The Third Act

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This short story is a Dystopian Fiction, Sci-Fi about a young upper class woman stuck in a world dictated by a government that has strict laws on the way they can live.

Other / Scifi
Age Rating:

A Short Story

Over population has been a problem for quite a while but no one thought much of it. No one thought much of it until they couldn’t feed their families, there wasn’t enough food for everyone, there weren’t enough jobs for everyone which left people hungry and poor forced to steal but not from one another, from the government.

The first law to come into place was the “Baby Act” expressing that as of 1864, no one was allowed to have more than 1 baby following a test that deemed them a fit parent or not. Breaking this law was considered high treason and was punishable by life in prison, if you survived that long. Assuming that wasn’t enough, they enforced another law in 1869, the “Failure Act” which meant that if you and your partner decided to take the fit parent test and failed, your wife’s tubes would be tied and your husband’s testicles, removed… leaving you both infertile for the rest of your lives. And the third law that followed closely behind after their attempts to slow down the population growth rate failed was the “Third Act”.

The “Third Act” is what changed everything, it nourished our people, vanquished our criminals and most of all, it not only slowed but completely stopped over population.

This is why in our day we have the privileges we have now, this is why we see a tomorrow. We believe in the system, over a hundred years and still, we never go hungry, there are no robbery’s, we all have jobs and we function in perfect harmony with the way the world wants us to.

“Why are you here and not at home with your family?” said the stranger sitting on the oak wood stool next to me at the only bar in town.

“Because there’s never anyone here so I usually don’t have to talk”

Then they looked at me and said “Well… now is your chance”

I was young. I was 19 years old when I got pregnant, my father was a higher up in the system so even though it wasn’t the law, we got an earlier shot at the test and what that meant was they had less things to ping me on, not enough time to create a record and there for a better chance at success. And with my last name attached to my first, it wasn’t a surprised when I got that envelope.

Penelope Grace Chastire

Jeremy Clyde Smalls

We took a deep breath before opening the envelope, I tried to make sure nothing ripped, as it was an official document. I stuck my hand in without looking and pulled out a long green slip that was the full size of the envelope, not folded, perfect ink, like a green light. “Are there conditions?” said Jeremy as he raised his chin trying to look around the green paper for that evil black ink.

“No, it’s just green.” I sniffled as tears of joy ran down my freckles “We’re gonna have a baby Jay” and I watched him stare at me with his bright blue eyes that I hoped my baby would get.

Now don’t write us off just yet, it wasn’t only my name that got us that green slip. Both Jeremy and I had straight A’s through school, we worked ourselves silly, he was my high school sweetheart. We knew that we wanted to have a baby since we were 12 years old which might sounds odd but honestly, we were a bit old when we figured that out, most people know by the age of 8 so that they could plan their future. The test was made up 40% of nature and 60% nurture, it was made like this to rule out genetic defaults and to make sure who ever raised them would raise them appropriately, because the last thing the system wants is for two high school drop outs to produce a kid. Although I couldn’t imagine what the system would do if everyone became a higher.

We had to dot our i’s and cross our t’s.

Most people didn’t have sex for pleasure but Jeremy and I did, we were in love. When I accidently got pregnant I told my father right away, I didn’t have any other options. That’s when we took the test. When we saw that green slip, it was more the just the joy of knowing we could have a family, it was the joy of freedom. If we failed, I fear my father would’ve killed that baby himself, I was his only child.

A full Blood Higher.

A lot of the lowers didn’t conform to the third act. It wasn’t illegal to reject it, as long as you didn’t get yourself caught up in the middle of it you’d be fine. Jeremy and I didn’t even know, we were born into it. Shoved into the middle, blinded by innocence, blinded by ignorance. My family’s blood is used to tint ruby’s red and our ashes are used to make diamonds. Jeremy was only half a higher but a higher none the less.

“What’s the difference of a higher and a lower” said the stranger as they poured two glasses of beer and slid one over to me.

Rich meats are soft in texture and sweet as if a fairy poured sugar on them just before you sat down to eat. They’re dense, that meant you didn’t have to eat a lot to get full which was unfortunate because highers never finish their food, never. That means most of it went to waste and when you’re a kid you don’t know that. You eat when you’re hungry and don’t when you’re not, it’s as simple as that. So, we sat at the table and broke bread still.

Our dinner table was long, it could seat ten. Four on either side and one at each head but we only sat four chairs because somehow that made it seem less empty. Everything around us was white and shiny except for the cloth that was draped over the table, it was off white almost stained. At a perfectly set table we sat with our rich meats on our plates, our sparkling water and we placed the green card in the center of the table as if it were some type of ritual.

