Something is different about this day. I don’t know the source, but there’s a forboding bite to the chill air as my friends and I walk toward the elevators. We’re a large group. And I’m loathe to mention this unnamed sense, I don’t want my friends to be afraid.
We step on the elevator and the doors thud, echoing my heart. I try for a relaxed pose and lean on the wall of the elevator. It begins to burn against my body, before turning cold again.
I don’t know how, but I know we’re about to step into fire. An overwhelming sense to tell someone turns my head to the nearest of my companions, a fellow named Dan, I don’t know him well, but I need to tell him. Someone needs to understand what we’re about to face.
“There’s a fire up ahead,” I say, “I think the building is on fire.”
He was meant to be there as the match-maker, the Weaver, not the Matched. I watched it all, unable to stop it, but also not wanting to.
Who wants to stand in the way of love?
I was there the day he brought two Matched together. Part of the camera crew to document the further success of the Weavers. Never before had I struggled with a Matching. The Weaver’s choices always made sense. They always followed a pattern. But when this Weaver showed up with his boy-man. I wasn’t the only one to scoff at the match.
Like the best cliche of any opening move my feet pound against the pavement. Men pursue me like an escaped convict. Or a wild animal loose from its inclosure at the zoo.
Perhaps I’m both convict and wild animal.
My mind races faster than my feet, jumping to crazy conclusions of what’s become of Jacob, Lacey, Mother, Father and all the rest. Have they survived? Why are they being held like prisoners?
My hands tighten with sickening dread around the key card. My arm burns from a long scratch where the man tried to stop me from taking it.
“There she is! Stop her.” The voice just pushes me to run faster.
I live with Mary and John. They’re polite and uncomplicated. But their simple life gives me too much time to focus on the intricate and confusing web of my own. I miss everyone, Lacey. Jacob.
Sometimes at night I hear Father’s hammer or saw at work in the barn. Or Mother’s gentle hum as the rocking chair creaks against the floorboards of the porch. Even the thud of the pigskin landing in strong, wide hands brings quick tears to my eyes as I lay in bed.
I curse myself. I brought this on my own head. Too bright. I complained about a perfect world.
The grass glows green. It’s too bright, but no one else seems to notice. I lay back on the picnic blanket and little blonde ringlets block the saturated blue sky. Lacey’s giggling face fills my view. She’s all sunshine and daisies. A line from We Bought A Zoo comes to mind, her ‘happy is too loud.’
Does no one else sense something off about this too perfect, too bright world?
I force a smile and tickle her until she falls back on the blanket. Her happy getting louder.
Reaching for a too red apple, Jacob catches my eye. He and the other young men of our farming community are tossing a pigskin back and forth. Their bare feet seem to bounce too high off the ground like gravity has lost a bit of its power here.
Something is definitely wrong.
Somehow I find myself in my very own dystopian novel. Not unlike Divergent or Marie Lu’s Legend. Some great war or natural disaster has wrecked havoc and what’s left of the human race hide in pockets of the earth that haven’t been destroyed.
Little Sister – she’s not really my little sister, but it’s easier to pretend we’re family – we make our lives in a tree-house out the back of an expansive house. Half the house has caved in but what does that matter to us. We’ve got our tree-house.
The sound of heavy machinery echos toward our area.
I can’t believe it. I try, but my mind just can’t seem to wrap around what’s happening.
The people around me move into action, setting watches and checking their ammunition. This feels more like a movie than real life.
In fact, just like a film, the world seems to slow around me as I watch the gates shut and something in my brain finally clicks into place.
I’m not watching World War Z, I’m experiencing it.