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The Zeros

Summary

After justice was destroyed, the world moved to one country, now named Racama, and divided into twenty-six societies, so mixed personalties don't mix. Society Z, the Zeros, belong nowhere, and have heard news about Society P after roaming in the Unknown. Society P, The Powerful, is the government ,and is secretly going behind the other society's back and giving an unknown Illness to the ones with two much power. When Scarlette finds out about the illness, she isn't very convinced, but soon she faces the truth. So, a group of people from Society Z head out to the forbidden areas of Racama, and go to warn the other societies. With Breaking the law, and people wanting revenge, the struggle to keep the knowledge a secret is hard, but it's not that hard to believe how society can be destroyed, and change the lives of millions.

The Societies and Their Rules

The Societies 

 

Society A: The Arrogant

We The Arrogant, believe in having pride in oneself in everything we do. We also believe that we should come first before any other individual. Therefore, those who attain these qualities belong with Society A.

Society B: The Bold

We The Bold, believe in doing the extreme and outrageous. We will fight in war If we ever get called upon. Therefore, those who attain these qualities belong with Society B.

Society C: The Criminal 

We The Criminal, have done wrong by disrupting justice. Therefore, we accept the punishment of being held in Society C until the day we die.

Society D: The Dishonest

We The Dishonest, believe in lying for ourselves or other individuals safety. Therefore, those who attain these qualities belong with Society D.

Society E: The Eager

We The Eager, believe in being keen and anxious for everything we do. Therefore, those who attain these qualities belong with Society E.

Society F: The Fearless

We The Fearless, believe in being bold and brave. We will fight in war if we ever get called upon. Therefore, those who attain these qualities belong with Society F.

Society G: The Grateful

We The Grateful, believe in being obliged and pleased with what we receive and have been given naturally. Therefore, those who attain these qualities belong with Society G.

Society H: The Help 

We The Help, believe in giving assistance to the ones that do not ask. For those who ask are full of greed. Therefore, those who attain these qualities belong with Society H.

Society I: The Intelligent 

We The Intelligent, believe that those who seek answers shall gain knowledge and those who are ignorant shall stay ignorant. Therefore, those who attain these qualities belong with Society I.

Society J: The Judgmental

We The Judgmental, believe that criticism is the way we develop ourselves. Therefore, those who attain these qualities belong with Society J.

Society K: The Kind

We The Kind, believe in staying amiable and pleasant to those around us, so that peace will always be maintained. Therefore, those who attain these qualities belong with Society K.

Society L: The Libertarian

We The Libertarian, believe that the government should not intervene on anyone's personal life. Therefore, those who attain these qualities belong with Society L.

Society M: The Mindful 

We The Mindful, believe in staying aware and attentive of everything going on around us. Therefore, those who attain these qualities belong in Society M.

Society N: The Naive

We The Naive, being gullible and unknowing is better than knowing too much.  Therefore, those who attain these qualities belong in Society N.

Society O: The Opposite

We The Opposite, believe in doing everything differently and never being the same as anyone. Therefore, those who attain these qualities belong in Society O.

Society P: The Powerful 

We The Powerful, believe in giving the right person the strength and the authority to act is what makes a great society. Therefore, those who attain these qualities belong in Society P.

Society Q: The Quaint

We The Quaint, believe in being inquisitive and having the strength to ask unanswered questions. Therefore, those who attain these qualities belong in Society Q.

Society R: The Roused

We The Roused, believe in having the excitement and endurance to complete a day's work. Therefore, those who attain these qualities belong in Society R.

Society S: The Selfless

We The Selfless, believe in have little concern for oneself and always think of other individuals before ourselves. Therefore, those who attain these qualities belong in Society S.

Society T: The Truthful

We The Truthful, believe in telling the truth, even if our lives are at risk. Therefore, those who attain these qualities belong in Society T.

Society U: The Unfaithful

We The Unfaithful, believe in having no faith in oneself or other individuals that way the feeling of disappointment never crosses us. Therefore, those who attain these qualities belong in Society U.

Society V: The Vacuous

We The Vacuous, believe that a lack of intelligence leads to the knowledge of everyone is not all knowing. That's the point we strive to prove. Therefore, those who attain these qualities belong in Society V.

Society W: The Working

We The Working, believe in keeping oneself busy, that we never feel dull or fatigued. Therefore, those who attain these qualities belong in Society W.

Society X: Extinct, Population wiped out. 

Society Y: The Young

We The Young, believe in being young at heart, whether or elderly or an adolescent. Therefore, those who attain these qualities belong in Society Y.

Society Z: The Zeros 

We The Zeros, attain no qualities of the following society’s. Therefore, we belong in Society Z.

 

The Rules

1.) No society can associate with each other besides Society B and Society F. Society H can associate with anyone as long as they're helping you to whatever degree they see fit. Society P is allowed in any Society if they necessary 

2.) No society is allowed to go over the fence besides the Zeros. The Zeros are the only ones allowed to go into the Unknown.

3.) All rules must be followed by society leaders in whatever society your in.

     *If any of the above rules are broken you will be transported to Society C.

    

 

 

 

    

 

    

 

    

    

Chapter 1

"I, now a Zero, attain no qualities of the A - Y societies. Therefore, I belong in Society Z," I hear the last trembling voice say as they hold their left hand into the water. The water is a symbol of us cleansing ourselves from the society that we came from. Every society uses the water in their ceremony. I look at the petrified look on all their faces. Of course they're scared. I would be too. I was, but I've gotten used to our ways and soon they'll realize that living life as a Zero isn't as horrible as it seems.

