Welcome to a world where boys and girls do not know of each other.
They are separated by a gate, put under law not to go near.
One fateful day, a boy and a girl meet at the Gate.
Secrets are revealed.
A love blossoms.
A girl is torn between fear and justice.
A boy is torn between life and death.
"The Gate keeps them apart."
Faye Caldwell was falling.
The wind whipped her hair around her face, devouring her, as she continued her treacherous decent toward the ground. She searched frantically for something to hold on to, to halt the fall. But there was nothing. Nothing to protect her from the harsh blows from the wind, nothing to protect her from the pain as her hair bit her skin, nothing to protect her from her imminent death below.
Faye opened her mouth to scream, but nothing came out. Her voice was lost in the wind, the sky, the atmosphere. She herself was lost. She could feel herself losing hope, the will to survive. The only thing that kept her going was fear. The fear of her body colliding with the ground. The fear of closing her eyes and never waking up. The fear of everything ending.
Faye searched fervently for the source of the voice. She could feel panicked tears drip from her eyes, flying upwards on her face due to her position. The tears flicked her forehead painfully. She wanted to call out the person yelling to her, but she couldn’t. Her voice was gone.
“Faye!” the voice shrieked.
It was then that Faye realized who the voice belonged to: her sister, her best friend that was related to her. Terra Caldwell.
“Faye, please!” Terra cried.
And then, like emerging from out of water, Terra appeared, her expression the definition of worry. Faye reached out, scrambling to catch her sister’s hand as she tumbled through the air. Dread pierced her as she fell away from Terra, away from any hope of making it out alive.
Thunder rumbled. Lightning flashed through the darkened clouds. Freezing rain poured, soaking her entire body. Her clothes stuck to her like glue, only adding to her discomfort. But Faye didn’t care. All she cared about was finding her sister, finding the only hope she had left.
“Faye, look out!”
Faye barely had time to take in the sudden horror of the ground before the impact came. She braced herself, ready to feel fire course through her veins and pain filled her entire being. She closed her eyes, waiting for the end to come.
But that’s not what happened.
Faye opened her eyes. She was standing, her legs full of strength despite the long fall she’d just endured. She shivered. How had she survived such a horrendous fall? Why hadn’t her spine broken? Why hadn’t she snapped like a twig off a tree branch? Faye sighed shakily, turning her gaze to the rocky terrain below her.
Faye’s wails become utterly audible as she stared down at Terra. Her body was twisted, deformed beyond repair. Her neck was broken, her eyes wide and her mouth agape. Her palms lay outstretched before her as though she were praying. The sight was gut-wrenching. Faye fell forward, collapsing on all fours before hurling onto the gravel.
But even with her eyes scrunched closed she couldn’t escape the image of her sister, lying dead, on the ground.
Faye opened her eyes, staring at Terra despite her yearn to turn away. Something about the disgusting sight consumed her. All she could see was the deformed body of the one she loved. All she could see was Terra.
Suddenly Terra blinked. Faye shrieked, falling back on her butt and scrambling back quickly. She breathed deeply, her eyes never leaving her sister’s body. Terra’s head turned, twisting around on her neck. Faye stared in a shocked, terrified silence as Terra began to scream.
“You’re next! You’re next!”
Faye screeched, bolting up in her bed. Cool sweat dripped down her face, getting into her eyes. Faye swatted it away with her hand, giving a deep sigh. Again with the dream. The dream of her sister’s death. Terra Caldwell had fallen to her death after throwing herself off a cliff. No one could ever figure out why Terra had done what she did. This is what haunted Faye despite that Terra killed herself seven years ago. Faye was supposed to be the one that Terra trusted with everything. Faye was supposed to be the one that Terra turned to when she needed help.
But Terra didn’t turn to her that time.
Plucking the remote from the bedside table, Faye clicked on the television set that sat, kitty-cornered, at the far end of her room. She leaned back into her pillows, taking deep breaths in order to slow her breathing. Despite the amount of times she’d dreamed the recurring dream many times before, the result was always the same: she woke up screaming and sweating, alone in her despair.
“It has been reported that Prita Bancs was spotted trespassing into the Gate’s territory this evening.”
