Aight y'all so basically the reason I don't really make comics that often or come around here anymore is because I kind of write now and I'm in the middle of this book that I'm writing, but last year for my Lang class we got one creative writing assignment and the prompt was "Imagine living in a world without lies" and I ended up writing this. I was gonna make it into a little Wattpad episodic/season thing, but I ended up not having enough time. I kind of want to revamp it later on, because I feel like Serenity is a little too good at lying already and the Center doesn't seem so bad as it is, but for now I'll just leave it like this until I move on from my other book. Sorry if it's bad, but holla for a dolla. Spoiler: (1.1) “I woke up on Monday and I told myself that the day was going to be okay. That by the end of it I would be happy.” I tell her, “But I didn’t really believe that.” Dr. Frankston taps the pen to her lips twice, staring at me intently as I readjust myself on my chair. The walls radiate white and the bright lights shining in on us imprint dots in my eyes when I look away from them. The two of us sit in the middle of this big, empty room on two chairs that match the color of the paint. “Serenity, that could have very well have been hope that you were feeling. That isn’t irregula–” “It wasn’t.” I interrupt. “It wasn’t hope. I know what hope feels like. This was different. It– it felt like I was trying to convince myself, even though I knew that it wasn’t right. I don’t know. It just felt– It felt like… It felt like I was–” “Lying?” She asks me. There’s no urge to respond to her quickly, so instead I sit in silence while the doctor scribbles onto her notepad, just like she always does during our sessions. When she finally looks up, her face looks sharper than usual. Her cheekbones might look more cut, or her lips more pursed. “Have you had any other instances like this recently?” My hands go numb in my lap as I hear myself doing it again. “No.” Dr. Frankston’s stare does not falter and I repeat, “No, I haven’t. It was just that one time.” Lying again. A small smile returns her lips once more as she says, “Serendipitous.” With a couple more marks onto her papers, she continues, “Serenity, these little… Confusions. They’re bound to happen at your age. Emotions become hard to decipher. What you’re feeling is normal.” I only begin to let out a breath before she says, “But. Just in case, I’m going to send you down to the Medical Regiment in a couple of days. I wouldn’t worry, it’s just standard procedure. As long as you’re not a maniacal liar.” I crack a small smile at her joke as if that’s not exactly what they will call me once they find out. But perhaps they don’t have to find out. Perhaps there’s nothing wrong with me. I think to myself that if only there was a small test… I eye Dr. Frankston’s blouse. “I like your shirt.” I tell her. She returns my grin. “Thank you, Serenity.” Once she packs up her briefcase to leave me for reflection time, all I can think about is how her blouse was frilled, mixing both tangerine and fuchsia in one disaster of a fashion statement, yet somehow I was able to tell her it was fit to my tastes. I can’t begin grasp at how far into this situation I’ve dug myself. Spoiler: (2.1) “Pat, did I ever tell you about the Willard situation?” Mercy asks me from the other side of the room as I button up my shirt. I only see when I’m halfway done that I started it on the wrong button. Mercy walks over to me to pick up the pieces like she always does. She buttons it up correctly for me as though I’m her child rather than husband. “Chairman Willard?” I ask, “I’ve always thought her to be one of the more levelheaded of the bunch. Do you have hot scoop on her now too?” “Not the Chairman.” She corrects, “Her daughter.” “The Chairman has a daughter?” “Serenity was in my office a week ago.” Mercy begins without taking any notice to my question. “She said that she thought she had told a lie a couple days before. I sent her to go get tested just as a precaution and her results came back today.” “Poor kid.” I say, “So what was wrong with her? Did the stress of school hit her or something? I know when I was about her age I was… Well… What did you say that her age was, babe?” “There was no trace of the vaccine within her system.” Her words fall flat. It was unheard of. A liar within the community. “Did her parents just not vaccinate her? Would Chairman Willard do that?” “Don’t question the Chairman, Pat.” “Well, are you sure your test was right?” “Don’t question me either.” I nod slowly, putting toothpaste on my brush, “Yeah, okay, you’re right. I shouldn’t do either of those things. So what did they do to her?” “They did what the government says to do. They vaccinated her again.” She tells me, turning with her hair finally placed up into a bun. “Does this look fine?” “A little lumpy on the right.” “Who cares?... Shoot, I care.” “You’re patients probably don’t.” I tell her, nodding to the clock. “They would probably care if you’re late though.” There’s a small bout of panic within the seconds where she realizes that I’m right for once. Quickly gathering her things, Mercy gives a quick kiss on the cheek before she slurs, “loveyoubye,” while leaving through the door. When she’s gone, the dorm is peaceful and lonely, but I only linger after her for so long. On my way to work, I can’t help but think about the unvaccinated girl, Serenity Willard, and the heat that Chairman Willard must be under. First her husband, and now her daughter. There is not much time for pondering, because soon, the sub-trolley stops at my destination. Red lights and sirens come on just as my shift begins. Spoiler: (1.2) “Tell me what he did. Tell me what your father did.” My mom paces