    Whenever you are thirteen they hold a "Placement Day" once a year for all the teens getting ready to transfer to whatever society they belong. They scan your brain to see what qualities you attain, so they can fit you into a society. The only problem is that some of us don't attain any of the qualities and are left with the only choice of Society Z. The Zeros.

    "Placement day," says Flynn acknowledging the crowd of newbies in front of us. Flynn is a friend of mine that I met on the day of our Placement Day. It's been three years since the day we met and I like my life, but these newbies, are nickname for transfers, are going to be a handful. They always are.

    "Yep," I say watching the last newbie getting the letter Z tattooed on the wrist. After that, they start the tour of getting shown around their new home by our leaders. Every society has leaders, but we're all controlled by society P.  They're like our capital.

    I look at their scared faces and remember how I felt the day I was told I didn't have any of the qualities that needed to be met to get into one of the other societies. I remember the crying, I did for weeks and the heartache I had when I thought of my parents. I know by looking at most of the newbies that they'll go through the same thing,

    "Let's go," I say to Flynn. I don't want to watch these people with tear streaked faces and think back on my first year here. They've left everything they've known. Their parents will probably lock their doors tonight and think about how they're going to get through this.

    Flynn looks at me with understanding and treads behind me as we get up and leave the room where the newbies meet for the ceremony after getting off the train. I remember the words I had said three years ago, "I, now a Zero, attain no qualities of the A-Y societies. Therefore, I belong in Society Z. "Everyone is required to say those words before leaving the Zero headquarters. It makes them officially part of our society.
         Flynn and I walk out of the building and step outside. A warm breeze hits my face and I smile. The feeling is pleasant and calms me. Sometimes on warm sunny days I lay outside and let the sun hit my face. This reminds me of those days.

    "Where do you want to go?" ask Flynn.

    "Lets get something to eat," I say, realizing how hungry I am. I haven't had anything to eat today and the thought of food makes my mouth water.

    "Alright let's go then," he says as we start walking towards the kitchen. 

    We live in ratty society. The society I came from, Society B, was similar to this place, but tidier. This society is disgusting. The living space is all gray, filthy, and unsanitary. The Powerful don't seem to care what society we live in.

    There's a cement building near the fence that we all live in. It’s called the habitation. The only light we get filters through the dusty windows near the ceiling. The beds are also made of cement, and there are thin mattresses to lay on and ripped cloths for blankets. There's only one bathroom in the entire building and it's barely functional anyway. It has one big shower stall, with ten shower heads, and the toilets have stalls but no doors.

    The buildings are gigantic, but not pleasant to be in. The building where we eat is just as dimly lit and disgusting as the living space. The people here are dirty, since the water is too polluted and it's already difficult enough to purify enough water to drink. Though these people are dirty, they do not match their surroundings. Everything is gloomy here, but they seem happy to be here. We learn to make the best of it.

    I push the thought away as I step into the dining hall. I pick up a metal plate that's rusted at the edge and help myself to a hamburger. After I go through the line, Flynn and I head over to our usual spot. It's right near a dusty window with a crack in it that gives us a little breeze. I sit down and stare at my food. For some strange reason I don't feel like eating anymore. I watch Flynn dig into his hamburger, and he seems to be enjoying it. I would be too, but watching the ceremony has in some way depressed me, it does that to a lot of people, that's why most people don't watch.

    You have the choice to watch the ceremony and most choose not to, because it's not pleasant, its sad. Last year, after watching the ceremony, I decided to change myself. I told myself I would make myself happy here, no matter what. I couldn't bare to feel like the newbies that were going through the ceremony. I had to give this place a chance. And a year later I've grown use to Society Z, but watching the newbies go throughout ceremony brought back some memories.

    Flynn looks up from his food, and notices that I haven't touched my food and ask, “Scarlette, what’s wrong? You love hamburger day." He says this smiling and I try to smile back, but something holds it back.

    "Yeah, I know," I say, trying not to pay attention to the cracks in my voice. For a moment I think of my mom, wondering where she's at and if she's managed to get on without me. I try my best not to think of my mom, because of too many memories, but I just slipped.

    "Today is a hard day," says Flynn taking another bite of his hamburger. "But," he continues, "think of everything you manage to overcome. Don't worry about those kids. They'll get through this, just like you did. Just focus on you, okay?"

    "Alright," I say. I know I should listen to him, but those kids have a long way to go. I want to help, but I'm afraid I'll break down if I try.

    "Now eat, because we're going camping tonight," he says. Every Friday night, Flynn and I go camping and today is Friday. "And you'll need every ounce of your energy if we're going to find the perfect spot to sleep," he finishes. Of course, it can't be too soft and it can't be too hard it has to be just right. It reminds me of the story that my mom used to read me. It was called Goldilocks and the Three Bears. She scrounged it out of a pile of things when she was walking though the Unknown. My mother use to be a Zero, but she worked her way up to Society B.

    "Alright," I say taking a bite into my hamburger.

    I notice that every head turns to look at the door to the dining hall. The newbies come into the dining hall, finished with their tour. None of us smile, instead we stand up and bow our heads to show them are respect. I've done this before this is my second year. It's a tradition. Its to show our sympathy and to help them recognize that were not all bad people. Once the tour is finished, we show are respect in stopping whatever we do and if we're sitting we stand up and bow our heads. They seem to respect that. We know no one wants to live here, but you learn to respect the freedom you get and that should be enough. It least for some of us it is.

