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Chapter 1

Friday, February 23rd, 2029


I wake up in my bed, gasping for air and my tongue is incredibly dry. I feel like I'm choking on the Sahara Desert. It was just a dream, a bad dream.

But it felt so real.

I shake my head and slap my face a few times. I crane my neck to my right so I’m looking outside of my window. A part of my unconscious looks to make sure that the world isn’t really ending, that buildings aren’t collapsing all around my house.

Of course it isn’t and of course they aren’t.

A thick sheet of glittery snow covers our lawn, it's almost like it's from a painting. It pains me a little inside that all of this will melt and be replaced again when we could just rather stick with this one perfect time.

That’s life, I suppose.

My name is John Baker, I'm sixteen years old. I live in a small town in New York, it’s called Queensbury. Contrary to popular belief it isn't all skyscrapers and muggings in New York. I think it's rather nice. It's scenic and the people around here are really nice. I get dressed for the early Friday morning, nothing too special or flashy. It’s just some blue jeans with a black shirt with this cool band’s logo on it. They’re called Des Wombat and I’ll admit they play some pretty gritty stuff.

I take the clothes in arm and walk to the other side of my room, I see remnants of last night’s dinner. I frequently will take these home dinners to go instead of with my parents.

To my mother’s credit she isn’t bad, but she doesn’t do anything about my father. I turn back around and open my door with my free hand. Living on the second floor of my house has its advantages, but facing my parents every time I wish to leave is not one of them.

I walk across the hall and open up the door to the bathroom, my feet freezing instantly against the cold-wood floors. I make the effort to nearly hop inside the nice carpeted bathroom. I close the door behind me and take a look at myself in the mirror. My hair is kept short, it’s a messy brown mess at any other length. It’s close to shaved, but there’s enough there to matter, and that's exactly how I like it.

My eyes are a different story, though. Those bags under my eyes? They’re designer.

They're a dim gray color. I’m instantly reminded of clouds passing through the sky. I like to think of myself as a cloud, just kind of passing along in life. No real anger towards anyone, just passive. I continue staring at myself, picking myself apart piece by piece for what seems like forever, slim nose, slender jaw line and a kind of medium sized build. It all screams “average.” I'm not bothered by that, but I'm not going to lie and say I'm six foot ten with a ten inch dick.

There’s enough there to matter.

I shake my head and move to turn on the shower. I strip down and walk inside. I let the lukewarm water pour onto me, over me, and the whole nine yards. My mind then begins to travel back to my dream. I picture the blonde girl and Iris, and then I picture her shooting me.

Sarah was the blonde's name. Why do I know that? I think Iris said it, but who is she? She’d sounded like she knew me, but that isn’t really possible. Then again, it’s just a nightmare. None of it actually happened. I shouldn’t think too much of it. Then why can’t I just let that be it?

This nightmare feels…different. I know if I told anybody I’d be shrugged off. I mean, how many people have ever said in their life, “No, this was really different! It felt so real!”

I’d even shrug it off, but there’s something about all of this that I can’t shake. The way things play out, the fact that Iris appears. I mean, I don’t even talk to her at all. What of that guy she was crying over?

Just what is it all about?

I’m brought out of my thoughts by a rasping on the wall beside me. My parents’ bedroom is directly beside the bathroom and it must be my father telling me in his own special way that I should, as he puts it, “Hurry your ass up, don’t waste the hot water.”

I turn the handle and grab a towel. I dry myself off and dress quickly.

I take my old laundry and carry it with me through the hallway into the laundry bin. I walk next to the stairs, but stop momentarily.

I almost forgot my watch.

I rush back up to my room and throw open the door. Sure enough, on my end table lays my Pulsar Mark II Watch. It’s a remodel of the world’s first digital watch and it’s apparently one of a kind, a gift from my father. He said a friend gave it to him to give to me, he said I’d enjoy it. I’ve worn it practically every day I’ve been able to. It’s got this really slick silver design that is practically spotless to this day. It’s digital and right below the time it has a little engraving.