around my chair like she’s the predator and I, the prey. I know that staying silent is my best option in this case. It always is when my mom goes off on her tangents. “Did he pretend to take you to the MR when you were a baby? Did he– did he just raise you to be a really good liar so you would grow into his little project? You know what? Don’t answer that. I wouldn’t even know if you were telling the truth or not.” In one moment, I’m glancing off in the distance to avoid embarrassment and the next, my mom’s face is inches in front of mine. “Serenity. Look at me when I am speaking to you. Do you know what this could do to me? As a Chairman? I could get pulled from the council. First your father and his little experiments with the system, and now your stunt. From now on, and as long as I am a Chair Holder, I don’t want to hear anything more from you. Do you understand? I–” A tap on her shoulder interrupts her before she can continue on, and she exchanges a few whispers with her assistant before waving me off and clicking on her bluetooth. As I’m leaving, I tell her, “I love you.” Once again, I know the vaccine doesn’t work, and I don’t know why. But, there has to be someone who does. Since there’s no one stopping me from packing up my bags, that’s precisely what I do. Spoiler: (2.2) “And this is a matter of region wide security?” Zeal asks me. “A teenage girl running away?” “She’s a Chairman’s daughter,” I remind him. As the next teenager tries to cross the sub-trolley station boarder, I stop her. “Random security check. Please show your registration and state your real name.” She shows me her card, face matching spot on, and says, “My real name is Charity King.” I wave her through and call to the next teen in line. “Man,” Zeal says, “There is no way she is going to try to use the sub-trolley. She’s about to go by some black market buy or something… And speaking of dumb ideas, did you do your own hair this morning?” “Name and registration,” I ask the next girl in line. She searches her bag for a good five minutes, holding up the everyone behind her before giving off a sigh. “It’s in my other purse. But snakeskin and these vintage Uggs don’t go so I changed it last minute. I must have forgotten to pack that one. My real name is Prudence Yule. Hopefully I’m not the person you guys are looking for.” Zeal calls over from the other stand, “Trust me, honey, you’re not.” I stare at the next person who’s supposed to walk up in line as the girl passes through. Zeal continues, “I’m thinking that the girl we’re looking for is gonna be all up in a Virtue’s™ fur coat and skirt. Maybe some Bobby Q slippers.” “You make me uncomfortable when you talk fashion,” I mutter. The girl that I had let by still lingers in my mind. There's something wrong. “You tell me that often. Just like I tell you when you look like you’re dressed by a blind ma–” I cut him off by taking off through the border into the crowd of people loading and unloading the trolleys. How did she know? I’m looking through the group, searching. She couldn’t have known. When I see her on Trolley #2, I sprint towards it, accidentally knocking off my radio in the process. No one around me seems to be getting the picture of the situation. Trolley #2 takes off without me on it. I make a dash towards Trolley #3 to the same destination, hoping it won’t take long to leave. Hoping that she won’t be gone when I get there. Because how did she know that we were looking for someone when random searches are routine? Spoiler: (1.3) I liked my dad… Like him. I mean I like my dad. Last year he became an enemy of the state. Apparently he was making a vaccine. I never knew what it was exactly. They never told me. Now I know. Frankly, I picked up on the idea. The people on the trolley around me don’t pay me a glance. My mom obviously doesn’t want to make my “escape” public. She never wanted to make me public either. The problem is, I don’t know where I’m going. My only lead is my father, and my father’s friends. When I was younger, my dad used to have basement meetings with his friends. They would gather and show their inventions. there’s only one dear memory I have of it all. “No, let her stay,” a man told my dad when he tried to usher me out of the room, “this is the future, and so is she.” They went around, showing each other machines made out of old rusted metals that released thick bouts of grey smoke when you pressed their on buttons. When the attentions turned to the man that kept me in the room, all he did was wave to my father. He pulled out a vial with a violet liquid inside of it. Again, there was no pieces to put together at that time, but now, I understand. As the trolley stops at the next destination, I step off without knowing which direction I’m going. I have to find the people that were in the basement with my father, but I don’t even know where to start. Although I know that it’s not smart, I’m walking around in circles within the loading and unloading station. I don’t know which exit to take, or whether I’m boarding again or not. When I feel a tug on my elbow, I know this decision was the worst. I turn to face an officer, mask reflecting my own image onto myself. I can only see his mouth, which forms the words, “Serenity Willard.” I don’t hesitate in my answer, “What?” “You’re Serenity Willard.” He tells, rather than asks. “I’m Grace Darcy,” I reply, “I think you have the wrong person, I’m sorry officer.” “You told me you were Prudence Yule just thirty minutes ago.” He says to me. I knew I should have stuck to one name, I think to myself. This lying thing is new to me. I guess there’s rules that I have to remember. Like number one. Stick to one name. “That’s my… Twin. Weird that you met her.” It’s a horrible lie. Terrible. Yet, this