her and make her state property.
Chapter 1- The city of Rasonov. - Alex
“The city of Rasonov is the Capital of the USSC. Founded in 2100 by our 1st leader, Alexander Rasonov, it still stands a proud capital city in our country. It is full of greatness, from the Government’s main building, the Autoritan, to the beautiful fields where we grow our crops. It has stood a fountain for unity in a world full of discord.” The History of the USSC by Alexi Rasonov Chapter 2, Cities of the USSC.
Why did my mum decide to become a tithefur, just to save my life? She is a great supporter of the USSC’s government and she would not normally think of committing such a crime.
I have to obey my mother, even if it means her death, so I run. Also, it would be great if I got away, if I can avoid the tithe. After all, it’ll be a great way of saying “Up yours!” in the Government’s face.
Of course, if I even get away that is. I will probably get caught, and they’ll have me as their property. They’ll be able to commit unspeakable acts upon them. One of my best friends outside school is a tithe girl, and the government have decided that her use is to be a prostitute. She has told me about the fat government officials who rape her again and again. She had a child with one of these officials, and it was taken away from her and it is going to be raised to be a soulless, government supporting adult. Someone who would gladly give away their children when they get tithed.
This is the other reason why I don’t want to be their property. The Government are barley human, more like a cesspit for human evil. They only care about themselves, the wealth that is acquired from the job, and to keep Alexander’s Communist country alive. They care nothing about us, the poor, and the hungry, with barely any rights. I have to break the law to get the clothes I want. They force us to learn what we don’t want to learn, they censor our press, and if we try to rebel, we die.
I keep on running, and that is when I bump into a guy who I recognise instantly. Seth, the drug dealer and smuggler around these parts. One of those psychics, who moved into the city after the State, demolished his home to build another city. And one of my friends.
“Hey, Alex. Are you ok? What’s wrong?” Seth asked caringly, with a look of genuine concern in his lilac eyes. “Oh, wait; you have been tithed, haven’t you?”
I nodded, remembering that he could read my flipping mind.
“Ahh, that sucks. Get out of the city as quickly as you can, don’t take a pod car and run. Yes, you mum probably said that to you anyway, but just RUN! I can give you a name and an address of a friend who can kit you up with a false identity. ” Seth whisphered “No-one, and I repeat no-one must find out that you’re mum has become a tithefur until the tithing ceremony, so you get a head start.”
“Wow, Seth. How are you THAT organised? Seriously, I haven’t thought about what would happen if I was tithed, as I always expected Michael to be tithed. So, why me?” Alex mumbled.
“Probably because you’re rebellious and an individual in a world where everyone is conformed to be the same. If you are caught, then expect the government to use you so that they can break your soul.” Seth sadly sighed.
Chapter 2- The City of Smith. - Nor
“The City of Smith is the Naval Base of the USSC. Founded in 2130, it is the greatest naval base in the world. It is impenetrable, no hostile enemy has ever entered its gates, and those who have tried have met a watery grave. It has the museum of Naval Combat and also the Theatre of Peace.” The History of the USSC by Alexi Rasonov Chapter 2, Cities of the USSC
“Bye, Nor.” Little sis frowned slightly. Her blond hair was like, well long and her blue eyes shone. She was only 10, she didn’t understand what da hell tithing meant, why she had been tithed, what would happen to her now.
“Tithing is a great honour, little Scarlet. The Government will educate you, help you and make you special in society.” Ma beamed at her daughter, sadly believing da lie that da State taught us. Dey no special, Dey no be educated or helped- Dey’ll have hell unleashed upon them, by da devils themselves.
“Nor, I love you.” Scarlet smiled again, twirling around in her gray dress- da state frown upon colour. Then Ma lead Scarlet out of da apartment and my other siblings stayed behind, but I went with Ma. I was her eldest son, da most important man in the house since my Pa died seven years ago. I had to leave school three years ago, and at da age of 20, had to work in the docks to support my mother and help look after my 9 younger siblings. And now Scarlet, who I raised since she was little, is gone.
Anger raged up inside me, I couldn’t stand da Government, I’ve attended anti-government meetings for like, forever and I’ve learnt da truth about those swine.
“So, what will the State do with me? Will I be a ballerina like I dream to be? Will I be adopted by a government official, like our current leader, Stan Brown?” Scarlet asked eagerly. Ma nodded, smiling.
Eventually, we reached da town hall, we saw dozens of children, some eager about da tithing and da prospects dat da government would (Supposedly) provide to dem. It was all lies. They’d rape girls and do something worse to da boys.
I den saw da Tithing official of this city, a horrible lady, walk up onto da stage.
“Welcome, welcome, to the tithing ceremony. All of you tithed children will have the greatest opportunities ahead of you. I hope you will all enjoy your futures.” She smiled, concealing da truth. Unless any of da tithed females wanted to be a prostitute, they wouldn’t have a great future ahead of them.
