When I saw my dad in that cage the room exploded. Security guards started running towards me and I was dragged to the front of the room. I still didn’t believe it was all happening. I was thrown in the cage next to my father and I collapsed to the floor, the breath ripped from my lungs.
“What did you do?” I gasped, genuinely concerned. My father was silent, “Where were you?” He was silent again. I started to ask again and he snapped.
“I was with my friends last night. My closest friends had been plotting to kill his family for weeks. I can’t believe I helped.”
My heart stopped and my vision blurred for a second. The world moved in slow motion around me as my brain tried to comprehend. I wasn’t sure how long I lay there before the room calmed down.
I finally sat up and saw the Supreme Ruler watching my father. The thought occurred to me… he wasn’t going to live till the end of the day. With that, more cages were rolled into the room containing about three other grown men.
“Gentleman,” the Supreme Ruler started, “You were caught in the home of your comrade, Mr. Gale, in possession of knives and other weapons. Later that day, three persons turned up dead. Mr. Gale’s wife, his daughter, 12, and his son, 15.”
Mr. Gale, who sat in his cage a couple feet away from us started to speak, “How do you know it was us? Lots of people have weapons with them.”
“You would refrain from talking.” The Supreme Ruler said, “You and your comrades have been found guilty and I assure you that your fates have already been decided.” The Supreme Ruler was much younger than most of the men in front of him, maybe in his mid-twenties. He stood tall and kept a rigid posture. Almost robotic.
“But-” Mr. Gale stuttered.
“The only problem,” the Supreme Ruler snapped, shooting him a withering look, “Is the fate of all of your family members.”
My heart started pounding on my chest again. What would happen to me? To my mother? It felt like the world was crashing down over my head.
“As for Lorleah, daughter of Mr. Zea, she will lose her job as a member of the Supreme Rulers council.”
I didn’t protest. I knew he wasn’t punishing me. He was punishing my father. I sat and stared at my hands. I heard my father start protesting about how I shouldn’t suffer because he had made a “error in judgement”.
“Also, Lorleah and her mother will be sent out on the traditional exile.” The Supreme Ruler camly stated. I looked up from my hands. My brave face fell away and I looked around. The women I had been sitting next to stared at the Ruler in horror.
“She is a child!” She yelled. The room muttered in agreement, “You cannot send her out on the ocean alone!”
“It has been decided!” The Supreme Ruler snapped. My father wrapped his arms around me and I pulled away. My cheeks flushed as tears clouded my vision. My father stared at me, hurt.
“You destroyed your family protecting your friend. I hope your happy.” I muttered. A guard pulled the cage door open and I stepped out.
I was led down a dirt pathway behind the castle towards the water where two rafts were tethered. I stood straight trying to radiate poise and strength. My mother was already on her raft, passed out and I assumed that they had already given her the injection. If I woke her up now she wouldn’t know who I was. Soon I wouldn’t either.
I knew how it worked. I was going to wake up in the middle of an endless ocean on an old raft with no memory of who I was. I wouldn’t see my mother because we would be sent off in different directions. I sat down on the edge of the raft and stared down the doctor with the needle.
She bent down and gently stabbed my shoulder. She gave me a solemn smile and I felt myself drifting off.
“Change the world.” She said. I stared at her and despite myself, nodded. The last thing I heard was several loud gunshots. One of those guns was aimed at my father. A life for a life. I thought as my eyes closed and they pushed away my raft. Those words felt wrong. And I drifted off.
The sun drilled into my arms, boiling my blood. I opened my eyes slowly and sat up. The sun sparkled on the ocean and I heard seagulls calling above. Fat, white clouds drifted across the perfectly blue sky.
I felt the ache of hunger in my stomach and looked around the ramshackle raft for food. When I didn’t find any I crossed my legs and watched the ocean. The sun was hanging lazily above the horizon. All around me was ocean. I wondered where I was going.
The raft rocked and I leaned back, staring at the clouds. A tiny memory resurfaced. A tiny girl sat next to a man on the sand, staring up at a perfectly blue sky, laughing and pointing at the clouds. I watched them both and was filled with a hatred for the man. I wasn’t sure why. I justs hated him.
I felt myself drifting off before I could stop myself. When you are floating out on the ocean it is hard to care where you end up.
“Another one!” I heard a voice scream. I opened my eyes and pulled away. Two people were standing in front of me, one boy and a girl. The girl was older and had fiery red hair, that twined around her face in glowing strands. She quickly pushed away the boy, putting an arm in front of him and within seconds he had disappeared. He looked much younger than the red-haired girl.
My raft had washed up on a beach that was now crowded with people. The girl had a small box held to her ear and was watching me, panicked.
“Yes.” A pause, “She looks okay.” Another pause and a groan, “Malnourished. Bad sunburns. Smells like heck.” One last pause, “Okay. Bye.” The girl bent down and helped the boy pull me off the raft. I lay in the wet sand and watched them slide the raft back into the waves. The girl scanned me.
“I’m Jen.” She said, smiling, “Where are you from?” She didn’t look like she expected an answer.
“An island… far away.” That was the only way I could think to respond. The girl nodded and looked behind her.
A couple more people rushed up, carrying a small bed between them. They rolled me onto it and lifted. The jolting movement caused me to quickly vomit over the side. One of the women carrying the bed paled and shivered. They lifted me into a small box and laid me onto a bed. Two of the people disappeared and I heard the sound of doors opening and closing. One was holding a small box to her ear and muttering into it.
“She has been out for about a day. Not to long. The sun and lack of water did a number on her though. I would say a couple more hours and we would not be here right now.”
Suddenly, a loud piercing sound cut through the air. I felt bile rising in my through again. Several other figures were sitting on seats next to the bed. Watching me or rifling through boxes of random stuff. With a quick popping sound the vehicle lurched into motion. I gripped the sides of the bed. I quickly vomited again and weakness started to take over. Within seconds I was out… floating in the pristine black abyss of sleep.