You will not mix with any of the other side unless in an authorised state to do so
You will not contend any decision made regarding anyone known or unknown to you
You will not contend any decision made on you, regardless of your position
You will not break any of these laws and if done so you will be condemned
Even we feared being condemned. We, who opened our fear unto no one, not even the wall that could not share with anyone, had all something to fear. To be condemned would be more than taken from society, taken from life. It was to be stolen. For that we broke none of the laws that governed us, for that we lived our lives in hidden behind the wall. Those on the other side believe us to live our lives frivolously, stealing, murdering, all manner of things they allow themselves to comprehend. I cannot speak for them, but I can speak for us, and I say that what they say is most likely true. On the good side, everything is perfect it's said, and the people we meet from there makes it seem rightly so. We get stories of course, so many stories; of their deeds, their perfection, they bravery. Though they have no reason to be afraid, there isn't anything to fear of their side. But here, on this side, there is so much to fear. You walk down a street, and you are sure to find someone running around with a knife, no lacking of blood. It's so much different, here on the bad side.
From birth, it was decided where you would belong. A child was taken before they were placed in their mother's arms, and for some, it was the last they would see of them. Only those that did the testing knew how it was done, a secret to everyone else. If the child was deemed to be on a side other than their mother's then they were taken immediately and put in the care of a new mother. If they were lucky to be on the same side of their mother, then the child was returned. Here, a child was sprung on a person in an unlucky chance; at any moment a baby could be placed in your arms. Few survived. The hope for those born in this side, was that they be deemed good and taken into careful care.
If you didn't care for yourself, no one would. To care for another was trifle, an act that could not be undertaken without survival being jeopardised. It didn't take long to learn that every man wanted something. I could see it in their eyes as they stared hungrily at any woman walking past. For that I avoided the streets as best I could, back alleys no longer existed as more people turned to them. Once a week everyone would go and line up to collect their rations; food could no longer be bought. You accepted what you got and tried for nothing more. Of course, it could be stolen from your home, or as you walked the streets with it hiding in your jacket. I made it habit never to go at the same time twice; people were quick to guess consistency.
We all feared the people that came, with their tailored suits and sleeked hair. We all knew that if we got in their way, condemnation would come quick. They could touch us but we could not touch them. These people, they were of course authorised to come, otherwise the first law would be the last they broke. But no one from that side would ever want to come here. I always doubted that they could survive a day here from their perfect lives. I still doubt that.
My parents were from the good side, I'll never know my birth mother. My mother here, she didn't have much attention to me, other than let me live. She cared for me little, and, when she got over my needs, she put me on the street like most children. I can barely remember her. The one thing I remember though, is reaching out to her, yearning for the love that I know she will never give, like she incapable of it. I never had much interest in stealing, I found it trifling, taking what was not mine. I did submit to it though, you had to if you did not want death to capture you. Over time, it didn't seem so bad. But I only stole what I needed, reaching my hand to take a trivial thing that would cause rage was not what I had always intended to do. I could do it though, with ease. It was easy to slip myself into a person's bag, and take what was needed without them realising for miles to come.
When I wasn't hiding from the sounds or the people, I was reading. They had attempted to convert us into goodness, and had stacked a library with books of every amusement. I still believed myself to be the only one to ever enter it. Twas easy to take something that no one ever knew existed. My small apartment hanging over the street was brimmed with books of every kind. It was an effortless way to take my world away. Most of the books though, were filled with ways to be good; brush your teeth, primp your hair, do not steal, do not kill. Things to laugh at. Others though, left me with stories that existed in no light of this world. Those were the ones I enjoyed myself. But whilst I read these, I so longed to create my own story, to create a world were truths could be told because lies are yet to be invented. To create a world that I would so long to encounter.
I started my day by roaming the streets, a sudden urge to take me from my dingy abode to the light my reason for walking. A scream sounded from the street next and I sunk into a deserted doorway. As per my suspicions a man can shrinking round the corner, a read stain oozing across his shirt. Blood covered the hand he held to it, tears rumbling through him. I sunk further away, no longer able to the see the street. I heard his heavy gasps and knew he was grappling at the crooked wall. His breathing was coming thicker. Any moment and his hand would find nothing left to hold. As this thought flitted through my mind, he proved it true, and as I saw his hand creeping round the side, I lumbered forward and collapsed at my feet. In barely a second she was there, she who held the bloodied knife in her hand. She glanced down at the cowering figure, who recoiled when he saw her. He would not die a coward. But she gave no chance as she slipt that knife between his skin. He was gone. She looked up at me then, spared me stare but not an expression. Then she was gone, but unlike him, she would continue to wander the streets. I gave the man more of a look, but not more expression than she had declared for him. Then, with less effort than it had taken to sink into the doorway, I stepped over him and continued on my way.
