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hillary marek

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The Red Ticket
By hillary marek
Sunday, June 19, 2011

Rated "PG13" by the Author.

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Set in the future where population control is decided by a lottery, wallflower Cassie wins an unlimited credit "chip" implant and has two weeks to prove her life is worth saving. What would you do if you only had two week left to live?

our story takes place in the future where there is population control by a lottery you never know when your lottery number is going to come up or if it will ever come up your chances are as likely as winning the real lottery or being drafted into the military so most people don't worry about it well our main character Cassie (Cassandra)  gets a red envelope delivered by "the Sleepers" they are like the lotto cops (but dressed in ominous red samurai masks and grim reaper styled robes to mask there identity) this means she is up  for review so a sleeper board reviews her life and deems if she is worthy of renewal or eternal sleep now the only law is you can never tell anyone about the sleeper review process so if you are given a second chance and you talk about how you got your second chance it is revoked immediately and you are put to death with out any perks of the lotto. See when you win the lotto you have two weeks while you are up for the review board now they pull in and interview people out of your life in this time this could be your 2nd grade teacher , a jilted ex lover, your best friend or a bum you stop and give spare change to every morning you never know who will be called in to judge your life in that final 2 weeks, no one does not even those being called in and to make sure you don't influence there interviews you are given a lotto pass that is kind of like an unlimited credit card that the government has to pick up the tab. This credit card allows you to meet celebrity's get into any concert sporting event travel around the world in privet jets eat in any restaurant the works but you have to be out of town to use it. Now if you are "recycled" as they call it your family is given a one million dollar credit on there googleyou account. At this point in the future every one has a googleyou chip like a piercing in between there thumb and forefinger. It was first a fashion of the elite lets say you walk into a club the door guy scans your googleyou chip and it updates your facebook status to show where you are, deducts the door fee from your account and checks your id all with out having to drag around a purse or bulky wallet anymore.As time advanced the government saw a decrease in crime because people were no longer mugging the rich for cash do to everyone having googleyou implants. This lead to the law of 2045 being passed making it mandatory for every one world wide to have one installed now a cop anywhere in the world can ask to see your chip and run it for warrants, id, citizenship, visa status ,age and if your a runner, a runner is some one trying to escape there sleeper hearing. In 2012 a tsunami wiped out Australia but word is the waters receded and life resumed ,runners who have made it there have created a Utopian society how ever this urban legend is fueled by the fact that the air force will shoot you down if you try to fly into the restricted area around Australia and the coastguard will arrest you bringing you back to be euthanize and you forfeit your lotto winning for you your family if you get caught trying to make it by boat. So since no one can talk about it no one is sure if you even get a second chance. Cassie has known 5 or 6 people who were picked and none of them made it home. Cassie is your everyday run of the mill fly under the radar kind of girl, goes to work, pays the bills on time, lives alone, and never bothers anyone until the day she gets served on the bus on the way to work. The law says you cant open your envelope in public so when a mysterious old woman carrying an oxygen tank sits next to her and tells her "Getting old sucks, by 50 you start wishing you would get one of those red envelopes,the more friends you bury and the more your hands start to look like this" she says holding out her hands with a beautiful wedding ring increased in to her flesh looking like she had never taken it off in 50 years. " there gets to a point where your boobs can only sag so far before you realize hey man i may never get that chance to pose for playboy after all" she said laughing nudging Cassie cracking them both into laughter "well at least you still have your husband you found love that's more than i can say i couldn't even keep my gold fish alive" Cassie choked back tears thinking of the other things she would never do. "ah yes my Ryan he died many years back but it was a love like no other that's when i started praying i would get one of those red cards in the mail, didn't seem right to be here with out him. Oh we had a love affair like no other just like that old classic "Titanic" you know the flat screen one from last millennium 'you jump I jump' that was us i loved him from the moment of that first kiss after knowing him just 24 hours and I never looked back. Honey you have two weeks love can hit you like a ton of bricks in an instant and just a moment of it makes up for a life time with out it. Don't look at that card at your death sentence look at it as you license to live! oh isn't this your stop?" Cassie looked up "Oh yea it is, I uh must have spaced out for a minute so 'titanic' you say, I don't know anyone with an old flat screen i think my parents my have one in the basement but I will have to watch it, thanks for the advice you really helped, I'm sorry what was your name." Cassie asked "Cassandra" the old woman answered "no way my name is.." Cassie started but Cassandra interrupted "Cassie, yes I know" Cassie about to step off the bus holding the door stopped dead in her tracks "wait how did you know that?" Cassandra smiled "your name tag dear your name tag" walking back to her flat Cassie started to think about every thing that just happened.Wait a minute how did that old lady know where my stop was I never said anything about my stop, immediately her hand flew up the her chest just as she thought she wasn't wearing her name tag today she turned to run back to the bus but it had already pulled away from the curb.