“What will we name it?” Jeremy stared at my stomach like it was already rounded and kicking. His eyes were so blue, how I hoped our baby would have his eyes. He had really dark hair, black as night and a funny little cowlick at the top front of his head that never seemed to leave no matter what we did but I liked it, it gave him character.

“If it’s a boy we’ll name him Grant” I said, he took a long pause as if he were dreading the words that were going to come out of his mouth next “And if it is a girl?”. I took a minute to process, it’s not like having girls were illegal but at least our son wouldn’t be able to get pregnant.

“We shall name her Cherish” he said, then smiled. “And we shall give her your last name so she can be known as a full blood higher, and she’ll never run into any problems she can’t solve”. Jeremy grabbed a piece of meat and threw some peas on top of it. “Her name will be Cherish Chastire and we will Cherish her forever” then took a bite. I couldn’t eat at all, I was too busy digesting all of this but I couldn’t stop smiling. I looked at him and said “Cherish Clyde Chastire and Grant Clyde Chastire” so that they will always have a piece of you no matter who they become. It was perfect, we knew exactly what we wanted.

“Did you guys have the baby?”

I watched them pick up their beer and ingest it “Yeah, it was a girl.”

Cherish Clyde Chastire, blood the colour of ruby’s, eyes bluer than the natural sky, a diamond mind and a heart truer than anything this world could ever produce. She was so innocent, too innocent and we didn’t know when to tell her the truth about the world we were living in. She learned about the sun and the stars, she learned about rainbows, about plants and people… about moms and dads but we couldn’t break her soul not just yet. So we let her play with baby dolls and she ate the richest of meats and we promised that she’d never worry about a thing in her life, we cherished her. Everything was great until Cherish turned eight and I got pregnant, again.

“Are you sure?”

“Of course, I’m sure.”

“Well then we have to find a way to get rid of this baby on our own”

“No, no we can’t. It’s our baby”

“Penelope, we can’t have another child. It’s Illegal.”

“Then we have to hide it”

“And raise our kid inside for the rest of its life, there are files and guards and it’ll never work okay?” Jeremy stared at my stomach as he did when Cherish were in there except this time with disgust and envy. “We have an 8-year-old girl to take care of and if we aren’t careful she will have to raise herself. Now stop being selfish” he slammed his hand on the table “we’re getting rid of that baby” he said then he stormed off. I didn’t hear from Jeremy for the rest of the night, I don’t know what was wrong with me. It was the nostalgic feeling I felt when I touched my stomach and the love just started flowing through my body. I felt that same way when I had Cherish, I already knew I loved this baby.

The next few weeks were hard, we fought every day. “Penelope if you don’t reconsider, I… I’ll have to call your father”

“Jeremy… You know what my father will say”

Jeremy raised his voice at me “He’ll say what I’ve been saying, you can’t have this baby”

So, I raised my voice too “Are you gonna let him punch me in the stomach because that’s the only way he’s getting it out of me Jeremy, if you don’t want this baby THEN GET OUT OF HERE. Run far away, they’ll never catch you and I’ll go down for it alone.” He sat there for a moment in front of me quietly, staring into my eyes and then down at my stomach. He waited till my breath calmed, then he reached his hand over and placed it on top of mine.

“We’ll have the baby”.

A year went by like a flash and a home birth was complicated. Everything was so complicated but there he was.

Grant Clyde Chastire, blood the colour of ruby’s, eyes bluer than the natural sky, a diamond mind and a heart pumping with sin, not his own but ours. Our lives were filled with joy again, no more fighting. It was finally over but as fast as it ended, a new started again.

3 months old, Grant was 3 months old.

There was loud bang at the door “BANG BANG BANG” Jeremy stared at me and pointed at the bedroom.


My heart sank. They wanted my baby. Jeremy opened the door and I watched through a crack from the bedroom down the hall.

“Can I help you?”

“We are Structure Defenders sent by the System and we have reason to believe your harbouring a fugitive child. Do you understand that if we find this to be true, you and your wife will both be sentenced to life in prison?”

Jeremy was sweating “Yes, I understand”.

“May we search the premises?”

Jeremy’s face turned red “No”

“Very well, we will be back with a warrant”

“Jeremy slammed the door and locked it before falling to the ground “FUCK”.

I’ve never seen Jeremy cry before, not even as a kid. I wasn’t sure who he was more afraid for, our lives or theirs. I approached him and he immediately shunned me, he hated me. He put on his coat and looked at me “lock the door, I’ll be back” and he left. He was gone for what felt like hours, I’ve never felt so alone in my life. Seventeen years we’d been together and he’s always been by my side.

At about 4am in the morning I heard knocking and I couldn’t feel my legs. Still I got up and slowly made my way to the door. I held my breath as I turned the knob slowly and peeked through the crack… Jeremy, I exhaled, he came back. I swung the door open and I hugged him so tight, I was never letting him out of my sight again. “I’m so scared Jeremy, I’m so scared” he hugged me back tight, tighter than he ever has.

