I looked at the documents from the old feline human project. They were what we needed. Notes on feelings, diaries, the resistance and eventually subjection of the feline human half-breeds, it was perfect. It showed exactly what the overarching government was doing with the children it took for "re-education." The sound of footsteps broke through my concentration. I snatched out the chip, along with its precious contents. I sprinted down the alley silently; the abandoned base was still patrolled, damn. The knife was already loose in the oiled leather sheath. They never checked for old style weapons any more. I saw the shift in the rigid stance of the guard and heard the mental Something in Quadrant B. Going to Check I knew if I did not move now I would be screwed. I flashed by the old gate into the information room, ignoring the pounding of my heart and the shifting of my tattoos under my shield.
I pulled myself into a tight corner that would disguise my barely visible thermal and physical appearance. I opened one of my dog tags and put the chip inside while sliding one dagger out of my shoe, my ankle high poly fiber moccasins a perfect hiding place, while the other two slid neatly in my belt, all suited for throwing. I scaled the wall to the crumbling roof, letting the rubble conceal my crouching form. The marching feet passed and I crouched, letting the feel of the soft deer skin leather calm me. The mutations they had been unable to suppress that had been my parents' bane were now helping to bring down what they had professed that I obey. The leather deflected the radar they used on normal flights and I was thankful as I made my way to the main gate, and my horse, for my escape.
I awoke from another one of my nightmares. My sister's dying words still rang in my ears as I threw the sheets; they stuck to me like the sheets stuck to my perspiration soaked chest. Don't let them get you. Always guard all parts of you; mind and body, Aaron, don't let them take you… They had haunted me through all the memory-erasing pills; even let me fight the memory erasing. I was probably the only person alive who had a complete account of their entire life, misfortune included. I pulled on my grey school uniform, the almost scaly feeling making me shudder. I ran a fifty-year-old comb through my hair after the bacteria powder had cleaned me, stuff that people mixed with crack to give it spice.
I pulled a fading green canvas cap over the four-inch mop. It was one of my last pieces of my sister. I got out her matching green canvas shoulder bag and put all my prized possessions in it so they would not be cleaned up as trash. The comb, a set of blank dog tags, my box of charcoal, my pad of paper with all my predictions, memories and drawings, and one set of elicit clothing. My many pocketed, loose khaki shorts, worn down corduroys, white Kilroy Was Here tee shirt, dark blue Snoopy "Flying Ace" hooded sweatshirt, brown soft leather jacket, and rubber soled running shoes had taken me years to collect and were there for future use, for when I escaped.
I looked at my sister's quartz faced pocket watch; I had time for another theft. I scaled my family heirloom shelves, looking for one item. I finally spotted it near the back, the value of the simple item vastly underestimated. The clean switchblade was now one of the most deadly weapons on the deserted streets. The guards had stopped scanning for them in bags, so here was my final piece of equipment. I did not even wince as the sting shield hit my gloved hand, the felt was too thick, and the leather patches on the old riding gloves were utterly impervious.
The switchblade was lighter than the sheath knife I had in my boot for last defense, so I could hide it in my sleeve. I slid down the pole, snatching up fourteen protein cubes as I passed, on for every one of the days that it would take me to find the Outcasts, and my only hope of rebellion. My sister, Jerry, had been summoned for re-education after she had gotten a tattoo with a strange symbol put on the back of her neck. She had run to the lower city and come back chased by the cyborg police who were the cities law enforcers. She had shot one with a strange gun that shot blue lasers, and then she had been peppered with the distinctive lethal darts the cyborgs were famous for. I had run to her side and she had died in my arms before being loaded into a cart to go to who knows where. To avenge her was my greatest drive in my slow undermining of my parents control over me.
After Jerry's death, my mother had gone insane and had to be carted off to "upper town", or the institution that was on the upper floors of buildings. My dad did not take both disappearances well. He had long since stopped going to work and he sat in a drunken stupor, bribing people for their alcohol rations so he could keep drinking after ours was gone. I had sold many of our things for money that I now had saved in a pocket of my bag, spending only on things I knew I would need. The one thing I had splurged on was my Karelian Bear dog, Scotch, who was my companion everywhere. Claiming that I needed an animal to deal with my grief, I had paid extra to get my courageous Scotch.
