This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
′Once upon a time'; a phrase too commonly said.
This story begins with a not so common opening: 'How can you dream?' Yes, I asked. 'How do you dream? What is it like?' Until recently, I had not dreamt during my life. It had been short; I was sixteen after all. I read about all of these dreams that had come true, but dreams never did anymore. I heard how someone could work their way to their goals, but that only seemed like a fantasy found in storybooks.
It all started after dreaming was banned by the government. With dreams gone, all creativity and new ideas were sucked down the drain. Without them, people resorted to a dull lifestyle filled with geriatric technology. Society, technology, and culture were not advancing within our country, and our lives seemed pointless. Day in and day out, we’d do the exact same routine, and wear the exact same clothing. Nothing was ever different; different wasn’t even allowed.
Not only was dreaming in the unconscious sense forbidden, but so, too were ambitions. Any person who was caught was quickly put to death. Eventually, the government began providing us with nightly vials to prevent our brainwaves from having dreams while sleeping. These vials were only given for the nighttime hours and lasted for ten hours after taking it. If anyone refused to take the medication, they were killed; but when we did take it, my father said that you could no longer escape reality.
I really wished that I could. Sleep was the only break I ever got from my life.
My grandmother said that the government was afraid that these dreams would cause people to want to rebel and not listen to the government--to come up with ways of doing everything better and to leave the government behind. They were afraid that dreaming would threaten their dictatorship.
In reality, taking away dreams only made it worse. People whispered in corners to make sure no one overheard them, and smiling would vanish when a government car drove by. No one dared to make a sound on the streets, leaving them cold, dark, silent. Only the monotonous voice on a speaker echoed through downtown.
“Remember to obey the rules and regulations at all costs. Alert the nearest official of any suspicious figures. Follow to achieve and trust those who lead. Anyone who chooses to rebel and become a radical will be put to death.”
This voice would regularly remind citizens of the rules and the system put in place. Those that are caught breaking those regulations were put to death by executioners.
All, but one.
My name is Calista, Calista Knight. I had a brother, a mother, a grandmother, and a father—just a normal life in a not-so-normal country.
My father worked directly for The Commander, and my older brother, Ambert, worked in the information department—though it wasn’t like he wanted the job. My mother, Suzanne Knight, and my grandmother didn’t understand how my father could stand the guy. Personally, I didn’t know what to think of him; hearing different views from both of your parents was hard.
I still went to school, though there were no arts classes, questions where you thought about life’s deepest conundrums, or fiction novels. Instead, they just had lessons on facts: math, undisputed science, grammar, and governmental policy classes. Just books on cold, hard facts, and nothing more. Facts that we were supposed to read, absorbed into our heads, recited, and repeated until the day came for us to take our place in society.
Most of the boys were drafted into the army at sixteen unless they possessed exceptional qualities like researching, intelligence, or problem solving. Such children were placed into government positions where they had a tight work schedule. Girls were different, mostly marrying by the age of twenty and increasing the population or taking government positions.
Grandmother told me of a time where kids were able to choose what they could do after school, and study engineering or interior design and other classes like music or drama. Music. What an intriguing word. To me, it didn’t make any sort of sense. With dreaming and creativity gone, anything having to do with it was banned as well.
At school, we all walked in a single file line to our designated classes. We were not allowed to speak unless spoken to in the hallway or during class. Most lunches, even when not regulated this rule, were silent as well. My mother said school seemed more like a prison than when she attended, but my father disagreed. He said that school had never been better, allowing even more learning and less ’nonsense.’
I sat at the lunch table, setting my tray onto the cold metal in front of me. Just sitting in the chair caused a chill to run up my spine. Silence allowed for only the clanking of forks on plates. I gobbled down some spaghetti before having water dumped over my head. The water splattered on the table and drenched my clothes, causing them to become damp. My face grew hot, and I jumped in alarm before dropping my fork to the ground. Clank!
“Hey!” I screamed.
“It’s Calista isn’t it?” asked the boy over my head.
“It shouldn’t matter,” another smirked, “She’s still lame.”
“Doesn’t she have that dim-witted brother of hers? The one that didn’t want to drop out of school to join the army and got chosen to work in the Information Department?” a girl whispered from beside me.
“Yeah, don’t understand why he’s still alive,” whispered another girl across the table.
The boy above me chuckled. “Because Knight is a respected government name! Bet he skirted the army because he’s a wimp. My brother should know; he beat him up after school on teacher’s orders several times.”
“She’s related to Mr. Knight, The Head Executioner for The Commander. Bet she kills too, and not just for good reasons. I don’t want her to assassinate me...” the girl’s voice whispered.
“Her? Assassinate you? Her brother was lame and so is she. They don’t give the Knight name any of the respect it should,” the boy above me chuckled.
“Stop this...” I mumbled.
“So what’chu gonna do?” another boy yelled.
“Besides, what are you gonna do when you graduate? Be the laughing stock?” the boy chuckled.
