Dystopia, p.1Janet McNulty
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This is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents within are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or location is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
Copyright © 2013 Janet McNulty
Cover Design by Janet McNulty
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
~To all of the Dana Ginary’s in the world
Table of Contents
Get book 2 in the series
About the Author
Other Books by Janet McNulty
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Dana dumped the open suitcase on the bed and piled clothes inside it. She and her sister, Lina, raced through the room, cramming what they could into the medium sized, brown grip.
“Hurry!” their father yelled from the bottom of the stairs.
Banging resounded downstairs as gloved fists pounded the front door.
Dana snapped the suitcase closed and handed it to her sister. Just as they reached the door to the hallway, uniformed officers burst into their room knocking her to the floor. The suitcase flew across the space and crashed into the far wall, opening and spilling its contents.
An iron fist gripped Dana’s forearm and scanned the chip implanted in it. Another scanned Lina’s. “Her,” he said, pointing to Dana’s sister.
Armed men seized Lina and dragged her out of the room amidst the screams and shouts of the family. Dana lunged for her sister. One of the officers thrust her aside. She banged her head on the table and collapsed to the floor unconscious, as her sister kicked and screamed.
Dana woke up. Sweat covered her skin, making her pajamas and blanket cling to her. Slowly, she realized that she had been dreaming and over five years had passed since her sister was taken for failure to report to Wing 16 of the Hospital.
Dana glanced at the empty bed in the room, her sister’s bed. Dawn poked through the curtains.
Screams echoed from outside. Carefully, Dana looked out her window, and across the way, she watched as armed officers entered her neighbor’s house. They hauled out a man who struggled profusely to get away. His wife screamed and cried as she pleaded for them to let him go. No wonder I had the dream.
“Don’t get involved,” she repeated to herself.“ Dana, you’re going to be late,” her mother called from the bottom of the stairs.
She glanced at her clock and realized that once again she was late for school and this was career assignment day. Quickly, Dana tossed off the covers and threw on some clothes. She darted down the stairs. She paused when she passed the living room. The television was tuned into the only government approved talk show with Mr. Halloway.
He smiled that charismatic smile of his as he interviewed the First Councilman of the western region: Donald Humphries. Dana listened momentarily as they talked about the resistance.
“Sorry, mom.” Dana ran out the door after giving her mother a kiss. No time for breakfast.
Dana briefly stopped and glanced at her neighbor’s house as the man was shoved inside a van. One of the officers glanced in her direction. Hurriedly, she looked away and walked toward the bus stop for the first bus into the city.
She stared at her lap the entire ride, sinking into her seat. No need to draw attention. Two officers sat in the row in front of her. Dana’s pulse throbbed like it always did when she came into contact with them. The least infraction meant being arrested, or worse. She fiddled with her fingers as she anxiously awaited her stop.
The bus lurched. Dana’s already nauseous stomach did a whirl as it threatened to upchuck on her. When her stop neared, she pressed the button and jumped off, relieved to be out of its confined atmosphere.
Dana raced through the pristine streets of the city, her feet pounding on the marbled sidewalks. She scrambled up a bunch of stairs. Late again! Ignoring the pain in her side, Dana ran faster as she headed to the school, her jet black hair billowing behind her.
It was graduation day and she had woken up late. Graduation day meant the day when you received your career assignment. Most looked forward to it. Dana dreaded it. At the age of 17, students graduated from school. No ceremony marked the event, just a letter from the Career Assignment Board telling you what you would do for the rest of your life.
Dana increased her speed. Tardiness was frowned upon. Not a good way to make a good impression, she thought.
The arched doorway to the school loomed ahead. Dana charged through the glass doors as she darted past the man at the desk.
“Hey, you need to sign…”
“No time,” said Dana as she dashed down the hallway.
She found the door to her classroom. Peeking through the window, Dana saw her teacher, Bill Torres, handing out crisp, white envelopes.
“Shoot,” whispered Dana to herself.
When her teacher turned his back, Dana quietly opened the heavy door and slipped inside. She headed straight for her desk and sat down.
“You’re late,” hissed Kenny.
Dana glared at him.
Kenny Michaels was one of her school friends who had a knack for pointing out the obvious.
“Did you forget what day it was?”
“Shush,” Dana hissed at Kenny.
“Miss Ginary,” said Bill Torres as he handed Dana her envelope, “Nice of you to join us.”
Dana gave a wry smile as she took the envelope. Carefully, she broke the seal and pulled out the letter. Dreading what it would say, she unfolded it, taking note of the seal on the top.
Dana slapped the paper face down on her desk. Waste Management? Had she been that troublesome?
