A 500-word story I completed in English Extension in high school, from the prompt “young adult dystopia”. I based the story on my extensive knowledge of YA literature (I am not ashamed to admit that I love teen angst), drawing on stories such as Matched, The Hunger Games and Uglies.
Oh and in case you haven’t figured it out yet, I love Asian culture. Hopefully I’ll write more stories using the setting of China and Japan in the future 🙂
World of Gold
The shiny leather suitcase stares at me as I pull it from the dusty back corner of my pearl-encrusted cupboard, covering my white suit with cobwebs and making my eyes water. Its silver studs are beady eyes and the handle is a smirk, as if it’s laughing at me. I hate its triumphant, mocking smile. I know my decision is risky, to swap my life of luxury under the watchful eye of the authorities for freedom, but I must. Because here, in Kǎi (凯), I will never have that. It’s not my fault I’m secretly gay, and the laws of our country, Huángjīn shìjiè (黄金世界), declare that I am a freak by design. It’s not my fault that if the authorities learned of me they would arrest me on the spot. I cannot change who I am, at least not before my 18th birthday, and the Pairing brings out my secret.
The Pairing is a mandatory event that happens once every year. Every girl turning 18 that year will put their name into a draw, and the authorities will match them with a boy turning 18 that year. The two people will then be Paired, and live together happily for the rest of their lives…
Or so they say. I have no say in the matter. Despite my inner feelings, I must be Paired with a girl.
My hands are visibly trembling as I look out of my bedroom window. Along the polished marble roads of Kǎi walk young women dressed in old-style Japanese kimonos and young men in tuxedos. This bizarre mix of cultures is a direct result of the war that left most of our planet in ruin. When the Power War began, China vs. America, China’s war tacticians and Japan’s merged. They created a super bomb that would wipe out all sources of power, be it technology or tracking missiles or electronic pulses in the human body. Nowhere and no-one was spared from its destructive power, except for China and Japan.
That’s when the paranoia began. The founders of our new “utopia” country, named Huángjīn shìjiè or World of Gold in English, were scared of another “Western” civilisation disturbing their peace. So began the condemning. Any person with blue or green eyes, and blond or light brown hair, was considered a Western and condemned to live among the desolate, smouldering ruins of the Outside. Before long it grew out of hand. The authorities, not love, decided who you were. They decided your job, your partner, your children. People with deformities, disabilities, illnesses or mental problems were condemned for “the better of the people” – ha! No one benefits from it. A mother separated from child, two lovers split, a young boy’s dreams shattered…
As I watch the procession below and the names being read out, my mind is made up for me. I won’t obey them, nor will I let them change me. I will be free. I hear the name Zhōu Tèzhì (周 特制), but I ignore it. By the time they notice I am missing I will be long gone. I straighten my bowtie and take a shaky but defiant breath as my name is called again, more insistently, from below. The suitcase in my hands smiles cruelly; it knows that I am ready. I open the suitcase and pull out the rope noose.