My sis was still smiling when da ceremony was over an hour later, and she was being lead into da tithing building, where she would find out dat her future would be bleak.
For da 1st time in years, there were no tithefurs in our city; however, how many were there in da other cities? How many mothers would face the sword?
That’s when I was tapped by da horrible lady, who asked me “Are you a tithe?” she grabbed me, and tried to lead me into da building. I furiously fought my way out of her grasp.
“No” I replied, fumin “My little sis, Scarlet, was da tithe child. She scowled at me.
“You lie, Tithe boy, Come here.” She yelled, grabbing me again. I pushed her, cracking her head on da statue of Alexander Rasonov. I searched for a pulse, but couldn’t find one. She was dead.
Damn! I hadn’t turned 21, and I had already killed someone.
If Ma found out............. She’d hand me to da Police no questions asked. So I bolted like, well quick, taking nothing but the gray outfit I was in, aiming to leave da city ASAP.
An hour later I realised one small detail I never thought about- What would I do now?
Chapter 3- The State. - Lucinda
“The State is the USSC, and the USSC is the state. One cannot exist without the other. We are dedicated to improving the lives of those we care for. We provide for the people, which is why the tithing ceremony must occur every year, so that the people can provide for the state in return.” The Opening paragraph of the Tithing Ceremony Introduction.
“Father. Why is tithing so important?” I asked my father, the 21st leader of the USSC.
“Tithing can lead to wonderful opportunities for all, I was a tithe child, and this year is my 35th year since I was tithed from my poor, suffering parents, and a Government official adopted me, and now here I am, the greatest man in the whole of the USSC. Your brother, Georgs, has had a wonderful 2 years since he was tithed. He will be somebody, not just my son.” Father grinned.
“Ah, all right. It is just that my best friend, Jessica, has been tithed and I want to go to the tithing ceremony, so that I can say goodbye to her.” I muttered.
“Jessica Green?” Father asked, and I nodded “She’ll have a great future ahead of her. I believed him, my Father always told the truth, and his USSC was the greatest country in the whole world.
“So, how many tithefurs will we have this year?” My elder brother, Dan, asked from behind his history text book. He was such a brainbox, he knew everything, and he was kind with it. Father is pressuring him to go into politics, like he did, but I know that all Dan wants to do is to study History and work with Alexi Rasanov. Father was horrified by the question.
“Dan, don’t talk about tithefurs in this house. They are crooks, criminals who only care about themselves. They have no regard for the State or its people. We don’t mention the word, we will never have one in our mansion, and you will never become one. Do you understand?” Father yelled.
“I understand Father, I’m just curious, that is all.” Dan replied. “I will never associate with a tithefur.”
“That’s ok then.” Father smiled “It’s just that I am a bit touchy about tithefurs. My Aunt was one, and she died. They found my cousin who had been tithed a month later, and she learnt that the tithing was a good idea after all. And, on another note, Dan, where will you be applying for University this year? Which University will you study politics at?”
“Father. I’ve applied for a place at the City of Matthews.” Dan replied. “I’m not doing Politics; I really want to do His……”
“You’re NOT doing Politics!?!?” Father growled “How could you not do Politics? You’ll be a really great leader of the USSC- you could have a city named after you. Instead, you decide to go into History, where you’ll be a nobody. What the hell is wrong with you?”
“Nothing Father. I just don’t want to have the stress of running a country every single day. I see how tired and angry you can be when something that is not your fault is blamed on you and I cannot cope with it. I’m sorry I just can’t face the stress.” Dan apologised.
“Dan. I understand that you say you don’t have a strong enough personality to lead the country, but you’re kind, and you’re charismatic. The people will love you. Please Dan, please change your mind.” Father begged.
Just then, a high ranking official in Father’s Government came in and told him that the tithing ceremony was about to start, so Father left the breakfast room, taking me with him to his limo. We were driven to the tithing ceremony, and immediately Father noticed that there was a tithe missing.
“Alex West. Her mother works in the tithing offices. I never would’ve imagined that her mother would just break the law and be selfish like that. We will find Annabelle, and she will pay for her crime. When we find Alex, we’ll make her life good.” Stan mumbled, but just loud enough for me to hear. Whoever this Alex West was, we will find her, because we are the best.
“Lucy!” Jessica yelled “Hi! I thought you weren’t going to say goodbye. I am glad that you are here, because then you can send me off to a really amazing life!”
“I know, Jessica. Isn’t it exiting? You being chosen to be tithed out of the whole of your family? You’ll do well, hopefully as an actress, which you deserve to be.” I replied happily. Father smiled, and agreed with me also.
However, there was a strange glint in his eye, which made me feel uneasy. But I ignored it, and celebrated Jessica’s tithing with her.
Chapter 4- The Psychics. - Caleb.
