War of One

 

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Roi Rogers

 Once upon a time there was a girl named Roi. She lived with her mommy and her daddy. Oh wait, that story ended when I threw out my Kindergarten journal. 

I'm Roi Rogers. I'm thirteen years old and I live with my dad, Rick, and my brother, Ron. We've been living hell for the past few years. Our baby sister, Renee, died of pneumonia only five months after she was born. My mother, Rose, was killed in the same War of One that Ron and I are about to enlist in. Everyone at age thirteen to twenty-seven here has to enlist and fifty kids get to fight, or should I say, have to fight. Mom was in the final round at age sixteen. Ron and I were about three years old. Renee had just died. My dad was seventeen and was working on a shift for the mill job. He had to move big, 100 lb. sacks of flour up twenty flights of stairs, come back down, and repeat the cycle. After a long day of that crap job, he puts Ron and I in bed, prays near Renee's grave and receives the news that his wife had died in the final round of the War of One. He broke the news to us two days later. Since then, Ron and I have been training to make sure that both of us make it out safely in the War of One when we enlist. Both Ron and I can throw a spear, shoot an arrow, haul a slingshot, and sprint for 50 miles. We've trained to make sure that dad's heart doesn't break again. Ron and I asked if this War was optional. If we had to do it. Of course not...your mother was forced to leave and die for it...it's totally optional. 

It's not optional. 

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1

 The only thing I like to do here is hunt with Ron and Rick(I call my dad by his first name). 

We all select our weapons, as if it were a game, and then Rick goes alone to the left and Ron and I go together towards the right. Rick would usually shoot a nearby elk or bear or a bigger catch. Ron would get the rabbits and squirrels shooting them from a distance directly in the eye. Rick uses a spear, he can throw it really far and it weighs well over 150 pounds. Ron can pick up smaller spears, but mostly sticks to his crossbow. He built it himself. He has a scope near his left side for getting the targets he wants. I must say, he is pretty good at making arrows. He makes sure that every detail is perfectly accurate. I make arrows too, but he is better. I use a bow and arrow. I make my arrows and I made my quiver, which is slung on my back. I would get whatever I could. Ron and I may have been twins, but at only 95 pounds, I could climb faster, and run somewhat faster. If I really tried. 

I always took eggs from the high nests with a camoed backpack for my killings. While Rick could only bring a bear and an elk at the same time, which lasts us forever, Ron brought multiple squirrels, rabbits and sometimes pigs(I loved my bacon.). I brought cow, chicken, sheep, turkey, all things valuable. And of course, the business of helping with flour, and me making clothes for us using thread from old cloth. 

Rick wanted me and Ron to experience the "grownup" world before other kids so that we'd be prepared for the War of One. Rick planned to go with us, as he was still twenty-six, but now only if you had no family to support at the age past sixteen could you enlist. Rick technically counted if Ron and I are both picked for the War. 

Clarx was a kid from the inside of town while I was from the outskirts. His family always bought my kills for food, even though they were the bakers. Clarx had just turned fourteen a month ago in June. I only had two months to go before my birthday. He was the oldest of four kids: Clarx, Karenna, Chaste, and Primrose. His mom was the town nurse and his dad was on baking and sometimes construction. I always thought they had the upper hand in town, since they were close to the Mayor. Turns out I didn't know the whole story. 

They lived on stale bread that their customers didn't want and Clarx was the only boy old enough to hunt. Chaste was only eight years old. Karenna was twelve, turning thirteen in May of next year. She liked Ron, and Ron really liked her. Primrose was only five. She was out of danger for the next eight years. 

Here, being a teenager means that your life might end any day now. The War of One is like the Hunger Games almost. It's a fight to the death between innocent kids who's minds are not so innocent after killing a fellow teen. I saw Clarx enlist as Ron and I walked into the Mayor's Office for the forms. I had my hair in a ponytail and I wore a simple, black V-neck shirt with my midnight blue jeans and leather black boots laced up to my knee. Ron wore his leather jacket as if to say "shut up and don't mess with us". We had the effect on Clarx I think. He swiftly avoided us on his way out the door. 

After we'd registered, Ron and I went to the nearest Chick-fil-A and sat down with only milkshakes on our menu. We were nervous and usually the sweet taste of vanilla and strawberry calmed us down. I saw the time: 4:08. Rick was at the mill for another hour. Or so I thought. Then I got a text from Rick himself. I told Ron to get in the car, an old broken down Jeep, and I drove back to the house. Rick taught both Ron and I to drive last year if an emergency occurred. So far, the only emergency lied on my phone. A text from Rick saying: They're announcing the soldiers for war today! Date moved. 

