• Chapter 1: Fell
    The Green Eyed Doll

    I can feel the rush of December air in my face even through the layers of warm soft sheets that cover my bed. It makes me wonder who left the window open overnight. Nobody ever leaves the window open unless its summer or if they feel ill. But as I push myself up and look around, nobody looks ill, because no one is here. All the beds are made, and everything is put in place. I am all alone. And I know why.

    It’s my gift. An extra hour of sleep on my birthday. I look down at the metal tag that hangs around my neck; at least I think it’s my birthday.

    Winters, Felicity
    Dec. 31, 2121

    That’s what my identification tag says, today I turn sixteen. But no one is completely sure if today is my real birthday. And I highly doubt it is. It was just an educated guess. Unlike most people, I don’t know anything about myself. All of my life has just been one big guess.
    I was orphaned at birth, by my rebel parents. I know they were outlaws because to orphan a child purposely is illegal. I’m also almost positive that they’re dead.

    Mrs. Valtine offered to take me in as her own child despite my family background. I have lived in the Chicago’s Convert Home for Girls my entire life; watching people come and go.
    Convert homes are exactly what they sound like. A conversion into someone else. Every child between the ages of ten and sixteen live in these homes, and are shaped into perfect adults. Six years in a convert home means eliminating teenage rebellion and creates a strong sense of patriotism and respect. I’m the exception to this rule.

    Kicking back the cover I stretch out large and wide. Even if I don’t want to, I have to start my day. Just because it’s my birthday that doesn’t mean things will get any better. In fact things will just get worse.

    All I do is pull my long sleeve Division uniform shirt over my head, tug on my gray slacks, and brush my teeth.. I don’t even want to bother with my hair, it’s always in knots. Staring back at myself in the mirror the uniform does nothing for me. My shirt is two sizes to big, and my slacks are unnaturally long over my feet. Today I take a quick peek at myself in the windows while walking to breakfast, to make sure that I don’t look completely ugly. It’s a failed attempt. I’m only a dark empty outline.

    The clatter in the dining hall is the same as always. Loud with the sound of voices and the chime of forks and knives. And it all looks the same too. The long table filled with girls wearing the same gray uniform. Some things will never change. I push behind the chairs to find my seat in the crowd hearing a few “good mornings” as I move about. I take my seat and lean back in the chair feeling too nauseous to even grab something to eat.

    I feel a pair of tiny arms around me creating a giant squeeze. “Happy birthday, Fell,” Aria’s mousy voice squeals out as her red locks of fiery hair brush against my neck. Yes my full name is Felicity, but everyone just calls me Fell. I insist on it.
    “Thanks Aria,” I mutter hugging her back with my petite arms. Aria is tiny; like her bones are twigs and her skin is paper. She barely has an inch or two on me. And I happen to be very small.
    There is another brush against me and the soft feel of whispers pounding to my ear in a rhythmic tone. “Happy birthday, happy birthday. There’s an economic scare; people dying everywhere. Happy birthday.” The flow of the words seems to undermine how true they are. And certainly a song about death is not what I wanted on any day. But that doesn’t stop Logan from laughing. At least he whispers it, or else he’d be in big trouble. Insulting Division is the last thing anyone wants to do. Unless you’re me.

    Logan is the only boy to be in the convert home. He’s lucky to be here, in fact he’s lucky to be alive. Logan is homosexual.

    Being homosexual is something Division doesn’t like. Most people find out they’re homosexual around the age of thirteen. If Division finds something wrong with you before you turn sixteen, they have every right to kill you. Being gay is wrong. Logan is only still alive is because he is the governor’s son and a very good actor. After he turned sixteen everyone found out he was gay. But the law says that no one could kill him for it. He was then transferred to the girls’ home back in January.

