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Where would we be without books?

By Lucy Purbrick All Rights Reserved ©

Horror / Scifi

"To die will be an awfully big adventure."

As I stand here, about to go onto the stage, I am not afraid. Many would be, if they had to act in this grotesque performance. That would be the normal reaction. But I was never normal, and I won’t start at my own public execution.

“Saffron – McKellar. Stand – On – The – Stage.” A pair of hands roughly pulls me up onto the synthetic platform as my name is called out by the speaker. Nobody makes speeches anymore, like they did in my books, unless it’s an incredibly special occasion.

I stand on the plastic and stare at the news screens around the square, where 3D images of me are shown. I don’t look particularly special; just a mixed-race teenager with dark corkscrew curls and eyes the colour of dark chocolate. I wear the clothes of judgement – a plain, white, cotton affair, consisting of a t-shirt and loose trousers. My feet are bare, and the only adornments I have are a dog tag with my data engraved on it and a crown of golden roses, which I chose as my one item of colour to wear.

The idea is that The Master of All Things will judge you only on what your soul is like, so you can’t bribe him with finery or riches. You choose a colour to represent what you believe in, and you receive an accessory of that colour. Most choose white, grovelling to Him for forgiveness of their sins. The rest usually pick red or black, out of defiance, with the occasional person opting for blue or green in a hope for peace in death. But here I am, peculiar again, choosing yellow – the colour of hope – to wear as I die, slowly and painfully.

You may not consider it fair to execute 14 year-olds in your time, but society is strict about reading fiction in 2649. Apart from the Librumelior, our holy book, there are no other books with stories in them. The politicians decided that reading fiction gave the general public too much freewill. People are taught to read, sure, but reading facts off of screens is the only reading they do.

My parents, when they were still alive, were high up on the social ladder, and rich, enough to not be bothered by anyone. They home-schooled me, tutoring me themselves, and I learned of what it must be like for you – for reading to be a pleasure, a necessity. For there to be great buildings called libraries, which inside held shelves upon shelves of books, meticulously ordered by the names of their authors or the topics they covered. That’s why I ended up here – I built my own library.

It was an old warehouse, the one I had lived in since the “accidental” fire that destroyed everything I knew. I was 12 when it happened, and it took another year for the idea of going back to the ashes, to rescue my parents’ collection of books, to occur. Since they had been in the vaults they suffered no damage, just smelled a little smoky, so I began to lend them to close friends. Word got round, and my secret library was established.

But it’s all gone now, because of a traitor, and it’s my time. I gaze up to the gunmetal sky and hope my parents are proud. As the syringe penetrates my light-brown skin, I manage to get out my last words before the drug sets fire to my blood, tortures me, kills me. They are whispered, and are from my favourite book, Peter Pan.

“To die will be an awfully big adventure.”


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ericaporamoralcine: La trama es muy interesante y original y eso ya dice muchísimo cuando todos tratan de triunfar con ideas ya trilladas.No puedo opinar en detalle sobre la gramática, porque a pesar de entender el inglés a la perfección, la falta de uso en cuanto a lectura y diálogo hacen que me maneje bastante mal...

Dina Husseini: It was a great hook. I do not like reading scifi because they end up being like all the rest but this one kept me wanting more.

heavyreader: great scifi novels but needs a better spell checker (check auto-substitution level) and grammar checker!!! otherwise, ready for mass market publishing!!

Jasmine Chow: As I read this story, I was reminded some what of Terry Pratchett, especially some descriptions of politics and economics. The sci-fic setting is quite intriguing. Writing style is quite lovely and grew on me slowly. I was also slightly reminded of Mark Twain, especially his book A Connecticut Ya...

Dru83: This is probably the fourth time I've read this one. I read this a few times on fictionpress as dru83. This is a wonderful story. It still needs a lot of shining up as there are many instances of punctuation issues, grammar issues, and issues with using the wrong word. But all that still can't ta...

lopezmariana97: I loved everything about this book. I read it in a weekend because it was so hard to put down. I real liked that it wasn't a typical demon story and that It didn't involve vampires. I pictured the cast for this book if it ever becomes a movie. 100% love

Deleted User: (A review in progress). I like this. It's sparse, gritty and atmospheric - reminiscent of the classic Golden Age of American detective fiction of the Thirties. I've only read the beginning, but I'll definitely be back. This writer knows their stuff and has done their homework on detective work. T...

Remini UDA: I would like to firstly admit I do not like the romance genre, it's not something I tend to read and as such I did not complete the whole story and only made it to chapter 15. Whether that affects this review is for you to consider.The Unknown Variant is a very well written book, as a reader I wa...

Leah Brown: This was an amazing read! I was hooked from the very first chapter, holding my breadth to see what would happen next. The characters are rich and vibrant, and the world Danielle has created is fascinating. If you love YA, you MUST read this book. Such a smart, brilliant debut novel. I loved it!

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Dru83: This is the second or third time I've read this one and I just love it. It has just about everything you could ever want packed into one scifi story. It still has some parts that are a little rough in terms of grammar, punctuation, and word usage, but it's still an awesome story. I love how detai...

PaulSenkel: If you like Arthur C. Clarke's Odyssey, especially The Final Odyssey, then you will probably also enjoy this book. I definitely did.It does, however, address a more adolescent public than the above-mentioned book.I enjoyed the story and finished it in a few days. The overall situation on earth an...

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...

Bri Hoffer: I couldn't put it down!! The characters are all incredibly likable, and it's so descriptive you can see, smell, and feel thier surroundings. Great story, and very well written. I cannot wait for follow up stories. there were a few grammatical errors, but nothing that I could move right over.