It’s my birthday today the big 18, I’m not really excited about it. Birthdays are not celebrated anymore. The only thing people care about is their soul mate they blissfully await their match day counting down in excitement. It just means I’m 365 days closer to meeting my soul mate.
In normal circumstances, I’m sure people would be thrilled, but this is all done by a small implant tattoo I have on my wrist which I’ve had since birth. It slowly counts down until zero and that’s the day you meet, it’s all stupid. I don’t want to be matched with someone, what if I hate them? All my friends can’t wait, they dream of the day, whereas I dread the day. I’ve always been a bit of a Rebel deep down.
How can a little chip in your arm know better than your heart?
As I sit leaning against the window the train jolts smashing my forehead to and fro. Travelling high above the city, the light catches my eyes and I close them tightly dreaming about leaving the stench of this city, the masses of people and buildings everywhere and think about my childhood holidays on the green rolling hills and streams flowing free and wild. I open them briefly to see who is passing by. A peacekeeper walks by checking people’s identity scanning their chip. I smile at her and imagine doing her job one day. Helping people and keeping this city safe.
London is now divided into 5 divisions which make up the city with large walls all around. A sky highway runs over the top, so travel is much quicker. I hadn’t left London for years, not many people left anymore.
There is not much left outside of the big cities just wastelands, so most of the population live in the cities.
All of a sudden a loud voice is shouting at me and I wake from my daydream.
“Alex, what you doing on the 44, I thought you were at the shop today?”
My head shoots up and Ollie is standing in front of me, my best friend and neighbour who I have grown up with since I was very young. We have been inseparable since childhood, now something has changed but I just don’t know what?
“Hi Ollie, am I not allowed to catch the train anymore without being interrogated?”
“No don’t be silly, it’s just been ages since we last caught up? We are used to seeing each other every day at school, I miss our chats,” Ollie shoved me over and sat almost on my knee.
As Ollie’s eyes looked straight through me and read my entire soul, I shrugged my shoulders and told a lie. I didn’t want to explain to him where I had been. If he knew he would be angry and upset. I knew we needed to have this conversation at some point but for now I just don’t need the hassle.
“No Ollie I’ve been really busy helping mum out at the shop and attending interviews and anyway we are grownups now officially,”
“Grownups, well you certainly don’t act like one. So have you chosen your training yet, you’re the last one to decide Alex” After you had finished school you were forced by the Officials to choose a job in different sectors then your apprenticeship started.
“I don’t think this is really the place to be having this conversation, I will text you later and we can talk,”
“Okay, Alex this is my stop anyway, I’m helping dad at the shipyard, you have been acting really weird the last few days, you can tell me why later, see ya,”
As Ollie jumped off the train, I felt the dread of knowing we would be having an argument tonight. He was right I had been a rubbish friend to him since we had left school. My stop was next I jumped off and had to climb down stairs and a lift to get back to street level.
I ran up the street to my apartment block. It was like a ritual I’ve done since I was young I would always run to my block as soon as I could see it and then as fast as I could up the stairs. Almost like someone was chasing me.
I waved my arm at the door and it opened, I could smell warm freshly baked bread as I ran up the stairs to the 4th floor. My mum was waiting at the door.
“Alex, how did it go? How did it go?”
“Hi mum, can I get in the door first, please. Yes, it went really well I start in one week’s time. I have to get to Park side that’s where the peacekeeping training academy is,”
“I start on Monday,”
“Monday, so soon, that’s great, my little girl all grown up and going to be a peacekeeping officer just like her Dad. I’m going to make a nice meal to celebrate, does homemade pizza sound nice?”
“You know me Mum I will never say no to pizza,”
Mum went off to the kitchen singing and humming all happy as could be. I was happy and excited too but wasn’t the kind of person who shows all of her feelings on the outside. I went to my bedroom to contemplate my future. I was looking forward to the peace keeper training it would take my mind off this stupid ticking time bomb on my wrist.
At the dinner table, it was the usual Anderson’s Friday night fun. My Dad was interrogating me all about my interview at the training centre, who was interviewing and if he knew them. My brother Lucas was also there for once, winding me up. Lucas was a nice brother really, we were really close growing up then as soon as we hit high school we went our separate ways.
