When I enter the building I once knew as an ordinary school, I know that my life will never be the same. Just a few months ago, these same halls I trudge down everyday, were once filled with literally thousands of chattering students, now it has become a ghost town, old and forgotten about. When I reach my classroom, room 142, I slide into my desk , then I take a quick look around the room. There are only three people left in class today, Macy, Elroy, and myself, Angelique. The rest have been taken away.This is not a horrible tragedy in which everyone caught Swine Flu and died. No, they have all been taken to The Test.
The bottom line is there are too many people on our planet at the moment. I know that for a fact now. I’ve heard it echoed throughout the halls for years now, I have never believed it. But now, there is proof, we have been notified that we will all be tested within the next year. The committee is only permitted to give us limited information. All we know is that, one by one, citizens will be pulled from their normal lives, and tested on mental ability, strength, and control. Not passing The Test will result in death. The committee wants only the best for our community, they make sure that our world is filled with only the finest citizens.
But somehow, I just can’t how taking our citizens and one by one killing them off will help create a . I’ve heard rumors, and based on what is going on around me, I’m almost sure their true now, that the people who do pass the test, will most likely go insane from the horrible things they’ve seen through The Test.
I feel a hard rap to my knuckles, I look up to see my history teacher, who in the classroom we simply call “Master.” Our education system is highly inequitable and quite truthfully demeaning to the student, not as if anyone is going to change anything. I look up, rubbing the soar skin on my already scarred knuckles.
“Stand.” Barks the instructor.
“Yes Master.” I say rising out of my seat, my knees bumping the bottom of the desk and I stumble, I straighten up, trying to keep my head up.
“Please lead our class in the National Anthem.” He says, eyeing my disgustedly. I turn to the class and recite:
“ I pledge, that I will be forever faithful to my country and the Committee, for it is they who have provided me with all I need and all I have ever wanted. I will serve The Committee as I would any god. I will listen to their instruction no matter the circumstances, and I will love my committee, I promise I will do whatever it takes to serve them, for serving my Committee is serving the community.” I keep standing, twirling my long, curly brown hair around my index finger.
“You may be seated.” Says the instructor. I sit, waiting for the sound of thirty nine chairs scraping the marble floors, not to my surprise, the room is almost silent. We are not permitted to speak to each other in class, or even look at each other for too long, our instructors find it distracting and the Committee believes that if we socialize to much we might try to start a rebellion.
Of course, almost anything will set the Committee off, littering,speaking to those outside of our families or school groups, unauthorized building will go on in any of the regions, eating or selling food that has not be approved by a Committee official.
I squirm in my chair, trying to pay attention to the instructor’s dull lecture on life before The Committee. I have heard this speech at least a dozen times this year, it’s gotten almost twice as frequent now that the testing has began, it’s as if they want us to believe that killing off most of our friends and family is the right decision, that we, as a community, should support our own deaths in every way.
The rest of the school day drags on, I try to do my work quietly and quickly but my mind is full, thinking about the best place to fish for, after school it’s time for my job. It is not an official work position, but it might as well be. Everyday after my school has ended, I walk to the 6-13 division of the local school. The school is only one building but the walk from the 14-19 division to the 6-13 division is two miles long. There, I will take my sister, Adeline, and seven of her classmates into the depths of the woods to find food, mostly gathering berries and fishing by the small stream in the densest parts of the forest.
Finally, the end of the day bell gives a resounding ring throughout the classroom, I gather up my books and papers scattered all over my desk. I again make the dismal journey down the long, hard tiled hallways. I find the nearest exit and quickly leave the building.
I have the choice of staying inside, it would protect me from the dreary weather that rages against me now, but I prefer to make as little interaction with the instructors. It’s not as if I dislike people, in fact I like most people, but the instructors make you feel as if you are some disgusting creature that crawled out of the earth and they want to dispose of you. When in the presents of either an instructor or a committee official, it is customary to bow your head and thank them for all they have done for you.
I walk in udder silence, my feet not making a noise on the hard concrete. I’m so used to this route, I’m sure that I could still make my way to my sister’s division with my eyes closed.
Once I reach the front of the younger division, I pull open the large, clear, double doors and walk inside. Adeline is sitting in a corner with two other children, neither of which is part of our group.
“Where are your friends” I ask her, peering around the corner, taking a glimpse around the corner into the large classroom, the instructor is pacing back and fourth in front of the clean white board muttering something to faint to hear.
“I don’t know,” says Adeline, looking worried. She laces and unlaces her fingers over and over again, she glances in the direction of her classroom “I think they have been taking to the testing station already.”
“It’s just us then, isn’t it?” I ask her, trying to keep a level pitch. It’s hard to keep calm about all of this. I’m still trying to grasp the fact that Adeline or myself could be dead in a matter of days.
“Yeah I guess so,” She says, wearily.
“We’d better get started then, we still have to approve the food at the nutrition center, remember?”
We are mostly silent on the long trip to the woods, I’m trying to keep my mind focused on something, anything. I try thinking of different number patterns, first simple ones like, 2,4,6,8,10 and so on, and then, slowly, getting more complicated, 82, 42, 2, 37, 72, 107, 67, 27... Every once in a while, I look over at Adeline, trying to see into her mind, but her eyes remain the same, glassy blue without any sign of emotions.
When we reach the starting of the woods, I decide that Adeline will hunt with the store of weapons we have left for this very occasion and I will go down to the stream to fish. We have approximately two hours before we are due at home for dinner.
I climb up the large hill separating me from my destination. THe hill is heavily mossed and so steep it resembles a small mountain. I grab hold of a craggily rock and it crumbles in my hand. My foot slips and I grab for something, anything to hold on to. I fall, luckily the drop is short and all that follows is a is dull pain that shoots through my hand every once in a while. I again reach for a rock, this time I manage to grab hold of a mangled tree branch and pull myself up. When at the top, I survey the majestic scene below. The water in the stream is a deep blue, unlike the polluted waters in the town square meant for decoration, it glistens in the dim sunlight peaking through the trees. Suddenly I hear loud, heavy foot steps that I know for a fact do not belong to the delicate feet of Adeline.
“Angelique Durand, please step forward.” Says a deep robotic voice, an official.
“Yes, master.” I say quickly hopping down from the perch I stood in. I land on my ankle and it twists in an unnatural way that surely means a sprain.
“Come with me please,” says the official, stepping into my field of view. He is a tall, lean man with a close shaved hairstyle and the regular metallic suit that officials most commonly choose to where.
“Excuse me sir,” I say hesitantly, “May I ask where it”
“It is time for you to take The Test, come with me now, please.” He says stiffly.
“But my sister, she’s waiting--”
“She will be notified.”
I look around and see that the Official has already started walking toward a small hovercraft floating just a foot above the ground. With that, I take off, walking toward one of two things, a completely barren and altered life, or a brutal death.