Returning

by Josie Disco

I’ve waited so long for the results that you’d think another ten minutes wouldn’t matter. I gaze thoughtfully into my mirror, pausing to examine every minor detail of my face. It’s peculiar to think that looks never used to matter. To think that ravishing young girls were treated the same as plain greasy-haired teens. I sigh inwardly, picking up my brush and beginning a new battle against my tangled chestnut hair.

The drug was only introduced last month, but everyone had to be tested immediately. The Returning Serum is the first drug that is capable of bringing people back from the dead. Sounds good right? The problem is, according to the Government you have to be classed as ‘pretty’ for it to work. And even then the drug has to be injected almost instantaneously after you die. There is no guarantee. The news spread like a wildfire at first; nobody’s happy, how could you be? Everyone else is just left to die. I can hear a clock ticking in the background – with each second that passes the truth edges closer.

The main downfall of the process is that once people are brought back to life, they take up someone else’s spot on the planet. With each person who ‘returns’ the population density increases until eventually, the world is filled with supermodels. The government of course, insists this isn’t the case, but everyone knows it is. Jealously levels are running very high at the present.

Ten years ago, nobody would have dreamt that anything like this would have occurred. It’s the new government; all they care about is appearance. History is repeating itself, but we have no control. No say in anything anymore. They have us caged and I’m not sure we’re ever going to escape. Thousands of years ago, Charles Darwin’s survival of the fittest was the key to living the longest. Now it might as well be survival of the prettiest. The government have the power and there’s nothing any of us can do about it.

“Trust the Government”, they say. “They’ll look after you.”

The testing wasn’t what I’d expected – model perfect people dressed in designer clothes, discretely debating whether I deserved the serum. We waited for what seemed like days, staring endlessly at the notices plastered to the wall. I fidgeted uncomfortably as my breathing quickened and the air around choked me. This was it. Finally, I was called through; sitting still and being photographed so many times I had developed a permanent squint from the camera flash. I strained to hear the comments being made from behind but the voices were merely a silent murmur. The interviews came next. On the opposing side of me, a man with a despicable look in his eye stared at me unnervingly. In front of him lay a speaker, purposely placed to capture everything I said. A nervous shiver ran down my spine.

“Name?” he bellowed, his expression as cold as the arctic. I stammered my way through, averting my eyes when the questions got complicated. My face burned with humiliation whilst hushed voices discussed my answers from behind. Needless to say, I didn’t dare to turn around. At last I exited, feeling as though I might as well exit this world altogether.

“Don’t worry”, mum reassured me. “It’s not the end of the world”.

“It could be” I said, tears cascading down my face. “It could be the end of my world”.

I watch intently as time ticks on. Just two minutes left. Two minutes till the truth.  A hot red flush rises to my face at the thought of not being chosen; Flora, my friend, definitely will be. She has laughing blue eyes, which compliment her rosy complexion and perfect white teeth. Her long blonde hair cascades down her back like a shimmering waterfall and she has an amazing figure – tall and slim, despite the fact she detests sport. However, when I pause to think about it, I can’t imagine her ‘returning’. I think she’d rather just die than have to live as one of them. Most people would. It’s the fact that most people don’t get the opportunity that people take it. Apparently, only 2% of the population are eligible – that’s 1 in every 50, but like I said, it could just be a rumour. Nobody knows for sure.

I glance stealthily at my phone. One new message from 13 seconds ago. My heart is beating like a drum inside my chest and slowly I begin to feel nauseous. I didn’t think I cared if I was eligible or not. Obviously I do. Up and down the country, people will be opening emails revealing whether or not they deserve to live longer. Hearts will be sinking and leaping – I’d rather put mine off a little longer. But here I am and here I’m stood. This is my time and I determine to make the most of it. Everything I stand for lies just a click away. The importance of this email though, it’s unbearable to think about. I close my eyes and open my email.