Our story continues to Cassie going into her favorite coffee shop and buying her usual cup of tea and sitting on the couch and just staring at the envelope knowing as long as she is in public she cant open it but also knowing she has to report today to have her chip activated as a lotto winner so she can use her lotto credit card. when a good looking guy sits next to her on a couch shy Cassie looks quickly for another place to sit realizing he sat down because the place was packed she relaxes and shoves the red envelope in her purse before he has a chance to see it and pretends to be interested in the first magazine she picks up. after a minute or two of glancing at him out of the corner of her eye and pretending to read he finally laughed and says "How long are you going to pretend to read Mens Prostate Monthly?" Cassie utterly embarrassed tosses the magazine on the coffee table and begins to gather her things near tears trying to get out of there as quickly as possible when he put his hand on her arm and sat her back down and as kindly as anyone had ever spoken to her said "I'm sorry I guess I went about that wrong  my names Michael please sit down you look like your puppy just died and you really need a friend right now ,I have 5 sisters so I make a really good listener, please sit back down." Cassie plopped down on the couch "I got my envelope to day I haven't opened it yet and to be honest anyone else would be out there living it up but I just want to put on some pajama pants a comfy t shirt find and old flat screen and watch some old movie called 'Titanic' while eating more ice cream then Ben and Jerry can make! but instead I am just going to go home read this envelope sit by myself and freak out until its time for my activation.You probably think I'm crazy now don't you?" "Nope I am thinking you just hit the jack pot I hate 3-d it messes with my eyes so i only watch old flat screen movies and Titanic is somewhere in my collection and just so happens I have a freezer full of Ben and Jerry's one of the perks of being a bachelor no one tells you you cant eat chips and ice cream for dinner."

So as the story goes on for the next 24hrs they become inseparable he drives her to her lotto activation and since he cant come in with her he waits out side the three hours until she gets out but before she goes in he kisses he on the forehead "for luck" as he tells her which leads to a passionate kiss that makes the lotto the furthest thing from her mind all she can think of is getting back to see him. The next day they fly off to paris and use her lotto chip to hit all the wonders of the world. She shows a pure heart and in each location is some how unbeknown to both her and the reader being tested by the sleeper board. In Paris she see's a man hit a prostitute and runs over to her aid grabbing her and standing in front of her telling him if he ever lays a hand on her again she will find him drug him and remove his testicles. then she takes the prostitute back to the hotel bandages her up calls the front desk and gets her a room for the night and a plane ticket back to London where the girls mother lives. When Michael asks her why she did this she could have been killed she looked at him and says "Well I'm dead if I do dead If I don't at least this way that girl gets to live now." As they complete the first week of travel Cassie is in the shower and we see Michael sending an email of photos taken with his phone of all these heroic things Cassie has done in the last week. So now we are starting to suspect who Michael really is, he says he works in acquisitions but now we are questioning his motives. He then notices a piece of paper sticking out of her day planer and he sees his name on the bottom so he opens it and pulls out the loose paper, earlier we found out Cassie's parents died when she was younger and she is an only child so she has no family to leave the million dollars to, at the top of the page is the one million dollar amount and going down the page is an itemized list of the people she has helped or befriended  in the different countries Naomi in Switzerland Nanette in china Rahul in India Tiffany in Paris ect and she has left each of them an amount of the money  and at the bottom of the page it says to Michael, I leave my heart. we see a single tear drop from his face as he drops his phone and the paper at the same time. Cassie comes out of the shower right as he is perfectly putting the paper back and acting like he is picking up the phone to call room service, so now we absolutely love Cassie and know she is genuinely a wonderful person who does not deserve to die, but is Michael trying to prove that point to the board because they called him as a witness or has he been working for them since the beginning? now we start picking up more on his character and his actions and what he is up to. You can tell he is obviously falling very hard for Cassie and as the last few days approach they decide to go home and she tells him no more travel no more adventure all she wants is to spend her last 48 hours in his arms. He drops to one knee right then and tears falling down his face begs her to marry him which of course in blind love she says yes. They fly to Vegas to get married in a little white chapel he goes to the gift shop and pick out a ring while she in another room puts on a veil. as they stand before Elvis he asks them Cassandra Sullivan do you take Ryan Webb to be your lawfully wedded husband. "Wait a minute I thought your name was Michael" Cassie panics "It is check my chip Ryan Michael Webb the third I go by Michael because my dad went by Ryan whats the big deal?" Cassie flashes back to the lady on the bus... '"ah yes my Ryan  'you jump I jump' that was us i loved him from the moment of that first kiss after 24 hours i never looked back." that's what she had said....  "So are we having a wedding here ?" Elvis asked, "Cass baby if its that big a deal you can call me Ryan hell you can call me Bob, George, Hank I don't care just as long as I know I married the one person I ever truly loved on this planet if its only for 48 hours or the rest of time, knowing you has been the most alive i have ever felt in my life i have lived more in the last two weeks then in my whole existence. I love you, I love you so much please marry me," holding out the newly picked out ring Cassie's heart stopped she traced the familiar lines she had seen the same simple ring just two weeks before, on a bus, by a woman urging her to no matter what take a chance on love. 