“The Psychics were created as a result of mutation during the nuclear war of the year 2051. The Psychics can read our minds; control our minds as well as being able to see into the future. They must be destroyed.” An excerpt into the Secret Psychic Purging Act.
“Humm, Nah, Nah. May the Great God protect us from harm, and smite the USSC from killing our followers.”The head priest sang. We were part of the Church of the Psychics, an illegal religious group, which most of the psychics were secretly part of. The Church of the Psychics was also an underground militant group, working with the Kingdom of Eirescot.
“Now today, our sermon. Today, one of our spies in the government discovered the existence of the Psychic Purging act. We. Are. All. In. Danger. The USSC wants us dead, because we are different from them. The USSC expect us to give them our children, our money and our produce. The citizens of the USSC, as well as us, have no freedoms at all. They control us; we are stuck until one day, we, along with Eirescot, fight back! We will free ourselves from the USSC and we shall win!” The head priest frowned.
“Aye!” We all cheered. We wanted the USSC to be free again, we wanted to choose who we married, how many children we had, what to do with our money, and what to believe in and say.
“Now, today, Children of the great God, we shall spread goodwill and happiness to the rest of the country.” The head priest finished.
I dreaded the tithing ceremony and one day we’ll have to go to one that is if we even survive in 2 years’ time, when my youngest brother turns 10.
“Caleb, I want a word with you.” The head priest sided up to me.
“Hello, what do you want?” I asked questioningly. “Why are you talking to me? I’m just a junior member of the Church, and there are more important people to talk to.”
“Ah, Caleb there is two things we need to talk about. Firstly, you turn 15 in six months, which means that you can be confirmed into the faith, and you can also join the militant group. Secondly, can I ask you for a favour?” The head priest muttered.
“Sure, what is it?” I asked.
“Umm, we shouldn’t discuss it in the hall, but outside. There is someone we’d like you to meet.” The head priest whispered.
He led me out of the hall and into one of the side-rooms where initiates prepare for their confirmation. Sitting on a chair in the middle of the room were two guys, one was in his early twenties and a psychic like us, with lilac coloured eyes. The other was in his forties and had blue eyes, which meant that he wasn’t psychic.
“Hi. You must be Caleb, pleased to meet you. I’m Jake and this is Edmund.” The psychic, Jake, greeted me, “We’re members of the smuggling ring that imports banned products, such as alcohol, DVDs, Video Games and hair dyes out of Eirescot and into the USSC. We want you to find one of our key members, a guy called Seth, who lives in the city of Rasanov.”
“The city of Rasanov!?” I exclaimed, “That is a couple of days away. Why do you want me to find Seth?”
“Well, he forgot to meet an important customer last night, who wanted a programme delivered to him which will delete all records of children in this country, saving thousands from being tithed in the next ten years.We are worried because of the Psychic purging act, as if they purge him and they have the chip…….. He’ll be slaughtered.” Edmund replied solemnly.
“So, basically, you want me to leave the City of Black to the city of Rasanov so that I can check to see if Seth is alive” I asked quietly.
Both Jake and Edmund nodded.
“Can I have some protection at least?” I inquired, and Jake nodded.
“Yeah, Scott, come out.” Jake called. A young adult came out of the shadows and he shyly blushed.
“Hi….Caleb. I’m…. Sc…. Sc… Scott. Pleased….. to…. Meet….. you.” Scott stammered.
“Yeah, Scott’s a bit shy. He is part of a new team of soldiers in Eirescot, genetically engineered; by their consent I should add, to fight a guerrilla war in the USSC. He is incredibly strong and fast, and he can also communicate with animals.” Jake laughed “He’ll be you’re protection.
“Ok. I’ll take the job. So, can I have a picture of Seth?” I enquired.
They handed me a picture of the Seth, then they finally sent me on my way.
Chapter 5- The Outside. - Alex.
“The towns and villages outside of the cities are dangerous. Full of thieves, outcasts and psychics. We recommend that the citizens of the USSC that are not criminals to stay inside the cities at all times, or if you really need to travel between cities, use the pods.” The USSC safety guide to travel.
“So, Alex. Wanna go outside or risk the pods?” Seth asked wickedly. He had decided to join me in helping me to get to the North, even risking a meeting with an important customer to do so.
“Not the pods. Let’s go outside of the city, even though it is more dangerous.” I grinned, “And while we are at it, let’s destroy every single jail pod that we come across.” I added sarcastically.
“Well, if you really want to do that, then I won’t stop you.” Seth groaned.
“I was just messing with ya. I don’t plan to destroy the prison pods.”
We passed a newspaper store. The main headline was about a tithing official who got murdered.
“How much for the newspaper?” I asked, getting out my purse.
