October 21st, 2099
Blue Sector, Columbus, Ohio; United Federation of America
Leaves of brown and gold rolled down the street, Noelle smiled out the window at the sight, it was so pleasant to see. She could almost feel the cool autumn breeze on her skin and in her dark brown hair. Noelle closed her blue eyes, imagining herself in the park not too far from her house, laying in the autumn chilled grass and relaxing. However, this fantasy would stay as it was; a fantasy. Curfew for people between the ages of ten and fifteen was six o’clock.
In a few months, Noelle would be able to stay out until nine and enjoy the beautiful outside world for longer than the hour or two she had between studying and curfew. From six in the morning to four in the afternoon Noelle was studying her tablets full of school work and only had two hours to enjoy this wonderful season.
Noelle stood up from the window sill she looked from, clutching a book in her arms, and went over to her carefully made bed. She glanced at the digital clock on her bedside table, it’s blue numbers flashed 6:57, dinner would be ready in three minutes. She let out a minor sigh and sat on her bed, draped with blue sheets and comforter.
The book she held in her hands was her favorite, it had almost been a year since she got this book for her fifteenth birthday from her father. It was her favorite for many reasons, it was extremely interesting, the plot captivated her in every way. Also, it was interesting because of how old it was. The book was published in 2005, ninety-four years ago, but the story took place even longer ago than that, one hundred and sixty to be exact.
Noelle ran her fingers over the title of the weathered book, it read The Book Thief . The plot intrigued her because it was about a topic so unfamiliar to her. The Book Theif was about war, a World War to be exact. The last war that America fought in was in 2047, over fifty years ago. Everything was peaceful, no crime, no anything. It was a happy society. Noelle didn’t want a war of course, but she liked losing herself in the world of books. Noelle owned a total of five books including The Book Theif but none of them were like it. Out of the others there were three fictions and two non-fictions. Nevertheless, she enjoyed them all.
Books were a rarity in America these days, but not expensive. Everything was on tablets and computers. Noelle owned plenty of books on her own personal tablet, but there was something about the feeling of parchment on her fingers, the sound of a page turning or the smell of an aged book that a tablet just couldn’t provide. Plus, the Government banned any books having to do with war so The Book Thief was Noelle’s little secret.
Noelle stood up from her bed, locking her novel away in the silver safe she kept under her bed and locked it up before heading downstairs for dinner. In each state, the different neighborhoods were separated by sectors. Each state was different in what it did, for Ohio it was colors. The Morrow family lived in the Blue Sector of Columbus. Everything was a different shade of blue. Walls were a dark navy blue and the floors a gentle powder blue. Furniture such as couches were royal blue, bed sheets were baby blue and the blankets were a pretty cerulean blue. Even the clothes her family had to wear were all blue. For example, Noelle wore a baby blue blouse and long indigo skirt that went to her ankles. Despite the restrictions Noelle enjoyed the color blue, it was better than living in say the brown sector or gray.
Downstairs was the pleasant smell of stew, another thing Noelle loved about autumn was the beginning of warm foods, soup, stew, apple cider and tea, which were all some of her favorites. The living room was empty and in the kitchen her father sat at the table reading his tablet which Noelle assumed was the news and her mother stood at the stove cooking their dinner.
Noelle’s father was a tall, sturdy man with dusty brown hair. His skin was tough and leathered from years of working in the factories, despite his hard working demeanor he was a kind mind, his mouth was wrinkled with smile lines and his green-gray eyes were always happy. Noelle’s mother was a short, stout woman with the same hair and eyes as Noelle. She normally wore her hair pulled back in a straight pony tail. She made a living off cleaning houses and the neighborhood on occasion. She loved both cooking and cleaning, it was obvious by the cheerful tune she hummed while performing both tasks.
The most notable feature about Noelle’s mother was her stomach, which pressed lightly against the stove sheltering the baby inside. They learned not too long ago that she would be having a boy. Noelle was beyond excited for her new baby brother and it was only weeks away, the thought made her tremble with excitement.
When Noelle entered the kitchen she received a soft greeting from her father and a wave from her mother, she sat down on in one of the three blue wooden chairs at the table. After a few moments her mom began serving dinner, a rich beef stew with fresh biscuits. The scent was heavenly and the taste even better. As the Morrow family began eating their dinner, the conversations began.
“So, learn anything interesting today Noelle?” Her father asked, he had set his tablet down and was now focused on his food.
“Nothing in particular, the same stuff pretty much.” Noelle replied as she took a bite from her biscuit. “I wish we could learn about other stuff other than America today and before The Final War.” She admitted.
“There wasn’t a lot before The Final War worth talking about.” Her mother said. “That War did last almost twenty years before it ended; it was then that America decided it should indeed be The Final War. Everything before that is not necessarily important anymore.”
“But why not?” Noelle questioned. “Why does nothing before The Final War matter? Why don’t we learn about what led up to the War, or how life was before. I’ve learned from my books but I want to know more.’