    Once we sit back down I watch them examine the food choices, and sit down to eat. Memories keep flashing by of my first day here.

    It was rainy Saturday night and I had just gotten home from the scanning. The scanning is where you walk though a detector and stand there while the detector scans your brain for the traits you have of the other societies. When they told me I had none and would have to live in Society Z, I cried the whole walk home and told my mother. The night was spent saying goodbye to my mom, who tried comforting me and telling me that everything was going to be okay. 

    The next morning men and women who worked for Society P, came around every door to collect us. Since Society P is huge, they have over five hundred workers to each society. Society P is allowed to go anywhere they please, since they overrule the rest of the societies. Once they had gathered everyone that was leaving they sent us on a train, and we were transported to whatever society we came from. Every society has their own train, that takes the transfers, to whatever society they need to go too. The trains speed goes three hundred miles and hour, so we all get to where we need to be in the early evening. 

    The day I came into Society Z I had thought I could run away back to my mother, but I remembered the tracking device implanted in my system and knew I would probably get caught, They call it our detector. 

    Flynn and I finish eating and go to the habitation to get our camp things packed. Unlike the other societies we're allowed outside the fence that they keep open for us, and into the Unknown. Maybe because there's vicious things in the unknown and Society P doesn't care what happens to us, but Flynn and I decide to use the opportunity to our advantage.

    I pack very few things. I get an extra change of clothes, which is gray. All the other society are allowed to dress however they want, but The Zeros most wear gray, so other societies notice who we are in case they look through the fence and see us in the unknown. It's not like they would miss the Z tattooed on arms. The tattoo helps Society P identify which society you belong to if you ever go missing or for any other reason it would be appropriate. Back when they first made the societies they decided to tattoo everyone so no one could sneak into another society. I finish my packing, two flashlights and my knives carved out of wood that Flynn made for me. Flynn always tells me that I should never go into the Unknown with out a weapon. I remember what he once said, "Going in the Unknown with  just a knife is better than coming out injured."

    The knives Flynn made me from wood are better than I thought they would be. They cut through things, and are sharp enough that they stick into the wall when you throw them.

    "I'm packed," I call to Flynn, that's on the other side. The rows and columns of beds are unbelievable. There's probably one hundred feet in between us.

    "Alright," he says, "I'm bringing the snacks."

    I smile at the thought of Flynn always trying to make me happy.

    "Okay," I say giddy. Flynn always finds a way to make me feel better, even if it's just showing that he's trying.

    I grab the bag with my stuff for camping and head over to Flynn who's tossing some sort of sweet snack into his mouth. He tosses one to me and I catch it in my mouth, tasting the berry flavored sweet.

    "You've been practicing," says Flynn, acknowledging the fact that I can finally catch the candy in my mouth without it falling to the ground.

    "A little," I admit truthfully.

    "We'll I'm all packed," he says tying the bag and sitting on his bed.

    "I see they've made room for the newbies," I say, motioning to the new beds that have been cemented and dried with flimsy mattresses sitting on top of them.

    "Don't think about it," says Flynn encouraging me to move past the memories that cross my mind right now.

    He's right, I shouldn't think about it, because it just makes everything worse. I shouldn't let my old ways of crying and feeling sorry for me and those around, start again. I should be thinking of what I've overcome from being here.

    "So now all we have to do is wait," Flynn says. The ceremony goes from five to six in the evening, because of the time it takes to transport the newbies to other societies. The societies are far apart, with miles of woods in between. At eight in the evening the message from Society P, comes in everyday to the all societies.

    Society P's head of the government leaders, Raina Abmith, is the one that does the announcements. She runs everything along with two other leaders, Jonald Ray and , Latham Stevenson. We are permitted to watch the announcements everyday. It plays all over every society, outside and in every building. Most of us watch it in the habitation.

    I nod to acknowledge that I heard him and sit down next to him on his bed. We sit in silence until people come rushing in. There here to watch the announcement. I get up and head to the front of the building to watch the announcement that will play at any moment.

    The screen comes on and shows Raina looking at the camera. She has brown, blonde hair and hazel eyes. In everybody's eyes, she the one of the most stunning Government leaders we've had in years.

    "I would like to thank everyone for their cooperation that made today very successful. This is the one-hundredth anniversary of Placement Day, and as a thank-you I would like to reward every society with new materials, of clothes, blankets, and food.  

    “One hundred years ago, catastrophe struck this Earth, because of flaws found in the governments society, and because of the differences between everyone. To make sure that didn’t happen again we came up with the “Alpha Societies” and managed to make the world great again. With the help of all of the societies, we are happy to say you have a promising future. And with the help from us, we will succeed."

    The screen turns to Jonald Ray.”We have an announcement for Society Z, " he starts “government leaders will be coming to inspect everyone, tomorrow.  We have tracked someone by their detector and it has been reported that someone is living in Society Z that doesn't belong there. We will arrive at Society Z at noon, to scan your brains and to look at your identification on your wrist. We need everyone outside awaiting our arrival at noon. Thank you."

    The screen clicks off and instantly a murmur goes around the room. Everyone looks around and talks to each other about the visit that we're going to get from Society P. Chaos arises from people getting excited and people becoming worried.

    I hear rain hitting the windows and the roof. Great I think. There won't be any camping tonight. I look at Flynn and he mouths Sorry. He walks up to me and says, "We'll go camping tomorrow."

    "That's fine," I say. I'm not really that disappointed the only thought is that tonight is going to be a cold night.