I found myself near the building site where they had once attempted to build a sports complex. An oval, swimming pool, planned for equipment. But it had been abandoned, in the suspicion that it would turn into a bloodbath. I agreed with them, though daring to admit agreeing would mean I agreed to death. Anyway, I had no one to share my notions with. Trivial competition would easily turn into more than so. I sauntered through the fences, still there for no one had found any reason yet to destroy them. There was nothing to steal. That was why I slipped through the bricks and dust, unearthing spiders from their solitude. A few dying shrubbery grew here and there. I put myself between a pile of rocks and a wall, one that had been built. As I sat there, beginning to be immersed in my little world, it crossed my mind how much it wished that the sports complex had been completed, and that the people here could enjoy it without it turning into competition. That was what this side thrived on; competition. That thought though, it lead to another, one about the people here, and the people there. Here, we lived off others, took what they had, could barely depend on ourselves. And yet so many of us lived without a friend, not even an enemy. But still we all depended on each other. The people there, well I could not tell of them, but from what I heard, I could believe them to all act civilly in every manner. There was no fighting, no stealing certainly and murder would not be a word they heard often. I knew that I would so rather be there. There than here.
I rose in sudden indignation, annoyed, angered. At the decision that held me here, that I could not change. I yearned to know why I was so destined to spend my life here, but it was a secret I could not find out. Not wanting again to stay still, I slithered between the construction again, soon finding the fence which held my exit.
I walked aimlessly, anger still coursing through me. Though my attention was felt elsewhere I still felt the hand grab my arm. I turned, spun, lashed out my arm that collided with skin. Meanwhile my other hand came up, hitting the person where I may.
A whimper came.
I could do not but stop, for hearing that sound streaked something in me. A small child, barely eight, lay on the ground. Blood running from her nose, a bruise forming on her cheek. I had done this. And so I ran. I sprinted as I ran blind through the streets, my breath drawing high in my chest until I was forced to slump against a coming wall. The image of the child continued to film through my brain. I was as bad as everyone else here. They were right when they placed me on the bad side, I didn't deserve to be on the good side. Something drew me running back through the streets, more vigour coming to me than before. But when I returned to where the girl had lain she was gone, a drop of blood the only thing to signal her past presence.
I could do nothing, but return to my home as night drew in. That night I lay amongst the books but could find solitude in none. Where was that little girl now? For her to be gone, she had gone by her own means, or taken by another to be used for their own purpose. I begged it to not be the latter.
The next day I returned to the spot but knew not to what purpose for I doubted she would be there. On finding her absent I proceeded to the depot to gain my rations for the week.
The line was long, and the hot sun beat down. It was odd to think that on the other side there were experiencing the same sun, the same heat. But it would not be hot there, for everything is perfect. But I did not, could not believe that. The sun shined the same on us all, the only separation between us was a wall. A young man handed out the rations, one that had not been seen before. He was nervous, I could tell in his fidgeting manner, the way he hurried between the package and the hand. One man sneered, and he started, but regained his manner as his companion glared at him. We may not be seeing him next week. My turn came and I stepped forward, handing him the token I had received. He hurriedly passed me the package.
"Thank you." The words came from my lips, unexpectedly, curiously.
He looked surprised, but not offended that someone like me would speak to him. But the moment was short lived as I was struck to the ground.
"How dare you speak to him." His companion stood towering above me, and there was more than menace on his face.
"I was just trying, I thought you wanted us to be good." Wrong word, but it had already left my lips.
He shoved me hard with his foot, digging into his ribs.
"You've already had your chance." He spat.
"And my chance was before I could determine it so."
He leaned down. "You're in violation of the first and third laws there missy."
And he was there, right there in front of me. I would be lucky to gain death. My eyes began to close, to fear. I heard a moment, and he was gone, shouting, shoving. My eyes regained the light and I saw, with open surprise, the first man, who was wrestling with the other. His head came up and his mouth, though barely free, mouthed one word. Run.
And I did, for fear of what would become if I stayed. I chanced a look as the corner came to meet me and the companion was still locked in his group. He looked small and flimsy but he was strong.
I did not stop till I reached my apartment, lumbering up the stairs to the unlocked door. There was no point locking things here, people could pick locks as easy as they could walk. The open window below showed no sign of inhabitancy in the street. If they had sent someone to search for me it would be someone from here, and they would come in crowds, for the rewards that would be offered to get them to comply.
All night passed and still no one came. The next day came but I didn't dare venture outside. I sat by the window, watching with a paranoid gaze. Still no one came. The day though, allowed me to my thoughts, which continuously returned to the man who had saved me. Why had he done it? Why had he risked everything, his job certainly and the chance of being condemned, just for me. It just comes to show they really are good on their side. But the other man. He had been quick to attack, at two small words that were meant in gratitude. He surely was not nice. But he was good, he had to be if he belonged to such a side. I couldn't though, shake the thought from my mind that he was not good. It was not for me, to determine however. My mind the returned to the man, who well displayed the side of his fitting. I supposed I would be the first person on this side ever to speak to him. And that put a special feeling through me, that I had done this thing on a stranger. On someone who I no longer wished to be a stranger.
