Chapter One: For The Wild And Free
To past society, being in quarantine for months sounds terrible, but by today's standards, it's the norm. Many people have killed themselves in their houses and killed each other. It's funny how it all started with people overstocking toilet paper, face masks, hand sanitizers, and food, but people lacked the knowledge of the starving and deprived. Stores and governments tried to prevent over-stocking, but it led to people stealing and over-using. I always wondered how those companies felt, getting more money than they were already getting in years. Many believed that this virus would be over in a couple of months, it even left for the summer, but rose up again and again and again. At least it killed our population, obesity, and pollution problem from the lack of food left in the stores and outside interaction. It all started in 2020 and now it's 2030, and the virus evolved, scientists all around the world said that the virus shouldn't have become this deadly so quickly. The government stopped technology advancements to update our health advances and make sure that we can get vaccines. The news is always the same, "Stay indoors, wash your hands, and don't touch your face," many things changed though, we don't need to work much only at home, only farmers, doctors, and government officials get to see the outside. Everyone that lives in a house or apartment doesn't need to pay anything. The government brings us our food, water, and supplies and that is where most of our money goes. Rich people need to give up a room for the poor and homeless. Prisoners are separated by how dangerous they are so they can go through the death penalty, and the less dangerous are put in cells, one for each cell. When it hits summer, kids are free to do what they will, but we are still not allowed to go outside, well the true outside. The government controls everything from the areas we can interact with outside our homes, to the public transportation that takes us everywhere to our destination. Windows are painted over and a lot of areas are covered by guards, but sports and activities are back up in our little safe areas. Lastly, school starts in spring and ends in the summer. Fun!
The sound of the town alarms go off, every student in our classrooms wearing their uniforms and playing with their mask starts to leave the room one by one making sure they are six feet apart. No matter how many generations pass the mask will never be comfortable, we are not meant to wear masks. I come out of my classroom, others are going home, and well others going to their sports. I walk down three steps of floors watching my feet as other teens glaring at each other to enforce the no touching, my mother tells me the whole glaring thing never changes even before the virus people were glaring at each other to show their dominance which I can state is really weird. I look at my watch and I know I am going to be late. I watch everyone on the stairs going slow and slower by the second. Damn it, I know I am going to regret this. One thing I love about these stairs, they have handles and nobody ever touches them. I sit right on top of it and start to slide, people cursing at me and a smile start to appear on my face as I know they can't do anything to me, but if I do not make this fast the narcs, what we call our "yard people", will catch me and send me to the principal. Scrumptious. I go down three flights of stairs and dash my way to a building all the way to the back of the school. Once I stop in front of the building, all familiar smiles look at me and their masks half dangling on their ears.
"Ah, Sammie finally made it, if the coach was here he would sure make us run," Ruben states with a playful smirk. Ruben is a junior, and it shows as his uniform presents the juniors class color which is green. We met my freshman year of high school and he became a family friend from a snap of our fingers.
I guess everyone can see the question in my eyes. "You know how the coaches are here before us, well none of them are here and I didn't see their cars parked near the field," Tina answered, she is also a junior, another close friend, and we met through this sport, WRESTLING.
"Yup and I hope we are not pegged for this, cause it was not our fault for them being late," Antony declares, he is the only other sophomore and might I add be very cautious of everything, but he still likes to wrestle even though it is a contact sport.
"We will not, our coaches are fair when it comes to them being late," Abby claims, she is another Junior, and we met through wrestling as well as with Tina.
My brother, one of the two seniors here, pats my shoulder, I guess he knows I was worried. A lot of sports have been shutting down because of the virus and since this is a contact sport, it's even worse. The door opened to the building and our main coach, Coach Matt, gave us a small smile as he let us in. The heaters are on, the warmth is comforting, and we all set our stuff down near the bench. "That is not necessary," Coach Matt says as the three other Coaches sit down with all sad looks on their faces.
"What's going on the coach," my brother asked with a hint of worry in his tone. I look at him then the coach and I know exactly what is happening. Wrestling season is over and it is all because of this virus.
