Here is a sneek peek of my story A Matter of Life or Death
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I felt my heart leap in my chest as I awoke from my unpleasant dream. No, not a dream, I told myself. Reality.
Today was the day of the National European Assessment for Gifted Students,or NEAGS for short, but the test wasn't any normal assessment in school. It was an hour-long period of time in a white room that would determine whether or not I would live.
That's right. This test is a matter of life or death.
In the last 100 years, the world has seen a boom in population and here in Europe alone, we're sporting nearly two billion people--- millions more than the United States and
even China. We have drained our continent of nearly all of our natural resources, and our water supply is polluted to the point of where we have to import bottled water into our countries.
The severe population increase has caused the government to create a population management law... the origin of the NEAGS. Every student between the ages of 15 and 18
takes the test. Once you're 18, then you are one of few survivors. Whatever student doesn't score a B- or higher is brought to a specially designed compound where they are euthanized.
Since I had just turned 15 last month, I was required to take the test. It would be my first time. I squeezed the plastic tube of toothpaste and spread the gel onto the bristles of the brush, then placed the head of the toothbrush on my teeth and began to brush them. This might be the last time I ever brush my teeth, I thought. I remembered how I took all of the daily necessities for granted, like dressing formally for school, getting showers, and even doing chores. How lucky I am to be able to do such things.
I finished brushing my teeth, spit the excess toothpaste in the sink, then rinsed my mouth out and descended the stairs to the kitchen to catch the bus. "Good morning, sweetie," my mother said without even turning around from her position
facing the stove.
"Good morning, mom," I replied.
"Are you hungry?" She asked, turning around to show me what she had prepared. A pancake sat underneath two eggs sunny-side up and a slice of bacon forming a perfect smiley face. "I didn't want my baby girl to be hungry during her test."
"It looks great, mom." I said, taking the plate in my hands and digging into the delicious meal. After hearing nothing from my mother after a few minutes, I decided to check on her.
"Mom, are you okay?"
She turned around and I noticed that her eyes were beginning to tear up. I walked over to her and she hugged me. "I don't want you to leave,"
"I'll score a good grade mom," I replied. "I promise. I would never want to leave you alone."
"That's the problem, Sarah. Your promise doesn't guarantee your survival. Even your father couldn't promise that... I, myself became teary-eyed upon hearing my father's name. He was convicted of treason after publicising classified information about the NEAGS to the rest of Europe, and was put to death soon later.
"He was only trying to protect us," I told my mom.
"He was, but even a government official such as him couldn't do anything to change the NEAGS. They were put in place to apply to everybody, but it's such a stupid thing to do, killing innocent people." My mother released me from her grasp and placed her hands on my
shoulders. "Listen, I need you. You can't score badly. Whatever happens though, just know that I love you and I always will."
"I love you too mom, and I will do good. I won't leave you alone." I heard a horn honk outside the house, and I grabbed my bookbag as I walked out through the front door with my mother in tow. I looked back one last time as I walked towards the bus. "Goodbye mom, I love you."
I noticed that my legs had frozen up before I could get onto the bus. I stood at the opened doors for a few moments in a trance-like state before I heard the driver ask me if I was getting on. "Yeah, I am," I replied. After finding a seat, I noticed the entire bus was full. Everyone looked the same: relatively pale and solemn. They knew that some people who were on the bus this morning would never be seen again... alive.
Once the bus arrived at the school, I followed the other students as they walked into the building. I noticed a small filament shining in the early morning sun. Remembering how I studied fiberoptics in technology class, I recognized the device immediately. It was a camera. I thought the teachers said they were against the use of surveillance devices, I said to myself. It was odd how I had never noticed the little things in and around the school.
After being greeted by a teacher that seemed overly cheerful, the group of students was led into a large room I had never been in before in the school. We were sorted by age, and I was with the other fifteen-year-olds. The whole process was relatively quick, because by the time we were led into our testing room, and the heavy iron door was latched shut from the inside, it was only 7:15... Thirty minutes after I left my house and my lonely, widowed mother.
"Alright students. Since this is your first testing year, I will explain the whole ordeal," the teacher began. "This test is one of the most important things to overpopulated continents, so make sure you are precise and correct with all following actions. You must score an 80% or higher in order to legally pass this test, so be careful with the way you answer the questions. As you all may have heard from older students who have passed the NEAGS, the students who do not score an 80% or higher will be..." the teacher paused, and cleared his throat. "...Euthanized."
The class remained silent, knowing that there was the chance that each one of them might be selected for death. A boy with sandy-colored hair and blue eyes raised his hand.
"Sir, with all due respect, why are you doing this to us? It's ridiculous! I wasn't born to die! No one here was!" He then stood up and turned towards the class, pumping his fist in the air and pointing angrily at the teacher, who looked utterly dumbfounded and caught off guard. "We need to rise up against the monstrous people who think they can push us around!" When no one agreed to join him, the boy stormed up to the front of the test room.
Before the boy had even gotten close to the teacher, something was shot into his neck, which caused his body to go limp and his knees to buckle. As he collapsed onto the ground, three men decked out in bulletproof vests, helmets with visors, and all-black clothing carrying large guns ran into the room.
When they began to pick up the corpse of the boy, a girl stood up with tears streaking down her face. "Did you kill him?" She shouted.
The leader of the three men turned towards the standing teen and answered her. "It's what we had to do to maintain peace in the NEAGS system."
"He's my brother! You monsters! You f---" The girl's sentence was cut off as the leader of the three men pointed the barrel of his gun at her forehead, the aiming laser focused on the center of her forehead.
"Say another word, and you'll end up like your brother!"
"Go to hell!" She shouted back. A shot rang through the classroom, and she fell to the ground, blood pouring from her forehead.
"Anyone else?" The first man asked, holding his gun in the air. When no one dared to respond, the three people dragged the bloody corpses out of the testing room, trailing a line of blood behind them.
"Well then..." the teacher said, clapping his hands together, acting as if two children hadn't just died in this room. "Let's get on with the test."