GENRE: YA/Speculative Fiction
Having never seen a sunrise, sixteen-year-old Leo Noble breaks out of the subterranean slums beneath a futuristic, overpopulated NYC, spurring a citywide manhunt that puts every citizen under fire.
I have a name passed down so many times, it’s worn out like the shirt on my back. Ever since New York City Authority put the One Child Policy into effect twenty years ago, citizens in our underground zone passed both their first and last names down to their children. But our family has been doing this for generations. I'm Leon Noble the eighth, or maybe ninth—the number got lost somewhere in the 21st century.
The number’s not the important part. Down here in the slums, all that matters is giving your children a bit of you that says, “Hey, I was here!” My twin sister and I both carry pieces of our family’s past, as she has my mother’s name, Annabelle.
Today is our sixteenth birthday, where we’ll soon endure the last of our yearly commencement ceremonies. We should’ve left for the zone square by now, but Mother still frets to make us as presentable as possible.
She buttons a black suit jacket over my old stained t-shirt. My outfit feels much less special this year—I wear this drab top all the time. In previous years, I wore a crisp, albeit oversized, white collared shirt that buttoned all the way down under the jacket. After the ceremony last year, I bent down to pick up a couple of pennies and split the back straight in two.
“Looks like you’re getting a bit too big for this jacket,” my father says with a smirk, looking me up and down.