• Every day Sam Suung wakes up at dawn to go to the office before the global warming increase the heat so much that you can't go out properly because of the stifling atmosphere: ten years ago a major nuclear disaster has almost destroyed life on earth and mankind was forced to live six feet undersea where people could find a new home to restart everything.
    Sam Suung has been living since then with her boyfriend Nokira who is  weirdly acting as if he was her brother; both of them had lost everything they had and everyone they loved when they struggled to get in Society, the capital city of the brand new world the governement had built underseas. They live in a quite well equiped small house, located near the city heart.
    While Nokira is working as an odd jober for the government, Sam Suung holds the position of daily journalist for the worldwide TV channel and newspaper New World Telegraph that relays latest information about lasting development policies and earth's evolution. That let her to eavesdrop at the door of the government himself.
     
    Sam Suung caught up the aerobus to go straight and fast to the office: her boss couldn't bear lazy belated employees.
    At 8 she was already sit behind her desk, trying to finish a bunch of articles about recent environment measures taken by the government.
    As usual she felt bored because the channel and the newspaper were controlled, sometimes censured before being broadcasted and published. Obviously she couldn't talk about the Traumatism and its sequels or even criticize politics such as the questionable Amnesia program although it scandalized her.
    While she was typing the last article someone knocked loudly at the door:
    - Come in.
    Al Cartel, her mid-aged boss, entered seemingly angry:
    -You were supposed to give me the articles yesterday so that they were sent to the governement to be checked. Not to mention that they are always subversive and more often since a few weeks I don't get the authorizations to publish them, are you really unable to write more neutral ones?
    - I can't let go of the feeling that the sytem has turned out to become a dictatorship...
    - Don't pronounce such extreme words, the New World Telegraph may be cancelled if "they" eavesdrop. It's unlikely I'd tend to consider your ideas as dangerous but you're dismissed from now on for the sake of the whole company. Please leave as soon as possible, I'm not joking.
    - This was planned for long, wasn't it?
    - It was your last chance, I'm going to hire Maa Kintoche a famous journalist who has opportunities to become soon an Official so he should be more reliable.
    - Nice to meet you Mr.Al Cartel intervene a soft voice from the door.
    - Good morning, what a relief you're on time.
    A handsome young man, elegantly dressed entered:
    - Wh-What the...?! Is it him?
    Sam Suung was nervous: she thought she had most likely met him in the past but where and when? She glanced at his deep green eyes and red short hair, puzzled by the feeling of safety that reached suddenly her heart:
    - Who is she? What's the problem with her? Maa Kintoche asked. Nice to meet you, though he said to Sam Suung with a gentle smile.
    - I... I don't know! Al Cartel exclaimed in panic.
    While Maa Kintoche was wandering around, Al Cartel pushed away Sam Suung in the corridor:
    - How can you dare... Who do you think you are? You were talking to a would-be Official! If I were in your shoes I'd apologize properly to him.
    - No matter it's nothing, really... nothing. Anyways I'm leaving.
    - Wait a minute!
    Surprised both of them turned their looks to Maa Kintoche leaned against the threshold:
    - I can't remember but I'm sure we already met in the past he said meanwhile putting something strange, round and smooth in the girl's pocket as she entered the rooom to pick up her things. "Good luck" he whispered in her left ear in order to be listened only by her.
     
    - What a jerk! How can he dismiss you so suddenly although we can't make ends meet ?! Nokira inquired.
    - I'm sorry it's all by my fault, he used to have issues with the government who judged my articles too subversive.
    Nokira looked strongly at his girlfriend for a moment before answering:
    - You...
     
    Maa Kintoche was cleaning and tiding his new workplace when he found suddenly a few photographs hid in a folder left behind by his predecessor. He couldn't help but to look at them, intrigued by the fact Sam Suung could have forgotten so private and precious things such as her memories behind without noticing.
    There was various ones showing her alone as a child, with a hazel-eyed ordinary young man or sometimes with him and a mysterious mid-aged guy who was surely "Sempai" the leader of the Lonesome movement: somehow the three of them looked like a family. Maa Kintoche felt unexpectly sad, tears climbed over his cheeks when he stared at Sam Suung in her child self: was it because they shared the same characteristics or because she didn't look straight at the camera lens not smiling with ghostly eyes?
    According to him the second reason was far more realistic, she had been probably caught up in the middle of a move but soon he stated that it was not sadness but guiltiness that had driven him so depressed.
    - Have you finished settling? I need a series of articles about the recent sustainable development policies tomorrow on my desk.
    - I will work hard to fulfill my goals but may you allow me to leave work sooner this afternoon? I've forgotten I had an appointment with someone important to me to... let me attend the Exam.
    - I hope it's not a lie otherwise you can go and never come back. The New World Telegraph won't be able to handle such a lost of time and benefit! See you later...
    Maa Kintoche didn't wait until he would have changed his mind, turned off his computer meanwhile gathering his things and the photographs in his bag and left quickly.
     
