This story is by CP Bailey and was part of our 2017 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Kicking the golden orange, and dusty brown leaves playfully, I stumbled and rolled to the ground with a delighted giggle. Staring towards the sun, under the quivering trees stripped of their summer cloaks, I laid, soaking up the last warmth before winter.
Suddenly, blocking the rays from above, a shadow loomed over my face.
“Here, let me help you,” said a softly spoken boy, offering his hand.
Startled, I jumped to my feet.
“Look what I found, it looks delicious, but you can have it if you like?” He offered sweetly, staring down at me with his captivating dark brown eyes.
His smile made my cheeks burn, a reaction I still don’t comprehend. He placed an apple in my palm, closed my fingers around it, and took off like a shot.
That memory always calmed my mind during moments of tension. Whether it was the strange feelings for the boy, or the sweetness of the apple, I didn’t care, it soothed my soul.
“Agnes………Agnes!” The woman named Marjory called from the kitchen.
Even amongst the noise of clanging pots and pans I could still manage to tell she sounded irritable.
Pulled from my thoughts, I returned to a state of excited nervousness, my first day as Watcher had finally arrived. As I pulled my ebony hair into a loose braid, I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the window. My uniform, a full leather bodysuit, clung to my slim frame like a second skin. I looked away swiftly, vanity is a form of love and therefore prohibited.
“Would you hurry up, you’re going to be late,” Marjory beckoned again impatiently.
I hurried to the kitchen and she was waiting by the door to say farewell.
“You do me great honor by joining the Watchers, good day.” She blurted, and closed the door behind me.
Marjory, my birth giver, had never spoken kinder words and my heart swelled with pride. I’d always considered Watchers heroes, and now, I’d joined their ranks.
As a Watcher, it was my duty to destroy all forbidden paraphernalia within city limits and report all acts of love to the Citadel. Until my dying breath, I’d make sure all thoughts of love were removed, ground down until they were nothing more than dust in the wind.
LOVE! The ultimate lie, created to consume us so we weren’t aware of the slow and gradual loss of freedom, stolen from us by those in power. The world had crumbled and decayed like a rotten corpse in the ground, and the illusion of love was the cause. Those who opposed us were descendants of our oppressors, trying to keep hold of their once firm grasp. But the world would be returned to its former glory, and I’d bring those who destroyed it to justice.
I climbed aboard the waiting pickup truck at my street corner, and began the long ascending drive to one of the only buildings left standing. The Citadel, standing high on the hill, was like a shining beacon of hope amongst the surrounding rubble we called home.
Upon arrival, I’m assigned my superior, Sergeant Boston. He informed us we were moving out immediately to search the edge of town. We’d received reports of a family, two parents and several children. Unfathomable.
The long drive to the outskirts went swiftly, our truck whizzed by the leafless autumn trees, making the landscape look drearier than usual.
“Listen up,” yelled Boston as the vehicle squealed to a halt. “Search all dwellings in the area and report back within the hour.”
“Visor down and follow me,” grumbled Hobbs, my partner, who hadn’t said two words since we’d met.
The visor on my helmet immediately glowed to life, Hobbs’ name was now written above him, and my location and vital signs were all recorded.
After searching for 30 minutes unsuccessfully, we entered a crumbling building just as Boston’s urgent shouts came over the radio. “Back to the vehicle immediately.”
In the silence that followed, I heard noise coming from the floor beneath my feet.
“Did you hear that Hobbs?”
“We have to move out recruit. NOW!”
Hobbs left without a thought, but I decided a quick sweep was necessary and proceeded to search the dwelling. The floor in the kitchen creaked under my weight and a thorough investigation discovered a hidden trap door. My heart raced as I headed down the long, narrow stairway into the darkness below. I attempted to activate my night vision but suddenly my face hit the stairs and I tumbled to the ground below with my assaulter.
After winning the struggle, a young man whispered in my ear, “don’t move, or you’re done.”
His hands moved slowly down my thighs, his touch a soothing shock to my system. He removed my weapons and helmet swiftly, and gagged and bound me tightly.
He was quick, I’d give him that.
He raced up stairs, silence followed.
He’d taken my helmet. I was untraceable. I tried to remain calm as I wrestled with my restraints until the trap door above closed with a thud.
With the strike of a match, light filled the room.
“I’m sorry about that, but I couldn’t let you report me.” Said the man, crouching to my level. My heart fluttered slightly.
“Your friends have left, so I’m going to take that gag out. I’m not going to hurt you ok?”
For some reason I believed him, I trusted him! What was wrong with me?
He removed the gag, pushed a strand of hair from my eyes and tucked it behind my ear. A shiver ran down my spine.
“I’m Eli, and you are?” He said with a smile that could lighten the night sky. A familiar heat rose to my cheeks.
“Umm, I’m, my name is Agnes” I finally stumbled.
“If I untie you Agnes, will you promise not to kick my ass?” Another smile, I nodded my head in agreement.
Once untied, we stood awkwardly, waiting for the other to make the first move.
“It’s not illegal to live here, so why hide?” I croaked nervously.
“I don’t like all the questions, about other people that live around here or my beliefs. I’d rather just fly under the radar you know?”
“No, I don’t know. So you have information about that family we’re searching for? Why would you get involved in forbidden things if you want to fly under the radar?” I asked, finally finding my voice.
“You haven’t seen love have you? I have, it’s real. I don’t care what they say, it’s not destructive. To live without it? That’s destructive. Love is true, honest and the family here have that. How can caring and compassion be wrong? You think you’re fighting for the right side but you’re not. Love can’t be controlled, it’s wild and free, it’s what we need to take back our power and they know it, that’s why they outlawed it. They’ve fooled us into believing that love caused our problems when it was actually solving them. You’re not fighting our oppressors, you’re fighting for them.”
“What a load of bullshit!” I shouted. He’d questioned everything I’d ever known.
I quickly pushed past him, trying to escape, but he grabbed my arm and pulled me so close that I felt his heart beat. Eli placed his hand on my cheek, and stroked gently with his thumb.
“Does this feel wrong?” He implored.
Vaguely familiar emotions stirred from within, and I couldn’t pull my gaze from his beautiful dark brown eyes. A feeling of ease spread through me like the warmth of the sun on that exquisite autumn day. Gasping, I’d suddenly recognised Eli for who he was.
“I’m sorry I don’t have an apple for you today,” he whispered. Eli leaned down until our lips met softly and he parted mine with his tongue.
Years of suppressed emotions exploded like fireworks and my body immediately responded. It felt so good, and right, pure almost, I don’t know, but it definitely didn’t feel dangerous or wrong.
Every nerve lit up like electricity pulsing through my veins, and my body shivered in ecstasy multiple times at his touch. Panting naked bodies entwined, our clothes a crumpled mess on the floor, I didn’t ever want to leave that basement, leave him.
I knew immediately that what I felt was forbidden but I didn’t care. Eli was right, love was something to fight for, not against. It was so powerful I’d forgotten everything I thought to be true in an instant.
I had to return to the Citadel before they found us, so we made plans to meet at night fall and leave the city for good.
We kissed desperately in the crumbled entrance to his dwelling, and time itself seemed to slow as the bullets brushed my ear. So consumed by one another, we were unaware that my fellow Watchers had us surrounded.
Knowing our fate, we embraced one last time before eternal darkness forever consumed my aching soul.