Author: xxALICE PM
Queria Nejem grew up in a factory in the heart of Coffte, an abandoned state. The Global Congress has fallen, leaving a terrorist group called Haven in control of the world. Queria is swept up into a political conspiracy and is left no choice but to help the former president regain his power to overthrow Haven. Please R/R!Rated: Fiction M - English - Hurt/Comfort - Words: 1,462 - Published: 07-21-12 - id: 3043745
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
This is not the story of the millions of people who suffered during the events that occurred after the Great Abandon. This is only what I did to help. This is the story of my tiny involvement in a massive effort to do what some people would consider to be right. To this day, I don't know why I did it, and I barely know how I got involved. But here it is – my tale.
Half past four on a Wednesday morning, the sun was barely rising as a hooded woman carried a newborn child through the abandoned manufacturing district of Irontown, Coffte. Holding the bundle close to her chest, she stopped before an empty lot, peering around the quickly brightening streets. No one seemed to be there. Of course – the manufacturing district was devoid of life. These were the establishments that had brought Coffte to its knees. She looked down at the baby, peering into its wide, pale eyes. Shuddering, she knelt and placed the girl at the base of a rusty fence, turning and hurrying away. The baby was believed to be blind. She could not have been supported in this wasted city. Though the woman would not bring herself to kill the allegedly impaired infant, she could easily abandon it. After all – it was not hers.
Two hours later, an aged man emerged from the toothpaste factory one block to the South, hearing the baby's cries. He walked silently to the empty lot, scooped up the child, and limped back through the double doors. Her bizarre eyes reminded him of the stars he'd known in his childhood, the very same ones that rarely graced the night sky in this age. She cooed up at him as he placed the baby on the hard, cement floor.
Queria Nejem was what she was called. Though as far as the outside world knew, she had no name, no real identity, to the Factory Kids she was Queria. Yusef had named her – the old man peered at the little black baby, chose her name, called upon God, and died. Some claimed he'd seen enough, and that the infant's innocent gaze put him in enough peace to finally pass away. Others said he'd been sick, drinking filthy water, and that he'd had it coming like we all do. Regardless, it was her name.
She'd grown up hearing this story, among others about her childhood. The older residents of the abandoned toothpaste factory told her about how she was a largely silent child, never once complaining of hunger or thirst, and rarely cracking the familiar innocent smile known to grace the shining faces of toddlers. Instead, she spent an excess amount of time sleeping or watching the other residents with her startling grey eyes. As it became clear throughout her childhood, Queria was not, in fact, blind. As she grew older and learned more of the world around her, a perpetual slight frown developed on her face. Queria went from a quiet child to a hardened, street-smart young adult. She'd had no choice, growing up homeless in a city at the heart of an abandoned state.
It had been nearly three decades since the year 2020, when the Global Congress had been abolished. Thanks to the relentless efforts of a rising worldwide rebel organization known as Haven, the world was essentially being dictated and handled by terrorists. Their first order of business had been to carefully screen the world's states and abandon ones that had become financially problematic to support. Coffte had been among the first regions to go – the manufacturing capital and only major city in the state, Irontown, had underwent several incidents of toxic waste leaking into the local water supply, causing genetic mutations in newborn children for the last six years. Some were minor, but most were fatal, ranging from minor physical quirks to severe cardiac deformities. Despite the sudden drop in population and obvious need for a way to purify the water, Irontown still had one of the largest populations of any of the world's seventy states, resulting in a great need for government funding. The local political leaders were careless in their financial management, seemingly spending their allowance on every issue save for the water contamination.
The most high-profile reason for Coffte's abandonment, however, was easily the rape of a young woman named Crysta Haffey. Crysta was an engineering major at Irontown University, and a hardworking student. She had few close friends, and rarely indulged in the usual temptations that surrounded college life. In the spring of her sophomore year, the petite redhead was returning from a convenience store outside downtown Irontown, taking a shortcut through a back alley. According to her statements in her extremely publicized trial, an intoxicated man dressed in an expensive suit assaulted her before she'd made it home and left her in the alley, weeping.
Several months later, in the fall of her Junior year, Crysta recognized this man clutching a large pair of shears before the University's new state-of-the-art resource center. His name was Jasper Overton, and he was the mayor of Irontown. Before he'd even cut the ribbon, Crysta had rushed back to her dorm room and phoned her father, Nathan Haffey, the man who now headed Haven and essentially had the entire world sheared on the edge of his afternoon martini glass like a green olive.
The rest was history for Irontown. At first, worldwide human rights organizations routinely sent aid to the ailing region, along with several others that had been abandoned. These included funding, massive generators, and occasionally journalists. However, the world rarely dwelled on the tragedies of yesterday, and the help eventually stopped. The people of Coffte were left to fend for themselves. Before long citizens had to learn to live without electricity, cell service, automobile fuel, and other pleasures that were brought to them by the Global Congress. The suicide and crime rates skyrocketed. Meanwhile, the water remained tainted, and many died simply from the illness that it brought, despite boiling it before consumption in an attempt to purify the precious poison. The younger generations learned to live with their defects, thankful that they were among the children that survived despite consuming the contaminated water since conception. Queria was a card-carrying member of this group of youth, affectionately referred to as Water Warts.
It was the unnerving shade of her eyes that had placed her in the group – no black girl had grey eyes. She'd known it for as long as she could remember, thanks to the hardened frowns she received when she wandered into the more populated areas of Coffte. It was quite obviously a defect, made clear because of her age and race. Perhaps if she'd been light-skinned and blonde, she could have pulled it off as a natural physical feature, but the smooth ebony of her skin gave her away.
However, like the other Water Warts, she knew she was lucky. She could have died. Instead, she had a chance at life – Queria could live with the grey eyes. Besides, the Factory Kids didn't give her crap about it, and that was what mattered. The otherwise homeless individuals ranging from age five to thirty were her family. She'd been raised here in the toothpaste factory, lacking legitimate parents but having more than enough supervising adults to monitor her childhood.
It was a blindingly bright morning on August twenty-second, 2048. The Kids were just beginning to wake up at half-past noon, and the Grown-ups were busy preparing breakfast. Queria turned away from the high window above her place on the cement floor, pulling a plush squirrel-fur blanket around her lanky body.
"Happy birthday, Nej," said a boy's voice as he hovered over her sleeping form. "You gonna get up?"
She grunted, turning onto her side.
"No, probably not," she replied groggily. The boy sighed, disappointed.
"'Kay," he said simply before turning on his heel and walking away.
Queria squeezed her eyes shut and attempted to fall back asleep. Nineteen years, she thought, inhaling the persistent stale scent of the warehouse. Nineteen years in a toothpaste factory. She pulled the blanket over her head and curled up, drifting back into deep sleep.
The boy, Take, sat cross-legged several feet away, watching her as he expertly lit a cigarette with a match. At the tender age of twelve, he'd seen far more than most young eyes. He would wait patiently for Queria to wake, content with feeling the sunlight on his back and pondering the day's activities. Queria was his favorite big sister, and he wouldn't spoil her birthday by forcing her to get up.
Three gunshots echoed through the streets. Take rolled his eyes. Good morning, he thought to himself.