    Soon the hustle dies down and everyone heads off to bed. I tell Flynn Goodnight and get under the very thin cover that allows me little warmth and try to get to sleep. But instead I'm thinking of everything that has happened today and the visit we will receive from Society P tomorrow.

    Right before a fall asleep, I hear a tiny whimper escape the mouth of someone. It was probably one of the newbies. I think about comforting them, but I have to let them get through this one their own. The whimpering continues and I can't hold the tears in any longer. For the first time in a year I shed a few silent tears and fall asleep with my cheek laying in a slightly damp circle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

        

Chapter 2

I wake up in the morning to find half of the Zeros gone and already at breakfast. I see Flynn reading something all the way across the room. He usually reads in the morning waiting for me to get up, which impresses me because in Society Z you don’t have much use for books. You don’t have much use for anything. Which is probably why we’re here.

    I get up from bed, grab some gray slacks and a pullover and head into the bathroom to change. Once I change I  look at myself in the mirror examining my thin bone structure and the paleness of my skin. I put my long dark brown hair into a ponytail while walking over to Flynn.
    “Good book?” I ask, examining the cover, The Glass Castle, the cover is all ratted up and looks as if it's about to fall off the book.

    “Yes,” he says getting up and putting it down. “Would you like to read it when I’m finished?” he asks. 

    “I’m good,” I say. I don’t really read books. “You ready to get something to eat?” I ask, already walking to the dinning hall, because whatever his answer is I’m still going. 

    I hear footsteps and  know that Flynn is treading behind me. “Scarlette, wait up. What are you doing, running a marathon?” he jokes. 

    “I’m hungry, If you can’t keep up, then run.” I say joking just a little bit.

    When we get inside I notice a lot of commotion going on. Of course there is, today is the day Society P comes to visit, but it seems like more.

    I grab a rusted plate and get some sausage and potatoes. I grab some recently purified water and try heading to our table, but a crowd of people are in the way talking about something. It must be important because they don’t move. I have to shove my way through. 

    I sit down and start on my meal looking around me, people seem angry.  Flynn sits down next to me and looks worried.

    “What?” I ask examining the look on his face.

    “Nothing,” he says. “I just thought… never mind. It was nothing.”

    I go back to eating, but something odd catches my ear. I turn around to find the newbies all grouped together talking. They all seem pretty focused on a certain subject. I lean in to listen to what they’re saying.

    “You don’t believe it, do you,” I hear one of them say.

    “You would’ve  never thought it would be them,” I hear another say.

    I look at the people around us and lean into their conversations.

    “Thats what I heard. They’re the cause,” I hear an older girl say.

    “I can’t believe it.”says the guy standing next to the girl.

    I lean away not sure what to make of what I just heard. I look at Flynn, who is digging into some eggs. He doesn’t seem to recognize anything that's different. 

    “Flynn,” I say urgently. 

    He looks up at me  and asks, “What?”

    “Something’s going on,” I say, motioning to the chaos around us.

    Flynn gets tense and says, “Yeah, I know.”

    “We’ll what’s going on?”I ask.

    “I don’t know. I just know somethings going on.”

    “Well, go and see.”  Flynn gets up and marches over towards a guy named Zen, a society leader, and I follow him.

    “Whats going on?” Flynn asks. 

    Zen looks at him and motions for us to follow him to a  corner of the room. He stops and says, “Gem and Yale came back from their trip with news about Society P.” He pauses and looks around, as if Society P could hear him, but continues.  “They’re sending an unknown plague out to the other societies. They found out last night and came back to tell us.”

    “Why?” I ask concerned for our society. I’ve only heard about the plague a few times.

    “Power,” says Zen. Well, at least we have nothing to worry, I think. Having no power has its advantages.

    “To everybody?” I ask.

    “We think it's just for certain people. The illness is controlled by Society P. They can send the plague to anyone.”

    “What are we gonna do when they Society P comes here?” Flynn asks, looking around. Everyone looks like they're so furious, that they may mention what they know to Society P when they get here. That could be bad, for many reasons.

    “We’ve told everyone to keep quiet,” says Zen looking around at everyone. He doesn’t seem too convinced. Neither does Flynn. I look around at everybody and they look upset and furious even though we haven’t been affected by it. I sense a change and I’m not sure if it's the good kind.     

    Zen stands up on a table and yells, “Everybody I need your attention.” He waits for the hustle to die down as people turn to look at him and then he continues. “We’ve heard news about Society P, but that news must not be shared. We’re all angry, but it has nothing to do with us. If any word of us knowing what they’ve been doing gets out to them, we will be the next target. You need to understand how important it is for everyone to keep this to themselves. They’ll be here in an hour, so get yourselves together.” He finishes and there’s a moment where no one says anything, but the silence doesn’t last long.

 

    “We need to warn the other societies,” some guy in the crowd yells. 

    “Yeah we need to pick people to go out and warn the others,’’ says another guy.

    “We can’t,” says Zen. “Its to dangerous and if I might add, illegal.”

    “We have to tell them,” I hear the words come out of my mouth and at first I’m not quite sure if I had just said them out loud, but I speak them again. “We have to tell them,” I say. Flynn looks at me and I see deep furrows in his brows. 

    “What are you doing?” he whispers in my ear. 

    “My mom is in another society, that could very well be plagued. I want to warn them and I am going to whether you like it or not.  I care about her and even though I haven’t seen her for three years she's still my mom,” I whisper back to Flynn.

    “Just stay back here and don’t say a word,” Flynn says storming away. Probably because of my ignorance.

