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Live low, live fast. Pay well, die last.
We have one corrupt world, with one crucial rule. Your days are numbered and so are you.
They're chosen for us. It's unfair, I know. How has our world come to have sunk so low? It is the year 3011, and our world leaders are taking it upon themselves to control the population crisis that riddles our damaged globe.
Every single person is born with a discrete tattoo on their forearm, marking their unwilling death.
Fatalities are recorded, but if you live past this sick expiration date, you will be hunted.
However, if you are lucky enough to be born into a rich family, then your precious time can be bought to last longer.
Sadly, I am not one of the lucky ones.
Soft shards of sunlight battle through the glum fog on this early autumn morning.
My eyes flicker up to the dusty window of my concealed apartment.
Dead flies scatter the brittle window sill, just like golden leaves litter the gloomy city.
My deep eyes gaze out at the crisp flakes that seem to resurrect themselves, dancing and twirling on the jaded side walk.
They don't seem to be fazed about their dated death every season, I think to myself.
My vacant stare refocuses to my pale forearm where the evil ink sits.
My fingers delicately trace over its simple detail, stroking it softly, like an animal which needs calming.
This mark is not voluntary.
It's not put on my arm in place of a memory or love. It's a disgusting reminder, my loudest feature - no matter how brightly my auburn hair sings, no matter how purely my eyes pierce, and no matter how tall my lanky build stands.
No matter what, this feature on my arm will always screech louder.
Ever since recently, this branding now holds the ability to scare - scare me more than any gory fear trapped inside our frightening world.
According to my arm, I died yesterday.
There is nothing I can do but wait.
If I wasn't so timid, so afraid, like a feral rabbit, then maybe I could grow a backbone and fight for our earth's abused future.
‘‘Better not,'' I mumble as the mark claws at my attention again.
‘‘You're too powerful anyway,'' my frail voice spits.
I find myself gritting my teeth in frustration, as my weak expression masks my deep fuelling rage.
Only 25 years old. But 25 was the only price of life I could ever afford.
Bang! Bang!My heart leaps out of my chest and I find my slender body drenched in trauma. They are here, knocking at my door, they are here.
I had tried to prepare for their arrival, yet the shock still manages to paralyse my cautious movements.
‘‘Mr Corbyn West, open up!''
Curiosity causes me to peer out of the window.
I spot three men, all dressed in protective attire with our government's crest embodied neatly on their uniforms.
Suddenly they disappear from view and replace their image with the haunting sounds of their heavy leather boots on the hard wooden floor.
Hot tears stain my crimson cheeks as their steps become more distinct.
‘‘Mr West!'' one of the men shouts forcefully as they erupt through the door.
My thick sobs and pathetic pleads flood the room as I'm tackled to the stone cold floor.
My trembling hands stay pinned strongly behind by shuddering back.
‘‘We're sorry Mr West, but your time is up.''
Though my senses were becoming blurred, I was fully aware of what was coming next.
A cold sterile needle starts injecting into my tense neck.
Slowly, I lose control of what little consciousness I have left, fading in and out, the way waves softly lap the sea shore.
The waves become harsher and I am now taken under.
Everything is dark, as I finish sinking to the bottom of my deep blue sea.
-By Jacqui Malcolm, Year 11, St Kevin's College.