The Freedom Seeker’s Journal
The gray and almost indestructible wall was the thing holding us back. The government said that it would save us from the world around us. I hated that stupid idea. It didn't have an explanation or anything. Our people have lived here for one hundred years, now. My people and mother always were the people to make sure I succeeded and behaved in my life, and so far I have, somewhat. There was always that wall that blocked us off from the world until I found a weak point and managed to be able to be free and yet imprisoned. I could see the outside world in its true glory outside of the brick house I call home. My life had one purpose: never cross the line. Anyway, I always had to be on time to each counting ceremony, though, or else I would automatically be placed in the next lower rank. For me, that would be death. There were ranks for everything. Intelligence, skill, behavior, and everything I could be. Once you were at the bottom of one of the ranks once for that year, you would be banished to the Enchanted Hollows for a day and night or executed. Either way you die. You have to survive a night in the forest. If you survive, you are immediately granted 'immortality' and are placed in the highest rank, which you can't be removed from. Only one person survived the night in the hollows and came back on time.
The Survivor’s Journal
That person was me, Anna Grimm. I have seen things in the dark that would drive you insane. I nearly tried to drown myself in disgust. I saw half living people who had been banished. If you don't return in the morning, the next day, you can never come back. I was the only one. They were all the unlucky ones. About three survivors who started to the door ten minutes late, so the door was closed before they had reached it. I am the only one who has made it back still alive. But the crack in the wall saved me. I went through the crack in the wall the night I was put out there. I had hid and slept in tree line. Only one person knows what I had discovered. In fact, she had created the crack. Her name is Eva Freetman. She has light blue eyes, the color of the sky and the ocean together many people say. Eva had a soft complexion with lovely golden curled locks to frame her face. She always wore a plain shirt with a pair of slightly ripped jeans. It turns out she was pretty popular in her rank and in other ranks, even though she was in the second lowest rank for skill. Anyways, the night of my banishment was the night she usually goes out into the Hollows. When I heard that she did it for fun, I was shocked. She talked of what she saw, but she wasn't frightened by any of it. Eva should be the top ranked skilled section, but she is frightened to be banished, fearing she might not survive. I was again shocked, but didn't question it. When I was declared immortal, I wanted to give my position to Eva. She was the real survivor, not me. But she made me swear on her life to not speak of any of it. Now I'm part of the citizen government since I became immortal, so I help the people as payment to Eva. I grant raises and guards with a lift of my finger. I am also the judge in all the court houses. But today I wasn't doing that. I had to say farewell and good fortune to the lowest ranked child, woman, and man of the year. As I approached the chosen people, I began to cry. Before me stood my mother, older brother, and Eva. My mother had tears running down her cheeks. My brother Jackson looked up to the heavens in despair but tried to pull himself together. Eva looked like a statue, no emotion showed on her face. I could tell she was paralyzed with fright and fear. I sadly cleared my throat and announced who each person was. They were standing inside of a holding chamber, two guards on either side. I had to ask each person what they wished to do, whether be banished for the night or be executed. I was barely able to listen as my mother replied to the question.
"Execution, my lady," my mother in her weary and quivering voice. Dani, my mother, was older and more fragile than most women these days. She knew this day was coming sooner or later, so she decided to end her Fates’ string here. My mother was allowed to say goodbye to us and went up onto the stage. She had to choose how to be executed. Drowning, electric chair, firing squad, and lethal shot were the options. I know she is going to choose electric chair. I turned away, covering my eyes as tears poured down my face, leaving pools of tears in my hands. Then I looked back. I had to watch. State law requires all must watch it. No one knows why. It's something that we find wrong, though. As I focused back into the moment, I realized that I was holding mother's arm. She slowly walked towards the chair, being escorted by brother and me.
