Rating: PG-13 [language, adult situations]
Author: C. Burns
Stella awoke from her nap to a familiar noise outside her window; the angry echo of The Electorate Authority’s evening patrol, marching along the square in unison. In the early days, she would jump from bed in the mornings and watch as they made their way down the road in front of the compound. Back then, there were competing sounds; those of shouting, sign-carrying dissenters and military tanks rolling over rock and gravel. The everyday folks, shocked and awed, played voyeurs from the safety of their vehicles or stood at the edge of the compound’s lawn gawking at the strange parade. The atmosphere reeked of a collective audacity. There was rebellion then, and people questioned the purpose of such displays.
For as long as she could remember, her home was not a house in a bustling neighborhood of familiar and friendly faces, but a modest room in the sprawling compound for Type A’s; a classification for those who had special gifts, like her. She rolled over in bed, listening to the patrolmen march. From their labored breathing to the rustle of their trousers rubbing leg against leg, the days of picket signs and subversion were gone. In their place a hollow cadence of tarnished glory, being crushed and carried under the blood-stained soles of combat boots.
She went to her window, staring up at the stars that somehow seemed closer and brighter than nights before. She stared at their twinkling lights, loathing the time when they would fade in place of the morning. For her, daylight meant protocol, tests, pretense and falsity. It meant the death of imagination and individualism; all the things that made up a life she didn’t ask for, nor want. Morning crippled the dream, made it harder to hold onto, tougher to remember. It was a reality she hated to go back to.
But there was one exception, one silver ray brighter than the stars, and more comforting than the blessed sight of night rolling over the orange colored sky. That was her boyfriend, Cole.
He wasn’t like her and the others, he was an Electorate Authority Officer, a fact she tried not to hold against him. When it all started, many men had little choice but to join or face a far worse fate. Cole was different though. Unlike many of the others, he hadn’t lost his compassion for humankind or grown drunk off the power of his uniform. He hadn’t been brainwashed by their rigid ideology either. In many ways he was like her, wanting more than what he had, but accepting the fate he’d been dealt. Together, they dreamed of a day when they would be free. Sometimes, they even dared to think that it all would end, that they’d wake up one morning and realize it had all been one big nightmare. Until then, Stella longed for a way to bottle the night, to hold onto the moonlight and the stolen moments they shared together.
That evening Cole slipped into her room and between her bedsheets, bringing honeyed promises of a time when they wouldn’t have to sneak around.
“I’m putting in a request later this week. I’ve already talked to the Commandant.” He said.
She knew immediately what he meant. For months now, they had spoken of getting married, but under the Electorate Authority’s laws that was easier said than done. Stella was classified as a certain type; an A Type. In some ways, she was considered a national treasure, in other ways a threat, and it was rare that her kind was permitted to marry. But Cole, hoped being a rising officer in the ranks would grant them an exception.
Stella tried to temper his enthusiasm.
“You know I love you and would give anything to marry you, but do you think we should put all our hopes into it happening now…there’s so much going on and the last time they approved a marriage for someone like—“
Cole held a finger to her lips, effectively silencing her.
“You’ve got nothing to worry about. And don’t be offended, but you’re way too old for the front and nowhere near as important to them as most of the others.”
She whacked him with her pillow.
“What! I’m just saying, your 25th birthday is coming up and you’re shit at being a Type A. I’ve yet to see you do anything like what the others can do. Maybe they made a mistake. Maybe you’re just a normal girl.”
He paused, his hooded eyes now serious and focused directly on her.
“A lovable, smart and beautiful girl,” he said, before bringing his lips to hers. His kiss was warm, tender and sweet.
Stella sighed. They both knew that the Electorate Authority rarely made mistakes when it came to Type A’s. That’s why it had been nearly impossible to keep her secret. She was different, not only from the Electorate, but from the others like her too. Every day, she struggled to keep the extent of her power concealed, going so far as to hide it from Cole as well. But with each passing day, she felt it growing and moving, like tentacles, stretching out to every part of her, warming her insides with a sensation she couldn’t quite describe.
“Is everything okay,” he asked.
She mustered a smile, hoping it was enough to convince him that he had nothing to worry about. Even if that wasn’t entirely true.
“I’m fine, just tired. Its been a long day.”
“Well, you’re in luck, I’m not keeping you up tonight, I have patrol in an hour and it’s going to take me that long to get back across the square. See you tomorrow?”
“Don’t be like that, I’ll be back and soon all of this will be behind us.”
“I know. Honestly, I do.”
This time, she kissed him, grabbing his uniform collar with both hands pulling him toward her until they both fell back against the headboard.