Synopsis: We always knew that they existed. Voluntary hosts, willingly sacrificing their freedom. But why do they exist? This story follows a young man named Christopher and the events that led to the ultimate sacrifice. His freedom.
The alarm clock broke into my dreams with a vengeance. Groaning, I slammed my hand onto the snooze button. I lay there for a minute, letting the fog of sleep dissipate from my mind. Finally I gave myself up to consciousness and rolled out of bed.
Gray morning light cast an eerie haze around my room, making me stumble over strewn clothes and books as I half-heartedly shoved my stuff into a worn book bag and pulled on what I hoped was a clean shirt. Almost falling over my guitar case, I made it to the bathroom in more or less one piece.
I didn't turn the light on, choosing to brush my teeth in the gloomy gray that filtered through the blinds over the glaring florescent lights. As a result, my reflection in the mirror was hazy, almost surreal looking. My normally pale skin looked almost tan, and my blue eyes were almost indistinguishable from the whites. I shivered and looked down, brushing my light brown hair back. It was a strange, ethereal sort of image. It didn't suit me.
As I made my way downstairs I noted that the house was eerily silent. The floorboards creaked uneasily beneath my feet. No sound came from my mom's room. I wondered if she had come home the previous night or not. I hadn't waited up to find out.
I ate my cereal slowly, still not fully awake. I was in no hurry to get to school. The seething mass of students, gossiping and laughing and enjoying life made me nauseous. I didn't look forward to another day of slipping by in the background.
The walk to school was about as dreary as my mood. The gray clouds hung low overhead, sucking the air out from under them like a vacuum. Big fat raindrops fell around me, and the wind sliced through my shirt. I actually felt a little relieved when I entered the blindingly bright warmth of the school. That is, until all of the noise surrounded me like a tidal wave.
Laughter, indignant shouts, the slamming of lockers. All of it amplified by the high ceilings and narrow corridors. Instantly I felt myself slouching down, struggling to avoid the gaze of my fellow students as I made my way hurriedly to my locker.
"Heya Chris!" Alicia, one of my few friends, came up beside me as I threw my book bag into my locker.
"Oh, hey." I responded, glumly slamming the door.
"What's wrong? Didn't sleep?" She said. I shrugged in response. It was still far too early to expend energy talking. Alicia rolled her eyes and reached up to tousle my hair playfully. I pulled away, irritated.
"Oh come on, grumpy." She taunted. "You know, you need a pick-me-up. What are you doing after school today?"
"Nothing." I said gruffly, wondering how someone could be so perky at seven in the morning.
"Well, I'm going to a meeting of The Sharing. Wanna come?"
"No." I gave her a sideways look. "You know that isn't my thing."
"Yeah, I know I know." She sighed melodramatically, as if my dislike for organized groups was an epidemic or something. "You could at least try though. I mean, I know you don't like the whole community service thing, but it isn't just that. We hang out. Have fun. You remember fun, don't you?"
I had to crack a small smile at her sales pitch. How Alicia and I managed to be friends was beyond me. She was the exact opposite of me. Where I was withdrawn and uninvolved, Alicia had a slew of close friends and participated in dozens of activities. She was constantly trying to pull me into her circle – a place where I felt vastly uncomfortable.
"I don't think so, Alicia." I replied.
"Please?" She gave me a pouting look. "We aren't even doing any service tonight. It's just a normal meeting. We're going to hang out, maybe play some pool. Eat."
"Oh yeah, that sounds like my kind of place." I said. Alicia looked disappointed, and I sighed heavily, running my hand through my hair.
"Karen and Tom can't come, though." She said, looking a little glum. "I don't want to go alone. I still don't know too many people there."
I raised an eyebrow quizzically. It wasn't often Alicia was without a companion. It would give us some time to hang out without her other friends buzzing around her like so many wasps. We rarely had that opportunity these days. We had been friends since we were in diapers, but the entrance of high school had very different effects on each of us. I had felt awkward and lost in the sea of students, while Alicia flourished.
"Alicia!" As if she had read my thoughts, a bleach blonde grabbed Alicia by the arm. "Hey hun, did you do your Spanish homework?"
"Um…" She looked up at me apologetically and turned to her friend. I stood there for a moment, feeling awkward as they talked. When it became clear that they weren't going to finish their conversation on the imperative-tense-and-that-cute-boy-who-sits-behind-so-and-so I decided it was time to leave.
"Hey." I tapped Alicia on the shoulder. "I'll think about it, okay?"
"Great!" She said, beaming at me before she returned to her conversation. I hesitated a moment longer before heading off down the hall.
The Sharing was a relatively new organization in our neighborhood, which was probably why Alicia didn't know too many people. A lot of faculty members were promoting it, and fliers had been up around the school for a few weeks now. From what I understood, it was just another community involvement group. Except this one went even further than the typical school-based program and aimed to include anyone and everyone. Girls, boys, kids, adults. Anyone was welcome. It was supposed to be a "safe place" where people could go and, no matter who they were, could find a place where they fit in.
Which of course, was probably a load of bull. It didn't matter how safe and clique-proof you tried to make a place. The groups always separated themselves out, like oil and water.
Then again, Alicia had nothing but good things to say about The Sharing since she had joined. She said that it had done well in other cities, bringing together communities that had been in shambles. I gave myself a mental shrug as I slid into my homeroom seat. There was no harm in going for Alicia's sake.
Who knew, maybe it would lead to something.