"Be strong my babies," Mother whispered softly, as though she was already dying and leaving us. "I was going to get out of here soon, so better make it count." My mother is 54 years old, although I'm only 15 and Jackson is 23. Mother had us when she was comfortable to have more kids. Vanessa, Amber, Jaren, and Kyle were our former siblings. They all went missing on the same day fourteen years ago. But that is a story for later. She slowly sat down and then got comfortable. Mother requested to have us holding her hands before it was time, so I held hers so tight it probably almost broke. They slowly attached the wires to her arms, legs, chest, and head. We were told to let go, even though it was hard. The second we let go, the machine started up and began sending the high electric pulses through her. In a minute, she was dead. Men in electric proof suits came in and took her body away forever. We never knew what they did with our dead. Right now, everyone had a moment of silence in remembrance of our fallen compatriot, my mother, Dani. Everyone shared a memory they had with her. Then, we moved on to the next one, Jackson. He chose banishment. He was immediately thrown in to the woods without a goodbye. It was always like that with the people who had a chance. They had something to drive them on. Family. Finally, Eva was the last one. Before she could say a word, I chose for her.
"As a member of the citizen government, I pull my impersonation card," I announced strongly, holding my hand up. Everyone gasped, shocked at what I had said. You only pull that card when you are choosing the answer for a particular question. It was rare that it ever happened. Eva looked at me in despair. She knew that I was going to have her banished. "This girl, Eva Freetman, will be banished along with Jackson Grimm," I announced to the crowd. Before she could oppose to the quick decision, she was thrown inside. I heard a grunt on the other side. She somehow managed to land on top of Jackson, but I don't have a clue how. I know she will survive the night. At least, I hope she does come to the crack in the wall.
Freedom Seeker’s Journal
I looked up and saw a boy in my face.
I was about to scream but he covered my mouth and whispered, "Shh. You’re ok. We were banished and we are in the Enchanted Hollows." I was able to process this quickly and understood. Anyone who screams in the hollows will be seen by the unknowners in the trees. No one knows what they do with newbies. I regained my balance and slowly staggered forward, thinking of a plan. I didn't want to be like Anna and cheat. I really wanted to survive. But I wasn't alone. I was with Jackson, Anna's older brother. I decided he would sneak through the crack and stay in the tree line. I deserved this more than anyone. I wanted to stay here forever. This was my chance to escape for good. I told Jackson a fake plan, to make it seem as though we would come across the crack by chance.
"We stay along the wall and avoid the trees completely," I explained to him. "We try to find a water source and camp there. I promise we won't be late for the closing doors." He looked awestruck, as if girls like me couldn't come up with something like that. It isn't normal for people who have no skills to think of such a thing.
"Come on, we need to find place to camp," I spoke in a soft tone. He seemed to, now, realize that he was shedding a few tears. I started to walk away, while he was still processing the plan in his mind. Then he ran to catch up with my now quick pace. We walked past trees, rivers, and ponds for about ten minutes when I spotted a small camp set up along the tree line. Some type of reptile skin was used as the tent, and what looked like sheep wool for insulation and bedding. And that is when we saw them. Mrs. Grimm and the other people who hadn't made it back in time to the gate were sitting around a fire. And just like that, Jackson was running towards them. He grabbed his mother in a desperate hugging grasp as she began to realize that it was her son. Then they both started to cry. I had run to the tree line about five feet back, watching what was happening. After about ten minutes, Jackson turned around and started calling my name. The man in the corner stood up and walked over to Jackson.
"What was that name you said?" asked the man.
"Eva, but it is pronounced Ava," replied Jackson. The man started to breathe heavily and then started calling my name frantically. Who the heck is with that guy? Is he a psychopath or a guy who lost a girl with my name? I got closer to get a closer look. Then, I stepped on a twig. They whirled around and started walking in my direction, wondering if it could be me. I picked up the small rock and chucked it to my left, away from the camp. They started running to the left too, following the crunch of leaves. I ran in the opposite direction, heading for the camp. When I arrived, the people treated me like I was one of the trapped people. They thought that I had always been here. The woman in the corner gave me a half of the loaf of bread, freshly baked. The small wheat field was deeper in the hollows, barely visibly through the trees. The freshly planted field looked like it would be good to harvest from when the wheat is ready. When Jackson and the man returned, it was dark outside. The tent was going to be closed soon so that the heat could be kept in the tent. I made sure not to face their way, so they wouldn't see my face. The man was crying now, thinking it was his daughter. I never knew my father, I never met him. He was sent.... He was sent into banishment and never came back!
I whirled around and ran over to the man. He took one look at me and murmured, "It's the girl." He asked all kinds of questions. What's your mother's name, do you have siblings, and do you know your father.
