This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
I was at a crossroads, and whichever path I chose would ruin someone’s life.
The puzzle pieces in my visions had to fit together, but I wasn’t sure how. I couldn’t crack the code. Because of that, I was the only leader left for The Fantasists… even if that role was being forced on me. A leader who was shy, quiet, and always screwed up wasn’t a hero. She was a loner, even if she longed for friends and belonging.
I wanted to have a voice, but all of my shouts were like whispers. This wasn’t how I wanted things to go. I was only a little curious. A single thought ran through my head:
‘What’s it like to dream?’
“Calista? Is that you?” Mom’s voice echoed down the hallway.
Mom’s voice carried from the kitchen. “You better scurry in here before I serve breakfast.”
My eyes widened. “Just a sec!”
I threw a vial into the recycling can and sat at our circular metal table. Clean plates were laid out for three people, and a fourth was messy, crumbs lying on his side of the table.
“I’m guessing Ambert left in a hurry again?” I gave Mom a hopeless glance.
Gran was less polite about it, her voice rasping with disgust, as she hobbled to her seat, assisted by her cane. She adjusted her overlarge red sweater as she sat. “Does he ever clean?”
“Let me help you, Gran.” I stood from my seat, and drew her chair out for her.
“Thanks, Missy.” Gran sat and smiled at me warmly.
I returned to my seat, not saying a word. My fingers twiddled in my lap, adjusting my black polo shirt and gray jacket-- a C laced across the fabric.
Mom set the plates and took her place beside me.
“Is something wrong, Calista?” Mom asked.
I nodded. “Just worried about graduation.”
Gran chuckled. “It was different when we grew up.”
“Really?” I asked.
Gran shifted her gaze. “We didn’t graduate at sixteen. We left high school at eighteen, and then, we had all kinds of classes: engineering, music...”
Mom’s eyes widened. “Ma, if someone found out you’re talking about radical ideology...”
’Music? Never heard of that before...’
“Sugarcubes, Suzanne. Can’t I tell a couple stories to my granddaughter? Besides, you enjoyed those classes too...” Gran smiled.
“Mom? You!?” My jaw dropped. That couldn’t be right. That was radical ideology. My mom wouldn’t start a rebellion.
Mom placed a hand on my shoulder. “It’s none of your concern now, Calista. We can’t do those things anymore. We just need to stay in the system, keep our heads low, protect each other…”
I startled - only a little - as the kitchen door slammed behind me. A moan grew as father shuffled into the kitchen for the coffee pot. He poured himself a cup, and took a seat at the table.
I bowed my head respectfully. “Father…”
“Hello, Sweetheart.” He sipped his coffee, grumbled, and cleared his throat.
His stern gaze met mine, bags under his eyes showing his dedication to his work; the gray color haunted by the past lingering behind them. His hand ran through his salt and pepper hair. A few wrinkles etched near his forehead and eyes. His posture was rigid in his chair, his back didn’t arch at all.
Mom cleared her throat. “Hugo, we weren’t expecting you back.”
“I easily apprehended the criminals this morning.” Father sipped his black coffee.
“What was it this time? A rival gang?” Gran asked.
Father chuckled. “Even worse. Artists. Scum of the earth if you ask me.”
“Artists?” I asked.
Father looked me in the eye. “Just more radicals breaking the anti-dreaming and creativity laws. One step in their direction and we’ll all be sick.”
“Hugo, Calista doesn’t need to be exposed to…” Mom started.
Father raised his hand to silence her, waiting for my response.
“Of course, Father,” I said, lowering my eyes from his gaze.
No one wanted to see my father angry. His work sickened me, but he could never know. He was just as controlling as The Regime, if not more on my personal life.
“That’s my girl,” Father smiled, “You know, I saw your report card this morning.”
I raised an eyebrow. “But the school board isn’t giving those out until next week.”
“If you thought you could hide it from me, you’re wrong,” he spat in my face.
“I-- I’m sorry,” I mumbled.
“Overall, I was pleased, but your gym grade is unacceptable! Sweetheart, you’ll never take a place in society next to me if you don’t try in P.E.!” Father sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. Father always loved his recognition.
“But I can’t think about my future. That’s The Regime’s job.” I looked back to Father.
It was true, as much as I didn’t want it to be. The Regime chose my future off of a mild skillset. Developing unique skills was punishable by death. More than likely, I’d end up marrying a stranger by eighteen. I was never into guys, let alone anyone for that matter. That was outlawed by The Regime, and no one could know. Even if Father knew, I’d probably be dead, even if I was just ’asexual’.
I gobbled down my eggs, trying my best to not spill food on my khakis.
Mom smiled and rolled up her gray sleeves. “I remember when school was a happy place. You could make friends, have fun, and…”
“Not practical. The Regime outlawed dreams, creativity, and ambitions to stop wasting time on worthless crap. Boys go to the army and those with contained skills continue their education. That’s better than… dreaming. It’s a disease manifesting in the weak.” Father rose from the table.