    Zen takes a moment to think about what is being said and then says, “Just to get a number how many would be willing to go and warn the other societies?

    “I would,” I say, ignoring the glare I’m getting from Flynn. I hear the words he’s probably thinking. Idiot. 

    A couple other people step forward and more start to follow. We have about fifty people wanting to go warn the other societies.  I can feel my heart race and all of a sudden I  feel roused. I might actually get to see my mother again. It’s been three years, I feel like I’ve been waiting for this day forever, even though I thought it would never happen.

    Zen counts are numbers and says,“We aren’t going to take all of you, but we’ll have a meeting out in the unknown, to choose who we’re going to take. You all know the ritual. Elders inform the newbies. Tonight at midnight we’ll all meet at the fence and go on from there.”

    The ritual happens when we have a big matter to discuss. This will be my second one. Now I feel like as if my heart is going to burst with all this excitement, but the only problem is what if I don’t get picked, I won’t get to see my mother. I push the thoughts away and focus on the positive. It's the rational thing to do if I’m going to get though the day.

    I glance at Flynn and I can tell he’s enraged at my behavior. I feel his eyes bore into me.  I look at him and he shakes his head at my behavior. I’m sorry, I mouth. He walks away shaking his head in disapproval. 

    I finish eating my breakfast alone. Flynn has decided not to join me, and I don’t know what to say about that. He shouldn’t be mad about any of my decisions I make  for my life, but he is. So I sit there eating my food silently until noon.

    

                           _____

 

    We all stand outside for the arrival of society P. Everyone glares at the vehicles as they drive by, furious about what they have done. Zen walks by everyone saying, “Hold it in, just hold it in.” Some people loosen up, but many glare at them with anger.  I myself can’t help but understand why they sent the plague out. Power is a big thing and most people do whatever they can to keep hold of it.

    There are a few small black cars and then there are the massive black jeep-like cars that come cruising in. About eight to ten cars come in and pull around to Zero headquarters and stop.  

    I try to find Flynn through the crowd of people walking over to the vehicles, but he’s no where to be seen. 

    “Flynn,” I try yelling. But I'm being pushed by guards dressed in white, trying to move everyone forward. I look around for him trying to push my way though the crowd. “Flynn!” 

    I hear a lot of commotion on the other side.  I look over and notice Flynn fighting a couple guards that are trying to control him. 

    “You think we wouldn’t notice? Huh, is that what you thought?” He says fighting them.

    “Flynn,” I yell, running over to him. “Flynn, stop it! Stop it right now!” I pull him off the guards who take their  guns and aim them at Flynn. 

    I step in front of them saying, “It was just a misunderstanding. I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.” The officers examine us and once they decide that we won’t cause any more problems they put their guns down eyeing us carefully watching us walk away.

    “What the hell do you think you were doing?” I ask Flynn irritated. 

    “I’m not going to let you go out there on your own,” he spits.

    “Well, it’s my life. If you're to worried about your own precious damn life than you don’t need to come,” I say storming away.

    “DON’T YOU GET IT?” he screams.

    “Get what?” I ask turning around.

    “Nevermind.” he says, walking towards the line of people showing identification that they belong in society Z. “Let’s just go.”

    We walk towards the lines made. Flynn separates into the male line while I walk into the line with the women. While I’m waiting I think of the fight with Flynn and wonder if they caught on to what he was talking about. I watch him walk up and a guard puts some sort of device up to his head, “Zero,” I hear it say. “Wrist, please,” a guard says. Flynn shows him his wrist glaring at him. “Not a happy bunch are we,” I hear the guard snicker, laughing at his joke.

    “Watch it,” I hear Flynn yell, pounding his fist on the table. 

    “Flynn, stop it!” I yell walking over to him.

    A guard comes over, sensing tension, taking me and Flynn away from the crowd. “I haven’t been scanned yet,” I say, trying to get us away from the guard. The guard immediately takes out the same device the rest are using and puts it up to my head, “Zero,” I hear it say. Then she checks the identification on my wrist “Your good, come with me,” the guard says leading Flynn and I into Zero headquarters. We use the elevator and are taken to the highest floor. Then we are led to a room were all three of Society P’s government leaders are sitting, sipping tea and talking.

    The guard waits for their attention and says, “They’ve been fighting out there causing a scene. If they won’t  keep the peace then I don’t think they should be allowed out there until they do. I’m not going to let them disturb everyone else. ” The guard steps away and heads out the doors, leaving us alone with the three government leaders. 

    We stand there looking at each other until Raina speaks up, “Well, sit,” she says motioning us towards the chairs. 

    She eyes Flynn, who seems to be ashamed of getting us in here because he won’t make eye contact with any of us.

    “So… why the need to fight?” she asks, sitting down grabbing a cup of tea and sipping it slowly.

    “I… I don’t know,” I stammer still standing next to Flynn. I speak first, afraid if I leave Flynn that option he’ll go berserk again. 

    “A lot of chaos today in Society Z. Maybe you feel the need to prove your worth? I’m not sure, but rules are rules and when broken we have to deal with it by consequences.  You both know fighting is not allowed. Your young and should enjoy your life. I can’t have you fighting. It shows everyone else that it’s okay. Though by the looks of you I feel like I can trust you when you say it won’t happen again. The fighting I can  push out of my head, but remember, peace must be kept to go on with our lives.” 

    Flynn looks at me rage in his eyes. I shake my head but he doesn’t listen. 

