Author: Jayne Wadsworth

Even now, I still have memories. The sweet soft wind whipping through my hair and the music of the rustling leaves up above. We had a good life. A simple one. When the zones ambushed our farm they took my father to undergo something called conversion. With nothing left, I knew my only hope was to move to the capital city and make enough money to be able to get to sea-scape, a nature conservatory, the last place I knew I could be happy.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

I stepped out of my apartment prepared to get a nose full of the smoky exhaust cloud that seemed to never leave downtown, but was immediately stunned to see a familiar face walking in the opposite direction. I couldn’t move. I turned to watch as my childhood best friend walked past me. For a moment I just stood there watching, then reality came back and I let his name escape from my lips..
He stopped immediately and turned. His face had changed. He had matured. His family had been ambushed and taken by zones. He filled out and looked strong. The only thing that hadn’t changed were his sparkling aspen eyes that always drove me insane as a child.
“Orion, is that you” I breathed. “Chimera? Chimera! Oh my goodness I.. I can’t believe it’s you.”
He started to walk towards me and then broke into a run as he got nearer. He grabbed me in his arms and hugged me so tightly I could barely breathe.
“Chimera what happened? I miss you so much but prayed I would never see you again. I never wanted them to do what they did to me. Is your Dad ok?”
I flinched and stood there as he watched a flash of pain stream across my face.
“On no.. I’m so sorry Chimera.”
“Orion, how are you here? How are you alive? I thought that they killed you.”
“I thought they were going to, but last minute they decided it would be a waste to dispose of such a young mind, released me in hopes over time I would learn to accept and support their advancements”
Suddenly I had a realization.
“Orion, you need to come with me. Come with me to the sea-scape.”
I hoped he could see the pleading in my eyes. He was my last family, I had no one else.
After what felt like years he answered.
“Of course, I’ll go with you Chimera.”

The rest of the day was a blur. After hours we finally entered what supposedly was the city center. To my surprise, there were no people at all. I didn’t expect to be let into the courtyard but the security didn’t even question us. I watched as Orion peered down at me and suddenly, in one swift motion slammed my head against his knee. All went black.
I woke up in a bright white room. My blurry vision cleared to reveal Orion standing robotically to my right. Orion dropped the letter he was holding onto my lap. With trembling fingers, I opened it and read ‘Candidate for Conversion found. Mission completed’. My heart stopped. There was no sea-scape. Society had created the idea of ‘sea-scape’ to trap those who did not fully support the advancement of AI. Orion, my long-lost best friend, had gone through conversion, just like everyone else. Now it was my turn, my turn to become what the world wanted me to be. To conform to the realities of society. I thought I had a choice but no. There was no choice.