Eponine’s notebook, undated

The absolute worst case scenario has happened and I could have prevented it and now I’m going to die because I didn’t bother to assert myself when Liv was bursting through my busted window.

I could have said no. I could have told her that I would never submit to Miralay in a hundred years and that I wanted to spend my life wandering in books and preparing to be an artist of sorts when I was an adult. I could have told her to screw off and to take her “civic responsibility” and shove it up her ass.

It’s not the worst thing in the world that I can’t check in previous diary entries to make sure that I didn’t spontaneously change my life goal to something more tear-evoking just because the world is closing in on me and I’m suffocating under the ocean waves. No, not the ocean waves, but the cold, dead walls of the sleeping pod- borne on artificial waves of as much agony and misery as I can feel that bitch Amelia Rogue or whatever her name is punish me with, a hundredfold for every minute that I’ve spent in relative freedom away from Miralay.

And then the- the stalking? Skulking? Shedding? It’s a word I encountered in a book I loved a few years ago, one where a billionaire was emptying out other people’s organs so he could bring other rich people back to young and healthy bodies-

Shucking. Shucking is the word I’m looking for. I’m a shellfish and I’m about to have all my insides shucked out onto the floor and drained and have fluff from six other souls shoved into the empty space in my skin so they can be young and alive again. And they see this as normal. As desirable. And when Liv and I are eventually forced to marry each other at twenty and have children at the age of twenty-two, our zygotes will be shipped away to the central facility like everyone else’s and they’ll be able to see if the child is the Providence at birth and mark them for collection on their seventeenth birthday.

I’ll have to touch Liv’s body. Have to caress her, have to pretend that I feel anything but utter revulsion at the sight of her, at the reminder that one accidental discovery in the basement of a dilapidated dollar store led to my downfall.

What if one of our children is one of the next Providences? Will I have to look a son or daughter in the eye, a child with part of my face and part of Liv’s, and comfort them as they watch me die before their eyes? As they are yoked with my burdens and former dreams and grievances and all those of the Providences who came before me?

Will the last thing I see before I die be the image of my child writhing in pain in whatever chamber they use for the memory transfer?

***

I hate Amelia Rouge’s guts with all my soul and I’ll murder her if that’s what I have to do to get free of this place. I know that I read a lot of science-fiction books as a child and that I wanted to be on a space mission to another planet, and I know that I’d be practically drooling to read this cursed life as a story if it were happening to someone else, but I’ll be damned if someone forces me into a position of power and then expects me to follow all the blasted military morning exercises as well. Whenever am I going to need to jog for ten minutes straight as the Providence? Running to a fortified room as I blow up the memory backup server and free everyone on Miralay?

If they can ship off two adolescents and a cabal of adult Miralayans to Earth and back in a matter of days, then they can import skilled workers as well. And think of the costs saved on child-rearing when they let people live longer too! If they can build babies from scratch, then they can take care of middle-aged people as well.

I’m not going to be able to do any of this, am I? I’m just going to be a puppet for Amelia and the status quo, aren’t I?

I wonder how airlocks taste. What a poignant ending for a budding artist that would be– but I doubt that any of the personnel here would allow me anywhere near the airlocks or the controls or anything other than that damned sleeping pod.

***

Today’s the day. Today’s the day Amelia’s going to shove me into a metal coffin and freeze me up and ship me off like a packet of sardines. She’s going to be on there too, but the devilette’s probably going to turn down the temperature of my stasis pod all the way down to the raging stormy winter nights of Antarctica as revenge for not wanting to be the Providence. Stasis, not sleeping, because Mars is so far away that nobody wants to deal with biological functions and their byproducts.

And they want me to pick a personal retainer from the five that came down to Earth for this trip- I don’t want one because all of them will be loyal to Miralay instead of me and it’ll be like lugging around a GPS pinging all the time in my pocket as I run away from the government.

I want to tell Mom and Dad that I’m sorry. Sorry for discovering that sleeping pod, sorry for releasing Living Wasteland into the world, sorry for not fighting hard enough when Liv came and clobbered me into oblivion so she could drag my limp body across the backyard and to the park to betray me. I love you very much and I don’t want to be remembered as whoever they’ll shove into me but as the person I was.

I promise I’ll come back someday.

I promise.

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