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To Dream: Book 1 of The Dream Chronicles

By Catherine Kopf All Rights Reserved ©

Scifi / Fantasy

Blurb

Dreams, Creativity, and Ambitions-- all were gone under a single government order. Banned from the things that make you different, people resort to a dull and practical lifestyle filled with nothing but government order. Disobedience means death. After being exposed to these radical ideologies by a classmate, Calista Knight must choose between the life she knows, and a life of endless possibilities. Struggling from shyness, she's burdened when speaking her mind. Staying in the system is all too easy. If she dares to dream, will she be able to overcome her own personal fears and the disapproval of her father? With the help of her friends and their raw talents and abilities, Calista will have to overthrow the government, take on mysterious threats, and tackle the secret magic in her own world. But can dreams, creativity, and the arts really take down an entire government?

Chapter 1

I laced the ties of my black boots, making sure each bow was tight and symmetrical. The shoes squeaked on the gray concrete floor, the dull metal walls of my room blending with the flooring. My khakis were plain, neat and cuffed at the hemline. I tucked in my freshly ironed black polo shirt. A Commander approved C emblem was stitched in the fabric across my heart. Anything else got me in trouble for dress code, if it didn’t have the seal of approval.

Reaching back into my closet, I grabbed my gray jacket amongst the hundreds of black polos available, each woven with a red C emblem. I buttoned my jacket all the way up to the collar, making sure no buttons were missing in the cotton fabric. A single pocket was stitched in the jacket used to hold a spare pencil. This pocket also bore the C.

That should do it.’ I released a puff of air, relieved to be done.

Turning to my desk, I reached for an empty vial labeled ’CURE: TAKE NIGHTLY. DECREASES THE BRAIN’S RATE OF CREATING NONSENSE AND PROTECTS AGAINST EXPOSURE TO RADICAL IDEAS FOR UP TO TEN HOURS.’ If it weren’t for the vial, my life would be uncertain. I doubt it would be the same, let alone safe. They recycled the plastic containers for future uses after cleaning. So, I grabbed the vial and exited my room, shutting the creaking door behind me.

The smell of porridge overtook the house. I ran down the stairs. A long hallway separated me from the kitchen, littered with laws encased in black frames.

“Calista? Is that you?” Mother’s voice echoed down the hallway.

“Yeah, it’s me.”

Mother’s voice carried from the kitchen in the same nagging way mother voices often do. “You better hurry, or you’ll be late for class!”

My eyes widened. “Alright, I’ll be right there.”

I threw my vial into the recycling can and sat down at our metal table. The circular shape let everyone sit at any angle around it. Clean plates were laid out for four people, and a fifth was messy, crumbs lying on his side of the table.

“I’m guessing Ambert left in a hurry again?” I gave my mother a hopeless expression.

Gran was less polite about it, her voice a raspy sound of disgust as she hobbled to her seat, assisted by her cane. She adjusted her overlarge sweater as she sat, the red sweater draping off her frail body. “Does that boy ever clean?”

“Let me help you, Gran,” I stood up from my seat at the table, and drew Gran’s chair out for her.

“Thanks, Missy,” Gran sat down in the chair, and smiled at me warmly.

I returned to my seat, not saying a word. My fingers twiddled in my lap, waiting for Mother to set breakfast on the table.

“Missy, be careful. Twiddling your fingers is different. You don’t want the attention, do you?” Gran raised an eyebrow.

I stopped what I was doing and didn’t speak a word. Mother set the plates on the table and took her place beside me.

“Is something wrong, Calista?” Mother asked.

I nodded. “Just worried about graduation.”

Mother smiled. “I know, Darling. I know. It was different when we grew up.”

“Really?” I asked.

Gran chuckled. “We didn’t graduate at sixteen. We left high school at eighteen, and back then, we had all kinds of classes: engineering, music...”

My mother’s eyes widened. “Mother, we can’t keep talking about this. If someone found out you’re talking about radical ideology...”

Music? What a strange word! 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.

“Mother? You?” My jaw dropped. That couldn’t be right. That was radical ideology, and my mother wasn’t someone I’d expect to start a rebellion.

Mother placed a hand on my shoulder. “It’s none of your concern now, Calista. We can’t do those things now. 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 my own, bags under his eyes showing how dedicated he was to his work; the misty gray color appeared haunted by the past lingering behind them. His hand ran through his salt and pepper hair, exposing streaks of gray. A few wrinkles etched his face here and there, with prominent ones on his forehead and a few near his eyes. His posture was rigid in his chair, not letting his back arch for even a second.

Mother cleared her throat. “Hugo, we weren’t expecting you to be back.”