I’d asked my father when I was younger what it’d meant, but he’d never been able to give me an answer. There are two little buttons on the side of the watch. The first one doesn’t seem to do anything when pressed, but the second one changes the display. It changes into several different options. It can point to north at all times, tell me how high above sea level I am, read the latest on news reports, find out the current temperature and it can even project holographic displays onto flat surfaces, it’s really pretty neat.

There’s one other display option, but it’s kind of a mystery to me. It shows a number and that number changes based on where I am. Right now, standing in my room it shows a 153 on it. I’ve seen it once at school drop to like, 79 and even once before that it’s gone so low to 32. It’s totally random it seems in how it functions and I’ve no clue how it works. It’s not like there’s a manual or anything out for this thing for me to look it up.

I grab the watch and slap it on my wrist, it connects and fits snug automatically. I grab my wallet beside the watch and toss it into my pocket. When I begin taking the steps out of my room I’m not surprised to find my parents are fighting again as I make my way down the stairs to the living room. I try my best to ignore the excess noise. It makes it all easier in the end.

"Why don't you just leave if you’re so unhappy!” My mother would say.

"Why don't you get off my back, bitch?" My father would reply.

I'm silently praying I can just slip through unnoticed. I get to the door and I'm about to open it-

"What’d I tell you about using all of the hot water? The damn thing was as cold as fuckin’ shit when I stepped in!" My father yells, slouching and then eventually hobbling over to me.

He may have put on a bit of weight, but he still towers over me. I don't even see the resemblance between us, I never have. I'm practically a twig while he is this huge monster of a man. His morals are that of a monster, too.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to,” I say out quietly.

“Sorry doesn’t get me ready for work, now I want you to cut your shit,” he growls.

“I’m sorry, sir,” I say.

I find just going along with it is easier in the end.

“You should be damn well more than sorry! I need the lawn mowed and you can start it right when you get home as a punishment.”

“Peter, you know you can’t just force work on him right after school just because he took a shower,” My mother says.

“Tonya, you stay the hell out of this,” My father yells, shaking his head and turning around and pointing to my mother. “Bah! Fuck it! I’m heading out to the bar!” He yells pushing me out of the way and stamping out of the house.

My mother shrinks down and looks at the floor. I look to the door and back to her and I see her wipe a tear from her eye. I keep my breathing steady and walk out the door. I look down at my watch and see that it’s about six in the morning.

It used to be weird waking up this early for school, but since I live nearly an hour away (forty-two minutes to be precise) I need to get up a bit earlier to make it to school on time. I watch my father slam the car door shut and pull away in a rage. He doesn't care whether he's driving on the sidewalk or the street. To think, if he didn’t go to the bar nearly every morning I could realistically get a ride to school instead of walking for forty-two minutes.

I don’t mind the walking so much, especially when I get the time to my own thoughts. My parents weren’t always like this. My father didn’t go to the bar nearly every morning and stay nearly every night. My mother and father were like pretty much like any normal couple when I was younger. Back before then everything needed to be perfect, my grades, social activity, everything.

I can’t really tell you which time was better, to be honest. Back then I was cast to be the perfect little mold that they’d expected to be the prodigy and make them known as the parents who raised that prodigy.

Ever since I can remember I was pushed by my parents to do my absolute best. I, of course, didn't object. After all, how could I? I was their special little puppet. I did everything to make them happy.

My father was fired from his job when I was thirteen. I couldn’t tell you what he did, but he took it pretty hard when it happened. He began drinking and everything had changed. Of course, he has a new job now, but it’s bagging groceries at the local Wal-Mart.

Soon after, my parents began fighting and they had completely focused on yelling at each other that I've managed to slip through the cracks and have a life of my own. That is…when I’m not at home at least. That’s the only real downside to this whole side of it.