man still seems like he’s considering it as the truth. I guess that’s the effect of living with nothing but that for your whole life. It takes him a minute to shake it and say, “You’re Serenity Willard. You have to come with me.” “Do I really have to?” I ask, batting my eyelashes in the usual fashion. Obviously, an this adult government worker doesn’t budge. “Yes. You do.” He answers, pulling me along. “So… If I yelled out right now and said that you’re kidnapping me,” I say, walking quickly behind him as he leads me. “Do you think they would believe you, or me?” “Me. I’m an official.” He answers blatantly. “But what if they asked you who you were looking for, you say Serenity Willard. I tell them I’m Prudence Darcy. I can’t lie, of course.” The situation finally hits him and he stops, looking back at me. “They would…” A small smile comes to my lips, “They don’t know. My mother kept it a secret. My problem.” He doesn’t answer, so I continue, “But you knew. How did you know.” Still no answer. A silent omission. It’s something they teach you when you get a government position. “So,” I ask him, “What are we going to do, then?” His shoulders shrug. “What are we going to do?” “Well, here’s what I want to do. You let me go. I do what I want to do. You go off and do your little silent lies and tell no one that you ever saw me. Capisce?” “No.” He says it outright. “I’m not going to let you leave.” “Well then we have a problem here, don’t we buddy?” I can feel my heart beat hard against my chest. How am I supposed to get away from him? How am I supposed to find my father’s friends? I can see a visible pause within him. He looks both ways, as if to see if anyone was watching, before asking, “How do you do it? Even after the second vaccination?” “How do you know about the second vaccination?” The distance between us grows as I take a step backwards. I repeat my first question, “How do you know about my problem in the first place?” There’s no silence this time. This time, he takes off his mask, against the officer protocol. Almost immediately, I recognize his face from somewhere. I can’t pinpoint it until he opens his mouth to tell me. Naturally, I interrupt him. “Oh my Pres. You’re Dr. Frankston’s boy toy.” “Husband?” He corrects, rather unsurely, as I give him a look up and down. He isn’t bad looking. I mean, he’s cute. But Dr. Frankston is beautiful, and he looks like a schoolboy compared to her. And he’s… “So short.” Not as short as me, but definitely not as tall as Dr. Frankston. And if she wears heels. He grabs ahold of my arm roughly and pulls me out of the crowd, towards the edge. “So how do we get through this border, Liar.” I roll my eyes at the change of subject. It’s probably a sore spot. “Well… I’m probably gonna lie.” “And me?” “You’re gonna have to figure that one out.” His grip on my elbow tightens as he says, “No. I told you I’m not going to let you go.” Eyes linger our way and a smirk rises to my lips. “You’re starting to make a scene. Doesn’t really look good on your part, does it?” He still has a hold on me as he puts his mask back on. “You don’t say anything.” I oblige. Getting out of this place is the first on my priorities. We pass through the border, soldiers staring at Frankston’s hand on me. He nods towards them and states, “She’s– uh,” Great start. But I was told to stay quiet, so I remain. “I’m escorting this fugitive.” I can’t see if the others are suspicious because of their masks, but they offer no words to reveal such things. Spoiler: (2.3) My heart beats through my ears. I can hear it clearly. I wasn’t a lie. What I said is true. Serenity Willard is a fugitive, and I am traveling with her. She eyes me from the lead, “You okay there, boy toy? You look like you’re gonna upchuck.” “Quiet.” I try to say firmly. My voice cracks halfway through the word. “Ahem. Quiet.” “Why should I?” She asks, “And thinking about it now… Why should I not run away from you now?” I didn’t think about that. I could call an alarm, but without my radio it would take me too long to alert anyone. “I… Have a gun.” I tell her. She looks down at the Huddler that I have grasped tightly now. “Well, that’s not a lie. But are you really going to shoot me?” I don’t answer her because I wouldn’t, but I try to play it off otherwise. “Rule 32 of the Officer’s Handbook: Officers are not required to answer the questions of civilians under any circumstance.” The girl scoffs at me, so I push her roughly with the barrel of the Huddler. “Keep moving forward.” After the initial stumble, she doesn’t budge. “No. I’m going that way.” She points in the opposite direction. It’s only now that I realize where we are. For the whole ride over, my mind had been wandering. After we passed the border, my only focus was on not letting her escape. We were in Sub-Square #3, the utmost south you can go in Meta, disregarding the outskirts. And where is she pointing? Directly towards those outskirts. “That’s against protocol. No one is allowed to enter the outskirts without orders.” “Why do you have to tell me about all of your problems when I don’t care?” She asks. We get to the border line, where an officer stands his ground. First, he asks her, “Do you have permission to leave the premise and enter into these areas?” “Yes.” She answers. He lets her in without any second thought. As I linger at the outside, I can’t believe he would just send her through so easily. What would a young girl get orders to do in the outskirts. But even with that being said, situations switched, I would most definitely do the same. I mean, she couldn’t be lying, right? The officer stares until I walk to the side, hoping not to draw any suspicion. Hoping that she doesn’t exit through a different border. Knowing that the latter is inevitable.