[16 September, 2130 | Saturday]
“… birthday,” Mum’s voice floated into my ear before it swirled around my brain.
“Yes… happy…” came Dad’s voice from anywhere but his mouth before taking the scenic route to my ears.
Nanny’s voice… well, Nanny’s voice wasn’t there. The AI didn’t greet me; didn’t wish me a happy birthday. It had been a week since I’d heard the chip’s voice. A week since the ‘doctor’ my parents took me to short-circuited my companion. Over the course of that week, I had been beset by nausea and dizziness. The ‘doctor’ gave me an injection before decommissioning the chip, and my parents had been poisoning me with more of those injections twice a day ever since.
How could they have done this to me? The parents who told me they loved me, who once did everything they could to help me, spent a week drugging me. As I stared into the darkness, feeling each bump on whatever this freight truck was travelling along, barely noticing as my parents hugged me and wished me a happy birthday, I pondered this question.
When we made the trip to the doctor, my parents told me we would be travelling to British Columbia, where the enemy alliance would help us evacuate. They had placed their trust in an enemy who would remove us from our homeland and place us back under the tyranny of political rule.
Dad had to restrain me—I was fighting with every ounce of strength I could muster—as the ‘doctor’ injected that first dose of poison into my vein. “I’m sorry; I need to sedate you,” he said. “Your parents are going to rescue you from this war zone, but they’ll need you to not fight this every step of the way and risk drawing attention to the group.
“Once you’re free of the border, the injections can stop. But in the meantime, this is for the safety of everybody on board, including you. Your parents will get you to safety, and your lives will be able to begin anew. With structure and normalcy.”As we were loaded onto the truck, I counted at least five hundred of us. In hindsight, that seems like a lot of people managing to fit inside such a tiny compartment; I guess the drugs fucked with my maths skills. I know there were other kids there; I recognised a few from back when I went to school and thought a couple attended my Serenity Fables Pony Funland birthday party. I couldn’t be certain, though; they were all blurring together. Regardless, the blurry kids were quiet; it looked as though their parents drugged them too, so they could more easily steal them away from our bright new world.
“Let me out!” I had no idea of what the time was, or how much of my birthday I’d spent in the back of this hellish vehicle, not that I particularly gave a shit.
“It’s okay,” Dad said, trying to reassure me. “We’re getting you out of here; you’ll be safe.”
“The City’s safe,” I spat as he moved to restrain me.
For a brief moment, I was lucid. Seeing my parents for what they were—criminals forcibly kidnapping their child from safety—I was determined to make the most of it. I imagined making my escape. I could see the image of me aiming a gun at my dad and pulling the trigger, shooting him right between the eyes. Mum would look at me, shock written over her face, and would die with that shocked expression permanently etched on her face as I pulled the trigger a second time.
They were enemies of the City, which meant they were also my enemies.
“I really wish that was true,” Mum said as she injected me again.
It didn’t take long for the poison to do its thing; before long, I was once again barely conscious. My head was swimming, feeling like it was a separate entity to my body, but when the truck slammed to a halt, I could feel the shockwaves travel up my spine and to my brain. They were still connected, after all.
Concern for where my head was disappeared moments later, thanks to the muffled sound of gunfire.
Soon after, the backdoors swung open and bright light flooded inside. Through the blinding light threatening to incinerate my retinas, two City warriors—our rescuers—stood by the door, aiming their weapons inside.
“…in… air…” I heard one discombobulated voice say.
“…slowly… at a time…” I caught the other discombobulated voice adding.
I watched the others as they put their hands into the air, then walked single file towards the exit. I extended my arms above my head and joined the queue.
As I stepped out of the truck, bright neon lights assaulted my eyes. We were in a city (not to be confused with ‘the City’) that I didn’t recognise, in a back-end street. Warriors surrounded the truck, guns aimed at all of us as the light littered my vision with sunspots. After a week spent in the dark, my eyes weren’t incredibly fond of the adjustment; a situation made a hundred times worse than the drugs coursing through my system.
As the warriors separated the children from the adults and ushered us towards a skybus, I hazily complied. The warriors led me to a seat where I could sit comfortably for the first time in a week. It was cushioned, and felt like I was sitting on a cloud in the sky, and that wasn’t the drugs talking. It felt like no time went by before the doors to the bus hissed closed and it took to the sky, where I was to be among those clouds I was sitting on (that was the drugs talking).
As we left the ground and looked outside the windows, I saw my parents. They stood with all the other adults, arms raised.
For years, I was left wondering what happened to Mum and Dad. I was sure they loved me in their own way, but they tried to remove me from the City’s care. Maybe they did love me, but because of their fear of the unknown, they made a mistake.
A huge fucking mistake that the City was going to ensure they paid for.