Notion Press Malaysia Short Story Contest 2017

Chase - The Chamber

By Woo Der Yuan in Thriller

Just like every other day, Chase watched his parents going off to work as he got ready for school. His grandfather had constantly remarked at the majestic beauty of Earth but Chase and his grandfather could never meet eye to eye. His grandfather had said the Earth was green but no matter how hard Chase looked, all he saw was cracked earth and mud-caked dust. It was either he was colour blind, or his grandfather was.
Chase strolled through town, oblivious of his surroundings. All around him, he could see people from all walks of life walking past. It felt as if he was drowning in a sea of people. Soon, in a few years, people would not be able to have babies because overpopulation was slowly killing the planet.
In a few more years and Chase would be like his parents ~ waking up, going to work, working, coming home from work, eating and then sleeping. The monotonous routine every adult was going through, like a robot programmed without a mind of its own. He heard that in some other countries, people had entertainment. They got to watch television, read leisurely on a sandy beach, or even hang out with friends casually, with a beer or two. But as what Chase was taught in school, this would lead nowhere. Fun and joy would bring nothing but pleasure, which wasn't allowed.
Where Chase came from, there were three classes consisted of Discipline, where you had to sit still and fold a box repeatedly. Then, there was Studies, where you learnt about things you needed to know for your chosen occupation in the future. You would get an occupation according to your IQ level which was tested by a machine. That crept Chase out, knowing that a machine knew more about you that you yourself do. These two knowledge was all people needed to be able to work. Well, that was what everyone was told.
But, other than those two classes, there was also one more, which was only for those buffed athletes. Strength. Sadly, because of Chase's skinny bony body, he was never included in.
After a few hours, Chase was finally on his way back home. As he passed by an open air factory, he saw men working inside. A particular man caught his attention as he was bare chested and his back was covered in scars, which, gave Chase goosebumps just by looking at the weirdly shaped wounds. The man must have gone through some hard time in his earlier years, thought Chase.
Suddenly, the bare chest man tripped while pushing a trolley of crates. Chase guessed the trolleys were probably filled with metal, considering the fact that the man was heavily wheezing as he worked. Then, as he laid sprawling on the ground, the man was kicked to the corner and another man took his place. Leaving him no choice, the wounded man had to crawl out of the factory, knowing that he had lost his job. The horrible sight was normal for Chase. It wasn't at all surprising because those who were too weak would get eliminated. Such was the rule of survival.
Hurriedly, he walked away from the scene. Chase was walking casually when out of nowhere, a watch fell onto his feet. It had been years since he saw the time teller. It had always amazed him at how precise and portable the watch was. Sadly, it was banned a few years ago because the watch distracted people and it gave people an unneeded knowledge of hope and anticipation.
He remembered a story his grandfather had told him. About the time when there was love in the world. People had work like in the present but they had something else. Something called fun. Chase remembered when his grandfather told him that he had always had a great time with his wife. They would always have dinner together. Chase was also told that his mother was a very joyful person, but she changed as time passed. The loving warm world they lived in had changed. It was no longer about family and community.
Chase suddenly felt something, a nostalgic feeling was boiling inside of him. When he was young, his parents had never had time for him. Chase and his parents started to get distant. It was the same for many families of his generation. He felt like something was not right. People weren't supposed to live like now. People were supposed to love each other and care for one another.
With only adrenaline as his guide, he ran back to the factory. His lungs were crying for air due to the fact that it had been a long time since he had run. He had just have to turn the corner and he would be at the factory. Hopefully the bare chest man was fine and not badly hurt because the kick the other man gave him looked devastatingly hard.
As vicinity of the factory came closer, Chase was almost within the compound of the factory when someone grabbed him by his arm. He ignored it and tried to pull away but the grip was strong and firm. Not matter how hard he pulled, he didn't have a chance. Chase didn't even bother looking towards the man because he knew exactly what was going on. He had broken the rules. Unless he was in the strength class, he was not supposed to run in public areas. It was counted as having fun. And it sure wasn't fun that made Chase run.
"May I see your identity card?" the officer demanded.
"I know I am not supposed to run if I am not in the strength class, I am sorry, " Chase tried, "Please, I don't want to go to the chamber."
"Save your breathe. I have been watching you for a while. You are the catch of the day for me. Plead your case at the chamber," said the uniformed officer with his full faced helmet on.
Chase cursed. He should not have allowed his emotion to get the better of him and it had made him break the law. Now he had to face the music. He was about to pull out his identity card when he realized something. The man wasn't an officer. Chase wasn't read out his rights. This man was not using the standard operating protocol an officer should use before arresting a non-strength. And no self respecting officer would hide in a corner stalking like a mouse eyeing its cheese.
"Who is he?" Chase wondered. Not wanting to know more, all kinds of thoughts ran through his mind, trying desperately to find a way to escape.
With all his might, Chase pulled away and ran from the man, only to bump into another officer. Without question, the second officer grabbed him and hauled him towards a police car. Chase may not be strong but he wasn't about to give up without a fight. He swiftly grabbed the second officer's baton which was left unguarded and swung it at him with full force, knocking him out cold. Chase immediately dropped the baton and prepared to flee but the first officer caught up with him and tried to choke Chase. This time, it was not going to be easy for Chase as the officer knew how dangerous and wily he was.
Chase's vision blurred as his lungs cried for air. Something caught his eye. He saw a glint of silver hanging from the fallen officer's neck. He immediately recognised the cross. Realisation struck him when he found out the identity of the fallen officer. It was his father. His father was trying to get him to safety, Now, Chase's life hung in a precarious balance, unknowing if his father would regain consciousness in time. He looked at his father earnestly, willing him to wake up. Before long, Chase's vision faded out. His mind was left blanked. His vision in total darkness.........

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