In Cathadon, there are many rules. You're not allowed to have a relationship, a family, not even a single friend. Most people don't care, because they don't understand the bond one can make with another human being. Creatives, like me, on the other hand do understand things like emotions and desires, and therefore, almost any Creative you find will have a secret friend or a secret relationship with somebody.
We know the government knows. We just don't care. I bet you're wondering why I'm telling you this. Well, there is a reason. This story begins with a date. And a boy.
I don't even know if you could call him my boyfriend. It's not like we went out on dates or held hands or bought each other gifts. Our relationship didn't extend past dark sewers and locked rooms. Our relationship was too secret to be cutesy, or romantic. But the time we did spend together was magical, an escape from the restrictiveness that was our world.
His name was Darren, and he was beautiful. I know, I know, you're gagging right now, and I would be too, if I were looking from the outside, but in my world, nobody understood or appreciated true beauty, and to be in the presence of it was quite overwhelming. He had dark, curly hair and bright green eyes that sparkled even in the darkest of places. He had these weird indentations in his cheeks that I think are called dimples, but I'm not sure. His teeth were perfectly straight, a product of science. Actually, now that you mention it, I forgot to tell you something else. I apologize. My world is so crazy I'm bound to forget a thing or two.
Everybody looks identical. The women have light brown hair with blue eyes, and the men have golden blonde hair with green eyes. There are minute variations every now and then, like someone having curly hair or straight hair, but basically you can't tell anybody apart. We're like clones, marching in straight lines, going to the same places, to do the same things. Unless you're the exception. Unless you're Creative. Aren't we awesome? Creatives, since they are a failed science experiment, have different looks. For example, I have wavy black hair with hazel eyes and slightly crooked teeth. You can imagine the looks I get. I stand out. In a way, I like it, because I pity the Intellectuals, but in another way, I hate it because I'm easy to spot. Easy to pick out. Easy to watch. But at least I have black hair.
Now, the sewers weren't the most ideal place to secretly meet up with your illegal boyfriend, but it was better than not seeing him at all. We called our particular section of the sewer Apartheid, because that was the subject of most-if not all-of mine and Darren's conversations. Not once did we exchange news on how our day was or how we felt, we only discussed how we were going to overthrow the government. And so that's what I was expecting when I went to go meet Darren again.
"Hey," I said, my footsteps echoing around us, multiplying until they slowly quieted to nothing. Darren, leaning against one of the walls, looked up at me, his green eyes glistening in the darkness. His back was smearing a map that he and I had drawn months ago, a map that was an escape route if we ever managed to overthrow our government, or assassinate our leader.
Well, that's a bust. I thought. I went and sat down next to Darren, and tried to get close, but he jerked away. Something was wrong. "What's the matter, Darren?" I asked, trying to see into his eyes. He huffed, and turned away from me completely. I sat in the darkness, waiting for him to explain. Darren sighed, and then dropped his head into his knees.
"They killed Wesley," he said, his speech muffled. I gasped, quickly covering my hands, but not being able to catch the echo of my voice. Hopefully we were far enough down that the sound didn't reach the surface. "Oh my gosh," I said, reaching out to Darren, and taking his hand. "I'm so sorry. I didn't even realize he was coming up on his twenty-second year," Darren rips his hand out of mine. "Of course you didn't! Why would you? It's not like we try and count down to the day when we're going to be murdered!" he cried, making way too much noise. He stood up and began pacing, breathing heavily. I've never seen him act this way before.
"Darren," I said, standing up as well. "You need to calm down, rationalize, think," Darren didn't listen to me. He suddenly gestured at all our markings on the walls. There was a mural of maps, strategies, coordinates, all plans to assassinate our leader. If anybody had found them, we'd have been killed for sure. Well, we'd have been killed sooner than usual. "Look at this, AJ! Look at what we have dedicated our lives to! We should not have to live in a world where we entertain ourselves by fantasizing about killing our leader! We should be able to live in a world where equality, human rights, and freedom exist! Don't you think so, too?" he cried, scaring me. He'd never talked this way, never been this angry before. I held up my hands.
"Look, Darren, I know that we've made plans and stuff before, but that was all just for fun. It was pretend, we're not actually going to do it! Do you really think we could? Two Creatives against the all-mighty, all-powerful government? I don't think so!" I rationalized. Darren stopped pacing, and glared at me with such intensity that I backed away a few feet. "Is that what you think, AJ? That we're too scared to rebel? Because I'm not. I'll execute one of these plans tomorrow, just to prove it you, how about that?" he threatened.
I felt my heart drop. I knew Darren, and I knew at that moment that he was being dead serious. "Is this because of Wesley? Because of what they did to him?" I whispered. Darren froze, and then his whole body relaxed and he sat back down, and began crying. "I just can't believe he's gone," Darren said. I patted his shoulder, sympathizing, but still scared of what had just happened. "Moreover, I can't believe that I'm the only one who understands how wrong it is," he said, and then began crying freely, into his hands, and I didn't know what to say.
I didn't know it then, but if Wesley hadn't died, if Darren hadn't had his panic attack, if I hadn't been there to comfort him, Cathadon may still be around to this day.