THE MASKED

In a world where we are encouraged to be someone we are not…

In a place where seemingly everyone is the same, and no one is unique…

In a universe where being yourself is looked down on…

             WE ARE MASKED
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(Prologue)

Hello. My name is Lavania, I am 15. I live concealing myself. I am a monster, or I would be without my mask. Everyone is the same here. If you do not fit the mold, you are rejected. An outcast. A monster. That is why I must remain masked, a different person from myself entirely. This is my story.

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CHAPTER ONE:

Mr Schneider: …#19 Promptly obey at all times. #20 Pass quietly through the halls. #21 No climbing on the fire escapes, polls, trees…

The rules went on seemingly forever. I started fidgeting with the dark grey fabric of my skirt. “Is he ever going to dismiss?” I wandered.
Before I knew it, I was deep in another world.

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Mr. Schneider: …Miss Streckenback! Wake up! Rule #13 clearly states sleeping will NOT be tolerated in class!

The bell finally rang.

Class dismissed!

“Sorry Mr.Schneider ! I won’t let it happen again!” I said a little to loudly as I jumped up from my metal desk and made my way to the door.

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I walked as quickly as I could back to apartment X. Number 43 was my home. The poorest of the poor dwelled in my complex. Many were the night I lay awake wondering what the A complex apartments looked like. I wondered if they had the same commodities the Oveseerers or the Setters had?

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Overseers ,as we call them, are the powerful beings in our universe. They make sure the lowlies (such as myself) are kept low and unnoticed. They also elevate those who are deemed beautiful, those who follow their every whim.

The Overseers own the apartment complexes. By their grace we are allowed to stay in them. The Overseers always strive to please the Setters.

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The Setters are the highest up on the chain of our universe. Flawlessly beautiful, talented, and rich in all manner of things, the Setters are not people to be challenged.

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Only two groups exist below me. The Monsters, those who dare not to follow the whims of society. The ones who were either brave enough or stupid enough to remove the mask. They lived far away from heavily populated areas. They were always being hunted.

The other group are the Vanquishers. They hunt down the Monsters. They work to keep us protected from the Monsters influence.

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I snapped to attention at the sound of a shot. A Monster had been found. A few eerie seconds went by before my door was kicked open.

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Vanquisher: Bow to your superior!

I stood still waiting for the inevitable to happen. The Monster refused to bow. The Vanquisher stretched out his arm firing off another shot of what we call “The Embarrassment” .
I watched as the monster wavered momentarily then stood firm. The Vanquisher carried on unfazed and led the monster to the next apartment where the scene would undoubtedly replay itself.

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The Embarrassment is a long, narrow, tube like mechanism that extends with the arm of the Vanquisher. When fired it emits an attention drawing bang whilst releasing toxic chemicals into the victims neuro system.

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I knew the Vanquisher would have a long night, this monster wasn’t going to give in easily.
Somewhere deep within myself I felt a new and strange sensation…almost like sadness for the Monster. It would be much easier if he simply gave in.

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The lights dimmed and I realized it was now 10:30 pm. Soon the lights would go out completely, I hurried to get ready for the evening.

All to soon it was dark. I climbed into my pallet eager to escape my reality.

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CHAPTER TWO:

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(Lavania)

I woke up early the next morning. I hadn’t been able to shake the odd feeling that I should’ve said or done something last night.

I wondered if the Monster had caved or if he had been sent to the Asylum.

A soft knock on my door startled me.
Who was up at this hour besides the Vanquishers? Was it a Vanquisher? No, Vanquishers don’t knock… maybe it was… No Lavania, you must not wait you must open the door! I thought to myself.

Putting my worries behind me I opened the door.
I let off a soft sigh of relief, it was just another masked like myself , a lowly.

“Come in!” I said opening my door fully.
I didn’t recognize this masked boy. He seemed shy and intimidated but held a calm demeanor.
He slowly stepped inside cautiously almost.
Shutting the door behind him I asked his name.

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(Macxel)

Macxel, my name is Macxel. I answered.

“Macxel…” She said my name like it was familiar.

Suddenly her face lit up, darkening just as quickly she asked if I had a family.

I thought there was more to this question than I could see.
“Yes, I do…or did anyways.” I answered with utmost caution.

She proceeded to probe asking me all sorts of questions. I continued to give general answers sticking to yes and no with little to no explanation.
I cracked at her final question.
“Do you have a brother?” She asked.
Setting down heavily I whispered his name.
“Jayara”

“You…you’re…” She stuttered for moment. She looked ready to scream. Quickly I covered her mouth with one hand clenching the other in a fist by my side.

“You mustn’t scream!” I whispered fiercely. “You mustn’t!”

She nodded her eyes still wide. I assumed this to be an okay.

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(Lavania)

One million thoughts flooded through my mind, but one screamed out louder than the rest.
They said he and his family were dead!

After he removed his sweaty hand from my mouth I was silent.
where do I even start to ask questions? I thought to myself.

I stood against the wall contemplating what to do while watching Macxel. He sat back down resting his head in hands. He looked distressed.

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(Macxel)

Where do I begin? I asked myself.
“I need to you to tell me what The overseers told you when my family disappeared Lavania.”
I needed to know what she thought had happened in order to know how to approach her with my situation.

“Well,” She began. “ People started noticing your family was absent from large events. They noticed Jayara no longer came to school. You were gone. People started asking questions and talking. Word got to the Overseers they came and told us that your family…all of you… were dead. They apologized for not telling us sooner. They said a Vanquisher had come in your apartment and Jayara was without his mask. That your family had been taken to the Assylum for questioning. They said a Monster was angered by your families presence and he killed all of you.” She ended with a quiet sob.

It only figures they would distort the truth I thought to myself.
“Would you like to know what actually happened?” I asked with a slight hint of irritation.

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(Lavania)

I knew I couldn’t trust my voice to answer without bursting into tears. I nodded my head reluctantly I wasn’t altogether sure I wanted to know.

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(Macxel)

I stood taking a large breath and began to pace the floor.

Weeks before we stopped coming to assemblies and school,Jayara met a Monster.
The Monster told him many things. Jayara thought about all the Monster had said and kept going back to the toss heap and talking to him. He would come home in a very somber mood not like his lighthearted self at all. Soon he started telling us what the monster had told him. We were receptive to it.
It goes against everything we are taught. But it was so simple, I’m amazed we didn’t see it before.

One evening a few weeks after we had stopped coming to assemblies and school Jayara removed his mask. With it off he was happier than ever before and said he felt so clean. He begged us to take our masks off as well, and to come with him to the brush to find the Monsters and dwell among them.

Father was angry and said his family would do no such thing! Mother was devastated but awed at the change. I was stunned, I wanted to follow Jayara, I wanted to remove my mask, but I was afraid of what people would think.

A Vanquisher was doing random house checks that night. He did catch Jayara with his mask off. The Vanquisher took us all to the Asylum where we were separated from Jayara and questioned.

We were told Jayara could not come back with us, but if we promised not to ever repeat what Jayara had told us we could go home tonight. It would have been as if nothing had ever happened.

I was so overwhelmed with emotions I had to stop and sit back down. Lavania remained silent but tense with anticipation.

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