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WE THE COMMUNITY
By T.J. McCarty
Copyright 2016 T.J. McCarty
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WE THE COMMUNITY
By T.J. McCarty
Copyright © 2016 by T.J. McCarty
All rights reserved
Reproduction in whole or in part of this publication without express written consent is strictly prohibited.
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
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This book is dedicated to my loving Savior, Jesus Christ, and my beautiful wife, Nikki.
There was no blood. Nobody was around to see. The night concealed everything.
We2k7’s face was another story. It had been cut in the struggle. There were multiple scratches, but nothing as big as this cut. It was long and deep, dripping with fresh blood. It was sure to leave a scar.
We2k7 was gasping for breath, not because he needed air; he was in all-out shock. It had happened so fast. He couldn’t believe this was real. It must have been a nightmare. A dream.
We2k7 was compelled to move. He couldn’t waste any time. More guards would be coming soon.
He needed to move the body somewhere else. Nobody could know what he had been up to.
The river was close.
It was decided. The body would be tossed into the river. The stream flowed away from the Community. Maybe the body would reach the outer wall without anyone noticing.
There was still night left.
We3s5 was wiping sweat from her brow with one hand and holding a basket full of strawberries in the other.
We3s5 belonged to one of the female agricultural units.
The separation of units based on gender was a recent law passed by the Council. Through experimenting with the people’s education, it had been determined that productivity increased when students were separated into gender-based classes. It was natural to think it would do the same for the working units. The Council still held to the truth that men and women were equal in every way, but, for the good of the Community, the Council now believed it was best to keep the genders separated.
We3s5 looked around to make sure nobody was watching. She smuggled a strawberry out of her basket. It was juicy and sweet, sending an explosion of flavor into her mouth. It was the best feeling. Pure pleasure.
Mother came into view from the corner of We3s5’s eye. We3s5 quickly threw the strawberry stem away. They both exchanged a genuine smile and got back to work.
We3s5 loved Mother.
There was a noise in the bushes.
We3s5 made sure Mother was out of sight. We3s5 walked quickly toward the sound.
It was We2k7. Something was wrong with him.
“What happened?” We3s5 said, looking at the cut on We2k7’s face.
“We have to leave tonight.”
“There’s no time to explain.”
We3s5’s face turned pale.
We2k7 looked disappointed.
“If…that’s still what you want?”
“Of course, it is…What was it like out there?”
“I didn’t have a chance to see.”
“I finished the hole. I just wasn’t able to go through it.”
“It’s big enough. You don’t have to worry. We can fit. I just haven’t tried it yet.”
“Can’t we leave tomorrow? I don’t see why—”
“We can’t wait! We have to go tonight. You have to trust me.”
We3s5’s chest sank. He was hiding something. He never hid things from her.
“What did you do?”
We2k7 looked down. His face showed his guilt.
“It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t change anything.”
Footsteps could be heard close by. We2k7 flung his head up and grabbed We3s5 by the arms.
“I’ll be at your window tonight. I love you.”
We2k7 pressed his lips hard onto We3s5’s, then ran into the cover of the wheat fields.
We3s5 was unable to move. She watched with bewilderment as We2k7 ran away from her.
What did he do?
“It is unlikely. But we have evidence to suggest that the Monster may be among us. We don’t know how he could have gotten through the wall. If anyone knows anything, either of the missing person or of a possible breach in the wall, you are to report to a member of the Guard immediately.”
He couldn’t have. But what if he did? He would never hurt anybody, would he?
We3s5 found herself afraid of the man she had fallen in love with. She was beginning to worry that he had done something terrible to that guard. She remembered how he looked when asked what he had done. It must have been something bad.
But how bad?
Was it possible he…killed him? No, We3s5! Stop thinking like that. You know him.
But did she? At this moment, We3s5 wasn’t so sure. All the evidence seemed to point to We2k7. The cut, the scratch marks, the need to rush their escape. The look he gave when confronted about it.