    There are lots of things that Division doesn’t like; homosexuality, disorders, diseases, defects. They hate it all. Division’s goal is healthy offspring. The best way to eliminate anyone who could pass a trait into a child is to get rid of them. And when they find something they don’t like, they send in the Child Terminator Commissioners. They are the ones who take the “imperfect” children and poison them. As for homosexuals, they don’t produce offspring.

    But there is one thing they can’t stand, and you can be killed at any age for it. The laws are denied for one type of person. Rebels.

    “Come on,” he says nudging my shoulder, “show a little smile!” I’ve always had a hard time resisting Logan, he’s always happy. No matter what. It’s like a smile is a permanent fixture on his face.

    “She doesn’t have to be happy if she doesn’t want to,” Sienna’s voice is like wind. It blows past with ease, you know it’s there. But there’s nothing to it. It’s just a dead sound. “After all that means she goes to her last test today. None of us enjoyed that. Particularly you, Logan.” Finishing her thought Sienna resorts to hanging her head low and begins to jab her fork into some eggs.

    The tests are one of few things that I am terrified of. Every year we are forced to take a test, whether it be an IQ test, or a physical fitness test. This one so happens to be my Adulting test, it will let me know if I am allowed to move on as an adult. All I know is that it focuses on personality. And that if I don’t pass the tests with flying colors, I’m literally dead. During the tests if they find one good reason to kill me, they will.

    Aria’s hand graces over mine and gives it a tight squeeze, “Don’t listen to them. Everything will be just fine, trust me. The rest of us passed, you will too. Just remember, it’s always someone else who fails.”

    “Right,” I pin a fake smile to my face. I can only hope.

    I take a piece of toast from the dish in the center of the table. I’ll need my strength to make it through the day. Taking a bite I feel a pair of tiny arms grip around my waist and I almost cough up my breakfast. “Happy Birthday!”

    Briella is the sweetest girl you could ever meet. She’s as tiny as can be, with olive skin and dark frizzy hair. Not to mention she happens to have the biggest, brownest, and most innocent eyes in Division.

    “Hey, Briella,” I smile hugging her tight in my arms.

    It’s upsetting that this is my last day in the convert home, and that I won’t see Briella again in a very long time. But tomorrow, I will be free of this place. The only problem is that I’ll be shackled to something different, and probably worse. A job, a home, a spouse, and a future. I want my own life, not someone else’s twisted plot.

    “Fell?” Briella’s voice has become a meek whisper, “promise me… that you’ll pass your test. And come back alive.” Honestly I don’t know what to do about this. If I pass, I’ll be forced into a life I don’t want. But if I fail, and die, I won’t have to worry about what lies ahead. I nod my head and answer “yes”. I’ll try for Briella.


    Today it’s my turn to wash the floors, my least favorite chore in the world. The water chills my fingers to the bone and turns them as white as the snow falling outside the window. I wish I could play in the snow, like I did as a child. To catch the flakes on my tongue and to have something catch me when I fall back.

    Footsteps echo down the halls in a stampede. “Felicity, it’s time for you to take your test.” Mrs. Valtine is standing in the frame of the door, her caramel hair a tapered mess in the back of her head. Behind her stand two men in bland gray suits with Division logos on the front. Commissioners.

    Commissioners are our government officials and law enforcement. They oversee all tests, ceremonies, basically every aspect of our lives. They’re better than child terminators, but a lot worse than the average guard.

    I have two options, resist and be forced away. Or just go with it. Either way I’ll be taking the Adulting test. So I take my chances. Standing up I let out a deep breath and take the steps forward. If I close my eyes it feels like I’ll fall off a cliff if I move another inch. My stomach is a rock sinking down inside of me. I can’t afford to feel sick again. It’s just in the nick of time that one of the commissioners grabs my arm that I don’t drop to the floor.

    A shiver is sent up my spine and I come across a cold shaking feeling. My eyes open wide trying to reassure myself. I’m strong. I’m brave. I have nothing to lose, but my life. “Come along Ms. Winters.” I’m escorted outside into the winter chill to see that a big black car is waiting outside on the curb. I’ve never ridden in a car before, which is what excites me. Cars are a privilege, barely anyone can use one. Most people either ride the trains or walk.