Her dream forgotten, Faye’s attention snapped to the television. The news reporter of channel six, Diana Han, stood in front of Central Park, looking out of place while mothers played with their children in the grass. She did this for effect of course. Just behind Central Park was the forest. And within the forest was where the Gate resided, cutting everyone off from the rest of the world.
“Now, Miss Bancs will be receiving a life sentence in the Government’s prison wards,” Diana continued, gripping her microphone, trying her best to look professional and informative.
Faye’s eyes widened at the news. A life sentence? How close had the woman gotten?
“She will have an hour or so to say goodbye to her closest family members. Nothing else is said on this latest case, but I’m sure it will turn out just like all the rest. Kate?”
Faye glanced out her bedroom window as Kate Ide appeared on the screen, reporting on a fire that consumed a two-floored home an hour or so away from where Faye lived. According to the police it was arson, and people were to inform them if they had any information what-so-ever. With a roll of the eyes, Faye shut off her television set and settled back into her blankets.
Her mind immediately drifted off to the latest rebellious case. The Government never let an arrest go untelevised. It was their way of saying that no matter how many times people attempted to cross into the Gate’s territory, they were never going to get over to the other side. The Government would catch you, and they would convict you. It was as simple as that.
No one knew what was beyond the Gate’s borders. When Faye was a young girl she always feared that a beast would jump over the Gate and turn on the cities and the women who resided there. Faye used to have nightmares, waking up in tears. Her mother or Terra would comfort her, saying that it was only a nightmare and that everyone was safe. The Government had seen to that. Nothing was going to harm them.
After Terra died the nightmares of the Gate’s monsters disappeared, transformed into equally—if not worse—terrifying dreams. Every time it was the same: Faye would fall, her sister would appear, and then she would hit the ground only to find that it was her sister that was dead, not her. Faye wished the dreams would stop, but they wouldn’t. They haunted her like a poltergeist. They wouldn’t leave her alone.
A loud, high-pitched beeping noise screeched through the night. Faye shrieked, jumping in her bed. After recovering from the shock of the beep, her eyes turned to the television. The screen turned white, enveloping Faye’s room in shadows. But, despite Faye’s fear for the shadows, her eyes remained trained on the screen.
Her bedroom door opened and her younger sister, Kat Caldwell, appeared. Her dirty-blond hair pulled back into a messy bun. Faye could just imagine Kat tumbling out of bed, awakened by the noise. She’d probably hurried to make her hair presentable before running into Faye’s room, not wanting her bed-hair to show. Kat’s baby blue eyes were wide as she bounded into the room, hopping onto Faye’s bed. Faye scooted over to make more room.
It wasn’t long before their mother appeared. Her brunette hair was everywhere. Evidently Mary Caldwell didn’t care about what she looked like at five-thirty in the morning like her child did. Faye smiled slightly, gesturing for Kat to make room as their mother stepped forward, entering the threshold.
They sat there, waiting.
A moment later the screen turned static, blacks and white colliding into one. And then the head official of the Government appeared. Courtnie Featherstrom smiled, her magnificently white teeth flashing. She was suit, her hair cascading down over her shoulders. She managed to look laid back yet professional at the same time. “Hello, my wonderful people of Cesve,” she began, her voice seeming to boom through the television set. “For generations we have lived at peace, the Government and its people. The people followed the laws given out, and the Government saw that the people were happy. Though, now, that doesn’t seem to be the case.”
Courtnie’s eyes grew dark. “My lovely people of Cesve, the people that I care the most about in the world, are disobeying the simple rule of staying away from the Gate’s borders. To keep the rebels at bay, the punishments have grown harsher. Anyone within a one mile radius of the Gate’s borders will be convicted and put into prison. We cannot have anyone near the Gate’s borders.
“Please understand that the Government is only trying to protect you from what is on the other side. It is all for the greater good.”
The screen went black.
Faye glanced at her family members. The weight of Courtnie’s words hung through the air. Despite the fact that this new Law didn’t really affect their lives at all, it seemed like everything had changed for the worse. Faye couldn’t understand why. Maybe it was because it made the issue with the rebels seem so much more real. Maybe it was because it seemed like the Government was simply oppressing them even more. Maybe it was both.
“I’m going back to bed,” Kat grumbled finally, standing up and dragging herself out of the room, looking like the walking dead.
Faye turned to her mother who was staring out the window absently. Mary turned after a moment, her eyes meeting Faye’s. Mary smiled slightly before letting her mouth fall. “Is everything going to be all right with the Campout?” she murmured.