She trotted up to me as I entered my kitchen. I considered the apartment mine as my father only used one room. The light padding of her paws on the tile announced her arrival. She was a beautiful dog, with her black fur, white tipped ears and one paw and curling tail. I popped one of the protein cubes into my mouth and grabbed a bag of dried dog food for Scotch cause I could not leave her to fend for herself, not with her hunting instinct and my drunken dad. I had trained her so she would walk next to me without a leash because I did not want to waste my money on something I could do without. As I walked out the door I slid off my microchip bracelet and Scotch's collar, both criminal offenses. I knew that I needed to risk being caught without it to get to the lower city edge.
I glided through the crowds on the hover-walks, Scotch as silent as a ghost by my side. I was also skipping school, which could get me an escort if I was caught, but on top of taking off my microchips, I was screwed. I made it through the fifth sector grid and to the lower city. I ducked into an alley between two real brick buildings once I was in the slums of the lower city. Here I took off my standard edition clothing and put on my salvaged clothing. The weather was too hot for the corduroys but too cold for just Kilroy, so I put on Flying Ace Snoopy over Kilroy. Many people did not understand why I had given my illicit clothing code names; most of those were the people who did not know what it was I was talking about.
I put the standard issue bland grey clothing in the first trash fire I saw; down here they did not have recyclers or incinerators so they used the old fashioned method, even if they could get arrested and detained for doing it. I looked around as I walked to the edge and thought about the world I lived in. The old country divisions had broken down, but with them went all individuality. People were born into a class and a job, which is where they would stay for the rest of their lives. Music, art, culture, and religion these were things we learned about in history class that were made as dry as the speeches at the Planetary Congress.
We were expected to drop anything we might be interested in for the good of the society. We could not do anything out of the ordinary, no boy could like drawing and no girl could be good at sports. This posed a real for the gays and lesbians. I smiled as I remembered my friend, Z. He called himself that because his parents had named him Elizabeth. People were issued names for their children in some semblance of order, no matter their sex. That was how my sister got Jerry and Z got Elizabeth. Z was gay. Not overtly, but he never flirted and he always went to our "social trips" with a group of his guy friends. We were fourteen when the workers walked into a math lesson and took him. They went out in the hall and we could hear voices until Z charged back in and impaled himself on the teacher's pointer, escaping the workers by killing himself.
Relationships were forbidden unless the teacher and a psychologist approved them, so I had never even tried to date. The possibility had been opened up to me as a twelve year old. For a while I had eyed a girl in my class. Emma was a beautiful Asian with moss green eyes, smooth tan skin and long silky black hair. She had been classified as immensely intelligent and she had been given a little tabby cat to help her to get even smarter. She had slowly turned away under the influence of her brother, who had witnessed his father's murder and, like me, had thought his way out of the memory modifications. Emma had collected many of the same things I had, but she also carried a computer with her everywhere. One day she had been typing in class and the workers came to get her. Instead of talking to them, she threw herself out the window and escaped through the city with her cat.
As I brooded over these things, Scotch nudged my hand with her wet, black nose. I smiled as scratched her ears to reassure her that I was all right. We finally reached the edge, the beginning of The Wild. Each city had a set box it could expand to before it had to start sending inhabitants to cities that were under populated, or they had to give a section of the city "the finger" and blow it up with contained explosives so they could rebuild it. Anywhere around the cities hat was not populated was dubbed the Wild. This was where the Outsiders and gangs like them made their refuge. The Wild was where every kind of natural environment was put. Each city chose one, and that was where they were placed.
I faced the enormous pine trees that made their accent up the huge peeks of the surrounding mountains. I pulled a crumpled piece of paper covered in my scribblings out of my pocket. It was a steadily composed list of every known animal that ran free in mountains surrounding the city. I looked down at Scotch, who met my eyes with an expression that was clear to me. What are we waiting for? I can hunt in there! I smiled at her and we stepped away from all that we had known, toward the Outsiders.