Sleep left me to my thoughts and my need for food returned me to the streets. I had not been able to grasp my package before I had left. I walked between the alleys, nervous thoughts being covered in my saunter. Buildings flocked the area which had once been attempted into a city. There had been everything a city deserved; shops, schools, all abandoned like the library. I spied a window and through it what looked like a home. Finding the door was easy, picking the lock easier. I didn't take all the food they had, only a little.
A knock came at the door. Not a knock of welcoming, but a knock of entrance. I noticed them as they noticed me. A young man, same around my eighteen years stood at the door. On him a look of wonder. I spun, as quick as I could muster and headed for the window, hoping it would open.
"Wait!" His voice rung loud, desperate almost. I did not stop though.
"You're the girl that started the fight." He accent was harsh like everyone's here.
I stopped, could do nothing but turn. "You were there?" My voice was weak.
"I was three places behind you. Boy, that was a real ripper of a fight."
"Who won?" Curiosity kept me in my place.
"You didn't hear? Gosh, everyone else here seems to know and you don't." Genuinely he looked surprised.
"I don't hear much except what I tell myself."
"Oh." He looked away, glanced more like. "One of the men was killed."
Desperation grasped my mind, that made me even wonder. "Which one?"
"The real bugger, everyone was rooting for the other, lucky thing he won otherwise the one killed would've probably been done in for anyway. One death is better than two aye?"
He was alive. Inside me victory rejoiced, a silent victory that put words in my mouth, but the boy was still speaking.
"He ran away then, after that, guess he was scared of us folk."
"What will happen to him?" I broke into his conversation.
"How do I know, no one knows. My bet is he'll go back, say that one of us group ganged them, he'll get off scot free and they won't be able to trace any of us to pin it down on."
I was revelling in the luck of the person who saved me. Not an inch of sadness was felt for the companion.
"You were good yesterday too, you stood up fer yourself."
These words stuck to me, a compliment. The first that I had ever been paid. Compliments were far and few here.
A startled sharp came over his face. "Now I can see why that man was surprised to begin with. There's something in those two words."
His eyes questioned as if he had never heard the word. "Emotion?"
"It's what makes you feel."
"People here don't feel anymore. Don't you wonder how everyone can do all these things?"
"We're bad, it's just who we are."
"But why do we have to be?" He looked as if he'd said to much, eyeing his surroundings more need be.
I moved towards him, stopping a foot from his body. "Thank you."
He didn't reply to me as I left, just stood there. I dropped the food I had taken by the doorway. I didn't want to steal from him.
I paid no intention of bothering to steal any more food, I no longer wanted it. I no longer wanted this. I was quick to my home, quick to the stairs, quick through the door.
Even quicker to the window. My decision was made, my decision final.
I stepped a placid foot on the sill, feeling the trembling weight before me. I closed my eyes. This was it. I no longer wanted this. I no longer wanted to be confined. I wanted to make my own decisions. I opened my eyes.
I wanted to fly.
I raced through the streets, paying no last thought to anything or anyone around me. No startled gazes came my way, it wasn't odd to run through the streets at the highest speed.
The wall came up to me. It stretched throughout my sight, reigning up and down the longest length. My callous hand felt the callous wall. It was easy to climb when you were made of the same; nothing. My hand reached the top, pulled myself over but I didn't let the sight touch my eyes, not just yet. I stood on the edge, feeling my weight.
With one step, I flew.
The sight before was nothing less than magical. Buildings, manicured in white and cream. Trees littered the pavement in an array of trims. In the distance, a person, looking so shaped, even from here, a smiled plastered on their face. It was perfect.
I looked back at the wall, thinking of what lay beyond. It was so odd, to think, of that differences that sat behind that little wall.
I began to walk, growing closer to a cluster of people in sight. They garbs were tailored to fit, no tears sewn hastily. At that I looked to my own clothes, spreading my differences from them. I ducked into an alley. But I did not want to stop. I could hear people speaking, speaking with voices that held me. They were no different from the voices here. But I wasn't here anymore, I was there. And they spoke with the same as we spoke with.
So I flew.
My mind went in every direction, grasping everything I saw. Until-
I heard the shout, looked to see where it came from, and smiled for the first time in many years. There was no point to run. Hands grasped mine but I felt no resistance.
"Where are you from?"
I would let them hear my voice, let them hear the thing of my secret; that we shared a voice.
"Which side are you from?" But they already knew.
I was taken, without choice, as I was once before. I was put before a crowd, a crowd put before me. Questions, but no answers. I would not speak. It need not take long for their decision to be made.
But I did not regret it all, for sometimes a little bit of happiness, is worth what ensues.
A little bit of peace, is worth condemnation.