Being a wanted criminal isn’t very fun.
Especially on a planet with a government that universally punishes lawbreaking with death... and a society that would capture, bind, and turn in their brother to uphold religion... and the fact that you can’t walk more than a hundred feet without encountering an armed Faithful that has legal right to arrest you for suspicion; which usually, guess what, also leads to death.
So you ask me, “How did you ever manage to get into this mess?”
And I would respond with, “My dad killed someone,” Surprising, right? I thought so too. Although I guess it’s a little more complicated than that.
I was fourteen. The night cycle of the biologically altered planet was in full effect, with Phobos and Deimos, twin moons, resting in their crossed positions in the red-hazed sky.
----- I had always grown up in a somewhat loving family; just my sister, me, and our parents. We even said things like,
“Goodnight” or “Have a good day”. And on occasion, even a faint, “I love you,” slipped out from my mother’s lips, even though it was blasphemy to mention a word so widely shunned for its origins; and father would smile, a mischievous, happy smile; and somehow, we were content.
Until she died.
Blood cough took her, like the thousands of others. We never saw her again, save for the notion she was one of the incinerated in the quarantine pile. They broadcasted the funeral pyre to the billboard in front of mass, and God, a man named Argo Amsterdam—who was eight hundred years dead, mentally living in the body of an AI—made a speech about the hardship that “we” had faced. Of course, there were no protests. There never was.
Except, you see, that was when father killed himself.
We were on the edge of the crowd; just me and him. We’d filed an official form for my nine-year-old twin sister’s 103˚ fever, and she was currently with a medical AI in our housing unit.
Silence had an iron grip over the mass, and the Great Migrator, preached his gospel about this harrowing event and how it would help us forge a new path into the future. Then they burned the bodies, and that was when my father snapped; he decided it wasn’t worth it. He turned to the faithful and began running towards them, a ring of guards standing around the perimeter; he swung his fist around, and I saw a glint of metal in his hand, connecting with an open neck; the soldier fell to the ground. It was a kitchen knife, so much as I could see, and since then I’ve wondered why he’d been planning to do it.
My father burst through the gap, running full speed away through the alley. He got about thirty feet before a bullet caught him in the neck.
The next seconds are a blur of screams, and it almost took a full minute for God to silence the crowd. Quiet once again rushed around the square, permeated by the gunshots that silenced other dissenters. My hands shook, yet no tears fell; after all, tears were a weakness. Tears were a sign that you didn’t accept the love of the Migrator. My mind instead turned to the fact that I was an orphan. Sad? Yes. Dangerous? Considerably more so.
Upkeep for two children was not worth the labor cost; you were sent to a prison camp, then shipped off to a mining planet. The law had been made after God—the original one—had made a quantum gate that moved the position of the milky way galaxy away from a neutron star about to mature into a black hole. The original planet was reduced to a wasteland, and the population was moved to the red planet. Overpopulation quickly became an issue, and gene editing was used to make infertile children, and no one is allowed pregnancy more than once. It’s an efficient system. Unnatural deaths are down to a minimum.
And so I found myself standing in a crowd watching silently as the bodies burned, readying myself to run at the first opportunity. God said something else about how we would miss all of the souls lost that night, but that we should honor their memory and have faith in him. Damned filthy liar.
The “ceremony” ended, and the spectators began to disperse. I knew I had no more than fifteen minutes, and I had to get my sister and go into the slums; the technology there was degraded enough to make a living. I followed a family of three I had seen near our—or I guess my—house. I forced myself to act normal, and when they stopped I skirted around them, avoiding the door due to my lack of ID, briskly walking around the side of the house, vaulting up the air filter and grabbing onto the window ledge of my sisters bedroom, desperation combined with required military training driving me on. I see her on the bed next to the medical robot and knock on the window, ducking, arms starting to burn. The window opens, and I launch up, extending my legs, pressing the shutdown button. I heave myself inside, shove the Medical unit out of the way, and open the backplate, ripping out the communication wire. I stride over to the bed, and put my hand on her forehead; burning. We need to take the front entrance.
“Hey, you okay?” I say, gently pulling her up, her brunette hair falling in the empty space. Her eyes flutter open, and she groans, attempting to get away.
“We have to go. Now.” I say.
She looks up again, confused. My heart tears; she shouldn’t have to live like this. As I slow enough to tell her, the gravity of the situation hits me. Our parents were dead. And we were about to be shipped to a prison camp. But could I run; would we even survive?
I inhale, “No time.” And she must’ve seen the look on my face, and she nodded slightly. Without another thought, I looped my arm under her shoulders and put the other on the inside of her knee. Lifting her, I rush downstairs, shoving open the door and closing it. I reorient myself, and start walking away from the main square; I try not to panic externally. A hundred feet away from the door, and I had almost made it to a street with little surveillance, but I heard metal boots behind me, ringing dully on the umber dust. Out of habit, I turned around and gave a slight bow to the soldier. My mind was screaming, but I managed to invent a rational argument:
“She has a high fever; I’m taking her to the hospital. W-with your permission, of course, Faithful.”
It stands silently for a moment, then turns around and continues its patrol. I hurry through the alley and head towards the nearest hospital, then quickly turn off into a side alley, turning my walk into a run. Please, God, forgive me; but you have ruined my life. 4 years later Curled up on the second story of a half-constructed concrete building, away from religion, my sister asks with her head on my chest, barely awake, “What was it like before they… left.” I close my eyes, and let out a breath; where to begin? With a sigh, I clear my throat, and say,
“A long time ago, before life was dull, before the red smoke and the gunshots, there was a small, blue dot…-”
Please don't think I have anything against Religion!
This character simply is in a bad situation with it.