Something had happened last night and it wasn’t good. She knew We2k7 had to be involved in the disappearance somehow.
We3s5 wasn’t certain she would answer We2k7’s call tonight. She already had doubts about leaving her home. Now she was afraid. Of him.
But you love him.
It was true. She loved him more than anything else in the world. It was an undying love. Even if he did do something terrible to that man, she would probably try to make up a good excuse for him. She would give him the benefit of the doubt. It was instinctual for her to protect the people she loved.
But how far could this love take her? Would she be willing to hide his secret? Even if it was murder?
She would have to decide by tonight, when We2k7 would come knocking on her window.
“…report immediately anything you know of the situation. That is all.”
We2k7 got back to work. He rushed, trying to cover up the cut on his face the best he could in a way that seemed natural. Whenever that didn’t work and somebody asked about it, he would tell them he lost control of his harvesting instrument. He knew that story would only work for so long. The guards would make the connection soon enough, especially if they ever found the body.
That’s why it had to be tonight. They may not get another chance.
He wished it didn’t have to be this way. But it did. His biggest fear was that We3s5 may not be brave enough. He was asking her to leave her home, everything she’d ever known. Most people wouldn’t be strong enough.
But she was different. She stood up when everyone else bowed down in surrender. She was a fighter. He knew she loved him.
Would that be enough?
He was frightened, himself. It would be up to him to take care of them once they reached the Woods. They would be living the rest of their lives out there. It would be his responsibility to make sure they didn’t starve. He had practiced his hunting skills. He told himself that he was prepared, but he still was uncertain.
None of that mattered now. There could be no turning back. If they didn’t leave, he would be hanged. The Guard would figure it out somehow.
Up until this point, it had been love that drove him to do such a drastic thing. Trying to escape from the Community invited death, either at the hands of the Council or at the hands of the Woods. Love had always been worth the risk.
But now he wasn’t sure if it was love or fear that drove him.
This was no longer a choice of will. They had to escape.
“You there,” said one of the guards, getting We2k7’s attention.
It had been three days since the night they were supposed to have escaped. We2k7 never showed up.
We3s5 was worried sick. She had no idea where he was. She hadn’t seen him all this time. He never came to visit her.
What happened to him? It was as if he had vanished.
We3s5 thought about sneaking away to find him, but never found the chance. Mother was always close by.
But she was determined today.
The first moment her mother and sisters left her sight, We3s5 would dash into the fields to find him.
We3s5 inched closer and closer to the fields, away from the others. She never went too fast, to avoid suspicion. A step here, a step there.
She was a good distance away now. We3s5 looked at the others. They were all busy at work plucking strawberries.
Now was her chance.
We3s5 moved swiftly. She knew exactly where he would be at this time of the day. Well, exactly where he should be.
It took her no time. She could see his unit working, slicing away at the tall wheat stalks.
Where is he?
We2k7 was nowhere to be found.
We2k9 was standing nearby. We3s5 sneaked over to get his attention. He noticed her right away.
“You haven’t heard?”
We3s5 shook her head no, looking back and forth to make sure nobody was listening.
“The guards took him.”
“They took him a few days ago. Nobody’s seen him since.”
“Why did they take him?”
“I don’t know. Nobody knows. I’ve got to get back to work.”
We2k9 left without saying goodbye.
We3s5 was at a loss. She felt helpless. It wasn’t uncommon for members of the Community to vanish; the Council only made a big deal about the recent disappearance because it was one of their own, a member of the Guard.
This was different, though. We2k7 didn’t vanish in secrecy. The Guard took him in broad daylight for everyone to see. They hadn’t cared to cover it up. He must have done something extreme.
There was no time to ponder; she had to make it back to work before anyone noticed her absence.
Whatever happened to We2k7 had to remain a mystery for now.