    “Power,” He starts. “It’s weird isn’t it. The extent people will go to keep it. I myself am not a big fan of it. I mean look where it gotten us. The other societies—”

    “Flynn,” I say. “Stop.”

    “I was just making small talk,” he says backing away slowly.

    “What are you inferring,” ask Jonald, eyeing Flynn suspiciously.

    “Nothing. He means nothing,” I blurt before Flynn can say anything. 

    “Well, he must be inferring to something,” says Raina eyeing me.

    “Just that being a Zero and belonging nowhere can make a person go mad,” I say trying to reason with them. “Any one would want power if they were us, but we soon realize that its better left off in certain hands.”

    Latham laughs a little and smiles at me. “Maybe you should be in Society I,” he jokes. “You seem very intelligent.” 

    No, I’m not intelligent. I’m not anything. Thats why I belong in Society Z.  When I was younger I thought I was bold like my mother, but I erased it from my mind after the scanning.

    “Sit down,” Raina says again.

    I sit in a seat, facing the government leaders, waiting for Flynn to follow and look at the ground, blushing from the stares of the others. 

    “So, you still didn’t answer my question. Why did you  feel the need to fight and go against your society’s rules,” She eyes me curiously. 

    “We were being stupid,” I say looking down. “It won’t happen again.”

    “Why did it happen in the first place?” asks Jonald. They won’t let the subject go.

    I think of good lie, but all that comes to me is a pathetic excuse. “We were fighting yesterday and Flynn has anger issues so…” I trail off, feeling Flynn glare at me. Every one of them looks at us unsure. whether to believe us or not, but I try to look sorry for what I’ve done even though I haven’t done anything wrong. Flynn should be the one apologizing.

    Raina smiles at me and I can’t help but give a weak smile back. She’s very intimidating and makes me nervous. “No reason to be nervous,” she says realizing how I feel, trying to make me feel more comfortable.

    “Would you guys care for any tea?” asks Latham.

    “No thank-you,” I say heading to the doors, not even waiting for them to dismiss me.

    “Wait,” says Latham. “You're not dismissed until we say you are. Have a seat.”

    I sit back down and watch them eye me. 

    “We need to make sure you won’t lie to us again. How can we trust you.”

    “I promise… I truly promise.” Flynn has done it this time. 

    “Everyone can promise something. It doesn’t mean they’ll do it,” Raina smiles lightly. 

    “What do we have to do?” I sigh. Flynn has irritated me so much today. 

    “Put your left hand on this book and swear to it. If you break this promise you’ll go to Society C.”

    Glaring at Flynn I put my left hand on a book that says, The Bible, and swear to it. Flynn does the same thing glaring at me as if this is my fault. 

    We stand there waiting for whatever’s next until Jonald says, “You’re dismissed.

    “Have a good day,” Raina calls as we head out. Flynn and I walk out the door in silence. Rage build inside of me. As we head back outside I realize that there’s something else going on. People are crowded around in a circle watching something.

    I walk up to a circle that was made and hear the voice of a boy yelling.  “Nooo… Mom, help!” I hear the boy yell. “Mom! Mom! Please!” 

    The guards take him away from his mother who’s yelling “Thats my son. Get away from my son,” the woman sobs while guards hold her back. It doesn’t take me long to realize that they found the person who wasn’t supposed to be here. I realize that the boy was probably supposed to leave yesterday on the train. He no longer belongs here. I watch the boy being put into one of the government cars, crying for his mother. 

    Guards take hold of the mother, grabbing her by the arms. “You’re now a Criminal, have done wrong by disrupting justice. Therefore, you will accept the punishment of being held in Society C until the day you depart from this earth,” they say as they lead her away.

    I listen to those words, realizing that could be me very soon. If I get chosen to warn the other districts. I look over at Flynn who’s staring at me and I know he’s thinking the same thing.     

    

                     

 

Chapter 3

After the mother and her son are taken away we are led to the square. The square is very small. It has a small stage and a microphone at a podium, with seats in  the corner. It has never been used while I’ve been here. It also has little shops on every corner, but they are never used. They were left from the war.

     The leaders walk onto the stage and wait for everyone to get quite. Latham is the first to speak, leaving the other leaders standing by his side.

    “Thank-you for your help with us on our task, today. We hope in the future this sort of thing can be prevented. It was a great pleasure working with all you Zero’s today. I hope you feel just as accomplished as we feel. “

    Those words are like a punch in the throat. How could we feel accomplished by something like this.

    “Though we had some trouble today,” he continues, eyes flicking towards me and then to where ever Flynn is standing before he continues. “I hope that we can focus on what is truly important. Maintaining happiness and  keeping everyone in control. If we can succeed at these things, then we are already off to a great start. Thank-you.”

    Latham backs away and then Raina, steps forward to say her piece. 

    “With the exception of a few problems.” I look away, but I can feel her eyes drift towards me and for a moment I feel that she can see all my secrets. I squeeze my eyes shut and block out the piercing stare I get from Raina. When she starts to speak again, I feel that it's safe to look at her again. “I think we made today very successful. We must be taken to where we truly belong and if we refuse, well,” she laughs slightly and continues, “thats when we step in. Rules must be followed to maintain a safe and happy life and to ensure our 

world—”

    “Justice,” someone yells, interrupting Raina.

    She stops shocked and her eyes skirt the crowd, looking for the Zero that interrupted her. The other leaders immediately stand up, also searching the crowd.

    “Show yourself,” says Jonald.