I answered like this, "Trisha, no, and he went into banishment and never came back. I was born a week after he left." He suddenly reached for my pant leg and rolled it up to the knee. I knew what he was searching. The birthplace on my inner knee, shaped like a mini tree. It was my father, the man I never knew. He had been gone all this time, trapped in this hollow. My father grabbed my waist and picked me up. I started to cry tears of joy.
"My baby girl!" he cried to the heavens. "I'll show you why I stayed here. Also, I will tell you this, my life is owed to you, sweetheart, my darling girl." He took off running in the other direction, heading towards the hollows. I ran right after him, letting hair fly everywhere. My excitement was everything now.
The Survivor’s Journal
I, of course, was worried. I wondered why these people- my mother, brother, and friend. Then I realized it, while I was washing my hands for the evening meal, that if I get too attached to someone, this might become worse. But I can't. I have no one else to be attached to. No father, grandparents, or other friends held me back. Maybe I shouldn't care.
"No, shut up. That's what the government wants people like you, but particularly you to turn into. But they want the citizens to, too. They want everyone to let go of everything to them go," spoke a person in my head. What the? Am I going insane or something. I decided to calm myself and figure out who or what was talking to me.
"Who are you?" I replied to myself.
"Took you long enough. I'm Jessica, Jessica Schgreen. By the way, I'm a mind reader, and plus no one ever knows where I can be found. Except you of course, your great majesty." Ugh, I thought, I hate sarcastic people. "Hey! I heard that," screamed the girl. Ugh, stupid mind reader. "Thanks, I heard that, too. Why are you government people so rude to people like me?" There are more like her? "Well, duh. Do you I was just a very special and lonely person?" Well, yeah? "Why, that's so sweet, but no way am I going to be a loner in this. Since you have made my day, I live in the Enchanted Hollows. There. Happy. I expect you to order your troops after me or something I suppose since I messed with their all-powerful general. I will experimented on so you figure out the secret behind it. It should be you, though, since you 'survived' the night. I know that you never really followed the banishments rules, yet you push other people to them. Those rules are always so stupid. We just got a new load on them today. A young girl and guy who is about I would say 21. Did you send them here or did the other... Well, I guess I'm just asking if these ones are yours." I stood there frozen as if I had been trapped in between two vacuums, each pulling harder and harder, but neither one pulling harder than the other. "Oh my god, pop back into reality and answer the stupid question already," Jessica chanted in my head.
"Yeah. The boy is my brother and the girl, Eva, is my friend," I answered as I recovered the shocking joy I had gotten from hearing the news.
"Whoa, talk about close to you. The government is definitely trying to make you not care about them."
"But why?" I replied in a rather curious tone.
"To get you to be one of them," Jessica replied, as if were really obvious.
"Where are you again?" I asked, wanting to know more.
"You must have sort term memory loss or something," Jessica said in an annoyed tone. "ENCHANTED HOLLOWS!!!!"
"I'm coming to rescue them," I said in an urgent tone of voice, while my head felt like it was about to burst. "And possibly the rest of you as well."
"Okay, see you later," Jessica said as I opened up my eyes again. I, awestruck by the strange encounter, studied myself in the mirror. My gray eyes were darker than usual, making my dark red highlights in my black wavy hair seem tinted. My chocolate brown skin glistened in the white lights of the bathroom. I looked like an evil government being, the ones that watch over everyone. Do I spy civilians? I decided to think about that later and focus on my mission. I have to go rescue them, I thought. I rushed out of my personal restroom, climbed out the window, and made a beeline for the crack. I ran past the neighborhoods, scooters, schools, and the other public buildings. I dodged conversations with citizens and avoided the political officers until I reached Eva's garden. I quietly jumped the gate and calmed the guard dogs with the sleep treats given to the spies. I stole one from mine this morning. I climbed through the crack and looked around. With the full moon rising, I could see everything clearly. I immediately saw the campfire and walked cautiously towards it. I stuck close to the tree line, making myself almost invisible. I could see my brother helping a woman bake bread, several other men and women doing other chores, and two figures that were distant, running towards the other edge of the forest. As I started to proceed forward, I heard a tranquilizer being loaded behind me.
Before I turn around, a man says, "It is your turn to run into the woods." Oh god.
To be continued