“1 Den.” The newspaper seller replied, so I handed over 1 Den and received the newspaper, and began to read the article. Then I turned to page three, and looked at the missing tithe list. I was on the list, which was surprisingly short this year. Only 5 missing tithes.
“What’s this about a tithing official being murdered?” Seth inquired, snatching the newspaper out of my hand. “Well, whoever this Nor is, I’ll like to meet him.”
“You’ll like to meet a murderer? You know he took a human life, and that life can be taken back?” I gasped.
“The Victim was a tithing officer…..” Seth argued.
“No, she was a human being, just like me, just like my mum and my dad.” I argued back.
“She is a corrupt human being without any soul.” Seth replied “and I am not Human. I am Psychic. Their Government have decided to purge my race, so their deaths will pay for my race’s future deaths.”
“However, she’ll have family of her own, siblings, parents a husband and children. You cannot just right her off; she actually might be a nice person who supports us.” I yelled.
“She works for them!” Seth gasped “and you support her, not her murderer!?!?!?! Honestly, the Government want you tithed too, which is a fate worse than death. She deserved to be tithed, not be killed that easily.”
“For crying out loud. DO you even have a sense of empathy? She had a life, and it has been cut short. And anyway, we cannot be discussing this out here. We could get ourselves caught by the true monsters here, the leaders of the government themselves.” I replied.
“Oh, kk. We shan’t discuss this anymore, and we should just go?” Seth growled, before calming himself down, “Ok. Sorry I got angry. It is just that you were supporting the Government.”
“I wasn’t.” I responded, “It is just that the woman was a human being as well. So anyway, we should be leaving the city, instead of bickering; we don’t want to start off our journey on a bad note.”
Eventually, we left the city, and took our first steps into the outside.
“So, why is the outside regarded as being bad?” I asked.
“Two reasons, firstly, to keep everyone inside the cities and loyal to them. Secondly, because the people on the outside are unknown to the USSC. They don’t know the people outside the cities very well. It is like a different country. I’ve been outside before; it is like a different country. However, that is slowly changing. They are getting greater control over the outside.” Seth moaned.
I nodded, just when a man held us at gunpoint.
“Your money……. Or you die.”
Chapter 6- Escape! - Nor.
“The probability that a criminal escapes from the police is 2%. However, this figure is too high. Why can’t we make it 1% or even 0%? Criminals deserve justice, and justice they shall get.” An excerpt from the speech by the Crime Minister to the Police.
The odds of escaping dem Police are so low, so I’m already imaging my fate. A couple of days in a damp, cold cell. Den, a public execution. Not even getting a chance to escape.
Why, oh why, did I have to lose my damned temper? I could’ve had a reasonable discussion with da horrible lady. I didn’t have to kill her. Yet, I did.
I walked in da fields outside of da city. Da wind blew in my hair, ruffling my dark curls. Den, I heard someone calling out to me.
“Hey, you! Yes, you! Need shelter?” Da guy asked.
“No.” I replied “I need to run away from da Police, because I killed somebody. I dunno what the hell I am meant to escape.”
“A Killer?” The guy asked, “I’ll give yer a deal. I will protect yer if yer protect me.”
I pondered this over, before saying yes.
“Now, where do yer wanna go?” He asked, “I know a way of getting to Eirescot.”
“Eirescot? Where is that?” I asked, “I have never heard that term before.”
“It is the Proper name for what the Government call the North.” The man replied, “The Church of the psychic and those in the militant group know the name as well.”
“Dere is a militant group?” I gasped “and you are in it?”
“Yeah. As a computer scientist. I invented the chip that can delete the data for everyone in the USSC. A guy called Seth has it at the moment.” The man replied. “He was meant to give it to a spy in the Government, a certain Felix Rasanov, who was going to delete the records.”
“Did ya just say Felix Rasanov? He’s a descendent of Alexander Rasanov, isn’t he?” I queried, “Yet he is working for da militant group?”
Da man nodded, “Yes, there are two Rasanovs who are loyal to us. “Felix and Curran are their names. I should say that by protecting me you are now a member of the militant group and you cannot really leave it, or we’ll have to mind wipe you.”
“Good thing. I was about to ask if I could join.” I smiled, ignoring the death threat upon me. I could be part of something much bigger than just having to look after my family, waiting for da Government to pair me with a girl, stuff like dat. I could free this country from their grasp.
“Right, I’ll get you to the city of Brown that is where our main base is. After that, you’ll have training before protecting key members.” Da man replied.
“However, I do need to get to da North.” I muttered, “Sorry, Eirescot. I need protection to, ya know.”
“I understand, yer can get plastic surgery before joining us. Then no one will recognise yer.” The old man smiled, “Pleased to make your acquaintance. I am Roland Sutherland.”
“Nor.” I replied, “Nor Black.”
“Nor Black did yer say? The guy that killed the tithing official?” Roland asked, and I nodded in response, “Man, you really are a great asset.”