"So, all the coaches were in a meeting with the principal to see what the are rules for this year's sports, and the principal told us-" my stomach dropped and the air was full of tension as Coach Matt finished his sentence, "that wrestling was off the list of sports this year at Alhambra school district." Everyone was silent and the warm air was not as comforting anymore. I can't breathe, and I am glad I am not the only one. Everyone looked like they were holding their breath hoping he would say 'sike' or 'just kidding go pull out the mats' but there was nothing. When Coach spoke again he looked pissed off more than ever, "The principal said that the wrestlers were welcome to join other sports that are on the list which are:
and other sports that are open to the students."
I can feel the anger bubble in the room, the other coaches all glaring at the floor and I know who will start yelling as a backpack slammed the floor, "THE HELL! WHY ARE THEY ALLOWING OTHER SPORTS THAT HAVE CONTACT IF THEY ARE SO WORRIED ABOUT IT. COACH, WHY? WHY? WHY DIDN'T YOU ARGUE THIS, I BET THE OTHER COACHES ARGUED LIKE EVEN FOOTBALL IS STILL GOING, FUCKING FOOTBALL COACH! FOOTBALL THAT IS FULL CONTACT," Ruben yells, his face going red while tears fill his eyes, this meant a lot to him, maybe even more than the seniors for crying out loud
Coach's glare could scare everyone here, but everyone is too pissed to care, my brother, even though clearly upset, is calm. His breaths come out so slow, "Ruben calm down, we all know that coach argued as much as he could, not only that the other contact sports have more funding than we do, it makes sense why they cut us out of the sports list this year." I can feel the defeatist attitude fill the air. Some people sniffed and others were trying to hold in the tears. This year we were all wishing to make it to C.I.F to even get further but as we now know that can not happen even if we wished on a star.
"HOW CAN YOU BE SO CALM NOAH THIS IS YOUR SENIOR YEAR, JACOB YOU TOO MAN? ISN'T THIS AS IMPORTANT TO YOU AS IT IS TO ME," Ruben cries. His tears don't leave his eyes, they stay there for everyone to see.
I look at the coaches and I can see how pained they are. Ruben isn't one to cry, he's always seen as really happy or really angry but never sad. Everyone looked down, some will say this is just excessive, but if they were in our shoes they would know this is all we got since we were born in this cursed time of our lives they would keep their mouths shut. Everyone was quiet, the warm air didn't help, it felt like a snake suffocating its prey and there was no chance to get out of it. The door opened and the dancers popped their head through with petty faces and their noses up in the air. They must be happy, they always hated the wrestlers cause they believed we stole their "dance" room even though we basically have a mural in this room dedicated to wrestling.
"Can you leave, we still have time in this room?" Coach Justin asked, he is the brother of Coach Matt and the second Coach Justin we have. The girls listened for once and left, I guess they took pity on us, seeing that some of us are crying.
"Fuck this, Coach Matt by any chance can we have wrestling on the side?" Coach Marcelo asked standing up. Everyone's head popped up and the sniffs stopped and the air became hopeful again.
"What do you mean Coach Marcelo?"Coach Matt asked, his eyes are wide and the look he gives Coach Marcelo is hopeful.
"I have a building, well my family has a building, it's big enough to have five mats we just need the mats and parent permission slips and their parents seemed okay with them wrestling before maybe they will be okay with them wrestling with us on the side and for free," Coach Marcelo states. The air became less suffocating and rather it felt like ten gallons of water was lifted off my shoulders.
"We can but we need to make sure that this is kept in secret because you all know the law, if we get caught we can get into big trouble not only with the police and the school but we will be risking our jobs on the side," Coach Maui said, he is our second coach Justin but we call him Maui because well he looks like the old Disney character from years back and to make it easier to distinguish both Justin's.
"We won't say anything we promise, we will keep it on the down-low and we will work hard," Ruben smiles wiping tears from his face. I want to tell him to not get his hopes up because Coach is right we, the students, won't be risking anything the Coaches are though.