I’m no longer just the quiet kid who did everything everyone told him to do. Now I’m the quiet kid who gets bruised up at home and takes long walks to school at six in the morning. Well, at least the quiet part is still with me, that kind of stays. I don't mind, I avoid a lot of drama in public at the very least.

The wind is bracing as I step out onto the sidewalk. I regret not bringing a coat, but I’m not really willing to walk back inside and face the impending talk with my mother, so I press on. I put my hands in my pockets and look around me as the snow begins to trickle down slowly from the sky.

The sky is still moderately dark and it’s really all sorts of pretty outside. I pass by the neighbor’s house, the Hansons. The Hansons were a nice bunch of people. I don’t really ever see them outside of their house. I think they’re running their own independent business from their home now, much better than most of the businesses out here, anyway.

Companies and businesses have a really tough time staying afloat in this kind of economy mainly because the entire American government collapsed about sixteen years ago. Of course, your token schools and businesses like Wal-Mart aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, but the more independent, less funded companies and businesses have all but been wiped out.

Obviously, facilities like hospitals have managed to hang on, although there was a bit of a sticky situation about seven years ago, but that’s another story entirely. I’d only been an infant at the time and in the years since then the American people have been as stubborn as ever to hold onto society.

A lot has changed in the world since I was born. It was very doomsday-like in the immediate years following I’d been told, and I’d heard people had evacuated entire cities and hidden out in bomb shelters underground. I don’t know how much I believe that, but everyone else seems to. Although, I hear that we on the east coast are taking it better than on the west in general. Some places like Denver have been leveled completely.

Things changed once more in 2027 when England, the country that's ruled over us since the end of World War II, sent over someone to pull us in by the reigns. His name's Oliver Avery, and he’d surely done what he promised. He took his role as the supreme power for America. With no surviving bill of rights or even constitution he had no trouble doing what he pleased once he regained his power. I haven’t been paying much attention to it when it does come around, ever since the government collapsed sixteen years ago our entire news foundation was compromised.

We’ve been in the dark on the affairs of everyone but ourselves, even distant cities becoming more of folk legend rather than just a few hundred miles distance. That hasn’t changed and even now I haven’t heard of anything about places like Kentucky or Denmark except for what I’d learned in school. And even then it's only rumor and speculation. People who leave don’t come back, that’s what happened to my neighbors on the other side of the Hansons. The Garrets, they’d packed up and left a couple of years ago and nobody here has seen neither hide nor hair of them since. Our news is local now, only reaching as far as the ends of New York in every direction. Even my watch only gives me the stateside news.

The closest I’d come to hearing anything about another state in the news was when I’d read on my watch that last year Avery relocated the capital from Washington D.C. all the way to California. And only that because he made a countrywide declaration of the task. I think it was so he could try and rebuild the west coast. He even got a full scale work force under him and they even removed the Statue of Liberty from Ellis Island, that’s also been shipped out to California.

It's two years later, and ever since then society has pretty much all begun to return to somewhat of a status quo. A lot has happened in two years and I can only expect more to happen in the coming times. Since then, we’ve managed to get a balance in our education back in order.

He keeps our side in check at the moment with the use of District Officers in different parts of different cities. They’re there to make sure we don’t have any plans to revolt and keep our education level and the like. They’re like the senators and other representatives back before all of this, you hear the name of who’s representing you and then some tidbits of what they’re supposed to do.

I try not to think about it too much, it doesn’t always work out, but in the end it's all depressing political jargon. It ruins the view of what we have here, today. The world is sort of magical early in the morning and it feels like time has stopped. The whole planet can just take a breath and relax. I pass by some of the store fronts as I enter the main way into town and most of them are obviously locked and closed up as the sun hasn’t even fully risen yet.

The wind seems to pick up its momentum as it whips past my face, leaving my cheeks a bit numb. I cross the street and can see the foundation of my school off in the distance. Off of Quaker I cross onto Aviation Avenue, climbing the large hill that leads up to the campus. I make it to the top and gaze out on the sign right in front of the school, “Queensbury High School”

Time to begin the day.

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