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Authors: Maya Shepherd

The Outcast Ones

BOOK: The Outcast Ones
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Maya Shepherd

RADIOACTIVE

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“The Outcast Ones”

Table of Contents

Title Page

Novel

01. IGNORANCE MAINTAINS THE PEACE

02. WE ARE ALL THE SAME

03. THE KIDNAPPING

04. OUTCASTS

05. ISOLATION

06. CLEO, WHO RISES WITH THE SUN

07. SISTERS

08. ZOE

09. IT ALWAYS COMES BACK TO BITE YOU

10. A BIRTHDAY FOR IRIS

11. NOT FOES...BUT NOT FRIENDS

12. THE BLACK MARKET

13. PROMISES

14. FORGET ME NOT

Novel

E-Book

1. Edition

Copyright ©2013 Maya Shepherd

Cover: Ines Caranaubahx

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted, with the exception of a reviewer who may quote passages in a review, without written prior permission from the publisher.

Facebook: Maya Shepherd

Blog: www.mayashepherd.blogspot.de

Twitter: Maya Shepherd

English Translation by Grace Bridges

Other books by Maya Shepherd:

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Promise “The Scarred Girl”

Black Hellebore

For Robert,

who always believed in me

“I'm waking up to ash and dust

I wipe my brow and I sweat my rust

I'm breathing in the chemicals

I'm breaking in, shaping up, then checking out on the prison bus

This is it, the apocalypse

[...]

Welcome to the new age[...]

I’m radioactive”

(Imagine Dragons – Radioactive)

I
NTRODUCTION

The first nuclear bombs were used in August 1945. They released so much energy that the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were almost completely destroyed, killing hundreds of thousands of people. Even the earliest atom bombs had an explosive energy equal to more than ten thousand tonnes of ordinary explosives. However, their development continues to this day. The Hiroshima bomb had a detonating force of 13 kilotonnes of TNT. On the other hand, the Soviet “Tsar” bomb already possessed 57,000 kilotonnes when it was set off in an atmospheric test in 1961. The wave of destruction caused by such a bomb is unimaginable. Even so, the technology continues its steady development.

Many countries drive the nuclear arms industry farther and farther along. The United States are ahead of the pack—they own more than 11,000 atom bombs, closely followed by Russia with 10,000 atom bombs. China, France, Great Britain, North Korea, India, Pakistan and Israel are also official owners of nuclear weapons. Iran has not yet confirmed that it has any such bombs, but there are readings that prove otherwise. While Iran’s governed territory is shrinking, the military strength of nuclear power Israel continues to grow. This situation could lead to Iran seeing a nuclear attack as its only chance for defence. Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad begins all of his speeches with the call “Death to Israel!” Even Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama is showing himself more aggressive in response to Iran’s statements: “America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal.” The message is clear.

However, what the United States fail to consider is this: the effects of an atom bomb are not limited to just one country, but would be much more far-reaching. A rocket from Iran would hit their nemesis Israel, but others would also be affected, like Egypt, India, Turkey and Russia. A war between two nuclear powers is the whole world’s business. No one is excluded from the damage—it is a war against humanity.

The effects of an atom bomb can be divided into four zones:

Zone 1—Destruction of all life

Zone 2—50% of people die instantly, only a few buildings remain. In the first few hours, the survivors suffer nausea. A week later come infections and bleeding which can cause death.

Zone 3—25% of people die instantly. After three weeks the torturous bleeding, nausea, hair loss and high fever will kill 50% of the survivors.

Zone 4—35% of people are severely injured. Many buildings are damaged. If people escape infection in the first three months, they will probably survive.

Later consequences: contaminated ground, cancer cases, miscarriages, etc.

The extent of these zones depends on the nuclear explosive force of the weapons, which are getting stronger every year.

The energy of all the atom bombs in existence today around the world would not only be enough to wipe out all humanity and all of Earth—it could also destroy four or five other planets as well.

01. IGNORANCE MAINTAINS THE PEACE

M
y proper designation is E518. I am a survivor of the fifth generation.

At precisely 0700 hours I open my eyes and look up at the grey light panels on the ceiling. They are still dimmed, but will grow lighter over the course of the day, then automatically darken and go out at 2200 hours. Nine hours are the precisely calculated sleep time for the body of a female teenager.

I sit up and throw back the white bedcover, then swing my legs over the edge of the bed so that my feet hang in the air. I begin to stretch my arms and back. During sleep, my muscles have not been used, so that in the morning they are tight and their circulation is low. Stretching mobilises them again. Especially today it is important for me to be at peak fitness. Especially today, I cannot allow a fault in my statistics. This day is one of the most important in my life, because it will determine my future.

My feet touch the grey tile floor. The cold makes me flinch back for a second, just like it does every morning. The tiles behave in the same way as the ceiling panels: they are cold in the morning, are warmed by electricity during the day so that they are pleasantly warm in the evening, then they cool off after 2200 hours. This is the circle of life.

With a slightly sticky sound, I step barefoot across my room. A morning shower is just as indispensable as stretching my muscles. I strip off the red knee-length nightshirt, pull it over my head and stick it into the laundry chute next to the shower. It disappears with a pop. Air pressure and suction will now carry it to the laundry, where it will be cleaned together with those of the entire personnel, then distributed fresh in the evening.