“You don’t have to be scared anymore” he said and I could feel the hug lingering, I thought I understood.

“I went to my father and I made a deal with the system. My life for Grants.”

“What?? No Jeremy, no, no.” I couldn’t hold in the tears, I couldn’t hold in the rage. I hit him, then I hit him again. “What do you mean?? Jeremy, what do you mean???”.

“So that the count won’t go up, I am swapping my life for his. It’ll be like I never existed”



My heart shattered.

He walked into Cherishes room and kneeled down by her bedside. “I love you Cherish Clyde Chastire” he said before kissing her sleeping head and then he walked into Grants room and leaned over his crib.

“I love you Grant Clyde Chastire.”

I stood by the doorway “Smalls” I said as I wiped tears off my freckles “Grant Clyde Smalls”.


It was them. Jeremy went to the door and opened it.

“We are Structure Defenders and on behalf of the system we are here to collect Jeremy Clyde Smalls” I ran to him and I latched on to him tight and I wouldn’t let go. I didn’t make a sound as they ripped him out of my arms in fear that our children would hear.

“I love you Penelope Grace Chastire”

“I love you Jeremy”.

And just like that… He was gone.

That afternoon, I woke up on the floor in front of the door, my daughter standing over me with an envelope in her hand.


“Where did you get that?”

“It came through the hole in the door” I grabbed the envelope from her hand.

Penelope Grace Chastire,

I am truly sorry for your loss and we are more than sure you have many questions. Please join me for dinner where I would be happy to cure your worries so that you and your children may live a long and prosperous life.

Sincerely, Wren.

“Last call!” shouted the bartender. “You didn’t go, right?” said the stranger as they raised their limb for another beer.

“I had to, they had my husband”

So, I put on a white dress that was tight at the top but flowed at the bottom before tying my once long blonde hair in a high ponytail and finishing it with a red ribbon around the elastic. I then walked into Cherishes room and put her in a white dress then I tied a red ribbon cut from the same fabric as mine around her waist, I let her long blonde hair fall down her back. Finally, I took Grant out of his crib and I dressed him in a white shirt, white shorts and 2 little red socks. We left immediately.

It was huge, even I’ve never seen a house that big. They welcomed us in, they were all so happy, every single staff member in that house. We sat at the table and waited for “Wren” until finally he arrived, he was smaller than I pictured.

“Hello, I’m Wren. Father of the system, the privilege was passed down to me through generations of the great men in my family. My great grandfather built this all for his people but enough about me. I am so excited to have not one, not two, but 3 Chastire’s in my home. Your father is a dear friend of mine and I hope we’ll be friends too.”

“Smalls, my sons last name is Smalls” he smiled then bowed his head at his servant and it was magic, smells filled the air and a feast appeared right before our eyes. It smelt warm and sweet just like when Jeremy and I were kids. I was excited, could you blame me. He began to cut his meat and shoved a piece in his mouth, I waited until he started to eat first just to be polite.

“Tell me Penelope, why did you come today?”

I looked at him before cutting Cherishes meat “Well I obviously have some questions”. I gave her a fork and I started cutting my own meat. I took a bite and I couldn’t help but moan, it was the most delicious, sweetest and softest meat I’ve ever tasted in my life. I pressed my pinky against it letting the blood pool on my finger before sticking it in Grants mouth. Wren nodded his head.

“Where is Jeremy? Can I see him again before he-”

“Oh Penelope, he’s already dead.” He said it so nonchalantly, like this concept of people dying was normal to him.


“Sometime this morning, I wanted to make sure everything was in place before we had the chance to speak”

“Why did he have to die, what difference did it make?”

“By having another child, you selfishly decided that it was your right to strip food away from another. Mr. Smalls needed to give up his life in order to feed your son. Your husbands sacrifice in turn put food into your son’s mouth, isn’t that what you wanted?” A tear escaped my eye.

“Oh Mrs. Chastire, It’s the law… and as a higher you know better than anyone. The third act has saved billions.” but I didn’t know, I was completely in the dark.

“What’s the third act?” said the stranger as they dug their nails into the oak wood.

Third Act

Never going hungry

4.6 (1) Cannibalism is recognized as legal when processed through the system.

(2) Prisoners are no longer people, they are subjected to being eaten.

(3) The wealthy may purchase individual peoples to eat.

“Eating people? Your telling me people eat people?” I instantly got sick to my stomach.

“Yes, that’s what makes rich meats so rich and sweet and pure.” And in that moment, I looked at my daughter and then my son and then down at my plate.

“Aren’t you happy you can all be together again” said Wren.

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