3010. The sky’s complexion is blanched. The air is aged; the scent of death wrinkles it. But there is hope. A tired but persistent sun rises routinely, and the sky is beginning to tint, as if it were blushing.
Anti-Renaissance lingers. Buildings of every kind sport graffiti. The streets are grey and littered with the treasures of another time: clothing scraps, frail friendship bracelets, photographs of smiling people. They smile, the people in the pictures, but it is an empty promise. They smile, and it is all the proof we need of how blind they were—how their silly faith in the heart of men prevented them from seeing an obvious omen. It is in the nature of men to abuse power. Those people in the pictures should’ve known a war was imminent.
3010. Though we are rebuilding our homes, we are collapsing our beliefs. Innovation is a sharp fervor, and religion by itself a strong foundation. In one another’s presence, innovation and religion are acid and base. They are disaster.
Today, we want neither innovation nor religion. What we strive to have is a little faith in human nature. Perhaps, if we ban all genetic research and put up old style buildings, and if we all choose something to believe in but not to enforce, we can mute our human thirst for destruction. That’s the goal of the Anti-Renaissance: to replicate a time where there weren’t as many forms of power people could abuse. While we do have a government, our leaders are people who’ve been pushed into their positions and want the same things we do. They, too, are afraid that eventually someone in power will take it upon him or herself to repeat history. Therefore, they give as much power to the people as they can to ensure that if there were another war, our voices would overwhelm those of the government. For example, we’re free to build whatever we want wherever we want, as long as our constructions aren’t too innovative. We can also, as long as it’s not offensive, draw on anything that has a surface—the whole freedom of expression thing.
Artifacts that have escaped nuclear war—empty nail polish bottles, matches, photograph upon photograph—remain on the streets, reminding us of the tumultuous future that awaits if we step in the wrong direction.
3010. We have a problem. You can’t get anywhere if you’re afraid to move. And, it’s impossible for everyone to stand still at the same time; sooner or later, someone is going to cheat playing freeze tag.
My brother is the coolest brother ever, even if he’s not my real brother. I know this because Mommy and Daddy both have purple eyes. Purple is the strong gene—the scientists did that on purpose, so that no matter what, they could always tell who their friends and their friends’ kids and their friends’ grand-kids were. But the scientists were evil. They tricked the purple-eyed people and experimented on them to make super-soldiers. That’s why Mommy and Daddy’s great-great-great-great-grandparents ran away and played hide and seek.
But my brother Win is different. He’s got skin the color of the sky and eyes to match it. His hair is really, I mean really blonde. Well, it’s black now, but that’s just because he dyes it so people won’t be afraid of him. Mommy said she and Daddy named him Winter because he’s the color of that season. I asked her if Daphne was a season. She just laughed and shook her head. Adults these days are weird.
I know that Win isn’t my real brother because the Pale Gene is puny. Mom and Dad’s Purple genes would’ve crushed all that blonde hair and paper skin in a second. I don’t tell Daddy and especially Mommy that I know Win isn’t my real brother because I don’t want to hurt their feelings. I can tell they think they’re doing a really good job keeping it from me. It’s not nice to rain on other people’s parades.
Anyhoo, Win’s the coolest brother ever because today he’s taking me to the Pink Power concert. It’s not because he’s taking me that he’s the coolest, it’s because he hates Pink Power and is taking me anyways.
I really don’t know what she finds so amazing about three chicks with pink hair and pink eyes all decked out in the same pink outfit. Just looking at them hurts my eyes. But she’s my little sister, and she’s got these radiant eyes that make the word “no” foreign to your lips. So, I buy her all the candy her heart desires—which, by the way, is enough to give anyone but her a stomach ulcer—and jump up and down with her to the rhythm of every song Pink Power performs. Which is enough to last me three lifetimes. And none of which I can relate to. Because I’ve never waited for my boyfriend’s call. Nor have I ever worn a short skirt to impress a boy, only to have my plan backfire and walk out of the bathroom with toilet paper trailing out of my skirt. Come to think of it, I don’t think Daphne has either. I certainly hope not.
On the way back home, Daphne and I sport Pink Power t-shirts. I try my best to conceal how much the shirt scourges my pride. The things I do for her.
Tomorrow I am going to be a Second. Being a Second means that you are seven and that you are now much more grown up than the little Zeros and Firsts.
I’ve got my lunch pass, my Historic Simulator 2050 (Historic Simulators 2060 and up were banned three years ago), my 3D Tablet, and all my iTextbooks packed in my Pink Power backpack. I’ve also got a few regular books, because we’re encouraged to read more of those so “the essence of literature won’t be lost”.
