I remember it like yesterday. The Covid-19 virus. It started in China and made it's way to North America. There were only a few cases at first, but then the numbers grew and eventually, The Change came. That's what we called it The Change, it happened over a few weeks. Shops started to close it's doors for fear of the virus spreading. Then, small businesses were forced to close down for good because they were not making a profit, many boarded up their windows and sealed their doors. The streets began to empty, fewer and fewer cars were seen on the streets at night and then eventually during the day. Everyone was afraid and they had a right to be for this was a pandemic. The pandemic had turned into a plague and that's when things went bad. The grocery stores were no longer stocking up on food supply, they closed their doors as well, nothing stood open. Then, there was the uprising, the government was no longer funding research for the Covid-19.
Now, the government decided to separate us into precincts to maintain some order, of course, drastic measures were taken. Army forces guard each precinct and if they see anyone trying to run away or escape they are shot down without a second thought. The only people allowed to cross borders are the people who deal with importing and exporting, they carry a badge and army forces check the back of the truck for any stowaways. Some precincts are rich, while others are barely getting any food. I, unfortunately, belong to the poor precinct. There are ten in total and then, there is, of course, the government precinct that is rolling in money. Precinct five is where home is, it has been just me and my older brother for five years now. We live in the lumbar precinct. Our work is hard, women are often the ones sawing the trees down and the men carry them to the trucks and load them on of course we always being observed by the army and if anyone tries anything funny, they get taken to the post. The post is in the middle of the precinct. They tie people to the post and leave them with no food or water for three days and then back to work they go, but are chained by the feet for five days and then it goes back to normal. My hands that were once feminine and beautiful are now blistered and callused, my brother used to be thin and skinny, he was still strong but now he has muscles on his arms and back from lugging the trees around. Every day, someone from the government comes and announces events that have happened in each precinct, it is usually boring and uneventful my brother and I always make faces at each other when the man who is called Claude comes and starts to talk. His voice is always monotone and boring, then when that is done we go to the cafeteria that used to be a church and eat our breakfast and off to work until lunch, we have thirty minutes and back to work until dinner and then everyone is expected to go to their houses. They turn the power off at seven. Then it is rinse and repeat.
I woke up in the middle of the night to someone screaming. I got up and went down the hall to my brother's room, it was him. I shook him awake and he gasped for air.
"Shh. Jacob. It's just a dream," I reassured him as I hugged him. "It is just a dream."
"I know, but I keeping seeing them die," he responded in a soft whimper.
"I see mom and dad too, I know," I told him, it was the main reason I did not sleep at night.
I close my eyes and all I see are my parent's dead faces. That's when I look at our family photo where mom and dad are full of life, mom's smile was warm and wide and dad's smile looked like he was proud. I ha my mother's green eyes and my father's dark hair, people say that my dad and I looked similar I could never see it. My brother and mom had the same freckles and pale skin with blonde hair. In the photo, my brother and I look nothing alike other than maybe our noses, but even then it was hard to tell we were related.
"Why am I getting all the nightmares?" he asked me.
"Because, you probably remember it more vividly."
"Okay, you better get back to bed, we need to be awake in an hour anyway," he said as he rolled over in his bed and I nodded even though he did not see and I went back to my room. I did not sleep. I stared at the ceiling wondering what it would be like if my parents were still alive. The morning alarm went off in the precinct. I got dressed and washed. My brother and I went to the post where we expected Claude to read his morning announcements. Instead, two men in uniforms appeared, my brother and I exchanged glances.
"We have an announcement to make, you are expected to be back here at lunch break. No questions asked" and immediately people were muttering around us. "Next, there has been an accident in precinct seven where two army men were found dead by the post. Claude is no longer your announcer due to changes in circumstances. There will be no more announcements today" they said and instead of leaving they stood there. We stood with them for a while not knowing if we were dismissed our not. "You are dismissed," said the other uniform.
"What could that be about?" I asked Jacob as I followed him to the cafeteria.
"I do not think it is a good thing," said Jacob as we grabbed our trays and food and sat down where our two best friends sat. Sadie was a small, stout girl and her hands were blistered like mine, her shoulders were broad and she had her hair cut short to her neck. Brody was my brother's age with dark skin and a buzz cut.
"Why are we supposed to meet at the post?" asked Sadie.
"I think it has to do with the deaths of the army men that they found, maybe they are cracking down on us," suggested Brody, which seemed very probable.
"It can't get worse than this, can it?" asked Sadie as she poked at her food.
"I guess, we will find out," I said and then the bell rang outside signaling that it was time for us to go to the forest and continue cutting. We went our separate ways. Sadie and I got our equipment and found a tree to start. We let tree after tree fall and it was lunchtime. We headed to the post and the two uniforms were waiting for everyone.
"Dear citizens of precinct five, there will be a test conducted to sort you through the system, some of you will be in the same precinct, most of you will need to leave your homes behind and start a new life in a different precinct. President John Morley believes that you should be with like-minded people to prevent any further deaths from happening," said the uniform man and everyone was chattering. That meant I would not be with my brother or my friends again, we would need to survive on our own. "Quiet please." said the other uniform.
"We will be conducting these tests during this day, in the meantime, you are to be in your houses waiting for your turn to complete the test, once the test is complete you will grab your belongings and transport will come and pick you up," he said. "Anyone that does not adhere to the rules will be shot to death immediately. You are not to complete your daily duties today. Please go to your houses now," said the announcer and without speaking everyone dispersed into their directions. I made eye contact with Brody and he nodded at me, I nodded back and we went our own way. My brother was silent the walk home.
About the author
Hello fellow interweb explorers! I am Ada Zuba. I binge the Netflix shows and just recently Disney plus has been my happy place. I am a creative person with a big love for Disney movies. I hope to one day write and publish a fantasy novel.