Read Chapter 19 “Life in The Old World”
Josephine and Marcus could feel the time running through their fingers. Being held captive by a group of kids not much older than the twins was a massive setback to their grand plan of reaching London as fast as possible. Since they sneaked out of Ecotopia unnoticed and no one knew they ventured to the other side of the wall, the chances of anyone coming to rescue them were pretty slim.
They were both scared and drained by the terrifying Old World, the children, who didn’t look and act like the kids back in Ecotopia and high possibility of never seeing their mum ever again.
Josephine’s vivid imagination consumed her thoughts with negative scenarios, bringing with them a sudden overpowering sadness. She was as afraid as any other ten-year-old child would have been in a strange place, far from home and people they loved.
– “Maybe it wasn’t such a brilliant idea after all.” – she started regretting her decision to travel alone. With each repetition, the words were gaining momentum awaking unknown before feelings of self-doubt and insecurity.
Marcus, who marched right next to her, seemed to be as terrified as she was. Josephine tried her best to brush off her insecurities and focus on her strengths to bring back her confidence instead, but under these circumstances, it was a gruelling task.
Suddenly the girl leading the group stopped marching. Everyone behind her stopped too. From that stillness, a vague sound of an engine hovering in the clouds above began to emerge. Josephine and Marcus instantly looked up curiously to see what that was, but none of the other kids followed. Instead, they all pulled their enormous hoodies up to cover their faces. Someone from the crowd passed a couple of the oversized hoodies to Josephine and Marcus and gestured for them to put it on, which they both did in an instant. The time was passing, the clock was ticking, but no one moved even an inch until the noise from the clouds slowly started to die down. There was a commotion at the front of the group, but neither Josephine nor Marcus were called to join the others.
-“What was that?” – Josephine asked.
-“Drones.” – replied one of the girls, who walked beside them.
-“What do they do?” – Marcus was interested to know.
The girl turned her head to the side and stared at Marcus and Josephine for some time before replying again.
-“You don’t know?”
They both shook their heads in denial.
-“The place you from has no drones?” – she asked cautiously.
-“Drones haven’t been used since before we were born” – said Marcus.
-“Nice! In our world, drones can recognize your face. That, pointing to the hoody, is our only protection from the government’s spying eyes.” – said the girl in reply.
-“Where are you taking us?” – Josephine decided to use girl’s talkativeness.
-“To London. You might be worth something.” – said the girl.
-“Worth something?” – Josephine was excited that they were heading to London but didn’t like the sound of what she heard.
-“I’m sure the smugglers or the dark traders will be happy to pay something for you. You might be of some use to them; you are of no use to us.”.
-“But…” – Josephine wanted to protest, wanting to explain that they weren’t here to cause any troubles or be a nuisance to anyone but she didn’t. She knew there was no point arguing with someone as determined as those children were. Her heart sunk even further.
-“I don’t know where you are coming from but believe me, there isn’t anything as terrifying and vile as the Old World.” – the girl visibly drew immense pleasure from the effect her words had on their captives.
-“So, why aren’t we moving? I’m sure you want to trade us off as soon as possible.” – Marcus asked in a very challenging voice. He usually used that tone with mum when he wanted to see how far he could go. But it hardly ever worked with mum so Josephine wasn’t sure it would work with anyone else.
-“The drones are flying just above us; it means that the Down Below army is closing on us. If they catch us alive, we will all end up in a work camp, which is a death sentence to anyone whoever enters one of those places.” – concluded the girl before making her way up to the front.
Josephine was anxious and knew well that in that state of mind planning or coming up with ideas wasn’t going to happen. The seriousness of the situation outgrew her. The fairytale she created in her head before setting off from Ecotopia turned into a nightmare. Josephine knew very well what selling people to others meant, and she surely wasn’t going to become someone’s slave. Slaves had no choices, no rights and no way of deciding for themselves. This outdated offence against human rights has always divided the society but at the same time has always been part of the Old World system of oppression and control. Human slavery and trafficking were some of the issues her mum worked on when the world was still one whole.
-“Don’t worry, I have a plan.” – Marcus whispered into Josephine’s ear. Marcus always followed her, whatever plans and crazy ideas Josephine had so for him to take control of the situation was surely stepping out of his comfort zone.
-“How? What?” – asked Josephine with a twinkle in her eyes.
-“They want to trade. We have plenty we could trade. We just need to find the right moment to corner that girl, who has been talking to us. I have a good feeling she would want to get her hands on what we got.” – said Marcus with as much conviction in his voice as he could muster. He wasn’t going to give in. Not without trying as hard as he could. They already got so far.
The girl came back, and in that instant, Marcus noticed that she was hiding long blond ponytail under her hoody, which he thought was very pretty. The steps she took were small, but she still oozed confidence in the way she put one foot ahead of another. Confidence Josephine was desperate to bring back.
-“We are staying here.” – announced the girl.
-“So we aren’t going to London?” – asked Josephine.
-“Not yet. We have a hiding spot not that far from here.”
-“What about the rest of the group?” – Marcus was observing each member of the group dissolving into the thick milky fog. The girl ignored his question and just started walking in the opposite direction they were heading for the past few hours.
-“In a few short minutes, the Down Below army will be here. Believe me, you would rather stick with me than be captured.” – the girl barked at Josephine and Marcus who didn’t budge even an inch.
Josephine grabbed Marcuse’s hand. Her palm was sweating, and in that instant, Marcus knew that he needed to do everything in his power to get them out of this shamble. His sister needed him, and he was ready. Well, as ready as a ten-year-old could be to act on his ideas without fear and self-doubt that consumed him ever since he could remember.