I stood on the main bridge looking up through the large leaves. I had never seen a city this big in the trees. Lillian had always told me stories of the city in the trees, but I didn’t believe her. It seemed like a fairytale. Being here made it clear that it was a fairytale. It was real but dreamlike. The sun coming through the trees left shadows on the ground that moved with the wind. As I made my way down the main thoroughfare I examined the buildings that were in the trees. From a distance it was difficult to differentiate between houses and shops. Most of the shops seemed to be at my level and the level right above where I was. The houses were much higher in the trees. They were several shades of green and brown.
I stopped at a building with a plaque that read Apothecary. I had been traveling for months and was running low on some of my salves and powders. There was a bell above the door that rang as I entered. Inside was well-lit for a building in a tree. As I began to look around a small women started to descend the ladder that was in the back of the shop. I hadn’t noticed from the outside that there were two stories.
There were 10 lined up there. 10? Had I really drank that many tonight. The bar was loud and dark. As I looked around I couldn’t see anyone that I recognized. Where did Jessie go? Weren’t we just talking?
At the other end of the bar there was a woman who I am sure I had seen somewhere. Her name floated on the edge of my memory just out of reach. She had bright red hair and light eyes. I couldn’t tell how tall she was from where I was sitting but she didn’t look to be tall at all.
I scanned the bar again looking for Jessie. I still didn’t see her. The next thing I thought to look for was my phone. As I patted myself down I noticed the red-head move from her spot. I am not sure why I was tracking her.
The storm had ripped through the city. It left feet of water. Everyone who was on the lower levels of the shelter had been washed out. From my window I could get my raft into the water with ease.
“I think this would be the best time to grab what we can and go to a different shelter?”
“I don’t know Red. That seems to be risky. It took us a long time to find this one.”
He was right. After they had kicked all the undesirables out of the major cities the rest of us used the buildings outside the cities as refuge. We had found a tall building about 30 miles outside of what used to be Minneapolis. You now had to have a chip to get into the cities that were walled off. You could sometimes get chips that were dangerous knock offs. If they were too poorly made they could explode in your arm going through the sensor. This was part of the reason we hadn’t scraped up the money to buy one. We just stayed on the outskirts trying to survive.
Tomorrow is my 18th birthday. I finally get to see exactly what my soul mate is supposed to say to me the first time we meet. When I head down to the center for my tattoo I might faint. This determines so much of my life.
By the time I got to the center the line was so long. There were at least 50 girls in front of me. This was going to be torture. To my left there was the line for the boys. I wonder if any of them are my soul mate.
FINALLY!!! I am two people away from the window. The woman behind the window looked like she had so many other things she could be doing than assigning tattoo pods to 18 year olds. Three pods open up and one of the girls come out crying.
I hope mine isn’t something stupid or too ambiguous. As I walked to my pod I began to panic inside.
It was supposed to be one of the happiest days of her life. She had her hair and makeup done. Her dress had turned out beautifully. As she stood outside the doors of the church waiting for the cue the flash of light was bright and the boom that came after was incredibly loud.
That was two months ago. Since then so much had changed. Katy had been moved to colony #435 on continent #7. They had made several colonies all over the world to put humans into. Continent #7 was formerly Europe. Colony #435 was around the border of France and Italy. She missed her family fiercely. It had been at least 4 weeks since she had seen any of them.
It took a few weeks for them to round-up and sort people how they wanted. Women and men were separated. The young and the old were separated. Children were taken to their own colonies. They sent some of the older women to the colonies to be with the children.
Katy’s colony was filled with women that looked to be between 15 and 30. They were all races, religions, and backgrounds.
She sat in the dark next to the crib. It had been at least two or three weeks since she had slept more than 2 hours at a time.
The baby had finally gone to sleep but she was scared to move. If she was too loud she could wake the baby. Why had she thought this was a good idea?
As she sat there her limbs grew heavy and her breathing slowed. It was peaceful sitting in the dark listening to the sound of the baby.
It was easy to get on the plane. In the four hours it took to fly here gave me more than enough time to talk myself out of seeing anyone. 15 years had gone by since I was last home. I left when I was 17 and never looked back.
Leaving at such a young age was difficult. While going to school I was able to live on campus and had shit job after shit job for years. Once I finally graduated I was able to find a great job in my field. My parents never supported what I wanted to do. My childhood was rough so it made it easy to walk away. My four older siblings had left as soon as they turned 18. They hardly ever returned to visit. We wrote letters back and forth. My two oldest brothers joined the army, so they were all over the world. My younger brother got a scholarship and ended up in New York. My sister left and went to Hollywood in hopes of being famous. However, she waits tables to make ends meet while she works the worst acting jobs.
So here I was on the eve of my 30th birthday back in town to see my family. I can’t believe I let them talk me into this.
As I reach the front door of the home I grew up in my heart starts to race. It looks the same. The lights are all on and I can see people moving about. Do I knock? Its been so long……
As soon as I am face to face with the door it swings open and there it Ben my oldest brother.