Chapter 7- Education- Lucinda. The night before.
“We strive to make the education system in the USSC the best education system in the whole wide world. There will be no homework, as statistics show that homework is not at all helpful, and we will teach you everything that you need to survive in the USSC, and your education will depend on what the Government want you to be when you are older.” An Extract from the State’s Policy on Education.
“So, Lucinda, what year did the 5th leader of the state come to power?” My tutor asked. He had been trying to teach me about the USSC’s History for years, but he had always failed. History wasn’t my best subject- art was, and yet Father never allowed me to pursue painting for a living.
“I don’t know. 2134?” I hazarded a guess, knowing that I would be wrong.
“Lucinda, for the 1st time ever, you actually got a history question correct! That is a small miracle in itself.” My tutor gasped with me. “Tell me one important thing he did whilst in power.”
“He died.” I mutter to myself, and then answer “He coined the term tithefur, before then they were called people who denied the tithe, which was much less snappy.”
My tutor nodded, just as my Father called out to me “Lucinda. It is the end of the school day, so come down here and discuss what you went through in school.”
I nodded, thanked my tutor and walked down stairs to my father’s office.
“So, firstly, I had Maths, which was quite good today father. I got 90% in a test. Then I had science, and I did well in that as well. Then I had mechanics, and again that was good, then History, and I actually got a History question correct for once.” I chanted.
“Well done Lucinda, and you know that tomorrow, you are meeting your suitors?” Father inquired.
“Yes, you said that you had two for me? Curran Rasanov and the horrible Dmitri Green. Please, I want Curran.” I replied.
“You haven’t met either of them yet, wait to you have met them before deciding.” Father ordered.
Father did not know that I had met both of them last year, at the annual government ball. I had danced with both guys, and whilst Dmitri was an obnoxious, selfish, egotistical guy, Curran was funny, kind and selfless. He cared about me greatly, and also cared for the Government. However, Father rarely associated himself with the Rasanovs, as he called them “Threats to his power” and preferred to hang out with the Greens, so probably, I’d get married to Dmitri.
“You know, daughter, Dmitri is a better suitor anyway.” Father smiled, “He is a political ally, and I don’t trust the Rasanovs, as they are threats to my power, and the stupid Rasanov rule exists……” he stopped, realising he let something slip.
“The Rasanov Rule?” I enquired “What is that?”
“It was a rule, which the 2nd leader made when he came to power. It decrees that if the country is in a middle of a crisis, a Rasanov, one of our 1st leader’s many descendants, could say if the USSC will continue with them in power, or if the USSC is over. The 2nd leader argued that it is right for the Rasanovs to have that power, as Alexander Rasanov was the one who founded our state, which is why most leaders of the USSC distrusted them.” Father lectured. “Now, time to chill for a little bit then bed. I have a lot of important work to do.”
So I chilled by reading for a little bit, then eventually I turned in for the night. I slept well for an hour or so, and then my little sister woke me up.
“Lizzy!” I exclaimed “Why are you waking me up?”
“I need a drink, and I’m scared to go down all on my own. I don’t want to disturb daddy.” Lizzy wailed.
“I’ll get you a drink then.” I smiled, and I proceeded to walk down the stairs, and just before I entered the kitchen, I stopped.
Father was on top of Jessica. Yet Jessica was a tithe, and she should’ve been doing something like Government training, work or something like that. Something that would make her great and help her to prosper in the future. Yet Father, who had broken his solemn wedding vows, was on top of her. Had the Government forced Jessica to be a…………..?
“Oh, hello, Daughter. Why are you down here?” Father blushed, “You weren’t meant to see that.”
“I was getting Lizzy a drink.” I grumbled, “And I see you with my friend, forcing her to do something that is not right. The Government said that they would help the tithes to prosper, yet you lie. You lied to me Father. I trusted you.”
I ran quickly to the Kitchen, got Lizzy’s drink and went back upstairs, thinking how I hated the Government. They ruined my friend’s life, and now…. They must pay.
Chapter 8- The Underground Movement- Caleb. The night before.
“The Underground Movement exists to free us from the control of the USSC. We shall fight, and if we have to, we shall die for our beliefs in the freedom of all. Those in power must pay for their continued crimes, and those who are suffering shall be saved.” The Underground Movement’s manifesto.
“Hello, so you’re the Militant Group’s messenger.” I asked a slightly deranged girl who was wearing fairy wings because she actually thought she was a fairy. Her lilac eyes denoted her psychic status, and her red hair was short and scruffy.
“Yes, I’m Catherine, The Message Fairy.” Catherine grinned dreamily, “How can I help you, Caleb?” I had never told her my name, but, like all psychics she knew. “Oh, you want a message sent to a guy called Seth, right?” She read my mind again.
I nodded in response, “Yes, you know where he is?”
