Read Espial Online

Authors: Nikita Francois


















the Lord, my God, for my family, and for Adrian.

my little sister who this book could not

been written without.





addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can
extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.


cackled and moaned in pleasure. He slowly licked the bleeding holes left by his
talons when they ripped into the being’s wing. The clouds of smoke clouded my
eyesight, thunder exploded throughout my body.


immediately awoke, eyes flashing open thinking something was terribly wrong. Lying
quietly in bed, I realized that nothing could possibly be wrong. Nothing bad
like my dream ever happened in Terredome. As the only surviving city of the
Great World War, we’ve established a safe haven for all citizens to work and
live in. As I took in my surroundings, noting how dark my room was, the
ever-familiar ache between my shoulder blades appeared and then subsided just
as quickly. This ache had been around for as long as I could remember. I recalled
the conversation I had with Luke the day prior.

     “Don’t make
fun of me, Luke!” I exclaimed.

     “I’m sorry,
Sol, but I’m not laughing at you,” he replied. “I’m only chuckling because I
thought you were developing a strange hunchback.”

     “Well maybe
there is something wrong with me,” I said. “But please don’t tell anyone. I’ve
always felt it and just thought I could tell you.”

     “Of course
you could tell me. I won’t tell anyone, trust me,” said Luke with a wink.

     I gave him a
playful punch in the arm and stood to leave. The grassy quad linking the four
school buildings was a popular hangout spot for students in between classes.
Several years earlier, Luke and I had discovered a hidden pathway behind some
bushes that led to a small meadow, surrounded by trees. Various tales and
legends were well known by everyone about the possibility that this secret meadow
existed, but no one had ever located it. It was peaceful and serene. Flowers
grew sporadically in the grass and sunlight cut through the trees, casting
colorful rays along ground. While Luke and I were proud of our discovery, we
hadn’t shared it with anyone.

     “Want me to
walk you home?” asked Luke, with a small hint of concern in his eyes.

     “No,” I
replied. “Nothing to worry about.”

     “Alright, Miss
Soleil Arch.  I’ll see you at Oculation tomorrow.”

     With that
he grabbed his satchel and cautiously climbed out of the bushy entrance. 6’2”
tall, broad-shouldered, and blonde hair, Luke was someone who always stood out,
particularly with the other girls in school. Inconspicuously climbing out of
the entrance was a feat he mastered in a way I would never understand. Friends
since the age of 5, I was always surprised by how our friendship remained over
the last decade. In contrast to our companionship, the other students at school
ignored me and I often wondered if they sometimes truly couldn’t see me.

     I reached
down to grab my backpack when it flew up into my outstretched arm. Thankful that
Luke hadn’t seen, I placed it on my back and made my way out of the meadow. It
didn’t happen often, maybe once or twice a year. But I discovered at a young
age that I could occasionally move things with my mind. Never sharing my secret
with anyone, I always had a feeling that it would be best to keep it to myself.
I was considered odd enough at school; I didn’t need to draw additional
attention to myself.


I sat up in bed and looked out the window. The peach and pink hues of the
sunrise were a truly magnificent sight. But that morning it worried me. Everyone
knew what Oculation was and the risks of this momentous event scared me. My
mother had shared its origins with me many times before. In the year 2057, the
Great World War was ravaging the earth. Human casualties were no longer a
concern for governments; mass extinction was inevitable. Apparently, our side
of the world launched a never-before used nuclear reactor which inexplicably
detonated en route to the other side of the world. It tore several massive
holes into the earth’s atmosphere, causing the sun’s rays to wither all plant
life, evaporate most water supplies, and kill or blind every living being around
the equator. Survivors burrowed underground for two years.

     After the
burrow years, our Excellency Warren Sato had scientists implant everyone’s eyes
with opaque protective lenses. These enabled humans to see during the day,
without burning their retinas. Adults who survived the Great World War would
never be able to remove theirs. All infants were then implanted with these high
tech lenses upon birth. Decades later, society became fully functional above
ground. These lenses became imperative to preserve the human race and our
environment within the city walls. His Excellency lived through the GWW and, at
what we believed to be over 200 years old, his scientific advancements were
unmatched. Water was still scarce, yet synthetic juices were created for our
consumption. Food consisted of grains and plants. Clothing was handmade and our
basic options included jean pants, cloth pants, and cloth tops.

to our military, the world outside Terredome remained a desolate wasteland with
savages attempting to breach our gates on a daily basis. However, the military
always succeeded in keeping them at bay. As a result, no crimes of any sort
ever occurred in Terredome. Our history books detailed how we were the only
city to flourish after the war. Many people laughed at the savages that attempted
to climb our city’s walls. I’ve always wondered what the desolate world looked
like outside of them.