The coach looked at each other communicating with their eyes and then finally nodded, and with that everyone silently cheered taking note of the dancers outside. "I will text everyone time and place when we get the information okay till then tell your parents and no one else," Coach Matt whispers as we nodded.
Since our backpacks were already on our backs we started to walk out, still sniffing and wiping away tears that were spilling from our eyes out with our forearms. I realized this whole time I was crying as I felt my brother shoved a piece of his uniform tie on my eyes making sure there were no more tears, "Let's head home or do you want to get something to eat?"
"Let's just head home," I say with a smile and he nodded.
I tug at the mask again and again. We were not made to wear masks. My brother slaps my hand down, "Stop playing with your mask, you are going to break it. Then we have to make you a new one like the last times." I groaned and kept walking.
We are only half a mile away from our house and the streets are filled, but the sidewalks are not. Bike riders and skaters zoom around us, and a bright orange flame-like hair slows down on his bike as he gives me a wink. Aiden, you dumb ginger. He pulls his mask off for a second and mouths 'see you later curly fries' and pulls his mask back up, I was glad that my brother was looking at his phone searching for music than looking up and seeing the ever so "secret message."
I smile as we reach our home. The funny thing about this whole virus is that people believe that they would see crumbled buildings or the nice homes will be abandoned or broken down. Of course, they are wrong, instead, our homes are quite beautiful because of the care we put into it course. From the beginning of the complex, stone stairs lead up to it. Trees hovering over us creating the perfect shade from the sun, the stairs welcome you to a different world, a world that doesn't hide from a virus but rather embraces it. Flowers of different shades make themselves apparent and the birds up in the trees sing, not in harmony or in sync but rather each different tune. Opening the glass doors of the complex the grey stone walls surround us, leading up to another set of stairs that shines upon green grass and flowers. The pool in the middle shaped as if it were a jelly bean is surrounded by palm trees and guarded up with silver bars as if it were a jail but a beautiful one. The jelly bean, leaving an empty hole of the whole building, letting the sun in, hitting the water, and the light shooting back on each window it could find. The apartment complex has three floors with staircases covered in green vines and drops of flowers and palm tree leaves above us. The air always smelled sweet and hugged everyone here. Due to this, people became closer which created no worry when it came to facing masks. People do take precautions but nothing much, and they all know my secrets and I know theirs. We climb two sets of stairs, unlocking the door and I see Aiden from the other side of the building winking again walking into his apartment and we do the same.
As Noah and I walk into our home and the smell of bleach and the rise of the hibiscus scent filled the air making a smile spread across my lips, memories of a time much simpler. My mom smiled at us, but raised a finger up to us as the child's voice filled the room from a computer, "Miss I don't understand what you mean?" My mom clearly looked annoyed but kept teaching. My mom worked with kids with disabilities, and she worked well with them, but there are times where she wants to pull her hair out. "Oh press the link that's on my portal and you get into the class," she says. I see her click something and greeted us with a smile, "I made Jamaica, but I need to get back to work, then a nap, but I hoped you had a great day at school." We smiled back and went to our rooms
My mom sighs and goes back to helping the kid, my home has always been small but cozy. We tend to keep our two bedrooms bright with color and our living room quite dim. With colors, you will normally find on an autumn tree with its brown, orange, and red leaves falling from the branches on the soil around the tree. Though we always wanted to change the color, we could never do it because of money and how small our apartment is. As we enter our room, sunshine decided to make its appearance dancing around making the room seem brighter than it should be. Though our home doesn't look like much, it is honestly the only place that can really make me smile. My brother slides on the bottom bunk, while I go to my computer, a notification pops up..
Dear Quiet Tiger,
New order needs to be delivered. Meet at the normal base, blood tunnels, if you forgot, and then travel to electric tunnels. There are many bombs in that area so be careful. You will be traveling with a partner that we assigned you. Don't fight him, he is very important to this mission and missions to come, so treat him with the respect or else someone will be losing a finger. DON'T BE LATE, the customer does not like when their time is wasted so DON'T WASTE IT. Be safe out there Quiet Tiger, we don't need another delivery girl or boy missing. Almost forgot to add, it's at 9 p.m and you will come back at 3.