Hi, I’m Arietta. Most people call me Ari. I’m a 17 year old, I go to school every day, and I fight with my brother, things that happen to normal kids, you know. In fact, from the outside I may seem pretty average, however, I am anything but average. I live in a funky town called Querton, just outside of the Las Vegas city limits. Most people don’t even know Querton exists. Those who do know, don’t ever talk about it because they either live here, or have escaped and never want to think about it again and those who don’t, well they just don’t. I live in a society of people who have jobs, homes, families, and problems just like any other society on this earth. The only difference is; we’re special.
We were part of an experiment years ago. That is, my parents and my friends’ parents were part of an experiment. The government wanted to create the perfect race, go figure, right? The only problem was, when they created the formula and injected my parents with it, they didn’t realize what side effects it might have. Once the government realized what the formula had changed my parents into, they attempted to snuff out anyone who could have been affected by the formula. This meant my parents and their 10 friends, who were also part of the experiment, either needed to go into hiding or risk getting captured and executed.
I wasn’t born until 2 years after the experiment; my parents were young, 19 and 20. There was no way of knowing what had happened to their DNA because if they went to a hospital and were found out, they would be turned in. This meant only one thing; they had to create a society all on their own. The 5 couples that survived (there were others but they weren’t smart enough to escape capture) had to create and maintain a secret town.
2 years after the experiment, each of the couples had children. In fact, each mother gave birth to twins. 1 boy, 1 girl. Everyone believed it had to do with the experiments performed on them 2 years earlier. There was no other explanation for the similarities between the birth circumstances.
My twin brother, Keegan, is basically just like me. We are as identical as a boy and a girl can be. I am the girl version of Keegan and he is the boy version of me. My brother and I get along more often than not; however, there are those rare times when we aren’t exactly compatible. Keegan has been my best friend since birth, he has always been there for me, and I absolutely love him, no matter how annoying he is sometimes.
On to the rest of the people in my life, there is Alice and Jake, Mandy and Adam, Kim and Liam, Cody and Dawn, and Valerie and Richard. The 10m people I have grown extremely close to in my life, mainly because they are the only people I know. We never argue, none of us, and we don’t pick favorites. We like each other equally. Everyone is on the same level of likableness and at the same level of liking others. Well, that is aside from the girls towards their crushes and vice versa, the good thing about all this? When a girl likes a guy or a guy likes a girl, the other individual usually likes them back.
Alice and Jake are the Rosburry twins. Their parents run the Querton School; since we are the only kids here they only need enough room for 10 teens. Mandy and Adam are the Lloyd twins. Their parents run the entertainment center, meaning they supply all of the video games, movies, gaming systems, TVs, laptops, etc. You get the picture. Moving onward to Kim and Liam Dasani, their parents run the hospital, making sure everyone is fit as a fiddle one might say. Cody and Dawn are the children of the ones this town is named after, the Quertons who run the “political” issues of our town (even though we have none). Valerie and Richard Taylor are two of the most regular kids you may find; their parents run the local grocery, clothes, etc. store called Q Market.
My parents? I thought you’d never ask! They run the other stuff, as in cars and such. However, every citizen in our quirky little town knows how to do just about what everyone else does. We succeed in maintaining low profiles, however, there are those times when the other twins and Keegan and I “sneak out”. You see, we aren’t actually supposed to leave our town; it’s sort of against the rules, but rules schmules! We like to have fun sometimes, so yes, there are other teenagers in our lives, of course our parents have no idea and if they did we’d all be dead.
My very best “normal” friend, I suppose you could say, would have to be Joann, she is the cutest thing you could probably ever meet! The story of how we met is all too funny, I mean, seriously, it’s hilarious! Every time I think about it I can’t stop laughing! Oh you want to hear the story? What if I don’t want to tell you it? Ah well, you got me there, I totally want to tell you it!
So, Joann was sitting under a tree, working on homework and I was sort of perched in the tree, kind of like a bird, just watching… had been all day as it was a Saturday and I had decided to escape from Querton for the day, of course, I wasn’t totally alone because Keegan knew where I was.
I never mentioned that, did I? Each set of twins has a telepathic link to each other. It’s pretty cool, actually!
