I remember playing in the grass-dirt patchwork of a yard we had. There were new shallow holes dug up by my mother when I would wake up every morning. She meticulously piled the freed dirt into one brown mountain in the center. When my friends would come over, they always asked about our strange yard. There was nothing strange about it to me back then.On sunny days I would hop from one hole to the next and pretend I was my favorite cartoon animal. If my mother was feeling up to it, she and I would play hide and seek. I would duck in the ones deep enough to flush my 5-year-old body with the tall grass. No matter how hard I tried she would find me. I remember thinking she was the smartest woman in the world.We played for what seemed like forever. The only thing that stopped us was when they came. My mother and I both looked up at the sky to see the new fixture. The “New Moon”, they called it. It was the ship that brought them here, I was told. At that time I didn't care what they wanted, what they believed in, or where they came from. All I knew was that they forever changed my backyard with the permanent shadow it cast.My mother didn't go outside much after that. She said she was afraid of the dark. I begged her to still play with me and she finally did. We switched to hide and seek indoors. I hid under the sink where I learned it had been leaking for who knows how long and sat in the dark pool of water until she found me. She always found me. Even when I hid underneath her bed meeting all the bunches of dust and hair she had swept there. But that may only have been because I sneezed.I remember the television being randomly on one afternoon. It was odd because she didn't usually watch it at all. I was immediately drawn to the pretty girl speaking. She had the whitest teeth and seemed like she was purposely laughing just to flaunt them. She was so immaculately dressed and happy that I probably would've believed anything she said. I think her name was Kay. Yes, Kay.“They look so much like us, don't they?”, I can still hear her cheerful voice saying so clearly with the background of a picture of the visitors next to our President. You would never have known which came from the New Moon. Kay was interviewing a man in a funny hat. My young eyes where more entranced by the hat than by his face.Looking back, I know that man was Master L.E., a priest of the Right. He was on the air to appeal to believers that they should accept these visitors and take whatever good they can bring to us. Kay asked him whether or not they believed in God. He told her he wasn't positive but that they do believe in everything the Right has tried to teach society. So to him, it didn't matter what they professed spiritually, and therefore it shouldn't matter to us either. I was too young to understand most of his examples of what they believed in. But one stood out as something important to me as well, family. More than anything else from his speech I remember his phrase, “They might be a gift from God”.Eventually my mother found me starring like a “mindless drone”, she called it. The television was added to the brown mountain soon after. It didn't matter much to me, I enjoyed using my imagination. One day I discovered the best hiding place yet, up the chimney. I found that I could position myself there with my back against the stone and my legs pressed to keep me up. I stayed like that for hours but predictably, my mother always found me.My friend's parents would come by to bring me places from time to time because my mother never left the house. I can still see the changing colors flying by from all the signs in people's yards. It must have been around the same time everyone was voting on what to do about these visiting people. There were debates that I didn't see because my mother didn't. But I know they happened now. People were enamored by what the visitors promised they could help us obtain. They're proof was in how well they done for themselves. They claimed to have done this on other worlds too.They were patient and unassertive. History tells that the New Moon hung in the sky for three years quietly while we deliberated the matter. The Right listening masses protested and cried out in support of their help. That side of the argument swayed most anyone interested in survival. Soon we eased them into our government to test their motives. As I understand it, they only made suggestions.The Right always attested that God cared very much about the family. So much so that anything appearing an affront to that was by association an affront to God. The visitors advocated this too, prompting a vote to implement their first Law. The Gender Law prohibited the effeminization of men and the reverse of woman. It appealed to most under the banner “physical body equals mental body”. The people from the New Moon insisted that the glory of evolution depended upon one's acceptance of physical roles to mate with the opposite sex. The Right echoed that as, “the glory of God's