I went to school even though I felt bad. If I didn't go, then that would have been another strike. Mom is worried already enough. She doesn't need me making any more trouble for us. The administration keeps telling me that if I keep missing then they're going to have to notify the Student Capability And pRosperity Evaluators. They think there's something wrong with me. The worst part is, I'm pretty sure they're right.

My head is hurting again. I wish it would just stop. I'm getting so tired.


Anthony is pissing me off so much. I think he’s mad because I don’t wanna come and hang out with the weird kids from the outer fringe. Sorry, I don’t want to listen to illegal audio or whatever they get up to. I’m not looking for trouble.

Nothing exciting happened today. I don’t know why I started writing this stuff down. Nothing exciting ever happens. This is stupid. All I did was eat cereal, go to class, and come home. I had another dumb nightmare last night. Or maybe this morning. Who knows. Even that was boring. Blah, blah, screeching and fire, I wake up sweaty, rinse and repeat. I’m sick of it. I’m sick of everything about this.


Yeah, I said I was gonna try not to make trouble. Whatever. So I went out after curfew. So I heard some prohibited audio. Whatever. Screw them, screw the administration, screw the school. They can’t have a hold on me all the time. It’s not even a big deal. It’s not like I’m vandalizing, or being violent, or doing anything that hurts anyone. Anthony got so happy when I listened to the audio. I didn’t ask who he got it from. I didn’t care.

There was graffiti on the outside of the school today. It was insane. The whole administration was panicking, they put up barriers and everything to hide it. I saw a picture someone got before they blocked it off, of course. It said “STOP SMILING START SCREAMING” in big orange scribbles. There was also some weird kind of symbol under it, but I couldn’t make it out. It was so cool though. I can’t stop thinking about it. I wish I had something to say like that. I wish I had something to start screaming.


Anthony and I were walking home today. We saw something. It was these guys, they were beating up on a droid. It was sick. They just destroyed it. It wasn’t even doing anything. It scared Anthony so bad. He didn’t say that, of course, he just acted all quiet and mad, but I can tell. I can always tell. I’m scared too. I swear, all the billboards seem like they’re watching us all the time, but they don’t do anything to stop some guys trashing a droid for no reason at all.


Ugh. I know I shouldn’t, but I went out again tonight. I’m just so bored. And frustrated, I guess. Whenever I mention it at school, people tell me to get on the standard set. I don’t want that. Mom’s on the standard set. It… It does something to you. I have to stay out of trouble so they don’t put me on the standard set. But I went out anyway tonight. After curfew. And honestly, I don’t even care. We were all crowded into this tiny, shitty building. Just talking. Talking about stuff we can’t normally. There was a girl named Shasta. After the volcano. Her dad grew up near it, before the belt came down. She was telling us about the wall. About the Zones. It was crazy. She was talking about it like she’d been there, but I know she hasn’t. If she had, she wouldn’t have come back.

I wonder what it’s really like.


It’s worse when I sleep. It tears me up inside, it feels like my brain is leaking out through my eyes and nose and mouth. I wish I knew what it meant. I wish I knew what they wanted from me. I wish it would STOP. It’s like someone is shouting at me through a glass door, and I can see them, and they’re crying and screaming and they’re so, so insistent, and I can hear them, but they’re not making any SENSE. Like, I can’t even process the sounds as words, I can’t comprehend what they mean. It’s like my brain is just…. unable to put the pieces together. It’s driving me nuts.


They caught the kid who did the graffiti. I knew him. Not super well. But I’d hung out with him before. He hasn’t been to school in three days. People are saying he’s been expelled, people are saying he’s run away, people are saying he’s at a retinal resort. Not so sure about screaming anymore.


I haven’t slept in days. I can’t. I just can’t. I’ve just been making pot after pot of coffee. Mom doesn’t notice really. She’s in a productivity fog. The prescribers put her on an advanced set. She wasn’t efficient enough at work. Now she doesn’t worry so much, at least.

I almost fell asleep today, though. It was so scary. I’d been going upstairs but I stopped for some reason, and then I was just standing there, and I wasn’t moving. Just starting at my hand on the railing and then I started to hear it wash over me and the edges of everything went kind of red, and I snapped myself out of it but I swear, I almost passed out on the stairs and died. I’m trying to come up with things to do just to keep myself awake. I’m so desperate that I actually did my assigned homework, can you believe that?

This sucks.


He’s staying out so late. He won’t tell me where he’s going anymore. But it’s not like I can’t guess. He’s just lucky that I’m still covering for him. It pisses me off. I don’t think he understands what he’s even doing. They always get you. They’re everywhere and they can’t stand it when you don’t listen to them.


Anthony skipped school today and didn’t tell me. I’m freaking out. Someone came and knocked on the door, someone from the administration, someone wearing a white dress shirt. No mask. Just a tie. Mom made me go upstairs.


He’s been gone for 32 hours. I’ve been counting, staring at the clock, because there’s nothing else I can do. I’m so scared. I even called Shasta, she knows everybody, and she hasn’t heard from him. Fact News was saying something about an exterminator getting assaulted. I’m just paranoid now.


I have to go. He’s my brother. I have to help him. He needs me. They won’t touch him. They’ll never take him, I’ll never let them do that to him.

Mom, I’m sure you’ll never see this, because they’ll take it when they come searching, but I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I won’t be able to come back. Don’t forget me. Please don’t let them make you forget me.

Signing off,