Ignis (Chapter 1)
On a metal bench that shoots off a concrete wall sits a boy a few months shy of 18. He has honey colored skin and curly black hair. The room is sealed by a reinforced steel door, opened digitally by a touchpad that only the space craft's commander has access to. To open it, one needs the commander's fingerprint. Jail is a fun place to be when the rest of the world is filled with fake smiles and empty promises. Here, he is safe. He releases a low sigh. Under the bed is a wooden acoustic guitar which a friend had managed to sneak in. The door slides open to reveal a guard wearing a black uniform, steel toed boot and a cap that is pulled down to cover his eyes. Beneath the intimidating uniform was a handsome boy whose curly black hair spills over dark brown eyes, and freckles surround his nose. He is white like the majority of people on the ship were.
Brenton frowns. "You're early?"
Joshua nods and motions for Brenton to get up.
Confusion contorts Brenton's features, but he rises. Compared to his friend, Brenton wears an oil-stained red sweater and ripped grey jeans. One step outside, and Brenton will get questioned immediately. He looks like trouble, and the guards know his face pretty well around these parts. You may even say he is famous.
Joshua grabs his hand and pulls him into the hallway. He turns, placing Brenton behind him to avoid the camera on the left of the hallway. Brenton was already whispering into the kid's ear, "This is bad, Josh, real bad. People get executed for breaking out of jail. I don't know about you but I like my heart inside my chest."
Josh mutters, "Shut up or they will hear you."
Brenton stops and looks at the locked cell. "Can I get my guitar?"
"You go back there and you die," Josh warns him.
Josh leads him to the next hall, and dances to the other end. To a random observer, it looks crazy but Brenton knows Josh danced to stay in the camera's blind spots. Brenton takes a deep breath, tries to recreate Josh's maneuver in his mind then mimics every twist and turn. When Brenton is a few steps away from the junction, an alarm blares overhead. He freezes, knowing he butchered the routine. They'll kill me.
"Shit," Josh says, "they're earlier than I predicted."
Brenton hisses, "You need to tell me what's going on."
Before either boy can move, five guards appear at the end of all hallways, guns raised. "Put your hands up and get on your knees," a man sporting a silver eye patch commands.
Josh's hand moves towards the rifle.
"Drop the gun!" the leader yells.
With gritted teeth, Josh lowers his gun and gets on his knees. He tugs Brenton's pants and the boy looks down then says, "I..." Brenton jerks and slams his back against the wall. He grips his chest and falls to the ground, gasping.
From the corner of his eye, Brenton sees one of the guards step towards him, but he is stopped by another. Brenton closes his eyes. He needs them to buy his act, or he and Josh are going to get their hearts and other organs plucked for medical research. Brent gives the guards a hint, "I think I'm having a heart attack."
No footsteps sound or clothes shuffle. The captain says, "Ignore his theatrics; he likes to play dead to get out of trouble. If he doesn't want to walk, carry him to the pod. Get his friend, and then check to see how he managed to bypass the system. The rest of you take the other delinquents from their rooms."
"Yes, sir," the guards chorus.
A small shock tingles Brent's back and he peers at the brutish looking man standing above him. He holds an electric baton at his side. "If you don't get up, I can change the level to max, and we can see how you like that."
Brent jumps to his feet, and smiles at the guard. "Would ya look at that? I'm healed. Miracles really do happen."
The guard shoves him forward as confused teenagers spill out of their rooms into the hallway. They travel north towards the loading dock. Once they arrive, men in khaki clothes and orange sticks direct teens into pods with four seats. Josh and Brent gent into a pod with two strangers. Brent's heart falls to his knees. They are being ejected from the mother ship which means one of two things. The first is that the crown is getting rid of prisoners to free up space. Or the prisoners are being sent back to earth. In both cases, there's a high probability of death.
The pod door slams shut and there's a hiss as the oxygen generator kicks in. There are no windows, no control panel, but the automatic lock system for the door releases when the pod hits the floor. Brent swallows. He feels the spherical walls closing on him. It's a metal coffin.
Josh buckles Brent into the chair and holds his hand. "Hey, it'll be okay. They're sending us to earth. Satellite images found humans living, breathing, and surviving. The crown has sent the eleven teens from solitary confinement to earth."
Brent looks at Josh. "You didn't want me to go?"
Josh shakes his head and a sad look crosses his eyes. He leans forward and kisses Brent's lips. "I don't trust the government. They tell us what we want to hear, even if it's not true." He holds Brent's hand. "Whatever happens, we'll survive, we always do."
Brent squeezes Josh's hand. It's a smart move on the crown's part. There's a chip in everyone's brain that transfers visual and auditory messages to a computer. There is no privacy. What one person sees, the man behind the computer sees. The crown can sacrifice a few lives to see whether or not humans can survive a century after the last nuclear war.
Brent turns to Josh. "If I die, I want you to know that I care for you."
Josh returns a small smile. "I care for you too."
The pod jerks.
It jerks thrice more and Brent grips the bars that hold his shoulders in place. The fall is sudden, slow at first. The four teens spin knowing not of their direction. Then there's a pull that causes Brent's head to hit the wall. He groans. The temperature is rising fast, and he feels like an anvil is pressing on his chest. He focuses on taking deep breaths and praying that they survive the landing.
© 2017 Aristotle Wilson