Sometimes I have asked myself how often I must have worn the same nightshirt without knowing it. Essentially it makes no difference, because all the nightshirts are exactly the same size, colour and material. Still, it would interest me. The thought occupied me even back when I was a Yellow. Shortly before I reached my teenage years, I once unravelled a small piece of a nightshirt hem at the corner. I had hoped in this way to be able to recognise it again. But the laundry supervisor noticed, and reported it to my teacher, who shouted at me and said I had no right to destroy things, that it was important for everything to be the same because only unity is strong. She even informed a Legion commander and forced me to repeat why I had torn the shirt. However, unlike the teacher, the commander did not reprimand me. She reacted in a way I have only rarely seen in the safety zone: she smiled. Her smile made my heart beat hard and twitched the corners of my own mouth upwards.

The look on my teacher’s face was complete gratification for me. Her eyes got so big they nearly fell out of her head. Out of my mouth came unusual sounds, like the ringing of the recess bell, but somehow more beautiful. The Legion commander, in her white jumpsuit, predicted a great future for me, because my thinking was a proof of intelligence. Even though I have forgotten the commander’s designation, I will never forget her pretty face. Like everyone else she had blue eyes, but when she smiled, little dimples appeared in her cheeks. It was the first time I ever spoke with a Legion commander. Today I want to prove to her that she was right.

Warm steam envelops my body. I run my hands over my bald head. From schooling I know that people used to use flowing water to take showers. They wasted it without even once thinking of those who would come after them. The water resources of Earth are too small to squander on showering. Steam opens the pores so that all the odour-carrying substances come out of the body. Running water isn’t necessary. After the steam comes dry air infused with a neutralising substance. It is not appropriate to tell people apart by their smell. Differences lead to discrimination.

I step naked out of the shower and walk along the smooth metal wall to the supply chute. It has two hatches: one with a fresh red jumpsuit which I pull on quickly. Shiny black boots complete the picture. It is my last day as a Red!

The other hatch is empty, but is illuminated by a ray of blue light. When I hold my arm inside, the light changes to red. Now my hand is being scanned to analyse my blood levels. It is important that every person’s nutrition is adjusted to their own requirements—everyone’s situation varies according to the type of day and physical exertion.

After about a minute the light changes to green and I pull my hand out. The hatch closes for a few seconds. When it opens again, there is a tray with cereal cubes, vitamin tablets, protein capsules and a glass of water. I lift the tray out and set it on a plastic table in the middle of my room, with its matching plastic chair. Both are anchored to the floor: everything has its place.

The cereal cubes provide satiation and deliver energy. For normal exertion, five are enough for a woman and eight for a man. Today I have been allocated exactly six cubes.

Seven minutes.

The vitamin tablets offer protection from illness and improve my health. It is only due to them that our bodies can perform fully every day, without being weakened by bacteria or viruses.

Two minutes.

The protein capsules are not for everyone and not for every day, but only before and after extreme physical exertion. Protein strengthens bones and tendons.

One minute.

I wash the tablets down with water. It is room temperature and feels gentle on my throat, dry from the night. After exactly ten minutes, I put everything back in the hatch. It closes automatically to take the tray back to the food dispensary.

I don’t need a watch to calculate the time. Our bodies learn to count the seconds continually in the background, linking them into minutes. It is important to keep to optimal times so as to guarantee an optimum order of events. Organisation and planning are our whole lives. We are lucky that the Legion commanders do both for us.

I lay my hand on the scanner at the door. The red light re-images my handprint and my DNA, before the door opens with a quiet lurch and a friendly computer voice tells me, “Exit permitted.”

My steps join those of the others. At exactly 0730 hours all the doors open and the Red hall fills with the fifth generation of teens. We are a unit and a unity, every one just like the others to the smallest detail. The red jumpsuits and black boots are the least of these characteristics. The light from the ceiling panels is reflected on our smooth, hairless heads. Our eyes all shine in the colour designated RAL 5012, Light Blue, while our skin is more like RAL 3012, Beige Red. Even our walking pace is identical. In the same rhythm we move our feet across the grey floor, made of steel plates. The walls are white and marked only with a red stripe.

From the Red zone we enter the Atrium. It is the centre of the safety zone—all roads and hallways lead there, no matter whether they are red, yellow, brown, blue, green or white. White stands for the Legion commanders. It is forbidden to enter their hall, although we would not be let in anyway. Even the attempt is punishable. No one has ever tried it, but I am sure whoever did would be cast out. The way to their hall is a giant staircase that winds through the entire Atrium, all the way to the ceiling which must be at least ten metres high.

The Atrium is not only the centre, but also the prettiest place in the safety zone. It is round and the walls are made of pictures covering the entire room. Some days they show woods with plants, trees, animals, and moss on the ground. They move, as if all you have to do is reach out your hand to touch a leaf or an animal’s fur. On other days they show huge cities with skyscrapers that make me quite dizzy. They can show beaches of soft sand and turquoise seas, or mountains with snow-capped peaks. These images record the most beautiful parts of Earth that are now gone forever. They remind us daily what our ancestors destroyed. The animals we see have been dead for a long time, and those trees and plants have rotted.

As well as the coloured halls, there are also grey ones. They lead to training rooms, the laundry, the food dispensary, the archive, the Arena, the Aula and the laboratories. One of these rooms will be my future workplace—the results of today’s test will decide it. Our performance test precedes our assignment to a helper task. Since we swapped the yellow jumpsuits for the red ones at the age of about ten, the test is all we have trained for. Today, about eight years later, we will receive our results.

We have formed two rows in the Aula—the men on the right and the women on the left. We are all the same height. Three Legion commanders stand on the podium. One of them is a woman, but not the same one I spoke with when I was a Yellow. I would recognise her. Their white jumpsuits stand out clearly from the black stone wall behind them.

BOOK: The Outcast Ones
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