    Sam Suung was preparing dinner when the doorbell rang loudly. Nokira was supposed to work late until nightfall so she wasn't waiting for anyone else. She wondered if nothing bad had happened to him while walking to the door. She was surprised, almost frightened when the camera lens showed her Maa Kintoche's face. She thought she wasn't forced to open her door to him but his quiet smile was awhile friendly and reassurant.
    - What's up? she asked politely welcoming him in the living room with some refreshing orange juice (he dislikes alcohol)
    - Sorry for probably disturbing you but you've forgotten these...
    He gave her the photographs: she was shocked, took them away his hands and put it in a safe.
    - Did you look at them?
    - Yes... I did.
    - Will you keep the secret?
    - Why such a question?
    - As you may know the men in most of them are my boyfirend Nokira and Sempai the Lonesome movement's leader.
    - Alright I...
    The doorbell rang again interrupting him.
    - Who is it? Sam Suung inquired.
    - Hello it's Sempai, is Nokira back from work? We have to talk together in private for a moment.
    - He will arrive soon, come in.
    The door slid at the minute she pushed away Maa Kintoche in the kitchen and arranged the living room in a rush. Sempai entered, looked around briefly to check the cameras and the microphones:
    - Seems like we can freely talk but can you guarantee me no one would spy this conversation?
    - I assume there isn't any Official living around here. Do you want something to drink? Wine? Beer?
    - Only a glass of water please, I don't drink alcohol during daytime.
    - Alright wait here I would feel ashame if you see the amount of dishes I don't finish to wash up yet.
    He sat down in the sofa reading his mailbox. Sam Suung hed to the kitchen; given that the back door was open she guessed Maa Kintoche had left.
    - What's your business with Nokira?
    - How should I put it? First of all what do you know about the Intellect class?
    - Only what everyone knows: they are intellectuals persecuted by the government, strongly opposed to the system. It's the Wonderland family who leads the uprising. Am I right?
    Sempai glanced at her, reflecting on how to make his answer sound adequate and honest at the same time. A smile pierced his impassive face:
    - Say me what you remember of your previous life and I may tell you who you are...
    For the third time the doorbell rang and Sempai stood up steadily:
    - I have to leave for now someone would have followed me. I will phone Nokira, join us as soon as you can at the headquarter. This house is no longer safe.

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  • After Sempaï left, Sam Suung gathered all her small travel bag could contain. She was standing in front of the sliding door when she hesitated: what if she'd like to stay with enough bravery to face the police?
    She has been living here for long, besides all she had loved, built and remembered belonged to the new life she was going through underseas and lingered behind the house's walls. Then she thought it was pretty naive given that Maa Kintoche knew her secret and would have told his future comrades about it, voluntary or not.
    Unless he was lucky, he must have been arrested by a police patrol and forced to tell them the truth. However she refused to think about it when she realized it would be her fault if he ended up threatened of being thrown in jail which was a terryfying hypothesis.
    Somehow she felt sympathy for him: before they first met he always seemed to her strong and self confident, a bit too selfish and silly. The truth was after all he revealed himself to be a fragile and melancholic young man.
    She was quite a good judge of character assuming that he must have been broken by the lost of someone he loved and cared about a lot in the past.
    She went out her pleasant and safe home and never stepped back again.