Faye nodded, dismissing Mary’s question with the wave of her hand. “Errika will figure something out.”
Mary nodded before standing up and sauntering toward the doorway. She turned, flashing her daughter a smile. “You might just want to stay up and get ready for school,” she said softly. “You’ll be awfully tired if you go back to sleep now.”
Faye nodded. She knew her mother was right. She felt awake now, anyhow. How could she feel tired after her nightmare and then the sudden announcement from the Government? “All right.”
Her mother disappeared behind Faye’s closing bedroom door and Faye stood up. She made her way to the far end of the room, bracing herself as she flipped on her bedroom light. The light burned her eyes for a moment, but as Faye blinked fiercely, her room became visible.
Faye flopped onto her bed, staring at herself in the body mirror leaning against the wall on the opposite side of the room. Her hair was like fire with its reds, oranges, and yellows all collaged into one single colored. Girls around Eve High had asked if she dyed it numerous times, but she hadn’t. Her hair was natural, as we her vibrant green eyes. She smiled slightly at her reflection in the mirror before standing up and trotting over to her bureau.
She paused before opening one of the drawers, picking the picture of Terra up from the wooden surface. Her sister looked exactly how Faye had always wanted to look: beautifully tan with dark locks of curly hair and big, wide brown eyes. While Faye was short, Terra was tall. While Terra was stunning, Faye blended in with the crowd. Faye couldn’t remember one moment where she hadn’t wished she was like Terra. That was, until, Terra ended her life. Now all Faye saw when she looked at the photograph of her sister smiling brightly while she held her soccer ball within her hands was a mangled body.
Faye sighed shakily, dropping the photograph onto the bureau. She shook her head. She couldn’t be getting herself upset right before school started. Errika would have none of that. After a moment of collecting her thoughts, Faye knelt down, pulling a drawer out to choose her outfit for the day.
The | Gate
“A mile, really?”
Errika flicked her wrist defiantly, removing some stray strands of hair from her face. Faye couldn’t help but smile at her friend’s irritation. Errika was never one to enjoy change, and the fact that it was a last minute change must have overwhelmed her. “It’s not that bad,” Faye reasoned, fixing her backpack’s strap on her shoulder. “We’ll just have to stay a mile away.”
Errika huffed. “I’d already marked a tree so that we wouldn’t go further than we were supposed to,” she complained, scowling. “Great, that’s one more thing that I have to do. Sign-ups are still going, and nobody’s told me what they’re bringing.” She sighed in irritation. “Sometimes I really hate doing this, you know?”
Faye nodded understandingly. Year after year she watched her friend stress out, feeling guilty that there was no way to help her. When she had attempted to aid her friend, Errika had assured her that she could do it by herself. Though, by the looks of it, she really couldn’t. “You sure you don’t want any help?” Faye asked slowly, knowing the answer even before Errika spoke.
“Yeah, I’m sure.” Errika flashed her a grateful smile. “Everything will turn out fine. I’ll just go out tomorrow and mark off the tree so that we don’t go too far, and I’ll e-mail everyone tonight demanding to know what they’re bringing. If they don’t reply I’m taking them off the list and opening up a spot.” Errika nodded to herself. “Yes, that’s exactly what I’ll do.”
Faye glanced around at the people around her. They’d just arrived onto Eve High’s grounds, twenty minutes before they had to get to class. Errika liked to be early so that she could stash away unneeded things into her locker. Faye never put anything in her locker out of fear that a girl would steal something.
They were about to enter the school building when a short, blond, freckle-faced girl flounced in front of them. “Hey, Errika,” she breathed. “Can I talk to you for a minute?”
Errika eyed the girl up and down a moment before nodding. “You have two minutes.”
Faye’s lips pricked up into a smile. Of the two girls, Errika was the one who had the backbone, the one who wouldn’t accept anything before it went her way. Faye may have been brave when it came to dealing with her sister, but when it came to anyone else her mouth was clamped shut. If it weren’t for Errika, Faye would have lost so many battles in her lifetime.
“You still have openings for the Campout, right?” the girl squeaked, her eyes wide with anticipation.
Errika nodded. “Yes.”
“Is it possible for me to join?”