After the wedding and two days of laying in bed watching old movies and just being drunk with love the big day came. Michael said he had to run into work real quick and file some paperwork but would be back in an hour with plenty of time to spend the day together he didn't seem worried at all that this was the day his wife was going to die, did he marry her for the million dollars I mean he was her only family now. Cassie took out the page with how she wanted her money spent and went and put it in his top dresser drawer along with a letter she had written telling him how much she loved him when she opened it she noticed there one only one layer of socks that's about three inches but it was at least a 12 inch deep drawer she knocked on the bottom of the drawer and sure enough it was hollow.Pulling all of the socks out she saw a tiny opening in the far back corner to lift off the false bottom as she does she drops the board and her heart almost stops. Reaching into the drawer she pulls out a red samurai mask and a black robe sinking to the ground a leaning against the bed she  flashes back to the day she was served it was such a blur how could she not have put two and two together she was so focused on those red masks and that red envelope she hardly saw those blue eyes she flashed to the eyes of the man holding the red envelope, then to Michael holding her arm sitting her back down at the coffee shop, then the bus, then that first kiss, the bus, the wedding, the bus. But how, how could he keep this from her, he handed her a death sentence then gave her a reason to live how could anyone be so cruel, how sick is he? Does he pray on women he gives lottery's too my god how many ex wives does he have? Just then Michael walks in the door "Baby I have lunch are you up yet? Sweetheart?" he walks into the room to see his sock drawer on the ground and his wife holding his uniform. She just looks up at him slowly and says "Your a god damned Sleeper" then yelling "A FUCKING SLEEPER AND YOU DIDN'T EVER THINK TO OH I DON'T KNOW BRING THIS UP?" she drops the uniform and thrusts the papers at his chest, him reluctantly taking them her still yelling "No take it I wrote it before I knew I married a lying sack of shit, how could you, I love you , just tell me why? No as a matter of fact I don't want to hear it I don't want to hear one more word out of your mouth EVER." she storms out of the house crying. He slinks onto the bed reading the letter and slowly tears start to fall until he is uncontrollably sobbing we leave him curled on his bed clutching the letter to his chest.

The next chapter opens at her life review they begin a slide show of boring little things she can tell work friends and small acquaintances have submitted seeing how worthless her life was she just numbly stares at the flashing images a won spelling bee in second grade employee of the month a year or two back feeding a stray cat which is against the law. Then images from the last two weeks start to flash across the screen all her heroic acts her standing in the face of sure death to protect perfect strangers and she slowly starts to realize only one person would have been called in for questioning that would have this much information, her only living family member, her husband. that's where he was this morning that was the rush to get married, only a Sleeper would know they would have to interview her husband. "Now Mrs. Webb." the Judge started it took her a second to remember that was now her name. "I am fully aware that you were not in formed of you're current situation therefore unaware of the benefits they carry, and furthermore while this stunt of Sleeper Officer Webb will not be over looked by Internal Affairs I see no reason they should reflect on your standing in this court." Cassie more confused then ever meekly asked "I am sorry you honor I only found out my husband was a Sleeper Officer when I found his uniform by accident this morning and then i yelled at him and I left and I didn't give him a chance to explain which I guess I should have because I have no Idea whats going on.All i know is you guys tricked me into having a Sleeper Officer follow me on what was supposed to be the happiest final two last weeks of my life,which turned out to be a cruel joke because I fell in love I mean really crazy stupid in love, and now you bring me here to show me all these pictures,to what get your jolly's off, to laugh at me. Okay you got me the idiot plane Jane who never did anything and is just taking up space on your precious planet deserves to die for the sake of population control.You know I thought my life was pretty great until you showed me it could be amazing and then I find out It was all for nothing. Those people probably didn't even need my help you probably sent them there too this is all one big test lets see how high Cass will jump well how is this for high, give me my fucking pill and show me to my sleeping chambers cause I am done with your game, no more videos no more explanations I don't want to wait for the band to play me out lets just do the damn thing already!" Cassie noticed somewhere in her rant she had stood up she sat down and kicked back with a very out of character the devil may care attitude. "Mrs. Webb if you are quite done with you theatrics may I continue, as I was saying Mr Webb will be stripped of his office of Sleeper and criminal charges will be left up to Internal Affairs for his blatant disregard for protocol which states 'At no time is a Sleeper Officer to reveal or interfere with the proses of a second chance hearing.' Being that the wife and children of a Sleeper Officer are exempt from the lottery and during the time of your hearing Mr Webb is still a current Sleeper Officer I have no choice but to dismiss your case and scan you as exempt. You fully understand being a second chance exempt means you will never be up for lottery again don't you Mrs. Webb." Still trying to proses what was going on she could only nod her head "Good and you fully understand that if you reveal any of the proceedings of this hearing or contact anyone who was aware of your lottery standing your googleyou will activate you as a runner and you will be sentenced to death. Do you fully understand your rights and responsibility's as I have explained them to you." He held out a googleyou scanner "uh yea I um I mean yes your Honor." Cassie scrambled to collect her thoughts "So wait my husband whats going to happen to my husband." The judge scanned her hand "That is for another court to decide, but I can tell you he will be a citizen and he will be up for the lottery some day and between you and I" the judge motioned her to come very close which was pointless since it was the only room in the world where no cameras or other people were allowed "Australia does exist and it is beautiful" he whispered with a wink.