    No one in the crowd steps forward. Silence seems to grow louder and louder, while we wait. Guards that were on the sides march in taking  their guns out in unison. We all scramble away from the guns. A few of us let out a terrified scream. All but one of us leaves the path of the guns.

    An older guy I had met once at the funeral of his wife stands there. He glares at the leader and they stare back with their eyes narrowed in confusion. 

    We all stand around to watch what happens next. Three guards approach the man and aim their guns at him.

    “Did you say that!” one of the guards screams at him. 

    “Yes.” He looks directly at them, glaring. He is going to get killed. I know it. He must know it too. Part of me wishes to help him, but I’m not brave enough. But I can force myself to be. I hear a click in their guns and before I know it, I step forward walking towards the man. He looks at me and smiles. 

    “Save us,”  he says to me. I’m not sure what he means, but I don’t have time to care either. I cannot let this man die. I have to save him. 

    “Stop!” I say. I hear my voice shake, and I tell myself it’s a sign not to push myself any further, but once again I don’t listen. “Stop! Don’t kill him!” Tears escape my eyes. I can’t watch this man die. He’s done nothing wrong.

    “It will be okay. I’m ready.” The man steps to where the gun barrel is directly on his head. 

    Before I can step forward any more strong arms wrap around me and someone is pulling me away. “Get off me. Don’t kill him!” I scream. I try to get away from whoever has gotten ahold of me, but I’m not strong enough. The arms are muscular and all I’m capable of is screaming for the guards to put down their guns and not to shoot.

    “You’ve been foolish enough, today. Stop it.” The voice belongs to Flynn. 

    “Get of me! Get of me!”

    Flynn guides me out of the square and leads me into the cafeteria. Before the door closes I hear the sound of a gunshot. Tears crawl down my face and I let out a frustrated scream. 

    “Get yourself together,” says Flynn. I know he doesn’t mean to sound harsh, but the words cut me like knives. 

    “Didn’t you just see that man get killed?” I ask infuriated.

    “Yes, but thats not the point. You’ve made yourself noticed twice today. Thats not good.”

    “The first time was because of you!” I scream.

    “Don’t you get it. You have to watch yourself. Things are changing and it would be best if you weren’t involved.”

    “Why? Because you feel the need to protect me every second of the day?”

    “No. Because news has been going around lately. Everyone is sensing a change. That’s why that man did what he did. We aren’t the only ones that know about The Powerful and the illness. People know that The Powerful is scared about something and that's why they're doing this. Its best just to stay out of this until it's over. You could very well be the reason we hear the next gunshot.”

    “No, I’m going to warn my mother. I don’t care what you say.”

    “That’s what’s going to get you killed. You seem to be reckless lately, and if you think that’s the best way to go, then go for it. I’m trying to help you and warn you before you make an attempt to be the hero. I’m telling you this, because it's you that’s going to get you killed, not me.”

    “I’m going,” I say defiantly. “I think that if we do this we won’t have to live like this anymore. Live as a Zero.”

    “I tried,” says Flynn, walking away. 

    I get up and follow him out the door. I follow Flynn back to the square that everyone is circling around, listening to the guards.

    “This doesn’t have to be the last person we kill. You all know the rules. They shouldn’t be that hard to follow. If any of you have any information about what this man is talking about, you must tell us and if not it, there will be consequences. We don't need any more people who feel the need to be rebellious.” He says the last part like he thinks that we’re being stupid if we are rebellious. Maybe we are, I don’t know, but it’s a warning, just like Flynn gave me.

    I can sense change, just like I had before. Society P, is trying to control someone or something. I know it and I’m going to figure it out. I can sense that they’re scared. And they should be, because whatever war will go on later, is a war I’ll make sure they lose.

    “Get out of here,” Screams the guard. “All of you, out!”

    We scramble into the habitation. Its crowded and chaotic enough that I can’t stand to be in here. I head back out the doors and into the Zero Headquarters. I’m about to walk into the ceremony room and sit down to think, but voices catch my attention. I walk over closer to them.

    “This is the fourth killing we’ve had in the past week. Soon enough they’ll find out why these people are dying,” I hear a voice that sounds like Jonald say.

    “If they haven’t already,” says a woman's voice; Raina.

    “That girl, Scarlette, what do you think about her,” ask a voice I can identify as Latham’s.

    “I think she’s harmless.” says Raina.

    “The way she went after that man. She was going to interfere with the government,” says Latham. I can tell he doesn’t like that I would have even tried that.

    “She’s young. She doesn’t know what's good for her. We’ll keep a close eye on her, but for right now she’s harmless.” I see Raina take a sip of tea and set the cup down. 

    I should probably leave, but I need to hear more.

    “You don’t think she’s any harm? She has the right attitude to change things,” says Jonald, pausing and shaking his head. “I mean what are we going to do? First Society L and now the other societies are starting to get involved. This is going to be a big mess if we don’t fix it.”

    “Society L has always wanted to take over. They don’t believe in the way we run things. We need to think of a way to get them to shut up,” says Raina.

    “They could end up like Society X. Extinct.”

    “So we send the plague out to all of them and then what?”

    “Your right.”

    “It’s not way out of control yet, but the more people we kill, the bigger the problem gets.” Latham stands up and walks over to the teapot.

    “We’ll be okay for now. But if Society L starts to run things. They’ll screw it up,” Jonald says. He almost sounds annoyed like he doesn’t  have time to deal with this.

    “Well, we better make sure that doesn’t happen, right?”    

    Raina laughs and says, “Oh I’ll make sure it doesn’t happen. Trust me.”

