It became official today. We are moving to the Trips. My name is Travis. Travis Filing. I am 14 years old and we are on the run.
Living with 3 older brothers you kind of learn when not to step out of line and this was one of those times.
About 300 years ago the Commander in Chief and Ruler of the US, Kimby Jones, decided that everyone has to live in the overly developed parts of the US, on the outside coasts. The biggest choice you get is to live on the West coast or the East coast. So basically you pick based on if you prefer warm or cold weather. My mom and dad are beach people so we live on the west side, what used to be California.
Back when people could live everywhere and anywhere they please, crime rates were soaring. Now crime rates are at an all time low. Mom says all time low used to be a really good band back in my grandmas time. But Kimby won’t let us listen to them any more because she says they are so alternative that it will inspire us to commit crimes, ruining her accomplishment of low crime rates. She says it is all thanks to this plan of hers. She says. “It’s the greatest idea since sliced bread!” But, everything is so packed in. I hate it. Buildings scrape the sky like a kid stretching his limbs in the morning. Stores and restaurants are jammed into every square inch of the city, making it impossible to move around without traffic or someone stepping on the back of your shoes. The toughest part is finding room for schools. With so many people living here it has stressed the need for more. To maximize space, each level is one classroom and there are elevators in each corner to get to the 18 other classrooms of each school. The movement of this remodel Kimby calls re-expansion. She says it will fix all our problems. Or so she thinks.
It has fixed some problems, don’t get me wrong, crime rates, homeless population, and people in poverty have all decreased significantly. But it has created new problems. Everyone living in re-expansion has to be rich. If they can’t keep up with the ever growing economy The Force comes. The Force brings with them a yellow liquid in a clear vile. The vile has The Force seal on it. The yellowness of the liquid is a psychological tactic used to make us happy and forget about the evil things they are getting ready to do. In short, The Force liquid kills you. It is supposed to minimize the overcrowding that re-expansion has caused.
In such a crowded city, no one notices if a couple people disappear each week, it makes the city a little less squished. Just the thought of this luminescent liquid causes tension throughout the whole town. People can’t even share a dime with their friend because of the fear that lingers. I have seen a person get carted off by the force, all over a matter of 10 cents. 10 cents is all it takes. Don’t you think the force could have waited for them to scrounge up some money out of the couch, that would’ve been enough to cover it. Alas, the force does what is commanded of them. Kimby tells us it is a pattern, if someone doesn’t have enough money one time it is bound to happen again and that is why The Force has no mercy.
Mom and Dad promise that will never happen to us. We do have some issues with money and can’t pretend things aren’t tight. Even before she told me on that intense August day, I knew it was coming. I mean if she was so sure The Force wouldn’t come, then we wouldn’t have a plan just in case.
This plan is to leave. Leave Kimby. Leave the force. Most importantly, leave re-expansion. Constant reminders move across the town announcement board saying how illegal it is to live in the middle of the US. Everyone around here calls that part the Trips. No one really knows what’s out there. Or if they do, they can’t share because they will be carted off to the jail. Rules are tight here. And now, we have to escape these rules.
It was August 8th, 3038 when my parents told me that the force was coming to MY house. ‘It couldn’t really be happening,’ I was in a major state of denial. After becoming level headed, I decided I could be the hero.
“There has to be some way we can pinch pennies. We don’t have to pay for my soccer lessons anymore. I mean it has to count for something, right? Please, please tell me I can do something.” I had complained.
“I’m sorry Travis, it has already been decided. Do you remember the plan we discussed when you were younger? This is that kind of situation that we made the plan for.” My mom told me.
I remember the plan.
When I was seven years old we all sat down at the table and discussed our escape route, if ever needed, to get away from the force. We planned to act as if we were going out to eat as a farewell dinner.
Little did they know we weren’t going to eat. We were leaving. Leaving to go to the Trips.
Our appointment with The Force is scheduled for 5:00. It is now 4:00. One hour left until we see if we are spared for now. Of course we will never truly be safe because we have to be in constant motion to make sure they don’t catch us. It will be a harsh life, but it is better than stopping my life right now. 14 years is too short to say goodbye. There are so many things I wish I had done that I was too scared to do. Whether it be ask out the pretty girl in my science class, make a winning goal for the soccer game, or stand up to the teacher that treats students differently. I was feeling comfortable in our plan but now I am beginning to question if I will ever be able to accomplish those things and so many more. My teachers say I have potential to do great things but just because we are having a little rough patch in the budget, all that potential is forgotten about. No longer am I Travis, the kid with a future, but now a number on a list that The Force has to kill.
We pulled up into my favorite burger joint called My Way Burgers. Cheeseburgers are my favorite food. Especially at My Way. A burger would calm my nerves so much right now. I might not ever have a burger again.
“Boys out of the car.” My mom said with a fake happy tone.
I climbed out with Thomas, Sean, and Dylan.
“Dylan, please take your brothers inside and find us a table, your father and I will be right in. We have some things we need to discuss.” My mom said as Dylan pushed us inside while my parents stayed behind. I could see them having an intense discussion but I couldn’t make out all the words, just a few here and there.