“Of course I do.” Catherine replied, “He is my brother, and I can mentally communicate with him over long distances, so it would be easy to find him.”
“Ah ok, thanks. Will you tell him to meet me at the city of Brown’s main Government office?” I asked.
“You know that’s crazy?” She squealed, but I could not hear her, due to something totally crazy I had not experienced before. A flash, they called it, a flash of the future.
I was sitting by a river, near two girls, one blonde, the other with bubble-gum pink hair, a guy with black hair, as well as Catherine and Seth. The phantom Seth was holding the bubble-gum girl’s hand.
“So, where next?” The Phantom Seth asked.
“Da North, I guess.” The Black haired guy mumbled, “After all, Da State want us like, so bad, it is unreal.”
“I know, but should we at least start something big, which will inspire others to continue to oppose the Government.” Bubble-gum girl muttered, “After all, they got my mum, and…………….” But she never finished, as soldiers of the State surrounded us, and tranquilised us.
“Caleb! Caleb!” Catherine shouted, jolting me out of the flash, “Are you ok?”
“Yes.” I lied, “I am fine.” I was not ready to tell her what had happened. What I saw. How I would ultimately fail.
“Good…. Good.” Scott interrupted, appearing from out of nowhere. “We…. Bet…t…..ter go now.”
I nodded, agreeing with him. However, I wondered how had the Government found us? When would I meet the three companions I could not place a name on? What would happen to us afterwards?
“Are…. You….. sure…. Th..th….that you…..are ok?” Scott stammered. Jeez, he was pitifully shy.
“Yes. Let’s go and find Seth!” I exclaimed, with false happiness, knowing that we would be caught by the state.
Chapter 9- The messenger- Alex. - The Day after.
“Wanted. Those involved in the Militant group. Firstly, a girl, disguised as a fairy, who is the main messenger for them. Reward, 10000 Den for information leading to her capture or death.” A USSC wanted notice.
The gun was still pointed at us, the owner threating to kill us. He could easily shoot, but he hasn’t- well, until he gets our money.
“I’m sorry.” I replied, “I need the money to get to the North. The Government-“
“Want ya, coz ya a tithe.” The man interrupted, “Well, soz lass, I need the money. So final chance, ya money or ya?”
“Can we at least discuss our options?” Seth asked.
“Sure.” The man replied, and Seth got me to follow him into the voice.
“We should give him the money; I can get more from smuggling” Seth whispered, “Anyway, that guy is a runaway thief himself. He works for someone, so if we fight, or even kill him, his boss will be on us in a flash.”
“But…. Wouldn’t he shoot us after he got the money?” I muttered, “After all, he’ll have what he wants and we would be useless, expendable.”
Seth shook his head, “I don’t think so. I don’t see any thoughts like that in that guy’s brain.”
“Take the money.” Seth sighed. The man greedily took the Den notes out of our pockets, and as he was about to leave, a crazy girl dressed as a fairy accidently shoved the guy over. Immediately, we both rushed towards fairy girl.
“Hi, sister.” Seth mumbled, “I was not expecting to see you here.”
“Seth! And mysterious girl! Nice to see you have a girlfriend.” Catherine squealed.
“We are not dating!” We both said in unison.
“You are both blushing.” Catherine giggled “Are you sure you are not dating? Are you sure that you don’t …… love each other?”
“Sis!” Seth groaned, “We are not dating, and I don’t have a crush on her. She is a tithe girl who I am trying to save from the Government. Her name is Alex.”
“Seth and Alex sitting in a tree. K-I-S-S-I-N-G!” Catherine sung.
“Please, just be quiet Catherine!” I yelled, “Can we at least change the subject.”
“Oooooh. Lover girl is angry!” Catherine gasped, “But ok, ok. I am here because I was sent by a guy called Caleb who wants to meet you at the city of Brown’s Government office. I was trying to communicate with you telepathically, but you ignored me.”
“Well, we did have a gun pointing at us. That man stole our money, but seeing as you have knocked him out cold, we could take our money back. Also, when did Caleb send for us?” Seth asked.
“At around 10 o’clock last night. Took me three hours to get here, through the catacombs. I was about to enter the city of Rasanov when I saw you.” Catherine replied, “That’s why I came over here, and knocked out that poor guy.”
“He tried to rob us, sis.” Seth murmured, “No need to be sympathetic. So, forgive me while I take our money back. So, we need to get to the city of Brown and find Caleb?”
Catherine nodded, “I’ll come with you. After all, you don’t know what he looks like. So, the catacombs leading to the city of Brown have partially collapsed in places, due to an earthquake, so we can either take the catacombs to the city of Sutcliff and then walk to the city of Brown, which would take us about three days to do, but it is safer than the other option, which is to take the catacombs to the city of Smith and walk north to the city of Brown, but that would take us only a day.”