plan was presumable by our bodies”.The first time I realized my mother wasn't well was when I grew too old for imaginary friends. I knew they weren't there but she continued to talk to them. I was about ten years old when I first felt like the adult in the house. She never spoke about what was happening in the world. All of my information came from teachers and classmates. So far the visitors had lived up to their promise. Marriage was on the rise, the population enjoyed the promise of a boost in future business owners and other professionals. At the time my mind was too young to think that there may have been people negatively impacted by it. No one really brought the subject up.Around that same time, the visitors had been working with us on a second Law. The Health Law pulled money from social programs for the physically ill or unable to work to help foster the emerging family boom. It was a resource shift that was necessary, they said. It came with the suggestion that in the wild, the sick become immobile for a reason and that is to be left behind. The Right reread that as “the sick become immobile because that is God's will”.It passed with more difficulty than the Gender Law because there was so much concern for poorly citizens. But the people who had families argued they deserved it more because they were doing what they were supposed to. Their actions were deified in the public eye, the party with God on their side, and eventually overruled the opposition. Baring a semblance of compassion, the Right lobbied to pity the sick and an amount of money was set aside to build “Homes for the Dying”. There they could await God's final decision to take them among others of their condition on cots.Urban and surrounding areas flooded with money. The people from New Moon suggested we use it for cleanliness to avoid getting sick and falling our of line with our duties. Citizens from all over the world clamored together to set up systems to get the purification done and keep it in place. They were unified in their fear of not fulfilling what they were meant to do, whether they were religious or not. Becoming ill meant loss of wages and public standing.Within a year, shiny new families were sprouting up everywhere. Anyone who so much as sneezed in a public space was immediately quarantined for safety. By my best ten-year-old guess, everyone still seemed to be getting what they wanted. During the debating periods there was a bit of chaos but after the Laws were passed, nothing but calm.Inherently attached to a physical health cap law is the question of mental health. And before I reached my twelfth birthday, the third Law was enacted. The Mental Law stated that anyone born or developing a mental disability is not fit for raising a family or remaining in order and therefore, society would not foster them. The visitors touted that this freed up all resources needed for prisons and martial order. On their planet, they said doing away with mental disorders early meant almost no crime and no need for local enforcement. The Right repeated that as “The mentally deformed were done so by God's own hands. He had no faith in their future, and neither should we”. From that day on, my mother stopped receiving checks in the mail.So long as one was surviving in this world and not overtly disobeying any Laws, you could live. As I said, there is no more money given to “unlawful” citizens anymore. Whether they were sick, disabled, or just tired, it didn't matter. No money, period, per Health and Mental Laws. But at least if you could find a way to get money, you weren't just done away with. That was my belief before going to school one early morning. We had a mandatory meeting in the auditorium. A white screen came down from the ceiling.It was everyone's favorite pseudo-leader, Master L.E. announcing his lobby for new sanctions that would allow the people of New Moon to help us enforce the Laws. A new form of policing to kindly replace our own called the “Arm”.We were not to be alarmed by there presence. They would help us create a more perfect society as God intended, he said. He also at that time coined the term “Low” as the unlawful, non-family oriented people. They were branded against the divine. A class system was born that day. I remember that becoming a new insult, with children running around the schoolyard calling each other Low this and Low that.Our neighbors never did like us very much. Our unkept yard and my mother's cloistered lifestyle made people talk. My friend's parents hadn't come to pick me up in months. It wasn't three full weeks after their presence was requested before someone called the Arm. With no more commotion than a burglar they came for us. I was awake watching the coals in the fireplace loose their glow. At first I thought it might have just been neighborhood teenagers throwing eggs at our door again. But then my mind hurled into flight mode when the door opened. Without fear of burning I jumped into the fireplace and hide