“Dan —- your brother— coming—car—————trips—-. “ She whispered. I know exactly what she is talking about. My dad’s brother is supposed to meet us in the back of the restaurant to give us a car that the government doesn’t have on file so we cannot be tracked. Suddenly my mom’s eyes locked with mine and she gave me a look. It meant to begin the plan. Dylan was in charge since he is oldest. He went last to make sure he could see us leaving. First is me, the youngest, we all had to pretend to leave to use the bathroom and exit out the back doors where there are no cameras. I got up reluctantly but I feel safer when Dylan gives me a little nod. It is our thing. I open the door and I see my uncle Brian with an all-terrain jeep. According to the plan we were to leave 5 minutes in between each person. Not a second late the door again opened. This time it is Thomas and Sean together, they are twins. Within 20 minutes my whole family was in this car. The car’s clock says 5:15. We accomplished the hard part. That means The Force has already been to our empty house, yet we still have not been caught. Right as I feel assured I see the announcement board start to blink and make an obstructive noise. How did we not think of this?
“6 PEOPLE MISSED THEIR APPOINTMENT WITH THE FORCE! BIG REWARD FOR THE 4 CHILDREN: SEAN, DYLAN, THOMAS, AND TRAVIS. 2 PARENTS: DAN AND ELIZABETH. THE FILINGS COULD BE ANYWHERE PLEASE BE CAREFUL WHEN NAVIGATING YOUR DAILY LIFE AS THEY COULD BE ARMED. ” The sign blinks with an obnoxious sound.
“The only guns I have are the ones right here.” I flex my muscles in attempt to lighten the situation.
No one laughs.
It is getting serious.
We have only been driving for 30 minutes but it feels like 30 years because of the tension in this car. I see the sign that says to be careful because you are now leaving re-expansion. I know, one day, we will be back here. I will make sure of it.
Dad says we are in what used to be called Nevada? Who names these states? They all have bizarre names. Even I could do a better job than these people did.
Everywhere I look it is just dirt, some grass, and occasionally there will be a tree. I have been counting the trees since there aren’t many. In 100 miles there have been 5 trees. Back at tree #3 Uncle Brian left, that was about mile 60.
“MOM!” Sean screamed!
“What, what is it? Are they after us?” My mom screeched almost caused my dad to crash in the vast desert ahead of us.
“Nah, I’m just hungry, I thought it was really important that you know.” Sean complained. Sean is always hungry. He is a big athlete and needs a lot of food.
“Sean honey, we have been over this, we are all very stressed right now and that is causing us to be alert. I don’t want us to die. So don’t yell my name unless there are the three b’s. You must be bleeding, barfing, or have broken bones.” She explained exasperatingly.
“Mom, that’s from when we were 4.” Remembered Thomas.
“Well we are using it, oh, and I’m adding a new one, special to this situation, if you see The Force or anyone similar in nature, you may alert me.” She barked back.
Everyone is a little bit on edge right now. I could feel the relief in the car when my dad called out, “Here it is boys! And lady of course!”
“What is this? We aren’t here because we are in the middle or nowhere!” Dylan yelled as his hunger is getting to him.
We climbed out of the Jeep and began to explore the surrounding premises. After walking 6 miles with mom driving behind us we found a site. There were some broken down houses that looked to be left here to rot. But as we walked closer inside we smelled a fire burning. Yes, a fire with a pot of boiling water cooking was sitting in the middle of a decaying house in the Trips. Could my day get any weirder?
“HAEYAH!” A very pretty girl jumped out of the door holding a spear and scared us half to death.
“Get off my land. Who sent you?” silence filled the room, “I won’t say it again who sent you? I have used my weapon before and can use it again!” She shrieked while thrusting the spear in our direction.
“N-N-No one sent us, we just had to run away. Away from Kimby.” Dad said while his eyes sunk to the floor faster than a 10 pound weight in the pool. I could see the embarrassment in his body language.
“He is safe everyone, you can come out!” As she summoned unknown people, 3 more boys. “We left from Kimby also. The Force caught our families and we weren’t going down. We all ended up meeting each other here. We have lived here for 3 years, I am G.” The girl, apparently called G, told us.
“I am Dumpster, that is tri, the boy in the corner. Lastly, but definitely not least, is s^2.” The chubby, greasy one spoke up.
These names are so weird, I can’t even stand it, and I had to ask even if it is considered rude.
“Do you mind me asking, what is the deal with your names?” I asked.
“DON’T ASK! That is one rule we have for newbies. You might eventually find out, that is, if you survive long enough to hear the stories. You all look pretty weak and well kept, those kind of people don’t tend to survive well.”
“I will survive because I want to. I am a strong young boy and I will prove you wrong. Like, excuse me for wanting to be alive to see my 21st birthday.” I replied sternly.
“Okay, if you’re such a tough guy then why don’t you go gather us some dinner? We have been living on berries and leaves for the past week. Let’s see if you can find something better.” She said to me very stubbornly.
“Great. Competition is where I thrive. Let’s do this. Game on.” I think she made a mistake starting a competition with me, so I told her.
I ran off into the forest. Alone. I started hunting around, I have no idea what kind of animals live in this forest. Oh goodness! I see a deer! Okay, so I see a sharp stick and I have an idea. I slowly, quietly walked up to the deer. I pull back my arm to jab this spear into the animal when a hand grasps my elbow. I expected it to be my mom or dad but I turned around and an old man was standing there.
“Who the heck are you?” I screamed!
“I see your future is looking dangerous. Be aware young man”, the old man creepily croaked to me. “There are people after you and will not hesitate until your eyes are permanently shut. I wouldn’t wonder the forest alone if I were you. It makes you too vulnerable.”
“W-w-w-whhat?” I stuttered, “What should I do? Where should I go? Who even are you?” My head was spinning.
“I’m sorry it had to be like this Travis.” The old man replied but not answering any of my many questions.
He cocked back his arm and knocked me out.
To Be Continued…