“The world’s unpredictable, Suzanne. I easily apprehended the criminals this morning,” Father drank a sip from 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. You know how dangerous that stuff can be. One step in their direction and we’ll all be sick. The system will completely fall apart.”

“Hugo, can’t we talk about this later? Calista doesn’t have to be exposed to…” Mother started.

Father raised his hand to silence her, waiting for my response.

“Of course, Father. I wouldn’t want them putting you out of work.” I said, lowering my eyes from his gaze.

No one wanted to see my father angry, especially since he was The Head Executioner. His work sickened me, but he could never know. He was just as controlling as the government, if not more personal on my life.

“That’s my girl,” Father smiled. “You know, I got to see 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. You’re right…” I mumbled.

“Overall, I was pleased, but your physical education grade is unacceptable! Sweetheart, you’ll never take a place in society next to me if you don’t try in gym class!” Father sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. Father was one who always loved his recognition. Sometimes I felt as if he loved work more than his family from all the time he spent at it.

“But I’m not supposed to be thinking about my future. It’s the government’s job,” I looked back to Father. He knew the rules better than I did.

It was true, as much as I didn’t want it. The government would choose what I did based on a mild skillset. I couldn’t develop any skillsets of my own. That’s the root of all evil, and punishable by death. More than likely, I’d end up marrying a total stranger by the time I turned eighteen. Lucky me.

I sighed, and gobbled down some of my eggs.

Mother smiled and rolled up her gray sleeves. “I still remember when school was a happy place. You could enjoy making friends, have fun, and…”

“It’s that kind of junk that poisoned the population. That’s why the government outlawed dreams, creativity, and ambitions in the first place: to do practical things the society needs rather than wasting it on worthless crap. Boys go to the army and those with useful skills like analyzing, intelligence, and problem solving continue their education. That’s better than the… dreaming stuff. It’s like a disease, and it always manifests itself in the weak.” Father got up from the table.

He placed his cup next to the sink and glanced into the recycling bin. A scowl formed on his face and he took a tablet from his black jacket, typing on the high tech screen filled with many features where he could automatically report a radical. The year 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 not twiddle my fingers or make a sound.

“Hugo, what is it?” Gran asked, her eyes filled with worry.

Father clenched his teeth. “I’m gonna kill him.”

“Hugo, just say what’s wrong,” Mother placed her hand on Father’s shoulder.

“There’s only four Cures in here. You know how important it is to take one, and it’s my duty to uphold the laws! There should be five in here, and there’s four. One of you didn’t take it last night!” Father snapped.

“I put mine in there, Father. Honest,” I said, lip quivered in desperation. It couldn’t have been me. God, I hoped it wasn’t anyone.

Father smiled in my direction. “I know, Sweetheart. You know the rules,” he paused. “But whoever didn’t take it is in for a load of trouble. You know the penalty for not taking it is death, Suzanne!”

“Yes, I do. But it wasn’t your son. You know he gets up early to go to work. And you marked his vial with an A. It’s right there,” Mother pointed into the bin.

Father sighed.

Gran chuckled. “Hugo, don’t stress too much. Someone probably just forgot to throw theirs away. I’m old, for heaven’s sake! Do you think I’ll always remember to throw that stupid container away?”

“It’s okay, Father. I’m sure you’ll find it,” I smiled.

Father chuckled as he tried to ease his nerves. “That’s my girl, attempting to make me feel better. Now you better hurry and get to class. 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 front door.

“Never forget your scarf. If your clothes look different, they’ll report you into the watch list. I wouldn’t want to take you to The Executioner’s Graveyard for a minor misdemeanor,” Father tied a black, red, and gray yarn scarf around my neck, making sure the shorter part was in the front, and the longer half was in the back.

I nodded and released a deep puff of air as I left the house. I wouldn’t see Father until late at night if I was lucky.

The way my parents talked about dreaming made me curious — unnaturally curious. What’s it like to dream? I read all the government policies I could on it, but there was no definition to what it really was about. It was a fantasy in a far off land; unattainable.

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, death would be staring at me through the doorway, and people would start saying “Curiosity killed the Calista.” It was a secret kept between me and my laptop. I didn’t want to join hundreds of bodies in an unmarked grave.

The technology used nineteen years ago wasn’t different from the ones civilians used under the government, or at least that’s what Gran said. It had remained the same, allowing us to grasp what we had rather than develop new concepts that could backfire. 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 certain no one overheard them, and 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 a speaker downtown, reminding citizens of the rules and the order put in place.

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 rebels 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 who were caught breaking those regulations were put to death by executioners.

All, but one.


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