Authors: Cameron Jace
by Cameron Jace
Copyright © 2012 Akmal Eldin Farouk Ali Shebl
2013 Edition, rewrite, edited by Jami Hampson
All rights are reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author.
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer's imagination or have been used fictitiously, and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental.
This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This e-book may not be resold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this e-book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. Thank you for respecting the hard work of all people involved with the creation of this e-book.
All facts concerning publication dates of fairy tales, scripts, and historical events mentioned in this book are true. The interpretations and fantasy elements are not. They are products of the author’s imagination.
The Grim Diaries Prquels Series
The Grimm Diaries Main Series
I Am Alive Series
I Am Alive
“Every girl dies – not every girl really lives.”
~ Decca Tenderstone
When I was ten, my mother tried to kill me.
She held a large glinting knife in front of her in the kitchen, and looked at me as if I was the Cookie Monster. I had just woken up in the middle of the night and snuck into the kitchen to gorge on that delicious red jelly I loved. I knew I wasn’t supposed to, because I wasn't allowed to eat after eight. Weight and heart rates were a big issue where I lived. But I didn’t think I deserved to die.
Seriously. It was only jelly, mom. It’s much scarier now that I think about it.
“You’re a disgrace to this family,” my mother cried out in the dim-lit kitchen. “You never listen to a word I say. You break all the rules, and the Summit will punish us for your behavior. I hate you.”
“Because of the jelly?” I squinted.
“Because you’re a Monster!” She accidentally spit on me. “A Monster,” she repeated and let the knife fall from her hand before she fell herself to the floor. “What have I done to deserve you?" She moaned.
I was perplexed, torn between picking up the knife, in case her hysteria returned, and running away with the jelly. At this point, I was used to the absurdness of older people. They always worried too much, as if it was the end if the world.
But my dad wasn’t one of them.
He plodded slowly into the kitchen and picked up my mother from the floor. He hugged her and told her that everything was going to be okay. I didn’t know what that meant, really. Was I going to be okay after my mother deliberately sent me surfing through a chronic case of post-traumatic stress as a result of a miserable childhood? Or was she going to be okay and maybe be sent to an asylum? It was a hard choice; for one of us to be okay, the other was going to be in trouble.
“She’s a Monster,” my mother wailed in my father’s arms. “We have to kill her.”
I rubbed my ears to make sure I wasn’t imagining her saying this. The jelly must have meant a lot to her. I surrendered and let go of the refrigerator’s door, and went upstairs. I knew my family was nuts. It was time to start planning my way out.
Even in my room, my mother wouldn’t stop panicking all night. My father calmed her down and told her that I was going to be alright, that I was going to be something called a “Seven.” She told him about a letter she'd received from school earlier that predicted I’d be a “Five” when I am sixteen, if not lower. Then my father told her I couldn’t be lower that a ‘Five’ because it would mean I will be a ‘Monster.’
Seriously, what was wrong with these people?
I took it that they were talking about my grades. But why would my mother want to kill me for my grades in school? It’s not like she was a genius when she was a kid. I heard dad say she sucked in sports, and that he met her smoking cigarettes in the bathroom.
When she finally gave up complaining and started snoring, my father came to my room and hugged me. He told me to hang tight and forget about anything I had heard.
“Don’t let anyone tell who you are.” He ran his fingers tenderly upon my cheek.
“Why would anyone tell me who I am, dad?” I wondered. “I’m Decca. Decca Tenderstone. I know who I am.”
“That’s my girl.” He smiled.
“So why does my mother think I am a Monster?” I inquired with an investigative look.
“Don’t ever listen to your mother.” Gotta love my dad. “You’re not a Monster. The school is wrong about that. Monsters are bad kids who don’t follow the Summit’s rules. You’re not a bad kid, and never will be.”
“Even if I keep eating jelly?”
My father laughed. “You need to ease up on the food a bit.”
“But I am skinny, dad. I will never be fat.”
“It’s not just that. Just do what I tell you until you’re sixteen, then do whatever you like.” He kissed me goodnight and stood up to leave.
“Dad,” I stopped him before he closed the door.
“If the school will rank me when I am sixteen, do you think I can be a Ten?” I said with wide curious eyes.
“No student has ever been a Ten, Decca,” he said. “The school ranks students from Five to Nine. I’d say you’d make an awesome Seven.”
I smiled broadly. I didn’t know why, but I thought a Seven suited me.
“Can I close the door now?” his eyes were begging for sleep.
“No,” I waved my hand. “One last question.”
“Are Monsters the kids with ranks lower than a Five?”
He looked alert all of a sudden, nodding without saying a word.
“I promise you, I’ll study hard to become a Seven.” I said.
My father’s broad smile disappeared behind the door he pulled after him.
