Four years ago, the world as I knew it disappeared from my hands as if it was nothing but fine sand I was holding on to in a windstorm. Plagued with crisis after crisis that tore down communities from the inside, while toxic leadership ruled from the outside, everything fell apart. People were dying in the thousands from disease, global warming and civil unrest. People started to go missing and communities became policed. People rose to power that only cared about themselves and their sick wants and needs. Things started to become uncovered, over time. Including, the sickness that our country was hiding beneath its perfect stars and stripes. And when it all came to a head, a civil war broke loose between five different major groups.
In the end, the reigning billionaires and people at the top, already benefiting from a rigged capitalist world were able to pay enough in weapons and manpower to keep their control. They used manipulative, brainwashing tactics to push lies through the media they bought out, that the war only lasted a few months. But the carnage of what was left remains. To this day, people are still suffering from those few short months when we thought we might have hope to make a radical change… but we were all so divided, we didn’t have a chance to stand up against one superpower with all the cards in their hands. Other countries attempted to get involved but were quickly ushered out of the conflict.
When the dust cleared the consequences of our disobedience echoed like sirens in our ears. People were killed off for simple things, if not no reason at all.
They had said something negative about the leader once…
They had performed an abortion…
They believed in equal rights...
They thought we should all have access to healthcare…
One by one they were hunted down and slaughtered, making the people that also believed the same, forced into silence, and hiding.
Then the bigger changes started to be made. Cities were torn down and rebuilt seemingly from the ground up. State lines were destroyed and cities were turned into colonies, often called hives.
Giant walls started to surround them from the outside at first and then they started to emerge between communities. Massive walls ran through the cities in rings, one after another until the final bullseye in the center. The center was usually located in the downtown area, or the most beautiful part of the city, or in some cases, where the most wealthy lived. Which made sense later on, because once the walls were built, people started to be shifted and pushed out into each.
We were divided by our race, our gender, our occupation, our income, and our social standing. Then assigned a section of the city, in one of the rings, to live in. They called these fractions.
The fractions were given names, usually nicknames within that colony. But two names remained the same, The Dynasty, and The Sorrows. The Dynasty was the highest level within a hive or colony someone could live in. The only higher fraction was reserved for the king and his immediate subjects located in the state that once was known as Florida.
On the opposite end, The Sorrows was the fraction of the lowest people. These people often had little food, little resources, and were practically abandoned. But the worst part about being assigned to the Sorrows was that the people there could never leave.
Unlike the other fractions, most could get a job in another fraction, work there as a maid or cook, and then return through the gates that night. But people in the sorrows could not. People from higher fractions could come in and out, but the people from the sorrows could never get out. Because of that, most people tried to leave completely. Tried to escape to a new colony, a new hive, a new country at that, but very few were successful… or survived.
There were lots of new rules to this new world. One of them was that you could never climb fractions. You could be lowered to a lesser fraction, but you could never social climb. You would not be offered any jobs or opportunities that did not belong to your fraction and would be killed or sent to the prison camps if you tried. The laws between fractions did not just apply to work, but also love. You could not date anyone outside of your fraction, you could not see anyone socially outside of your fraction.
Those laws became the most difficult to abide by. Because people were separated from their families. Before you could have one son be a doctor, and another one work as a grocery store clerk and the mother be a teacher and they could all see each other and live near each other. With the fractions, that was no longer possible. All three of those, occupations and incomes were separated. At first, people tried to break those rules. But the consequences got harsher until everyone just abandoned any hope to find their families. There were times where they were able to text, call, or message each other over the internet, but those days were long gone as well. If you did not live in one of the top 5 fractions, you would be lucky enough to own a phone. And if you lived in the bottom three fractions owning any sort of technology was a crime.
When dividing people, they did not stray from what was already a divide in the culture before. It was more of a muted divide at the time. If you looked for it, you saw it. And before the war broke out, people were making it that much clearer that there was a racial, gender, and income divide that gave some people the golden ticket and others a never-ending uphill climb. When the king won the war, he made sure that his sexist, racist, homophobic, aporphobic views were well defined in the new rules of his kingdom. If you weren’t white, rich, and male, getting into the top fraction was near impossible.
Women were no longer allowed to work in the top 5 fractions any longer either. They were considered an asset. While women in the lower classes could work but were only allowed to get half the income of a male colleague. The only exceptions alluded to women in sex work. They were able to live and work in the top fractions. Some smaller jobs like secretaries and nannies were also occasionally allowed but had to be approved by a community board first.
People were judged on race, and their “whiteness” and were scattered through the fractions as such. But being white didn’t always save you. If you were considered “an unfit white” (Someone that was usually poor and didn’t fit the higher fractions ideals) or a “white rebel” you were put into lower fractions. They made sure that the people that opposed the government in any way were put as low as possible.
If you did not fit a straight personality, you were almost immediately killed. If you were able to hide your sexuality well enough, often you were allowed in higher fractions. But they were never allowed to be who they wanted again. They were thrown back into the closet and had all their rights and freedoms taken from them little by little until they became a crime.
