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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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Nymeria: Really can't get enough of this story. It flows well, it captivates the reader from page 1, and throws you into such a well-written, well conceptualized world that you'll believe it's real. Everything in the book is meshed together really well. From character backgrounds to plot twists, you can t...

Chris Rolfe: BOY!!! I sure love what Aer-Ki Jyr did with this series. IMHO he captured the essence of what stargate is all about. Thru out the Stargate stories Aer-Ki wrote Stevens and John Shepard some of the main characters in his stories are pursued by a corrupt I.O.A.. All the while Stevens is changing in...

kathryncoard: I really enjoyed this book. It was a fast paced book, that kept me interested . Yes, it was political commentary, which I found to be relevant to many things happening in the world. The snippets from the journal show the " boiled frog " analogy that is clearly relevant . Interesting that peop...

Dinzy: 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.

Dru83: This is perhaps my favorite part of the Olafson story just because it is here that were are introduced to his "gang". The characters are so diverse and complicated that each of them could just about spawn their own story. Eric's buddies are just so captivating and the plot just rolls along. Again...

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

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...

DennisT: This is an excellent story by an author who writes very well. the only problem areas that I see relate to proofreading and editing. All of the stories by Vanessa are excellent, and I have read them all more than once. I had hoped that they would be better edited and proofread on this site, but it...

cassandrab: Delightful SciFi (for a change)! I am not a SciFi fan: mostly the genre is far too dystopic for me. This book (written by a high-school friend) is, on the other hand, generally upbeat. Yes, Earth's future is threatened. But Earth has a chance to plan a response. And (spoiler alert) ultimately win...

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