I’m not worried about my first day of school, but I am worried about Win’s. He is Fashionistically Impaired. I know so because he dresses exactly like the guy in Edom Magazine who they said was Fashionistically Impaired. I scored a nine out of ten on Edom’s Fashionista Test. I am what Edom calls an expert. Edom says that experts should help the Fashionistically Impaired. That’s why I’ve decided to give Winter a makeover.
The things I do for Daphne. It’s my first day as an Eleven and I look like a banana. Yellow pants are in, she said, and you know what looks great with yellow pants? A yellow shirt!
A bright yellow shirt with a humongous smiley face on it that’s so tight I can barely breathe wearing it.
Oh, but she looked so satisfied with herself this morning. You’re being a good brother you’re being a good brother you’re being a good brother.
“Um…you’re sister’s really got some…talent,” murmurs my best friend Haiden on our way to lunch.
“Shut up,” I say. He starts laughing almost instantly, his pointy ears—the result of one of his ancestors wanting to look like an elf and getting his or her genes mutated to do so—turning pink. I keep walking towards the teleporter. Now that we’re Elevens, Haiden and I can leave campus for lunch.
We enter the cylindrical capsule and are buffeted by a synthetic aroma. Haiden and I both wrinkle our noses, for the scent is vile; it is the air of a time where religious groups grappled for control and the government plundered the rights of people.
“So where do you want to go?” I ask.
“How about the Banana Hut?”
Afraid our stomachs wouldn’t be able to handle it, Haiden and I decide to go by foot instead of taking the teleporter back to school. Noon has become afternoon. The sun’s losing its battle with the clouds, its luminescence dwindling. This kind of depresses me, so I resort to inspecting the walls of the alley we’re treading through. Graffiti adorns corroded brick, most of it illustrations of Zephyren, a legendary super-soldier. It is believed Zephyren saved us from the Death War. The story is that the prototype for Zephyren came to this brilliant scientist, Adam Gevoni, in a dream. Throughout the Death War, scientists strove to fulfill this prototype, kidnapping thousands of people compatible for their experiments. Their efforts held no avail. That is, until they discovered Zephyren. All the scientists agreed he was outstanding—they couldn’t possibly devise anything better. They spoke too soon. Zephyren was too strong. He was impervious to the trials they put him through to control his mind; he knew right from wrong. Zephyren fought for the people and ended the war. But no one knows what happened to him—that’s how all legends go.
Looking at these depictions, I don’t see a miracle. I see a silver-haired man with color bleached from his skin and eyes a piercing white. They’re white, the legend explains, because his eyes weren’t susceptible to color change—the scientists couldn’t mark him with their signature purple. Great spikes protrude from the backs of all the Zephyrens, and beneath their arms bloom flurries of vibrant feathers.
What does strike my attention, though, is the ardor with which the brush strokes that make up the Zephyrens run across the walls. It looks as if the artists who painted them truly believed he existed; more than that, they believed in his cause. Their fervor gives me a little faith.
I was looking for my lunch pass in the cafeteria—that’s when I saw them. They didn’t know I was there because I was hiding and everyone else had gone to class. I’m supposed to be in class, too, but I was looking for my lunch pass.
These other people in the cafeteria look too old to be students, too shady to be teachers. They have wispy silver hair and dark, dark violet eyes that look hungry.
I want them to leave, so I can run far, far away. I’m going to go home to Mommy and Daddy, where these people can’t hurt me. But I don’t have a chance to run, because they’re barely moving. They’re just standing at the door of the lunch room, like they’re waiting for something.
“From now on, we’re taking the teleporter.”
Who knew it’d take an hour for us to find our way back?
Entering the medieval halls of Gaspard, I feel uneasy. Only peril can make our school so still.
“Dude, it’s really quiet in here,” Haiden mumbles.
Frenzies of purple feathers fall in a hurricane from the top of the northern stairwell, paling as they bypass rays of sunlight.
Right when the classes let out, it started. The violet-eyed men started taking people. When the teachers tried to stop them, there was a flash of metal and then a thump as the teachers fell down. I couldn’t tell for sure, but I think they killed the teachers.
They took my friend Rona, too. I heard them tell Rona she was special. I saw Rona’s eyes fall as they whispered the rest into her ear. And then, I couldn’t see Rona and the violet-eyed man who was holding her anymore. There were only faces looking really scared and a lot of shoving. Even the grown-ups looked scared. I was supposed to be scared, too, but I think I forgot how.
