Sia woke with a frown on her face as the bitter memories that had plagued her mind throughout the night consumed her current thoughts. Every time she closed her eyes, she relived her life, a very real nightmare based in a frigid dystopian reality. Tonight had been worse than usual.
She blinked up in the dark and whipped the covers off of herself. She felt sticky with sweat and tears from her night terror. Sia stretched her limbs and pulled herself up on the bed so that she was sitting. A small cramp made her neck ache and her hand reached out from the thin cotton blanket to rub the tense area. Her legs slid over the side of the mattress and she stood and walked across the room to the door that led outside to the balcony. She shuddered when the door opened. Cool air rushed inside and wrapped around her in a chilly embrace, but she was grateful for the shock. It made her feel alive.
Sia sat down in a rugged old chair and sucked air into her lungs and then back out in a puff of smoke. She looked out into the cluttered streets littered with trash and old abandoned cars that didn’t crank. Parts had already been scavenged to sell illegally or used to fix up TVs and old technology leaving empty husks. She lived in a sea of forgotten memories that was her world now.
On queue, she heard the familiar sharp ring of a bell sound loudly. The streets blinked, once, twice, then three times to eventually wake just like it did every day at six o’clock in the morning. All of the street lights, in a blinding flash of white, lit up the early morning. Graffiti graced the walls with the colors of red, blue, and green. The crumbling buildings looked as if they had been abandoned for years, bricks misplaced or simply absent in the wall. The sidewalks that were once a part of a beautiful city called San Francisco had just crumbled into a rough form of gravel and stayed that way, no one bothering to fix them. Mother earth had began to reclaim what was rightfully hers, green sprouting up in the cracks and crevices.
Sia seethed in annoyance as she heard the spokeswoman for ‘New Nation’ come on the big televisions that were plastered all over the streets in perfect sync with one another. It was impossible to mistake it for anything else. The sound of the newswoman’s voice was a squeaky, stuffed up sound that aggravated the hell out of Sia.
“Good morning, San Francisco homo-sapiens,” The blonde started cheerfully. “I hope you have a grand day! Make sure you check in with border patrol when you leave your assigned living quarter. A quick blood sample and picture will be required from you before you leave. Please remember that if you are in need of work, all you have to do is make your way-”
Sia stood up and slammed her balcony door closed before pulling her curtains in place, not wanting to see the annoying womans face as she went over the rules that all humans were forced to abide by. It was the same every morning and Sia could recite the speech by heart if she wanted. The lights inside her apartments had automatically turned on with those outside and she grabbed her clothes from the dresser. A tear glided down her cheek as she picked up her clothes that were laying on her dresser. Sis angrily wiped it away. She hated it! She hated everything about the way she now lived, alone and scared.
She made it to her bathroom and turned the faucet on for her bath. She looked in the tiny mirror and grimaced at the tiny girl she saw there. Her big blues eyes were filled with so much pain and sorrow. She was skinny, almost unhealthily so, and short for her age of 19 at 5′1. Sia turned away and stepped into the warm water. Tears started to fall from her eyes as she bent down and crouched in the tiny tub. Sia no longer prayed to god anymore. He had abandoned her. Instead, tub time was her designated crying time and she was going to ball like a baby, like she did every morning before she had to leave for work.
For Sia, hell had decided to inhabit earth long before the monsters had. When she was nine years old Sia lost her parents to an unfortunate car accident. Their old Volkswagen had driven off of a cliff, killing her parents instantly on a trip to visit her brother at University. She had been sitting in the back, and woke up to a broken femur, a broken arm, several broken ribs and a punctured lung. Her throat had been slashed so savagely that she had lost the ability to speak. The doctors told her again and again how lucky she had been. By all rights, she should have been dead and there were times during her recovery that she wished she would have died along with her parents.
After the accident her beautiful, amazing, twenty year old brother was forced to quit school and become her full time guardian. Though he never complained about having to work a nine to five job, she knew that he had longed to be a doctor and she had ruined that for him. She grew farther and farther away from the world and began to value only her solitude.
It wasn’t long after when all hell broke loose, not just in her life, but in the lives of every single human alive. When she was sixteen, two years after the accident, werewolves and vampires came out from under the bed, making their selves known by declaring war. The battle against these creatures dragged her brother away from her and for the first time in her life she was truly alone.