up in my favorite spot. From there I heard the sounds of abduction that I will never forget. Not voices, just rattling, breaking, and thumps. My imagination painted the picture of my mother's fight for me from those memorable sounds. I can't even remember what her face looks like apart from those images I conjured.The abductors spoke to each other wondering where the other reported resident was. More muffled sounds of struggle ignited my mind's eye from within that dark, hot space. I bit my lip to combat the pain of loss and keep from tearing. A few fell and sizzled on the burning embers. I prayed they wouldn’t hear. My legs shook while the smoke was choking the life from me. I tried so hard not to cough. When I heard them finally leave I immediately fell on the coals and rolled off in pain. They never found me. They were not as smart as my mother.I lived in that house for another year and learned the skills of a thief quickly as my hunger burned a hole in my senses. I offered my body for money among the remaining Low in forgotten ally ways. The Low had developed an intricate underworld of trade. Eventually, I was willingly bought and passed around like currency for food and other trinkets. I had become the equivalent of a coin but at least I wasn't hungry.No matter the amount of sustenance, I could never get over a stomach for truth. The purpose for the New Moon's visit. An explanation of why my innocent mother had to be taken and where. A reason why all-mighty God would elect mortals to implement his plan; were there edges of the universe where even his hand couldn't touch? Was our planet one of them?Talk of resistance was a daily debate I overheard but never took part in. I listened to convincing arguments for submission as well as exhilarating cases for our sovereignty as a species. It was the rhetoric of the latter that made my heart beat faster, and with that I knew where I belonged. But that was only a dream, not the place where I laid my head.It must have been a summer month when the inevitable happened; I wasn't wearing much at all. I was caught soliciting sex to someone who only looked Low. I saw the despise for me as the threat to this great new world brought his eyes to a line. There was no negotiation. Whether I was an affront to God or society, it didn't matter. They were both the same. He called for the Arm with impeccable glee. I think I even saw his mouth water.Two armored people of the New Moon rounded the corner with equal delight. Their mechanical stare was paralyzing and almost mythic. With my will waning, I yelled for help as they bound me for detention. I now had a better picture of what those sounds I heard in the chimney actually looked like.Be careful what you wish for. I traded the thirst knowledge with an unbearable truth. In one trip I found out why they were here, where my mother was sent, and whether or not God was looking. Convicted Low were dumped at a containment center to await service sentence based on ability. We all would become the hidden workers of the “Leg”, the mining wing of the people of the New Moon. This was what we were bred for. High or Low born in one way or another we served their mission of resource siphoning. So much for the family preachings. You would want the same from your chattel; focus on reproduction, not think.Based on the conditions on which I was arrested and where it took place, it was determined that I was part of a resistance movement on the streets of my neighborhood called WAUL. I had never heard of it. It didn't stop them from marking me with an “X” on my left hand. It meant I was a higher risk prisoner.I didn't see many mentally challenged people here. My mother was nowhere to be found. I ate the pitiable food and did what I was told. But still for seven long years I felt their cautious eyes on me constantly like I was some actual threat to security. I never made a wave. There was no reason; at least here I wasn't hungry.We worked far underground and those on the surface would never know we were there. The faces around me changed with the days. New ones would be added routinely while others would board a shuttle to the New Moon and never came back. We didn't know how they decided who would go and who would stay. No one really spoke about it for fear they would be picked next. The culture of complacency was just as strong down here as it was on the surface. I was a part of it. After all, if it was happening, didn't that mean it was meant to? For those that left, I prayed they were dead. Maybe I did this for selfish reasons, anything less than death was far too horrific to imagine and I needed a delusion to help me sleep. I had nightmares that they were still alive.The very thing meant to mark me as more dangerous than others is precisely what grabbed the attention of someone who would change my life. The “X” meant that I was a conspirator; thought to be clever and resourceful. It wasn't true but that banner gave Senator Capsin enough reason to believe I was the one he needed. He was a high-ranking legislator of our people that worked directly with those of the New Moon. He was brought in to check on the mining facility one afternoon on behalf of a“transparency agreement”. Even though he couldn’t have had any idea how bad it was, I would come to find that he was secretly a part of WAUL. Due to my mark he believed I was as well and that lead to him slip me a note in a handshake. I wanted to tell him he had the wrong person but the gleam of hope in his eye was captivating. His hands were more rough than his kind features would say.