The body of the missing guard had been found down river washed up on shore six days after the disappearance,
We3s5 heard the news. She was panicky all day. Every little sound made her jump; it was as if she was doing something mischievous that she was afraid of others seeing.
She didn’t feel safe anymore knowing that We2k7 wasn’t there to protect her.
If We2k7 had done something to that man, he would certainly pay the price. We2k7 was still under the control of the Guard, as far as she knew. We3s5 hadn’t seen him since he went missing.
The community had been called for a mandatory announcement. Everyone, including We3s5, was standing just outside the Council’s headquarters. The messenger for the Council stood at the top of the steps, in front of the building.
“As you all know, a member of the Guard was recently reported missing. Yesterday, he was found. Still alive, but in critical condition. Although the guard has been too weak to communicate, a citizen of the Community has informed us of what took place the night of the disappearance.”
The messenger made a motion, calling for the citizen to be brought forward for everyone to see.
It was We2k7.
We3s5’s heart jumped and cringed at the same time. She was overjoyed to find him still alive, but distressed to see him still in the custody of the Guard.
I hope they didn’t hurt him.
“He is here to explain to all of us what happened that night. His eye-witness account was instrumental to the finding of our lost guard.”
We2k7 looked hesitant. His eyes found We3s5 immediately. Her presence soothed his nerves, giving him the strength to speak.
His eyes turned to the crowd. He spoke loud and clear.
“The night of the attack, I was asleep in my home when a noise awakened me. It was coming from the Woods. I had never heard anything like it before. It sounded like a large animal. Then I heard another noise. It was a man, crying out. I knew it was against protocol, but I left my home to find the man to help him. When I arrived, I saw the beast. The Monster of the Woods held the screaming man by the neck.”
Loud gasps reverberated through the crowd. When the noise subsided, We2k7 continued.
“I tried to reach the Monster as fast as I could, to save the man’s life. But the Monster tossed him into the river before I could get to him. I struggled with the Monster. I barely got away. I have the marks to prove it. I reported to the Guard as soon as I could the following morning.”
It startled We3s5 how good We2k7 was at lying. His story sounded sincere. We3s5 was tempted to believe it herself. But she couldn’t forget the shame on his face when she asked what he had done that night.
It had to have been him, not the Monster, who had attempted to strangle the guard to death. We3s5 didn’t realize he was capable of such a thing.
[What _]else[ could he have done?_]
We3s5 began to make excuses for him. He wasn’t a bad man, she thought. He wouldn’t have tried to kill that man for no reason. It was the Council’s fault.
They’ve turned us into animals.
If it weren’t for the Council, there would be no need for We2k7 and We3s5 to escape the Community.
If she were in We2k7’s shoes, she probably would have tried to do the same thing. It was a kill or be killed situation. If he would have let the guard take him, We2k7 would have been hanged.
_He isn’t a bad man. He probably did it for you. _
If he had been taken, they couldn't have escaped. If they didn't escape, she would be forced to breed with someone else. He definitely did it for her -- this was what she had decided to believe, anyway.
“Thank you, We2k7. You may return to your unit.”
We2k7 caught We3s5’s eyes as he returned to his unit. From the way he looked at her, We3s5 knew it was imperative to continue to watch him.
When We2k7 got back to his unit, and nobody was watching him anymore, he looked directly at We3s5 and mouthed the words,
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I greatly appreciate you taking the time to read my work. Please consider leaving a review wherever you bought this book, or telling your friends about it, to help spread the word.
Thank you for your support.
"Would she be willing to hide his secret? Even if it was murder?" If the person you loved killed somebody, would you help cover it up? Or would you be too afraid to stay in the relationship? These are the questions We3s5 must ask herself. A member of the Community has been killed. All the evidence says that the man that We3s5 loves is the killer. We3s5 must decide if she will remain loyal to him, or turn him in to the Guard. WE THE COMMUNITY mixes dystopian future, supernatural suspense, and horror. Fans of The Giver, The Shack, and Stephen King will love this book.