“The former. Even though I love danger, it would be crazy to go that way, as those sections of the catacombs are prone to flooding, and I don’t want to drown.” Seth blushed, “And you know about my phobia about drowning.”
“Ok, we’ll take the longer path; I better get a message to Caleb.” Catherine smiled, getting out a device which looked like a mobile phone.
“Oh my word, Catherine.” Seth gaped, “You still have one of those? Mine broke when the police tried to arrest me for being in the militant group.”
Catherine nodded, “Unlike you, I don’t take part in obvious criminal activity. I am only the messenger after all. I’ll put the call on speaker for you, so that you can talk to Caleb.” She dialled in a number, and the phone started to beep.
“Hello, Catherine. Have you found Seth yet?” Caleb asked through the phone, “Have you told him where to meet me?”
“Yeah.” Seth replied, “Hi Caleb, we are taking the longer route to the city of Brown, so we will be there in three days. I am also with a tithe girl called Alex, so I would like you to bring some fresh clothes with you for her as well as for me.”
“Ok. Have you still got that chip?” Caleb inquired.
“I still have it. I am sorry I did not meet Felix last night; I had to escort Alex out of the city. You know, the militant group encourages small acts of defiance. I had to save her, and get her to the North.” Seth mumbled.
“Ah, kk. Is she special to you, Seth?” Caleb teased Seth down the phone. Seth blushed again before stammering:
“Um, um, she is only a friend of mine. She buys the hair dye and the clothes that I smuggle out of Eirescot. We are not dating.”
“Sure, sure. Anyway. Goodbye, I need to get to the city of Brown, which will take me ten hours to do so from the city of Matthews. Need to get fake ID and everything. Cheerio!” The phone went dead.
“I think that we should go now.” Catherine replied, “We don’t want to keep Caleb waiting.” We nodded, and we proceeded to find the nearest entrance to the catacombs.
Chapter 10- The catacombs- Nor.
“Supposedly, there are tunnels under the USSC, which were created to help people to survive the nuclear war. After we moved back up to the surface, they were not used for years, until recently, when reputedly, the Church of the Psychics and the Militant group use then to get from place to place.” Alexi Rasanov lecturing on the nuclear war.
“So, da catacombs should be somewhere around here?” I ask.
“Yes, Nor. There is only one catacomb tunnel that is actually safe to use, and it leads from here to the city of Green, then we can take the catacombs from there to the city of Brown, but that would take us around 4 days to do so, but you’ll be safe from the Police. They know these tunnels exist, but they don’t know where.” Roland cockily smiled, “They’ll never find us!”
“Good to hear dat, sir.” I smiled, “However, why are da other catacombs in da city of Smith not safe?”
“Flooding. Every summer it floods heavily, leading to most passages being underwater. The one that leads to the city of Green is the safest tunnel, as it begins quite a distance away from the city.” Roland replied, “Aha! Here is the entrance to the catacombs.”
“Excuse me.” I whispered, “All I can see is bushes and shrubbery. I can’t see an entrance.”
“You are not looking carefully. Look here, see that button? That will open the catacombs like so.” He pauses, pushing da button, leading to da bushes splitting into two, revealing a dark, ominous tunnel. “Now, I will lead the way. I’ll just get my torch out of my pocket.”
He grabbed his torch, and instantly it lit up, revealing an infinite underground road. My mouth fell to da floor- dis was amazing.
“You surprised at the scale?” Roland asked, and I nodded in response, “That’s cool; most recruits are when they first join. They quickly get used to it.”
“Dis… dis… dis…. Is massive!” I gasped, quickly composing myself, before continuing, “Dis must have taken years to build on this scale!”
“Yeah, it took about 15 years to properly build all of the original tunnels, and we add new tunnels every time a new city is founded. This is so that we can get soldiers from city to city when they are required. Now, let’s get to the city of Brown.” Roland replied, his voice filled with happiness.
Just then, a beeping sound could be heard.
“Oh, that is my phone.” Roland apologised, “take the torch whilst I answer the call.” I grabbed da torch, and tried to listen in to Roland’s call.
“Yes…. Seth….. Good….. Purged….. Fellow traveller…… Alex……. I have….. Recruit…. Nor.” Roland mumbled, barely loud enough for him to hear him. Roland ended the call.
“It’s ok, they found Seth, and he has found a new recruit called Alex. I mentioned you as a new recruit, so the world is all right now. “Roland grinned.
I nodded, and then followed Roland down the tunnel. It seemed to go on forever, a never ending series of passages leading into the depths of infinity. Eventually, we reached a door.
“Three hours. That was a good journey in the tunnels. We are now at the entrance to Bunker 1, one of our main underground bases. Now, there is a special way of opening the door, but how do you open it….?” Roland pondered, cursing his bad memory. Then, just like a light bulb had lit over his head, he exclaimed “Aha!” and tapped 5 times on the door. The door slowly creaked open.