Any who, back to the story, Joann was sitting at the base of the tree and I was just sitting on a branch in the tree when all of a sudden I heard this crack; and it was extremely close to me. I glanced toward the trunk of the tree and saw that the branch was starting to break away from it, I looked down and saw Joann peering up into the tree and I stared back for about 10 seconds until I heard another crack, causing me to choose what to do quickly. Deciding not to stay in that tree a minute longer I stretched my arms outward and flipped out of the tree to the ground, landing in a tumble. As I stood up and brushed the grass off of my clothes, Joann just peered at me over her textbook, I sighed and sat down next to her, it wouldn’t do much for me to just walk away now that she knew I was there.
“Hi,” I said, extending a hand, “I’m Arietta, but most people call me Ari.”
“Hello.” The girl had said, also extending her hand, “I’m Joann, but most people call me Joann.”
I had to laugh at that, this girl had a sense of humor! Now, I’m not going to lie, I figured she would freak out and ask me how it was possible for me to get out of the tree that way without bruising myself or getting scraped up. However, she did nothing of the sort. She just started talking to me like I was a normal person; she asked me if I went to her school. I was on the verge of saying yes when I decided against it. I wasn’t about to lie to a complete stranger, plus just thinking about it is bad enough to make Keegan tease me about it later, guaranteed.
“Actually, no. I don’t.” I told her.
She cocked her head to the side, “What do you mean? Where do you go to school, then?”
I sighed, maybe I could trust this girl, but at that point I was not actually positive if I could yet so I just said, “I am homeschooled.” Which technically was not lying, I am schooled by my friend’s parents, and it’s a really small class, so yes, in that sense, I am homeschooled.
She smiled, “Well, that’s cool! What’s it like? Do you get to go to school in your pajamas?”
I laughed, “If only, if only! I would love that! But I’m not sure my friends parents would appreciate that… My parents don’t teach me.”
She nodded in understanding, “Oh, gotcha. So, are you planning on just sitting here and watching me do homework or ask me to hang out with you?”
I stared, open-mouthed, at the girl that I had presumed to be a shy one, “You mean you actually want to hang out with me?”
“Hey, anything is better than homework.” She grinned, “Especially when the teacher never assigned it…” she added sheepishly.
I laughed, “Alright, then. What is there to do in this town? I don’t exactly get out much…”
Joann just shoved her stuff in her backpack and stood up, “All you have to do is follow me.”
Spending that day with Joann was the first thing I had ever done to actually intersperse with the “normal” people. I couldn’t believe all of the things I was missing out on by living in Querton. No doubt, Keegan was able to know everything I was thinking about and was most likely either angry or extremely jealous. I smirked at the thought; maybe I’ll have to bring Keegan into the real world sometime, he would probably really enjoy that.
As the time passed, I realized more and more that it would be hard for me to go back to Querton and never be able to see Joann again, I sighed knowing that I should probably let her know that I enjoyed this time, however I would probably never be able to see her again. That would bring up the question of why I wouldn’t be able to see her again if I live so close and then I’d probably end up spilling my guts to her. I sighed, wishing and hoping there was an easier way, but with the way things were going, I would have to leave her out of the blue, confused and disappointed. I would have to pretend to turn out to be a flake.
Joann is an extremely kind and sweet person, she will do anything for someone she cares about, even if she doesn’t know them. She believes everyone is special and that they should be cared for by at least one person. The thing that I have to do to her is not something she would probably ever consider, I feel so bad that I start to feel nauseous. She will hate me for this, that’s when I hear Keegan’s thought directed toward me so clearly.
Why do you have to leave? You can have friends; just don’t let mom and dad find out. I’ll cover for you every time you disappear. I’ll say you’re… I don’t know… studying nature or something. I grin, my brother always knows when I need an optimistic opinion. He really is so sweet that way.
Keegan, thank you so much! I feel tons better now. You really need to meet Joann, she’s amazing!
I could sense Keegan chuckling, you know, she sounds pretty cool. I would like to meet her sometime.
I was grinning, I couldn’t help it and Joann noticed, “Hey, why are you smiling? What is so amusing?”
I shook my head, “Oh, it’s not that major. Just my twin, he and I are telepathically linked, not even in a joke. Our link is actually there.”
Joann shook her head, unbelieving, “Whatever! And I’m a unicorn!”
I laugh, realizing how ridiculous I probably sounded, “Yeah, I know you are one!” I wink, like it’s an inside joke, then I look at the time, “Oh my gosh! You have to be kidding! It’s already that late?”
