Two hours after midnight and I'm still stuck in this rancid store. Different kinds of meat hung from the ceiling on hooks that were threatening to poke my eyes out every single day. Those little flies that only lived for a day, but spend their twenty-four hours trying to annoy you to the fullest kept buzzing around my face, almost taunting me. It's as if they loved watching me chop meat up for the day to come.
With a loud grunt, I slammed the clever down into the cow's flesh to finish the last carcass of the day. Grey blood was all over my white apron, but that didn't matter. It wasn't like that the apron was part of my casual attire, so the blood was the last thing that was on my mind. As soon as I was done with this cow, I would be able to go home and sleep for the rest of the day.
Almost one hundred seventy years ago, anyone who walked into this butcher shop would say that the smell was revolting. Maybe they would ask how I could stand the smell. Maybe I would answer with "I'm used to it", but that was then. This is now, and this is the age of the New World.
My parents always used to tell me stories about my great grandfather, who as a child lives a different life than us. He lived in a world of color. A world where exotic foods were a must have. Where buying your lover flowers with the most amazing scents was the way to win their heart. Children would run around clothing stores, their hands having to touch every single piece of fabric their eyes laid on. But why was this? This is because they could taste what we can't. They could distinguish smells we can't. Their hands didn't feel numb when they touched something because they were lucky enough to have their senses.
That was until the year of 2005. That was the year when our government had began to clean our air. Oxygen was being produced in factories and soon all traces of natural oxygen were gone. My great grandfather, at 22, had to rely on these factories that were placed all around the world in order to survive. He watched the once lively and happy world around him become dull and depressed.
It has been said many times that he was a stubborn man. After watching almost all color drain from the world, he took his girlfriend who was pregnant and all of his friends who looked healthy and ran away with them. No one has heard from them since.
With a heavy sigh, I locked up the store and shoved my hands deep into my black jacket pockets, taking my leave back home.
My mom never told me anything more about our past, so I suppose you could say that the rest is history. To keep you caught up, the only major event that has happened after my grandparents disappearing was my dad dying in a factory accident.
You see, my father used to work in one of the local oxygen factories. For five years, he and other workers would create a liquid substance through mixing elements and adding a special powder the government had scientists create. Together, after putting this liquid and powder mix to the boiling point, created a gas that the world is able to breathe without too many problems, thus the government air was born.
One day, my father was working over a big tank full of this liquid substance. He was trying to fix the tank sine it altered to keep the liquid moving, kind of like cement in a cement truck. That was when he fell in. This special substance to make clean, non-polluted air… it was acidic. Apparently the tanks were also specially made so the acid didn't eat through it, but there was nothing given to the workers to keep themselves safe.
My father's co-workers could only watch in horror as his skin began to melt clean off of his body, his muscles falling apart and revealing bones that were dissolving in the acid right before everyone's eyes. His ear piercing screams echoed the once partially silent factory. Whatever was left of his hands as they were dissolving reached out for somebody, anybody to pull him out. Nobody did.
My eyes came to a brief close just before reaching the… black door? Or was it grey? I can't remember. Taking a deep breath in, I placed my hand on the handle of the door, my hand instantly going numb when the two made contact. As quietly as I could, I entered the house and closed the door behind me. It was quiet, as usual. My mother worked during the day unlike me who worked night shifts, so there was no surprise that she was asleep at this time. It looks like I'm alone again.
I kicked off my shoes, allowing them to scatter across the floor before finding a place to settle, one on its side and the other upright. I proceeded to walk into my room, but before I did I took my regular walk around the house to make sure everything was okay. See, my mom and I are very poor, but we work in a rather wealthy town.
To make an example of just how poor we are, our floors are concrete and full of dirt, the walls are falling apart, and it was rare not to find some kind of bug in every room of the house. Our source of light was the sun and moon, but that was because my mom didn't want to waste energy. We had a refrigerator and microwave along with a stove and oven. Those were probably the nicest things in our house. Not to mention the intercom placed in every single room, but that was installed in every single house in the world along with a small television in case there were any important announcements.
Now I know what you're thinking. How do poor people make a living in a wealthy town? Well my mom works for the government. You'd think that as a secretary, she'd make a lot of money. Well that is certainly false. Being a secretary is the lowest job in the government and allows little pay, but she still worked for the government, which meant a house in a wealthy town to be closer to work. Just… not a nice house.
Finally I made it to my room that would have been pitch black if I had not left the blinds for my window open. The moon's reflection shone through the blinds almost making it look as if the heavens had opened up to present to me my bed and only my bed. It was beautiful.