    - Welcome back! Everyone was waiting for you, what were you doing? I told you to come as fast as possible... Sempaï reproached her when she got in the headquarter.
    - Sorry... she simply replied, avoiding Sempaï's suspicious eyes.
    - You have really no sense in your mind! What if you were arrested?
    - You're always acting as if I was still a child. preventing me from doing anything harm like revolting myself against politicians. But this foolish dictatorial Big Brother system shall be shut down or must change in any way possible. Anybody has no longer the right to think and talk according to his/her free will. We are led by paranoic people who vote nonsense laws.
    - I know... I know it's scandalous but I want you to be more careful in the future because you're not ready to handle the truth yet.
    - What are you talking about? I'm almost twenty years old thus I deserve to know more because it might deal with my childhood.
    - I did tell you, you're not ready yet to learn about and handle the truth, that's all!
    - I want to know why I feel so concerned about Maa Kintoche and moreover why you are getting suddenly angry although you have no reason to! I was only trying to get to understand your stance.
    - This world can't be changed only by you. I'm sure you will try hard but in a fight like this you may lose in the end if you stay as you are, reckless and lonely. The path you have chosen to follow is a very difficult one because it is going to be an endless fight for freedom and humanism that you won't win if you decide to act on your own. What is your definition of the word "wonderland"?
    - I should say it sounds to me pretty utopic, like an ideal world where everything goes on peacefully in harmony. A world where everyone can live all together without wars and dictators.
    - As I expected, you're the right person to carry out this dream. It's good of Moto Rorola to have saved you during the Evacuation...
    - Who is Moto Rorola?
    Sempaï was about to answer when the door crashed down, pushed away violently by policemen.
    Al Cartel entered, followed by Maa Kintoche.
    - Thanks for your help Kintoche, I'll carry out everything well, you should go and take some rest.
    Obedient, Maa Kintoche nodded with a discreet grin on his face:
    - Yes sir!
    As he was walking away he held out a gun that was hidden before in his jacket. Sam Suung looked worriedly around: according to circumstances if a fight was engaged here it would not only destroy the headquarter but kill a lot of people, the movement's members and their families.
    - Please don't shoot!
    All the looks turned to her:
    - You stupid... Sempaï uttered.
    - Interesting... Al Cartel commented.
    - I have to take my revenge against a system who has stolen from me my dear sister Alys! Maa Kintoche exclaimed. No matter the method I will reverse one day this world to what it was before the Traumatism.
    - I disagree you can only learn something from the failures of the past to build up a future even more better, Sam Suung replied.
    - Doesn't it sound childish? I understand your point of view but how can you change anything if you refuse war or nonetheless violence?
    - I think it's wiser to find other ways to let the will of people for change breath a wind of revolution into current society.
    - You have exactly the same speech as my mother Ashley. It's strange to hear the same words from someone who strongly ressemble her by the way...
    Sempaï wanted to say something but Maa Kintoche added:
    - ...Now my question is: who the hell are you?
    She realized she wasn't able to give him an answer: the more she tried to remember, the more her memories flew out insubstantial.
    She was spared from answering by Sempaï:
    - Who knows, all of us have lost our identities during the Evacuation. In fact does it matter when the two of you share the same dream? The most important from now on is to act together for the changing to happen, isn't it?


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  • Maa Kintoche was about to respond, preceded by Al Cartel who shot glance at Sempai:
    - You will have time to mind about such pointless questions in your cell because I come here to arrest you.
    - Wait! You can't... Maa Kintoche exclaimed.
    - Shut up! You're lucky not to endure the same punishment to have pointed a gun at an Official. It is what it is, when it comes to deal with law I can't intervene nor feel sympathy.
    - But...
    - It's a matter of consciousness. If you feel guiltiness for that it's your problem, let's go then!
    - Alright...
    The policemen seized and handcuffed Sempaï tightly.
    Al Cartel and Maa Kintoche left quickly.
     
    Shocked Sam Suung didn't pronounce a word: was all that mess because of her? Why does everyone love her so much that they were prepared to sacrifice their own lives if needed to protect her?
    A few minutes passed before the door slid again showing Nokira who ran to her as soon as he stepped in the building:
    - What's wrong? Are you sick or something bad has just happened? he worriedly inquired. By the way where is Sempaï? We had to...
    - Calm down, I will try to explain everything as best as I could.
    - Where is Sempaï?
    - We have to leave tonight, he has just been arrested.
    - No way! Why? By who?
    - By Al Cartel and his henchmen but I don't get to know exactly why.
    - This is very troublesome we are not terrorists so we didn't have issues with the government before. What if they use torture to force him to talk?
    - No... Please stop saying such scary things.
     
    - Once more, what do you know about the "Shovel of Death"?
    - I... I don't know what you are talking about!
    Barely dressed, Sempaï was chained against a wall. Al Cartel surveyed the interrogatory from a corner of the room. The policeman slapped again Sempaï on both cheeks and flicked his forehead:
    - Look at me and say it again.
    Eyes closed by the pain Sempaï remained silent. The man got suddenly angry and seized him rudely by his hair:
    - I did tell you: say it again!
     