    “Well, we should be heading off. It’ll be getting dark soon,” says Latham.

    “What time do you think we’ll arrive back to Society  P?” Jonald asks.

    “Probably tomorrow in the late afternoon,” says Raina. 

    They all stand up I run into another hallway. I try to breathe regularly, but I can’t control it. I take in a deep breath in and then a let it out. I do this until I can feel my heart rate slow down.

    Flynn was right, I’ve caused to much trouble and now they’re worried about me. Even though I know this it doesn't change my mind about warning the other societies. I’m determined to protect my mom and a million other people that are innocent.

    I wait until I know for sure that they’re gone and then I run back into the habitation to tell Flynn what I’ve heard.     I wonder if he’ll take the news as badly as I did. I wonder if he’ll be furious. 

After all, he lived in Society L before he lived here.

 

                        _________

    

    “That doesn’t make any sense,” says Flynn. He sits down on the bed  and puts his shoes on. We’re all getting ready for the meeting in the unknown. It took forever for me to find Flynn because just like me, Flynn needed a break too. 

    Once I finally reached him, people were in the cafeteria eating. We ate our meal and then came back here, so we could get some privacy.

    “It makes perfect sense,” I say. “Society L hates when the government intervenes on them and that’s why they were placed there to get them out of the way.”

    “No, I mean it doesn’t make any sense that after everything I told you, you would still go snooping around. I mean, what if they heard you or saw you?”

    “They didn’t.” I look at him and try to think of a way to reason with him, but nothing comes to mind. 

    “That’s the thing. They didn’t see you so it’s all okay. But what if you snoop around again, then were is it going to lead you. Your going to think that it’s all okay because you didn’t get caught the first time, but that could very well be the time you get caught.”

    “It’s not like that. I just got curious.”

    “Curiosity killed the cat.”

    “You don’t understand that—”

    “Your right I don’t understand. Please tell me what you did that wasn’t childish or foolish or just plain old stupid.” 

    He sits there and looks up at me. Tears come to my eyes because I never thought that Flynn would ever be harsh. I look at him and try to think of an excuse, but soon enough I realize Flynn is right.

    “Go on,” he says.

    “Your right,” I say.

    “Remember that,” he gets up and walks away.

    I go to my bed and lay down, falling into a restless sleep.

 

                    __________

 

    “Wake up,” a strong girl’s voice says to me. 

    I turn around in my bed wondering why I’m so cold. When I reach for my blanket my question is answered. I shiver and look up at the voice.

    “Are you looking for this,” asks the girl, holding up a blanket. It’s frayed at the edges and has a small hole in the middle. “Its time to get up.”

    I prop myself on my elbows and look at the young girl. She’s probably somewhere near my age. She looks strong and is a few shades darker than me, which isn’t saying much because I’m pretty pale. She has a small nose and round eyes. Her hair is blonde with brown streaks in it. She’s too old to be a newbie, but I haven’t seen her around that much. After looking at her for too long, I start to wish that I looked like her.

    “I’m Annie,” she says, holding her hand out to me. I shake it and use it to get up.

    “I’m Scarlette.” 

    “Nice to meet you. I don’t want to rush things, but the ritual is starting any minute from now.”

    “Oh,” I say embarrassed. “You didn’t have to wake me up.”

    “No biggie. I wanted to. Besides who would want to miss the big news. I think Society P deserves a lot of trouble. I think we should bring them down.”

    “Did you step forward to warn the other societies?” I ask putting on my shoes.

    “Yes. You did too right?”

    “Yes.”

    “Your boyfriend doesn’t seem to happy about that.”

    “My boyfriend?” I ask, walking towards the door.

    “Yeah, that guy standing next to you.” She smiles and then says, “The good looking guy.”

    “Oh you mean Flynn. Well, he doesn’t like me like that.”

    “Are you sure? He seems to like you a lot. I see the way he looks at you. Well, if he does, your one lucky woman.”

    I smile, wondering if Flynn could really like me. It would make sense on why he doesn’t want me to go, because he cares about me. I quickly push the thought out of my head, knowing that friends can care about you in the same way too.

    I head outside to the big mass of people crowding the fence and wait. Its cold and it takes no time for me to wish I brought a jacket. I look up at the sky and see the stars that glisten and shine bright against the dark blue. 

    Flynn comes up by me and says,” I didn’t think you were going to get up.”

    “People can surprise you,” I say. I know he understands what I mean. I didn’t say it to respond to what he just said. It was my way to tell him that it I won’t end up getting myself killed because I’m old enough to take care of  myself. 

    “I hope so,” says Flynn catching on.

    The girl next to me, Annie, winks at me. I laugh and shake my head at her. “It's not like that,” I say.

    “Does he know that?”

    I look at Flynn. Does he? He's very attractive. He has brown hair and a caramel tint to his skin. He has kind eyes and his body is very muscular. He seems like a man that know how to take care of himself. But he doesn’t like me the way Annie thinks he does, right?

    A whistle blows signaling for us to start moving and it doesn't take long until the people in front of me start running. 

    I see a confused girl on my right shaking. She has a face like a rat with black hair. A newbie. I take her hand and say, “Just run with me.”

    “Why do we have to run?” She looks as if she’s about to cry.

    “It's part of the ritual. Trust me, its fun.”

    I squeeze her hand and together we start running.  A chilly breeze calms me. Its midnight and when I look up at the sky, it looks like the moon is running with me. We run past the fence and into the Unknown. Excited burst of screams and whoops fill the air and I’m left running breathless, but happy.