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  • Writer's pictureathinabampinioti

Tomorrow (Preview of Novel - Pending Publication)


In a world full of envy, full of injustice, full of greed, full of misery, I never thought that I would be able to find love. LOVE, this is what is missing from this world. It is the year 2180. Humanity has devastated our planet to the bone… after World War IV and the Great Nuclear Explosion, today Earth’s air is so toxic that people in order to remain alive have to use an oxygen mask. Oxygen usage depends on a citizen’s social class. First Class citizens’ usage is limitless, while Second Class is controlled and is allowed to use only a few bottles per month. This way the state guarantees oxygen for the rich and also controls the masses. Since no-one can speak in open air, people communicate via machines. This is the world we created. Our greed for power has made life a luxury for some. Being born in the Second Class today is a long death sentence-you know that you will have to sacrifice yourself for your family, your kids, you just never know when…


-Chapter 1-

“Fellow citizens. We all know that we are going through hard times. We are facing an “oxygen crisis”. Yesterday I was informed by the Department of Science that the resources for creating artificial oxygen are becoming less every day and that if we do not take extreme measures, humanity will indeed have an expiration day.”

The main square is the jewel of our city. It is a rectangular made out of cement buildings and steel fire escapes. Black, grey, and white. It feels like being in an old film. Every time that the Mayor has to make an important announcement the square is divided in two by a special rope, the so-called Class Divider, and despite the fact that the Second Class has more members that the First Class, the latter was granted more space and plenty of food and drinks, in the only consumable form, injections.

After the Mayor’s robotic voice echoed through the street, the divided audience remained silent. It was a rather warm day, but the coldness of the Second Class’s misery could penetrate your skin.

The First Class members were enjoying the nice weather sitting on their velvet chairs- they were sure that what would come out of the Mayor’s mechanical lips would not affect them. The Second Class members were depressed… their skin was pale due to the lack of nutrients; they were all thin-one could see their bones though their flesh. Some had already started crying. They knew that what was lying ahead could only bring death closer.

I took a look at my Father. Despite the fact that he was about to sentence hundreds of people to death he stood there all firm and cynical. Sometimes I wondered if he had a heart, but then I remembered all the times he would hug me when I was younger, and every doubt would fly away.

“Today, I announce in front of every citizen of our beloved but tragically injured society the reduce of oxygen bottles from fifteen to nine a month per Second Class family. For families with more than four underaged children two additional bottles are to be allowed. If the family is incapable of paying for the oxygen bottles, the state will offer two free bottles for every member of the family. It is sufficient enough to cover your basic needs. That is all. Thank you.”

And so the battle began. Second Class members started shouting -increasing the speakers’ volume to the fullest and typing protest messages. Some took off their masks and terminated their lives as they preferred to die there and then than to keep on living this nightmare that was their life. What life was that? I could never imagine having a limit in life, not being sure that I will make it until tomorrow and observe another sunset in the toxic, but yet beautiful sky. The First Class members shook their head in approval and agreement, celebrating the new amount of oxygen that would be offered to them. They were whispering -limiting the speakers’ volume and placing them near each other’s ears- criticizing the Second Class’ reaction. They didn’t know any better. They did not have the emotional capacity to comprehend the magnitude of the repercussions of my Father’s decision.

I knew for a fact that the lack of oxygen was not a real problem. About a month ago some scientists paid a visit to my Father, to inform him that they had found a way to produce enough oxygen for everyone. However, due to their excitement and ambition for another promotion, they made the mistake to say that in the living room, where I was reading my book. He gave them a frightening look and demanded their discretion in his most formal and scaring voice. He showed them his office door and started walking to that direction.

I thank God that I was smart enough to pretend that I was drowned in my book, as I felt my Father’s look penetrating my skin. I kept on reading as if I had heard nothing. So, in his speech, I was expecting him to deliver good news, but instead he decided to lie-something I never understood and will never understand. It was then when I had truly realized that the real problem in our society was human greed and not lack of oxygen. Not only did he lie to his people about living in the hardest of all situations, but he also gave deliberately an abundance of oxygen to the First Class members, who have done nothing to deserve it. “They were born to deserve it.”, that was my Father’s excuse, while in fact he was letting greed and power conquer his body. He seemed as if he had no control of his actions. “How can a person be so cruel and inconsiderate? How can he let people die? How could he sleep at night knowing that there are people who die because of him?”, I thought once again to myself -then even more than ever.