“Hullo, Roland!” A man greeted my travelling companion warmly, “It’s nice to see you again!”
“Hello, Jackson. It is nice to see you again soon. Please can we stay the night? After all, we have another couple of days trekking until we reach the city of Brown.” Roland asked. “So, what have I missed for the couple of weeks?”
“Well, Seth was AWOL, as you’ve heard, but we found him. We’ve had another couple of recruits, and we’ve also got a mole in the tithing office in the city of Brown. So, how was your mission in recruiting people in the Outside?” Jackson muttered.
“It was ok, a couple of villages decided to join, and I also got Nor Black, who killed a tithing official.” Roland bragged, suggesting that I was just a nameless soldier.
“Hey!” I exclaimed, “I have my own life. I have not just murdered the tithing official- I have raised my siblings and gone to school. I’ve obeyed the laws, and she started the fight not me- I committed manslaughter, not murder.”
They ignored me, carrying on catching up with each other, and talking about the woman I killed. They treated her just as a nameless nobody; however that woman had a life, a family and everything else. I, in fact, regretted killing her.
“So, Roland, I’ll get you and Nor a bed in A block. Is that ok?” Jackson asked. Roland nodded.
Chapter 11- Suitors- Lucinda.
“When an untithed child finishes University or their apprenticeship and gets their first job, the state decides who they should marry and where they should live. Then they can pay back what they own to the State.” The State’s declaration on Marriage and love.
“Hello, Lucinda.” Dmitri smiled slimily, trying to charm my father into letting me marry me. Urgh, he was such a selfish dofus. I hated, no loathed, him, yet my father would make me marry him.
“Hi. Dmitri. You’re after my hand? No fat chance.” I glared, trying to not punch him in the face.
“That is no way to talk your potential husband.” Father snapped, “You may be married to him, for God’s sake. He won’t forget your hostile first response to him.”
“I don’t want to marry him father, I want to marry Curran.” I replied back, “And you don’t stick by the marriage laws, yourself.”
“That is something you should not say out loud.” Father replied quietly, “Everyone in the Government does this. All the officials take tithe girls to bed with them. I am not the 1st.”
“THAT WAS MY BEST FRIEND!” I yelled, “YOU SLEPT WITH HER!”
“I don’t care who she was.” Father growled, “All she is is a pretty tithe girl who is bed worthy.”
My draw dropped- how could my father, a tithe boy himself, say such things? How could he not care about his citizens, which all Government officials promise to do? Unless, my father and his colleagues were big, fat liars who only cared about themselves.
“Lucinda? You okay?” Father asked, noticing that I was not able to answer back. I looked into his eyes, noticing that they were empty of emotion. He showed no sympathy of Jessica, only pure and utter coldness.
I nodded, fighting back the tears.
“Oh, you concerned by that tithe friend of yours?” Dmitri asked, “Well she ain’t important. She is just a tool. Most tithe children are- tools.”
I was not surprised by Dmitri’s response- he was a perfect government official- arrogant, selfish, cocky, and cold to the wants of the people-just like my father. I thought the Government were only concerned with helping the people of the USSC- I guess I was wrong.
Just then Curran arrived and apologised for being late, as some people were trying to mug him, and he had to fight them off as a result.
“That’s alright, Curran.” Father muttered, sounding disappointed. I guess that he sent the muggers to make sure that Curran did not even arrive.
“Hey, Lucy.” Curran smiled, “I missed you, you know. Ever since last year I have thought of you non-stop.”
“Me too.” I smiled, “Ever since the ball.”
Father looked confused- He was wondering how I knew Curran- when Curran asked if he could quickly talk to me outside of the room, and Father agreed, even though I thought that he wouldn’t.
As soon as we left the room, Curran pulled me aside and muttered in my ear, “Do you like the State? The ones who will make you marry a man you don’t love, as well as what they have done to your best friend?”
I shook my head. No, I did not like the state.
“Thought so.” Curran muttered again, “I don’t like the Government either. That’s why I want to ask you: would you like to help me protest?”
I paused. Again, I was wrong on something. I thought that Curran supported the Government wholly- after all, his ancestor founded it! What should I say? What if he was just an informer, who would inform my Father if I said the wrong thing? Eventually, I decided to speak.
“Help you protest? How? What do you want me to do?” Streams of questions fell out of my mouth, drenching Curran in enquires.
“Yes, I am serious.” Curran replied, “I’m working on a way of expressing the people’s views without the people actually being involved. I-“
“A way of expressing the people’s views without the people actually being here? What does that mean?” I asked again.
“Something like a float, or a film, or something like that? Will you help me make it?” Curran pleaded.
I nodded “Of course. I’ll help you if it stops the Government committing their crimes.”
If my Father found out, what I have said would be the nails in my coffin. However, he was wrong, and that’s why I had to stop him.