A glimpse at the United States with after a blackout in rule. An interesting view of the life of Number 1137.

Number 1137

The newspaper flew from my cold hands but I didn’t try to catch it. All it had were more articles on conspiracies concerning what happened to the government. The only “article” I cared about was the measly two sentence description of Ethan. It took me a while to find the article. It was tucked away in the lower right hand corner of page six, if it were only one year earlier the article on his young death would be front page with a detailed paragraph on his life and death. But no, now in the year 2017 his pitiful article read:

Number 1137

On December 2nd, 2017 Ethan Wellman was found dead in his home, his autopsy shows he died from starvation. Ethan was storked to the Frieb’s on November 15th, 2017 at the age of 17. Ethan enjoyed spending his free time playing soccer.  

What a sad representation of his life. First, Ethan was 16, not 17. And of the nine years I knew him, I don’t think he’d ever kicked a soccer ball. Misrepresentations are very common, as the articles are usually written by journalist who never even knew the victim. I can’t imagine the Frieb’s would give any of their time even thinking about Ethan. I would’ve thought that they messed up the name if it wasn’t for the blurry picture of Ethan positioned next to the text. As for the title, it was a symbol of Ethan being the 1137 child death since the ShutDown.

On November 3rd, 2016 America shut down. The lights went out, televisions went out, phone lines, everything. We sat in complete nothing for 6 days. When everything came back, one thing was gone, the government. Every governor, senator, and even the President, gone without a trace. These days of chaos are known as the ShutDown. One thing that many people noticed was a strange buzzing noises that protruded from the White House although no one could find the source.

Since there isn’t much ruling now America has changed immensely. The dusty streets are filled with crumpled papers and food packaging. Robberies are common, and houses have been falling apart. The bright, happy, all- American country is now a dark and dangerous image of inferno.

One custom that has formed is storking. Storking is defined as when a family gives their child away to another family, after the child has misbehaved or “disgraced” the family. A child can be storked between the ages of 5 and 17. The family’s home in which the child is left at is officially responsible for the child. A juvenile may only be storked once in his or her lifetime. Many parents now use little mistakes that teens usually make as an excuse to stork them. Since money and housing is scare now parents want as little responsibility as they can get.

Many families who receive a storked youngster do not want the responsibility of raising them. Many kids who are storked, snorks, as we call them are usually starved to death or worked to death, because murder now has no consequences.

The day of Ethan’s storking is etched in my mind almost as well as my own sister’s. It started when the ShutDown ended and the lights came back on. His dad, Martin, had a job in the White House as a security guard. When the government left many assumed he knew where the President had gone. He didn’t of course. All he remembers is everything went out, he says he was knocked out for the whole six days. His mother, MaryAnn, was a tenth grade biology teacher, when the control ended it was decided that students would graduate after ninth grade, so she was out of a job too. Ethan finished school but wasn’t qualified enough to get any open jobs. His sister, Eleanor, who is now nine, is still in school.

The Wellman’s lived off food they’d kept stored for a while. Around the October of 2017 their food started to run out and they had to feast on crumbs and pieces of bread that they found tucked away in hidden places. Anyone could tell that the family was malnourished, they were all scrawny and they’re old clothes drooped off of them, consuming their bodies.

On November 11th he came up to me in a panic.

“Ainsley, please help, Eleanor has a bad stomach ache and can’t keep her food down, please go get your mom!” he exclaimed desperately.

I ran to my house, past the buzzing noises and grabbed my mother. Luckily for me my mother was a nurse and kept her job after the ShutDown.

“Mom hurry, Eleanor’s very sick,” I shout into the shack-style house. “Oh my, what is wrong,” she responded quickly. “Ethan didn’t say” I said. “But,” I continued slowly, “I think that food she had to eat is too rotten...” I conclude quietly.

The closer we closed in on the one room hut I could hear Eleanor’s desperate wails. My mom tended to her and concluded that she must’ve gotten sick from food poisoning. She admitted that she found a can of pears under her bed and ate one. My mom examined them, the expiration date was July 2013. She sent me back home to get a small bottle of medicine and a single piece of wheat bread. As I passed the mysterious buzzing noise (Was it getting louder?), I considered trying to snatch a couple more pieces of bread for the rest of the family. I quickly dismissed the idea, I didn’t need to get in trouble for fending for the poor. I thought about our own food supply. It was getting low too. One last package of preserved food. Between my mom, sister, and I. It would maybe last a week and a half, we didn’t have enough to be giving it away.