My heart stopped in my chest until the rapid fire beating started. I slowly accelerated as I felt more and more blood draining or of my face. I reached the town square in three minutes. Everything was jammed into the square. 

Ron and I were in the middle section trying to make our way towards Rick with our weapons in hand. The mayor's daughter, whom I despised greatly, was assigned to pick the soldiers' names out of the hat. The entire town seemed to hold its breath and parents wondered if they'd lose their child in the next three seconds. Katie, her name was, selected the first slip of seven from our part of the country. 

The first person was from the higher parts of town. His name was John Nattine. He was wealthy, he was smart, but I already knew he couldn't hunt. He wore one of those collar shirts and ties with khakis to the soldier selection. I mean, you want people to see a warrior. Not a teacher's pet. 

The next person was a girl who I think her name was Marie Lilac. She was nice, I'd seen her around school. She wore a lilac colored dress to the occasion. Also, not a warrior impression. 

The third person drawn was my best friend, Margaret Abbey. She looked solemn and pale as she approached the square, but silently dignified. She was a true warrior. I almost cried out to her and told her that everything was going to be fine. But she looked so much like a champion already, that I had no words. 

The fourth person called put a lump in my throat. The fourth person looked at Ron and I the minute his name was called. With his black hair messed up and his leather jacket loose, he stood up and walked to the stage as the only "older person" in the War so far. I bit my lip to keep the tears from spilling out. 

The fourth person called was my father. 

The fourth person called was Rick. 

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2

 I felt the blood drain out of my face as Rick Rogers was called to the square. I swear I didn't blink at all for over twenty seconds. Neither did Ron. I looked at him and we realized three people were left to be chosen the odds that one of us would be able to stay with Rick seemed impossible. 

The fifth person was about to be pulled from the bag. I was so devastated from losing Rick already that I almost collapsed when I heard the name of the fifth soldier: 13-year-old Ronan Robert Rogers. 

I was senseless for a brief second and then I stood up and pulled Ron back. I couldn't say a word. He yanked his hand out of my grasp and I was pulled back. But over the noise, I wondered to myself: "How can I live if both Ron and Rick die in this?"

That was when I opened my big mouth. "I volunteer! I volunteer to fight!" 

Rick gritted his teeth as I approached and Ron wrapped me in a tight hug. There were six of us. One person left. 

Clarx Manuel was called next and with that, all seven of us from our state headed into a train that would take us to the battle site where we'd all have to keep ourselves alive. But only the last three standing from each state would advance to the next round of war. 

I hope that Rick, Ron and I all make it out safe. 

We noticed as the forty-eighth state in size, that over 280 other fighters were already inside the train. From Californ to Isle Roade, there were seven soldiers from each state. The state housing the War was Main. In ancient times, it was spelled "Maine" but who does that? 

Immediately after we arrived, John Nattine, Clarx, Rick and Ron were all guided away by a tour guide for the boy soldiers while Margaret, Marie and I were led away by someone else. 

Three stylists met us at the end of the hallway. My stylist's name was Rose. Like my mom, I immediately thought. i wondered how Rick and Ron were about now. 

Anyway, Rose led me to another room and asked me what my state was famous for. 

"Well, my high school is the Mustangs. So horses, probably." 

Rose got on her phone and texted the other stylists and told them what I'd said. She went on to describe her thoughts for my opening ceremony costume. 

"The boys will go with Black Stallion or Brown Mustang. Us girls will go with a cream, white mare. I've already gotten the fabric, but the dress will take me a while to make."

"I can sew, I'll help."

She smiled, and drew out plans for what the dress would look like. She asked if she could measure me. 

"Sure, no problem," I'd said. 

Then, it got uncomfortable. To get this done fast, we needed exact measurements for a tight dress. She felt me up. I was so embarrassed. 

But it was over soon. 

I saw the measurements and I was pleased. It was a tight dress, but it would show off my small hips and my breasts. In other words, it would make Ron and Rick mad. 

I cut out the outline of the dress and stiched it together. It was beautiful and looked like a real skin of a gorgeous mare. The dress was to the floor and it had a part until the knee, exposing my calf muscle. I wore three-inch, sparkling high heels with studded rhinestones along the front of the open toe. The dress was a V-neck that went to the middle of my chest. I loved it. 

My hair was done expertly. 

Rose curled my hair in the back, but straightened two strands in the front. The two in the front were French-braided into the back where all my hair was clipped together. 

Then at the ends of all my hair strands, Rose took the curling iron and curled every piece of hair that rested from my hair to my back. I loved everything about it. And after taking the dress off and putting it in my room, I put on a white T-shirt, jeans, a jean jacket, and black, leather, laced-up boots that stopped at my knee. I was ready for dinner. 

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