     Every year
on the 15
of June, all citizens of Terredome who reached the age
of 15 attended Oculation. It was the beginning of our summer solstice and marked
the furthest point the sun was from earth. Our lenses were removed on this day and
we became capable of seeing without these implants for the rest of our lives. A
series of ocular exams were given at this event. Based on the corrective
effects of the lenses, we then determined how we could contribute to society.
On occasion, a fifteen year-old Inductee had their lenses removed, yet no
corrective effects took hold. Their eyes could not handle the harsh sunrays.
These individuals were then exterminated seeing as they would not be able to contribute
to the advancement of society. According to my mother, scientists were unable
to create a lens able to aid those who failed Oculation. Their bodies were
disposed of and their names were to never be mentioned again. That day’s
Oculation happened to be the 150
anniversary of the nuclear
disaster. And exactly eight days prior on June 8
celebrated my 15
birthday. Truth be told, I dreaded it. The fear that
the lenses did not have any lasting corrective effect on my sight scared me and
I was worried that this day would have been my last.


     “Sol? Are
you awake?”

     “Mhmm,” I
gurgled from my pillow.

     “You need
to eat something before Oculation, sweetie.” My mother, Ruth, clearly did not
understand how butterflies in one’s stomach could prevent a person from eating.
And maybe those butterflies were actually dragons, because the thought of food
made me feel ill.

     “Sure,” I
replied sarcastically, hoping she would just leave for work.

     “Oh and by
the way honey, they gave me the day off so that I could attend your Oculation

immediately bolted upright. “You mean I won’t have to go alone?” I sputtered.

     “No. Of
course not. I was there the day your father died. And he died fighting for us
to live a better life. I don’t ever want you to go through any major life event

     While I knew
she meant well, I inhaled sharply. Mention of my father was always sore for me.
He died while my mother was pregnant with me, trying to restrain an Oculation subject
due for extermination. My name, Soleil, was given to me by him, though I
vaguely remember why. It had something to do with his own grandfather, Solomon
Arch, who fought during the Great World War.

     “I know, mom.
Give me a few minutes to change and I’ll be right down”

     She smiled
brightly at me and whisked out of the room. Ruth could only be described as the
epitome of beauty. Long and flowing platinum blonde hair, with hazel eyes and
olive skin greeted the world daily. While she was outwardly gorgeous, her inner
beauty was truly stunning. Terredome was an ideal city in that no crimes were
committed because no assaults or other violent acts were inherent to the
citizens’ natures. As a result, mostly everyone got along well. But Ruth was more
than simply well-liked by everyone she encountered. She was adored. Men
regularly offered to court her, but she always refused, pledging herself to
remain widowed for the remainder of her life. This only seemed to entice
suitors even more. In every way she was elegant and attractive, I was not.
Taking after my father, I had shoulder-length, wavy jet black hair with random naturally
platinum blonde streaks. My eyes were a non-descript dark brown and the pallor
of my skin in contrast gave me the appearance of always being ill. Average
height and weight left me unnoticed by the boys at schools, which I sometimes
appreciated. But mostly, I felt unattractive. I learned to just avoid the
opposite sex altogether. With the exception of Luke who remained my best

     I slid on
my favorite pair of jeans. While it was the same pair of jeans that everyone
else wore, I had secretly embroidered a pair of wings inside the waistband.
Only Luke knew that I stole the thread to do so from Clothing and Textiles
class. I found that my mom had laid out a new blouse on my vanity. It had a
lace pointed collar and soft, silky feel. After a double-take, I could see that
the buttons were actual seashells. I gently ran my thumb over the buttons. I
had only seen pictures of seashells in my history books. Realizing it was
almost time to leave, I quickly slid on the blouse, pinned my hair behind my
ears and headed downstairs to force myself to eat.

     The home my
mother and I shared was a short five-minute walk from school, which sat in the
south of Terredome. Luke lived two houses to the left, in the same
cookie-cutter gated community where all of Terredome’s one hundred thousand
residents live. We all lived very simply, very minimalistic. Luke’s mother had
been killed during a tragic accident working in one of the garment factories.
His father raised him, a nice man who worked at the military base as a computer
technician. The only people who lived extravagantly were Sato and his two
advisors. All other citizens were relegated to more simplistic lives, always
wearing jeans and simple cotton tops. While I knew our community was well-kept
and aesthetically appealing, we all understood that only those not wearing the
lenses could see its true beauty. An unavoidable hitch with our lenses, all
colors and details had a dim haze about them until one’s lenses were removed at
Oculation. Since we were all infants when the lenses were first implanted, it
was cool hearing stories from the older adults about how refreshing and vibrant
everything truly appeared. This fact was the only comfort I felt regarding the
procedure. Everything else I felt was pure dread as we walked toward the school.
Summer vacation began the day after Oculation and I envied the students who
would be staying home. After our procedure was completed, we would be
transported to a three-year boarding school to prepare for our adult
professions. My shoulder blades throbbed momentarily. I remembered that His
Excellency Warren Sato always officiated the Oculation event.

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