    The car is a glossy, oily black color and the inside is lined with smooth tan leather. Just how I imagined it. One of the commissioners gets in the back of the car with me, while the other takes the wheel. I like the feeling of the ground moving below me while I stay stationary, it feels like flying.

    “Miss Winters,” looking to the commissioner, I ready myself for what is to come. He reaches to the floor of the car and pulls up a simple brown box. “Your yearly gift.” Every year Division grants us a gift on our birthday. When I was eight I got a silver faced watch. When I was fourteen I got a pleated gray skirt. Being the last person to turn sixteen this year, I already know what the gift is. Opening up the box I reach in and pull it out. Hair made of string, the color of dead grass. Big green button eyes and a few tiny freckles scattered about. A doll. This isn’t any doll though; it’s a doll that looks just like me.

    It seems childish. But it isn’t. These dolls aren’t for playing. They’re a serious issue. They symbolize owning yourself. If I pass this test the doll is mine and I get to own my right to live. All I have to do is get the right answers.

    “Thank you the gift is very… kind.” The gift is in fact the opposite. We all deserve the right to live, no matter what our age of what tests we pass. I give the doll back , I can’t hold on to it anymore.

    “During the test, Miss Winters you must answer every question, no matter what it is. And you must answer it as quickly as possible; no second thoughts. If you do fail to complete a question you lose points.”

    I shift my eyes to the buildings moving fast beside me, “Is it a questionnaire?”

    “In a sense.”

    As the tires slow to a break my instant feeling of being calm is gone, I feel sick. My hands want to shake and grab hold of anything for balance. The step out of the car reminds me of watching people try to jump a flight of stairs. They say it’s because they feel brave. I feel they’re stupid. I feel stupid getting out of the car.

    The testing room is located in Chicago Board of Trade Building, but now it’s called the Chicago Testing Center abbreviated C.T.C. It doesn’t sound as classy as the first name it had. But it still looks just as nice. Big and white, showered with clear windows.

    Once inside I’m dragged through a series of hallways, until I’m dragged into a room with five commissioners in white lab coats waiting for me. Almost instantaneously I become their science project. Two electrodes are smashed to my forehead and a big black metal device covers my eyes. It’s a gigantic pair of glasses that I can see out of at all. I feel a commissioner hit a button on the top of the glasses. There is a moment of gray fuzziness before the room and the commissioners come back into view.

    “Can you see alright, Felicity?” A female commissioner with long brown hair smiles at me through the electronic glasses. She then places two tiny head phones into my ears and slips my hands into thin skin tight gloves.

    I nod, feeling the weight of the device. “Yes I can… and please call me Fell.” Being called Felicity is something I don’t really like. I much prefer my nickname.

    “Fell it is then.” She turns around and checks the screen on the oversized mainframe before her. Mainframes are our connection to the world. They allow communication, access to information, and data storage. “Everything is set to go. Are you ready?”

    I swallow down hard. I’m not ready. I may never be ready.

    People die because of this. It’s always someone else who fails. What if I’m someone else? What if I don’t make it out alive?

    I have to think positively. Logan made it out alive. He’s still breathing. His heart is still beating. He’s at the convert home right now. He’s my best friend. If he can pass, so can I.

    “Let’s get this over with.” The commissioner gives a reassuring smile and opens the door behind her.

    The room is cold and the walls are made of concrete bricks. There are no windows at all, but I spot a camera angled to see everything going on in the room. This was supposed to be a questionnaire, a personality test. This doesn’t seem like that at all.

    A static covered voice pulses out through my head through the ear phones. “The test will commence in five.” I can do this. “Four.” Logan passed, so did Aria and Sienna. I’ll pass this for Briella. “Three. Two.” I’m terrified. “One.”

    Everything goes black.