He placed his cup next to the sink and glanced into the recycling bin. A scowl formed on his face. He took a tablet from his black jacket, and typed on the high tech screen. He could report a radical if needed. The year on the screen read 2519.
My eyes widened. He wasn’t going to report his own family, was he? He cared about us over his job, right? I bit my lip, trying to keep quiet.
“Hugo, what is it?” Gran asked, her eyes filled with worry.
Father clenched his teeth. “I’m gonna kill him.”
“Hugo, what’s wrong?” Mom placed her hand on Father’s shoulder.
“There’s only four Cures in here. You know it’s important to take one, and it’s my duty to uphold the laws! There should be five in here. One of you didn’t take it last night!” Father snapped.
“I put mine in there, Father. Honest,” I said, lip quivering in desperation. I knew I placed my vial in there! I had to!
Father smiled my direction. “I know, Sweetheart. You know the rules,” he paused, “But whoever didn’t take it is as good as dead. You know the penalty for not taking it, Suzanne! Death!”
“It wasn’t your son. He gets up early to go to work, and you marked his vial with an A. It’s there.” Mom pointed into the bin.
Gran chuckled. “Someone probably forgot to throw theirs away. I’m old, for heaven’s sake! Do you think I always remember to throw that container out?”
“It’s okay, Father.” I smiled.
Father chuckled as he eased his nerves. “Run along. I don’t want you to be late.”
I nodded and grabbed my red backpack. Father’s eyes widened and he stopped me from heading out the door.
“Never forget your scarf. If your clothes look different, they’ll report you to the watch list. I wouldn’t want to take you to The Executioner’s Graveyard.” Father tied a black, red, and gray scarf around my neck, making sure the shorter part was in the front.
I released a deep puff of air as I left the house. I wouldn’t see Father until bedtime, if I was lucky.
The way my parents talked about dreaming made me curious — unnaturally so. What’s it like to dream? I read all The Regime policies I could on it, but there was no definition to what it was really about.
I spent many sleepless nights on research, and used my laptop to try to find all I could about dreaming. But with a government lock over what could be seen, any research at all was difficult. Under my sheets, I could ask all the questions I wanted to, even if all I got were government provided answers. Father would never let that stand.
Each time someone passed my door, my heart pounded. Father could never know. Otherwise, people would say Curiosity killed Calista. It was a secret kept between me and my laptop, making sure to use Father’s firmware. I didn’t want to join hundreds of bodies in an unmarked grave.
Technology remained the same in our age, allowing us to grasp what we had rather than develop backfiring new concepts. I’d rather be safe than radical, even if I was a little curious.
As I walked to school, people whispered in corners to make sure no one overheard them. Smiles vanished when a government car rolled down the avenue. No one had the nerve to make a sound on the streets, leaving them cold, bleak, silent. A single voice rang through speakers, reminding citizens of the order put in place.
“Alert the nearest official of suspicious figures. Follow to achieve and trust those who lead. Anyone who becomes a radical will be put to death.”
This voice reminded citizens of the system put in place. Those caught breaking regulations were put to death by executioners.
All, but one.
Hawkebat: Playing both Kotor I & II and Swtor I found the story line interesting and it held me until chapter 35 Very good story and plot flow until then, very few technical errors. I felt that the main character was a bit under and over powered, as it fought for balance. The last few chapters felt too f...
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...
ynez2005: I LOVE THIS BOOK SOOOOO MUCH!!!!Though you really need to make another book,more Princesses!!! Whoooo!!!Girl Power!!!Mabey it could even be Devona's BFF???That would make it even better!!!Plus can you pleeease make Akki come back,together with Thea and Authur amd the whole family is back!Other th...
Hudson: Your story was fantastic Erin! The Rising Sun was one of the first stories I read on Inkitt, and I have to say I don't regret the three to four days I spent pouring through the story.Probably the biggest strength I see in your writing is your characterisation of Eliana, Oriens, and the rest of th...
spooky jedi: Love your story!I really hope more people read this story!Its amazing!! The plot is very unique and different, which is very good to have in a world full of stories. You have very complex and intellectual plot line, with your many loveable character and that hint of 'will they, won't they' is ju...
Alex Rushmer: This was not what I expected, but I enjoyed it a lot Malfoy was always one of the characters that I liked a lot, so I like that a lot of this happens between him and Colette. I read the first couple chapters, and I enjoyed your writing style and am excited to see where you take this story. My com...
Alani Foreigner: I absolutely loved how you created this story. It isn't like the other cliché stories I've ever read. I had just started reading it yesterday and just had to finish it. The main characters are grotesquely awesome and I fell in love with them. If you're into fantasy and stuff I can guarantee that ...
nirrmitshah: A truely touching story where you'd be at the edge of your seat for the most time. even though the starting might seem rushed, the story was extremely interesting and entertaining. I think certain parts could be added detailing the Mynds's culture. As well as more details on the Jhanthru history....
re8622: The Last Exodus quickly grabbed my attention. Almost as soon as I started reading the story, I couldn't put it down. I found that the ideas the author put forth were very thought provoking given the turmoil we have seen gradually rise over the last several years. I felt that I could understand th...