Cassie blinked in the contrast of the bright sun from the dark courtroom.As her eyes focused she saw Michael sitting on the steps of the court house face puffy and red from obviously hours of crying. She walked up and sat two steps behind him. "Hey there you look like you just lost your puppy want to talk about it, I'm a good listener." She said with a smile on her face "Cassie!" he screamed nearly knocking her over crying and petting her hair holding her so close she thought she was going to suffocate "I am so sorry but I couldn't tell you my googleyou has a microphone  in it they hear  everything if you knew then it would have compromised your case and you wouldn't have gotten your second chance and i would have lost you forever and oh god Cassie please please forgive me I never did any of this to hurt you." Cassie backed up wiping away some of his tears, "So I don't get it why did you do it? Why me I mean you sacrificed everything your job your freedom and now your eligible for the lottery, why did you do it." He just smiled that beautiful smile "Oh Cassie baby you think your so invisible, you don't notice the world around you, did you know we eat in the same coffee shop every morning, you sit in the same spot drinking your chi-tea and day dreaming.I have watched you so many mornings wondering what fascinating place you must be off to in your mind. The window you sit in front of shines down on your hair and makes you glow like an angel. I couldn't exactly ask you out,how long would that last 'Hi honey how was your day?' 'oh you know the usual dear i told 3 people they were going to die today one was an 8 yr old girl,so whats for dinner' you can see why my freezer is full of ice cream.The job is depressing but you never have to worry about it being you at the other end of that red envelope. And then you're name and google tracker came up and I thought it was just an average delivery, I never knew your name.Then I saw you, i couldn't speak that's why I just handed you the envelope and got off the bus. I ran around the corner and threw up. I knew I was done I could never hand out another envelope again and I was not going to let you die I saw your file, orphan and no one on the list to testify on your behalf." That felt like a slap in the face to her  "Wow I thought I at least had friends you mean NO ONE was going to show up. Well that just cut my Christmas shopping list down I'm sorry you were saying." Cassie motioned for him to continue. "I knew you were an amazing person I just had to get proof of it, so i sent in an anonymous email but your file was still set for sleep they were not going to take the word of a stranger but they had to let your husband testify, that's where I went this morning and also to willingly turn myself into I.A. it was a hail marry pass. I had no idea if they would strip my title then or wait till after your trial.But with or with out my benefits who you are and the people you touch everyday, perfect strangers who they couldn't call in because you don't do those things for recognition, you do them because you are everything this world should be and i needed the judge to see that, no matter what happened to me. Cassie I didn't know I was going to fall in love with you. I really was just going to listen in that coffee house and then share some ice cream, none of this was planned i just..." Cassie pressed her lips to his in a soft loving forging kiss pulling away she grinned and said "Anyone ever tell you life's short and you talk to much" He laughed "apparently my wife" Smiling and scooting down next to him she takes her sunglasses out of her purse and puts them on looking at him she nudges him "So Mr Webb,you beat the system you won the girl, what are you going to do next" He laughingly takes her hand entwining there fingers cocks his head and looks at her "I don't know Mrs. Webb I have to face I.A. and then I don't know it seems kind of crazy to go back to boring desk jobs after all we have been through ya know. I mean there has gotta be something better right." Leaning back on the court steps a slow smile creeps across her face "I have it on good authority Australia is nice this time of year" 




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