[16 September, 2142 | Sunday]
“Happy birthday, darling,” Mum said.
“Yes, happy birthday,” Dad added.
“No chocolate nutrition bar this year?” I responded.
YutopiCorp had officially won this war. After fifteen years of battle, of blood spilled because the Canadian politicians were so determined to maintain their grip on the country, Canada, and the rest of what was then known as North America, had been finally liberated. The country was now under the jurisdiction of corporate rule. The City had expanded its reach. Rebel camps were being destroyed every day, and it was only a matter of time until the City’s warriors reached this one.
With that knowledge, my parents told me they had something better than a nutrition bar for me: a real birthday present. An airship was due in moments, and they were going to evacuate us, as well as the remaining rebels at the base. The remaining soldiers they had imprisoned were to stay in their cells, but I was welcome to join them. I could be free.
After two years held captive after the removal of my Conscience chip was removed, I was confused. I had spent the last eighteen months hearing about how corrupt YutopiCorp is, and my parents sounded so genuine. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I accepted their offer.
Dad unlocked my cell, and Mum rushed over to hug me. I recoiled, but her embrace felt… familiar. As if something was locked away in my subconscious, wanting to break free.
“Shit,” I heard Dad mutter.
Then I heard the sound that caused him to swear. They were engines, but they didn’t belong to an airship. Instead, they were trucks approaching, populated by City Hunters. They’d found this rebel camp, and they were approaching.
I turned around to see him holding a communicator to his ear.
“This is …” I heard him say. “They’ve found the camp; how far off is the airship?”
I looked at Mum, whose body stiffened.
“We don’t have that kind of time,” my dad said to whoever was on the other end of his transmission.
Mum looked at him with a panicked expression.
“That’s two hundred miles away,” he finally said to whoever he was talking to. “We don’t have enough vehicles for all of us.
Dad turned to Mum and told her to find a car. “We need to get Cas out of here.”
Mum reached a car just as the trucks pulled up. Suddenly, the camp found itself under fire. Through the chaos, rebels descended upon any vehicle they could find. Suddenly, Dad was under a hailstorm of gunfire, and returning serve with a hailstorm of his very own—maybe I don’t owe all my combat skills to training. As we edged closer and closer to the vehicle, I was caught between the fire.
After what felt like hours, but I can now rationalise was only minutes, Dad ushered me into the vehicle and Mum sped off. Two City trucks were fast in pursuit.
“It’s okay,” Dad said, trying to reassure me. “We’re getting you out of here; you’ll be safe.”
Just like my previous birthday, déjà vu struck me across the face: Dad’s words reminded me of that day twelve years ago. Granted, I was in the back of a truck, not the back of a car, and this time, I wasn’t high as fuck on whatever they were drugging me with. But once again, my parents were trading on my confusion. And once again, they were trying to forcibly remove me from the City.
“The City’s safe,” I protested.
“I really wish that was true.” Mum didn’t inject anything into me this time; she was too busy driving.
Another difference between their first attempt to remove me from my home and the second is that the first time, my DNA hadn’t been spliced. I didn’t have feline agility. But this time, I did. I snatched the gun from Dad’s hand, and before he could react, I had the gun aimed at his head. Right between the eyes.
I pulled the trigger and shot him between the eyes.
As his body fell limp, Mum swivelled around. To this day, I can’t tell you what she looked like; only fragments remain. One of those fragments is the expression on her face. Shock. Fear. Sadness. But mostly anger; so much anger.
But after my gun fired, all that was left was a glazed expression. Her once lively eyes glassed over as slumped forward after I shot her, too.
“The City’s safe,” I repeated, knowing they wouldn’t hear me. It was a lesson that despite being given many opportunities to learn, they never did.
As the car careened off the road, I opened the back door and leapt out. As I hit the ground, the City trucks pulled up and Hunters stepped out.
“Hands in the air!”
Of course, I complied. Not out of fear; they were here to take me home.
Cas? No, not Cas… “Citizen 1,498,372. Ready to serve the glory of the City.”