It was only six months later that the war had been won. There wasn’t one single survivor, the supernatural creatures proving just how inhuman they were by annihilating every single prisoner of war, including her brother. They televised it to instill fear into the humans who were left alive, including her. Only a short five days later she was rudely woken up to the sound men breaking into her families house only to relocate her. It was the most terrified she had ever been in her life as she was dragged away from everything that she had ever knew.
Humans were arranged into camps for months, many dying of sickness and disease while boarders and suitable human ‘areas’ were being built to keep her and others like her caged in. From what she was able to gather, most human suitable areas surrounded major cities for housing purposes. The day came when the camps were finally disbanded and everyone was sorted out by age and sex and then placed into living areas. It was the first time she was grateful her family was six feet under. At least they would never have to see what had become of the world.
When Sia was taken out of her camp and placed in the San Francisco area, for females who were aged fifteen through twenty-six, she learned that the worst was yet to come. On a female and males twenty seventh birthday they were placed in an area and everyone was forced to breed. The vampires demand for blood could only be met with new humans.
Sia cleaned herself and dressed before putting her hair into a French braid after towel drying it. She would probably end up being sick by the end of the week going out into the cold with wet hair. She went to the window and pulled open the curtain to look at the time on the TV directly across from her and found that she didn’t need to because the old yellow bus was already waiting on her downstairs.
Sia worked for a cleaning company, one that was employed to work for local werewolf estates outside of her area. It allowed humans to leave their areas to earn money that would be used to buy food and clothing that they needed. She exited the chilly apartment building, grabbing her jacket for the chilly weather. Sia closed the door and locked it, putting her key in her pants pocket, before walking down the hallway.
It was quiet as she traveled down the creaking stairs. Sia could see the long line of girls loading onto the bus and she joined in. Girls from other buildings made their way out to get onto buses and it got a bit louder as they began conversing with one another. She couldn't help but over hear two girls muttering back and forth behind her.
“I’ve heard Anna’s gone missing.” One told the other.
“I wonder who’s going to take her place. I would kill for her position. Do you realize who-”
Sia stopped listening as she felt a finger poke her in the back to walk forward. As she saw Lindsey, Sia smiled softly at her and gave a short wave. Lindsey was twenty six with two months left until she would be forced to leave the area. She would no longer be there, a familiar face for Sia to look at.
In Sia's mind, Lindsey was one of the special girls. She hadn’t given up all hope. Many people had abandoned god, not understanding why he would let something like this happen. Lindsey had a strong sense of faith. With a finger sized cross that hung from her neck, she loudly and proudly believed that someone was still looking out for her, even if it was a giant man in the sky. Though Sia didn’t particularly believe in any deity she liked to hear the passion and hope that filtered through Lindsey’s words when she told the story of the Hebrew slaves and their escape from slavery in Egypt.
Lindsey, who wrote down the names and kept up with pay roll every day, gave her a small wave and big smile and let Sia on the bus before she started calling role. She sat down in the back of the worn out bus like she always did and rested her head against the cool glass of the window. Once everyone filed on, the bus started moving with a loud groan and everyone was quiet to see if there would be any announcements today. Lindsey began to speak and Sia filtered much of it out.
“-one more announcement. Sia, you won’t be getting of until last today. Okay?” Sia perked up when she heard her name as surprise flowed through her. She nodded at Lindsey. The last stop was the royal mansion, and usually only the older girls were able to help clean it because they were more trust worthy. It was then she realized that she had just taken Anna’s place, which meant that she had been confirmed gone. It wasn’t uncommon for women to mysteriously go missing.
One day they showed up for work and were on the schedules given out by the new government, and the next day they were gone and someone else took their place. No one knew what happened to the missing girls and no one asked. Questions could and would get you killed. It was one of Sia’s biggest fears in this new world, being picked off one night and being ‘replaced’.
Sia listened to the hum of the girl’s voices, some giving short laughs. The bus was always so loud, and she almost always got headaches from the chatter and the bouncing of the bus . She wished that she was allowed to have her iPod, but all advanced technology such as that had been taken from them and destroyed.
She gazed at the landscape as it passed by in an attempt to block them out and stared passively at building after building in the over populated area. Other buses were loading up women as they climbed in to head to work. Today was a rainy day, Sia’s favorite. Everything seemed more peaceful and lazy and the clouds didn’t shine as harsh on the truth as the sun did. She often wished she made enough money to spare on a sketch book and some pencils to draw, but her pay only bought enough for basic necessities like food and, every once in a while, new clothes.