    Society was not quite a huge city. Its streets were organized around a small urban district reserved to the Official class. Obviously the sole precinct of the city was located here in its city heart. There were many guards and security barriers around there. Being formally a citizen with a valid ID card was not enough to  be allowed to access freely the precinct, you had to be accompanied by an Official to pass through the security barriers and the ID checkings.
    - What should we do? Sam Suung asked while she and Nokira were running fast across the city to the Official District.
    - Maa Kintoche... Damn this guy is so stupid! Why on earth did he have to let the police to capture Sempaï, only because of mock opportunities?!
    - It shouldn't be that simple. There must have been other reasons. I wouldn't be surprised if he was forced to tell "them" the truth about us.
    - Anyway, we shall rescue Sempaï but how? In fact this is the real question.
    Nervous Sam Suung reflected about it while checking distractedly her pockets. Her fingers found the strange object Maa Kintoche had given to her hours ago. She held it out and looked at it with a quizzical eye. It was simply shaped like a ball with a small shining button on it. She carefully pushed it to open the object and closed it immediately after. Apparently it was supposed to activate a bomb or any nuclear stuff.
    - Glad to see you here! Al Cartel exclaimed behind them. Oh my... You should have given me back the "Shovel of Death" earlier it would not have caused so much disturbance. Come on, follow me to the precinct.
    Sam Suung and Nokira were compelled to obey. He guided them through the district.
    - Over here, he said when they came in the precinct.
    The cell was the darkest and the coldest, barely reached by the light. But soon, as they were looking closely Nokira and Sam Suung saw Sempaï laid on the floor. Sam Suung dared to speak the first:
    - What... what the hell did you do to him? she stammered, shocked.
    - Don't worry he's still alive but I would be lenient only if you give me back the "Shovel of Death" immediately.
    - Well... take it. Now please... release him I'm begging you, Sam Suung whispered, her eyes sparkling of upcoming tears.
    In exchange Al Cartel handed the cell's key over to her.
    Scarcely had she entered Sam Suung ran to the bedside of Sempaï who was severely wounded. Scandalized her heart sank with sympathy as her fingers brushed against his injured limbs. She simply laid an arm over his shoulders to help him standing up. Barely dressed with a large grey shirt and old ripped jeans he felt light against her, his eyes closed.
    - We definitely should take him to hospital urgently, Nokira observed. Is there one in the neighborhood? He asked Al Cartel.
    The businessman looked at Sempaï, then at Sam Suung:
    - You should go to visit Moto Rorola instead.

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  • Al Cartel had to accompany them on the way to Moto Rorola's house. He left after he managed their ID checking. As the doorbell rang they heard footsteps behind the door and Moto Rorola appeared in the threshold wrapped in a coral pink large bathrobe:
    - What are you looking for?
    - We need a skilled healer.
    - I'm back from work and I'm exhausted. If it's an emergency you should better call the hospital...
    She was about to close up her door to them when Nokira blocked it with a foot:
    - We no longer have time. If we do nothing to heal his wounds, Sempaï is going to die!
    - Sempaï?
    Moto Rorola opened a bit wider her door to see Sempaï unconscious, supported by Sam Suung whose free arm wrapped protectively his shoulders to prevent him from falling. Each step forward became a stirring pain; too light his breath was barely perceptible.
    - What happened? Moto Rorola asked when they helped her to bring Sempaï upstairs in the guest room. Don't worry no one will hear our conversation.
    - He has been arrested by the police, meaning Al Cartel and his henchmen, because of something called the "Shovel of Death".
    - I understand. It's so horrible...
    She softly laid him on the bed and opened his shirt to clean the blood that was slightly bleeding through his injuries:
    - I've known him for years. I used to be a Lonesome activist when the Traumatism occurred but to make ends meet in this new world you should join the Official District. So I passed the Exam to become a healer after the Evacuation ended. I couldn't have expected him to be so dedicated to you that he would sacrifice his own life.
    - But why? Why had he chosen to protect me whatever it would take?
    Surprised, Moto Rorola looked at her with astonishment and took a deep breath:
    - I guess he hasn't told you yet because you're still young but you're Alys, Ashley Wonderland's daughter.
    - What... what are you saying? Sam Suung stammered, turning slowly pale.
    - You don't remember anything about it, do you? I'm the one who saved you during the Evacuation...
    - That's not what I'm asking, it's a sad and rude reality but I've lost my memories, In fact... does it mean Maa Kintoche is my brother?
    - Of course it does but you shouldn't tell him until he realizes how much this world needs to change, in other words until he stops seeking for a position in the governement. From the very beginning the Official class is playing with him and treating him like a mere puppet. They always promise to bring you back as soon as he accepts to obey their orders, whatever these are.
    Downstairs, the doorbell rang loudly:
    - Stay here aside Sempaï.
    She didn't closed entirely the door for them to hear everything that was going to be said, then came downstairs to unlock the main door. Maa Kintoche appeared before her:
    - May I enter? Don't get in my way, for your own sake ...
    - Why are you here? There's nobody living here except me.
    - I received the order to take Sam Suung to the President. He wants to talk a bit with her about the "Shovel of Death";
    - If so what are you going to do Maa Kintoche? You will only hand Sam Suung over to the Official class who may use her to put out of harm's way the Lonesome movement.
    - I can't disobey the orders.
    - You stupid thoughtless kid! What will you do if they arrest her and throw her in jail like they did to Sempaï?
    - The President just wants to talk with her!
    - Are you thinking they will chat like old friends drinking a cup of tea? Not at all! You want to become an Official but you're not mature enough yet...
    - Where are they?
    - It really saddens me, you don't know what you're doing it's so pathetic!
    Avoiding her angry eyes, Maa Kintoche looked hastily around and saw the guest room"s door opened upstairs:
    - If you're in there Sam Suung don't be afraid and come with me.
    " No, I won't forgive you!" Sam Suung thought.
    - If you don't come Sempaï's sacrifice will become useless because the Traumatism is all about the "Shovel of Death".
    - Is that so?
    Sam Suung appeared at the top of the stairs, her feelings melted between astonishment and anger:
    - Let's go, definitely!