Lucas has been training to be a fire fighter the last two years hence why he is never at home. I kind of miss him, but wouldn’t tell him that.
After dinner, I felt so full and need to get some air so I set off thinking about what I would say to Ollie. As I reached the apartment door Ollie was standing there outside pacing up and down outside the door. I watched him laughing to myself until he spotted me.
“Ollie, are you waiting for me?”
“Hey Alex yes I was only there for like 5 minutes, do you fancy a little walk?”
“Actually I would love a walk I’m so full after my tea,”
As we walked down the main street where we live in Division 5, everyone’s lights are on and you can see into the living rooms, families eating, watching TV. We walk past all the lights and hustle of the city the big tall apartments on every street that all look the same. We headed to the park where we grew up playing on the swings and slides, I remember like it was yesterday.
Apart from all the surveillance that we now have that’s the only change. BOTS (Security Robots) surrounded the city with cameras and other hidden surveillance, on nearly every block.
“So I’ve decided I really know what I want to do, and that’s to join the peacekeeping force and become a detective, I go to training school on Monday. I know this is all new to you but it’s something I really need to do, and I’m sorry I’m only telling you this now,”
“Wow Alex what a bombshell, Peacekeeping! I thought you hated peacekeeping and your dad’s job, that’s really dangerous Alex, Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”
“I didn’t think you would be happy about me joining up, I know how you feel about them and how they never helped with your family when you needed them the most. But I will be different, I will really help people, Feel for them, protect them and do my best and anyway I don’t hate my dad’s job, it’s the Officials that I hate,”
“I’m not mad Alex I’m just surprised you never told me, we share everything. I know you will be different if there’s anyone in the world that can make a difference it’s you,”
“Aww thanks, Ollie I’m so glad you’re not mad, I’ve missed talking to you and don’t worry I will be careful, I know it’s dangerous.”
Ollie always had something nice to say, I’m not sure why I was worried about telling him.
Peacekeeping was one of the most dangerous jobs, but I couldn’t be sat at a desk, I needed action, needed focus. I think Ollie knew deep down this was going to be my choice he just didn’t like the fact that it would break us up.
As we sat on the swings and chatted I could hear an Official auto BOT coming, they made a funny quiet siren noise so we knew it was heading for us. All teens under 18 had a curfew, so they didn’t get into trouble at night mixing with the opposite sex. Having a male best friend growing up was hard. We had been dragged home plenty of times by BOTS.
“Not again!” Ollie huffed.
The BOT rolled right up to both of us on the swings flashing, we had got used to this by now.
“PLEASE PLACE YOUR ID IN MY SCANNER..... AND THEN WAIT FOR FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS....”
We both did as the BOT asked,
“200920 YOU HAVE NOT BEEN OFFICIALLY MATCHED WITH 20103, PLEASE GO BACK TO YOUR RESIDENCE NOW, I WILL ESCORT YOU,”
Ollie looked up at me and smiled. I was relieved he wasn’t angry, and that we didn’t have to have a big argument.
When we got to my door, he hugged me and kissed me on my head as he was quite a bit taller than me. We did it on purpose to wind the BOT up it goes crazy if it sees body contact with unmatched people.
PLEASE CEASE BODILY CONTACT FROM 20103 YOU ARE IN VIOLATION OF CODE O141 OF THE OFFICIALS CODE OF CONDUCT.
We said our goodbyes.
“Goodnight Alex, stay in touch won’t you? I feel like we are drifting apart,”
“Always, night Ollie,”
The Officials used these types of BOTS to watch people and make sure we didn’t break the rules. They had several types doing different jobs. People were not allowed to date before they were matched with their soul mate. But it happened all the time in secret.
I remember Katie Greenwood back in high school, she’s the only person I know who got caught in school in a full blown relationship by the officials. They had been watching her for a while and caught her in the act with her boyfriend. We never saw her again after that, they made a big show of her at school and used it to scare all of us. Rumours spread that she was imprisoned or that her brain was wiped and she became an Official but we never found out?
I had never met an Official up close, only the few that did lectures at my school. They gave me the creeps, in their funny blue uniform. They think they are so much better than everyone else.