“13:30, 510L, 1005-0103”. I read to the note so many times I could see it written into my ceiling at night. I had no idea what it meant or what was expected of me.A few days later the shuttle came and I heard my name over the speaker. This time I prayed my death was close; again for selfish reasons. I must have out lived my usefulness to them. I had a warmth in my heart.The shuttle rose up to the sky carrying me and another thirty or so people. I tried not to stare but everyone's face seemed so fine and accepting of what would come. It made my own complacency melt, the reverse of group thought. It was like a mirror held to show me how lost had gotten. It felt like an appropriate pre-death reflection.As mechanical and automatic as the shuttle's dock, we all walked off to our fate. By chance I took a look at the clock to note the time. It was half-passed the thirteenth hour. I was last in line. Suddenly the numbers Capsin gave me came to mind. “13:30”, I said to myself. I stopped in my tracks believing something was special about this moment. The guards called me forward and started to yell. Without warning, an wall of fire and metal cut across the door to the New Moon dock. I dove back inside only burning my face and shoulder. It seemed the resistance had their move. And knowing the time had saved my life.It was an incredible explosion. I crawled out of the burning shuttle to find I was the only survivor of both peoples in the area. It seemed WAUL had secretly planted a bomb on the side of this shuttle. My wounds hurt so badly but I knew I needed to hid. The people of the New Moon would soon arrive. I tore off a piece of my tattered shirt and held it to my bleeding face. I pushed a bent door aside and left the bay.Down the hall I limped, watching numbers and symbols pass me on doorways and shafts. The corridors were clean and had a light blue glow. Everything seemed so still and lifeless. But when I leaned against the wall in abandon, I could feel the vibrations of the ship. It was like a heartbeat. I gave in to exhaustion and slid to the floor. I may as well have been a maze, but at least in a maze there is always a way out. I was hanging above my home with the stretch of miles between us. And even if I returned, there was no life to return to. I let my head rest on the freezing, silver plates of the walkway. It actually felt good on my burns. I closed my eyes and prepared to die.As the blood changed the color of the floor in front me, I drifted into a dreamlike trance. A collage of memories from my childhood. I saw my mother. I could see her as if she were right in front of me but her face was blurred. My eyes were wide open and staring at her fading image. It was like I had forgotten her. When her ghost was gone all that was let was the metallic wall; the plain, barren wall with a sign starring back at me. I starred back for a time before reading it. “Containment -510L”I recognized the numbers from Capsin's note. It almost felt like a dishonor to his efforts not to look inside. I attempted to delay my freedom from this world to appease my curiosity. It was difficult, but I managed to stand again.As soon as the door opened I wished I had chosen death. A room larger than the docking bay with a field of bodies arranged by size. They were in capsules and set in rows reaching far beyond my sight. I found where the taken had gone but I still had no idea if they were alive or dead. I walked through the library running my hand along the side, grazing their coffins in a daze. There was a haunting glow at the end of the row. It was humming like the walls. I turned to my left to see my fingers cross a familiar face. I hadn't seen my mother in so long; the tears came and threatened to block my view of her.Her imprisonment was warm to the touch. I finally got to see her face and she looked at peace. I kept my cheek against the glass that separated us. It was the perfect symbol of what took her away from me; we were divided by the people of the New Moon's sordid plan. I looked all around me to see the slaves we had become.The glow was a giant screen waiting for input. I listened to the hum long enough for it to sound like it was calling my name. I marched to it as empty as I had ever felt, punching in the last sequence as if they were they only numbers I knew. An information bank archiving the people of the New Moon's history came into view. I had access to their