“Noelle, we understand that you want to know about these kind of things but they have no real impact on your life.” Her father explained. “Perhaps when you grow up you can find more books and learn more about what America used to be but for now you shouldn’t question it, we live in a peaceful, safe world, you should be happy.” He reached over and placed his hand firmly on his shoulder in a comforting manner.
Noelle replied with a light smile. “I am happy, there is just more I want to know.” She said, somewhat glumly.
Her father smiled his genuine, kind smile. “Someday you will know everything you want to learn, my intelligent, beautiful daughter.”
Noelle couldn’t help but feel better at her father’s reassurance; he was always a reliable source of help. When she was just a little girl in distress her father would always be there for her and could always make her happy.
At around 8:45 the Morrow family finished their dinners and after her mother quickly washed their dishes the all went into the living room for the nighttime news as they did every night. Noelle’s parents sat on the couch as the television flipped on and Noelle sat on the floor in front of the couch.
The newscast began with America’s anthem and basic details about the day, weather, prices, and etcetera. The entire newscast lasted about fifteen minutes on the average day, however when the news would have normally ended they added a breaking news tagline and a female reporter began speaking: “Today near the outskirts of San Antonio a general military squadron was attacked.”
Noelle felt herself tense somewhat at the news, it was shocking to say the least. An attack? The Government was always saying how violence had died out years ago with The Final War, and this happened.
“There are no casualties and only minor injuries. The criminals are being tracked and followed and will be caught then put to justice. We are sharing this news with the public because we want to show that even if violence still may live in small areas we are still a forever peaceful country and these acts will not be handled as minor offensives. That is all we have for the newscast tonight, please leave your televisions on for the anthem. Long live the Peace, Justice and President. Goodnight, America.”
Noelle’s family left the TV on until the screen went blank then turned it on. Televisions were hardly used for anything other than the news or other political means. Every house came with them, no matter the money the family had. Despite what the news had said, the story was still picking at Noelle’s skin. Not only was it an act of violence in the supposed to be “peaceful” country, but it was towards the military. Even though there were no wars, America still had a military, “Just in case” is what Noelle’s father told her.
“Well, that was certainly an interesting newscast.” Noelle’s father said as he rose from the couch. “But, we could all use a spark of different now and again right?” He gave his usual warm smile.
Noelle’s mother gave a slight nod then looked towards her daughter. “Why don’t you get ready for bed sweetie?” She suggested, holding her pregnant stomach gently. “It’s almost time for bed.”
Noelle nodded and rose to her feet, another thing that would change with her upcoming birthday would be she wouldn’t have to go to bed until eleven and not ten, but rules are rules. She climbed the stairs to her room and changed into her sky blue pajamas. After brushing her teeth she sat down on her bed and pulled out The Book Thief she always read a chapter before bed, even if this was her third time reading the book. As she read the book’s pages she always got the same thoughts, it was such a strange concept now a days, no one really thought about it. It just…happened.
This concept was death. When people reached a certain age it just happened, it was nothing to be scared of because there were no crimes or accidents. However, the book painted death in a very different manner. Death was a person, a living being who helped people who died reach the other side, whatever it was. Noelle had never thought of death as anything but an event such as marriage or giving birth. Now she had given Death a face, in her mind Death was a boy with raven black hair, pale skin and icy blue eyes. She wasn’t sure why she thought of that face when she read The Book Theif she just did.
After she finished a chapter, Noelle replaced her book back in the safe and was going to head back downstairs. As she went down the stairs she heard a muffled conversation between her parents and only caught parts of it.
“Are you sure?” He father asked, his tone lined with worry and nervousness. “You’ll be fine?”
“They will care less about her than me and be less suspicious, trust me.”
“Of course I trust you, my love. It’s her I’m worried about. She’s so young and she asks too many questions.” Noelle knew that they were talking about, they were talking about her. However, she was unsure the actual topic.
“Don’t worry about her, Leon. Noelle is curious but she’s not stupid, she knows when to keep her mouth shut. If what we think is going to happens then we will not let her go with an empty mind.”
Noelle was extremely confused, what was going to happen? Where would she be going? The whole thing was a big question mark to her. Her parents’ conversation ended and Noelle continued down the stairs where the greeted her with a smile. “Ready for bed, sweetie?”
“Yes.” Noelle replied, she decided to not let them know she overheard their conversation she had been thought that eavesdropping, especially on parents, was extremely rude and disrespectful. “Can I have a glass of water before I go?”
“Of course, dear.” Her mother said and went into the kitchen, returning a few moments later with a blue tinted glass full of cold water. Noelle drank it down quickly, said goodnights to her parents and went up to her room. As the clock struck ten, Noelle flipped off her lights and climbed into bed. As she closed her eyes she couldn’t help but wonder what the future would bring for her, her family and the country.
October 22nd, 2099
Noelle woke up the next morning at her usual time, seven am and got dressed. Today she wore a pale blue sweater and darker indigo skirt that went to her knees. She went downstairs where her mother was reading from her tablet and resting her hand on her stomach. Noelle’s father already left for work at around five a.m. and wouldn’t be back for twelve hours.