Four years later, lying in the same bed late at night, I heard a knocking on my window. It was a boy, a year or two older than me. He had ruffled dirty blond hair and a smeared face, as if something had exploded on it. Never had anyone knocked on my window before. Let alone a boy.
Reluctantly and curiously, I walked to the window and asked him what he wanted, and how he even climbed up there. He said something I couldn’t hear, trying to open the window with his dirty hands. I noticed his dress was torn and that he was barefoot. He still looked cool in the strangest way.
“Are you going to hurt me if I let you in?” I asked foolishly, having made no friends at the time.
The boy's response was rather funny. He exaggerated an evil look on his face and plastered his nose, lips, and palms onto the window, smearing it. I have to admit, he had me with his stupidity. I opened the window and asked him what he wanted.
The boy, whose name was Woo, gazed at me for a long time. It was as if he had seen someone he’d missed for so long, as if he were seeing sunshine for the first time. I blushed as he pulled something from his bag, and laid it on my window sill. I couldn’t help but smile as I looked at it. It was my favorite food, shaking nervously on a plate.
“Jelly?” Woo said, titling his head and giggling.
This was how I met Woo, the boy who changed my life. We sat eating jelly by my window every night for a long time. It was a good time in my life, but it ended too soon. Two years later, Woo was killed in the Monster Show. He was a Monster, and I was never the same person again.
I am doing my best not to stumble and fall. The bus is crowded with teens, squeezing and jostling me from side to side. Most of them are stronger, much more popular, and beautiful. Sometimes, I think they don’t see me, that I don’t exist in their world. I can deal with being invisible, but not so much with being unwanted.
Tiptoeing, I hold on to the railing overhead. It’s embarrassing. If I’d been just a bit taller, maybe I’d have been friends with Faustina, the school’s queen bee, who laughs at me now. She glances back to check out her manicured fingernails on one hand, holding effortlessly to the rail with the other. I can’t hear her, but I know she’s calling me a dork under her breath. When all of us get ranked today, Faustina is most probably going to become a “Nine.” Nines are always mean to me. I’m surprised she even sees me.
Like my dad said, I was hoping I’d become a Seven today.
Finally, the bus stops in front of my school, Cubberley High. I’m obliged to wait for the Nines and Eights until they get out first. Predicted Nines are usually the most beautiful. Eights are the most elegant. Sevens like me have to wait in line. At least I get to do most things before the Sixes and the Fives.
Clumsily, I stumble over a boy’s shoes. My one and only friend, Ariadna, catches me. She is a pre-Nine too, but she’s unlike any other Nine I have come across. She’s been my neighbor since last year. Otherwise, we would have never crossed paths. Ariadna’s family was forced to move to our poor neighborhood because of her older brother, Max. A Monster who died in the same games as Woo, I guess.
“Pull your chin up and walk like a princess,” Ariadna whispers in my ear, making sure I straighten up my posture.
“I’m so worried, Ariadna,” I say. “What if I’m not a Seven?”
“Are you kidding me? You’ll be the most beautiful Seven in Faya. Just hang tight into your dress and don’t stumble in those heels until you pass the checkup. Then we’ll attend the amazing Ranking Day celebration.”
“Why do we even need this test?” I wonder.
“It’s just routine. The Summit double-checks our names and data in the system, to make sure we haven’t cheated in any way,” Ariadna says, her blonde hair fluttering in a gentle breeze. “Look at those cute boys getting ranked today. How have I missed those all year long?” She high-fives a couple of boys she is friends with. A lot of boys gravitate toward Ariadna. No one high-fives me. Maybe I’m too short.
I wish I didn’t have to wear a dress to the ceremony. I miss my pink hoodie, a warm place to bury my head when the people around me make the world feel so cold. Ariadna is still talking to the boys. She is so witty and confident. Max’s death never affected her. Why would it? Monsters are looked upon as germs: unwanted, and having the characteristics of a parasitic virus. We don’t need them in our nation.
A Gatekeeper, one of the guards who protects our school, stops us at the main door. “Everyone show me their
device on their way in, please,” the Gatekeeper demands.
Eagerly, I show mine. It’s a cellphone-like device that is a little bigger than my small palms. The device collects our body and brain’s data, analyzes it, and posts frequent results concerning our health and habits to the authorities. It’s called Self-Quantifying, and only our government, The Summit has access to the full and detailed results. Mine is Pink, a gift from my beloved father earlier this morning. My mother only pecked me with a dry kiss on my cheeks.
“Nice device,” Faustina mocks me, standing nearby. “Pink doesn’t look good on you, Monster.” She snickers, and her friends laugh at me.
The iAms decide the rank of every sixteen-year-old in Faya. It picked Woo and Max as Monsters. Faustina likes to remind me that the iAm predicted I’d be a Monster when I was ten. It was glitch in the system.