Authors: Amy Kinzer
Amy L. Kinzer
Copyright 2011 Amy Kinzer
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I hate the sound of crashing metal. Screeching tires. Brakes. I hate rain and dark skies and the smell of cheap beer. I might be the only guy who hates beer. It’s been a year since I’ve had a beer.
I hate groups.
I hate my life.
The thing is, I took all those stupid alcohol prevention classes that our school offered. But that crap happens to someone else. I didn’t know anyone who died. No, I mean I didn’t know anyone who had died that didn’t hold an AARP card in his wallet. Grandpa died from heart failure when I was a sophomore.
The one thing everyone knows, but the court system couldn’t prove, was that the accident was my fault. I never should have gotten behind the wheel after the party. I knew the minute I turned the key that I shouldn’t have offered to drive. I wasn’t
. The courts let me off though, gave me a little pat on the head and told me to have a nice life. Go play football or join the Party. That’s what guys like you do. Popular guys. Guys who are athletic.
Now, if I could just turn off my brain then I’d be able to just move along and not have a care in the world.
But I can’t get the night out of my head.
It’s stuck in my brain.
It’s burned on the back of my retinas, where I have to look at it forever.
It spins in a circle, a video playing in my head that I can’t turn off. I want to turn it off. God, if there is anything I want to do more than turn off the video in my brain I would flip the switch and make it end. I’d rather watch
with my kid brother twenty times a day then a replay of that night.
Mom keeps telling me it’s okay. Not to think about it anymore. It’s over, it was an accident, I didn’t mean for it to happen.
You’re not guilty!
The courts found you innocent. Just move on with your life. You can’t change the past. You can’t go back and change what happened. There’s no reason to keep thinking about it, stressing over it, replaying the whole thing in your mind.
Everything in life is relative. I’m sure everyone has something in their life they wish they could go back and change. For me, there’s nothing else.
It’s why I’m going to the Institute for Youth Development’s training program.
I want another chance.
I’m sitting on my bed when I hear a knock on the door. It could be only one of three people and I know which person I prefer.
I don’t say anything at first. Instead, I get up and start taking clothes from my closet and transferring them to my suitcase. If I could, I’d pack everything I own and never come back. But I doubt it matters anyway. After my summer at IYD I won’t need my belongings anymore.
Another knock on the door that I ignore. I don’t want whoever’s on the other side intruding.
“Matt?” It’s Mom. Not the person I prefer, but not Dad either. Dad’s worst. “Can I come in, dear?”
I hesitate. I just want to be left alone until I leave. I don’t have anything to say. “I’m busy packing.”
A pause. “Please, dear? I just want to talk to you for a few minutes.”
I walk over and open the door. She’s on the other side with that worried look she wears on her face any time she’s around me now. It’s like she doesn’t know what to say or how to act in my presence. I’m a stranger and a disappointment. Violet’s mom used to be her best friend.
I’ve ruined all kinds of relationships.
I motion my arm, welcoming her into my room. “Come on in.”
“It’s so clean in here.” She looks around and takes in the room I’ve been living in my whole life. She looks uncomfortable. No one acts normal around me anymore. Her eyes fall on a photo of Violet and I from prom. They linger for a moment before she takes a seat on my bed.
I go back to packing. I can’t wait to get out of this place. “Yeah? Well… I didn’t want to leave a mess.”
She pauses and examines the empty walls, looks at the spots where the trophies used to be. Those are packed away now. The worried expression she wears on her face grows like a disease. I try to ignore all the pain I’ve caused in her life. It makes me feel too ashamed. “You don’t have to go, you know. You can stay here. I spoke to your dad. Football camp is such a better option for you. We can have your brother apply to the school when he’s old enough. I’m not sure if you’re ready for this kind of stress.” She takes a deep breath and lets out a loud sigh, the kind of sigh that tells me she can barely deal with this anymore. “We’d love it if you’d stay.”
I think, but I don’t say it. Conversations with my parents about my feelings are over as far as I’m concerned. And I’m not going to have my brother take the fall for me. He doesn’t want to attend IYD. Going to school to be a Party member means giving up everything else in your life.
And I’m the one with nothing left.
“I’m the one they want,” I mumble. “Plus, I know how important attending IYD is to Dad. I should go. It will make everything better for the family.” I don’t want Mom to cry. I can’t deal with any more crying. I’ve had enough with hugs and crying to last me a lifetime. And I don’t want her to worry that I might not come back. I wish she’d just leave, but she doesn’t make any move to get off my bed.
“I… your dad… We just want you to be happy. Accidents happen all the time. Sometimes they happen in the most unfortunate manners. But you can’t spend your whole life torturing yourself over something you can’t change. Your friends wouldn’t want you to go on like this.”