Dana remembered hearing about how a boy received the same assignment two years previously. He was dead three months later. Waste Management was where they sent those they deemed too bothersome, but could not execute outright. The life expectancy there was short-lived.
She knew that she tended to ask a lot of questions and do things her way, but Dana never thought it would lead to this.
“What’d you get?” Kenny snatched the paper from Dana before she could react. “I got Ministry. It will—Oh.” He handed her back the letter. “I told you to quit causing so much trouble. I bet that incident in the kitchens was the last straw.”
Dana frowned. She remembered the event. Six months ago, she had discovered a book about frying food, something that was forbidden by the council. The council was a group of five men wh
After discovering the book, Dana snuck down to the kitchens in the school with a group of students. She heated up a big pot of oil and fried chicken, bread, and anything else she could think of. They all enjoyed the food and had such a good time that they forgot they were doing something illegal.
Eventually, a bunch of officers showed up and arrested them. Since they were all still considered minors, they were let go with a warning. But Dana knew that she had been singled out as the instigator. She remembered sitting before the principal as he explained to her the errors of her ways. After vowing to never do it again, he let her go with a warning, the latest of many.
“Are there any questions?”
Bill Torres’ voice broke through Dana’s musings. She raised her hand. The room fell eerily silent as all eyes turned toward her.
“Miss Ginary? Something wrong?”
“I want to change my assignment.”
Gasps rippled across the room. No one ever requested a career change.
“Yes,” answered Dana. “It is allowed.”
“If there is nothing else,” said Mr. Torres, “you are all dismissed. Miss Ginary, a word.”
Kenny glanced at Dana as he left. Dana walked up to the desk where her teacher sat.
“You do realize how highly irregular this is.”
“Yes,” replied Dana.
“And you are certain you wish to go through with it?”
“Dana, don’t do it.”
Dana could not believe what she was hearing. Mr. Torres giving her advice?
“Your record is a huge red flag,” said Mr. Torres. “You have been marked repeatedly for being challenging, inquisitive, anti-social, and the incident in the kitchens six months ago was it.”
Dana hung her head. It seemed as though she could do nothing right. She knew she shouldn’t, but she always questioned what people in authority told her. She tended to prefer working alone instead of in a group. Too independent, people had accused her of.
“Take my advice,” continued her teacher. “Take your assignment. It has happened before where a person was able to achieve a different career after working their first assignment for a couple of years. Consider this penance. Don’t challenge the council on this.”
“That is assuming I live that long. You know the life expectancy for someone in Waste Management. I want to request an assignment change. I may not get another chance.”
Reluctantly, Bill Torres pulled out a slip of paper. “Sign here.”
Dana put her name on the line.
Mr. Torres attached the slip to her letter and sealed it in another envelope. “I wish you luck.”
Dana nodded and left the room. Once outside, she breathed deeply, glad to be out of the confines of the classroom. Dana took one last look at the school, knowing she would never return. Tomorrow, she was to start her assignment.
“So,” said Kenny as he ran up to her. He had waited for her to come out.
“I signed the request form,” said Dana.
“You what?” Kenny gawked at her in disbelief. “No one does that. You should just take your assignment.”
“Says the man who was assigned to the ministry. Did your father pull some strings for that?”
Dana regretted her statement. She liked Kenny and thought him a good friend, but he never questioned anything. He always just accepted what the council told them. Everyone knew that his father was the First Councilman of the eastern region and had some influence to garner extra luxuries for his family, luxuries denied to everyone else.
“Sorry,” said Dana.
“Hey, you two!” Emily Melk ran up to them. “We got it! We got it!”
“Got what, Em?” asked Dana.
“John and I will be allowed to live together. The permit just came through today.”
Emily waved the official slip of paper in front of them.
“Congratulations,” said Kenny.
“We’re thinking of applying for a child next,” said Emily with excitement.
“I don’t see why you need a permit for anything,” muttered Dana.
“See, that’s what I mean,” Kenny turned on her. “You always question things. Don’t you realize that all this is necessary so that no one has opportunities denied to another?”
Dana bit back her retort. “Sorry. Congrats, Emily. I know you’ve been looking forward to this.”
“So you guys got your assignments today?” Emily had graduated a year before and worked in Food Management, which meant she worked in one of the many grocery stores. It wasn’t a bad job. Usually, it meant that the person got some extra treats, as many within Food Management would sneak away with canned goods, figuring that they were owed them.
“Yes,” said Kenny. “I get to work in the Ministry.”
“Oh, that’s a good place. Lots of room for advancement.” Emily turned to Dana.