records. Finally, who they were and where came from would be known by one of their inferiors.A beautiful blue and green sphere with the title, “Earth” beneath it spun in full detail on the screen. I then found out what they called themselves, saying it aloud; “Humans”. I didn't expect to recognize whatever alien world they came from and I was right. But it was almost like I had to see it to believe they were flesh and blood. They may as well be gods compared to us, but seeing that was the first time I ever conceived their fragility.The giant panels of keys and lights before me proved to be more than just records. With a few strokes I had control of some of the systems on the ship. Thanks to Capsin's clearance code, the ability to cut the power supply to the Arm and Leg on the ground became mine. I thought about the tremendous sacrifices WAUL must have made to get them but I didn't have much time. Suddenly from my right I heard a quite and delicate voice,“What is it you want to know?”In my heart I knew I was caught. I looked up to see two beautiful, dark eyes on me. A pale woman wearing a gown that seemed to be made of shifting gold light like a hologram. I froze in the presence of her majesty.She began to speak again, “The name comes from a time long passed in our history. We keep it because it connects us to who we are.” Her long legs glided her forward like a crawling mist, “Do you know who you are?”“I'm. . .”She scoffed, “Who you are is what you are. What you are is the result of countless events that formed your species, just as it was meant to be. You should respect what is. Accept what is.”“What we are are slaves!” I said bringing my hand to the critical power switch.On cue, ten armed guards came in and formed a circle around the woman and took their aim on me with exotic weaponry. We were in a stalemate. One move from them and I'd hit it. I think they knew that.The woman seemed unfazed and pushed them aside. By the way they obeyed she must have been high-ranking. She continued in a carefree tone, “What is is our rule. But we never forced ourselves on you did we? That's because it was supposed to happen. Obviously you weren't meant for freedom or else you would be. Don't you see how easy it is to understand? Step away from the terminal and be what you are.”I took another glace at their beautiful planet still emulated on the screen. It looked so warm and natural, green and healthy. So different from the cold metallic sphere that housed them now. For a moment, I thought about that contrast. I thought about the mirror I saw in the shuttle up here. It struck me that if the Humans had been content with the status quo as we were, they would never have been able to travel here in the first place. They had to take command of lives and principles to build a home where nature didn't place one. They were masters of their world. And they used our credulity based on the appearance of things to keep us from changing what we didn't want. With a teardrop to the floor, I realized how foolish we were. “. . .No. We are free beings, just as you! No matter how things look, we have the power to see beyond them. . .We choose war. . .”, I said and motioned for the switch.“Wait!” she said. “. . .It is more effective to rely on willing slaves than chains. There is little chance of revolt.”“Don't think you can stall-”“On every planet we've been, someone eventually sees the truth. Your resolve and the attack on our ship is enough to know our illusion is breaking. More will come if we end you here. We are beyond war. Step away and we agree to leave your planet.”After making her offer, she turned around without a care and her guards followed.“How do I know you won't come back?” I yelled.She stopped and without looking back and said, “We didn't use force. If you leave here with everything you've learned and teach it to your people, we could never do what we did again.”“Then why bother coming at all?” I begged.“We learned the lesson a much harder way. Consider this a gift from God. . .”, she said quietly, finally leaving my sight.I asked that they placed me in my old backyard. I wanted to see it in the daylight again.I had such youthful and careless eyes the last time I saw it. With a keener sight, I noticed one hole that had been filled in with the brown dirt. As if by instinct, I dug it up, finding a set of bound pages made into a crude book. My mothers terrible handwriting made use of every sheet. The holes seemed random back then. Her disease afflicted her with paranoia. She must have buried this journal in one place, dug it back up out of fear, and buried it again in another spot. I stared at the final entry until it burned.I know how they see me. I don't pity them. Because they are stuck in the supposed.I do pity my child. Because the world will be trapped in the literal prison.Freewill will free.For the first time in many years, I had the warming thought that my mother was the smartest woman in the world.
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