The only thing I bothered doing before sleeping was changing my shirt that had still gotten bloodstains on it even after wearing an apron. I changed into a simple, was this a brown or black shirt? Did it even matter? I collapsed onto my bed with a soft sigh and closed my eyes, allowing the darkness to take over and bring me into a world of dreams.
"Attention all citizens of the New World! Attention all citizens of the New World! This is an important announcement! I repeat, this is an important announcement!"
What the hell was this? Why was the Capital making an announcement on the intercom? With a loud groan I grabbed the closest pillow to me and brought it over my head to cover my ears. If only we had lost our hearing sense too. It didn't help drown out whatever this "important announcement" was.
Citizens of the New World, our military force has finally found some evidence of the Reactors. We are sure you are all quite aware of who the Reactors are and just what dangers they present to us."
The Reactors? Ugh, just what were they saying about them now? The Protectors make the Reactors sound like they are freaks. I quickly sat up and glanced at the time. The alarm clock I had sitting on edge of my bed flashed 6:37 am. What a time to be woken up. I've only gotten four hours of sleep.
"They are freaks of the world who have senses. They are different. They pose a threat to us, and can easily bring sense back into the world. If they are to do that, then the whole world will fall apart and we will be prone to this disease. They don't even live as long as we do! Is that what you want? A short life? To live only to be one hundred? If anyone has any knowledge of the Reactors and where they are, you will be given a one million dollar reward!"
One million dollars? That's enough for my mom and I to buy a nice house! We could live like every other wealthy person in this town! I could quit my job as a butcher and maybe do something to help us earn even more money!
"Please report to the Protectors in your area in order to be brought to the Capital for interrogation. That is all."
The intercom shut off and the house became silent again. At least, that's what it was like for thirty seconds before I heard the rustling of my mom in the other room. She was probably getting ready for work. Maybe I'll see her off and go to the town shops for a little bit. I was already awake from the announcement and it wasn't like was going to be able to fall asleep again.
I slowly got up out of bed and ran a hand through my… was it black hair? The grey walls of the house seemed to already bring down my mood. These dull colors always had this affect on me. I slowly shuffled out of my room and into the kitchen where I found my mom gulping down the rest of her coffee. I knew exactly what she was thinking. The coffee had no taste at all and neither did whatever she had for breakfast this morning, but it was filling. Either way it was going to taste the same whether she liked it or not.
"Did you hear the announcement?" I ask as I open the fridge and allow my eyes to scan through each of the shelves in case there was anything I could snack on to ease my empty stomach. "Of course I did. Whoever can avoid such a loud announcement from the Protectors should be given an award. If they made their announcements any louder then I would loose my hearing." She seemed to rub at her grey eyes as if that would help her wake up.
My mom was a beautiful woman. Her hair was a mixture of black, brown, and grey. Somehow those colors worked well with her. She had grey eyes that seemed to be full of life rather than dull and depressing. She wore a simple white button down shirt and black pants for work. Who was she supposed to dress to impress besides her boss?
I only chuckled and closed the fridge door before I moved over to the cabinets to see if there was anything good to eat in there. "Very funny, Mom." I murmurs and glance over at her with a smile. "I'm a riot, aren't I?" She gave me one of her special smiles that she only saved for me. It was a type of that only mothers seemed to have. "That you are." I say and walk back over to the fridge. I lowered my standards on what I was looking for.
"So are you going back to sleep when I leave, or will you be going out?" My mom asks as she glances down at her watch. What a smart woman she was, seeing that I wasn't intending to go back to my bed. Well she was a mother after all. She had to notice these things. "I'll be going out to the market to se if there is anything good going on." I say.
"Be careful, Aidan." She says with a serious look on her face. Her grey eyes showed that concern, and I knew I had to listen to her and not brush her comment off with a little joke. "You know that the Protectors that guard the streets do not like us. They are suspicious of our history and us since they do not have much detail on us. If they give you any trouble, just tell me."
She had a point there. Apparently my grandmother had just appeared out of the woods and started her life in a poor town. The Protectors had no information on her name or her history, and since mom and I are related to her, the Protectors are suspicious of us just as they are with her.
My mother had been walking out of the kitchen when she said that, grabbing her bag and slinging it over her shoulder. "I promise I'll be careful, Mom. I love you." I gave her a kiss on the cheek to reassure her of my promise and waved as she ran out the door. "Yes! Now I must go before I'm late! I love you too, Aidan!" She shouts over her shoulder and just like that she had scurried out of the house. I was alone again.
I quickly grabbed one of my shoes, the one that had landed upright, and shoved it on my foot. The other shoe must have made a new record on how far it landed from its twin because this time I found it on the other side of the room. I snatched up that one and put it on my other naked foot before stuffing a bag of coins into my pocket and running out of the house. I had no intention in locking the door only because no one was looking into breaking into one of the cheapest houses of the town.
