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The Deck (3rd Prize, Category 4)

April, 2014
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The dawn broke. The sun warmed my back, my fingers ached, my arm twitched with effort, the soles of my feet ground against the pavement. I stood as the sun rose. I held my head level and my eyes blank void of emotion. There was only one reason why I wouldn’t go. Pride. What a silly thing to keep me here. Held in the place of my worst fears trying to make a change that would never come. Except that today was different and we could all feel it.

We filled the square all dressed in our mandatory white. All with our hair smoothed back and out of our faces. Standing in perfect rows and columns across the square. Our signs displaying crossed out equal signs silently announced our protest that we could not make with our voices. Many people had tried to change the deck with acts of passive resistance but nothing had changed. This silent protest was never going to work but today was different because we had a plan. Already from the corner of my eye I could see the soldiers shifting silently across the rooftop. I counted the seconds between their rotations. Thirty seconds. Enough time for someone to slip by unnoticed if they knew how to do it.

There was a small rustle as some people fidgeted aware of the sun overhead. The sun was not high yet but in a few hours the shadow in the square would turn into blazing hot sun burning our pale skin.   

My finger twitched but I ignored it and stared straight ahead. Not wanting to make my movement aware to those around me. By standing here I put all those around me at risk. But I did it for their good. My blank stare and practiced movements were what bonded me to the people I tried to help.

I knew it would be almost impossible to succeed but I had to try. I took a deep breath through my nose so I didn’t attract attention to my self and tried to use the fresh air to calm my self.

Slowly I moved my hand not holding my sign to my side aware of the soldiers on the roof and the people that surrounded me. I tucked my elbows tight to my side. Preparing my arms for the power that would come. I let my fingers feel.

I felt as the person beside me let out a breath. I felt the wind swerve around the four story buildings of this square. I felt it pocket here in the center of the square. I had chosen my position specifically, second row in the third column. The girl that I switched places with to accomplish this would probably thank me if she ever found out. I closed my eyes for a brief second and let myself concentrate again. If I succeeded they would all be free. 

I turned my palms out and closed my eyes to concentrate. I pulled with all my strength, aware that if I made the slightest indication of how much I was drawing in they would know. I drew and drew until I felt the wind twisting through my ponytail. No one would know by looking at me how much power I was only barely controlling. But I did control it and I waited intent to make my action count. My fingers began to twitch and I knew it was only a matter of time before I would loose control. I saw it then the signal I had been waiting for. The last guard on the rooftop dressed exactly like the others shifted two seconds after the others did. He was obviously aware of their rotation but not perfectly in step with them. The other soldiers would not notice. Only I could tell because I was waiting for this. Planning for a long time.  

I let my sign clatter to the ground. I clenched my fists and focused on the sun with my head held to face the blinding rays peeking over the far building. I was sure that my sudden movement had alerted all the guards but that is what I wanted. I wanted to shoulder as much of the blame as possible if this were to go wrong.

I screamed and let everything rush through me, flinging my hands to the side. Forcing the wind to flow through the tips of my hair out my fingers. I could feel the power concentrated through my fingers jetting out where I directed. The wisps that I had felt earlier bundled together and became a compact force swirling out wards together away from me. The wind-curled outwards flinging the peoples hair awry and pushing their signs like sails. The wind pushed on the windows of the square forcing them in until they shattered under the stress. They all smashed in unison like a perfectly choreographed symphony. All of in the square were showered in the slivers of glass like rain. The glass fell and when it hit the ground it tinkled. Every soldier had his or her gun trained on me but my power wasn’t out yet. The wind pushed on. Swirling around the tops of the buildings towards the guards on the roof. They saw it coming, I know they did because some of them twitched but still they kept their position. They were under strict orders to maintain their position. Except for the last one. The one who had hesitated earlier. He jumped propelling himself off the roof and into the oncoming wind. As he jumped I moved one of my hands forward and pulled the wind into a platform over my head. And he landed on it just as we had practiced.

As I held him there he ripped off his helmet and bulletproof vest revealing his short-cropped brown hair with blond tips. With one hand I held him up and with the other I held back the soldiers around the square keeping the wind tightly packet into a wall between the soldier’s guns and the people beneath them. The people recognized him immediately. Recognized him as an ace, the highest and most powerful of the ranks in our society. They knew him by his rank and his name, Skylar. He was considered the most rebellious, and incompliant to the deck’s rules. As an eight I was considered special for my wild powers of controlling the elements but nothing compared to the power of an ace. The common folk made up of twos through fives around me had amplified human abilities such as skilled mathematicians, or above average human speeds. They all stared transfixed upon Skylar, whom they had only seen in pictures before. He spoke then, clearly and evenly “Now is the time, be who you are”. 

The people knew what he meant and hefted their signs up with a new purpose. Their signs no longer made claims to peaceful resistance they were now weapons ready to wield against their opposition, the deck.

I lowered Skylar to the ground and as soon as he touched solid ground he sprinted towards the nearest wall of the square with one arm stretched forward. He scrunched his face and then stared transfixed at the wall. A smashing sound washed over us in a wave as Skylar sprinted through the gaping hole he had just made in the side of one of the buildings. People in the square were screaming creating a wild chaos of noise. I sprinted after him yelling at the others to follow us. Right before I went through the gap in the wall I pushed with the last of my strength and shoved the wind into the guards faces. Forcing them backwards so that we could all escape.

We all ran as a pack towards the hole. I forced my self to run faster pushing my self further with each stride.

We poured out into the street rounding the corner and sprinting to the end of the street. Our goal was obvious, the deck building at the end of the street that had contained us for so long. The deck building connected to the fence that kept us in and it controlled the exit to the world outside. We reached for it. We ran at it. We strained towards it.

We were only two blocks away and I knew we were not going to make it. I could hear the helicopters in the distance and see the sun coming up in the ray’s reflection in the windows on the buildings on either side of the street. I ducked into a side ally and saw Skylar glance back once but he knew what I was going to do. With the last of my strength I pulled the wind through my fingertips and aimed at the giant satellite disk on the roof of the deck. 

I held the wind underneath the disk and pushed upward. In response it groaned as it lifted off the roof. I could see them coming and I moved my arms so they pointed over the street where they were running. I held the disk just so it caught the sun. Holding off the blinding heat radiating from the rays.

They ran at the building as I held the satellite up to block the sunlight. The fastest ones reached the building first and began running up the steps.

The smashed everything in their path. Using their signs as weapons and their powers that they were born with. During the night soldiers patrolled this street but for now there were no guards. The blistering heat would have burned anyone who tried to reach the deck in the daylight. One four with the ability of heat pressed his palm against the door and burned a hand shaped hole through it. Then he reached through the hole and unlocked the door from the inside. They burst through the entry. Skylar saw the helicopters that I had seen earlier and motioned at me to do something. So as soon as the last person made it through the blistering heat and to the deck I flung the satellite at the helicopter creating a crack in the tail. The helicopter spiraled towards the ground and I didn’t pause to see the destruction I had caused. Then I ran after Skylar. They had run to the main hall with all the edicts describing the rules of our society and ripped them all down. "We will all be equal" was torn down and trampled on. They had broken through the last wall at the end of the hall and were running out of their captivity to freedom.

They had tried to hold us equal for so long but we were not equal. We all had our own abilities that we were born with. How could we be all equal when we were so different from each other. We never had been equal and now for the first time we were free. Free to be what we were. Free to be who we were. And free to leave the deck.


By Emmeline Pearson,

16 years, Shanghai American School


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