As the bus continued, Sia felt her nervousness grow into anxiety that ate away at her. What if she did something wrong at the mansion? Was that what had happened to Anna? Had she magically disappeared by the will of an angry royal? Sia felt sick and tried to focus on her surroundings. She noticed all of the signs with smiling werewolves and humans promoting the rules of the area, including the early curfew of eleven o’clock for all humans.
The longer they continued to drive, the buildings slowly became less and less crowded, and she even imagined that if she squinted really heard, she might be able to make out the shore line. She smiled when she remembered how her brother used to love to throw her in the freezing cold water when he grew angry at her. Sia stopped the tears from building up in her eyes as she cleared her mind. It was the last thing she needed on a bus full of girls that didn’t particularly enjoy talking to her anyways.
Outside her window she looked at the familiar sight of the draw bridge along with a bunch of supernaturals. She shuddered at the sight, the tiniest bit of fear entering her body, though she had done this a thousand times before. The doors to the bus were opened as a tall werewolf entered her bus. Everyone quieted and the tension became so thick you could cut it with a knife.
If you were just setting your eyes on these beings for the first time, you would probably never be able to tell the difference between them and humans. In fact, when she first caught sight of these mythical beings, it was like looking into a magazine filled with male models. After a while, she started to notice that they all had very similar features. They were all tall, standing at least six foot three, had darker hair and eyes most of the time, and strong sharp facial features were common for werewolves.
“You all know the drill!” He announced loudly,” You will line up to get off of the bus and they will take your blood and a snap a quick photo. You will then line up to get back on the bus and when everyone is finished you will be lead back onto the bus. If you try to run, you will be caught and dealt with. You are to be back before eleven tonight, or a bounty will be placed on your head and you will be killed. There are no second chances or excuses.” He finished, sounding as if he was truly bored.
Sia couldn't blame him though. It was either him, or someone else who gave a very similar speech every single morning. It was nothing new and Sia knew how serious they were about their rules. When she had first been put into her area, many girls tried to escape once they were out of the living area and into werewolf territory. They were all killed, either by being ripped apart by a wolf or starving in the wilderness. It was horrendous.
Sia stood up with the rest of the girls and waited as they filed off the bus, their picture being snapped and a blood sample being taken before they stepped off. She hugged her jacket tighter to her as it slowly grew to a colder temperature inside the bus. She looked around at the werewolves to see them all in short-sleeved shirts and shorts. It was no secret that extreme temperatures didn’t affect them like it did humans.
When it was her turn, Sia stepped up as the camera flashed, stunning her for a moment. A wolf pricked her finger roughly and forced her finger onto a little piece of paper as she was quickly pushed out of line. Sia blinked her eyes, trying to adjust them, and quickly found her way back into the line that had formed to get back onto the bus.
She hated this part of the day. It felt like she was in some kind of science fiction movie. When everyone was finished and seated back on the bus, the guards at the post let the bridge down. It had been quick and precise, as it was every morning. They quickly crossed the bridge and she grew calmer each second they fled away from the wolves.
She noticed the lay of the land was completely different. You could most definitely tell this was a different area. There were no ruined buildings or paved roads. It had been turned into the perfect little nature retreat, a beautiful piece of paradise for the wolves. It was her favorite part of the day, getting out and getting to see the woodland. It almost made all the hard work worth it. As they drove on down the road, the trees sagged, making it almost resemble a tunnel of green. It was beautiful, serene somehow, and a smile creeped its way onto her face.
It wasn’t long that they had to travel before they made their first stop, where Sia would usually be getting off. She felt sad for all of the girls that were forced to pile off of the bus here, knowing firsthand that these werewolves weren’t very nice to humans, not that any ever were. It was the home to the king’s cousin and his daughter, Sapphire, who once had Sia whipped for spilling a drink on her carpet in nervousness. The scars still graced her back, but she had never made a mistake since that day. Sia crouched down in her seat for a moment, praying that Lindsey wouldn't tell her she had made a mistake.
The bus continued on its way after Lindsey told the girls that had gotten off to be ready at exactly six that evening. She felt her stomach cramp in fear as the bus turned down a road she had never been on before. She gazed out of the window as they drove down a bumpy dirt road for about seemed like forever, She couldn't help but bite her nails as she squirmed around in her seat. Eventually the trees thinned out to display the biggest house Sia had ever seen in her life.