I cuddled into a ball and sank in my chair, shaking my head. Beads of sweat ran down my face. They always made fun of me because of my family. I hated it, but it was something that was out of my control. No matter what I said, no matter what I did, they would continue to push me around and pick on me. I would have to put up with the torture I had endured since I was ten.
“Leave her alone,” The command came from a different voice, one I didn’t recognize.
It was new, certainly not from one of the kids that I knew at school. The deep, velvet sound was reassuring and mysterious.
“What did you say, Jacob?”
“Leave her alone,” the boy repeated.
I looked up at him to find his face as unrecognizable as his voice. His blonde hair bounced gently off of the light, and he had a strong jaw, like he could keep defending me all day. Tears streaked my face and water dripped down my cheeks. My rescuer smiled at me.
“You can’t do anything about it,” one argued from the crowd of students.
“Still, you can’t judge her based on her family,” my rescuer returned.
Silence was once again ruler of the cafeteria. The boy only nodded before taking his seat at an opposite table.
He was different than everyone else from the start. He spoke differently, with what seemed more intelligence and insight. He sat in his desk, looking ready to learn about the world around him. His eyes were lit up with excitement and he tapped his foot underneath his desk. The fact that he also had the courage to stand up for me meant I wasn’t going to complain about his behavior.
My teacher gazed around before spotting my rescuer. She looked at him with a cold-hearted stare before asking, “Jacob Peterson, tell me: what was the main purpose of the Renaissance?”
“The purpose of the Renaissance, was for mankind to re-invent the definition of what science, math, and language is,” he answered, his voice robotic and monotonous.
“That is correct. They were also inventors, and famously made many abominations. Music, art, drama, and they even invented new technology! What do we have to learn from this?” my teacher pried again, eyebrow raised in suspicion.
She must have been trying to see if he, as a new student, was on the same page with dreaming like the class was.
“Nothing. It’s pointless,” he answered, but I could tell a certain light was drained from his eyes.
Those eyes seemed like they changed to a different shade of blue every time I looked. First, I thought they were sea blue, then sky blue, and then midnight blue. I settled with a royal blue, because that is a color that can be trusted. My brother’s eyes were a similar hue, and he also stood up for me.
“Calista? Ms. Knight, were you listening?” the teacher asked.
A few students snickered from the back of the classroom. My face got hot.
“Yes?”my voice croaked and I sank into my desk chair.
“Would you care to explain what the three main guidelines are?” my teacher impatiently tapped her foot.
“Um...well…” It wasn’t like I didn’t know the answer, I just didn’t want to say it out loud. I was already getting laughed at. What if I did something else wrong?
I gulped, attempting to answer again. “One, never get involved in something you don’t understand… like dreaming. Two, if you see someone... doing suspicious activity, report them in immediately. Three… um… if someone is not conforming to the rules and... openly participating in rebellion, no murder crimes will be charged against you for carrying out the law.” I muttered this, my voice barely above a whisper.
“For a Knight, you sure are timid. Much better than the last one I taught. Excellent work,” my teacher smiled.
I gave a nod back to my teacher.
“Now, cite the slogan,” my teacher ordered like a general.
“Follow to achieve and trust those who lead,” the class recited.
“Good, very good.” the teacher smiled before opening her textbook.
Walking home from school was not hard, considering the town I lived in. I could always find wherever I had to go since my parents had me memorize all the neighborhood names. As I walked out of the school grounds and onto Fort Avenue, I spotted Jacob walking ahead of me towards another section of town. I had to thank him for stopping the bullies in the cafeteria.
I don’t know what I would have done otherwise if he hadn’t stepped in. I didn’t have many friends. After all, who would want to be friends with Mr. Knight’s daughter? Maybe this time it would be different.
Yet as we walked, I could no longer recognize where I was. Jacob darted into a brick building with faded graffiti on the worn-down brick sides. It looked as if it had been abandoned for years, with wood blocking off most of the crevices the building had to offer, like windows and even the main door; it left only a small space for Jacob to crawl in and out of the building. The smoky odor of wood tinged the area. I looked around for the warmth of flames to find none except in a small chimney space. How strange. Why would Jacob go in there?
The wooing of a siren echoed around me.
“Oh no!” I mumbled to myself, eyes widened like a doe caught in a pair of headlights.
The only people who had hover cars in our city were government officials, which could only mean a few things: they were either here to give out the injections, arrest someone, make announcements, or possibly drag someone away to be killed. What were they doing here? Quickly hiding myself in a thick bush with brown, dying leaves, I realized that I was on the wrong side of town where everyone was dragged away to.
It’s only made worse when your father was the one doing it.
Father’s car screeched to a stop and he swiftly got out of the little black vehicle; he was patrolling again--as he always did. Teeth clenched, he hauled an old man out of the back seat before reaching into his back pocket.
At the first sight of the gun, I was gone.