However, I reminded myself of Father’s character. Not once has he brought flowers to Mother on Valentine’s Day. Not once has he asked me about my feelings, or has he tried to console me when I am sad. Some nights I would stay awake and think of all these people who are forced to give up their life so that their children can stay alive more than they have. I was terrified by the sole idea of dying and knowing that out there are people who die while they could be saved made me even more petrified. I would hug my covers with all of my force and cry silently; then more than ever did I need my Father’s shoulder to cry on, but then I was reminded that this did not exist in my family, which made me cry even more.

After the living room incident I sometimes thought of him as a murderer, but I would then force myself to retrieve this thought, because it only made me even more terrified. But after having heard his speech, I am not sure if I will be able to sleep ever again. As for him, I’m sure he would continue snoring as always. When I heard these words echo through the main square, an immense wave of emotions hit me and mentally threw me off my chair; the rest of my body had learnt not to listen to my feelings when in public- it was one of the requirements of being the Mayor’s daughter. Anger? Frustration? Fear? Sadness? Devastation? What must one feel when they realize that their Father indirectly kills innocent people? “Kills”. “Kills”, echoed in my mind. After all maybe he was a murderer.

Being the Mayor’s daughter I had never truly experienced the suffering of others; all I could do was use my imagination, that was fueled by the few speeches I had attended, where the Second Class would unite and show its suffering face, begging for mercy. My reality as a First Class member was quite different. First Class members all lived in special houses that included filters that detoxicated the air inside, so they were not obliged to wear this special gel that kept the toxic air out of our skin pores. My Father’s advisors even had oxygen ventilators in their houses, so they did not have to wear a mask in their house. In our house, apart from all these luxuries we had also created a garden where gardeners grew edible and healthy food for us. We could also drink water that was not contaminated and eat like people used to, through our mouths.

The Second Class members, on the other hand, lived in filthy ghettoes, where families were crumbled in diminutive apartments, gasping for air and justice. They kept their breath in order to make sure that they will have enough oxygen for the days to come and worked for almost nothing in the city’s factories, where -quite ironically- oxygen bottles and special gels were manufactured. They had to keep their oxygen mask on and wear the special gel all the time, if they wished to survive, which meant that their survival was more expensive than that of the First Class members. They could not eat nor drink, as it required taking off their mask, and had to take all the necessary vitamins and nutrients, as well as keep hydrated through special injections. Most of them had never felt water touching their lips, nor had they ever tasted chocolate. Children had to drop out of school and work in the factories in order to make sure that their family would be able to afford oxygen and thus afford life…

“Afford life”, I thought to myself. Our ancestors have fought for the right of life so much that depriving someone from it today so that you can satisfy your greed can only be considered a crime, murder in cold blood. I never agreed with the ways of my Father, but I had no other choice than obey, nod and agree- or at least pretend to agree.

Why is life like that?. Ever since I was little, I always wanted to ask him that very question, but every time I entered his office, the terrifying look in his eyes made me freeze and regret even walking in there. I would give him a kiss to satisfy his need for affection and walk straight out of his office. Once I dared to ask my mother -who deep down is also tormented by that very question, but the years of pretending have made her the perfect wife for my Father. She grabbed my hand and dragged me in my room. “Never say that again in here!” she whispered- but would have shouted if she could. “Life is like that because us humans have embarked on the ship of greed and injustice. Times are hard but your Father has managed to offer us a great life despite our situation. So forget that question and just continue to smile and agree with him.”. And so I have done up until the day love hit my heart’s door.

I was lost in my thoughts when I saw him. He was hugging his mother and his little sister trying to console them. I could barely discern his beautiful lips under his mask. His brown curls were falling perfectly on his eyes that were burning with anger and frustration. He seemed rather tall, but his body was hit by the hunger and adversity. Yet, even at that time of disaster, when pain and despair were engraved in his face, he was still beautiful. To this day I cannot explain how I knew that, but his soul seemed pure and innocent, he seemed loving. I instantly felt connected to him. It was just like our hearts had escaped our bodies, the cages that were keeping them from being united, and were now one. I instantly felt my heartbeat rising, then the butterflies flew in my stomach and my cheeks blushed. An unexpected wave of happiness and anticipation hit me, and a smile was drawn on my face; it was impossible to stop. Even though I was in public, and that smile could carry many consequences, I could not control my body anymore. Love had taken over. My mind and my soul travelled to another dimension, one with no toxic atmosphere where him and me were the only people- maybe this is how paradise is. It felt as if we were flying, like we were dancing with the wind. I guess this is what they call love at first sight.

(end of Chapter 1)


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