Every time I leave this small depressing house, I expect to walk into a world full of exciting things and new adventure. As always, I got what I was looking for. Living in one of the wealthy towns had its pros. Above my head was a single railing that went through every single major point of the town, a monorail bringing people to and from each of those points. A slightly larger monorail leads the townspeople to the Capital, which was only a good 5 miles away from our town. That's where my mom would be heading to right now.
The streets were lively and full of people wearing some fancy clothing. Well, fancy these days consisted of clothes with patterns and accessories. Shop owners were shouting out what sales they had going on for the day while the food market section of the town was encouraging anyone who passed to try their fresh fruit of the day.
I felt awkward as always, standing out in this wealthy town. I was wearing the same black jeans as I had worked in at night, a simple dark brown… again or was it black? The shades were too similar… Anyway I was wearing a simple shirt. My black hair was usually spiked in the back, the spikes shooting out in all different directions and the front of my hair would be straight, my bangs almost covering my grey eyes. But I never did anything to my hair when I woke up, so it was just a hot mess. Not to mention the dark circles underneath my eyes. I looked like I had been hit by one of the monorails.
But no one was paying attention to me. They were paying attention to the protector who had tackled one of the townspeople to the ground. Damn those Protectors. They were the military and government of the world. It's just crazy how much power they hold. I felt bad for this person because they were being accused of helping the Reactors. What made the Protectors think that, I'll never know. All I do know is that I have to be very careful now, so kept my eyes on the dirt road.
My mom says I have some Reactor in my blood. You'd probably say so does everyone else since once upon a time everyone in the world had senses, but the Reactors are different. They had their senses when everyone else didn't, and my grandma had been born as a Reactor, but escaped. At least, that's what she told me. She was getting old, so maybe it was just her mind wandering.
But I can't help, but believe her. If she were a Reactor, than that means that she had 100% of their blood. The Reactor blood would be strong in me, but even stronger in my mother. There are times when I swear I see a flash of these… I can't explain it. The whole world seems to light up for a brief second, and everything depressing disappears. I could even catch a different smell then what we are used to. It's amazing…
I don't know what causes it, but I know it only happens to me. Not once have I ever heard of my mother saying that this has happened to her.
"Hey! Watch it!"
I glanced up from the road just as I had crashed into someone. Actually it was more like they had crashed into me because they were running as fast as they could. This person fell to the ground and was hissing a string of curses I'd rather not say.
When I looked down at whom I had crashed into, it was like I had all of the wind knocked out of me. I was breathless. This girl had been wearing black jeans and shoes along with a light grey jacket. The hood was pulled over her head, at least it was before she knocked into me, but right now it was off and she was in plain sight for everyone.
This girl was lucky though. Even though the streets were crowded, no one seemed to pay attention to her. These wealthy people were too stuck up and obnoxious to turn their head to see what was going on. The nearest Protector was still yelling at the man he had tackled to the ground and his friends were laughing.
She was different, much more than anything I had ever seen before. This beautiful girl had… hair that was like those brief moments of light for me. Like everything depressing was gone and replaced with happiness, but only on her hair. It was a different color. I would explain it if I could, but sadly I couldn't.
By the time I registered she had different colored hair, she already had her hood up over her head again and her intriguing hair was hidden. "What are you going to do? Just stand there and stare?" The girl snaps at me with fury in her… blue eyes. Her eyes were just… wow. Blue was a color we had in our depressing world, but only dark shades of it. It was still enough for me to recognize the color even though it was much lighter. So… icy looking. "Help me, will you?!"
What I failed to notice is that the girl had dropped many bags of food when she had crashed into me. She had so many bags it seemed impossible for a small girl like her to hold that many. Somehow she managed it.
"R-Right! I'm sorry!" I quickly blurt out and drop to my knees, quickly grabbing every bag that I could. I went to go for the last one just as she had and our hands ended up brushing up against each other. My eyes met her amazing blue ones and the next thing I knew, my hand was numb. It wasn't numb from holding the bags, because anytime something touches any part of your body, that area goes numb. No, this was a painful numb. She had slapped my hand away and grabbed the bag herself.
"You should be sorry." She growls and stands up. A few strands of her hair had fallen in front of her eyes and I could just barely make out that mystery color again. Oh how amazing she is.
"H-Here. Let me help you carry these home." I offer and rise. It wasn't like I actually had anything else better to do. "Of course you will! I hope you enjoy walks ten because you'll be helping me carry these to the edge of the woods." Her harsh voice did not seem to change at all whatsoever.
She may be captivating, but she sure is cruel.