Over something you can’t change
. That’s where she’s wrong. I can make a change. It’s the only reason I’m traveling to Las Vegas to attend IYD.
“There’s nothing to worry about, Mom. I’m going to IYD because I want to. It’s a great opportunity. Our lives will be so much better if I become a Party member. Really, I don’t have a choice.”
She folds her hands in her lap and stares at them. I imagine her mind is swirling a million thoughts around in circles – her synapses trying to think of just the right thing to say – but she thinks better than to spit any of them out. Instead she stands up and smiles.
“Okay. We support any decision that you make, Matt.”
Then she walks out of the room.
The area was empty.
And then it wasn’t.
Governmentontherun81 alerted me to it in the forums on Conspiraciesrus.com. Quadrants are: 35 degrees north, 117 degrees west. I’m sure it’s Area 31, Area 51’s twin sister.
I zoom in. It’s a tent. There are guards around it. They’re armed with assault rifles. People who look like ants are building a fence around the tent. I eat popcorn and drink Coke while I watch the men work in the dark of night, hoping to not be detected.
They don’t know the group they think is protecting them is the one that allows me to watch.
It’s easier like this. Watching. They watch us. You think I’m paranoid? I’m not. There’s proof of it everywhere: the red light in the fire alarm is a camera, the dropped call is a bug in your phone, the guy that delivers the mail is a government spy. Cable companies know what we’re watching. You think Facebook was created by some asshole at Harvard? That asshole is on the government payroll.
I examine the camera at the top of my computer. It’s the size of a pinhead. I know they can dial in and watch what I’m doing. And those little dots aren’t just on the top of my computer, either. They’re everywhere.
They’re recruiting for their development program. I know because Jonathan Martin heard about it in the forums. I applied. Everyone with an aptitude for science or leadership applied. This summer, high school juniors and seniors chosen to spend a summer at the Institute for Youth Development will be eligible to join the Party after successful completion of the program. The institute is run by the Party. I’m not supposed to know that but I do.
See, people don’t know these things because they don’t know where to look. Do you know how I learned about Area 31? I was watching Area 51. Only a few of us know how to dial into the satellites that allow you to spy on pretty much anything you want. I was looking for aliens and I zoomed out and started looking around the desert when I found it. Construction workers are on location, but only at night. Armored vehicles patrol the area. It’s supposed to be under wraps.
And there’s something else I’m looking for in the middle of the desert. I started doing research when I heard the rumors: Marvin Winn, the richest casino owner in the world, has reportedly found vortexes that can take you back in time.
They’re doing research this summer. The government wants to develop a training program for future Party members. The government wants to move away from the dual party system. According to the government, Americans don’t need more choice: they need someone to tell them what to do.
Biggest complaint? Jobs. Don’t have a job? The Party will find you one.
Want an education? The Party will tell you where to go to school.
Need a place to live? The Party will find you a home.
But they need leaders, and scientists, actors, actresses, writers, developers. They need only the brightest.
And I want to be one of them.
I’m waiting for my gold envelope. Because it’s coming – it has to come. I’m the perfect candidate.
I watch the digital clock on my computer tick towards midnight. I saw the news. Fourteen of the fifteen trainees have been chosen. I still have a chance to be number fifteen and eight minutes remain until the deadline.
I have to be invited to attend IYD. If I’m chosen I’ll get to join the Party and learn the government’s secrets. I’ll find out the truth. It’s what I’m looking for: the Truth.
But I don’t have a clean background. I’ve done things, and I know the Party does a background check. But no one has a perfect past. I’ve hacked things. Like the satellites that gave away Area 31. It’s why the Party wants me and why they don’t. I’m smart. But I’m also a rule breaker.
I watch the seconds tick by on the clock. I flip on the official Party channel. No news. One spot is still open. The woman on the TV with the frozen forehead and a perma smile is counting down the minutes until midnight, waiting for the last selection. I still have a chance.
I tap my fingers against my desk, counting down the seconds. I imagine them spying on me from Party headquarters. And maybe that’s why they’re making me wait. I look right into the camera on my computer and smile. I want them to know I can handle stress. I can handle anything. I take a deep breath and stop tapping my fingers.
Even though I’m expecting it, I jump at the sound of the doorbell. It’s 11:56 PM. It has to be them.
I rush to the door. Mom stands next to it, her eyes as large as saucers. I open the door and a man in khaki pants and stiff jacket with a belt around the waist stands on the patio. Behind him are two security guards with assault rifles at their waists. On the pocket of his jacket is a pin of the American flag.
The flag has only one star.
“Richard Holden, you are hereby advised to report to Winn Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada to attend the Institute of Youth Development. IYD is a Party-run facility where you will train to become a Party member. You are hereby advised that anything you learn about the Party or IYD is the intellectual property of the Party and sharing this information is considered treason, punishable by life in jail or death.”