“I need to be going,” said Dana, not wanting to talk about her assignment. “I’ll see you two later, but I need to get some milk before I return home.”
She ran off and caught the next bus that would take her to the market closest to her home. As the bus bounced down the street, Dana watched as the marbled buildings of downtown disappeared, being replaced by more shabby looking ones. They passed a green area where those selected to be officers trained. Sunlight glistened off their bare skin.
Dana got off at her stop and headed straight for the grocer, taking special care to avoid the officers that patrolled the streets. She took her place in line once she entered the market building.
Dana rushed to the counter. “One gallon of milk, please.”
The man behind the counter disappeared and came back a few minutes later with a half-gallon.
“I asked for a gallon,” said Dana.
“Doesn’t matter,” said the man. “New regulations. Now each family gets just a half-gallon of milk for the week.”
“If you don’t want it, then just leave.”
Dana took the milk. The man grabbed her arm and scanned the chip that was implanted in her forearm. She watched as a spot of red appeared and vanished.
Upon birth, each person received a chip that was implanted in their arm. The chip revealed everything about you to anyone with a scanner. It also served as a tracking device.
Dana took her milk and left.
To her dismay, Dana noticed that not only had the quantity changed, but it was 1% instead of 2%.
“I wish they would quit changing the rules,” said one man to a few others.
“What was that?” demanded one. “Are you disagreeing with the president and therefore disagreeing with society?”
“No, I just—”
The man who had muttered discontent soon found himself on the pavement as the others beat him. Dana watched for a moment. When one of the others looked at her, she ran away. An officer strolled by, ignoring the entire affair. Disagreement was a punishable offense.
Dana turned a corner. She raced down the alley toward the street that led to her home. Within 15 minutes, she entered her neighborhood. Somberly, Dana observed the “cookie cutter” houses and how they looked exactly the same. Each house possessed the same square footage and a quarter acre of land. This prevented anyone from having more than someone else.
A vacant house caught her attention. Pausing, Dana remembered the man who used to live there. He had turned one of the rooms into a greenhouse and sold the produce to supplement his income. But someone had informed the Officer Corps. Dana remembered the raid that took place as officers dragged the man from his home and placed a black bag over his head. They ransacked the building, destroying the plants he had managed to grow. Once things had quieted down, Dana snuck inside and salvaged what she could. She never told her mother where
Realizing it grew late, Dana hurried to her house. She pulled the mail out of the box and went inside.
“Dana?” Her mother stepped out of the kitchen. “You’re late. Wash up. Supper will be ready soon.”
Dana put the milk away and handed her father the mail. He took one letter and tossed the rest aside. “Hmmph! Seems we get less and less each time.”
Dana glanced at what her father referred to. He had opened up the envelope with his paycheck. Each pay period, a person’s paycheck was sent to the treasury. There the government took what they deemed necessary as taxes and to pay the individual’s bills. What was left over was what the individual person was allowed to keep, his allotment.
“Well, Dana is leaving us now,” said her mother. “Seventeen and starting her own career.” Her mother gave her a tearful look. “Well, time enough for that. Supper’s ready.”
The electricity shut off.
“Oh, dear,” said her mother, “did we go through our allotment again?” She lit a lamp and set it on the table. “Sometimes I think they keep lessening how much we can use.”
“It’s all about saving the environment, dear,” muttered Dana’s father.
“Shh,” warned her mother. “Don’t say such things so loud.”
Dana took her seat as her mother placed a plate in front of her. The plate contained only a half cup of rice, a full cup of peas, and one piece of chicken. Because people received government-provided health care, the government decided that they had to manage what people ate. Officially, it was done for health reasons and national security. In reality, they did it because resources were limited and costs needed to be kept down.
Her father pushed his chicken onto her plate, putting a finger over his mouth. “Don’t tell your mother.”
Dana smiled and ate it quickly.
A knock sounded at the door. Jumping up, Dana ran to the door and yanked it open. A letter stuck out of the mailbox. She took it, knowing what it was. With shaking fingers, she opened it.
“Dana, what was it?” Her mother walked into the hallway, taking the letter before Dana could hide it. A frown appeared on her face. “You tried to change your career assignment?”
“They put me in Waste Management. I just wanted…”
Dana stopped when she noticed her mother turn white.
“It’s okay, mom. I will work there for two years and reapply then. If I work hard, they might let me move to another field.”
“Yes, of course,” her mother said, trying to hide the shakiness in her voice. “Let’s finish supper. We’ll discuss this later.”
Dana allowed herself to be pushed into the dining room, her heart sinking.
Dystopia by Janet McNulty / Horror have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on16 votes