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  • The presidential palace was highly securized and incredibly luxurious. Apart from the President’s huge collection of masterpieces exhibited on the walls the most impressing was the patio imagined like an ocearium from which Sam Suung and Maa Kintoche could admire beautiful undersea sceneries.
    It bothered somehow Sam Suung when she realized the President would have never gone out his palace to face reality:
    - May I help you? The President’s secretary politely inquired.
    - We have business with the President, Maa Kintoche announced.
    - Wait here I’ll take you to him as soon as possible.
    They didn’t have to wait long. With courtesy the President welcomed them in his main office inviting them to sit. Maa Kintoche did but Sam Suung stepped back when she saw the “Shovel of Death” on the desk.
    - Don’t be afraid, it’s not a trap.
    In spite of his friendly smile Sam Suung was intimidated. Unwillingly, she blushed when he looked strongly at her expecting her to sit according to his orders. She obeyed steadily with resignation:
    - What is the “Shovel of Death”??
    - I ask the questions and you answer it.
    - I’ll forever make you to regret your crime if Sempai died!
    -How dare you talk back to me? Do you know where you stand right now? The President shouted.
    Sam Suung stood up:
    - Don’t twist my words!
    - Know of your place and show more respect to your elders,, we will never be equals!
    - I am who I am!
     -There must be a misunderstanding between us. I don’t accuse you of being a Lonesome, it's none of my business.
    - Because of you I’ve already suffered so much!
    - Oh my… Someone must have told you but who?
    - Huh?!?
    - Don’t be naïve, with the famous “Mad Hatter” always by your side it was very easy deducing who you are. Now you can’t run away I’ve called the security before your arrival just in case you’d intend anything to escape the palace.
    - We… We were supposed to talk about the “Shovel of Death”!
    - It was a nice excuse to force you to come here. I’d like to make an offer to both of you, he explained looking at Maa Kintoche.
    - What is it?! They exclaimed.
    - Your dearest wish will be granted within three days only if you manage well the following task for me.
     
    The sea has turned to the darkest navy blue when they finally could leave. They remained silent while they were heading back to Moto Rorola’s mansion. Out of energy  Maa Kintoche called a cab as soon as Sam Suung has entered in the house.
    In the dark she went swiftly upstairs: Moto Rorola and Nokira were already sleeping in the guest room near Sempaï’s bed. He hadn’t fully recovered yet, still bedridden. She gently landed a hand over his forehead to ensure he hasn’t caught a cold.
    - Forgive me.
    His voice was so light and so weary; Sam Suung closed the curtains and sighed:
    - It’s all by my fault.
    - I don’t think so…
    - If I hadn’t let Maa Kintoche to enter in the house, nothing would have happened!
    - In any case, whether he did or not, it had to happen because Al Cartel has been aiming to put us out of harm’s way since he realized I know much more about him than he would expect.
    - What do you mean?
    - Let’s sleep for now it was a hard day for us all.
    She nodded:
    - Goodnight.
     
    The moon was full. Somewhere on earth Ashley went outside the nuclear shelter to walk alone along the seaside beneath the starry sky. From the top of the hill she stared at Society’s city lights shining underseas.
     
    Unable to sleep Maa Kintoche turned on his laptop and wandered on the Web searching information about Sam Suung. There were only a few matches, mostly classified which intrigued him. One of the fully available pages were a list of her articles. The first one whose title was “Year 0” caught his eye and he clicked on it.

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