Authors: Ryan Hunter
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© 2012 Robyn Heirtzler
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INDIVISIBLE follows Brynn Aberdie, a seventeen-year-old girl as she realizes she’s lost everything worth living for. As she states early in the novel, “Of course I’d become withdrawn. Not only had I lost my father but I just realized I’d also lost my freedom. When had that happened?”
For everyone who never gave up on me …
even when it may have been the easier route.
he Constitution … is an instrument for the people to restrain the government—
lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.
My father spoke of freedom as if we’d lost it—but only in private. He said to speak in public brought repercussions, repercussions I wish I’d understood because I think I’d have been better prepared for the three security vehicles parked outside my entry door.
Entry because we lived underground in energy-saving homes, our yards on top, light provided through a single, round, solar tube in the center. The entry hall is all we possessed above ground, a single room with one door in and one door to the spiral stairs
descending to our issued homes.
And with so
little to mar the landscape, I couldn’t help but see the vehicles before I turned down my street.
I’d never seen security vehicles up close but I recognized the seal of One United on the door panels of all three small cars. Identical, the pale green paint nearly blended with the grass that covered our underground home. I wondered how they’d all fit into the tiny cul-de-sac to begin with. It had been buil
t for walkers, bikers and commuters—not vehicles.
My heart fluttered
, and I stumbled on nothing. Security didn’t even patrol these streets. We lived in a safe neighborhood. We were productive Citizens. I caught myself and walked closer, curiosity drawing me in—intuition warning me to run.
I neared the corner
leading to the cul-de-sac, thoughts scrambling to come up with a plausible explanation. Perhaps my father had received a promotion and they’d come to inform us, tell us where we’d be moving … I shook my head, stomach clenching as I looked at everything but those cars, difficult when each yard looked identical, with each home hidden in the earth. I cast my gaze downward instead, to my scuffed black loafers.
Standard issue at the Alliance Academy of Science 427, the shoes, black slacks and red tie had been slapped across the counter on registration day whether they fit or not, whether male or female, l
ike me. “Equality in the classroom means equality in life,” they’d said without smiling. The words stuck in my head though I’d fought to forget them since the moment I heard them. I didn’t like to conform, but that’s how we lived in One United. That’s what made us the greatest nation on earth—well, that and the few chosen to excel.
to loosen my tie and shoved it into the little pack strapped to my back, tired of being just like everyone else, like those identical cars on the curb outside my home. Just like the uniforms the officers would be wearing while they spoke with my mother inside my home. My mother, because my father hadn’t left the office yet. He never left before seven p.m.
I stopped and pulled
off my backpack, extracting my small computer tablet. My standard PCA, Personal Computer of the Alliance, could only be signed in by one motion. I swiped my right hand across the sensor and the screen blared to life. I checked the time, ignoring, yet again, the words “terrorist attack” in the flashing news bar at the bottom. My father wouldn’t leave the office for another hour. Why then were the officers here? My mother was a model Citizen. She never complained about the food, electricity or the hours of work she put into our garden. She knew they were necessary to maintain life in our depleted environment.
So if not here for my mother
… my steps faltered just outside the gaping doorway, close enough to hear men murmuring but far enough away to miss their individual words.
I shut off my PCA as dread settled into the pit of my stomach. They
’d wait for my father to announce a promotion, but they’d come by anytime to deliver reassignment papers. My stomach roiled and I breathed deeply through my nose. I couldn’t jump to conclusions, but I didn’t want to move, start over in some town where I knew no one. I’d never lived outside of Section Seven but I’d heard stories—
My mother’s scream
s cut my thoughts short. High and angry, her screams rising and falling before turning to guttural sobs. Ice pulsed through my veins, freezing my feet to the sidewalk. I could distinguish only a single word from her moans, “Terrorists.”
My hand shook when I signed into my PCA once more, this time clicking on the flashing news bar to read what my gut had already confirmed. The terrorist attack had occurred at the Section Seven Alliance City Center, the building where my father worked.
I spun from the door, never slowing as I exited the cul-de-sac and rounded the corner. The bus stop beckoned but I knew I wouldn’t be able to sit still for the time it took to reach my father’s office, so I ran. I pushed myself until my legs became rubber and the back of my head throbbed.