“That depends,” Errika drawled dramatically, eyeing her fingernails. “You thirteen or older?”
“You gonna bring something from the Items Needed list?”
The girl nodded vigorously. “Of course!”
Errika looked the girl over once more before sighing. She glanced at Faye and winked before turning her attention back to the girl. “All right,” she said slowly. “Give me your name, e-mail, and phone number on a piece of paper. You have thirty seconds.”
Faye shook her head in amusement as the girl rushed to scrounge up a scrap piece of paper and a pen from her backpack. Of course Errika wouldn’t really revoke the privilege of going to the Campout just for being slow when giving contact information, but anyone other than Faye wouldn’t know that. Errika was known for being tough around the school. No one dared to mess with her.
“Thank you,” Errika chirped as she took the paper with the girl’s information on it. “Be prepared to get an e-mail tonight. If you don’t respond, your spot will be revoked and handed to someone else.”
The girl nodded before rushing away, running straight to her small group of friends at the opposite end of the school yard. They talked animatedly, their arms flying around as they spoke. Faye tilted her head to the side. She couldn’t fathom why everyone got so worked up over going to the Campout. Though, she reasoned, that might have been because she had the privilege of going every year.
Being best friends with the host really did have its perks.
“Faye, stop staring at people,” Errika muttered, grabbing Faye’s arm and tugging her toward the school’s front door. “It’s rude.”
Faye rolled her eyes, knocking her friend’s shoulder playfully. “Oh, please. It’s not like you don’t have the habit of staring at people.”
Errika responded by staring at her. Faye struggled to contain her laughter as they headed up a stairwell. Errika kept eye contact with her the whole way, her big blue eyes never blinking. Errika’s eyes went well with her hair, Faye couldn’t help but notice. Dark brown, so dark that it could almost be considered black. Faye had always been jealous of her friend’s hair; it was so long and thick, and while Errika always managed to keep her hair looking like a super model’s, Faye had to use assorted hair products to keep the frizz at bay.
“Okay, quit it,” Faye said, exasperatedly pushing Errika’s face away. “You’re going to trip, fall, and then die.”
Errika wriggled her eyebrows. “And what would you do if that did happen?”
“Stare, laugh, and then maybe loot your pockets for loose change.”
Errika stared at Faye for a long time before bursting into fits of giggles. She clutched the railing for support, pointing at Faye as she laughed. “That was good,” she complimented once her laughter receded. “That was very good.”
Faye laughed along with her friend for a moment before sighing. “I had the dream again.”
Errika eyed her sympathetically. “Again?” She brought her arm around Faye’s shoulders. “I’m so sorry, babes.”
Faye nodded slightly. “I just . . . I keep waiting for the dreams to stop, but they don’t. I don’t know what to do.”
Errika sighed. “Have you talked to your mom about this?”
“No.” Faye shook her head. “I don’t want to bring the memory of Terra to her when she seems to finally be pulling herself together.”
Mary was a sweet woman, and Faye couldn’t bear to see her in pain. It hurt to watch such a kind, loving woman sink into a deep depression after her daughter took her own life. For a long while Faye had been angry at Terra, wondering why she would do such a thing to her family. They hadn’t done anything to deserve it. Terra had been everything to her mother and Faye.
“True.” Errika nodded. “And you don’t need Kat getting all upset because Terra dying was the reason why she could be delivered to the house.”
The limit of children in Cesve was two per household. Once a child reached the age of eighteen or, like in Terra’s case, died another child was able to be delivered to the house. Once a month Government officials came around, delivering ordered children. Though, there were some cases where no one chose to take some of the children available and they were sent to an orphanage near the outskirts of town. It was there that Faye’s mother had received Kat.
“Definitely,” Faye agreed, nodding. “That was horrible the last time. It was like she’d lost Terra herself even though she’s never met the girl before.”
Errika sighed, turning and blocking Faye’s way from the rest of the stairwell. Faye tried to dodge her, but Errika simply shifted so that the path was blocked again. “Let’s not talk about death and depression today, shall we?” Errika said, her tone final. “I don’t want you going through that again, all right?”
Faye nodded, biting her lip. “All right.”
“Now!” Errika said, her voice becoming animated once again. “What are you going to bring to the Campout? Let me assure you, just because you’re my best friend does not mean that I won’t revoke your invite.”
Faye smiled. Let the day begin.