The Last Believer

Believe: to have confidence or faith in the truth

I am the last one. Not the last Impure, and certainly not the last human, but I am the last Believer.

Never, in my sixteen years upon this Earth, have I ever witnessed an act of a Believer. Not even a scintilla of a sign of their presence. And therefore I must assume that I am the final one. And I have decided to die Believing.

The year is 2236, and nothing is the same. Clothing is regulated, schools are infiltrated with Suspicious Activity Monitors (Or as the brainwashed children affectionately call them, S.A.M.s.), and creativity is extinct. Or so they think.

The flesh-covered drones that lecture us for ten hours every day have stuffed us with lies. They are not teachers, but dictators. They have told us how Believing used to have a different definition. It revolved around heroes and religion, society's rules and government. According to the Pure, it caused fighting, backstabbing, prejudice, and even war. Which is why Believing is no longer an option.

My pale gray sweater rustles with the breeze that escapes through the automatic doors. You can barely tell where it ends and my matching gray pants begin. But you can see the slightest bulge located right above my gray sneakers, where my tracking bracelet is strangling my freedom and cutting off my circulation. The shining steel feels more like a gun pressed to my head than a microchip-filled accessory.

Nobody else is in the hallway. Only one Impure is allowed in the corridors at a time. Right now it is 2:55, my turn to roam.

I can feel S.A.M. watching me. His red laser eyes are pointing straight at me, sensing my body heat. I'm walking as if everything is normal, so as not to alert him, and turn around the corner as slowly as possible.

Finally, I see her. Cassidy. She is standing at the end of the bleached white hall, reading today's lunch menu off the activity computer. Even from here I can spot the section of her scalp where they shaved off all of her hair. The two pale, upraised lines of a Pure seem to glow as I draw nearer to her. The scars are fresh from her surgery, and the sight of them makes me gulp.

Cassidy seems to hear the disgusted swallow and turns with a manufactured smile plastered to her face. Her once beautiful eyes are now glassy and lackluster; the same color as our everyday uniform. Her smile falters only the slightest bit as she stares into my still green irises and I can tell she is afraid. Nobody wants to get too close to an Impure.

We cannot touch, not even for a simple handshake. It is forbidden. Pures can come in contact with each other, but only through the touching of hands or arms. The only time it is acceptable to get closer is when reproduction is needed. But Pures and Impures are not allowed to come in contact at all. Ever. Which is why I must make this quick.

I grab her arm and her eyes widen with shock. "Lea, what are you-?" But I don't let her finish. I can't let S.A.M. hear. In order to shut her up, I do the unthinkable. I hug her.

I feel her body stiffen and her breath catch in her throat. I'm so close I can outline the X-shaped monstrosity disturbing the otherwise constant flow of deep brown hair. But I don't. Instead, I whisper so low that not even S.A.M. can pick it up, "Good-bye." And then I start running.

I don't look back, because I know there is only a matter of minutes, seconds, until she alerts the drones. My best friend shall now be my worst enemy. The reason for my downfall. But before they catch me, I have one last stop to make. I have to see Ethan.

Ethan was almost on my side. Almost a Believer. I could see it in his eyes as he read books, not the electronic replicas, but the real thing, and was immersed in the stories of our ancestors. I could see it in the way he moved, so graceful and carefree, even when passing S.A.M. or the drones. I could see it in the way he smiled at me that he wanted to Believe. But that was before they got to him. They altered him mind, his very personality, until he was Pure. But not before I began loving him.

Of course, he doesn't know. Nobody knows. But they will soon find out.

Automatic doors still slide open for me, which means they haven't figured out what I've done. My tracking bracelet hasn't been entered into S.A.M.'s Wanted Database. One turn left and I see the Library of Approved Reading. Ethan is sitting where he always used to sit, but a smooth metallic touchscreen pad replaces the soft crinkle of paper. My heart flutters as he looks up at me. Even through the boring mask of gray, I swear that I still see a sparkle of hope in his eyes. Or at least, that's what I have to tell myself.

When I reach the doors I nearly smack into them. They refuse to open, which can only mean one thing. They have figured out who I am and are trying their best to stop me. I don't give in that easily.

My foot swings forward and connects with the glass with an earthshaking BANG. Tiny fragments of reflective door rain down, and cracks crawl their way through the frame. Ethan leaps from the chair and takes a shaking step backward as I kick the fragile glass, breaking through. Alarms are blaring, but I ignore them. I've made it this far, and I'm getting what I came here for.

As I walk toward Ethan, broken glass crunches beneath my feet and the pointed edges of the broken doorframe slice open my arms. He is frozen, whether in fear or fascination I am not sure. Either way, I'm taking advantage of his idle state.

I stare into his brainwashed eyes and say the words I've been holding in for months. "I love you." The words slip off my tongue, not whispered, but spoken. It doesn't matter whether S.A.M. hears or the drones see. All that matters is the moment.

Another step forward, and we connect. I press my lips to his, and to my surprise and pleasure, he does not pull away. Breaking through his new, Pure way of thinking, he leans into me. I let my spirit sink into his, and savor the rhythmic beating of our hearts. Who knew breaking the law could feel so right? I want it to last forever, but forever is never an option.

I am well aware of the drones entering the room. And I am even more aware of the sounds of gunshots ringing in my ears, and the sharp pain of needles piercing my back. Hot, burning liquid runs through my veins and blurs reality. I can feel myself slumping forward, Ethan's arms catching my numb body. I pray to the higher Being, whatever his name may be, and tell him that I am ready. Silently, I forgive Cassidy for turning me in. It wasn't her fault, but the surgery's. I thank the world for Ethan and curse it for the Pure. Despite everything, I am happy.

To believe means to have confidence or faith in the truth. I have faith in a higher Being. I have confidence in my actions. Love is truth.

My eyes drift closed with the weight of sleep, but I am still aware of Ethan's arms around me. I breath him in, and fill my lungs with life. My last breath of freedom before everything goes dark.

I am the last Believer.