Sweat formed on my brow and dripped
in my eyes. I would have wiped it with the back of my hand but sirens caught my attention and drew me into the City Center, the business district for all of Section Seven. Medical cars zipped by, red lights reflecting off of the office and apartment buildings. I counted ten more vehicles before I began running again, my dark hair coming loose from my bun and sticking to my cheeks.
More One United vehicles
filled the streets now, detouring buses, bicyclists and Citizens like me, who were filling the sidewalks, their numbers tripling before I made it a full block. I wanted to shout at them all, tell them to go home and quit staring at whatever had just happened to my father.
I crossed the last street and entered the City Center,
which consisted of a large park surrounded on two sides by high-rise apartment buildings, the other two by Alliance office buildings. The sight of more offices faded behind the businesses, more living quarters and factories behind the apartments disappearing into nothing but chaos. And it seemed every person who populated any of those buildings was here, crowding onto the grass square in the center of it all. Men in suits mulled about, hushing children in school uniforms, and babies cried in strollers while their mothers ignored them in exchange for details about the tragedy. Every Citizen in Section Seven filled the City Center … every person except my father and whoever else the terrorists had killed.
Terrorists rarely targeted just one
person. There could be others here searching for their loved ones, but all I found were the dazed and curious.
had to try the security officers. I ran down the line of security, each standing guard in front of my father’s building with rifles crossing their chests, handguns strapped across their thighs. Their crisp, forest green uniforms sported pins and badges that identified their ranks and purpose—but I’d tuned out that lesson in school. Did it really matter who I approached, who I asked about the attack?
I picked an officer at random, his face young, eyes not
quite as hard as the others. I stepped away from the crowd and set my shoulders. I’d at least appear confident. Maybe then he’d give me real answers, not whatever the officers at my home were telling my mother in an effort to soothe her. I stopped three feet away and cleared my throat, pressing my hands into my pockets. “What happened?” I asked.
He set his jaw, having been trained to resist responding and I stepped closer.
“I need to find Criton Aberdie, my father,” I pleaded.
He resumed his stare into the c
rowd, his green eyes moist but firm, the golden flecks making him seem human and yet—distant—like the humanity had been stripped away, or at least hidden deeply enough to keep him from accessing it.
I ran down the formation, looking for any way to acce
ss the office building beyond. Nearly as wide as it was tall, the gray building housed hundreds of Alliance offices, all of them working in technology—or an entire building of computer nerds—as my father had put it. How could a building of nerds have defended themselves?
eds of offices
—the thought brought me to a stop. How could they have all been hit at once and even if they were, what’s to say my father hadn’t just been wounded? A critical wound would be enough to upset my mother, but a wound meant we still had hope.
I pulled out my PCA again to scan the
latest news bulletin. Ten men had died—ten. How could my father be among them when there were thousands of employees in that building? Yet, somewhere in my gut, I knew. I knew he’d been involved and my mother’s scream echoed in my head, confirming it. Her scream didn’t express hurt over an injury. It echoed the pain of losing half of herself.
“No,” I said, shoving
the PCA back into the small black pack before flinging it across my back. “He can’t be dead.” The building still stood intact. No bombs had detonated, no rubble lay from mass destruction. Then what had killed them? I searched for any sign of trouble, but beyond looking strangely vacant, the building seemed normal. I shoved through a group of students in uniforms similar to mine, the slacks and ties brown, marking them as students from the horticulture academy. One complained about my behavior, another about my missing tie—
What happened?” I asked another officer.
He stared ahead, into the crowd as if I didn’t exist
How could I find out what had happened if no one spoke to me? I turned, ready to scream when I thought of something that could help.
I’d never been inside the building before because I didn’t have “clearance” but my father had pointed out his office less than a year ago. We’d sat beneath a tree in the park across the street, picnicking on a Sunday afternoon. I found the tree, ran down the street until I stood in front of it and closed my eyes, remembering. I counted ten windows across, two up.
His light was on.
Somebody moved inside.
I caught my bottom lip and my shoulders slumped. Why the scream if my father was still in his office?
Something white pushed through a hole in the window, a small round hole with a glittering web of broken glass emanating from around it. The white object was a rubber glove, feeling the hole for evidence, I assumed.
what? I wondered. I’d seen holes like that on the morning news on my PCA. They were made by bullets, bullets that only terrorists had because they were the only ones with guns.