About three days later I saw Ethan pacing around in my neighborhood. When I caught his eye he hurried over to me.

“Ethan wh-,” is all I could get out as he pushed me into the front door of my home. “Ains I need your help,” he panted. “Gosh calm down, you look like you’re running from the police,” I joked back. “Ains I’m serious, look,” he pulled a big loaf of what looked like fresh baked bread and a carton of fruit-filled pastries out of his baggy grey jacket. “Ethan, where did you get those?” I questioned anxiously. He looked around nervously to check that we were alone then lowered his voice and said, “Listen. I took them from Barnes Bakery about 5 miles down the road, over on Derrit Street. They were sitting in the window so I grabbed them then ran away. Eleanor really needs real, healthy food, she is still very weak and we are all out of food. No one saw me, I’m 100 percent positive of that, I was really careful. I’m still just a little paranoid that someone will turn me in.” “How do you think you’ll get away with this? You can’t sneak food like that in your house and expect your parents not to notice, and I’m not keeping your smuggled food here.” I cried. “No, my mom and dad won’t mind, I heard them talking just yesterday about it. My dad said he was thinking about going around to bakery and begging for some food,” he tried to explain. “Okay, if you think they won’t mind, just be careful walking home, don’t look so suspicious!” I prayed.

Ethan got home safely. He walked right past the buzzing noise and straight in to his home. Unfortunately, Ethan’s plan didn’t go as he had hoped. When he presented the food to his family they were appalled. An anxious emotion surrounded them and they became paranoid. They became convinced that someone surely saw him. What would this put on the family name? How would they acquire jobs with a delinquent as a son? They became obsessed with the idea of them slowly slipping farther down the scale of society. The feeling didn’t escape them.

The next day I heard about it from my sister, Ethel. She said that she saw the Wellman’s walking out of town and that they were all in tears. She followed them three miles out of town, to a wealthy neighborhood. I suspected they took him there because they felt guilty about storking him, but the guilt didn’t stop them. They probably thought that the family they chose would take care of him and finish raising him properly. My sister said as soon as she saw Rayne Frieb’s face when she found Ethan on her doorstep, she knew he was in trouble.

I only saw Ethan twice in the few weeks he spent in the Frieb’s captivity. The first time he was running around and went into the local diner. He came out with a very pretty young girl, and started escorting her somewhere. I slowly followed to see if I could catch a word with him. As I got closer I heard the girl yelling at him, saying something about how embarrassing it was to be seen in public with him. I followed from a far distance from then on. As they walked into Ethan’s new home I concluded that the young girl, probably about 14 years old, was the Frieb’s daughter.

The second encounter I had with Ethan was about a week and a half later, right around the area with the buzzing noise. I caught him walking into town in a grocer uniform.

“Sorry Ainsley, I’d love to catch up but my shift starts in five minutes and I can’t be late on my first day. Rayne got me this job and I can’t give her a bad reputation,” he said as he breezed past me.

As he ran into the grocer I look deeply at him. His face was dark with dirt, and when he spoke you could tell his teeth had been rotting. The fitted grocer shirt showed his concaved stomach and his skinny waist. His weak legs looked like they would give out at any minute.

Five days later I found the newspaper, and I was shocked because I didn’t even know it had happened. No one felt the need to tell me that two days earlier my best friend had died of starvation. I didn’t hear any buzz about it because deaths like this were common now and his family barely came around town anymore. I doubt they even knew, or if they’d even care. I walked home, trekking through the deep snow, past the buzzing noise, and into my home. I went straight into my bedroom, flopped onto my bed and buried my head in my pillow. I cried until I fell asleep.

The loud buzzing woke me up. I looked at my phone that was vibrating out of control. I adjusted my eyes to the light, and then unlocked the screen and read the message I had missed. It read:

Hey Ains, the 30-hour famine is finally over! Meet me at Barnes for lunch? I’m starving!!  -E

Received at 11:37.


Submitted: March 10, 2014

© Copyright 2023 aebarry814. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:


Facebook Comments

More Science Fiction Short Stories

Other Content by aebarry814

Short Story / Science Fiction

Short Story / Young Adult

Short Story / Young Adult