I hid in the corner, thinking maybe the violet-eyed men wouldn’t be able to see me behind all these kids who were bigger than me. But one of them saw me—the one with the skinny face and hair that was longer than Mommy’s—and started coming towards me. I squeezed my eyes shut, thinking that maybe this was all a bad dream and I just had to stop believing it was true and wake up.
Someone took my hand and whispered for me to trust him. His voice sounded kind, so I opened my eyes. This man also had silver hair, but his eyes were different. They were white, like my brother’s, with gold irises, also like my brother’s. Suddenly, we were moving through the hall so fast I couldn’t tell where we were. I looked at my hand, which was holding his hand really tight. My hand looked dirty compared to his, and that’s when I realized he was just like Winter.
“You’re looking for my brother Win, aren’t you?”
“I don’t know,” he said, his voice making me feel calm, “tell me about him.”
“He’s pale, just like you. His eyes are white with gold irises, like yours. But his hair’s blonde, not silver.”
The man chuckled, “I guess I am looking for your brother, then. I’ve looked for him for a long time.”
Just like that, the school is in pandemonium. I don’t even have time to look at Haiden. Around me, people push in every which direction, their desperate calls for help yielding no answer; it’s like solar systems colliding. Haiden is out of sight.
All I can think of is Daphne.
Afterwards, I close my eyes. The pale man takes me all the way down to the bottom floor. We go down so fast it feels like we’re falling.
When we’re going straight again and I feel a little less dizzy, I ask him how he knows Win’s down here. He answers by asking me how many violet-eyed men I saw. I tell him seven. He tells me that he saw all seven upstairs and none of them had Win. His voice is so pretty I believe him without thinking.
A little while later, I hear Win’s voice calling my name, which is even prettier than the pale man’s.
“Take her and hide,” orders the pale man.
Winter does what he says, hugging me first and then telling me to come with him. He holds my hand so tight it hurts, but I don’t say anything ‘cause it seriously looks like he’ll die if he loosens his grip. He looks even paler than usual, if it’s possible.
As time passed, more kids came to hide with us. We waited, disconsolate, until the frantic resonance above faded into an anxious murmur of footfalls. The man who saved Daphne came back then, colorful feathers and trails of crimson marking his path toward us.
Daphne and I are the first to emerge, afraid for his well being. When we get a closer look, we realize the skin on his back is torn, immense spikes protruding from the wounds.
He smiles something angelic. “I don’t believe we’ve met yet. I’m Zephyren.”
Zephyren says Win is going to be the new Hero Soldier. Zephyren tells us the scientists are still at large and that he is degrading.
Him and this group of people called The Council asked Win if he was willing to give up his old life to be a hero. They weren’t really being fair, because Win didn’t have that much of a choice. It was help them, or abandon mankind—and mankind includes Mommy and Daddy and me. But they also told Win that he couldn’t ever see us again until mankind was safe, which is stupid. But Win said yes, because he’d rather miss us than have something bad happen to us.
They said that I could still talk to Zephyren. But I’m not going to. I’m going to give him a silent treatment that lasts forever. Zephyren said it’s very heroic what Win’s doing, but I don’t think so. Win was a hero before all this happened. Anyone who isn’t coo-coo would sacrifice themselves to save a gazillion other people. Not everyone takes their little sister to see Pink Power even though they hate Pink Power and lets her pick out their outfit for the first day of school.
Win is a hero for me. It’s easy to be a hero when everyone is relying on you, but it’s not easy to be a hero when only one person relies on you. That’s what I think.
They said the bond between Daphne and I was too strong. They said they’d have to erase Daphne’s memory of me to protect her, my family, and even me. I begged them not to, but they said it was Daphne’s choice. She agreed.
“I’m helping the greatest hero I know,” she’d said, complexion ablaze with passion.
She doesn’t know it, but she’s the true hero. It doesn’t take much to sacrifice yourself for a noble cause. It takes a hell of a lot, however, to sacrifice something that means the world to you for a noble cause. I only know she feels that way about me because I feel the same about her.
“Take care of her,” I tell Haiden. We’re both trying not to cry, for the sake being men.
We hug, and Haiden goes, “I guess I’ll have to look like a banana now.”
AH GUYS I DON'T KNOW ABOUT THIS ONE.
i wrote this for school; we had this project where we were supposed to write a story about a hero using all our vocab words =P.
AND I KNOW, MY TITLE IS AWESOMELY ORIGINAL.