The shot went off as I ran, and I felt streams of tears cloud my vision and dampen my face. My heart pounded, cold, quick air seeping into my lungs.
Despite not knowing the man, he somehow meant something to me, just like the mysterious Jacob Peterson. Maybe I had a shot at being his friend; I had rotten luck with making any of those thus far, but maybe he was different. Everyone at school thought I was a freak or that I was just like my father.
I ran from the area, and headed back to my house. Approaching the two-story metal building with caution, I stared into the rusting metal like it was out to get me. There, my mother was sitting outside on her rocking chair and my grandmother was knitting on the metal porch.
“Knitting scarves again, Gran?” I asked her, taking a look at the jumbled mess in her hands. The color red laced in the fabric; I didn’t want to be anywhere near that color after what I’d seen.
My eyes looked away from Grandmother’s scarf and into the snow below me. I had to not remember the gun, my father, or the blood. I took a deep breath in and produced a fake smile. Mother and Gran didn’t need to know about it. I didn’t want them to ask why I was there.
She smiled. “Only exactly as instructed. You know it is against the law to do it any differently.”
“Well, we wouldn’t want you to get in trouble, now would we?” Mother kissed my cheek.
I went inside the house and took off my scarf, coat, shoes, and sweater. Then, I went upstairs to my room in the attic, shivering in the darkness as a chill went up my spine.
It seemed to get colder and colder every winter. Cold, but no snow; only ice and heavy winds. Still, Grandmother sat on the porch every day knitting the same scarf design, year after year.
‘Does the government have to restrict what we wear too?’
I looked at my clothing: khakis with a black polo. On the shirt, there was a government approved logo which had a clear D marked in red. It was matched with gray dress shoes and black socks; even the scarf I had taken off was colored in the national colors too.
Colors didn’t seem to matter anymore. Or, at least, the government didn’t seem to care about them. Why would they? We were regulated to wear solid patterns and the national colors. They represented dreaming in their own special way, according to Ambert; then again, I rarely got to see him since he was forced to take that job in the Information Department.
I finished my studies, gobbling down meatloaf at my birch desk. Ambert and Father were usually never home for dinner, so eating at a table was a foreign practice. Why sit with Mother and Gran when I had work to get done?
Before laying down on my bed, I slipped in some plain red pajamas with the black letter of approval. My mind was restless from the things that happened earlier. I tossed and turned, thinking of my father and the gun. It could have been Jacob or me. I didn’t think anyone lived out in that section of town, especially in an abandoned building. Who was Jacob anyway? I was determined to visit where I last saw him earlier when I got up the next morning.
Just as I was about to drift off into sleep, my mother knocked on the door and came into the room.
“You forgot to take this.” She held the dream suppressant vial.
I hesitated, and turned my head so that I could drink it. I winced. It might have been a clear liquid, but it tasted like it could be vomit--putrid and unforgiving with its bitterness. It stung the lips with its touch, causing them to partially become numb from the cold sting.
“Your father is going to be late again. The Commander has ordered him to do some late night inspections,” my mother explained.
“You mean executions,” I mumbled, but she didn’t seem to hear.
“Well, goodnight. It’s Free-Day tomorrow; enjoy your day off from school,” my mother said gently as she shut the door.
'The snow must be pretty bad tonight if they had to cancel classes…'
Wind howled and the shutters clamped next to me. I wrapped the satin sheets over my body even tighter, a fluffy blanket enveloping me in warmth.
Closing my eyes, I went to sleep hearing the computer on my headrest read my brainwaves were low.
CookieMonster911: The story overall was an adventure that is appealing to any age. The way the characters develop adds a more human characteristic to the novel. The writing style itself is amazing because you can learn every character's thoughts and emotions. The awkward love triangle and jerk moments adds to the ...
diabolka: This book is a fascinating twist on mythology, fantasy and romance genre. The author has done a fantastic job combining Greek mythology with a modern day twist, tying in a plot that offers twists and turns that are both expected and unexpected. The hero, Ross, and heroine, Antara, are complex, ...
genlynne2379: I read the other review of this book and I must say that I disagree with it wholeheartedly. I do not believe the author put the apostrophes in the names just to be unique, but because the characters are supposedly of a different race than humans. They are Anmah. They should have different names a...
Nymeria: Really can't get enough of this story. It flows well, it captivates the reader from page 1, and throws you into such a well-written, well conceptualized world that you'll believe it's real. Everything in the book is meshed together really well. From character backgrounds to plot twists, you can t...
spec4huff: Thank you for creating this world. I am a 6'3" veteran that thinks himself tough. But the piece of literature you have created made me misty eyed on a number of occasions. I want a love like this. Thank you again, I would totally buy this book and hopefully the sequels to this ever enchanting lov...
Theresa Alley: right from the start it is of the genre I love!! And it doesn't slow down from there!! I love that it kept me reading til I had no more story left to read!! I finished it in one day!! love this book!! looking forward to more from this author, if not about ASTA, more of the same style!! PLEASE!!!???