Joann also checks her time, “Late? It’s only 5. What do you mean by late?”
“Well, I’m supposed to be home right now… My parents are going to freak! I have to scoot! It’s about a 20 minute run…”
“Well, I could take you; I do have a car, y’know.”
I laugh, “Yeah, otherwise how we have been going everywhere today?”
“So? Do you want a ride?”
I almost jump at the opportunity and then stop myself, “Uh… Well, you don’t know where I live, it would probably be hard for you to… find.”
Joann shakes her head, “This might be strange, but I really can take you home. Just give me the directions. Maybe tell me what area it is in.”
I sighed and nodded, “Alright… But it’s a little strange.”
“I can handle strange. I’m friends with you, aren’t I?”
I grin, “Yeah, I suppose you are. Alright well, it’s over on the western outskirts of Las Vegas.”
Joann nods, like she knew that already, “Cool. I’ll get you over there in no time.”
As we are driving around to the west side of Las Vegas, Joann starts talking, “Where do you live over here? I don’t see any houses or apartments.”
I nod, “Yeah… That’s because we live on the outskirts of Las Vegas, we aren’t actually in Las Vegas.”
Joann looks at me, “But there is nothing on the outskirts of western Las Vegas other than that forest of trees… Unless you live in a secret village or something, I don’t know if I’ll be able to get you to your house.”
I sigh, now is the moment of truth, “Do you want to know a secret, Joann?”
“Sure, you can tell me anything.”
“Well, I do live in a sort of secret civilization, I mean; we didn’t have to hide until the government chose my parents and my other friends’ parents for an experiment. This was about 2 years before I was born, before any of us were born. They wanted to test something and my parents were top of the list individuals to test it on, whatever ‘it’ was. Either way, it pretty much ruined our lives because the government didn’t like the results they got so they started hunting down all of the individuals they tested, they made sure that if anyone was found with a particular genetic code, they would be captured, taken in for questioning, and then exterminated.
“My parents and 5 other couples were the only ones to successfully escape and remain hidden from the government; they realized they would never be able to live in the real world again, so they found a nice, hidden place to create a hidden civilization. Naming it Querton, they found ways to survive without the rest of the world.”
Joann stared at me wide-eyed, “You mean to say, that you’re sort of a different race from everyone else living on this earth? Like, there is only… 20 of you? In the entire world?”
I nod, “Yeah… pretty much.”
“That is so cool! I mean, it sucks that the government wants to get rid of you, but that is so cool!”
I laugh, “Seriously? Anyways, that’s why I was in the tree; I was watching how normal people are and what they get to do. I am only extremely jealous that you guys can go wherever you want, do whatever you want, and not have to worry about the government trying to find you and destroy you.”
Joann laughs, “We have restrictions too. Our lives are not as simple as you make them sound.”
I laugh, “I know… You just have more things you can do. I’ve always been jealous of that because I only have certain places I can go; Las Vegas is not included in that list. This was an act of rebellion, but I am so glad I did it!”
Joann nods, “Gotcha… Well, since I’m not sure how I would drive to where you live, I’ll stop at the edge of the forest.” She says as she pulls up right along the edge.
“That’s fine; I don’t live too far from here. Thank you so much for your help, Joann!” I exclaim as I start climbing out of the car, “Oh and if you could, please don’t mention me to anyone… I really don’t want to ruin everything my parents and my friends’ parents have worked for… There are only 20 of us left and we don’t really want to diminish that number to nothing.”
Joann nods, “Of course not. I promise I will keep my lips tightly sealed.”
“Thank you, again!” and then I run off into the dark green cover of the trees. As I reach the house I rush inside and see Keegan standing there facing me with his arms crossed.
“Keegan.” I say, trying not to sound out of breath, “How are you, bro?”
Keegan laughs, “I’m sorry, I can’t keep a straight face anymore. This is TOO good. You actually met a real, normal person? As in, they actually exist?”
“Oh, Keegan… Of course they do! And they act a lot like us!” I know Keegan is only playing around, which is why I didn’t totally freak out when I saw him standing at the door all business-like, “So,” I start, “Where are our parents?”
Keegan looks around, “Well, they’re actually home. They got home about 1 minute before you and I’m not sure if you being in nature really convinced them of anything… Ari, I think they know.”
Then our parents come around the corner, “Yeah, we know. What exactly were you thinking?”
Fare thee well!