The poor, or anyone that made less than the top three fractions was seen as dirty and disgusting. Low breeds, rodents, waste. The lower the fraction was the more disrespect the people got. The more they were subjected to torture, loss of food, and entertainment for the higher fractions. They were often punished or killed for no reason. Being seen as replaceable.
These people often worked in industries that served the higher fractions. Harvesting food, manufacturing their assets, building their homes. In the early days, people would try to take things for themselves, to help their families. To put food on the table that wasn’t rotten and passed down from the top down to the bottom. Some even tried to mess with what they were doing for the higher fractions by poisoning the food, or mis-manufacturing cars so they would crash.
Those people were quickly made an example of, and it was never done again. Even in the worst times, people wouldn’t try to hurt the dynasty fraction. Even when they hadn’t eaten in days, they did not take the food they picked for the dynasty fractions to take home to their families.
People were divided. Families were divided. Jobs and incomes were torn to shreds. Homes are taken and given to people in that fraction. People were suffering. People were muted. People were being tortured and abused. It didn’t feel real. But people were so scared that no one said anything.
When the fractions started to be implemented, Liam and I were both still working. I was making almost double what Liam was as a senior human factors researcher. Liam was a foreman at a construction company. I was white, from all European descent. My family growing up lived in nice neighborhoods and we’re a normal respectable upper-middle-class and started to work to make a name for myself while paying off my student loans.
Liam however, is of mixed descent. He is the human form of the Heinz 57 bottle. He had traced ancestry from Asia, Europe, South America, and the North, American native tribes. He grew up in a low-income family. Sometimes they had to resort to food stamps. He worked multiple jobs growing up to help provide for his younger siblings. They moved often because keeping work was difficult for their single mother. They grew up in low-income neighborhoods plagued with gang violence and crime. He was no stranger to being jumped or beaten in the street at a young age. He had decided to make sure it never happened again and started to work to become strong and a skilled fighter so he could not only protect himself but also his family. He did not go to college and after high school jumped straight into the construction field and had been there since.
When we decided to move in together, we moved to the nice upscale neighborhood that I had grown up with. Somewhere safe and full of beautiful massive homes, schools that were overfunded, and full PTOs. The homes were big but the people were kind. Everyone that was there was a part of new money. They had worked hard for the best life for their families. The neighborhood was very diverse. People from all different backgrounds lived there. Races, sexualities, incomes. The neighborhood had it all. And for the most part people were very accepting and supportive of everyone that lived there.
Ultimately, where we lived might have saved us the most. When we were taken for fraction sorting, they wanted to divide us immediately because our incomes, occupations, and races were so different. We had convinced them that we were engaged to get married so that they would keep us together. But in the end, it was the fact that both of our names were on the lease for our home that convinced them to let us remain together in the same fraction. They took our combined income, my job title, my college degree, and family lineage and used it to create a joint file. Practically erasing Liam from existing by everything but his name. Which was good in the end because they placed us in the 4th fraction. But after we were placed, Liam took over everything that I was. My income was now solely his. My job title, college degree, family, and past were all under him now. They had erased us as individuals, to combine us into one person.
While we were lucky to be placed in a higher fraction, it came with challenges. Liam had to find a job that would match our combined income and status. And while most of my family also resided in the 4th fraction, Liam’s family was scattered among the lower fractions. He could not reach out to them. He could not see them. They could not come to see us. We could not harbor them in our home. It was pure insanity. I watched him break to pieces before me every day as if all of his family had died in a tragic accident. He was mad. He was heartbroken. He was lost. But he knew that he was all that kept us alive at this point. If we wanted to stay in a high fraction, if we wanted our kids to stay in a high fraction with good schools, good opportunities, better food options, and easily accessible healthcare, he was going to have to have to forget all of that. Put it on the back burner. Now that it was illegal for me to work… our fate rested on Liam.
Every day, Liam and I would work on small things like speaking properly or business negotiations or basic etiquette. Things that didn’t matter to us before, that I had learned but never thought I would have to teach let alone use. But the way the fractions worked now, if you slipped up the tiniest bit, you could be pushed down without any sort of trial. After learning small lessons in those subjects Liam would go out and job hunt for a lead contract position in high paying contracting companies. But his resume was not robust enough to prove his worth and he kept getting denied. We talked about him switching fields but also came up short due to resume requirements. Eventually, he clicked with the owner of a company, who was having trouble with some of his workers from the lower fractions. He didn’t understand them and stated that he had no interest in trying to. But he needed them to work harder and do better work or his company would sink. The man thought that Liam would fit nicely as a liaison between the people from the lower fractions and himself and was hired the next day.
After that Liam started to have win after win. We were being invited out to parties and social events. Liam was making enough money to keep us in our social standing and fraction. Liam started bringing home expensive gifts and taking me out to nice dinners. We were settling into our lives in this new world. If not thriving.
But I couldn’t help but be suspicious. It seemed to be good to be true. As the months went by, it kept getting better and better as if there was no stopping his accomplishments. I wanted to ask him how this was all possible but I didn’t want to insult him. So I remained quiet.