“Good morning, mother.” Noelle greeted kindly. Her mother returned the soft smile. “Good morning, Noelle. You should get started on your schoolwork. “ She motioned to Noelle’s school tablet on the table, there was a green light flashing on the corner to let her know there were new assignments. Noelle went over to the table and sat down; she unlocked the tablet and got to work.
As the day went on Noelle went about her schoolwork as normal, reading what she had to for English, studying certain parts of The Final War and today’s Government for American Social Studies, solving problems for Math and learning biology facts from Science. However, the only useful thing she picked up from the days lesson was that based on her family’s genes the new baby boy would be more likely to like Noelle and her mother than her father.
Finally five o’clock rolled around and as Noelle finished her day’s school work her father walked in the door. Noelle signed out of the tablet’s school program and set her tablet up somewhere safe.
“Can I go outside?” She asked as soon as she finished, it may only be an hour but it was a wonderful hour.
“Of course.” Noelle’s father answered, he was smiling but there was something off about his eyes. They were happy, but not as happy as they normally were, something was off but Noelle couldn’t quite name it. So, she just shrugged it off and hurried outside.
As she opened their dark blue oak door she was greeted with a cool autumn breeze and the scent of the crisp, fallen leaves. Noelle let the fall scene embrace her and she started walking. Noelle had no need for a jacket, even with her bare legs and arms she enjoyed the breeze against her skin, it wasn’t something she got a lot of.
Noelle made it to the small park in the middle of where the Blue, Green, Yellow and Red Sectors met. Not many people hung out around her, a pre-teens who would just chat. There were only a few older teenagers around, and they were absorbed in tablets. Noelle didn’t understand why they would come outside just to use technology. Being outside was meant to take in the scenery, and enjoy being away from all the technology. Noelle wished someone else would understand.
She sat down in the grass and leaned against a wide oak tree and closed her eyes. All around Noelle was the sound of nature, she could hear the quiet chirp of birds as well as the rustle of tree leaves in the wind, it was such a pleasant sound. Noelle sat in the one spot for an entire hour, thinking of a variety of different topics. She thought about her upcoming little brother which made her smile but she also thought of the previous night’s newscast and the odd conversation between her parents which didn’t upset her, but made her wonder and somewhat confused. She had no idea what was going on and it wasn’t really a question she wanted to ask.
After the very peaceful hour, the alarm sounded and the kids who were at the park began heading home. Noelle stepped inside where her mother had already begun preparing dinner. She traveled upstairs and did the usual routine of grabbing The Book Thief and sat on her windowsill. Before she began reading however, she thought for a second about the routine of her life. Everyday was the same, wake up, do school work, spend an hour outside, read for an hour, eat dinner, watch the newscast, read a little bit more, go to bed and repeat. How much longer would it be like this? Things might be a little different after she turned sixteen but not much. It would probably be like this until she moved out and started her own family which probably wouldn’t be for a long time.
Noelle set her book down and instead of looking outside, she looked at the ceiling. Thoughts flowed through her head, there were so many things she wished she could do that were possible or simply weren’t allowed, so many questions that she couldn’t ask, so many curiosities that had to go unexplored. Noelle wanted more from her life, more than what was expected of her and more than what she lived. She closed her eyes, trying to force the thoughts from her mind but they were stuck there.
Dinner time rolled around as per usual, tonight it was chicken which Noelle also loved but she was quiet throughout the dinner conversation when asked what was on her mind she simply replied with “Just thinking about school.” She hated lying to her parents but they would also just tell her how dangerous her thoughts were. After dinner time of course came the newscast, as odd as it was, Noelle wanted something different to happen. While the violence was a little scary, it was off the beat and path of what was normal of her nights. It was different.
The newscast carried on without a hitch, same fifteen minutes of boredom with no actual news to report, not even on the military attacks. Noelle let out a slight sigh but towards the end of the anthem something happened. The screen cut out, not to black but to white. There was a buzzing noise coming from the television for a few moments before a woman popped up on the screen.
It took Noelle a second to recognize her but it was the Governor of California, Misty Conelle. Noelle remembered her because she was constantly labeled as the boldest Governor of the country. She was famous for her bold views and personality but it didn’t explain what she was doing on the news, especially after the newscast was supposed to be over.
“Attention, citizens of America,” Governor Conelle began speaking. “Many of you know my name, I am Misty Conelle, Governor of California but I am not speaking to you about any issues related to California. No, I am here to talk about a much bigger and more important topic.”
Noelle was intrigued, something like this was very out of the ordinary.
“Many of those living in, around or near the capital are unaware of the horrors coming from the very places they live, but I will not let the country I care about so much continue on like this, living this lie. I am saying it outright: President Howard Emmerson is a tyrant!”
Noelle let out a slight gasp, no one ever spoke of the President like that.
“He only cares for the rich and those close to him, and we are sick of it! I have spoken to many of the other Governors past the Texas borders and all of them have agreed with him. So, with me as their leader the states North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and West Texas will be seceding from the Federation of America. I understand that President Emmerson will not let us do this, so…I, Misty Conelle, Governor of California and of the Western United States declare war on President Emmerson and his Eastern states!”